As of right now, The Undertaker is retired.
One of the longest-tenured talents in WWE history, the man also known as Mark Calaway seems to have ended his legendary career in the ring. The news ironically comes shortly after the news of a new 15-year contract being reached between the wrestler and the company, headed of course by Vince McMahon.
While WWE is sports entertainment rather than actual competition and the debates about the promotion and its superstars will likely never stop, there is one true universal truth. The Undertaker is awesome. With the concept of kayfabe (the idea of keeping the idea of wrestling events “real”) dead the only holdover is Taker. His career started earlier in WCW and regional promotions but the idea and the concept of The Undertaker was born and perfected in the WWE. With a closely guarded persona and backstory, since joining the WWE in 1990, he hasn’t been a man from Houston, Texas but a being, an ominous figure of darkness hailing from Death Valley.
You could list his accomplishments in WWE titles, World Heavyweight Championships, and Tag Team titles, but The Undertaker is more than that. He is a symbol of consistency and leadership for the promotion. When wrestlers would have disputes backstage, the infamous justice system known as “Wrestler’s Court” often was presided over by Calaway. He was also loyal in a business where loyalty is a double-edged sword.
It’s a charter plane coming back from a UK pay per view show. Vince McMahon starts play wrestling Kurt Angle. Yes, US Olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle. Naturally Vince is getting handled, but their antics wake a sleeping Undertaker. He awakens to Angle on Vince, and starts choking out Kurt Angle! You can think what you want about Vince McMahon but The Undertaker has always gone to bat for him and that means something, especially in the wrestling business.
Want to talk about athleticism and skill? This 6’10 300 plus pounder had a top rope move called “Old School” where he walked across it before jumping onto his opponent. The Tombstone piledriver, The Last Ride, and even Hell’s Gate are all moves that you can picture in your mind. Then add in the chokeslam. Really think about it, when have you ever seen the Undertake have a bad match? He doesn’t.
You could also remember the incredible moments that the Undertaker delivered. Fantastic back to back matches with Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 25 & 26. Throwing Mankind off the top of the cage at Hell in a Cell 1998. The storyline with his “brother” Kane and the Brothers of Destruction, their feud, and removing his mask. The real-life heat with Brock Lesnar, being on hand in the tunnel to make sure that Michael’s lost to Austin before he left the company, his American badass phase, riding to the ring on a bike to Limp Bizkit or Kid Rock. The innovation of the “Buried Alive” and “Casket Matches”.
From his original run with Paul Bearer to his final match, a brilliant twenty minutes against AJ Styles which somehow combined all the best parts of his career into one The Undertaker has been almost a mythical figure. He probably had the most legendary entrances in wrestling history.
WHO ELSE COULD ENTER IN A CASKET THAT GETS STRUCK BY LIGHTNING AND CATCHES FIRE!? Literally a bell toll would create the biggest pop of the night from the crowd. His character was so finely tuned that on the rare occasion Undertaker would speak, the words would live in your head for months after.
He’s left the casket door open for future matches, but we won’t be expecting him to pop up without a reason anymore. The WWE”s greatest superstar has provided memories and moments that will last beyond the time everyone eventually stops watching wrestling. The era of the Deadman is over. Long live the Deadman.