DO not believe the speculation.
After his loss to Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 33, The Undertaker AKA Mark Calaway is retired.
He’s not coming back to wrestle – and nor should he.
But that doesn’t mean The Deadman has to die.
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With its “New Era” of superstars, now’s the perfect time for WWE to create an all-new Undertaker.
And if the last 27 years have proved anything, it’s that WWE needs the Undertaker.
Don’t think for a second that duplicating an existing gimmick can’t be done.
In the mid to late 1990s, Vince McMahon went through a whole phase of it – a handy way to pad out his tag team division.
First there were Jacques and Pierre the Quebecers, essentially a duplication of Jacques’ original Mountie character.
Then fitness guru Skip got carbon copy Zip to make the Body Donnas. And Henry O. Godwin introduced cousin Phineas to create pig farming tag team the Godwins.
There were duplications of old teams too.
We got the New Rockers, the New Blackjacks, and even the New Midnight Express.
They were mostly disasters.
Though none as bad as the “fake” Diesel and Razor Ramon – Vince’s attempt to prove he owned the gimmicks that had made Kevin Nash and Scott Hall superstars after they jumped to WCW.
It was an embarrassment for everyone.
But there was one duplicate that proved a big red monster of a success: Undertaker’s storyline brother, Kane.
Kane (played by fake Diesel, Glenn Jacobs) eventually became his own character, but make no mistake – the original Kane was pitched as an evil twin of Taker.
He was the “anti-Taker” – a twisted, bizarre world version created in the depths of hell.
He had Taker’s exact move-set – the chokeslam, the diving clothesline, and Tombstone.
He even had the Deadman’s iconic “sit up” spot.
(Don’t forget, Vince tried to duplicate Undertaker once before with the “Under-Faker” – leading to the dreadful Taker versus Taker match at SummerSlam 1994.)
It’s no wonder that Vince wanted to recreate Taker character or that Kane – essentially “Undertaker 2.0” – was a success.
The Undertaker is the greatest gimmick in the history of professional wrestling.
His cartoon-ish roots make him the last survivor of the Hulkamania era.
In good Nik
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Taking it’s toll
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End of an era
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Yet he evolved to keep with the times and stay relevant – through the New Generation, the Attitude Era, Ruthless Aggression and beyond.
But even more than that, Undertaker is the personification of what WWE class “sports-entertainment”.
Not just an incredible physical specimen and athlete, it was Taker’s theatrics that truly made him “The Phenom”.
After 25 matches on the “Grandest Stage of Them All”, WrestleMania and WWE will be a poorer place without him.
Not just because we’ll lose Mark Calaway’s incredible work rate, but because we lose the character – the spectacle of The Undertaker.
When the lights go out and the bell tolls, there’s no one who provokes a crowd reaction like him.
Even at WWE’s worst creative lows over the last 27 years – and when Taker’s opponents and matches sucked – WWE could rely on him to captivate the crowd.
It was his spine-tingling entrance. His aura. His mysterious, supernatural connection with the fans.
Professional wrestling has become more serious over the years, more self-aware and committed to the artistry of its craft. The indie generation – Kevin Owens, AJ Styles, Sami Zayn – bring a credibility to wrestling that makes it feel more like a legit sport than any time since the curtain was pulled back to reveal it’s just a work, brother.
But wrestling needs theatrics. It needs huge characters. It’s needs the magic.
The occult-like shenanigans of Bray Wyatt proved that fans still have a taste for it. His gimmick was red-hot when he first came to the main roster.
Unfortunately, WWE squandered Bray’s chances of taking Undertaker’s spot by booking the “New Face of Fear” like a chump.
Matt Hardy’s Broken gimmick has potential to fill the casket shaped hole when its eventually unleashed in WWE – but Hardy has too much of his own history with WWE fans.
If there’s one word that describes Undertaker, it’s “respect”.
The fans respect him. The locker room respects him. And anyone who knows anything about wrestling respects him.
Because first and foremost, Mark Calaway respects the business.
He respects its traditions too much to return after his emotional and symbolic retirement at the end of WrestleMania.
It’s no secret that his body’s in rough shape – and his ring work has deteriorated massively since the end of streak at WrestleMania 30.
(Some would argue that should have been the end for The Deadman.)
A return now would only spoil his legacy further.
What WWE needs is a brand new Undertaker – someone to take on the gimmick and evolve it once more.
Sun Sport already theorized that Roman Reigns could take the mantle.
Imagine the heat if Roman came out wearing Taker’s outfit and ripping off his Tombstone – a nuclear reaction big enough to start World War 3 right there and then.
But we’re not suggesting a current superstar suddenly transform into Taker.
And we’re certainly not suggesting that WWE does a Skip and Zip by duplicating character for another wrestler to portray.
But what about “Son of Taker”?
With The Deadman and Kane gone, it’s time for us to meet a new member of the Taker family.
Perhaps a storyline offspring or nephew – hey, maybe even a niece – of Taker or Kane to take on those signature moves and spots.
Someone to keep the spectacle and magic alive (or undead).
(With his “rising from the crypt” entrance at TakeOver: Orlando, Aleister Black seems a likely candidate.)
And why just one character? How about a whole faction of Taker offspring? With Mark Calaway’s blessing – and the due respect, of course – WWE could make the Deadman gimmick relevant for yet another new generation.
The storyline would have to be killer, of course.
Kane was a success because he arrived on the back of six months’ worth of build and anticipation.
He also made it work by taking the established (and most importantly, popular) gimmick and giving it his own twist.
There’s no reason that can’t be done again – especially with the incredible talent and creative opportunities that exist in modern-day WWE.
Undertaker retiring is big loss for WWE. It would be an even bigger loss if the greatest gimmick of all time was dead and buried too.