Editor's Note: This FanPost has been mildly edited for promotion to the front page and various sections within Cageside Seats for your enjoyment, Cagesiders!
Two reasons for writing this FanPost: (1) Mark Calaway, aka The Undertaker, turned 48 earlier last week. So this sort of doubles as a birthday post. (2) Today is Easter Sunday. Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus three days after he was crucified. How rabbits and eggs relate to said death and rebirth is beyond me, though South Park did a hell of a job in trying to sort it out a few years ago.
Debuting just before the 1990 Survivor Series as a mortician in the spirit of old Western movies, the Undertaker character is one of the most fascinating in wrestling history, able to evolve with the times whenever the times call for it. In addition to being a mortician, he's been a zombie, a zombie with superpowers, a satanic cult leader, a biker, a biker bully, a phenom, a henchman of hell, and most recently, the Pete Best of the Legion of Doom.
Of course, going from one persona to the next usually required something that we humans only get to do once: die. Or be somehow physically removed from WWF/E programming.
With that, here are my favorite Undertaker resurrections:(12) 2006: Undertaker blows rings up --
After defeating Randy Orton in a Hell in a Cell match in December 2005, Undertaker took some time off to heal up. He returned with druids and a horse-drawn carriage at the conclusion of the 2006 Royal Rumble event, challenging Kurt Angle to a world title match. Oh, and he summoned lightning and blew the ring up. Sort of. Not a resurrection, but LIGHTNING! HORSE DRAWN CARRIAGES! RING BLOWN UP!(11) 2011: Ain't no grave can hold my body down--
The on-again, off-again feud with Kane usually saw The Undertaker get the better of his younger brother. Not in 2010, however. Kane, with the help of the Nexus stable, buried the Undertaker alive (again) in October. The Deadman would disappear, seemingly never to return, until some vignettes played of an abandoned house with a date of 2/21/11. While many hoped for 2/21/11 to be the long-overdue WWE debut of Sting, it just turned out to be the return of the Undertaker after being buried alive. But the return would be overshadowed by another return a moment later: Triple H. Not a word was exchanged and the two agreed to a bout at WrestleMania XXVII. It was listed in the 100 greatest RAW moments on its DVD compilation.(10) 2003: Does Undertaker have to get off this bike choke a bitch?
In the fall of 2002, Big Show was in one of his path of rampage phases. That path of rampage included throwing America's favorite big evil biker off the stage. At the Royal Rumble event, Undertaker returned and nearly won the Royal Rumble Match before being eliminated by Brock Lesnar. But he didn't forget about Big Show: at No Way Out, he choked out Big Show.(9) 2007: Did you hear about the man who can't be destroyed?
Mark Henry took out the Undertaker following a world title match on SmackDown with Batista going to a draw. Moments later, Edge picked the bones and cashed in his recently-won Money in the Bank case to win the world title for himself. For weeks, Henry proclaimed his superiority over SmackDown as the "Silverback". Then, the Undertaker and his mind-games and interruptions popped up. Sand, footprints, and disappearing druids led to their Unforgiven encounter where Undertaker returned through hellfire, brimstone, and smoke to defeat the "Silverback". Okay, the match was forgettable, but the vignettes and comeback teases were awesome.(8) 2009: Surprise, motherfucker --
CM Punk shocked the world when he won the world heavyweight championship in 2008, but lost the belt (without losing a match for it) when he got assaulted and kicked in the head. It wouldn't be until Punk cashed in his second Money in the Bank case, that he would win it back. Over the summer, Punk got arrogant, and bested Jeff Hardy time and again. After his win at SummerSlam, the lights went out, and surprise! After a four-month absence, Undertaker surprised Punk and choke slammed him down. Punk would beat Undertaker the next month in a submission match in a Montreal Screwjob-type finish, but one does not simply piss off the Undertaker, right Teddy Long? Undertaker got a do-over (and his gogoplata submission unbanned) at Bragging Rights and won the world title.(7) 2008: I've reinstated the Undertaker --
Forced into exile following a loss at Extreme Rules: One Night Stand in 2008, Edge along with general manager/girlfriend Vickie Guerrero ran roughshod through SmackDown. Then the wedding happened. Then-WWE Champion Triple H showed the world that Edge wasn't exactly the faithful husband-to-be. The wedding went on, and they got married, but Vickie got pissed, and during said anger, reinstated The Undertaker. And banished Edge into a Hell in a Cell Match. One in which Undertaker would win. And send Edge to hell. The price one pays for their cheating ways is a heavy one indeed.(6) 1994: Will the real Undertaker please stand up?
The first Undertaker resurrection occurred in August 1994 after old Western mortician Undertaker was stuffed into a casket by Yokozuna, ten other guys, and a leaky urn. In a moment that doesn't exactly stand up well in 2013, Undertaker spoke of his impending return complete with weird special effects, electrocution, and ZOMBIE TAKER FLOATING TO THE SKY. That summer, we got two Undertakers, one managed by Ted DiBiase, and the real thing, managed by Paul Bearer. Thankfully, for all of us, at Summerslam Undertaker defeated Underfaker (real life Undertaker cousin Brian Lee) with three tombstone piledrivers was stuffed in a casket, and never seen again.(5) 2005: I am the one who does the killing!
