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WRESTLING COLUMNS

The Undertaker: Due For Retirement"
July 28, 2006 by Bjarne Andreas Skoveng


First and foremost, I want to make sure everybody understand that I'm Norwegian, a foreigner, and therefore, I do not have the same access to the same recent updates that you U.S. guys have. Not that I really need it, because this article is very general.

Undertaker is without a shadow of a doubt one of the most respected and decorated WWE superstars of our time. He has held several titles multiple times, and been part of some of the greatest moments in sports entertainment. He has faced, and beat, the best of the best. He's known wherever you go. Even people who has never seen wrestling knows who he is. And these are some of the reasons I have declared Mark "The Undertaker" Callaway my all-time favorite wrestler ever, bar none. None!

But I say that enough is enough. I look back at what Undertaker has done, and what he is doing now. And I'm sorry to say that I feel a bit of disappointment when I see him in action now. I know that Undertaker need to get a bit into the match before he really gets going, but he has noticeably slowed over the years. I know that it hasn't been until more recent years we've seen him deliver dropkicks and leap frogs, but in my opinion, these are only smokescreens he's laying out to make us think that he's O.K. But no, people, believe me when I say this; Undertaker is far from O.K. As a matter of fact, Undertaker is broken. Both physically, mentally and conceptually.

Let's first take the physical side; Undertaker has been under the surgical knife quite often due to a messed up elbow, and some even more messed up hips. And let's not forget that one of the reasons why Mark Callaway turned to wrestling was because a knee injury stopped his basketball career dead in its tracks. And yes, Undertaker has undergone surgery on his knees since the Tombstone took a lot out of his knees. That's also why he changed his finishing move to the Last Ride. Also, let's not forget about all the cuts and bruises he must have had due to ordinary competition. One can't not think that a 6 foot 9 man of well over 300 pounds is able to take too many drops, bumps, falls or crashes without taking damage. This man is quite large, and quite heavy.

Further on, Undertaker is past 40 now. Yes, I am aware of all the men who wrestle into their late fifties, but Undertaker has a sort of disadvantage there; he looks his age. No, actually strike that, and make it 'he looks older than his age'. Personally, I don't care if Undertaker has gray hair, a million scar and wrinkles all over his face. But these things are also signs of fatigue. This man's body is actually tiring out. I say it won't hold for long any more. And the last thing I want to see is Undertaker turning into another Ric Flair.

On the mental side, Mark is a whole different place in his life now than what he was 10 to 15 years ago. Now he's married, he's a father, he's older (in which I mean wiser), he's got more influence on the business, and gets nothing but the greatest respect from his peers and fans. But the and the business are obviously evolving in different directions. Rumours on the Internet as of late, has it that Undertaker is displeased with the SmackDown roster and wants to be moved over to RAW. And earlier, he has been known for swinging the bottle a bit too much. I'm not saying that I blame him, the company, nor the business directly. But this is a pretty tough and brutal business all the same. If he cracked a bit up back then, I say it's understandable. But what if it happens again..."

Then there's the concept. The way I see the concept of the Undertaker, he's suppose to be feared. Scary, untouchable, invincible, all-powerful and dangerous. Well, once he was, but not anymore. Practically no one is afraid of the Undertaker anymore. Not Khali, not Mark Henry, not Heidenreich, not Randy Orton. Sure, I know that if someone is to 'take over' the Undertaker's legacy, he can't be scared of the Deadman. But now it's so many who wants to prove themselves tougher than the Undertaker that the idea is overused. If someone is going to prove themselves to 'Taker, they shouldn't try to prove stronger, faster, bigger, tougher or harder. They should prove smarter. Especially nowadays when that's all he has left. Both Khali and Mark Henry have proven stronger than Undertaker, but I say their efforts were useless. Angle has proven more experienced and technical, but for nothing. Orton proved more ruthless and sadistic (and dumber, way dumber), but it didn't work in the long run. This incident also has proven something else: Undertaker is highly overexposed. Not necessarily over-pushed as he hasn't held a title for a long, but still, it's just too much. This was better when he was doing the Big Evil biker-gimmick as he appeared more humanlike. But if he wants to play up this "legendary-deadguy-from-the-other-side" character he is now, overexposure will take the surprise element out of it. And his matches are no longer what you hope for, but still almost everything you expect. You expect the Chokeslam, the Last Ride, the Tombstone, the Soup Bones Slugfest, the Legdrop on the Apron, and/or the Old School. You do get that, but due to all this overexposure, the matches starts to become repetitive It's not exactly smart to one time discover that Undertaker is predictable.

