We recently saw the Undertaker seemingly retire, which is a big moment in WWE history regardless of how it went down. His greatness is very tough to measure against others because he's managed to have such a long and storied career in WWE. Over 27 years, Taker has been the main constant in the company and is one of the greatest. With that in mind, I am going to release a 4 part series as to why he's the greatest, or at the least, one of the greatest of all time, so let's begin. Let's start with the most vital part of his career for part 1, the gimmick.
For a wrestler like The Undertaker, the gimmick is essential. It's what made him so big and so popular. The entrance, the music, no matter what style of gimmick he portrayed during his tenure as the Undertaker, the music and the entrance was always important. Whether the gong and the funeral sounds of his most iconic theme, the Ministry of Darkness theme, or the hilarious
*The Beginning (1990-1993)
-The Undertaker was a gimmick that really was outdated. Undertaker’s character was created back in the days where we had guys like The Red Rooster, The Big Bossman, The Mountie and other cartoony gimmicks. Undertaker’s gimmick of a Western mortician turned wrestler I’m sure seemed silly at the beginning, but I don't think anyone knew it would turn into a phenomenon and one of the greatest gimmicks of all time. Wearing grey gloves, a large hat, and usually a tie (which is I guess as close enough to a mortician's wrestling uniform as possible), this was the very beginning of the character and where it all started.
*The Purple And Black Era (1994-1996)
-While the mortician Undertaker was first seen as a creepy character, the man behind the character decided to stick with the gimmick and evolve it. In his 1994 return from injury, Undertaker went from wearing grey to purple and changed his attire somewhat (dropping the tie). By 1996, Undertaker changed the gimmick slightly more by donning all black, wearing a cloak to the ring and dropping the hat altogether. Undertaker’s theme would grow even more eerie and darker and he also started incorporating bigger caskets and wearing gloves with his fingers out.
*From Darkness To Ministry (1997-1999)
-Undertaker would transition even more after changing over to all black and though he stuck with all black during 1997 and 1998, it was the next year that he became even more dark by becoming the Ministry of Darkness Taker. Wearing a hood, a different style of beard, and more emphasis on his tattoos and piercings, he began assembling a team that would terrorize WWE in 1999. He was evil for sure and his character was the epitome of it.
*American Bad Ass/Big Evil (2000-2003)
-After an injury, Undertaker then came back as a biker. I wasn't a big fan of this, but Taker made it work nonetheless. He started off in blue denim then eventually switched to a new theme and new attitude with the Limp Bizliy "Rollin" theme. He would stick with that until he cut his hair and Taker then switched from the American Badass officially to Big Evil, wearing the apparel that we've seen him rock the rest of his in ring career.
*The Return of The Deadman (2004-2017)
Finally in 2004, we saw the return of the Deadman (which was a hybrid of Big Evil and the mortician Undertaker of old) and he would stay this way until he retired. His character didn't need to change anymore because he was already solidified. He beat Triple H twice, beat Shawn Michaels twice and retired him, defeated Edge, Bray Wyatt, lost to Roman and Brock twice, and put on great matches with Randy Orton and CM Punk during this period. It seemed like a comfortable place to end his career at.
This gimmick wasn't supposed to work as long as it did, but that goes to show the excellence of Mark Callaway. He was given a gimmick and made it stretch for over 2 decades with changes and twists throughout, but it always felt genuine. The Undertaker gimmick has become one of, if not, the greatest gimmick ever. Everyone on earth knows who The Undertaker is and rightfully so. The reality is that it is all thanks to how Mark Callaway was able to evolve, adapt and overcome. A true legend. Stay tuned for part 2.