Proof that we don't always learn from our mistakes, Randy Orton defeated Undertaker in a casket match at No Mercy, and along with his father Cowboy Bob Orton, set the casket ablaze with the Deadman inside. If 1998 taught us anything (that later), there's probably not gonna be a body in there when they put the fire out. And surely enough, there was no body when they put the fire out. Uh-oh for Randall. At Survivor Series, Randy Orton celebrated with the heels of Smackdown as their show won the 5-on-5 match, when The Undertaker returned-from inside a flaming casket. And he looked pissed. Then Undertaker went on a killing spree, taking out everyone in front of him. Undertaker would get his final payback on Orton (and possibly hepatitis) at Armageddon in a Hell in a Cell match.(4) 1998: I will unleash the Ministry of Darkness on the World Wrestling Federation --
Undertaker was already showing heel tendencies in the fall of 1998, as he and Kane collaborated to get the WWF title away from Stone Cold Steve Austin. Eventually, the Deadman became...Satanic to say the least. He reconciled with long-time manger Paul Bearer, admitted to being the man responsible for burning the funeral home that killed his parents and scarred his brother Kane (after denying being a goddamn murder a year and a half earlier), and formed a cult-like stable known as the Ministry of Darkness. Rituals, simulated crucifixions, stalking, and kidnapping were some of the things this Undertaker got into. It was a stark reminder as to why The Undertaker scared us in the first place.(3) 2000: I am American Bad Ass --
In September 1999, Undertaker walked out on Vince McMahon and the WWF after refusing to compete in a casket match. In reality, it was to heal his torn groin muscle he suffered earlier that summer. He was set to return at the 2000 Royal Rumble, but Undertaker tore his pectoral muscle. He finally returned in May 2000...looking drastically different. No longer coming out to organ music, purple fog, or dark lighting, Undertaker unleashed his biker bully side, cleaning house of the McMahon-Helmsley faction and tombstone piledriving Triple H. Though Vince would like to forget this period ever happened, even burying the era himself (that in a bit), this period did give us The Last Ride and this. And unfortunately, this.(2) 1998: I will walk straight through the fires of hell to face you, Kane!
In 1996, Mankind entered the WWF and antagonized the Undertaker over and over again. Their feud escalated into a boiler room brawl at SummerSlam where longtime manager Paul Bearer turned on the Deadman. Bearer would spend the next year torturing Undertaker any way he can, sicking Mankind, Terry "The Executioner" Gordy, and Vader on him. But when they failed, Bearer got personal: he revealed Undertaker's dark secret that he murdered his parents and his younger brother Kane and burned down the family funeral home. How did Bearer know? Kane told him, because Kane was alive, though badly burned. And Kane was coming for that payback.
He got it on Undertaker at Badd Blood in October 1997 at the end of the Hell in a Cell match against Shawn Michaels. Swearing on his dead parents, he would never raise a hand to his younger brother, it seemed the story would have a happy ending in January 1998 when Kane came to the aid of his brother. Until Kane turned on Undertaker and choke-slammed him in the casket. And then set the casket on fire. Panic ensued as they tried to put the fire out and free Undertaker, lest they have a crispy Phenom on their hands. But when the fire was out and the casket opened, there was no Undertaker. Uh-oh.
Kane and Paul Bearer had their "Mission Accomplished" moment a few weeks later on RAW is War, when the familiar gong tolled. Then lightning. And smoke. And risen from the dead was a very pissed off Undertaker. No longer willing to hold back against his younger brother, it was very much ON between the brothers of destruction. At WrestleMania XIV, Undertaker would beat Kane with three tombstone piledrivers. And the next month at Backlash: In Your House in an inferno match. It would be more than a decade after many on and off reunions that Kane would better Undertaker in a match.(1) 2004: The dead rises again --
In October 2003, Undertaker was on his way to defeating Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship when Vince McMahon of all people interfered. With a change in leadership that same night, Undertaker now had to convince new GM Paul Heyman for another shot. Paul would put a number of hurdles in the way of the Deadman, but in the end, Undertaker would win and name the time and place of his title match...except he didn't want a title match. He wanted the man that cost him the title, Vince McMahon...in a buried alive match at Survivor Series. That night, it was the crafty McMahon that defeated Undertaker, but not without some unexpected help from Kane. Later that week, Kane declared The Undertaker dead and gone, never to return.
But one does not simply declare the Undertaker dead. EVER. The familiar gong tolled at the 2004 Royal Rumble. It rattled Kane just enough to get him eliminated. Over the next few weeks, messages of Undertaker's return played, particularly during Kane matches and segments. Kane was telling anyone that would listen that Undertaker was dead, dead, dead, dead, dead. But he was alive. And kicking. At WrestleMania XX. With Paul Bearer and that familiar shrill. And the urn. And druids. Looking like the old Undertaker.
Kane never had a chance. Undertaker needed just over seven minutes and one tombstone to defeat his younger brother. A lot easier than their WrestleMania XIV encounter.
There you have it, some of the Undertaker's many resurrections. Which one was your favorite? Did I miss one? Discuss!