This is a piece I’ve thought about writing quite a few times.
More specifically, I’ve thought about it a lot this year with the release of The Last Ride docuseries and this month even more so with the 30 Days Of The Deadman documentaries and promo.
It’s difficult for me to put into words how I’m feeling about all of this, though I have tried on more than one occasion over the last 3 years on the show to convey what Mark Calaway and this character have meant to me.
As I write this, we’re about an hour away from the start of Survivor Series, which is being billed this year as The Undertaker’s Final Farewell.
The idea of that much talked about event alone makes me suspicious that Vince has a swerve planned and this has been a month long build up to yet another match at Mania.
But having just finished Taker’s 2nd appearance on The Broken Skull Sessions, those fears have died down a bit.
Now, allow me to explain.
Mark Calaway made his debut in WWE as The Undertaker almost exactly 5 months before I was born.
So for me, he has quite literally ALWAYS been around.
For me, he is wrestling, he is WWE.
When I was little and found wrestling, his was a character that immediately stood out.
The coat, the hair, the size, the mystique, the horror movie tinged movement and actions, all of it spoke to me on a deep level.
That spooky music and dark look captured my imagination in a big bad way.
Add in how creepy Paul Bearer was with his pale face, dark sunken eyes, and his unsettling high pitched voice.
And Kane, the brother that he had a rocky history with.
Every aspect of it, despite all of the magic and theatrics, spoke to me.
Fitz and I make numerous jokes about me dressing or acting like him, but they aren’t jokes.
It’s a defense mechanism I picked up on by watching how unsettled people legitimately were when Taker would make that long and measured walk to the ring.
Just by talking less, walking slower, holding your shoulders a specific way, wearing certain clothes, people would give you a wide berth.
So I adopted it at a time in my life when I had gotten my fill of the way humanity treated me and each other.
For better or worse, you can make that judgement on your own, it worked and it stuck.
It’s difficult to look back at 30 years of one man as one character and boil it all down into a few paragraphs, but that’s my experience with it.
For me, The Undertaker really is an inspiring figure.
As lame as it may sound, in a way, that character is a security blanket.
If this is the end, it’s been one hell of a great run.
And the symmetry of him going out 30 years to the day of his debut is such an amazing and poetic way to end the run of this larger than life character.
Whether tonight really is the Final Farewell or a new beginning, I’ll be watching and I’ll be grateful for what Mark has given me without every knowing or intending to.
I will always be a bit bummed that I never got to see him perform live, but on the flip side of that I am glad that I got to witness a truly great performer do what he does better than anybody else ever possibly could have.
I’ll never be ready to say goodbye, but for damn sure can say…Thank You, Taker.
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Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 for her continued editorial assistance.