After getting enthralled by the ethereal deeds of a hero, the worst feeling that a fan experiences is that someday, it might all come to an end.
It has almost been three decades since The Undertaker first stepped into a WWE ring. And through the years, ‘The Phenom’ has traversed generations, ridden through decades and has managed to stamp his authority as one of the greatest WWE Superstars of all time.
He was around when Hulk Hogan was in his prime, he was around when Stone Cold Steve Austin became the poster boy of the attitude era, and he is around even today, when Roman Reigns is the next big thing. The Deadman has been a perennial part of the lives of millions of fans across the world.
To put things into further perspective, The Undertaker has appeared in 26 of the 35 WrestleMania events that have taken place. Now, the above has to be stated starkly so that the magnitude of the statement sinks in.
The sound of the gong, the mystical walk, the countless matches where he put his body on the line, his ability to adapt to the changing requirements of the business and stay fresh, places him on a pedestal that other mortals cannot fathom.
It was ‘The Streak’ that catapulted The Undertaker to the pinnacle, embodying him as some sort of a mythical God, where the sheer magnitude of the achievement made the Pro Wrestling world gape at him in unabashed awe.
In an impermanent and highly volatile world, ‘The Streak’ remained the only constant. And, as a fan, it was an achievement that provided solace during melancholic times and gave us the feeling that our hero was indeed indestructible.
But then, on the night of April 6th 2014, the unthinkable happened. As Brock Lesnar delivered a thunderous F5, and The Deadman fell with a thud on the mat. His shoulders were counted down at WrestleMania for the first time. None of us could actually come to terms with what had actually happened.
It was the first sign that The Undertaker was indeed mortal...
Many of us thought that WrestleMania 30 signalled the end of The Undertaker. The holy grail had ended, The Streak was dead, and the legend of The Deadman would indeed ‘Rest in Peace’. Yet, he returned to the ring, defeated Bray Wyatt and Shane McMahon, extending his legendary record to 23-1 in the process.
The second blemish on that record appeared on the 2nd of April, 2017. The Undertaker was battling Roman Reigns, an opponent almost 20 years younger than him. After 20 minutes of gruelling action, ‘The Phenom’ fell at WrestleMania, for the second time.
However, the scenes that followed after the match, made our eyes moist. The Undertaker placed his trademark black hat, his trench coat, his hat and gloves in the middle of the ring and walked away.
It was yet another reminder of his mortality….
We are now in 2019, and The Undertaker is still around. Father time has taken its toll on him, reducing him to a pale shadow of his former self.
A day will arrive when the gong will not strike again, a dawn when The Undertaker will not walk down the ramp and a dusk when he will walk into the sunset forever. And, when that moment arrives, the childhood of millions of fans will draw to a close. For, all of us grew up with him and in a sense, aged with him.
No Superstar has captivated us quite like The Undertaker and his retirement would signal the end of an era. Most importantly though, it is an era that we might never return to.
Published 30 Jul 2019, 12:32 IST