The Undertaker is not just a character. He is an entire era in the world of wrestling. His unhurried walk to the ring put fear into his opponents before the fight even began. For his size (208 cm and 140 kg), he has very sharp moves making him undoubtedly one of the best in the history of this sport.
From the little guy to the big one, everyone feared he was feared, for example, Hornswoggle and Big Show. But that wasn’t the only thing that made The Undertaker memorable to the audience. Mark Calaway (that’s the famous wrestler’s actual name) also had an exceptional charisma.
- Childhood and Youth
- Professional Debut and the Period up to the Beginning of the 2000s
- Life after the 2000s
Childhood and Youth
Mark William Calaway was born on March 24, 1965, in Houston, Texas. He grew up the youngest of all four of his brothers, which hints at how his brutal image had tempered from a very young age.
Studying at Waltrip High School, Mark attended basketball and American football classes. After graduating in 1983, he went to Angelina College in Lufkin, his home state. There he received a scholarship as a basketball player for the local team.
In 1985, Mark began studying sports management at Texas Wesleyan University, where he also plays for their basketball team as a center. However, a year later, he leaves his studies to concentrate entirely on sports. At first, he played basketball in Europe, but later, he finally got into wrestling.
By the way, Calaway started training in college. Then he signed up with his mentor Buzz Sawyer, a famous former wrestler. Mark even had to think hard to raise the total $2,500 needed for training.
It was both funny and sad that the guru taught his classes without having a wrestling ring. Later, he abandoned Calaway and twelve other students in the middle of the course and disappeared. But despite this, Mark took an interest in several wrestling promotions, where he began to perform.
Professional Debut and the Period up to the Beginning of the 2000s
Calway began his ring career in 1984 under the name Texas Red. In his first match, he lost to Bruiser Brody. After four years in the promotion, Mark leaves it and joins the CWA (Continental Wrestling Association). On February 2, 1989, under the tutelage of Dutch Mantel, our hero made his debut as Master of Pain. Of course, that alias came with a correspondingly creepy story, where he had just returned from prison, where he spent five years because of killing two guys in a brawl.
After his second match, he faced Jerry Lawrer, from whom he later took the World Heavyweight Championship belt. However, King then took the title back. Calway moved to WCW under Mean Mark’s name at the end of the year, but he had no luck there and could not win any meaningful titles. Moreover, the federation later decided to send him to Japan. Not too happy about such a prospect, Calway collaborates with the largest wrestling promotion, the WWF.
World Wrestling Federation (WWF)
The legendary Undertaker character made his debut at Survivor Series 1990. On November 22, he defeated then stars, including Dusty Rhodes and Koko B. The image had much loved by the audience, and The Undertaker had almost immediately met with success. He won fight after fight, and at Wrestlemania VII, his legendary winning streak started. Unique is also the fact that in the CIS already in the early 1990s, t-shirts with his image had sold, although channels had not broadcasted wrestling at the time on TV. As a guy from Ukraine, I couldn’t avoid making that note here.
Also, in the nineties, Calway appeared with Hulk Hogan in the Suburban Commando movie, and his character was one of the key ones in WWF games for the Sega console as well as glimpsed in the Flintstones and Scooby-Doo cartoons. In 1997, The Undertaker’s brother Kane showed up in the WWF. At first, they have a feud, but then they unite into a virtually unbeatable team called Brothers of Destruction.
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Despite the mega-successes of the 1990s, the zeros were even more triumphant for The Undertaker. His streak at Wrestlemania continued, and in the 2000s, no one was able to break it.
New Image – Biker and Big Evil (2000-2003)
The new decade began for our hero with a radical change of image. He cut his hair, moved to a Harley, and began to embody the character of a biker. The title theme of the arena entrance has also changed. Kid Rock wrote the new composition. But I remember this period of Mike’s career most thanks to Wrestlemania XIX. At that time, our “street guy” was accompanied by Limp Bizkit when he entered the ring.
Already in 2001, Calway began to call himself Big Evil. The first were feuds with Rob Van Dam, The Rock, and Ric Flair. It had followed by a fierce confrontation with Brock Lesnar, which came to a logical end in a cage fight. There, Vince McMahon’s intervention helped the young blond to win.
Obviously, this was a new confrontation, and once again, Calaway’s hero lost. This time it’s because of Kane. Moreover, according to the script, after this defeat, the new character’s story ended. However, fans did not have to wait long for their favorite.
The Return of The Undertaker (2004-2009)
On the eve of the twentieth Wrestlemania, Kane began to receive all sorts of signs hinting at his brother’s return. Already at the supershow itself, he was defeated by him. There were all about the old-new image of The Undertaker (WWE “super horror star”):
- The leather cape.
- The dark hat.
- The cold-blooded walk to the ring.
- The legendary title song.
After the massacre with the Big Red Machine, his paths in the ring crossed with John “Bradshaw” Layfield, Randy Orton, Mohamed Hassan, Kurt Angle, and The Great Khali. But the brothers, five years after the split, reunited again. The reason for this was the mutual desire to kick some “soft area” on the body of Mr. Kennedy and MVP.
Next came conflicts with Batista, Edge, and CM Punk. However, if you look at my favorite decade as a feast, the WWE screenwriters left the most spectacular fusion for the audience for dessert. That’s how two living legends, Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker, faced off in the sunset of the 2000s.
Their confrontation lasted more than a year. In the end, it was all decided in a match at Wrestlemania XXVI, where the streak was on the line against Michaels’ career. Shawn lost, and at the end of the match, Taker shook his hand as a sign of respect. It was a very emotional moment.
Life after the 2000s
The Undertaker’s streak lasted until the thirtieth anniversary of Wrestlemania, where it was interrupted by Brock Lesnar. Thus, the final number of consecutive wins by The Undertaker at Wrestlemania is 21. After this defeat, our hero appeared less frequently, although he performed regularly at Wrestlemania until 2020. So despite his age, Taker continued to appear on WWE shows for quite a long time. That’s worthy of respect.
Undertaker: The Last Ride
Interestingly enough, The Undertaker (the de facto most strong character in WWE for more than two decades) has become World Heavyweight Champion only eight times. By comparison, Edge had eleven of the same titles in half the time. And The Rock, who’s always getting his head kicked off by Steve Austin, has more championships than years of regular appearances.
I’m not saying that Edge (WWE’s main star of the end of the 2000s) or The Rock are bad wrestlers. On the contrary, I love their performances. But it’s kind of unfair that Cena (who I’m the least impressed within this company of characters, to be honest) has twice as many championships as The Undertaker.
As for his personal life, in 2010, Mark married another famous wrestler, Michelle McCool, who gave birth to his daughter on August 29, 2012. For Calaway, this is his third marriage and fourth child.
As you can see, one of the most epochal wrestlers of recent times had an inspiring career. And I say goodbye to you, friends. I’ll see you in the next materials dedicated to the zeros era.
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