The Undertaker

The Undertaker
Ring name(s) (The) Undertaker
Kane The Undertaker[1]
"Mean" Mark Callous[2]
Punisher Dice Morgan
The Punisher[2]
Texas Red[2]
The Master of Pain[2]
Billed height 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)[3]
Billed weight 299 lb (136 kg)[3]
Born March 24, 1965 (1965-03-24) (age 46)[4]
Houston, Texas
Resides Austin, Texas
Billed from Death Valley[3]
Trained by Don Jardine[5]
Debut 1984[6]

Mark William Calaway (born March 24, 1965)[4] is an American professional wrestler better known by his ring name The Undertaker. He is signed to WWE as a member of its SmackDown brand. He is considered one of WWE's senior competitors, having been with the company for twenty-one years. Mark Calaway began his wrestling career with World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW) in 1984. He joined World Championship Wrestling (WCW) as "Mean" Mark Callous in 1989. When WCW did not renew Calaway's contract in 1990, he signed with the World Wrestling Federation as Kane The Undertaker in November and, after tweaking his name to The Undertaker, has remained with the company since.

The Undertaker has two contrasting personas: The Deadman, an undead, occult-like figure, which has consisted of many different versions, beginning with the Western mortician character in November 1990 and ending with the Ministry of Darkness leader in September 1999 before returning to The Deadman in March 2004 as a hybrid of all his previous incarnations. His other persona is The American Bad Ass, a biker which ran from May 2000 to November 2003. Because of his gimmicks, Undertaker has a number of specialty matches associated with him: the Casket match, the Buried Alive match, the Hell in a Cell and the Last Ride match. An important part of the character is his half-brother Kane, who was introduced in October 1997 and with whom he has both feuded and teamed as the Brothers of Destruction.

The Undertaker holds an unrivaled record of being undefeated at WrestleMania, WWE's premier pay-per-view event, with a 19–0 record. Among other accolades, Calaway is an eight-time World Champion having won the WWF/E Championship four times, the World Heavyweight Championship three-times, as well as the USWA Unified World Heavyweight Championship one-time under the Master of Pain character. The Undertaker is also a seven-time World Tag Team champion: a six-time WWF Tag Team Champion and one-time WCW Tag Team Champion. The Undertaker was the winner of the 2007 Royal Rumble and became the first man to enter the annual event last and win. Calaway is the only remaining WWE wrestler to have also appeared on the first episode of its Raw program.

Contents

Professional wrestling career

Early career (1984–1990)

Calaway made his debut in 1984 in World Class Championship Wrestling under the ring name "Texas Red".[6] He wrestled and lost his first match against Bruiser Brody.[6] In 1988, after four years in the promotion, he left and joined the Continental Wrestling Association (which became the United States Wrestling Association after Jerry Jarrett merged CWA with WCCW), wrestling under several gimmick. On April 1, 1989, he was booked to win his first professional wrestling title, the USWA Unified World Heavyweight Championship, defeating Jerry "The King" Lawler, under the stage name "The Master of Pain". While performing as "The Punisher", Calaway won the WCWA Texas Heavyweight Championship on October 5, 1989 when Eric Embry forfeited the title.[7]

In 1989, Calaway joined World Championship Wrestling where he was promptly drafted into the Skyscrapers tag team to replace an injured Sid Vicious. Calaway adopted the ring name Mean Mark Callous, the surname being an apparent pun on both Vicious and Calaway. The new team gained some notoriety at Clash Of The Champions X when they beat down The Road Warriors after their match.[8] However Callous' partner Dan Spivey left WCW days before their Chicago Street Fight against the Warriors at WrestleWar 1990. Callous and a replacement masked Skyscraper went down to defeat in the Street Fight and the team broke up soon afterwards.[9] As he went into singles competition, Callous took on the guidance of Paul E. Dangerously and defeated Johnny Ace at Capital Combat and defeated Brian Pillman at the Clash of the Champions. In July 1990, he wrestled against Lex Luger for the NWA United States Heavyweight Championship at The Great American Bash, but lost when Luger pinned him after a clothesline. WCW declined to renew Calaway's contract.

Calaway then briefly wrestled in New Japan Pro Wrestling as Punisher Dice Morgan. After leaving, he briefly returned to the USWA to participate in a tournament to determine the new USWA Unified World Heavyweight Champion; he defeated Bill Dundee in the first round, but lost to Jerry Lawler in the quarterfinals. In October 1990, he signed with the World Wrestling Federation (WWF).

World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment

Debut and various feuds (1990–1994)

Calaway made his WWF debut as "Kane The Undertaker"[1] at a taping of WWF Superstars on November 19, 1990.[10] It should be noted, however, that the concept of The Undertaker character was not presented to Calaway until after he signed with Vince McMahon. The appearance of The Undertaker's first Deadman persona was modeled after a mortician from old Western movies, wearing a trench coat and black hat with grey gloves and boot covers. Under this Deadman persona, he was so-called "impervious to pain," something accomplished by Calaway no-selling his opponents' attacks. Calaway made his official on-camera debut on November 22 at Survivor Series as a heel when he was the mystery partner of Ted DiBiase's Million Dollar team, where he was called Kane the Undertaker.[11] Approximately one minute into the match, The Undertaker eliminated Koko B. Ware with his finisher, the Tombstone Piledriver. He also eliminated Dusty Rhodes before being counted out. The commentary team for the event referred to him as The Undertaker, neglecting the Kane name. Shortly after Survivor Series, "Kane" was dropped from his name, and he was called simply The Undertaker. It was at this time that The Undertaker switched managers from Brother Love to Paul Bearer — a histrionic, ghostly character, almost always seen bearing an urn from which The Undertaker was said to draw mystical power, reviving his strength during his matches. During his heel run, Undertaker would place his defeated opponents (almost always jobbers) in a bodybag and carry them to the back.[12]

