At the 1990 Survivor Series, the world got its first look at The Undertaker. Mark Calaway had worked his way through the territories, eventually joining WCW, but when booker Ole Anderson told a young Mark that he would never draw a dime, Calloway would jump to WWE, with Vince McMahon giving him the gimmick of The Undertaker. One of the most dominant and athletic big men in wrestling, the Undertaker soon won over the fans and colleagues alike.
The Undertaker was protected, not only by the booking but also by Mark himself, to whom the character always came first. It is only now the Undertaker has hung up his body bags for good that he has started to really open up about his life and career, with the WWE Network’s “Last Ride” series being a must watch for any fan of ‘The Deadman.’ Undertaker’s undefeated streak of 21 matches at WrestleMania will likely never be matched, nor will the universal respect he commanded in the dressing room. In a career full of highlights and memorable moments, here is a look at 10 things fans forget about Undertaker’s first decade of destruction.
10/10“Kane The Undertaker” Was His Original Name
The name Kane is synonymous with The Undertaker. Both as bitter enemies and as a dominant tag team, the careers of the two “brothers” are arguably the greatest long term narrative in wrestling. Undertaker made his on-screen debut at Survivor Series 1990, but had already made his in-ring debut on a pre-taped show and was billed as “Kane The Undertaker.” By Survivor Series, Vince McMahon dropped the “Kane” part, and The Undertaker was born
9/10He Regrets His Entrance At Survivor Series 1996
The Undertaker is the most protected gimmick in modern wrestling, somehow managing to remain consistent while subtly changing to stop it from being stale, the only real drastic change coming in the form of The American Bad Ass. At the 1996 Survivor Series, at Madison Square Garden, The Undertaker rappelled from the rafters wearing giant bat wings for his match with Mankind. Undertaker would later go on to say that the wings were too hokey for what he was going for and is one of the few regrets of his unparalleled career.
8/10His Acting Career
When people think of wrestlers acting, The Undertaker isn’t a name that immediately springs to mind, but Undertaker owes his introductions to Bruce Prichard and Vince McMahon to the movie Suburban Commando, staring Hulk Hogan, in which ‘Taker played an alien bounty junter named Hutch. Undertaker has called Suburban Commando the worst movie ever made when asked about his role!
7/10He Came Out To The Ring With An Animal
The idea of a wrestler walking out with an animal of some kind became quite commonplace in the WWF in the 1980s and early 1990s, with superstars like British Bulldogs, Jake Roberts and Koko B Ware being accompanied to the ring with an animal that fit their gimmick. At WrestleMania IX, WWE gave The Undertaker one of the first grand entrances he would become famous for, being pulled to the ring in a Roman funeral carriage, with a vulture perched by his shoulder. In the 2010 WWE Heroes comic books, the vulture became a sidekick for The Undertaker.
6/10Paul Bearer Wasn’t His Original Manager
It’s hard to argue that there has ever been a better double act in wrestling than The Undertaker and his long time manager, Paul Bearer, but this iconic duo wasn’t the first pairing of Undertaker’s career. That honor befell the red-faced, white-suited, Brother Love. The two were so contrasting and never really fit as a pairing, and Paul Bearer’s real life mortician background coming to light in his WWF job interview made him the perfect fit for The Dead Man.
5/10Not Having Any Memorable Performance At A Royal Rumble
As big as a star The Undertaker was in the 1990’s, both in physical size as well as drawing power, it is hard to imagine looking back that not only did he never win a Royal Rumble in that decade, but he only entered three: 1991, 1992 and 1993, combining just over 30 minutes in Royal Rumble matches during his first decade of destruction. Undertaker has had two casket matches at the Royal Rumble, losing both, first to Yokozuna and secondly to Shawn Michaels, in which Shawn would take the bump on the casket that resulted in a 4-year layoff
4/10Tito Santana Gave Him His First Pinfall Loss
Undertaker’s first year concluded with him beating Hulk Hogan for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship at the 1991 Survivor Series, only to lose it back a few days later at the Tuesday in Texas event. Most fans believe that was the first time Undertaker had lost via pinfall in his WWE career, but surprisingly, the first person to score a pinfall victory over Undertaker was Tito Santana at a WWE show in Barcelona and televised only in the Spanish speaking markets.
3/10He Wrestled The Infamous Hell In A Cell Match With A Broken Foot
The Hell in a Cell match between Mankind and Undertaker at the King of the Ring 1998 PPV has got to be considered one of the most famous wrestling matches in history, with Mankind taking two off-the-cell bumps (one planned, one due to the cell breaking) before even starting the match in earnest. While Mankind quite rightly got the plaudits for continuing despite having a tooth sticking out of his nose after the second cell fall, fans forget that Undertaker wrestled that brutal match with a broken foot, only briefly selling the injury hobbling slightly as he landed in the ring from the top of the cell.
2/10The Undertaker’s Feud With Kane Didn’t Begin In WWE
The lonf story of Kane and The Undertaker is considered by many to be wrestling’s greatest long term story, but their story didn’t start in WWE. Rather, it happened in Jim Cornette’s Smoky Mountain Wrestling. SMW and WWE had a good working relationship, with SMW acting as a loose developmental system, and due to that connection WWE would let their stars appear for SMW to help raise the promotion’s profile. On one of these talent loans, Undertaker would face SMW’s resident monster Unabomb, the future Kane, in the first match between the Brothers of Destruction.
1/10He Missed The Triple Crown
Despite his unrivaled success and standing in the professional wrestling industry, Undertaker never completed the triple crown. Winning tag gold as well as World titles, Undertaker never managed to get his hands on either the United States or Intercontinental titles. Now, looking back at his Hall of Fame career, fans see that Undertaker was unique in that he didn’t need a title to be considered a real main event star, but its surprising not to see his name on the list of triple crown winners.