Further on, I could also mention that guys like The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin started their professional careers AFTER Undertaker did, and they're not active anymore. Rock's pursuing other ventures (Hollywood!), and Austin has sustained too many injuries. (Those are the main reasons. In later events, Austin has done movies too, and hey, Rock sustained an injury on set not long ago.) I say that though Undertaker was, is, and forever will be my favorite WWE wrestler of all time, I do want him out of that ring, and I mean now! Sorry, people, but I don't want wwe.com to announce Undertaker gone for months due to injury anymore, and neither do I want to see Undertaker become another Ric Flair. Maybe another Hogan, coming back for two-three matches per year, 'cause that'll maybe solve the next problem too: Undertaker, no matter how powerful, victorious and respected he might be, doesn't work anymore. He could maybe even end up the same way John Cena has; stuck in his role, and with no obvious way out of it. Of course, he COULD fall back on the biker gimmick again, but wasn't there a reason why he ENDED it" I don't think Big Evil drew as many people to the seats as the Phenom did. And since I don't have the opportunity to see SmackDown weekly on TV or attend live shows, I take the liberty to question how many he draws now.

Undertaker has, like Sgt. Slaughter, Hulk Hogan, The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin, become a WWE icon, and a household name, to be reckoned with, so I don't actually believe that his popularity has sunk any, but if this tiresome and at times disappointing process keeps on, it could. People want to hold on to their heroes, just as they want to see new blood in the game. I understand that, and I also realise that for the new blood to come in, old blood has to go out. And I suspect, (or should I say fear or hope, depending on which would benefit the most") that the next one to leave could be Undertaker. If that would be the case, I hope he only leave the ring, but not the business. I guess that Mark is a very down-to-earth guy and wouldn't try to ride on the fame of his former accomplishments for long, but the man is no fool. Backstage officiating could as a matter of fact be just the thing for him. Considering how long he's been in the business, and how much of that time has been in the WWE, he should know all aspects of this business by now, right"

In conclusion, I just want to say this; it really is hard for me to sit here and write this. After all, this is a man I consider one of the greatest and most respected individuals in the world, and I want to throw him out of his own game" No, I don't WANT to, but the way things are going with' Taker and the WWE, I feel I HAVE to. I don't want him to stop, but fatigue, injury and discomfort will be the end of him. And I don't want him to leave, but his current persona doesn't do anything. Not to him, the other wrestlers, or the programming, and certainly not the business.

It really is with a hurtful lump in my throat I say this: You might as well unlace those boots now, Mark, 'cause this just isn't working anymore. And by God, I do not want to see you end up more injured now!

by Bjarne Andreas Skoveng ..


Tim B. wrote:
First off make up your mind, do you want him to retire or not" At the start you say you do but at the end you say you don't want to see him go. Also you say people don't fear him anymore, but look back on his career how many opponents feared him" Hogan didn't, Yokozuna didn't, Diesel didn't and neither did Mankind, Michaels, Kane, Rock, Austin and I could keep going. Fact is, why would Henry and Kahli fear him, they're huge and could demolish most opponents. I can understand you don't want his legacy ruined but he still has a huge part to play in the company, his matches with Angle earlier this year proved this.
Marc Mattaliano wrote:
Yes, I do have to agree with you on much of what you said here. Some friends of mine and I have all noticed that the majority of Undertaker's casket matches, whether in the past or from recently, he's lost. Casket matches are supposed to be Undertaker's trademark match and he loses most of them, it's getting sad now. And you're right, they are overdoing the whole "I'm the new big talent on the block, so I'm going to use Undertaker as a stepping stone to the top" thing. Everytime a Randy Orton or a Khali or a Mark Henry is on his way up the ranks, he immediately thinks he's badass enough to take on Undertaker, and unfortunately, he usually comes out on top. Suspending my disbelief momentarily, I guess I can't blame Taker's opponents for calling in extra support. The guy's supposed to be the Lord of the Darkside, one single man would have to be pretty powerful to annihilate Undertaker all by himself. Still, dude, like you I'm very disappointed in what's been happening to Undertaker's character. However, I'm not so sure he absolutely has to be taken out of action.

Look at his character, he's the Deadman, the Phenom...etc. etc. He's supposed to be all powerful, meaning he shouldn't need to take a lot of punishment and be able to come back. Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, those guys are humans and thus can only take so much. I mean, some aspects of wrestling are fake anyway, right" So maybe his opponents go slightly easier on him physically, he does his trademark sit up move a lot more to show he's still invincible, we get a Last Ride and/or Tombstone and/or Chokeslam to cheer for, and that's that. Hell, isn't that pretty much what Taker matches used to be like years ago" Sure, he might've been a bit more athletic, but like you said, he's also pretty damn big. I don't expect big fellas like him to be athletic, I expect them to beat peoples' ass. And in Undertaker's case, to zip them up in body bags when he's done.