He made his WrestleMania debut at WrestleMania VII, quickly defeating "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka.[13] The win was the first in his undefeated streak at the event. He began his first major feud with The Ultimate Warrior, when he attacked the Warrior and locked him in an airtight casket on the set of his manager, Paul Bearer's Funeral Parlor interview segment. After a year of battles with the Warrior, Randy Savage,[11] Sid Justice, Sgt. Slaughter, and Hulk Hogan, he defeated Hogan to win his first WWF Championship at Survivor Series with the help of Ric Flair, and thus became the youngest WWF Champion in history until having this record broken by Yokozuna in 1993.[14] WWF President Jack Tunney ordered a rematch for This Tuesday in Texas six days later, where The Undertaker lost the title back to Hogan.[14]

In February 1992, The Undertaker's ally Jake "The Snake" Roberts tried to attack Randy Savage's manager/wife Miss Elizabeth with a steel chair when The Undertaker stopped him, becoming a fan favorite for the first time. Then, Undertaker defeated Roberts at WrestleMania VIII, continuing his winning streak at the event.[13] He then feuded extensively with wrestlers managed by Harvey Wippleman throughout 1992 and 1993, such as Kamala and Yokozuna, culminating in a WWF Championship casket match against the latter at the 1994 Royal Rumble. At the Royal Rumble, champion Yokozuna sealed The Undertaker in the casket with the assistance of several other villainous wrestlers, winning the match. The Undertaker appeared from inside the casket on the video screen, representing his spirit, warning that he would return.[15]

Return and various storylines (1994–1997)

Paul Bearer betrayed Undertaker by hitting him with the urn he is seen carrying here.

After WrestleMania X, Ted DiBiase introduced an Undertaker back to the WWF. This Undertaker, however, played by Brian Lee, was an impostor Undertaker (dubbed the "Underfaker" by fans) and led to the return of the real Undertaker at SummerSlam, appearing as a new version of his original Deadman persona, replacing grey with purple. The Undertaker defeated the impostor after three Tombstone Piledrivers.[15] At Survivor Series, The Undertaker defeated Yokozuna in a rematch, another casket match. Throughout most of 1995, The Undertaker feuded with members of Ted DiBiase's Million Dollar Corporation. At WrestleMania XI, while Undertaker was facing King Kong Bundy, Kama stole The Undertaker's urn, and antagonized him by melting it into a large gold necklace and attacking the Undertaker.[15] Later, The Undertaker defeated Kama in a casket match at SummerSlam.[15] Several weeks later, The Undertaker injured his orbital bone near his eye, forcing a period of absence for surgery, until his return at Survivor Series.

The Undertaker returned at the 1995 Survivor Series, wearing a Phantom of the Opera-like, grey upper mask.[15] In the main event of the 1996 Royal Rumble, The Undertaker was unmasked in a WWF Championship match against Bret Hart, when Diesel interfered in the match to cost the Undertaker the championship.[16] One month later, at In Your House: Rage in the Cage, while Diesel was facing Hart in a steel cage match, The Undertaker came bursting from under the ring, dragging Diesel underneath, allowing Hart to get the victory.[16] This feud culminated in a match between Diesel and the Undertaker at WrestleMania XII, in which The Undertaker was victorious.[13]

His next feud commenced the very next night, when Mankind made his debut, interfering in The Undertaker's match with Justin Hawk Bradshaw. For the next few months, Mankind ambushed and cost The Undertaker several matches.[16] The feud intensified, and they began taking their battles into crowds, backstage areas, and in the boiler rooms of different arenas. Mankind cost the Undertaker the WWF Intercontinental Championship at In Your House 8: Beware of Dog, assisting champion Goldust to victory. As a result, the first ever Boiler Room Brawl was booked between the two at SummerSlam. During the match, when Undertaker reached for Paul Bearer's urn, Bearer hit him with it, betraying The Undertaker and allowing Mankind to "incapacitate" The Undertaker with the Mandible claw, giving him the win.[16] After Bearer's betrayal, The Undertaker took his rivalry with Mankind to a new level, resulting in a Buried Alive match in the main event of In Your House: Buried Alive. The Undertaker won the match after a chokeslam into the open grave, but after interference from The Executioner, as well as the help of several other superstars, The Undertaker was ultimately "Buried Alive".[16] After being buried alive, The Undertaker returned at the Survivor Series again pitting him against Mankind, but with a unique stipulation; hanging 20 ft (6.1 m) above the ring was Paul Bearer, enclosed in a steel cage. If Undertaker won the match, he would be able to get his hands on Bearer. Even though The Undertaker won the match, interference from The Executioner enabled Bearer to escape The Undertaker's clutches.[17] The Undertaker then briefly turned his attention to The Executioner, who had become a thorn in his side since his arrival. At In Your House: It's Time, The Undertaker defeated The Executioner in an Armageddon rules match.[17] By the end of 1996, The Undertaker began a feud with Vader, culminating in a loss to Vader at the 1997 Royal Rumble after Bearer interfered on behalf of his new protégé.[17] Following this, Undertaker continued his undefeated streak by defeating Sycho Sid at WrestleMania 13 to win the WWF Championship for the second time.[18]

Hell in a Cell and Brothers of Destruction (1997–1998)

After the event, Paul Bearer attempted to rejoin with The Undertaker, using the threat of revealing The Undertaker's "biggest secret". In the storyline, Bearer announced that The Undertaker was a murderer, who as a child had burned down the family funeral home business (where Bearer worked), killing his parents and his younger half-brother. The Undertaker claimed there was no way for Bearer to have that information, but Bearer announced that he was told this by Undertaker's half-brother Kane, who was still alive but horribly burned and scarred. Bearer raised Kane after the fire, having him institutionalized. Now, Kane was waiting for revenge after all these years. In defense, The Undertaker responded that Kane, a pyromaniac, had been the one to set the fire and could not have possibly survived.

