Mark Calaway, aka The Undertaker, has been a fixture in World Wrestling Entertainment since making his debut at the 1990 Survivor Series. That night a legend was born and his now 24-year reign in the WWE is unparalleled. He is a four-time WWE Champion, a three-time World Heavyweight Champion, a six-time Tag Team Champion and the winner of the 2007 Royal Rumble. But of course, as every WWE fanatic knows, his most impressive accomplishment is his 21-0 streak at “The Showcase of Immortals,” WrestleMania. On Sunday April 6th, he will put his 21-0 streak on the line in a showdown with Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 30.
Fans of The Undertaker, and WWE fans overall, mostly know of his numerous in-ring feats and accomplishments. However, there are things that mostly aren’t known to the WWE Universe and things about The Undertaker that are known to a small amount of people. Some of those things are his love for motorcycles, his involvement with charity projects within the church and his large investments in construction and real estate projects. This list of little known facts about The Phenom are mostly involved with his wrestling career with some other facts mixed in. We hope you enjoy.
10. He Was A Talented Basketball Player
Professional wrestling isn’t the only sport that The Undertaker excelled in. Back in the day, a young Mark Calaway was a promising basketball star during his collegiate years. Calaway played basketball for a two-year college in Texas before eventually transferring to Texas-Wesleyan University to play for the Rams for the 1985-86 season. If it wasn’t for him discovering a little something called professional wrestling, then who knows where basketball might have taken Calaway. WWE would’ve been robbed of a great had he not discovered the world of sports entertainment.
9. Before the Dead…
As with many wrestling superstars, The Undertaker did not start out as the “Man from the Dark Side” that many have come to love (and fear). Back in 1984, he debuted in World Class Championship Wrestling under the name of Texas Red. As The Master of Pain in 1989, in the USWA, he won his first ever championship in professional wrestling. Also in ’89, he wrestled under the name The Punisher, where he would win his second championship in professional wrestling. ‘Mean’ Mark Callous was his name when he wrestled briefly in WCW and also during that time he wrestled in New Japan Pro Wrestling as Punisher Dice Morgan. If he continued to struggle to find a gimmick, eventually he would’ve had as many gimmicks as he has years wrestled in WWE.
8. Taking Gold From A King
The first championship The Undertaker ever won came at the expense of a certain well-known king. On April 1st, 1989 as the “Master of Pain,” he won his first ever championship in professional wrestling by winning the USWA Unified World Heavyweight Championship, defeating Jerry “The King” Lawler. Lawler, who was and still is a very important figure in the professional wrestling scene, especially in the south, undoubtedly helped jump-start the early part of Taker’s early professional wrestling career. Taker would go on to win his second ever title in professional wrestling a couple of months later on October 5th, when he won WCWA Texas Heavyweight Championship by way of a forfeit.
7. A Paul Heyman Guy?
When one thinks “Paul Heyman Guy,” the two names that come up automatically, at least recently, are CM Punk and Brock Lesnar. They are the two biggest superstars he has managed as of late and has most certainly been the most vocal for. Other names like Curtis Axel, Ryback, Big Show, Rob Van Dam, Tazz, and others are sure to come up as Heyman has many “guys.” Many don’t know, however, that when Heyman made his debut in World Championship Wrestling (WCW) in 1988 and one of the first guys to be managed by him was, in fact, The Undertaker. Or should I say ‘Mean’ Mark Callous. This partnership wouldn’t last very long though and neither did his time in WCW, as he left the very next year for WWE.
The Undertaker and Paul Heyman have a long history together with most of it being on opposite sides. It’s hard to imagine that their history together started as a manger-client relationship.
6. Kane..The Undertaker
The Undertaker‘s first ever name in the WWE was in fact Kane The Undertaker. Although he was not introduced as “Kane The Undertaker” in his debut at the 1990 Survivor Series, he was introduced as such at a taping of WWE Superstars in 1990. After the announcers at Survivor Series failed to mention the “Kane” part of his name, shortly after the event, it was dropped. The name Kane would reappear on television in WWE on October 5th, 1997 at Badd Blood: In Your House, but as The Undertaker’s half-brother.
5. Backstage Confrontation With The Heartbreak Kid
This was not on officially sanctioned WWE match. In fact, this wasn’t a match at all. This confrontation between the two happened outside of the ring and the stakes were higher than any prize or championship that a match could offer. If The Undertaker has a problem with a situation or a particular superstar in the WWE, he will let it be known and hold nothing back in doing so. In this case, his problem was with The HeartBreak Kid.
Shawn Michaels was at the height of his career in the mid-90s, and at the time of this particular incident, he was the WWE Champion. Michaels’ backstage behavior didn’t go over too well with many superstars, including The Deadman. Michaels was constantly in the ear of WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, especially when it came to his nemesis Bret Hart, who Michaels thought should be put on the back-burner as WWE continued to grow. The Undertaker sided with Hart and felt that it wasn’t Michaels’ place to make a decision like that.
