There's only one Deadman, right? Well, not including Fake Undertaker, of course, and nor the various impersonators I'd see in The Liverpool Empire theatre as a child; we just can't include those fellas. So then there's only room for one Undertaker in the WWE
Universe, right? Wrong. There's one Mark Callaway, the man, but who's to say the gimmick can't survive his impending retirement? We've seen Obi Wan Kenobi, James Bond, Albus Dumbledore, and various other fictional characters revived by an actor other than the one who originally played them so why not The Undertaker? There are plenty of examples of wrestling characters and their gimmicks being recycled (though very few of these have been unqualified successes and have mostly been restricted to nostalgic cameo appearances), notably, Doink The Clown. Just last week we all saw Jack Swagger and Zeb Coulter destroy whatever was left of kayfabe by briefly abandoning character in order to make a fool of Glenn Beck: Nobody believes Mark Callaway is an undead undertaker/satanist/biker/cowboy etc., just as nobody believes Alec Guinness was a jedi knight or that Daniel Craig and Sean Connery are M15 operatives. It begs the question - could The Undertaker character survive Callway? Could Kane survive Jacobs? Can The Miz become The Nature Boy? Flair managed it, after all. You can't log onto Amazon and purchase a box set of WWE dvds and watch episodes 1 to 20 of seasons 1-15, savoring the conclusion of each story arc and saying farewell to each character in the way you would watching, say, The Wire. Therefore, continuity isn't everything. Charatcers, not just gimmicks, can be revived and recycled. In twenty years time, maybe the lights will go out on the Raw after Wrestlemania 40 and that familiar bell will toll once more.
What do you think?
Can gimmicks and characters be re-used?
Is it disrespectful to the innovator, the original actor, or does it preserve their legacy?