The Undertaker, awakening the arena lights as he enters the ring.

Concurrently, Undertaker began a new rivalry at SummerSlam when guest referee Shawn Michaels accidentally hit The Undertaker with a steel chair shot meant for Bret Hart, costing the Undertaker his WWF Championship.[18] After a double count-out draw during Ground Zero: In Your House, Undertaker challenged Michaels to the first Hell in a Cell match at Badd Blood: In Your House. During this match, The Undertaker's storyline half-brother Kane finally made his debut under the control of Paul Bearer, ripping off the door to the cell and giving The Undertaker a Tombstone Piledriver, Undertaker's trademark finisher, allowing Michaels to pin him.[18] The match received a 5-star rating from Dave Meltzer. As the storyline progressed Kane, through Bearer, challenged The Undertaker to fights, but The Undertaker consistently refused to fight his brother. The Undertaker's final encounter with Michaels was in a casket match at the Royal Rumble. The week before, Kane had seemed to ally with his brother against Michaels' D-Generation X but at the PPV Kane trapped him in the coffin, padlocking the casket lid, and setting it ablaze which again gave Michaels the victory. The Undertaker, however, had disappeared when the casket lid was reopened.[19] After a two month hiatus, The Undertaker returned and defeated Kane at WrestleMania XIV.[19] The two had a rematch, the first ever Inferno match, one month later at Unforgiven: In Your House, which The Undertaker won by setting Kane's right arm on fire.[19]

The Undertaker's feud with Mankind was renewed afterward, and they faced each other in a Hell in a Cell match at King of the Ring. During the match, The Undertaker threw Mankind off the roof of the 16 ft (4.9 m) cell onto the Spanish announce table below, in what was a preplanned move. He later chokeslammed Mankind through the roof of the cell into the ring which legitimately knocked Mankind unconscious. Mankind also used thumbtacks in the match and was backdropped and chokeslammed onto them before undertaker finished the match by Tombstone Piledriving Mankind.[19]

At Fully Loaded, The Undertaker and Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated Kane and Mankind to win the WWF Tag Team Championship.[19] The Undertaker and Austin's reign as tag champions lasted for only two months, as Kane and Mankind regained the titles on an episode of Raw is War.[20] The Undertaker then became the number one contender for the WWF Championship at SummerSlam, now held by Austin. Shortly before SummerSlam, however, The Undertaker revealed that he and Kane were working together as brothers. Despite this revelation, The Undertaker told Kane that he did not want him to interfere in the match with Austin, and even though The Undertaker lost the match, he handed Austin his belt back after the match in a show of respect.[19] In September, the storyline continued, and The Undertaker began to show some villainous characteristics when he and Kane revealed the fact that they were in cahoots to rid Austin of his title for Vince McMahon. At Breakdown: In Your House, The Undertaker and Kane were booked in a Triple Threat match with Austin for his WWF Championship; McMahon stated that the brothers were not allowed to pin each other. The Undertaker and Kane pinned Austin simultaneously after a double chokeslam,[19] so the title was vacated by McMahon. This event led to a match at Judgment Day: In Your House between the two brothers for the title, with Austin as the special guest referee. Near the end of the match, Paul Bearer seemed about to assist Kane by handing him a steel chair to hit The Undertaker with, but as Kane had his back turned, both Bearer and The Undertaker hit Kane with the chair. The Undertaker went for the pin, but Austin refused to count the fall, attacked the Undertaker, and counted out both brothers.[19] Finally, The Undertaker became a villain the next night on Raw is War for the first time in over six years, reconciling with Bearer and claiming that he and Bearer would unleash their Ministry of Darkness on the World Wrestling Federation. As part of this new storyline, he admitted that he had indeed set the fire that killed his parents, for which he had previously blamed Kane.[20]

After Survivor Series, The Undertaker returned his attention back to his previous feud with Austin for costing him the title at Judgment Day, hitting Austin in the head with a shovel during a title match with The Rock, returning the favor for what happened a month earlier. With this twist in the storyline, McMahon scheduled a Buried Alive match between The Undertaker and Austin at Rock Bottom: In Your House. In the weeks leading up to Rock Bottom, The Undertaker attempted to embalm Austin alive, tried to have Kane committed to a mental asylum, and had his druids chain Austin to his symbol, raising it high into the arena.[20] The Undertaker, however, lost the match after Kane interfered.[21]

Ministry of Darkness (1999)

In January 1999, The Undertaker returned and formed the Ministry of Darkness, developing a more evil, Satanic and a more frightening persona than ever before. Undertaker stated that he was taking orders from a "Higher Power". He often appeared in a black robe and sat on a throne. With the help of his minions, he often performed sacrifices on various WWE superstars, which were meant to bring out the more evil side of superstars so as to recruit them into his Ministry. The Ministry eventually merged with The Corporation alliance to form the Corporate Ministry.[22] During this time, The Undertaker defeated Austin for his third WWF Championship at Over the Edge with help from Shane McMahon, the special referee.[23] Two weeks later, Raw is War revealed that Vince McMahon had been The Undertaker's "Higher Power" all along. After The Undertaker dropped the WWF Championship back to Austin one night after King of the Ring,[22] and lost a First Blood match at Fully Loaded, his relationship with the McMahons dissolved and the Corporate Ministry disbanded.

