Undertaker to headline WWE Hall of Fame class at WrestleMania 38
The Undertaker will be taking his rightful place among the immortals.
The Phenom, whose real name is Mark Calaway, will headline the 2022 WWE Hall of Fame class the weekend of WrestleMania 38 in Dallas, The Post has learned.
The Hall of Fame ceremony will air on April 1 on Peacock, in front of a live audience that will have been in attendance for the WWE SmackDown at the American Airlines Center in Dallas that kicks off WrestleMania weekend. Tickets for the SmackDown/Hall of Fame event go on sale Feb. 22
Undertaker, who is a Houston native, officially retired at Survivor Series in 2020, bringing a 30-year run in WWE to a close. His final match took place at WrestleMania 36 in the highly acclaimed and cinematic Boneyard Match against A.J. Styles. While the now 56-year-old had been known for continually coming back to WWE, he finally felt at peace with ending his career and moving into retirement.
“I realized I have taken every physical gift, tool that I have and have used it up,” Undertaker, who began wrestling professionally in 1987, told The Post in November 2020. “There’s no water left in the sponge, if I can use that analogy. I’ve rung everything I could get out of that sponge.”
He came over to WWE in 1990 after a run as “Mean” Mark Callous in WCW. In one of his first conversations with WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, Undertaker said that he was worried his gimmick was going to be “Egg Man” with the company ready to hatch a giant egg at Survivor Series that year that would ultimately be the Gobbledy Gooker. Instead he got and perfected arguably the greatest persona in the history of pro wrestling, debuting on the show as the mystery partner for Ted DiBiase’s Million Dollar Team.
Undertaker went on to win seven world championships and seven tag team titles in WWE. However, it was never about championships for the Undertaker character, but the stories and memories that came along with him in and out of the ring with Mankind, Kane, Shawn Michaels, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Triple H and others.
He was part of arguably the greatest wrestling match ever with Michaels at WrestleMania 25 and took part in the iconic Hell in a Cell match with Mankind (Mick Foley) at King of the Ring in 1998. His 21-0 WrestleMania winning streak, snapped by Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 30 in New Orleans in 2014, will likely never be matched. He wrestled 993 matches in WWE, according to profightdb.com.
What helped make the Undertaker character so special, beyond the supernatural elements, was Calaway’s ability to evolve it. There was the original methodical version with manager Paul Bearer, the Ministry version, then the American Badass biker and finally the hybrid we saw in the final years of his career.
“I love the traditional, not all the way back to the beginning where he was just slow and plotting, but somewhere in that late 90s version of the Undertaker who could go with anyone at the highest of levels but still had enough of that character in him where you could do the Shakespeare so to speak,” Triple H told The Post in 2020.
You would be hard pressed to find a WWE superstar who was more universally respected by his peers, his bosses and professional wrestling fans than the Undertaker.
He was also fiercely loyal. When one superstar after another was jumping to WCW in the fabled 1990’s “Monday Night Wars”, Undertaker remained in WWE and served as a bridge from the end of the previous boom period to the start of the famous – or infamous – Attitude Era, and beyond.
There were also stories about how he was a locker room enforcer. After more than 20 years of rumors and innuendo, Undertaker admitted to The Post in 2020 that he was prepared to beat up Michaels if the “Heartbreak Kid” did not do his job and drop the championship to the ascending Austin at WrestleMania 14 in 1998.
Nonetheless, the careers of talents – even if they’re supernatural – must come to an end.
“With Mark doing this for 30-plus years at this point, having 15-plus surgeries, both of his hips replaced, I don’t think they truly understand what it takes for him to get prepared to go out and wrestle a match, and he does it all for the love of the business,” The Undertaker’s wife Michelle McCool told The Post in 2020.
By doing so, and so much else, Undertaker will forever have a place in WWE Hall of Fame.