For as long as I can remember, for as long as I’ve been a wrestling fan – I’ve been an Undertaker fan.
by Lucha Lucy
I grew up during the Attitude Era. My generation grew up on “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Rock, Mankind, and Degeneration X… all of whom were some of the greatest Superstars to ever set foot in the squared circle.
They all had their appeal. I mean, when you’re in the fourth grade, you don’t get much cooler than a guy who says swear words and flips the middle finger. And believe me, I thought Austin was cool. And I thought The Rock was cool, and Mankind, and DX. But no one was ever cooler than The Undertaker, the guy who talked about all these crazy, scary, dark things that I really didn’t even know anything about (because I was quite the naive child).
These wrestlers all had neat catchphrases I would repeat on the playground, all had awesome finishing moves my older brother would put me through, but they just never mesmerized me in the same way.
For me, The Undertaker was the epitome of cool; as naive as I was, whatever I thought made a great superstar – the Undertaker had it, without a doubt. I couldn’t really pin-point what it was about him that drew me in, I just knew he was special.
I’ve always thought Undertaker was pretty good in the ring. I mean, as a young kid, I hadn’t grasped the nuances of professional wrestling, but I knew what I liked. The Undertaker was this huge guy who could just power through his opponents, but he also walked the top rope, he was out there DIVING OVER the top rope… he did these things that you wouldn’t expect from him. And I liked that.
Also, he just had this completely different sort of attitude about him. When everyone else was loud and brash, he was always so calm and quiet in everything he said and did. The Undertaker was methodical, and when he spoke, it was unnerving.
As someone who’s always been pretty quiet, his was the sort of confidence I wanted. Never did get the hang of it, but then no wrestler has ever managed it either, I don’t think.
More than anything though, I think the reason why The Undertaker has always been my favorite wrestler is because I’ve always had an active imagination and no one ever captured it quite like the Undertaker.
From the very moment the lights drop, my anticipation rises. At the very first sounds of that bell, my eyes are trained on what I know is coming next. When the smoke settles and the Undertaker has walked through the flames, I’m already hooked. He’s so compelling to watch; whether it’s his steady gait to the ring or the slow, deliberate movements he makes just before the bell rings, I’m tuned into him. Even now, however many years later, watching him, I’m still just a kid whose imagination is running wild with the theatrics of it all. I sit at the edge of my seat waiting for the story he’s about to play out, whatever it may be, because I am absolutely hypnotized.
When the Undertaker stood in the ring, I believed it, I felt it – every move he made, every word he said. I hung on it all.
Obviously, I didn’t really believe he was going to embalm and sacrifice Stone Cold (whatever that even meant) or that he actually had a family who died in a fire and that his brother Kane was really trying to get revenge for leaving him horribly disfigured. I didn’t really believe he had these awesome supernatural powers to summon lightening at the flick of a wrist. At least I don’t think I did. Maybe I did. Didn’t matter though.
Whatever story the Undertaker was telling, I was watching wide-eyed.
I’m not that naive fourth grader anymore though. While I wouldn’t say I’ve really grown up yet, I have grown older. I’ve come to appreciate those nuances that once went over my head. I get what it’s all about now and if I really make the effort, I can even put words and reasoning behind my fascination of this ridiculous thing called pro wrestling.
So many of us who are wrestling fans as kids grow out of it; those of us who haven’t quite done so, somewhere along the line, we stop believing in the spectacle of it all. We grow jaded to so much of what we had once loved. Those nuances, that’s part of the trade off and when you get a little older, it works out and it’s worth it most of the time.
Sometimes though, when we as fans – no matter what era we grew up watching – forget about some of the technicalities of being a “real” wrestling fan, we’re reminded of some of the reasons we loved watching wrestling so much as kids.
Just as with anything we love, there are struggles. Sometimes we forget just what it was we loved before. It’s not really such a big deal because most of us still love it anyway. It’s in those times though when I find myself coming back to what I loved first, what first completely captivated me when I was just a kid – the Undertaker.
He embodies everything my imagination got swept away in, and that’s never changed.
Were there others who did that for us in other ways? Sure. But the thing is, unlike so many of our beloved superstars, he’s still around to remind us. Maybe not as often anymore, but we know, around a certain time of year, to expect him. And he’s never let us down.
In the 25 years since The Undertaker first debuted in the WWE, so many things have changed. This is a good thing for the most part, as this business is one that requires change, whose fans demand change. Through it all however, the Undertaker has always been the constant. For me and so many others, I think, he’s the steadfast reminder of all the things we loved, and still love about pro wrestling.
Every part of him and his persona has become iconic, so much larger than life. And it’s so easy to throw around words like that, but they’re fitting. I don’t know who else has been able to captivate, not just me, but so many fans of different generations, time and time again and at the level he’s reached.
Quite simply, there is no one like him. I don’t know when we’ll ever see someone like him again.
The Undertaker is truly a once in a lifetime superstar.