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The O.V.

The Last of an Era

Rating: 3 votes, 3.67 average.
With the Undertaker's recent return and the subsequent confrontation with Triple H, it brought to the fore an often overlooked fact. Triple H spoke of himself and the Undertaker being the last of an era. While those words are true, their meaning rings a little deeper for the Undertaker, for he is the last of the gimmick wrestlers.

Back in the late 80's and early 90's the wrestling industry was filled with a multitude of colourful characters. Each of them had a unique and identifiable gimmick. The Red Rooster, Doink the Clown, The Million Dollar Man, The Natural Disasters, The Barbarian, The Warlord, The Goon, The Headshrinkers, Duke 'The Dumpster' Droese, the list goes on and on. They were almost comic-book in their presentation and their various characters and idiosyncracies were played upon and marketed.

In November 1990 at the Survivor Series, a gimmick would debut that would endure in one form or another for the next two decades; The Undertaker. In the seven years that followed the character of the Undertaker would fit in well with the other colourful characters, having memorable battles with other 'supernatural' forces within the (then)WWF.

As the 20th century drew to a close, so did the era of the gimmick wrestler. The Attitude Era erupted in full force. What then ruled were cults of personality, edgy content, and some of the most memorable moments in professional wrestling. Not only did the Undertaker character survive this shift in direction, but thrived, becoming darker and far more sinister. If the seeds of the Undertakers legend were sown in the early 90's, then it was during the late 90's when they began to bud. The combination of many epic matches and an eight year tenure ensured the character would endure through this era of Stone Cold, The Rock and D-X.

The Undertaker vanished in 1999. What returned in 2000 was not the Phenom we all know and love, but a biker in sunglasses on a Harley Davidson. It seemed the Undertaker had succumbed to the gimmick purge, sporting an entirely unsupernatural appearance and demenour. Gone was the grand, eerie entrance and the Graveyard Symphony. Gone was the tall, imposing, black-clad figure that dominated the ring. Gone were the chills down the spine. All that was left was a single iconic "Gong" of the bell toll. For the next four years we had an Undertaker, but it was not the Undertaker.

When the bell tolled at Wrestlemania XX it heralded the return of the Deadman. Everything that made the Undertaker the monolith that he is returned with him. The presence, the familliar tingle on the back of the neck and the thunderous cheers from the crowd. For the next eight years we watched the legend grow and that Wrestlemania streak get longer and longer with each successive victory.

The question I'm trying to answer here is why the Undertaker character has endured for so long. It's a combination of many factors. The first is being conceived at a time when such over the top gimmicks were commonplace. The character was first pushed as being an unstoppable force, immune to pain and even toppled the Immortal Hulk Hogan, who at the time was force unto himself. Being portrayed by Mark Calaway, who at 6'8" (being billed at 6'10") and around 300lbs, has the physical presence and in-ring talent to carry the character well. However, I believe the main reason why the Undertaker character has endured for so long is a simple one; Popularity.

The Undertaker is arguably the most recognised professional wrestler in the world. Only Hulk Hogan and the Rock can claim similar worldwide fame. He has been in the spotlight for more than 20 years, each year accruing a new generation of fans. He captivates by virtue of his own legacy, but more importantly by being something so unreal in a world of 'real'. This new moniker, 'The Last Outlaw', doesn't do him justice. He is the last of the great gimmick wrestlers, the last true superhero of professional wrestling.


-The O.V.

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Updated 03-08-2011 at 04:54 AM by The O.V.

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Comments

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  1. Lowki's Avatar
    There's still a few gimmick wrestlers; Kane and goldust are the main.
    I see what you mean though, i've alway thought that since the attitude era gimmicks have been more or else stopped completely.

    Attitude saw a slight return to the 80s "gimmicks" with people like Goldust, Kane, Undertaker + Ministry as well as others with some kind of "funny" character with a theme Bossman (Swat style), Val Venis (pornstar), ken shamrock(MMA Animal), The Rock, Mick foleys other 3 personas, Al Snow.

    The only new people with a "gimmick" that isn't themselves in the past 10 years has been Kevin Thorn (vampire + mordecai), Festus, Cryme Tyme, "jamaican" Kofi, Fat Oily Guy, Santino, Kozlov (Russian guy - especially during his Smackdown days).
    That's one thing i miss about wrestling; Back in the older days people thought it was real even with the "joke characters" and Gimmicks. These days people know it's fake so now it's just full of "real name" people. Larger than life characters have been given a "human" touch to them; Undertaker, goldust, Kane have all been humanised. I can't remember the last time the Undertaker or Kane "Sat up" from a beating etc..
  2. steveorton's Avatar
    @The OV dude this was a great blog, it was awesome, you actually captured the essence of the Undertaker in this blog, excellent work, I'm jus sayin...
  3. KSTornado's Avatar
    Nice blog but I do have to agree with Lowki in that there are a few "gimmick" guys left in the business. I also want to point out something many may not be seeing which is Undertaker going back to the outlaw way but I am better he will be reverting back to the biker at Mania. Don't be surprised if it happens.
  4. Chaston80's Avatar
    I just hope Taker doesnt lose at this years WM, this has been such a half hearted attempt at creating a match for Taker and Triple H and it doesnt feel credible. Sure Triple H is a main player and a real threat to the streak but it just doesnt have that feel like you are worried or excited that the streak may end like the feeling has been for the past several years.
  5. Slobernocker_30's Avatar
    I'd add Sheamus to that list as well. I couldn't tell you much about his WWE endorsed character other than he's the Celtic Warlord from Dublin and he runs around in a crown holding his club. Pretty much a one dimensional gimmick if you ask me. But yes, these guys are few and far between since the end of the attitude era, you're dead on with that one. Can we get Brutus the Barber Beefcake to come back for a night and give Ziggler a haircut, pleeeeease???
  6. Trips88's Avatar
    I remember back when Taker was still doing Halloween specials and hosting movie marathons. I was just a kid, and I ate that stuff up. I can honestly say that Taker is one of the main reasons I've been a life long fan and I personally hate the new theme. It's not about the music, or the T-shirt, or anything else but the simple fact that it represents an all to true reality. That one of the best ever is running out of time, and that's something that the kid in me just isn't quite ready to let go of yet :/
  7. The Sheep's Avatar
    Many of you missed the point of this blog or are just arguing for the sake of it. it's not really about gimmicks and who is or isnt a gimmick wrestler. Its about The Taker dominating for 2 decades without ever once ever being anything less than main event level. Its un heard of, un fathumable in such a physically demanding businesss. Only guys like HBK and Ric Flair have been able to compete on a main event level for 15-20 years.

    The taker in character and in man have been un dying. the one constant, the concience of the wwe. It is sad to see the dead man at the end of his run but wow what a run. The legacy of the awesome undertaker.
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