Twenty-two years ago, The Undertaker gave birth to a new-age polarizing gimmick called The American Badass. The Undertaker, over his three long decade career, has traveled to multiple gimmicks that WWE provided him. However, one thing that was common in all The Undertaker’s monikers was his deadly fear. Therefore, it is nostalgic for the WWE Attitude Era fans when they recollect Taker in The American Badass persona.
Mark Calaway, aka The Undertaker, had mastery in carrying his kayfabe and delivered storylines with immense accuracy. However, Taker’s ‘The American Badass’ was one such a version that awe-struck the WWE Universe. Of course, wrestling fans embraced it irrespective of the gimmick/persona Mark Calaway took on.
Why did The Undertaker do The American Badass moniker?
The American Badass faction of Taker was the coolest character that he played. Of all the versions of Undertaker, The American Badass was the perfect moniker introduced during the Attitude Era. The Deadman, before his 2022 Hall of Fame ceremony, sat down with the True Geordie podcast to reveal what prompted him to adapt to The American Badass persona.
Mark Calaway mentioned, “So the American Badass, several things were going on there. One, yeah, I got hurt. I injured my groin, and right close to coming back from my groin injury, I tore a pec. So I was out most of that whole year leading into the American Badass.”
“But what was going on was the Attitude Era. You’ve got Stone Cold, who’s cutting these incredible promos that people can really identify with, right? It’s like real life with a little bit of gas behind it. You got The Rock cutting these unbelievable promos. All these promos are just so good.”
During the WWE Attitude Era, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Triple H, and The Rock were at the top of the ladder. However, Taker was absent from WWE programming for a year because of injury until he returned as The American Badass in 2000.
Mark Calaway appreciated his former in-ring rivals Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock for their mic skills, which were a significant shift to the modern-age hardcore wrestling.
A desperate yet chronic call for change for Mark Calaway!
According to Mark Calaway, his former original dark side of The Undertaker wouldn’t have been appropriate during the Attitude Era. His fellow wrestlers were playing characters that hyped the crowd. However, Taker realized the evil side or the Ministry of Darkness moniker was in the industry for almost a decade. Since The Undertaker’s debut, he has always played unrealistic yet supernatural characters.
“I think I would have survived, but I wouldn’t have thrived if I had not taken a break and took (The American Badass persona). As good as the character is, you’re kind of boxed in, too, with what you can do and what you can’t do. It’s hard for The Undertaker to be in the ring while The Rock is talking about poontang pie, you know what I mean? And that had some type of retort that The Undertaker could give. So, it was a period for me to just take a deep breath and do something different for a minute,” Taker added.
When The Deadman played The American Badass for a couple of years on WWE television, even he enjoyed it. Mark Calaway wanted to try something out of the box apart from his ‘Taker of Souls’ persona. WWE Attitude Era was an ideal time for Mark Calaway to appear as The American Badass.
In addition, Taker mentioned it was fun for him to enter the ring by riding a motorcycle. The American Badass character helped Taker cut promos like The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin.
However, Taker knew at some point he would step down from the human side, which was portrayed through The American Badass. Eventually, Taker carried The American Badass until the end of 2003 and returned to his old roots when he clashed against Kane at WrestleMania 20 in 2004.
How and when did The American Badass debut?
At the SummerSlam 1999, The Undertaker won the WWF tag team championship with the Big Show. Taker played ‘The Ministry of Darkness’ moniker on television during this time. However, Undertaker suffered a groin injury which put him out of in-ring action for over a year. After several weeks of vignettes featuring young girls in a game of Ring Around the Rosie, the WWE Universe witnessed the re-emergence of Taker.
‘The Game’ Triple H and the rest of the villainous McMahon-Helmsley faction brutalized and beat the Rock down. But this time, The Ministry of Darkness exploded through the curtain on a Titan motorcycle, coming to the aid of The Great One. Taker made his return as The American Badass on Judgement Day in 2000. Unfortunately, a vicious chokeslam to Triple H cost The Rock his WWE Championship at the hands of The American Badass.
This version of Taker entered the ring with the “Rollin” theme song by Limp Bizkit. Mark Calaway was now a biker with a leather jacket, sunglasses, and a bandana on his head. The Undertaker stayed away from Satan’s side to be on the human side as The American Badass.
When did the fans last witnessed The Undertaker in The American Badass gimmick?
After 2003, The Phenom welcomed his American Badass biker gimmick for his retirement match. Taker wrestled ‘The Phenomenal One’ AJ Styles at WrestleMania 36 in a cinematic Boneyard Match in 2020.
However, Taker’s appearance at WrestleMania 36 was a combination of The American Badass and The Phenom moniker. The Deadman rocked his wrestling attire and mannerism with The American Badass persona while his iconic bell theme song played.
The Undertaker has spent 30 years with the WWE Universe. After a long career, he took his place among the immortals on April 1st, 2022, in Dallas, Texas. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame at the hands of Vince McMahon.