30 Day Wrestling Challenge: Day Three = Favourite Wrestler Ever

Alright, this one might be tricky. So far I’ve done posts on The Fiend and Io Shirai… The Fiend and Funhouse Bray has been a thing since last April, Io Shirai debuted in WWE in August of 2018… The subject of today’s blog post in this series will, this November, celebrate their 30TH anniversary of their WWE debut… shit… Well, as you’ll see I’ve come up with a novel solution to run you through the WWE career, well not all of it don’t panic, of my favourite WWE wrestler of all time… For me, it was a 2 horse race, and I was stuck between a rock (well… The Rock to be exact) and a hard place (well… The Undertaker to be more specific)… So not sure how this will go but please enjoy my third day of the 30 day wrestling challenge, as I tell you all about… The Undertaker!

So I’m going to presume most, if not everyone, who reads this blog will be at least somewhat aware of someone I argue should be on the WWE Mount Rushmore, a man who they should for only the second time in history, they should dedicate an entire Hall Of Fame class one year to this one superstar. Nobody that I know of has ever done it at a higher level and to as good a standard for as long as The Undertaker, for me anyway and I’ll argue with anyone on that. The Undertaker is the greatest. He just is. So how do I summarise a career that will be 30 years old come Survivor Series this year? Well on the place were all knowledge comes from (Twitter) I found another of those images that people have to pick their favourite from, and I’m going to use it to structure my blog. The image below shows 8 different incarnations of The Undertaker in various forms across his near 30-year WWE run, and one by one I will briefly go through each one and say what I thought of it, and you can make your own mind up of what you think of each…

1- 1990 – 1993/4ish = Debut Undertaker. The one who made the kids in the crowd shit themselves. The guy managed by Brother Love. The guy that beat Hogan for the title. The guy that moved incredibly slow and methodically. In a tome when wrestling was speeding up, The Undertaker slowed it all down.

2 – 1994-1997 = Good guy Undertaker. Yes he’s wearing the facemask here (kayfabe caused by leG drops from Mabel, irl to help Taker still be on TV whilst healing from an orbital injury), but this image kind of represents the entire run of this period by Taker. So they turned him babyface, yes the dead guy that doesn’t move and doesn’t sell much was not the guy people were cheering, genius right? Of course why wouldn’t you get behind a guy that never showed pain and didn’t really lose? Now as a babyface though he was still The Undertaker, but now it was far easier to have bad guys get heat on him, and far more sensible to then have Taker do the big comeback and the people cheer. In this time was when it started to get juicy… in 1996 we had Summerslam and the Boiler Room Brawl when Paul Bearer turned on Undertaker and aligned with Mankind. A Buried Alive match followed, Taker lost of course, but he was STILL ALIVE!!!

3- 1997-1998 = Undertaker that did a madness. This Undertaker had A LOT going on. He was in the first two Hell in a Cell matches, which are two of the most famous matches in company and wrestling history. And he had the small issue of his brother Kane making himself known and all that brought with it. He was a good guy, despite trying to destroy Shawn Michaels, despite trying and failing three times to kill Mankind in their cell match, and through his battles with Kane. Towards the end of this period was a whole load of madness around the WWF Championship between Kane, Taker and Stone Cold Steve Austin. It ended with Paul Bearer coming back on board, this time turning on Kane and once again reuniting with The Undertaker… leading too…

4- 1998-1999 = Ministry of Darkness Undertaker. Now THIS guy was an asshole lunatic! Not only did he start the ministry of darkness, but he kidnapped, tried to marry and crucify a young Stephanie McMahon, aligned with ‘the higher power’ and formed the Corporate Ministry, was booed out of most arenas he went into, tried and succeeded on a couple of occasions to take the WWF title away from Stone Cold and The Rock, and… well… the put it bluntly… HE HUNG THE BIG BOSS MAN!!!

