Way before writing under my nom de plume, because I am a huge fan of WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) I intended to start a blog solely dedicated to the billion dollar entertainment empire/professional wrestling league owned by Vince McMahon. I have plans on reviewing their shows (Raw and SmackDown!) every week, profiling their Superstars, and probably suggesting some storyline improvements. That definitely never happened.
Instead I became a personal blogger, a guy who would give his rants and raves on life in general, college professors who were interesting, girls in college whom I found (and looked) interesting, among other things. But the WWE bug never left me that I would always mention on my “About Me” that one of my idols is a tall, ghoulish character in WWE named The Undertaker.
I am not kidding. When you ask me who my favorite wrestler is, I already have an answer for that. I am a huge fan of “The Deadman”, “The Phenom”, “The Demon of Death Valley”, “The Lord of Darkness”,”The Grim Reaper of Justice”, the dangerous entity called The Undertaker. And since this month marks his 25th year in WWE, it would be fitting to write my “love letter” to my first idol and favorite wrestler of all time.
When I Became a Fan
13 days before I was born, the legend of The Undertaker was born at the Survivor Series pay-per-view event. Ever since that day, hell never closed in the league. But, of course, I have not seen him in full color until the year 1994, at the SummerSlam event where he faced the imposter Undertaker (who is really Brian Lee AKA Chainz).
Looking back at that match, it may not be on the Top 10 or Top 20 greatest matches of ‘Taker or on any wrestling publication, but I remember the first time, the feeling—I was mesmerized by the 6’ 10″ superheavyweight in black coat and hat gliding through the black and purple lights with his manager Paul Bearer (bless his soul), the no-reaction on every strikes and slams he gets, the striking power he unleashed with his purple gloves, and the execution of his devastating finishing move named fittingly the Tombstone Piledriver. I was attracted to his darkness, and I never left the fold ever since.
I have a lot of memorable Undertaker matches, and no match involving him will be complete without the elaborate entrance. How he makes his way to the ring may be a part of his psychological warfare against his opponent, but everyone else watching (especially for me) it is a moment in time. His custom-Harley-sponsored entrances as “The American Badass” are just as (well) badass, but when you hear that gong and the orchestraic funeral music, you are in for an otherworldly experience.
Here is one entrance that is close to my heart—the one at WrestleMania XX. Breathtaking.
Like I said before, I have a lot of memorable Undertaker matches. I remember his slobber-knocker matches with WWE’s greatest draw Stone Cold Steve Austin. I remember the brutal street fights against the deranged Mankind (one particular match involving him throwing from the top of Hell in a Cell). I remember all of the great WrestleMania matches and all the people who fell to The Streak—the likes of Ric Flair, Kane, Triple H, Edge, CM Punk—and I also remember the man who broke the Streak, “The Beast Incarnate” Brock Lesnar. There are so many Undertaker matches to reminisce that I will need a blog series for it.
But my favorite match of all time is also a “Streak” match that happened in 2009. I am so glad I lived in that year witnessing a great feud between Undertaker and “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels that culminated in a timeless classic at WrestleMania 25. The light and darkness collided that night; everyone witnessed the darkness winning that night.
The Years, The Personas
Another phenomenal thing about The Undertaker is his knack for tweaking his persona through the years. From being inspired by an old Western mortician who is invulnerable to anything, going all black, leather and Satanic as “The Lord of Darkness”, going real-life as a biker who loves kicking ass and making people famous, and now back on the Dark Side as The Deadman, he has defied time in pro wrestling unlike any other.
If you are planning to create a fictional character and make it last, make Undertaker your case study. He is a perfect example of making your character fresh while keeping the core characteristics intact.
He also bridged the gaps between old and new eras of WWE, beating the likes of Hulk Hogan and Triple H both as a terrifying Deadman and as a kickass biker. He also established then-younger wrestlers like Edge and CM Punk, being involved in some of my favorite psychological-fueled feuds ever. You can barely count any other legend who has fought that many and helped many on elevating their careers.
He is also a loyal employee of more than past two decades. Aside from performing at Smokey Mountain Wrestling, Ohio Valley Wrestling and WWE’s ECW, he never left WWE at all. Through thick and thin, notably during the Monday Night War against World Championship Wrestling, he never jumped ship to any other promotion. Now that is loyalty at its finest.
Closing The Letter
While other kids were admiring teenybopper singers like Britney Spears or actors like Leonardo DiCaprio, I worshipped The Undertaker, an out-of-this-world badass from a world of brawling men in tights. Strange as it may seem but not only he basically made me a fan of pro wrestling, he also inspires me when it comes being tough in mind and body, being an innovator, being creative while being adaptable with the times, and for being loyalty and passionate to his chosen industry.
And no matter how silly some people find it, and even if I am not as frequently tuned-in to WWE programming as I would like to because of work (I still am updated though, thanks to the World Wide Web), I still and will always idolize him. The darkness that he brought to WWE is a blessing to a fan like me, and I am and will always be thankful for all the memories and matches he has ever created.
His “25 years of Destruction” is such a huge milestone that will probably be added by another year or another 5 years, depending on when he will really hang up his black boots for good. Will he retire next year? Probably. But I don’t know how I will answer that; that’s another mystery that only he can and will solve. But one thing is certain: no matter what happens, my constant answer to the question “who is your favorite wrestler of all time?” is The Undertaker.