A eulogy for The Deadman
The storied, Hall of Fame-worthy career of one of WWE's most celebrated Superstars should never have come crashing to an end through splintered wood and twisted metal at One Night Stand. But that is precisely what happened to Undertaker in a Tables, Ladders and Chairs Match, thanks to the Ultimate Opportunist and his vindictive, power-mad lover.
The new World Heavyweight Champion, Edge, and his scheming fiancée, SmackDown General Manager Vickie Guerrero, used every tactic they could muster up against Undertaker, from depriving him of the gold, to banning The Phenom's devastating submission maneuver and stripping him of the World Heavyweight Championship.
The ongoing mÃƒÂªlée between these two Superstars had been brutally personal for more than a year. It began with Edge cashing in his Money in the Bank contract and robbing an already-battle weary Undertaker of the title in May 2007. Later in the year, the Rated-R Superstar interfered in The Deadman's Hell in a Cell Match with then-World Heavyweight Champion Batista at Survivor Series, again depriving him of the gold. Edge would go on to submit to The Deadman at WrestleMania XXIV, kick starting Undertaker's sixth World Title reign. But, in the end, it was the Rated-R Superstar who ascended the ladder at One Night Stand and grabbed the gold. Perhaps even more important, he accomplished what no other behemoth, brute, Animal or Superstar in WWE history could -- end Undertaker's career.
Our fans will no longer witness the dominating force that debuted at Survivor Series 1990 and made an immediate impact in WWE. Brought in by "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase as a mystery partner, Undertaker destroyed everything in his path from the moment he set foot inside a WWE ring. He captured his first WWE Championship in 1991 by defeating Hulk Hogan, only building on his eerie aura and solidifying his status as a seemingly unstoppable force.
Over the next few years, Undertaker would unleash hell on WWE Superstars from Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka to Ultimate Warrior, shocking our fans along the way by stuffing some of the biggest and best in caskets and drawing from the power of the urn. That power, however, was challenged at Royal Rumble 1994, when Undertaker was defeated by then-WWE Champion Yokozuna -- and a slew of DiBiase's cohorts -- in a Casket Match. The Deadman would disappear until SummerSlam 1994, when he resurfaced to defeat an imitation "Undertaker" bankrolled by "The Million Dollar Man."
During the late 1990s, in the midst of an intense, sadistic rivalry with Mankind, The Phenom's longtime manager, Paul Bearer, would betray Undertaker and soon announce that his half-brother, Kane, was alive. The Big Red Monster first surfaced at Badd Blood 1997, costing Undertaker a chance at the WWE Title in WWE's first-ever Hell in a Call Match. After weeks of brutal attacks at the hands of Kane, Undertaker would confront and defeat his sibling at WrestleMania XIV.
Soon after, The Deadman renewed his rivalry with Mankind, culminating in a Hell in a Cell Match, where one of WWE's most memorable battles took place. As the two battled on top of the cell, Undertaker tossed Mankind off the unforgiving structure and through the announce table more than 20 feet below -- but it didn't end there. Minutes later, The Phenom chokeslammed Mankind through the steel roof of the cell itself, sending his opponent crashing back into the ring. The madness ended when Undertaker delivered another chokeslam to Mankind, this time onto a pile of thumbtacks.
The Deadman delved into an even darker persona in 1999, when he lead the Ministry of Darkness against "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, going to great lengths to try and rid WWE of Austin. Undertaker told the world he was taking his orders from a "Higher Power," a power that turned out to be Stone Cold's biggest rival -- Mr. McMahon. But dissention between Undertaker and McMahon would ultimately lead The Deadman to quit WWE -- for a time, at least. He would return in 2000, regaining the form that led him to WWE gold as a rookie.
In 2002, Undertaker would become Undisputed Champion by defeating Hulk Hogan, jumpstarting his fourth World Title reign. But in 2004, Undertaker would face the Chairman in a Buried Alive Match, and with the help of Kane, Mr. McMahon seemingly buried "Deadman, Inc."
What the Chairman and Kane did, however, was resurrect The Deadman. Returning from Death Valley, Undertaker would rise once more at WrestleMania XX, where he soundly defeated Kane.
In 2006, Undertaker would enter rivalries with Mark Henry and The Great Khali, eventually turning his attention to the World Heavyweight Championship. After winning the 2007 Royal Rumble Match, The Phenom would challenge Batista for the gold at WrestleMania 23. In one of the greatest matches in WrestleMania history, The Deadman defeated The Animal to become champion.
Two months later, Edge fired the first salvo against Undertaker, cashing in his Money in the Bank opportunity after The Phenom had just been through a Steel Cage Match with Batista and a post-match assault from Mark Henry. The Ultimate Opportunist stole the title that night, essentially igniting a rivalry that defined the twilight of Undertaker's career.
While The Phenom would keep his incredible undefeated WrestleMania streak alive by wining back the gold at WrestleMania XXIV in Orlando, Fla., Edge would not let his dreams of gold die. The master manipulator and his fiancée, SmackDown General Manager Vickie Guerrero, put into effect their plan to eliminate Undertaker as a threat -- a plan that has resulted in the conclusion of arguably the greatest career in WWE history.