2. The American Badass years were good
As someone who grew up watching The Undertaker rolling down to the ring on a motorcycle in the early 2000s, it pains me to see anyone say that the American Badass years were bad. No, it wasn’t The Phenom’s greatest gimmick, but it was a necessary one for the turn of the century as the company was heading into a more “realistic” era and it was awesome to see Mark Calaway just get to be himself after a decade of playing an undead zombie.
Fans often look back on this period as one of the worst for ‘Taker in terms of his in-ring performance, and it’s hard to argue with that as he was still struggling from injuries and wasn’t in his best physical condition. But that’s why the hard-hitting brawler gimmick worked well for him, as it allowed him to adapt his style to match his capabilities at the time. And with that, he found his way back to a phenomenal ring-shape, producing cracking matches against Ric Flair, Kurt Angle, and Brock Lesnar.
One thing that was perfect throughout the whole of the biker run was ‘Taker’s mic skills. He cut some of his absolute best promos during this era, and it highlighted how great Calaway was on the mic – something we had only begun to see in his later years as the Lord of Darkness.
From American Badass to Big Evil, ‘Taker produced some of his finest work between 2000 and 2003 and that is often overlooked. What’s also overlooked is that, without this period, we may never have gotten the hybrid Deadman of 2004 and beyond (as that persona borrowed heavily from his biker days). It was a necessary part of his evolution – and a darn good one at that!