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From Phenom To Legend: 25 Years Of Undertaker

Written by  Published November 23, 2015 04:21
Ask anyone if they know Mark William Calaway and almost all of them will say no and look at you quizzically. Ask those same people who the Undertaker is and I would guess without fail nearly all of them would respond with “the pro wrestler?” For a quarter of a century, the Deadman, the Outlaw, the Master of Darkness or the half a dozen other nicknames he is known by has been the gold standard of the modern era of wrestling. In fact, ask the pros and they will tell you that in the conversation for greatest of all time the list has three names – Bruno Sammartino Jr., Ric Flair and The Undertaker.

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Last week leading up to Summer Slam the WWE celebrated the Undertaker in fantastic style and only like they could. Not only was nearly every PPV match of the Undertaker available for viewing but the special documentaries, profiles and countdowns made wrestling fans all over the world happy with access and information never available in one place like this before. It was a celebration worthy of a superstar of his stature.

The WWE did a great thing for fans of The Phenom and by all accounts critically and internet buzz alike did a great job. However, there will always be a glaring stain on the WWE. If the past week has showed us anything it is that there is a great injustice that can never be rectified and it isn’t even his fault. It is the WWE’s. For the last week it has reopened a once closed wound for this opinionated fan and it has driven home the point that it is truly over in all but the farewell. He doesn’t seem the Mick Foley type where he hangs around in other roles for years after for the sake of narrative.

The glaring re-opened wound is that the streak should have stayed intact.

If the reasoning behind his loss to Brock Lesnar was to make Brock relevant it was unnecessary. If the torch was to be passed to Brock as the new Kevin Sullivan of the decade, then it was not necessary for ‘Taker to lose either. In fact, this will blemish HHH’s record more than Undertaker’s.

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I was there in front of the TV when “Mean” Mark Calaway debuted and I was there when The Undertaker came into the WWF in 1990. The two experiences were complete opposite ends of the spectrum. In the former I was unimpressed and underwhelmed, with the latter I was blown away forever and won over immediately. Mostly, this was because of the growth and work ethic of the Undertaker but the packaging and the presentation was perfect for the time and place and no other superstar has ever done what Undertaker has done.

For me, a lifelong Piper fan and apologist, the Undertaker was my solution to the old-school fan’s “Flair will never be topped” line (who couldn’t at the time even make up their mind between Race and Flair) when I responded “6 foot 10 and he walks on the top rope and drop kicks too.”

So while Summer Slam’s results and the current tumultuous state of the WWE will have the font space and the celebration of the Undertaker continues I hope that someday when they retcon the record books for the sake of continuity (I am a comic book fan I see problems ahead with the HOF and the record books) I hope they rectify the streak with a “Brock Cheated” story or a 35-year homage bit perhaps.

It will forever asterisk the entire profession marking where the front office got it really, really wrong. Something the ‘Taker himself would despise.

 

Steve DAMM

DAMM is the proud father of two beautiful daughters. As one of ENR's founders and passionate comics' lover, he is committed to bringing you fair but passionate reviews as well as breaking news without the overreaction. A Colorado born curmudgeon, comic purist and pop culture crusader, he's on a mission to make new readers aware of the legends who came before in an in-depth way, how they changed comics and why the Silver Age is the most important era to modern American art (comic, commercial & fine). His opinionated style and audacious boldness making him a must read. As a reviewer, opinion columnist and con reporter his objective is the acquisition of truth, justice and the American comic book way, though he's been known to pursue foreign comics voraciously too. A champion for the creator-owned, a proponent for Indies and intolerant of towing corporate lines DAMM brings praise to those who deserve it and lays out the bad news without pretention.

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