The Undertaker then began a storyline where he teamed with The Big Show in a tag team known as The UnHoly Alliance, which held the WWF Tag Team Championship twice.

In September 1999, The Undertaker went on a four month hiatus from WWF due to a groin injury. In January 2000, one month before a scheduled return at the Royal Rumble, he tore a pectoral muscle.

American Bad Ass/Big Evil (2000–2003)

Undertaker at WrestleMania XIX

The Undertaker took on a second persona during this portion of his WWF career. He abandoned the Gothic mortician-themed attire, his funeral dirge ring music, allusions to the supernatural, and the accompanying theatrics of his ring entrance. The Undertaker now took on the personality of a biker, riding to the ring on a motorcycle, and wearing sunglasses and bandanas to the ring. His ring music was now replaced with popular rock songs of the time, like Limp Bizkit's "Rollin' (Air Raid Vehicle)" and Kid Rock's "American Bad Ass" (from which the name of The Undertaker's new gimmick originated), though it was accompanied by the characteristic opening bell gong of The Undertaker's original theme.

Upon his return in May 2000, he took out all the members of the McMahon-Helmsley Faction, which caused him to once again be a fan favorite. He also targeted their leader, WWF Champion Triple H. At King of the Ring, The Undertaker teamed with The Rock and Kane to defeat the team of Triple H, Shane McMahon, and Vince McMahon.[24] Afterward, he was booked to team with Kane to contend for the WWF Tag Team Championship. They defeated Edge and Christian, earning the right to face them the following week for the tag title, which Edge and Christian retained. Kane betrayed The Undertaker by chokeslamming him twice on the August 14 episode of Raw is War.[25] This incident led to another match between the two at SummerSlam, which ended in a no contest as Kane ran from the ring area after The Undertaker removed Kane's mask.[24]

The Undertaker then challenged Kurt Angle for the WWF Championship at Survivor Series.[26] Angle, however, defeated The Undertaker after Kurt switched places with his real life brother, Eric Angle. The Undertaker demanded and was awarded a spot in the Six Man Hell in a Cell match for the WWF Championship at Armageddon. The Undertaker promised to make someone "famous" and did so when he chokeslamed Rikishi off the roof of the cell.[26]

In 2001, The Undertaker reunited with Kane as the Brothers of Destruction, challenging for the WWF Tag Team Championship once again. They received a shot at the title at No Way Out, facing Edge and Christian and then champions the Dudley Boyz in a Tables Match. The Brothers of Destruction dominated almost the entire match but were not the winners.[26] The Undertaker was then booked to defeat Triple H at WrestleMania X-Seven, where he improved his WrestleMania winning streak to 9–0.[13] He and Kane continued a storyline that focused on Triple H, who formed a "surprise alliance" with WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin. The Brothers of Destruction were granted an opportunity to face Triple H and Austin for their titles. After The Undertaker and Kane acquired the WWF Tag Title from Edge and Christian,[27] Triple H pinned Kane after attacking him with a sledgehammer at Backlash, where the Brothers of Destruction dropped the title.[28] With Kane injured, The Undertaker feuded briefly with Steve Austin for his WWF Championship, but at Judgment Day, Austin retained his title.[28]

As part of "The Invasion" storyline, The Undertaker's next nemesis was Diamond Dallas Page, who was obsessively following The Undertaker's wife Sara.[28] (While they were presented as being married from the start of the storyline, in reality, Mark and Sara got married during the height of this feud.[29] At SummerSlam, WCW Tag Team Champions The Undertaker and Kane defeated Page and his partner Chris Kanyon in a steel cage match to win the WWF Tag Team Championship.[28] At Survivor Series, The Undertaker teamed with Kane, The Rock, Chris Jericho, and The Big Show to take on The Alliance's Steve Austin, Booker T, Rob Van Dam, Shane McMahon, and Kurt Angle (this would be the last time that The Undertaker and Kane would team up until 2006). Angle pinned The Undertaker due to interference by Austin.[28] After the Alliance was defeated, The Undertaker became a villain once again by forcing commentator Jim Ross to kiss Vince McMahon's ass.[30] This was the beginning of a new persona for The Undertaker, as he cut his long hair short and called himself "Big Evil". At Vengeance, The Undertaker defeated Van Dam to capture the WWF Hardcore Championship.[31]

The Undertaker during his "Big Evil" persona

The Undertaker's next storyline began at the Royal Rumble in 2002 when Maven eliminated him by dropkicking him from behind. Subsequently, The Undertaker eliminated Maven in return and brutally assaulted him backstage.[31] On an episode of SmackDown!, The Rock mentioned The Undertaker's elimination at the Royal Rumble, angering The Undertaker. The Undertaker responded by costing The Rock the number one contendership for the WWF Undisputed Championship.[32] The storyline continued when The Rock cost The Undertaker his match with Maven for the Hardcore Championship.[33] The two faced off at No Way Out, where The Undertaker lost due to interference from Ric Flair.[31] This interference began a storyline with Flair, who declined a challenge to wrestle Undertaker at WrestleMania X8,[34] and, as a result, Undertaker assaulted his son David Flair.[35] Flair eventually accepted the match after The Undertaker threatened to inflict the same punishment on Flair's daughter.[35] A no disqualification stipulation was added to the match, and The Undertaker defeated Flair.[13]

