The Undertaker is one of the few remaining true superstars competing for WWE. For the past 26 years, he has dominated the WWE unlike any other force. Whether the Dead Man, the Bad Ass, The Phenom, or even Booger Red, regardless of his nickname the Undertaker conquered endless opponents leaving behind a path of destruction unrivaled by any other performer. His legendary undefeated streak at WrestleMania lead to him being one of the biggest draws in wrestling history, and his success continues today, although the streak was eventually broken by Brock Lesnar.
The Undertaker debuted in WWE in 1990 after a significantly less relevant stint in WCW. He’s since been a part of some of the craziest and most violent moments in WWE history. He is a 7-time WWE World Champion and has won countless other titles along the way, earning millions of dollars for himself and for Vince McMahon while he did so. The most endearing and memorable moments of the Undertaker often tie into his mystique and his mystery, even if sometimes that gets a little bit too cartoony for its own good. Over the past decade, the Undertaker has been very protective of his character, and WWE has mostly treated him with the utmost respect in consideration of that fact. However, for the first half of his career, some pretty goofy stuff went down.
Read on to learn 15 insane facts about the Undertaker that might have been a little too crazy for most people to remember.
15. He Was “Mean”
The Undertaker is basically an institution within the WWE, as one of Vince McMahon’s most loyal and successful performers. Fans thus might be surprised to learn he made his mainstream debut in WCW as “Mean” Mark Callous in 1989. “Mean” Mark didn’t make a huge impact in WCW. His first impact was replacing Sid Vicious in teaming with Dan Spivey, managed by a young Theodore Long and known as The Skyscrapers. After that team disintegrated, “Mean” Mark paired up with a young Paul E. Dangerously, competing in notable matches against big name superstars such as Johnny Ace, Brian Pillman and Lex Luger. Despite a promising start and growing popularity, “Mean” Mark never really took off in WCW and left the company in 1990.
14. He Loves You
The Undertaker famously debuted in WWE at Survivor Series 1990. Although his historic debut has been viewed and remembered by millions, what some might forget is that when he debuted he was actually a client of oft-maligned WWE manager Brother Love. The pairing actually made a vague amount of sense, considering a preacher typically presides over a funeral before passing the body to the mortician, but something about this duo in particular didn’t quite work. The Undertaker only spent a few months with Love before debuting his new manager, Paul Bearer.
The Undertaker’s real name is Mark Callaway, but it’s never been acknowledged as such on official WWE programming. A few times near the very beginning of his WWE career, however, he was known by a different name: Kane. Still accompanied by Brother Love, Kane the Undertaker wrestled a series of squash matches on WWE b-shows including Superstars of Wrestling and Wrestling Challenge. He dropped the proper name very early into his run, only mentioning it himself once in an ominous early interview. The announce team loved calling him Kane in his TV debut, but even they dropped it and he was known only as The Undertaker starting less than a month into his career. It wouldn’t even be brought up when it was revealed he had a brother with the same name (The Undertaker’s version was never spelled on screen, but it is presumed to be the same).
12. His Spirit Rose From A Casket And Flew Away
The 1994 Royal Rumble is considered one of the more embarrassing wrestling Pay-Per-Views ever produced, and it’s all because of one segment surrounding everybody’s favorite dead guy. After losing a casket match to Yokozuna, the Undertaker used his magic powers (more on that later) to make his spirit ascend from the casket, while delivering a weird message to Yoko and company. Many aspects of the Undertaker are cartoonish and silly, but presented within the right context, they can also be cool and compelling. They completely missed the boat on this one, as soon as they had weird green-yellow smoky mist emit from Undertaker’s urn, which caused him to “lose [apparently only some of] his powers.” As if losing his powers causing him to fall down and lose the match wasn’t silly enough, the ascension from the casket is what really took the match to full wrestle crap territory. His return would be just as bad…
11. He Wrestled Himself
After losing the casket match to Yokozuna, the Undertaker spent several months away from WWE television. About six months later, Ted DiBiase began claiming he had used his considerable wealth to discover the whereabouts of the Dead Man and bring him back to WWE. Fans quickly noticed this new Undertaker was a fake played by Brian Lee, and began loudly clamoring for the real Undertaker to return. Before long, Paul Bearer brought the real deal back with the power of the urn, and the two Undertakers battled at SummerSlam 1994. The whole ordeal, from burial to revival to fighting his doppelganger, is generally considered the nadir of both the Undertaker and possibly WWE’s main event scene in general.
