Mark William Calaway, popularly known by the ring name ‘The Undertaker’, needs no introduction to WWE fans. The American is an icon in the pro-wrestling circuit and has a cult fan following worldwide.
In a career spanning over three decades, he has held 17 Championships with the WWE, which include four-time WWE/F champion, World Heavyweight Championship three times and WWF World Tag Team Champion (six times), among others. Born on this day in 1965, he started his wrestling career with ‘World Class Championship Wrestling’ (WCCW) in 1984. He signed up with ‘WWF’ (WWE from 2002) in 1990 and since then became the longest-tenured performer in WWE history.
Over the years, he assumed several ring names, starting with ‘The Commando,’ ‘Cain the Undertaker,’ ‘The Master of Pain,’ ‘Mark Callous,’ and eventually started calling himself ‘The Punisher’ in 1989. His name ‘The Undertaker’ stood out immediately among the hordes of other wacky names/characters created by WWE.
The new ring name catapulted him to international fame and made him one of the most popular wrestlers in the world. It took him a year to win his maiden WWE Championship (1991) and even though it was short-lived, he established that his character didn’t need any championships to build a legacy. The Taker was pitted against the biggest monsters that WWE could find. He battled it out with the likes of Giant Gonzalez, Kamala, Yokozuna, King Kong Bundy and even faced an Imposter Undertaker. The Undertaker faced them all and his popularity kept spiralling up.
The late 90s not only saw The Undertaker become the ‘Lord of Darkness’ which won him the WWE Title for a second time at WrestleMania 13. But, it also saw the emergence of another superstar, Kane. As per the storyline created by the company, he was introduced as a ‘brother’ to the Deadman. While Kane ended up being a thorn for many years, he was also an ally in the same period. It was also the time when the Undertaker turned to the dark side by creating the ‘Ministry of Darkness,’ and in the process, he created a more gothic side to the character.
The new avatar didn’t last long and in the year 2000, his image was changed by the company. The Undertaker returned from an injury in a more humanised attire of denim and driving a motorbike. After becoming a good guy, he went on to defeat Hulk Hogan in 2002 and with it, earned his third WWE Championship. He had to wait until 2007 to bag another world title. The Undertaker defeated Batista for the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 23.
Among other records, he had a 21 match winning streak at WrestleMania, however, in a shocking moment in 2014, he lost at the hands of Brock Lesner at WrestleMania 30. He tried to avenge Lesner in 2015 but eventually lost that feud too on RAW. He was defeated by Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 33 and in a shocking event, left his hat and gloves in the ring.
Just when the fans thought he had decided to hang his boots, he surprised everyone by defeating John Cena at WrestleMania 34 and Rusev at Greatest Royal Rumble, before losing to Triple H at Super ShowDown in 2019.