8. His original gimmick hindered his match quality
The Undertaker’s original Western Mortician gimmick is still considered his best persona by many fans, and for good reason – the first time we laid eyes on him, it sent shivers up and down our spines. Calaway’s commitment to the slow, meticulous, zombified character was incredible. However, it ultimately prevented him from showcasing what he was truly capable of.
In those early Undertaker years, there were glimmers of the Phenomenal athlete he was – why do you think they called him The Phenom?! – but the vast majority of those matches were slow, as ‘Taker had to carefully stalk his opponents, no-sell their offense, and emerge victorious without breaking a sweat. It was a convincing watch that you just couldn’t draw your eyes away from, but that awe we felt watching The Undertaker perform was nothing compared to the awe we felt when he was finally able to let loose in the ring.
Seeing a 6’10, 300-pound man walk the rope, fly through the air, move like a cruiserweight, and wrestle some damn fine matches is the stuff that legends are made of, and The Undertaker got there over time, evolving his gimmick from glacial zombie to an undead brawler with the fastest strikes in the WWE. The irony is that he was always capable of this in-ring greatness, so it’s interesting to look back on those first four or five years and see him hold back due to the commitment to his gimmick.
I wouldn’t change the original Undertaker persona for the world, but I’m so glad he got the chance to show us what he was truly capable of in the ring in the years that followed – because that Deadman was even more awe-inspiring.