After the storyline with Flair, The Undertaker defeated Stone Cold Steve Austin at Backlash to win the number one contendership for the WWF Undisputed Championship. Later that night, he helped Hulk Hogan win his title match against the Undisputed Champion Triple H.[31] The Undertaker then defeated Hogan for his fourth world championship at Judgment Day. The following night The Undertaker was defeated by Rob Van Dam for The WWE Undisputed Championship, however Ric Flair restarted the match and The Undertaker recapture his championship.[36] On the July 1 episode of Raw, The Undertaker turned into a fan favorite again after defeating Jeff Hardy in a ladder match and raising Hardy's hand as a show of respect. The Undertaker, however, dropped the title at Vengeance to The Rock in a triple threat match that also involved Kurt Angle.[36] The Undertaker was then switched from Raw to SmackDown! (Smackdown! would remain as The Undertakers home since 2002 till present), alongside former Raw talent Brock Lesnar, Chris Benoit, and Eddie Guerrero. The Undertaker challenged Lesnar in a title match at Unforgiven that ended in a double-disqualification.[36] Their feud carried over to No Mercy in a Hell in a Cell match. The Undertaker performed in the match with a legitimate broken hand and eventually lost to the champion.[36]

The Undertaker took a leave from wrestling after the Big Show threw him off the stage, sparking a feud.[37] The Undertaker returned at the Royal Rumble in 2003.[38] He immediately continued his feud with Big Show and defeated him by submission at No Way Out with a triangle choke. A-Train entered the storyline by attempting to attack The Undertaker after the match, but Nathan Jones came to his aid.[38] The storyline resumed as The Undertaker began to train Jones to wrestle, and the two were scheduled to fight Big Show and A-Train in a tag team match at WrestleMania XIX.[13] Jones, however, was removed prior to the match, making it a handicap match, which The Undertaker won with the help of Jones.[38]

Over the remainder of the year, The Undertaker entered a brief feud with John Cena and was booked to have two WWE Championship opportunities. The first, on the September 4 SmackDown!, against Kurt Angle, ended in a no contest, due to interference from Brock Lesnar.[39] The second, at No Mercy, was a Biker Chain match between The Undertaker and Lesnar, which Lesnar won with the help of Vince McMahon.[40] This match resulted in a feud with McMahon, culminating at Survivor Series where The Undertaker lost a Buried Alive match against McMahon when Kane interfered.[40] The Undertaker disappeared for some time following the match, with Kane claiming that he was "dead and buried forever."[41]

Return of the Deadman (2004–2007)

In the storyline leading up to WrestleMania XX, Kane was haunted by vignettes proclaiming The Undertaker's return. The first was during the Royal Rumble when The Undertaker's bells tolled, distracting Kane and allowing Booker T to eliminate him.[40] At WrestleMania XX, The Undertaker, accompanied by Paul Bearer and in his "Deadman" persona, returned and defeated Kane.[42] At the following Smackdown! Pay-Per-View Judgment Day, The Undertaker would go on to defeat Booker T. Three months later, Bearer was kidnapped by the Dudley Boyz at the direction of Paul Heyman,[43] who then took "control" of Undertaker.[44] On Smackdown Undertaker attacked both Rob Van Dam and John Cena. The following week Cena confronted The Undertaker and was booked into a match by back then General Manager Kurt Angle to face The Undertaker which The Undertaker went on to win after hitting cena with his chain and delivered a Tombstone. At The Great American Bash The Undertaker fought a handicap match against the Dudleys, with the stipulation that if he didn't lay down and purposely lose, Heyman would bury Bearer in cement. The Undertaker won and stopped Heyman from burying Bearer, then buried him anyway, explaining that Bearer was merely a liability now and that he had no use for him anymore.[42]

The Undertaker making his entrance during an episode of SmackDown!.

After defeating the Dudley Boyz, The Undertaker began a feud by challenging then WWE Champion John "Bradshaw" Layfield (JBL) to a title match at SummerSlam, which The Undertaker lost by disqualification.[42] At No Mercy, The Undertaker and JBL competed in the first ever "Last Ride" match, although The Undertaker lost after Heidenreich interfered.[42] After a brief program with Heidenreich,[45] The Undertaker turned his focus to the WWE Championship once again. Along with Eddie Guerrero and Booker T, he challenged JBL to a championship rematch at Armageddon in a Fatal Four-Way match, in which The Undertaker was unsuccessful, again due to Heidenreich's interference.[45] The feud culminated in a Casket match between The Undertaker and Heidenreich at the Royal Rumble, where The Undertaker sealed Heidenreich in a casket for the victory.[45]

Soon afterward, Randy Orton challenged The Undertaker to a match at WrestleMania 21, in a storyline where Orton claimed that he would end The Undertaker's WrestleMania winning streak (this would be the first Wrestlemania in which the undefeated streak would become a major selling point for the Undertaker's matches at the marquee event and for Wrestlemania itself; it was only mentioned in passing before this).[46] Even with help from his father "Cowboy" Bob Orton, Randy failed, and The Undertaker improved his WrestleMania record to 13–0.[45] He returned for the June 16 episode of SmackDown! but lost to JBL, thanks to interference from Randy Orton.[47] After The Great American Bash, The Undertaker became the number one contender to the World Heavyweight Championship, a position that JBL felt he should have. As part of the feud, on the following SmackDown!, The Undertaker lost a number one contender match against JBL, once again due to interference from Orton.[48] With this, The Undertaker resumed his feud with Orton. At SummerSlam, Orton defeated The Undertaker in a WrestleMania rematch.[49] The storyline intensified as the two taunted each other with caskets, leading to a casket match at No Mercy, in which The Undertaker lost to Randy and his father "Cowboy" Bob Orton.[49] After the match, the Ortons poured gasoline on the casket and set it on fire. When the charred casket was opened, however, The Undertaker had once again vanished. He returned at the Survivor Series, emerging from a burning casket.[50] The Undertaker returned to SmackDown! in early December to haunt Orton and set up a Hell in a Cell match at Armageddon.[51] After winning the match,[50] Calaway took a short hiatus from wrestling.

