The Undertaker being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame has fans reminiscing about his greatest moments. One fascinating tidbit is that most of The Undertaker’s title reigns didn’t have the intended desire. Most legends are defined by their world title reigns, but The Undertaker was a different case. He didn’t need the belt for his gimmick to work.
WWE actually kept the title away from him for many years with the occasional reign every so often. The later years of The Undertaker’s career had more successful title reigns, but it was still weird to see them play out. Undertaker is an anomaly in many ways when looking back at his career. The lack of success as a world champ deserves a look back at what caused the lackluster stints.
The Undertaker’s WWE Championship Woes
The Undertaker held the WWE Championship on four occasions in his career, with each title reign leaving something to be desired. WWE first put the title on him in a shocking moment when defeating Hulk Hogan. The Undertaker was still relatively early into his WWE career and received the biggest win against the face of the company. However, Hogan won it back days later in controversial fashion, leading to the title being vacated.
Even though The Undertaker won the title, the short reign did little to help him as he was out of the title picture for years. The next title reign was a bigger moment when WWE had The Undertaker win the WWE Championship from Sycho Sid in the main event of WrestleMania 13. WWE gave The Undertaker his first shot as the top face, but Bret Hart and Steve Austin were more compelling characters at the time. The Undertaker didn’t have much success with his second title reign, and the dead man gimmick felt odd in the top champ spot.
The WWE Championship was won for a third time by The Undertaker when turning heel to feud with Steve Austin in 1999. Vince McMahon leading him as they formed The Corporate Ministry helped Undertaker defeat Austin. Unfortunately, he was once again an afterthought to Austin and McMahon, dropping the belt a month later. A fourth title win came against Hogan again in 2002, but it was a disaster, with a couple of brutal matches leading to another short reign before losing to The Rock.
The Undertaker’s World Championship Ups and Downs
WWE wanted The Undertaker to have a stronger role in the title picture later in his career as part of the SmackDown brand in the 2000s. The Undertaker held the World Championship on three occasions as arguably the most valued performer on SmackDown. The title programs were way better this time around, but it felt like he worked better chasing the title.
TheUndertaker had great feuds with Batista and Edge, with huge wins at WrestleMania 23 and WrestleMania 24, taking the World Championship off each man. However, those moments turned out to be the peak of their feuds. The Undertaker had great rematches against them, but neither title run lasted longer than five weeks. WWE wanted to keep him chasing the gold as Batista and Edge felt more natural as champs.
The third World Championship reign was the longest for Undertaker at over four months. The Undertaker buried CM Punk in a short Hell in a Cell match that ruined Punk’s momentum as the new top heel. A few lackluster programs saw him struggling to make the title reign matter until dropping the belt to Chris Jericho in an Elimination Chamber match.
The Undertaker Didn’t Need The Belt
The main reason that The Undertaker never came off as well of a world champion as most expected was simply because he didn’t need the belt. WWE spent years making fans accept that by having him in the upper card feuds while names like Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin, and Triple H had the world title programs. The Undertaker winning the belt provided great moments, but the following title reigns weren’t necessary.
Some wrestlers have gimmicks or the luster that makes them not need the boost of a world title. The Undertaker’s gimmick connected with the audience and felt like he created his own genre on the show away from what every other wrestler was trying to accomplish. WWE even created stipulation bouts like the Hell in a Cell, the Buried Alive match, the Inferno match, the Casket match, and others that gave him a unique presentation.
Neither the WWE Championship nor the World Championship made TheUndertaker a bigger star, like it did with other names. The Undertaker was never the face of the company, so the title was more helpful to those other talents needing the prize to portray that. WWE made The Undertaker a top star who didn’t need the belt, and it led to his title reigns never panning out as well as one would expect.