The American Badass and My IWC Days
In 2000, Undertaker left his trademark hat for a bandana and favored a big bike over walking slowly to the ring, becoming “American Badass”. It was a breath of fresh air seeing him as more human, though he never shed off his no-nonsense, kickass personality. In between that year to 2003, he would keep on beating all comers and making them famous, notably The Rock, Triple H, former WCW champion Diamond Dallas Page, a returning Hulk Hogan, and even WWE’s evil tycoon Mr. McMahon.
In 2002, the WWF legally changed their name WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment), much thanks to a court loss against another WWF, World Wildlife Fund. In 2003 the Philippines got a new proper home for all of WWE programming, Solar Entertainment’s USA (which became JackTV in later years).
In early 2004 was the year I was introduced to the wonderful world that is the Internet. A few months before I registered on this anomaly called Friendster, I was curious of what information I could find about The Undertaker. One day, I googled his name, and then tons of trivia were in front of my eyes:
- In real life, he is Mark William Calaway, born March 24, 1965.
- He almost became a pro basketball player in Europe, but instead chose a career in wrestling.
- Before becoming The Undertaker, he wrestled under different characters/gimmicks,, notably “Mean” Mark Callous and “Punisher” Dice Morgan.
- He made his official WWE debut at the Survivor Series event in November 22, 1990. I was born 13 days after that, December 5th. 13 days. No wonder I like the number!
- He was supposed to be named “Cain the Undertaker”. (That “Cain” would become another character, his pyromaniac half-brother Kane.)
- Since 1991, he has never lost at WrestleMania. (That would change in 2014, which I will talk about later.)
The more I lurked on websites like Lords of Pain and Gerweck.net, and then eventually Wikipedia and YouTube, the more knowledgeable I become not just about The Undertaker but also somehow about professional wrestling. By that time, ‘Taker would walk back to WWE as the Deadman of old, and, for a brief period, with his manager Paul Bearer.
And like any other fan who becomes a part of this “Internet Wrestling Community” (IWC), my taste in wrestling changed as well. Gone are the days I would tolerate repeated spotlights on Triple H and, in those coming years, John Cena. And gone are the days I would tolerate silly wrestling storylines and screentime-wasting competitions like that god-awful Juniors Division and the Diva Search. I just simply want more quality wrestling, and thankfully WWE would exceed my expectations sometimes. Sometimes.
But whenever The Undertaker appears, my inner child reappears as well and my mind shuts down its suspension of disbelief. John “Bradshaw Layfield”? He may be a good villain, but ‘Taker choke-slammed his snarky body to a limousine and I loved it. Rey Mysterio? An amazing acrobatic luchador, but a bug compared to this almost 7-foot physical specimen. And, most notably, Kane? The Undertaker’s younger half-brother may have been a powerful ally. But I always prefer them being rivals, and the elderly brother would often prove to be the better man between the two.