Tonight the WWE is celebrating 25 years of the Undertaker, the legendary character that debuted at one of their top four pay-per-view events of the year, Survivor Series, in Nov. 1990, at this latest Survivor Series in the year 2015.
To put that trajectory and staying power another way: Undertaker debuted two months after my birth and two months after my 25th birthday, he’s still going strong. That’s incredible to me. And to put it yet another way: that’s 25 years as a major player on the biggest stage possible for a professional wrestler.
He’s wrestled the top guy in each era: Hulk Hogan in the Rock & Wrestling Era, Bret Hart and HBK in the New Generation Era, Austin and Rock in the Attitude Era, Brock Lesnar and Cena (to a lesser extent) in the Ruthless Aggression Era, Batista, Orton, Edge and Punk in the most recent Era and renewed feuds with Lesnar, HHH and HBK. It’s incredible.
Look: his gimmick is that he’s a dead man. He debuted as essentially an indestructible corpse. Aside from a brief run as the American Bad Ass character where he played a character close to his true self between 2000 and 2004, ‘Taker has always been the Dead Man. On paper, the gimmick is absurd. He controls lightning and the darkness and talks about making his opponents Rest in Peace.
And yet, here we are, 25 years later and ‘Taker still matters. People love Undertaker.
Undertaker actually debuted back in 1984. He just debuted in WWE specifically in 1990. So, he’s been wrestling for over 30 years. That’s a long-ass time and what’s incredible is, after such a long run, he’s still putting on memorable matches. See: recent matches with Lesnar at Summerslam 2015 and Hell in a Cell 2015.
And to cap all of this off: the man that’s WWE career is so close to my birth and he’s still going and who was the one that actually got me into wrestling (he was the first character I ever saw on WWE television), is the man whose final match I may see at the upcoming WrestleMania 32 in Dallas, Texas at the huge Cowboys stadium in front of 100,000 people.
I say “may” because ‘Taker may wrestle beyond 32, but I hope not. This year has been a great retirement run and 32 would be a beautiful and fitting way to end it.