#ThankYouTaker has become the official nomenclature to homage to The Phenom, The Undertaker.
For all intents and purposes, The Lord of Darkness has reaped his last soul after being defeated by Roman Reigns at WrestleMania. But as we all know being 22-2 at the Showcase of the Immortals wasn’t the big story by a long shot. After being beat, the greatest WWE character of all time, sat up one last time, stepped out of the ring got his iconic trench and hat back on, only to lay it down in the middle of the ring, symbolically becoming a mere mortal before descending back into the depths.
For many, ‘Taker is 100% complete measuring stick of all that is great about the wrestling business – not John Cena, the Rock, Stone Cold, Sting, Ultimate Warrior, or even Hulk Hogan himself could lace up the Demon of Death Valley’s boots, and all of those guys and more would be inclined to agree.
Chris Jericho has said many times that part of the allure of The Undertaker is his ability to adapt and change with the times. In honor of that ability and in honor of him, here is every single look of the immortal, legendary Undertaker!
15. The Original Deadman (1990-92)
Survivor Series 1990 might be the most important date in WWE history. When the giant egg hatched after months of speculation and the Golby Gooker was born, it changed the entire landscape of the WWE fore – . But seriously, that night will be remembered for The Undertaker’s debut, that was what really took the wrestling world by storm. Originally conceived of as an old timey–western mortician character, he stalked his way to the ring like the living dead and scared the beejeseus out of everyone who laid eyes on him and stepped in the ring with him. Because of the nature of the character, he wasn’t allowed to do much other than be scary, tombstone opponents, put them in body bags, and carry them out of the ring. Clearly, it was captivating enough and The Deadman would soldier on for nearly thirty years of destruction!
14. The Phenom (1992- 94)
The Undertaker and Jake Roberts were a natural fit to work together. No matter the situation or program they’d be booked in. But when The Deadman stopped Roberts from annihilating Miss Elizabeth with a steel chair, it showed even the undead had a semblance of a heart, albeit a black one. The Undertaker’s face turn began that day and he never looked back. He vanquished Jake and then turned his attentions to barbaric heels like the Berserker and Kamala, who was scared out of his animistic mind at the mere sight of The Deadman. It was also during this time that The Undertaker started making epic ring entrances, like on the back of a hearse at Wembley stadium for SummerSlam ’92 and of course,, on a Roman Death Chariot complete with a big nasty vulture at WrestleMania IX – probably the event’s most iconic image. The mythic legend of The Undertaker had truly begun here as The Phenom began to separate himself from the rest of the roster.
13. The Underfaker (1994)
After the original Undertaker had been “killed” by 76 heels helping Yokozuna at the 1994 Royal Rumble, it was Ted Dibiase of all people, who was responsible for bringing The Undertaker to the WWE in the first place claimed that he had the means to bring The Phenom back to the WWE. And he did, but there was something slightly off about this Undertaker. According to Paul Bearer, he wasn’t the real Undertaker at all. Younger fans, at the time may or may not have been able to tell the difference, but according to the reports that were sent to Dave Meltzer at that time, the live crowds crapped on the whole bit, not realizing that he was supposed to be a fake! That match at Summer Slam 1994 would bring back the one true Undertaker, sending The Underfaker back to being the bike character Brian Lee always was (so does that mean that the Biker ‘Taker was a fake Prime Time?)
12. The Creatures of the Night (1994 – 1997)
Once the real Undertaker returned at Summer Slam ’94, he was at his most babyface, always asking for help from his fans, which he affectionately called The Creatures of the Night; after vanquishing his money-grubby doppelgänger, The Deadman waged war with the rest of the Million Dollar Corporation, most notable IRS (because Death and Taxes!), Kama (who melted the urn and turned it into a chain), and King Kong Bundy (just another legend for The Undertaker to add to his streak). It was also during this time that saw the Phantom Undertaker and the debut of not one, but two of The Phenom’s greatest foes Mankind and Vader. The Undertaker definitely needed help from his fans during this time as due to the shocking betrayal of his one friend and confidant, Paul Bearer during the infamous Boiler Room Brawl with Mankind.
