Firstly, an apology for the halt in my epic quest to find the best Serie A shirt of the 1990s. I have started my new job in the last two weeks, one in which I leave my house is 7.10am and get home at 7 or 7.30pm, so I have been absolutely cream crackered, to give it its technical term. It will return someday soon.
Today, however, we come to a subject that is equally close to my heart, as WWE legend The Undertaker retired last night after defeat (in a pre-determined sport!) to Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania 33. I haven’t seen the match, but I did see The Undertaker’s farewell, which in typical ‘Taker style took about four years to finish.
It was a sombre, understated goodbye from the iconic Undertaker, as he placed his coat and hat in the centre of the ring, made his way to the runaway and descended, to hell no doubt, with his arm raised aloft.
The phrase ‘part of my childhood has died’ springs to mind at moments like this. I am twenty five years old, whilst The Undertaker’s WWE career was about twenty six and a half years. Thinking back, one of my earliest memories is watching him get his face crumpled by a rogue Mabel leg drop (I think it was a leg drop anyway) in 1995, forcing him to wear a Phantom of the Opera style mask for months afterwards.
This incident neatly sums up what a performer the Undertaker was, for him, the show always had to go on. He wrestled with a broken cheekbone, he went into THAT Hell in a Cell match against Mick Foley with a broken foot. He walked THROUGH FIRE one time due to a pyro accident and still wrestled in a Elimination Chamber.
Another great thing about The Undertaker was that his wrestling ability got better as he got older. Watching one of his matches circa 1990-1994 is not the best of experiences, as it mainly consisted of choking, punches and a flying clothesline*. The opponents he were given did not help, as the likes of Kamala and Giant Gonzalez were limited to say the least. It was with the arrival of Mankind that the Undertaker began to soar, but he was at his best around 2006-2010, as he had incredible matches with Kurt Angle, Batista, Edge and Shawn Michaels, all when he was over forty.
There is so much to say about The Undertaker that will fill hundreds of blog pages, magazines and even books, but for now I would like to say thank you to him. For the years of amazing moments, ten minute entrances, mind games, Casket Matches, Hell in a Cell matches, Buried Alive matches, Inferno Matches and his eyes rolling back into his thirty three pound head (to quote The Rock). There might have been better wrestlers, there may have been better talkers, but there won’t be a better character or all rounder than The Undertaker.
*I get the feeling this was imposed on ‘Taker rather than him being limited in the ring, as his move set expanded considerably in 1996-97.