The Undertaker retaining his undefeated streak at WrestleMania 22.

In early 2006 at the Royal Rumble, The Undertaker returned during Kurt Angle's celebration of his world title defense against Mark Henry on a horse drawn cart, signaling for a title shot. As part of their storyline feud, The Undertaker lost his match with Angle at No Way Out after a thirty minute bout. Undertaker cornered Angle after the match, and after a stare down, told Angle that he had his number and that he was not finished with him yet. The Undertaker had his No Way Out rematch for the World Heavyweight Championship against Angle on SmackDown! when Henry attacked The Undertaker from behind, costing him the title. This began an angle between the duo, as The Undertaker then challenged Henry to a Casket match at WrestleMania 22, and Henry, like Orton a year before him, vowed to end Undertaker's WrestleMania winning streak. The Undertaker defeated Henry to become 14-0 at WrestleMania, keeping his storyline undefeated streak alive. During a rematch on the next edition of SmackDown!, The Great Khali made his debut and assaulted The Undertaker, signaling the end of one storyline and the beginning of a new one.

The Undertaker was not heard from until the May 5 episode of SmackDown!, as Theodore Long delivered a challenge from The Undertaker to Khali for a match at Judgment Day.[52] The Undertaker lost to Khali,[53][54] and he did not appear again until the July 4 edition of SmackDown!, when he accepted Khali's challenge to a Punjabi Prison match at The Great American Bash.[55] Khali, however, was removed from the match and was replaced by ECW Champion The Big Show, over whom The Undertaker gained the victory. In the storyline, Teddy Long replaced Khali with Big Show as punishment for an attack on The Undertaker shortly before the match.[53] Khali was then challenged to a Last Man Standing match at SummerSlam after interfering in The Undertaker's match with World Heavyweight Champion King Booker.[56] Khali refused the challenge for SummerSlam, though Long made the match official for the August 18 episode of SmackDown! instead. The Undertaker won the match by striking Khali with the steel stairs, delivering several chair shots, and finishing him with a chokeslam.[57]

The Undertaker's next match was with WWE United States Champion Mr. Kennedy at No Mercy but was disqualified in the match after he hit Kennedy with the championship belt.[58] On the November 3 edition of SmackDown!, The Undertaker reunited with Kane to form the Brothers of Destruction for the first time in five years, defeating the reluctant opposition team of Mr. Kennedy and MVP, with whom Kane was feuding with at the time.[59] As part of the storyline, Kennedy defeated The Undertaker in a First Blood match at Survivor Series after interference from MVP,[58] but finally defeated Kennedy in a Last Ride match at Armageddon.[58] The two continued to feud into 2007 as Kennedy cost The Undertaker two World Heavyweight Championship opportunities for a championship match at the Royal Rumble.[60][61]

World Heavyweight Champion (2007–2010)

The Undertaker won his first Royal Rumble match at the 2007 event,[61] becoming the first man to enter the Rumble at number 30 and win the match.[62] He then began a storyline with Batista, whom he defeated at WrestleMania 23 to win his first World Heavyweight Championship. At Backlash in a Last Man Standing match, they had a rematch that ended in a draw when neither man was able to answer the ten-count, resulting in The Undertaker retaining the Championship. On the May 11 episode of SmackDown!, The Undertaker and Batista participated in a steel cage match that ended in a draw when both men's feet touched the floor at the same time. After the match, Mark Henry returned and assaulted The Undertaker. Immediately after the assault, Edge cashed in his Money in the Bank title shot, and The Undertaker dropped the World Heavyweight Championship to Edge. As The Undertaker laid in the ring, druids appeared and carried him to the backstage area.

The Undertaker, after defeating Edge at WrestleMania XXIV.

During Calaway's rehabilitation, Henry quickly defeated local jobbers and bragged about his assault on Undertaker, until vignettes began playing promoting The Undertaker's return. The Undertaker returned at Unforgiven, successfully defeating Henry and again on SmackDown! two weeks later.[63] Batista and The Undertaker reignited their feud at Cyber Sunday with the fans choosing the special guest referee Stone Cold Steve Austin, but Batista retained the world title.[64] They battled again inside a Hell in a Cell at Survivor Series where Edge returned and interfered to help Batista retain the World Heavyweight Championship.[65] In response to this, The Undertaker delivered a Tombstone piledriver to General Manager Vickie Guerrero, on the next SmackDown!, sending her to the hospital. Returning Assistant-General Manager Theodore Long declared a Triple Threat match for the title at Armageddon, which Edge won.