13. The “Phenom” of the Opera (1995)
The people that The Phenom was [paired off with during this time is what’s responsible for this actual look. King Mabel and Yokozuna both dropped their tremendous leg drops onto The Deadman repeatedly, shoot–breaking his orbital bone in the process. Considering how important, not to mention how over and how badass The Undertaker was (he once wrestled with a flack jacket on to protect broken ribs, he was not going to be taking anytime off and instead wore a mask that resembled the Phantom of the Opera. Needless to say this look only lasted as long as it took to heel up an orbital bone, but this time also gave us a few kick–ass matches with Bret Hart, where we would learn that The Deadman could go. We also saw a Survivor Series match where The Phenom teamed up with some of his Bone Street Krew cronies to destroy Mabel, Jerry Lawler, Triple H, and the evil dentist Isaac Yankem.
12. The Reaper of Wayward Souls (1997-98)
By this pint in his career,The Phenom had been taken out by every heel imaginable, fought an imposter, destroyed by Mankind and betrayed by his only friend, Paul Bearer. He was seemingly cast aside for people who’d eventually leave the WWE or were a handful to deal with. You could understand if was slightly perturbed. The Undertaker didn’t alter his look too much here just added a teardrop to his face, which if he was a con, it meant he killed a guy. But The Reaper of Wayward Souls was just a pissed off, mean, angry Undertaker who was fed up with all of the B.S. around him and started taking matters int his own hands capable evil hands, as if he wasn’;t pissed off enough. But during this time, he finally got revenge on Paul Bearer, defeated his brother at WrestleMania and heaved Mankind off of and through Hell in a Cell and into some thumbtacks for good measure.
11. The Lord of Darkness (1998-99)
What’s worse than a PO’ed Deadman? How about a Phenom who actually believes his gimmick as an evil undead monster?! As everyone else got some Attitude and added more realism to their characters, The Deadman went the other way and got downright Satanic. Leading a cult, the Ministry of Darkness, Mark Calloway actually believed her was The Undertaker. Wrestlers followed his vision and beckoned to his every call. He hung the Big Bossman from Hell in a Call. He tied Stone Cold to his symbol and tried to embalm him alive. He had Kane committed to an mental home and tried to gain control of the WWE. He wore a black cloak and sat in crazy looking throne, espousing about the utrity of evil. Not to mention abducted the boss’ daughter and attempted to marry in an unholy union of darkness in one of The Deadman’s most iconic moments – “where to, Stephanie?!”
10. The Brothers of Destruction (1997-2015)
While not a persona of the legend per se, ever since Kane came onto the scene, convoluted back story and all, The Big Red Machine and The Demon of Death Valley have carved a path of destruction like other dup in WWE history. No matter what side they were on or even if they were battling each other, the Brother of Destruction knew how to make all of their time together memorable From Kane’s debut, ripping the door off of the first Hell in a Cell to their Inferno Match a Hell in the Cell match of their own and their run as tag team champions, this time they were both holding Stephanie McMahon hostage. No matter the era, no matter which Kane was facing which ‘Taker, it was always an important match in their nearly 20-year history. Not bad for a dead guy and a burned guy would can’t talk?
9. The American Bad Ass (2001-02)
Only when the Attitude Era was winding down, did the Demon of Death Valley finally get in on the act. At Judgment Day 2000, three girls scarier than the Grady Twins from the Shining, who had been laying out incantations for weeks at the playground let us all know that “he’s here.” Instead of being a giant zombie we came to know and love, we saw The Undertaker in his natural state. – motorcycle riding and was more or less just himself on camera, an ornery Texas bad ass who rode motorcycles to the ring and listened to the hard rock of the era. His style in the ring changed and he debuted a new finisher – the devastating elevated powerbomb known as the Last Ride. Even still to this day, the American Bad Ass remains The Phenom;’s most divisive personality amongst fans. It was such a drastic change from The Lord of Darkness fans came to love and worship. We would eventually get the undead, Undertake back one day but this iteration did give us the new catchphrase – try me and I’ll make you famous.