You may have an idea there, though, maybe Undertaker doesn't need to wrestle quite as much. Actually, I've been really hoping the past year or so that he reforms the Ministry. After all, with all the run-ins people do on Taker all the time, he could use some back up. Sure, he's the invincible Deadman but even he could use some help. So, who knows, maybe he could start kidnapping people and transforming them into demonic characters like he did with "Mabel" and "Phineas Godwinn," turning them into Viscera and Mideon, and Undertaker becomes kind of like a cult leader, you know" He lets his followers do his bidding, as a true Lord of Darkness should. And if someone really gets on his bad side, well, I think even you will agree that Mark at least has the energy to lay someone out if no one lays a hand on him.

The almighty Undertaker is a great character, and people still love him and worship at his altar. I am willing to agree that he may need to exert himself much much less these days to keep himself healthy, but I don't so much agree that he needs to hang it up for good. Remember when Austin first started to show signs of his injuries getting the best of him" He was made a general manager and "the sheriff of RAW" and stuff like that. We got to enjoy Austin and all the trouble his personality could cause without needing him to punish his body like he's done in the past. The writers repackaged him in a way that kept him visible, kept him bringing in fans like he was good at doing. Granted, we found out Steve's kind of a primadonna when it comes to scripts making him look foolish, but the idea is still the same. I say we rally to get Undertaker a new flock of followers and have him step back a little....maybe admit that "the powers of darkness are beginning to leave him a little" (in other words, he's getting old, he just doesn't say it like that) and he needs the support of those dedicated to his cause to keep his power strong, and he gets a new Ministry of Darkness and raises all hell on everyone who's wronged him as of late. That'd be pretty cool, right"
Johnny wrote:
I disagree with your opinion that Undertaker should retire. I understand his health is always an issue, but The Undertaker has a position in the company where he calls the shots. His wrestling schedule isn't as intense as it used to be. Plus, he's more popular than ever before. He's the "Phenom." He's the "Deadman." He's been wrestling for 16 years on top of the WWE, and I don't think he can give it all up. You mentioned Hogan and Flair in your column, and I have a point I would like to make about them still wrestling. Now, Undertaker still entertains me to no end, and I believe he always will. The "Nature Boy" still entertains me each and every week, and I will always be excited to see him on TV. With Summerslam starting to approach, the Hulkster is facing Randy Orton. Last year, Hulk faced HBK in an extremely entertaining match. No matter what anyone says, I believe as old as they may be, they will always draw fans. I know Hogan, Flair, and hopefully the Undertaker will still wrestle, so they can attract me to professional wrestling. Great Column though.
Ernesto Diaz wrote:
Now look now you are just bashing The Undertaker in this article. You say you want him to do leap frogs and dropkicks" The man is not a cruiserweight. He might only do that sometimes to impress us. And you are saying that you don't want him to be another Ric Flair or another Hulk Hogan""" Hulk Hogan only wrestles a couple of matches a year because he's not part of the active roster. And Ric Flair doesn't wrestle 3 matches a year. I think Ric Flair is better than he ever was in his career. I mean did you see his recent Hardcore match against Big Show" Age is nothing but a number and the Undertaker could put a couple more years into his career. I'm not saying he will but you know. And if you want him out of the ring so bad why dont you wait for next years WrestleMania. That will PROBABLY be his retirement match. So why don't you stop worrying about him like yor his mother and let him focus on what he's gonna do in his career.
Mika Viitanen wrote:
Why is it the author takes the privilidge to question the draw Undertaker has, when he blatantly announces he doesnt get smackdown where he lives, nor does he get live shows.

It's all a matter of mathematics, or, even more so, a simple syntax.

If Undertakers body can take a match then have undertaker in a match.

Come on, you have to see the current state of affairs in smackdown, we really dont have too many top line faces... And even though you believe otherwise, i think the 'taker still has unbelievable wild card power, which adds to the exitement.

I for one saw 'taker live back in summer '05, and believe you me homie, the sold out crowd went fucking berserk when he's music hit. Thats what a star is supposed to do.

He could be a million years old with amputated legs, but when he still draws insane numbers it doesnt matter.