At No Way Out, The Undertaker defeated Batista, Finlay, The Great Khali, Montel Vontavious Porter, and Big Daddy V in an Elimination Chamber, to become the number one contender for Edge's World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania XXIV. He defeated Edge at WrestleMania with his "Hell's Gate" submission hold, to win his second World Heavyweight Championship and elevate his undefeated streak at WrestleMania to 16–0.[66] In a WrestleMania rematch, The Undertaker defeated Edge once again at Backlash to retain the World Heavyweight Championship.[67] Vickie Guerrero announced that The Undertaker's "Hell's Gate" was an illegal hold and stripped him of the title. The Undertaker battled Edge for the vacant title at Judgment Day, which he won by countout. Vickie ordered that the title remain vacant, because titles cannot change hands in this way. Edge and The Undertaker faced each other again for the vacant championship at One Night Stand in a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match, which The Undertaker lost after interference from La Familia. As a result of the stipulation, Undertaker was forced to leave WWE.

The Undertaker, after defeating Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XXV.

On the July 25, 2008 episode of SmackDown, Vickie Guerrero announced that she had reinstated The Undertaker, and that Edge would face him at SummerSlam in a Hell in a Cell match,[68] which The Undertaker won. After the match, The Undertaker chokeslammed Edge from the top of a ladder and through the ring canvas.[69] Following this match, Guerrero tried to make a peace offering with The Undertaker on SmackDown by apologizing, but The Undertaker told her that he is not the forgiving kind. At Unforgiven, as The Undertaker approached the ring to "take Guerrero's soul" and take her in a casket, the Big Show, who appeared at first to aid the Undertaker, betrayed and assaulted him.[70] As a result of this altercation, The Undertaker and Big Show faced each other in a match at No Mercy, where the Big Show knocked The Undertaker out with a punch to the back of The Undertaker's head.[71] At Cyber Sunday, The Undertaker defeated the Big Show in a Last Man Standing match after applying Hell's Gate.[72] The Undertaker then went on to defeat the Big Show at Survivor Series in a casket match, to end the feud.[73] At No Way Out The Undertaker was part of the WWE Championship Elimination Chamber match, However he was unsuccessful at winning the match. He then became embroiled in a long time feud with Shawn Michaels over his WrestleMania undefeated streak and the fact that The Undertaker had never defeated Michaels in a singles match previously. The feud culminated in a match at WrestleMania XXV which The Undertaker won to extend his WrestleMania streak to a perfect record of 17–0.[74] On the April 24 episode of SmackDown, Big Show defeated him in a singles match by knockout after the match, Undertaker attacked Big Show. After SmackDown, Undertaker took hiatus from WWE on April 25, 2009.

The Undertaker wearing a variation of his Lord of Darkness Attire in late 2009.

After four month hiatus, The Undertaker returned at SummerSlam in August by attacking CM Punk, who had just won the World Heavyweight Championship from Jeff Hardy in a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match.[75] At Breaking Point, The Undertaker faced Punk in a submission match. The Undertaker had originally won the match with his Hell's Gate submission hold, but the match was restarted by SmackDown General Manager Theodore Long, who ruled that the ban placed on the move by Vickie Guerrero was still in effect. Punk went on to win the match with his Anaconda Vise when referee Scott Armstrong called for the bell, despite Undertaker never submitting in a recreation of the Montreal Screwjob, which took place in the same venue in 1997.[76] On the September 25 episode of SmackDown, Theodore Long announced that the ban had now been officially lifted, after being released from a casket that The Undertaker had apparently placed him in.[77] The feud between the two continued and at the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view, The Undertaker won the World Heavyweight Championship from Punk in a Hell in a Cell match.[78] The Undertaker successfully defended the title against CM Punk on SmackDown, in a Fatal Four Way match at Bragging Rights, and in a Triple Threat match at Survivor Series.[79][80] He faced Batista at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs for the championship, and won when the match was restarted by Long, after Batista had originally won after utilising a low blow.[81]

At the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view, a pyrotechnics malfunction momentarily engulfed The Undertaker in flames during his ring entrance. He was able to continue with his scheduled match, with a burn on his chest that "looked like a bad sunburn" according to a WWE spokesman.[82] He lost the World Heavyweight Championship to Chris Jericho after interference from Shawn Michaels.[83] Undertaker had been rebuffing Michaels' requests for a WrestleMania rematch, but the night after Elimination Chamber he agreed to the match on the condition that Michaels' career was on the line.[84] At WrestleMania, The Undertaker defeated Michaels to end his career in a match with no countouts or disqualifications.[85]

The Undertaker defending his World Heavyweight Championship at Royal Rumble 2010.

After a hiatus (which included wrestling two matches on Raw), he returned to SmackDown on May 28, defeating Rey Mysterio to qualify for a spot in the Fatal 4-Way pay-per-view to compete for the World Heavyweight Championship.[86] During the match, The Undertaker suffered a concussion, broken orbital bone, and broken nose; he was visibly bleeding profusely on camera by the end of the match.[87] To cover for the injury, Kane revealed The Undertaker had been found in a vegetative state;[88] Mysterio took his place in the match and won the World Heavyweight Championship. While attempting to learn which superstar had attacked The Undertaker, Kane defeated Mysterio to win the World Heavyweight Championship. Kane and Mysterio continued to clash as they accused one another of being the assailant behind the attack.[89]

At SummerSlam, the Undertaker returned to confront Kane and Rey Mysterio, only to be overpowered and Tombstoned by Kane.[90] With Kane revealed as his attacker, the two feuded for the next few months over the World Heavyweight Championship. After losing to Kane at Night of Champions, Paul Bearer returned as Undertaker's manager on an episode of SmackDown.[91] However, Bearer attacked him at Hell in a Cell to help Kane win once again. The feud ended at Bragging Rights when The Nexus helped Kane defeat Undertaker in a Buried Alive match.