8. Big Evil (2002-04)
Just like Metallic chopped off their hair and metal fans gasped, when the American Bad Ass lopped off his flowing red locks, wrestling fans were stunned as well. Now The Deadman was walking around with a twist on his biker persona – Big Evil and Deadman, Inc. was open for business. Now with a personality of just a big ol’ nasty bully. This vile, vicious Undertaker chained the immortal Hulk Hogan to his motorcycle and rode around the arena with him. He’d also beat the holy heck out of him to become the undisputed champion. The iteration of The Deadman was actually a tweener. He was just a bad dude mixing it up with anyone who dared cross his path. He even beat heck out of Jim Ross. It was during this time as well that we would get to see Jeff Hardy ‘made famous” by Big Evil in an epic Raw main event ladder match that minted the wildly popular Hardy as a top guy in a match that is still talked about to this day.
7.The Reaper Returns (2004)
After spending nearly five years (yes it was that long) as big nasty biker, Kane had helped to defeat, destroy, and bury this version of The Undertaker. But as the man himself had once proclaimed, you cannot kill that wish does not wish to perish. Not only, which Kan would learn at the 2004 Royal Rumble. The Undertaker would return at that year’s WrestleMania XX, with Paul Bearer again at his side no less. The returning Deadman spent the year on a Path of Destruction, which even included him calling Paul Bearer out for a being a liability and burying him in cement. After several years away, no one was safe from The Undertaker’s wrath and character that the fans had clamored for was truly back and letting anyone who crossed his path know full well they were in his yard.
6. SmackDown’s Conscience (2004-09)
With so many new superstars on Smackdown, the roster, as more or less it had lays done looked to The Undertaker for guidance and instruction. On screen, The Deadman helped a plethora of stars get over – battles with the likes of Rey Mysterio (who re–broke the guy’s orbital bone), Mark Henry, Randy Orton and Ken Kennedy, were all made into better wrestlers for having worked with the legend,. Most notable thought during this time were his feuds and wars with both Edge and Batista – stealing the show at WrestleMania two years in a row During this time he was a dominant world champion and even won the Royal Rumble, at number thirty, which seldom ever happens.
5. The Last Outlaw (2009-12)
As more and more wrestler rom the Attitude Era started to retire, only three old timers remained – Shawn Michaels, Triple H, and The Undertaker, and in the weeks leading up to the anticipated first WrestleMania match between Mr. WrestleMani and the then impregnable streak of The Phenom. It was first match with one another since Shawn’s fateful injury during their casket match at the 1998 Royal Rumble. But their encounter as the last two men in the Royal Rumble and year a year earlier would set off a chain of events between the three engaged that would lead up to the final battle between them at Hell in a Cell during WrestleMania XXVIII. During this time, the Game referred to The Phenom by the very fitting nickname, the Last Outlaw, which also meant we got hear The Undertaker come to the ring to the Johnny Cash song, Ain’t No Grave.
4. Mohawk Deadman (2012-15)
After defeating Triple H in their first WrestleMania match at XVII, The Phenom was beaten damn near into oblivion by the Cerebral Assassin. Even through he was victorious, he was unable to leave on his own accord and had to be carted off on a stretcher. For a man as proud as the Demon of Death Valley, he spent the next year stewing about having to be carted off. In demanding a rematch with the Game, who at this point was firmly entrenched in the corporate lifestyle at first refused to give The Deadman what he wished for. So he decided to chop off his hair. When The Phenom and Triple H finally got inside Hell in a Cell, the Undertaker revealed a new look, a giant flat faux-hawk. The change was so drastic that it caused the fearless Triple H to take a step back and the crowd to chant “holy shit,” at a haircut. The Phenom would be able to defeat Triple H to go 20-0 and then CM Punk before The Streak was finally broken by Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania XXX.
The End of an Era (2016-17)
After The Streak was impossibly ended, the rumors had begun to swirl and swirl – was it the Last we would see of The Undertaker? After all, he’d done all anyone could do in the WWE and would certainly go down in history as either the number one or two best big man after or before Andre, what more could be left? It turns out a lot more was left in the tank. The Phenom would return one year later to take out pretender to his throne, Bray Wyatt. He would also come back at Brock Lesnar full steam ahead at both SummerSlam in 2015 and at Hell in a Cell. Speaking of the Demonic structure, he also survived Shane McMahon attempting to dive off the top of the top of it. It all finally led to what is widely believed to be the last time we’ll ever see The Undertaker, wearing a coat that looked like the Necronomicon. We all know what happened at WrestleMania this past year and it will debated for years to come if it was the right move or not, but the lasting image of The Phenom will always be a powerful one.
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