10. Mabel Broke His Face
The Undertaker eventually got his revenge on Yokozuna and returned to fighting the various midcard performers who tried to steal his urn, including Mabel. Mabel was special amongst the Undertaker’s many minor feuds in that he made a serious and considerable dent on the Phenom by breaking his orbital bone with a 500-plus pound leg drop in the middle of 1995. The Undertaker would return at Survivor Series 1995 wearing a protective steel mask, which he would wear for the next two months. He got his revenge on Mabel by defeating him in a casket match, after which Mabel wouldn’t be seen in WWE for nearly three years. The mask was permanently ripped off the Undertaker’s face by Bret Hart at the 1996 Royal Rumble, and is rarely ever mentioned today.
9. He’s Been Buried Alive Four Times
Casket matches were the first of the Undertaker’s specialties, but after six years of trouncing every opponent to stand before him, a second specialty match was needed. In 1996, WWE created the Buried Alive match. Although it bears a direct connection to the Phenom, he actually hasn’t the best luck with this style of match, being buried alive himself on four out of five occasions (although one of these burials came after a victory). In the two instances the Undertaker defeated Mankind in these matches, a small tuft of dirt ended up on Mankind’s back before he was declared the loser. All four times the Undertaker has been buried, he’s been completely covered, with the grave practically filled to the top with dirt. Heavy machinery was typically involved. After the first incident, his hand triumphantly shot out of the grave in an homage to Carrie, and Taker has always managed to keep bouncing back to life since.
8. He Was Locked in a Flaming Casket
Being buried alive might be close enough to death for some people, but this is the Undertaker we’re talking about, so eventually the stakes had to be raised yet again. Buried Alive matches are reserved for special occasions, so when the Undertaker challenged Shawn Michaels for the WWE World Championship at the 1998 Royal Rumble, he settled for a simple casket match. The match became famous for destroying Michaels’ already injured back, but what happened after the match is equally memorable. Kane and Paul Bearer interfered to help HBK win, after which they locked Undertaker in the casket and set it on fire. With absolutely no means of escape, Kane and Bearer watched and laughed as the casket erupted into flames, presumably murdering the Undertaker inside the casket. Less than two months later, the Undertaker would reappear on Raw. How did he survive? Well…
7. He Has Magic Powers
After being burned alive while locked inside a casket, the Undertaker returned to WWE via a lightning bolt. There’s no other way to describe what happened in the March 1998 episode of Monday Night Raw where he made his return. Paul Bearer is talking, the lights go out, lightning strikes the entrance ramp, voila—the Undertaker has been brought back to life. The Undertaker has portrayed a variety of other magical powers along the years, typically manipulating lightning but also seemingly having general control over the weather, creating fog by lifting his arms from yards away. He’s also lifted the ring and shaken it telepathically, and with a tactic like that you have to wonder how he’s only managed to win the Royal Rumble once.
6. His Brother Has Magic Powers, Too
In interest of fairness, it only makes sense that if the Undertaker has magic powers, Kane should have some magic powers, too. Of course, we’re using the term “makes sense” in a very loose fashion, considering Kane’s magic powers exclude traveling via lightning in favor of shooting it out of his hands. Kane has also shot fire out of his hands, once attacking the Undertaker with this ability in November of 1998. Fireballs have been used in wrestling before, with the Sheik, the Funks, Jerry Lawler, and others utilizing them as a regular staple of their hardcore brawls, but the implication was always some kind of treachery, not outright magic. Kane took things a step further, with Jerry Lawler at ringside completely in awe after viewing Kane’s powers.