Feud with Triple H (2011)

The Undertaker performing his entrance at WrestleMania XXVII

After the 2011 Royal Rumble, promos showing The Undertaker entering and standing within an old house began airing. Each promo would end with the date 2-21-11 being burned into the screen. On the February 21 episode of Raw The Undertaker returned to Raw; after his lengthy entrance but before he could speak, Triple H returned after an 11 month absence and confronted The Undertaker. In a unique interaction involving no verbal or physical exchanges, the two stared each other down, performed their signature intimidation actions towards each other, then both turned to stare at the WrestleMania XXVII marquee; this sequence was interpreted as a challenge by Triple H to Undertaker's Wrestlemania streak, which The Undertaker accepted. The match was then made official on WWE's official website and then turned into a No Holds Barred match. At WrestleMania XXVII, after surviving three Pedigrees and a Tombstone Piledriver, Undertaker forced Triple H to tap out to Hell's Gate, extending his streak to 19–0. Following the match, The Undertaker was carried away from the ring on a stretcher.

Personal life

Calaway graduated from Waltrip High School in 1983 where he was a member of the basketball team.[92] Calaway married his first wife, Jodi Lynn, in 1989, and they had a son, Gunner, born in 1993, before the marriage ended in 1999. Calaway married his second wife, Sara, in St Petersburg, Florida on July 21, 2000.[citation needed] The couple had two daughters together: Chasey (born on November 21, 2002) and Gracie (born on May 15, 2005).[citation needed] As of 2007, he and Sara were divorced, and he was romantically linked to former wrestler Michelle McCool, whom he married on June 26, 2010, in Houston, Texas.[93][94]

Calaway is an avid boxing fan and carried the Flag of the United States while leading Team Pacquiao to the ring during the Pacquiao vs. Velázquez fight in 2005.[95] This was also confirmed by fellow wrestler Batista in a televised interview for the Philippine news program TV Patrol World. Calaway is also an avid mixed martial arts fan and has attended several Ultimate Fighting Championship shows, including a show where Calaway had a confrontation with former WWE star Brock Lesnar. During an interview that an internet show conducted with Calaway after UFC 121, Lesnar walked past him, with Calaway answering Lesnar's stare with "you wanna do it?".[94][96] He is a close friend of mixed martial artists, Pat Miletich, Jeremy Horn, Matt Hughes and the actor, Tony Longo.

Calaway invests in real estate with business partner Scott Everhart. Calaway and Everhart finished construction on a $2.7m building in Loveland, Colorado called "The Calahart," a portmanteau of their last names.[97] Calaway and his ex-wife Sara established The Zeus Compton Calaway Save the Animals fund at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences to help pay for lifesaving treatments for large-breed dogs.[98]

Other media

Calaway made his motion picture debut in a supporting role as Hutch in the 1991 film, Suburban Commando opposite Hulk Hogan and Christopher Lloyd. He filmed guest roles on Poltergeist: The Legacy, where he played the Soul Chaser Demon and Celebrity Deathmatch. In 2001, Calaway appeared out of character on the Canadian sports show Off the Record with Michael Landsberg.

Filmography

Film
Year Film Role Notes
1991 Suburban Commando Hutch Film Debut
1999 Beyond the Mat Himself Documentary
Television
Year Title Role Notes
1999 Poltergeist: The Legacy Soul Chaser Demon Episodes: "Brothers Keeper" / "The Mephisto Strain" (Flashbacks)
Downtown The Undertaker (voice) Episode: "The Con"
Celebrity Deathmatch The Undertaker (voice) Episode: "Halloween Episode I"
2001 Off the Record with Michael Landsberg Himself 1 episode
2002 America's Most Wanted

In wrestling

Undertaker locking in the Hell's Gate submission on Edge.
Undertaker executing the Tombstone Piledriver on Edge.
Undertaker about to strike with a Guillotine leg drop on Mark Henry.
Undertaker jumping down from the top rope to strike Heidenreich with Old School.

Championships and accomplishments

  • The Mirror
    • The Undertaker's undefeated streak at WrestleMania has been ranked by The Mirror as the 7th greatest winning streak in sports history (it was the only streak from professional wrestling to be ranked in the list).[117]

1 ^ Won during The Invasion.
2 ^ The Undertaker's fourth reign was as WWE Undisputed Champion.

WrestleMania record

WrestleMania Year Wrestler Notes
VII 1991 Jimmy Snuka [13]
VIII 1992 Jake Roberts [13]
IX 1993 Giant González Won via disqualification[13]
XI 1995 King Kong Bundy [15]
XII 1996 Diesel [13]
13 1997 Sycho Sid For the WWF Championship in a No Disqualification match[18]
XIV 1998 Kane [19]
XV 1999 Big Boss Man Hell in a Cell match[118]
X-Seven 2001 Triple H [13]
X8 2002 Ric Flair No Disqualification match[13]
XIX 2003 Big Show & A-Train Handicap match[13]
XX 2004 Kane [42]
21 2005 Randy Orton [45]
22 2006 Mark Henry Casket match[13]
23 2007 Batista For the World Heavyweight Championship[119]
XXIV 2008 Edge For the World Heavyweight Championship[66]
XXV 2009 Shawn Michaels [13]
XXVI 2010 Shawn Michaels No countout, no disqualification, "Streak vs. Career" match[85]
XXVII 2011 Triple H No Holds Barred match

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