The Undertaker is arguably one of the greatest wrestlers in American history. His career spans a whopping 30 years and he has come to be one of the most decorated WWE wrestlers ever.
However, in June 2020, the wrestling legend announced his unexpected retirement, leaving fans in shock. But what were the reasons behind his decision?
Also known as Dead Man or simply by his birth name Mark Calaway, The Undertaker is one of the greatest WWE stars in history. He began his wrestling career in 1990 back when WWE was still called WWF.
That’s right, The Undertaker wrestled for so long that the company changed names along the way! With a 30-year career, he became the longest-running WWE wrestler by 2020. We could even say he’s a living legend! But how did he rise to fame?
Mark Calaway grew up in Houston, Texas. He started playing basketball back in his high school years, though it wasn’t until the late 70s and early 80s that he developed his passion for wrestling.
When he was still a teenager, Mark would attend the Friday night shows and fights at Sam Houston Coliseum. It was only after high school that he began wrestling, and the rest is history! But when did he join WWE, exactly?
Calaway made his debut in WWE in 1990 at age 25. During his first years, he was part of the Million Dollar team alongside wrestler Ted DiBiase.
Not only was DiBiase an iconic member of one of the most popular teams of the time, but he was also one of the pioneers of the company. Therefore, he really helped The Undertaker rise to fame.
It wasn’t long before The Undertaker made a name of himself. In fact, throughout his career, he won 7 World Heavyweight WWF/E championships, having held the title 3 times.
In addition, Calaway is considered to have had one of the best wrestling gimmicks ever: the horror-themed, macabre, leather-clothed soul-stealer really drove fans crazy. Now, let’s go over some of the greatest highlights of The Undertaker’s career.
During the 1994 Royal Rumble, The Undertaker challenged Japanese wrestler Yokozuna for the WWE championship in a fight that came to be known as the Casket Badge. His performance was so amazing that 10 villains were needed to trap him inside the casket.
Just as he was being wheeled out of the ring, thunder started rumbling and images appeared on the giant screen: it was The Undertaker from inside the Casket promising to come back and seek revenge. This became one of the most epic moments of WWE history.
Four years following the Casket Badge, the match between The Undertaker and Mankind became one of the most iconic fights in the history of mankind. Mick Foley was determined to defeat him, but The Undertaker displayed the most unforgiving side of himself.
The Undertaker severely injured his rival after chokeslamming him from the top of the cage, and the picture of Foley lying motionless in the floor and The Undertaker staring down at him from the top of the cage went down in history.
The Hell in the Cell and his ruthless victory against Mankind helped The Undertaker reinvent himself. Up until then, he had always been portrayed as gimmicky and even cartoonish, but this was soon to change.
Ever since that fight, The Undertaker became one of the most feared wrestlers in America. He became well-known for his relentlessness and total lack of empathy towards his opponents.
There is no doubt that The Undertaker was one of fans’ favorite wrestlers by the turn of the century. By 2007, he had accomplished almost every possible feat… all except one: the Royal Rumble!
In 2007, the Undertaker entered the Royal Rumble as number 30 and he became the first wrestler to win the tournament in that spot. After defeating Edge and Randy Orton along the way, he crushed Shawn Michaels in what was one of the most exciting finals in Royal Humble history.
Just 2 years after his iconic victory against Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker made it to the headlines once again after defeating his eternal rival at Wrestlemania’s 25th Anniversary of the Showcase of the Immortals.
Shawn Michales had been left with thirst of revenge ever since 2007, so he tried to defeat The Undertaker under a different character. The Undertaker achieved yet another epic win in his home-town, Houston, and this match became one of the most discussed in WWE history.
But enough about his epic breakthroughs. What do we know about his personal life? Truth be told, Calaway was always extremely hermetic as far as his private life was concerned. He wanted to preserve the mystique of his ghastly gimmick, so he would always be presented in character.
However, during the last few years of his prolific career, he started showing himself out of character every now and then and he even granted a few interviews as Mark Calaway. Then, in 2019, he started shooting a documentary called The Last Ride. Slide next to find out more!
WWE’s documentary series The Last Ride shed light on The Undertaker’s long-lasting career and personal life. It was released in 2020 and was viewed my millions of fans. However, the series’ last episode came as a shock to the entire world.
In an interview, Mark Calaway admitted that he had no intention of getting back to the ring. Everyone was surprised that he had chosen to announce his retirement through a documentary and many fans even doubted whether it was true. But what were his reasons for calling it quits?
Fans started speculating as to what his reasons for retiring were, and many came to the conclusion that it was most likely because of his age. In fact, most wrestlers retire in their early 40s.
As time goes by, bumps and injuries start taking their toll on wrestlers’ bodies, and those who continue fighting in their 40s suffer leisures all the time. But how old was the Undertaker by the time the documentary was released?
By the time the documentary was released in 2020, Mark Calaway was 55 years old. While he had already stopped featuring on WWE on a regular basis quite a few years before, he would still make sporadic appearances.
Without a doubt, his age must have influenced his decision of putting an end to his career. However, it appears to be that this wasn’t the decisive factor. So if it wasn’t because of his age, why did he quit?
In Calaway’s own words, he had reached a point where he felt there was nothing left for him to accomplish. In fact, he had already hinted his eventual retirement in 2017.
After losing his fight against Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania 33 that year, he claimed that he would probably be retiring soon. However, he came back in 2018 to fight against John Cena.
The Undertaker fought his most recent fight against AJ Styles at Wrestlemania 36. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the match was pre-taped and then aired on TV and it ended in a victory for Undertaker.
Most retiring WWE fighters are either forced to quit due to injuries or they choose to do it after a series of humiliating defeats. However, once The Undertaker beat Styles, he figured it was his chance of retiring on a high note. And so he did!
The Undertaker gave an actual retirement speech on the last episode of The Last Ride, and as we’ve said, he claimed he had nothing left to achieve. And to be fair, he did have a point! The man’s already made history and broken all WWE records you can think of!
Besides, very few fighters had the privilege of enjoying a more fitting exit than Calaway’s. After all, AJ Styles is one of today’s most respected WWE fighters.
In his last speech, Mark Calaway not only explained the reasons behind his choice, but he also showed his gratitude towards all those who supported him throughout his career.
“I’ve been very blessed to have two families: my wife and my children and then my family on the road. Guys like Brian Adams, Yokozuna, Godfather, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Bret Hart, Mick Foley, obviously, The Mayor, Kane, Edge“, the fighter said.
Calaway claimed that he’s sure of the step he’s taking. “I can do more good outside the ring now than I can inside and I’m finally at a place where I’m able to accept that and I’m okay with it“, he said.
He also said it was time for other upcoming wrestling stars to take his place. “I’m at a point, this time the cowboy really rides away (…) The game has changed. It’s time for new guys to come up. The time seems right“, he said.
During his retirement announcement, Mark Calaway posted a message on Twitter together with a clip from The Last Ride. “You can never appreciate how long the road was until you’ve driven to the end. #The Last Ride #WWE Network“, the Tweet read.
Thousands of fans shared his Tweet, and #ThankYouTaker became trending topic on social media platforms. He’s sure gonna be missed! However, one question still remains unanswered…
It’s highly unlikely that The Undertaker will ever change his mind, although many fans still dream of a future comeback. However, what everyone wants to know is whether he’ll venture into movies, just like The Rock and John Cena.
It seems that he doesn’t really have a passion for acting, as he publicly stated that movies didn’t work for him. I guess time will tell whether we’ll ever see him again, either on-ring or on-screen. All we know is that as of June 2020, he’s been spending some quality time with family and friends at his property in Texas.