And oh, did you forget that 'taker is an extraordinary asset in putting new faces over"

yeah Khali didnt fear him, but still the taker feud was the only thing that got Khali's ass even marginally over.
Jwalkowi wrote:
How can you call yourself an UnderTaker fan and then say he should retire especially after that 5 star match at No Way Out against Kurt Angle. Sure Taker has slown down but so has every other wrestler from the 90's, Taker can put on excellent matches the NWO match proves it. The fact of the matter is that he hasn't been able to constantly face the Kurt Angles, HBKs, and HHH of the WWE to put on 5 star match after 5 star match. Instead he has had to face guys like Mark Henry and Khali who are about as talented in the ring as Cena. So look at it from that perspective and I bet you'll see that the Undertaker is still top dog
Joe Wyborn wrote:
Come on mate fair dinkum you are just carrying on stupid stop ripping on undertaker in my eyes he is still the man he is the only person on smackdown worth watching he should be champ instead of booker because undertaker is in my mind the best superstar in the entire wwe. He may be getting older and getting more subjectable to injurys but it's not like he has to take major hits or falls every week i would rather see him dominate who ever he wants wich he should. So i just want to say stop writting stupid articles. Undertaker has to retire one day but i hope he has alot more left in him because without him wwe will lose their biggest star and us fans will lose one of the best and most entertaining man we have ever watched.
Liam Ferguson wrote:
I heard this on a site about 2 years ago, they say that The Undertaker was due to retire somewhere in 2007, after Wrestlemania where he defeats The Great Kahli. Kahli is supposed to be dominating the Undertaker around this time then The Undertaker pulls out the victory. After that in around that time span The Undertaker is due to leave.
Joseph Jarvis wrote:
First off look at Terry Funk and Ric Flair... Then tell me does Undertaker retire" I hate when people say this... Wrestlers today dont stay at one brand or company for that matter. If in fact they did there would be overcrowding and it wouldnt be that great. Yet theres a few exceptions. The undertaker has made his mark and needs to stay heck if he does retire there not going to end it with Khali there gonna end it with KANE. Choke Slam to you.
Harry Sassoon wrote:
What are you talking about"""Sure he's getting older but he can do what he wants, it's him who needs to worry not you. If he wants to get worse knees and elbows then he can because it's his choise. The old undertaker he used to play had a moter bike so he didn't walk as much and he didn't do the toombstone as much so that taker is better for his condition but in WWE it's all about the fans so he's the new undertaker doing the toombstone and walking down to the ring and going in panjubu prison matches. He will be known for many things like his 13-0 at wrestlemania and for me a dream match for a wrestlemania is 13-0 Undertaker VS 4-0 Edge and see who can keep the underfeated streak at wrestlemania.\
Mike wrote:
i disagree. even though that he is fatiuged and he's ageing but he knew like all wrestlers from the start the consequences are from wrestling will do some damage to your bodu evry wrestler knows that. and he looks older than he is because he did drugs in the early stages of his carreer and alot of drinking out of depression. that will age you. i respect yourt opinion and your concern but i think we should let him decide on what he wants to do. and stone cold didn't retire because of an injury. he retired because of his drinking problem and it finally caught up with him and his anxiety went up too high. and he didn't want to rish that again
Josh Rosar wrote:
And what's this thing I keep hearing that the Undertaker has become so slow and he hardly moves much in the ring. Seriously though, when was the Undertaker expected to move around like some cruiserweight. And have people not seen his matches or something. He moves around faster than Kane, Big Show, and the Great Khali( though he never even moves much in the ring). My point is that the people just made this stuff up only looking at his age and making assumptions that he moves slow.
---TombstoneCity1387--- wrote:
I think that at this juncture in his career, getting into his 40's, The Undertaker may want to consider retirement. And who's to say that he hasn't already" Really, though, one thing that really needs to change is his ring attire. I think he needs to go back to the pants that he started wearing back in 2000 when he started the "American Badass" gimmick (which is today still one of my favorites). The tights that he has taken to wearing as of late look a bit foolish in my opinion. However, I have been an Undertaker fan since the his debut on November 22nd, 1990. His persona, his look, his character and the way he carries himself in the ring against such legends as Hulk Hogan, Jake "The Snake" Roberts and King Kong Bundy, as well as some of today's brightest stars like Randy Orton, John Cena and Kurt Angle is just mezmerizing to me. See if you can remember any of these matches and then tell me that the Undertaker doesn't still have it in him: ~SmackDown! September 4th, 2003- vs. Kurt Angle ~Wrestlemania 21- vs. Randy Orton ~No Way Out 2006- vs. Kurt Angle ~SmackDown! March 3rd, 2006- vs. Kurt Angle ~Wrestlemania 22- casket match vs. Mark Henry ~SmackDown! August 4th, 2006- vs. King Booker My point is that although he is getting older now, I still think that Undertaker may have another World Title run left in him (his amazing suicide dive at Wrestlemania 22 was proof, as well as his matches with Kurt Angle at the beginning of this year). Simply put, I don't think the Deadman is going anywhere quite yet, and I am anxious to see when he makes his way back into the title hunt. Because as the Phenom said to Kurt Angle before No Way Out..........

"You can't hide........from the Deadman..."
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