This past Sunday, we saw the end of one of the most polarizing figures in the history professional wrestling. For over 25 years, The Undertaker was the one constant thing that made professional wrestling great. Three spears and a three count later, it was all over. The Undertaker had his final WrestleMania moment, and it was an emotional roller coaster to get through.
I watched, along with 1.5 million people on the WWE Network, as Roman Reigns beat The Deadman in the main event of WrestleMania 33. Like most viewers, I was upset that it was Roman, the guy WWE considers the new face of the company, who beat him. Looking back, it wasn’t just because I felt like Roman shouldn’t have won, but because deep down I knew it was going to happen eventually. It was time, and its hard to accept that. What’s harder to admit is now we must reflect on The Undertaker’s career instead of waiting for his return.
Believe it or not, I did not start watching professional wrestling until 2006. I saw a commercial for a “Raw Family Reunion”, where every talent in the company was to be at that show. In the middle of that commercial, I saw a man with a black hat rolling his eyes into the back of his head. I thought that was cool, so I decided to give the show a look. Raw had some good matches and funny segments.
And then The Undertaker came out.
I didn’t know what to make of him. As time went on, I searched through the internet and watched highlights of his career, from the beginning to where he was now. It was a sight to behold. I went to my first wrestling show, a SmackDown taping, a few months later. He appeared from out of nowhere and played mind games with Mr. Kennedy. I became hooked ever since. For that, I thank him.
Since his debut at Survivor Series 1990, The Undertaker became something of a phenomenon. A dead man who can wrestle was not that far off in the campy 90’s. To be able to not only innovate that same gimmick, but to still get the reactions we see today is impressive. He’s been a dead man, a cult leader (its pro wrestling), a biker and a dead man again. In 2017, a dead man who can wrestle is the most popular thing in pro wrestling. Just think about that. For that, I thank him.
The best thing is he got better as time went on. I recently ranked his WrestleMania matches, and a majority of them are in the late 2000’s, some in the 2010’s. Matches with Batista, Edge, CM Punk and Triple H were all classics. Twelve years after their famous Hell in a Cell match against one another, The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels had the match of the year at WrestleMania 25. For that, I thank him.
During his feud with Triple H, we could tell that he wasn’t moving the same. When Brock Lesnar shockingly ended his WrestleMania streak, the beginning of the end looked to have started. We still wanted to see him though, because The Undertaker puts butts in seats. Unfortunately, time may apparently be on Bray Wyatt’s side, but it hasn’t been on Taker’s side.
Nobody was truly ready for what happened on Sunday. Honestly, the match was not good towards the end, but maybe that was the point. With a few sloppy spots, you realized it truly was the end. Having Jim Ross on commentary with the match as the main event made it feel all too real as well.
As The Undertaker struggled to sit back up, reality was hitting hard on all of us. In the end, Undertaker had his final moment in the ring. He took off his gloves, his jacket and his signature hat and folded it neatly in the middle of the ring. Then, he took a deep breath as if to finally let all of his emotions go. He looked into the audience’s eyes around the arena and at home, and confirmed with us that his time had come.
The lasting image we will have of The Undertaker is him descending into the “great beyond”, fist in the air and as proud as ever. If you ever came across someone who doesn’t get why you watch professional wrestling, show him the closing minutes of WrestleMania 33. You will see art come to life. For that, I thank him.
For years, Undertaker was something of a phenomenon. He was and will forever be the heart and soul of professional wrestling.
There may be those that try to emulate his career, but there is only one Undertaker. The sport of professional wrestling will not be the same without him. For that, all I have to say is this: Thank you, Undertaker!