The incident between the two happened in the lead up to WrestleMania XIV. Michaels had suffered a serious back injury at the Royal Rumble the same year (against The Undertaker), that would force him to retire for a number of years from in-ring action after WM XIV. But yet and still, The Undertaker felt that Michaels should drop his title to the fast-rising Stone Cold Steve Austin. The Undertaker would confront Michaels and threaten to knock him out if he didn’t lose the match as planned. And of course with that lovely offer presented to him, Michaels went with the storyline and lost to Austin.
4. Falls Count Anywhere…Even On A Plane
It is a well known fact that The Undertaker has great respect for his boss Vince McMahon and vice versa. If one were to question this, they wouldn’t have to look any further than the incident that took place between Taker and former WWE superstar and current TNA wrestler Kurt Angle on a flight.
Kurt Angle detailed in his autobiography, “It’s True! It’s True!” (great read by the way), the altercation involving him and the American Bad Ass on a flight to London, England. The back-story was that McMahon had taken Kurt Angle down on an episode of Raw Is War and he would not let Angle forget it happened either. On the plane McMahon and Angle had a long conversation with McMahon’s last words to Angle being, “Remember, Angle, I am the only one who’s ever taken you down.” Angle decided to get back at his boss by playfully attacking McMahon from behind and wrestling him to the ground. This commotion apparently had awakened a sleeping Dead Man who came to McMahon’s aid (he later told Angle he didn’t know who was on top of McMahon). The Taker then proceeded to choke Angle out (Angle says he blacked out for about a minute). That had to have sent up a red flag to anyone who witnessed this who thought about attacking the boss, playfully or not.
The Undertaker had a very frightening experience for himself and those who witnessed it. Taker was set to make his way down to the ring at the Elimination Chamber PPV on February 9th, 2010 where he was one of the participants and the World Heavyweight Champion heading into the brutal chamber match. As he stood at the top of the entrance ramp near the titantron, his pyro unexpectedly went off causing his jacket to catch on fire. The Undertaker quickly ditched the jacket and continued down the ring as if nothing happened, staying in his character. When he got into the ring, referee Jack Doan handed him water to pout on his noticeably bright-red chest. He would go on to wrestle in the match, but to say he was pissed off is an understatement.
As he was leaving the ring after the match, he could be seen pointing and yelling at the men in the pyro booth and raised hell in the backstage area about the incident. The Undertaker has a lot of pull in the WWE, so it wouldn’t be too shocking if those guys in the pyro booth found themselves looking for work after the event was over.
2. Taker Is A Fan Of Fighting, Ya Think?
If you were to ask The Undertaker what his top five favorite pastimes are, I’m pretty sure that boxing and mixed martial arts would fall somewhere in there. The Undertaker is an avid fan of boxing and MMA and often attends matches in his spare time away from the squared circle (which should be very often since he’s down to one match a year these days).
The most notable matches in each sports that he has attended in each sport include the epic clash between Mike Tyson and then-IBF, IBO and WBC Champion Lennox Lewis in 2002 (Lewis won by 8th round KO) and the Manny Pacquiao/Hector Velazquez bout in 2005. Taker actually carried out the US flag for Team Pacquiao before Pacquiao went on to win by TKO in the 6th round.
The Undertaker also loves attending MMA events, one of which involved a well documented encounter with “The Beast Incarnate” Brock Lesnar at UFC 121. After Lesnar’s 1st round TKO loss to Cain Velasquez, he and Taker had a stare down to which Taker said to Lesnar, “You wanna do it?” (This can be seen in the video above at 0:45).
Taker has said if he didn’t pursue a career in professional wrestling then MMA would’ve been the path he would’ve chosen.
1. Least Favorite Gimmick: The Lord of Darkness
Finding this out came as a huge disappointment to me because I absolutely loved this version of The Undertaker. It went perfect with the over-the-top nature of the Attitude Era and only made the excellent storylines of the era that much better. But as a very religious person who is involved in the church, this gimmick didn’t sit to well with Taker. The reciting of satanic phrases, being a leader of a somewhat cult-like stable that kidnapped other superstars and sacrificed them on his symbol wasn’t something The Undertaker was too fond of. He also didn’t like the fact that when his Ministry of Darkness fused with the Corporate Ministry, that it became all about the McMahons. Which is true, as it did become all about Vince McMahon and his quest to make sure Stone Cold never won the WWE Championship again. As you may remember, Shane McMahon as the leader of the Corporation merged with the MOD to take out common foes Stone Cold, The Rock, and Vince McMahon. Vince ultimately was revealed as the much talked about “Higher Power” but after this revelation, the stable didn’t last too much longer.
Although this was his least favorite gimmick, I’m pretty sure that I have many in agreement who feel it was one of his best and most entertaining (certainly better than American Badass…).