5 – 2000-2003 = American Badass. Famously a very divisive period of The Undertaker’s career, not one many look back on fondly, but he came back with a huge amount of momentum in the middle of the most successful year in company history, and ran a rough-shot riding his motorbike all over the place, then he turned heel, had a fun match with Ric Flair at WrestleMania 18 in 2002, won the wwe title from Hulk Hogan with the worst chokeslam of all time, and then turned face during a feud with some kid called ‘Brock Lesnar’… 2003 by then he was the respected all-american hero veteran, which was brought to an end when he entered a feud with another kid called ‘Vince McMahon’, culminating at Survivor Series 2003 when the two were in a Buried Alive match, where Undertaker lost (as he always seemed to do in his ‘signature match’)… but interestingly ended when Kane helped Vince bury his brother… which led to…

6 – 2004-2012: PEAK UNDERTAKER. The era where the Undertaker had the majority of his best matches of his career can probably be defined as the era when The Streak REALLY became the be all and end all for The returning Deadman. So it’s probably easier if I run you through what he did at Mania in these years instead: 20 he returned as the Deadman and beat Kane, 21 he took down the Legend Killer Randy Orton, 22 he beat Mark Henry in a Casket Match (I try and forget this one to be honest), 23 after winning the Royal Rumble he won the World Heavyweight title from Batista in a **** match to begin a great feud, 24 he won the world title from Edge in the main event that was ****1/2, 25 he won what many call one of the best matches in Mania history against Shawn Michaels (*****, obviously), 26 he beat HBK again in the main event this time when it was Streak vs Career (*****), 27 he barely beat Triple H (****3/4) and in the End of an Era Hell in a Cell rematch with Triple H at Mania 28 the story came full circle when, despite HBK being the guest ref, Taker got the win in an all-time classic (*****).

7- 2012-2020: The era when Undertaker got old? This was certainly a mixed time for The Undertaker. He beat CM Punk in a great match at Mania 29. THE STREAK WAS OVER at WrestleMania 30 against Brock Lesnar. Taker returned a year later to beat Bray Wyatt, before quickly seeking revenge against Lesnar later that year when the pair exchanged wins. After a weird feud again with Bray and his Wyatt Family where he got help from Kane, we next saw The Undertaker in a pretty random WrestleMania feud that saw a… memorable… match against Shane McMahon at WrestleMania 32 inside Hell in A Cell that he won… WrestleMania 33 when he came into the match out of shape and injured, we saw him lose the main event to Roman Reigns and there was such a ceremony after it really did look like we had seen the end. But then, a year later after repeated personal insults and call-outs, he returned the next year to answer the challenge and then squash John Cena at WrestleMania 34… and then… well the Saudi shows began… which have come as close to ruining the legacy of any legend as is possible as a result of their own performance. Just horrible match after horrible match against Rusev, a abysmal tag match against DX alongside Kane that absolutely fell apart when Triple H tore his Pectoral muscle just minutes in… These Saudi Arabia shows were horrible, but when my hero is out there having just frankly BAD matches it legitimately hurt. None more the case when Undetaker faced Goldberg in a match I watched just before a night out, and thank god I was drunk… He was given a chance to redeem himself a few months later in a tag team match alongside Roman Reigns to beat Shane McMahon and Drew McIntyre, which was very surprisingly really good.

8- 2020 = MARK CALAWAY! Rumours were about that Undertaker would be facing AJ Styles at WrestleMania… and such at the Saudi show in February of this year The Undertaker interrupted AJ Styles and won the Tuwaiq Trophy. This led to a feud which, well was interesting as I’m sure you all know… Styles went very very personal in his promos, something we hadn’t seen in reference to the much guarded and protected Undertaker in about 15 years or more. Styles would call Taker by his real name and talking about his WIFE! Taker would respond in a very unexpected way… not one I expected anyway…

This of course as you all know led to the Boneyard Match at WrestleMania 36. Now, I guess I should review the match at this point, but… I don’t want to give anything away for anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure to see it in full. Go out of your way to see what was a MASTERPIECE! The Undertaker was BACK, and as a fan who legitimately thought he was washed up in-ring, THIS Undertaker was what I want to see, THIS Undertaker isn’t old and washed up AT ALL, THIS guy is the American Badass. And probably about as close to Mark Calaway as we’ve ever seen The Undertaker be on TV.

Who knows, as always, what’s next for The Undertaker. There is a big WWE Network behind the scenes documentary series coming soon on him, which already looks to be one of the most fascinating and revealing insights into one of the most private and guarded performers we’ve ever seen. If The Boneyard Match was or wasn’t his Last Ride, then it was a heck of a performance, and I for one hope we get to see more of the same from him for a long time to come.


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