5. He Formed A Cult
He built an army the way only a Phenom can, creating the creepy (and arguably Satanic) Ministry of Darkness. With the Undertaker reunited with Paul Bearer at the helm, creepy WWE superstars such as Gangrel, Viscera, Mideon, and the Acolytes began following the Undertaker around and doing his bidding. The group only became creepier and more cult-like with the introduction of the “Higher Power,” an evil force even the Undertaker took orders from. As most fans know, that Higher Power ended up being Vince McMahon, and shortly after the whole cult thing quickly fell apart. It made perfect sense, though, considering WWE is basically McMahon’s personal cult, and the Undertaker is one of his most skilled preachers.
4. He’s An American Bad Ass
The Undertaker temporarily left WWE in late 1999 to deal with a variety of injuries. He returned in a major way at Judgment Day 2000, riding his motorcycle to the ring to the tune of Kid Rock’s “American Bad Ass,” the title of that song being a name the Undertaker would go on to be known by for the next four years. The Undertaker had actually dabbled in patriotism before, as a member of The All-American Team at the 1994 Survivor Series. This time out, Taker completely ditched the Dead Man persona to be more like the man behind the gimmick, whom apparently is a hardcore motorcycle enthusiast. He still dominated the WWE, but this era isn’t remembered quite as fondly as his time draped in black. Why? Keep reading.
3. DDP Stalked His Wife
The Invasion storyline is still considered one of the most poorly executed ideas in wrestling history. One of the elements of this storyline was the feud between the Undertaker and Diamond Dallas Page. The Undertaker had been in WWE for over a decade, and with the American Bad Ass persona was kicking ass and taking names, calling the WWE ring his Yard. Diamond Dallas Page was one of the few true superstars of WCW, a former World Champion looking to make a major impact in his new company. He did so by…weirdly stalking the Undertaker’s wife. While that is a solid tactic to infuriate a man, most fans feel that with two huge names going at it, such a poorly conceived silly idea really wasn’t needed. It didn’t help that Undertaker’s wife at the time, Sara, was a pretty terrible actress. It also didn’t help that Undertaker beat the hell out of DDP from the first second, negating any interest in the feud or in WCW’s invasion. Granted, it wasn’t the worst moment of DDP’s career by a long shot.
2. He Dragged Hulk Hogan Around By His Motorcycle
In 2002, Hulk Hogan returned to WWE and quickly won the Undisputed Championship. Plenty of fans rode the wave of nostalgia, but perhaps remembering their feud a decade earlier, the Undertaker was none too pleased. The two reignited their old feud, but instead of playing to the history of it, or focusing on the title, the focus of the feud was the fact Hulk Hogan ran over the Undertaker’s motorcycle with a truck. In retaliation, the Undertaker attempted to seriously injure him by hanging a rope around Hogan’s legs and dragging him around the arena on the back of Hogan’s motorcycle. Wrestlers pull off lots of extremely dangerous stunts, but they executed this idea so poorly it probably was pretty safe. Considering how goofy it looked when they attempted it, and how dangerous it would have been to actually do it, this is probably an idea WWE should have passed on.
1. He Buried Paul Bearer Alive in Cement
About nine years before Paul Bearer actually passed away, the Undertaker “killed” him on TV by burying him in cement. Bearer had been inextricably linked with the Undertaker for both of their entire WWE careers, and that was the reason Paul Heyman put Bearer’s life on the line when he needed the Dead Man to see who was boss. The Undertaker fought the Dudley Boyz in a handicap match, with Undertaker told to lose or else Bearer would be buried alive in cement. The Undertaker won anyway and even did the honors of flipping the switch of the cement truck, effectively “killing” Bearer for the next six years. How many times do we need to say it? Murder and wrestling shouldn’t mix. Luckily, the Undertaker would gradually become more grounded over the next few years, although he always managed to maintain his mystique. He never quite lost those magic powers, either.