The Undertaker is by far WWE's most successful character creation of all-time. The Deadman has been living with the persona for nearly three decades and is widely regarded as one of the greatest performers ever. Nobody has come close when it comes to his larger-than-life gimmick, and how much of an impact it has had on the WWE Universe.
Many have tried to become the next Phenom of the WWE, but The Undertaker has cemented his legacy as the only ghostly character to have a spot in WWE. Of course, The Undertaker's on-screen brother Kane comes very close, but there will only ever be one Undertaker.
That being said, let's take a look at five former and current WWE Superstars that were once touted as the next Undertaker.
#5. Mordecai was once touted as the next Undertaker
Mordecai's debut in WWE came in 2004, when he vowed to rid the world of sin. Mordecai was a heel, and was something of a religious character who wore white to signify purity. In this case, Mordecai was an anti-Undertaker character, that could have one day become a big star and all-time rival for The Deadman. He could have eventually taken over The Undertaker.
Sadly, Mordecai's run on SmackDown at the time came to an abrupt end following a bar incident that happened outside of WWE. Mordecai told Sports Illustrated in 2017 that WWE Chairman Vince McMahon loved the character, and that John Laurinaitis told him he would 'make millions' with the character. Mordecai said:
"I told Vince my idea of a religious zealot who was enraged by sin. I laid out my idea of long coats and a cross, almost Pope-ish and even vignettes with a confessional where I punch through the confessional booth and choke out the sinner. Vince’s eyes blew up and he looked at me and said, ‘Holy s**t.’ Laurinaitis grabbed me when I walked out and said, ‘Son, you’re about to make a million dollars!"
The character should have been on WWE television for years, and it could have easily become the next big character WWE had produced. Unfortunately, we'll never find out if the Mordecai character could have surpassed The Undertaker one day.
Mordecai still wrestles to this day using the character, and appeared last summer at GCW's Collective independent event in Indianapolis, losing to Danhausen for Absolute Intense Wrestling.
#4. Current WWE producer Chris Park was once touted as the next Undertaker
In the mid-2000's, IMPACT Wrestling had their own version of The Undertaker wreaking havoc on their shows. Granted, Abyss has never performed in WWE, but the man behind the Abyss character is currently working behind-the-scenes in WWE as a producer.
Known as 'The Monster', Abyss had all the attributes and scare factor for him to be considered the next Undertaker in WWE. In fact, Abyss was offered the opportunity to join WWE in 2006, and feud with The Undertaker. Abyss decided to stay loyal to IMPACT Wrestling, named TNA at the time, and continue his legacy there.
Abyss was asked about the decision to remain with IMPACT in a media call leading up to his induction into the IMPACT Wrestling Hall of Fame:
"No. I'm not going to say I wish it would have happened. If it would have happened, obviously it would have been a career highlight, no doubt, but it wasn't in the cards. I chose to stay with TNA. TNA was and is my home. Impact is my home...This company gave me a home...They gave me the platform to show the wrestling world and the fans what I can do." (h/t Wrestling INC)
Had Abyss joined the ranks at WWE, he would most certainly have been a hit. The WWE Universe loves a character that isn't the norm, and Abyss was scary and petrifying enough to get you on the edge of your seat.
#3. Aleister Black was tipped to be the next Undertaker
We almost had a modern day Undertaker. Aleister Black came up the ranks through NXT and made his main roster debut on SmackDown with a spooky promo. The promo itself talks about dragons and how Black was taught to be one. It looked like Black was on the cusp of something special in WWE.
WWE Hall of Famer Mark Henry told Busted Open Radio about the gimmick:
"It was Undertaker like, it was Gangrel from The Brood like. It had that element of Rey Mysterio bouncing from underneath the ring on the trampoline thing or the slingshot or whatever it was. Not only is he a special talent, he has a unique skill-set. This is a guy who can strike and hit you from anywhere. He is athletic, looks apart, looks like a very evil bad man. I always thought that that was his destiny, [to] join the dark side." (h/t Media Referee)
It was widely tipped that Aleister Black could become the next Undertaker with his dark gimmick. It just wasn't meant to be. Despite WWE having some big plans for Black, he was released from his contract. He now wrestles for All Elite Wrestling under the name Malakai Black.
#2. Hade Vansen was once touted as the next Undertaker
Forget The Undertaker's eerie promos, who remembers THAT epic promo from Hade Vansen back in 2008? We did, and it was one that got us talking and wondering.
WWE aired an ominous promo from Englishman Hade Vansen, who claimed he had watched the darkness his entire life and studied it. Hansen claimed "your immortal power is all that I require" whilst indicating he had others who were following his ways.
It was speculated at the time that Vansen would be leading the stable going against The Undertaker looking to take his immortal power. It would have been fascinating to see what plans WWE had for Vansen, considering everything he talked about in his promo seemingly was aimed at The Deadman. Sadly, one week after the main promo aired, Vansen's gimmick was dropped. He was also released from his contract just a few months later.
Vansen told Memorabilia Guy about his release in 2017 and his planned feud with The Undertaker:
"To this day I don’t really know the full story behind my release. I’ve heard a few different accounts, but the one that keeps doing the rounds is that Vince [McMahon] never sanctioned my feud with the Undertaker, which was going to run for some time and culminate at Mania. Apparently when Vince got wind that creative had plans to push some schlemiel from developmental in an angle with one of his top guys which was to climax in a top spot at the biggest show of the year, he stepped on it quick smart. I can’t be mad at him for putting the interests of a billion dollar company over mine." (h/t Memorabilia Guy)
Hansen never wrestled again after his release from WWE, but he did remain in the United States and continued with some acting roles. We'll never know what could have been, and if Hansen could have replaced The Deadman.
#1. The Fiend was touted to be the next Undertaker
Whilst The Undertaker was winding down his career, The Fiend arrived to petrify us all with his wicked ways. He is by far the character most similar to The Undertaker that the WWE has presented to us. It looked like he had just come straight out of a horror movie. The character became extremely popular with the WWE Universe.
The Fiend possessed supernatural powers and wanted to inflict pain on all those that did him wrong in the past. The powers that he possessed went as far as being able to withstand any pain during matches. When he was taken down, he immediately continued on like nothing had happened. It was very similar to The Undertaker sitting up after being beaten down or taking a finishing move.
The Undertaker himself recently spoke about The Fiend character with USA Today Entertainment:
"I love his character. I love it but I get nervous because sometimes they wanna over produce things and he has such a good grasp of that character. I just get nervous like...just let it go, just let it simmer, don't try to throw all the gasoline on that at one time. But yeah, he's like the new age dark side kind of guy and he's doing a great job. He really is."
Sadly, the man behind The Fiend, Bray Wyatt, was recently released from WWE. It means we will not get to see a further evolution of The Fiend character that we have come to love so dearly and wanted the best for.