I have stated here often that watching Hulk Hogan body slam Andre the Giant was the moment that I knew I was going to be a fan for life. And I am sure I must have mentioned my love for the Attitude Era and characters such as The Rock, Stone Cold, and Shawn Michaels (even though he missed most of the Attitude Era) as the ones that made sure of it. However, there is one wrestler out there whose character has always connected with me no matter what, and no matter how over the top it was, I always felt that he was the only one who could pull it off, and that one man is The Undertaker.
At nearly seven feet tall and around three hundred pounds, he was one of the most awe-inspiring physical specimens I have ever seen in the ring, and to move around the ring the way he did was just as impressive. He was very agile for his size, and he executed his move set almost flawlessly, moving with the grace of a guy half his size. As for match quality, he didn’t really hit his stride for a long time, and probably has the worst Wrestlemania match of all time against Giant Gonzalez, but I dare anyone getting a good match out of someone who would make Khali look like a spry young kid. It didn’t matter to me though. I loved everything he did, from turning on the arena lights to making lightning strike near an opponent. He was mystical and magical, and I didn’t care that I was in my late twenties, dammit, he was the man.
I can’t really remember when I first saw Undertaker in action. It wasn’t his debut at Survivor Series, because my mom refused to get the PPV’s for my brother and I because we had this habit of beating the shit out of each other when we watched. It was probably on Superstars back when it consisted of Superstars beating up guys like Dusty Wolfe. His whole gimmick simultaneously impressed me and creeped the hell out of me, especially when he would place his fallen opponent in a body bag. I remember thinking that he was unstoppable, and immediately became transfixed with everything he was doing. He instantly became my favorite, but it wasn’t until I was older until I really appreciated everything about him.
As I got older and understood more about the business, that is when I saw the Undertaker for what he was: the locker room leader, the mentor, and the guy who probably has more respect for this business than anyone I have read about. He was always the guy who would volunteer to work with new guys to see what they could do. He was also the guy that made sure that the right decisions were made for business. Don’t believe me, ask Shawn Michaels. I’ll post the video at the end, but the short story is that Michaels didn’t want to job to Austin at WMXIV, but Taker “talked him into it.” Some may view Taker as a locker room bully, and I will concede that, but you have to remember that he is as old school as they come, and business will always come first with him.
If you don’t believe that Undertaker is selfless when it comes to putting people over, remember this: He was going to let Randy Orton break the streak. He knew the plans that WWE had for Orton, and his legend killer gimmick was set up perfectly to do so. However, as the story goes, Orton was injured, and was going to take some time off after ‘Mania, and the decision was made for Taker to go over since Orton couldn’t immediately cash in on the win. You gotta respect that. And before you complain in the comments about the whole C.M. Punk situation, remember what I said about him being “all about the business,” and remember that Punk was part of the problem as well.
And now for the reason behind this article. For a long time, there were rumors that this year’s WrestleMania would feature a Punk vs. Taker match, and even more rumors that Punk would end the streak. I would never end the Streak, personally, but Punk can absolutely benefit the most out of it. A win over the Undertaker on the grandest stage of them all would put Punk into that level where he belongs.
However, the current rumor floating around is that Taker may not do the match, and that last year’s “End of an Era” match truly was so. If that is the case, then I am a happy little mark for being able to say that I not only witnessed one of my favorite matches ever live, but I was part of the crowd that had the chance to say “good-bye” to one of the most prolific and respected wrestlers of any generation. And even if he does come back, and he wrestles his last match against Punk, I will be there live as well for the good-bye, and I might shed a tear or two. Say what you want about that, but as a fan of this pseudo-sport, we all have our favorites, and Undertaker is mine.
At this year’s WrestleMania AXXESS, I have the opportunity to finally meet The Undertaker, which is something I have wanted to do since I was a young kid. I am going to be able to shake his hand and personally thank him for all the memories that he has provided over the years. I’m going to be nervous as shit, but whatever. I want to be able to tell him that when the final “GONG” hits on his amazing career, that he will always be remembered, at least in my eyes, as the Greatest of All Time.
Until next time, that’s all I got.
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