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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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Thoughts and Opinions

Comments

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  1. brandohall's Avatar
    Great Blog! Although there are a few gimmick wrestlers left in the WWE such as Kane, Goldust, etc...It's pretty safe to say that none of them have gained the fan base and popularity that the Undertaker has over the years. I agree that "The Last Outlaw" does not do the Undertaker gimmick justice.
  2. Chaston80's Avatar
    I think I understand the last of an era...Undertaker is just one of those guys that has endured through Hogan's era, Hart's/Michaels era, Austin/Rock's era and even through the pg era of Cena and now we seem to be witnessing his last year in the WWE. I mean its such an overwhelming feeling to know by this time next year we will be witnessing the Undertakers last match. And the fact this is overshadowing Triple H's subsequent retirement is a testament to what The Undertaker is to wrestling.
  3. thenuguy1106's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Chaston80
    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.
    you are completely right.... the only reason i ordered last years wrestlemania is because of the shawn michaels vs. undertaker. I had that worried/excited feeling quite a few times.

    otherwise...
    there aren't many more gimmicks in wwe but if you look at tna you will find....
    sting(tna's undertaker),aj styles(the phenomenal one), Jeff Hardy(the dark, twisted, enigma), James Storm (the country drunk), Eric Young(the village idiot), The Hoe-again/Bichoff Regime(NWO) (Deja Vu All-Over-Again), Robert Roode(Tna's Million Dollar Man), Abyss(The Monster...Tna's Kane), Rob Van Dam(The Whole F'n Show), Jay Lethal(Tna's Wanna-Be Randy salvage). thats almost half of tnas roster that has a gimmick. WWE has killed gimmicks while tna is recreating them
  4. Iscariot's Avatar
    Gimmicks are not dead, but with the removal of official kayfabe, the more outrageous and two-dimensional gimmicks died out.

    But Santino is not Italian, Kozlov is not Russian, Cena is not Superman, Orton is not borderline psychotic, del Rio does not hail from Spanish Royalty, neither does he own 150 super cars and diBiase certainly does not controll a multimillion Trustfund. Swagger is probably not as intensely patriotic, Maryse as ruthlessly golddigging or Rhodes as narcissistic as they are portrayed either.
  5. Rendall's Avatar
    Hey it's funny that people are debating this match; seriously the thought of this match bores me to the very core, but then i can't say I've ever really been a fan of either guy. Thing is; I don't understand the Undertaker's longevity; i find him boring and always have done. I respect the fact that he is a good worker; especially for his size, but sorry he just bores me. On top of this; if HHH does win(which he won't), but if he did then it would be an absolute disgrace, because in his whole career I cannot recall him putting anyone over to make them a star, he only ever loses to already established guys. Mark you owe it to the industry to lose your streak before you retire and not to lose it to the likes of HHH, but to lose it to someone you could make a star; it would almost set a guy's career for life. I am not saying you owe it because some other guy deserves it, but this industry is in dire need of new stars, and you and others like HHH have made insane amounts of money out of this business; so give a little back, please for the sake of not only the business but for the fans all over the world.
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