“Please Lord, help me get one more”. – Desmond Doss (Hacksaw Ridge (2016)
The quote above is taken from the Oscar-nominated film, Hacksaw Ridge. Desmond Doss prays to the Lord, as he tries to save the lives of the wounded soldiers, during battle. This dialogue may resonate with the WWE’s living legend, The Undertaker. Year, after year, The Undertaker has defied the critics and at times, his own body by returning to the WWE’s grand stage of Wrestlemania and delivering a classic Wrestlemania match or moment for the WWE faithful, time and again. Every year, The Undertaker seems to have “one more” left in him.
Over the last decade, The Undertaker’s retirement has been a hot topic for wrestling fans and after his classic Wrestlemania series with Shawn Michaels came to an end and The Undertaker became a Wrestlemania only attraction, the rumours and the debates on The Undertakers retirement only increased. However, Undertaker has come back every year and somehow pulled a rabbit out of the hat.
Undertaker thrilled fans with his physical and dramatic matches with Triple H, which in their own ways were classic matches. Undertaker stole the show in an action-packed instant classic with CM Punk at Wrestlemania 29, outshining the likes of The Rock, John Cena, Triple H and Brock Lesnar, who were all performing that same night. At this point, Undertaker and his streak stood at an unprecedented 21-0 and the allure of his streak and his ability to overcome injuries and yearlong layoffs and have great matches made Wrestlemania must-see programming for wrestling fans.
“That character lives forever” – Vince McMahon on The Undertaker (The True Story of Wrestlemania (2011)
At Wrestlemania 30, Brock Lesnar conquered the streak in what was arguably the most shocking moment in WWE history. Never has a crowd been stunned into silence like they were at Wrestlemania 30 and what was even more telling was The Undertaker looked brittle and consumed by all the injuries that he had been battling for years. The way, The Undertaker left Wrestlemania 30, with the fans giving him a standing ovation and him slowly walking back to the dressing room, it looked like the end had come for The Undertaker.
Fans had written of Undertaker and said it was all over and when it was announced Taker would return against Bray Wyatt at Wrestlemania 31 – The Undertaker proved everyone wrong by delivering a compelling and visually pleasing bout with the very unique Bray Wyatt. The bout was summarised by one beautiful moment, as both superstars lay on the floor and then Bray Wyatt rose onto his hands and feet, upside down, doing his spider-man walk, only for The Undertaker to do his signature sit-up and a stunned Wyatt would slowly crumble to the ground in shock. It was a magical moment of storytelling and similar techniques were used in The Undertaker’s overachieving bout with Shane McMahon.
Though the mythical character of The Undertaker will live forever in the fictional world of the WWE, Mark Callaway, the man who performs The Undertaker character, will not. Mark Callaway is a phenom, his ability to continue coming back and give the fans The Undertaker they know and love, is simply incredible. Callaway has outlasted some of his contemporaries, such as; Stone Cold and Bret Hart by over ten years and his level of performance has not dropped. However, father time always wins and Mark Callaway may soon live the day where he can no longer step into a WWE ring and wrestle as The Undertaker, the fans know and love.
This year, The Undertaker will do battle with the WWE’s golden boy, Roman Reigns and with The Undertaker noticeably wrestling this year’s Royal Rumble match, with a rumoured hip injury he has been battling for years, the question is once again being asked: Is The Undertaker going to retire?
It’s inevitable that Undertaker’s injuries will catch up to him, it’s human nature, but to count out The Undertaker and his ability to have a classic match with Roman Reigns and in the process helping build the future of the WWE, would be very foolish. Is this the last Wrestlemania for The Undertaker? Fans can only do what they have done for years and that is guess, however, the end does seem closer than it ever has before for “The Deadman”. It seems only the lord knows when the final chapter of The Undertaker’s legendary career will be written and after Wrestlemania 33, he may even get… “one more”.