Return of the darkness
At SummerSlam, it all happened as it did before. A chilling cold descended upon the squared circle. The shocking sound of a gong echoed through the STAPLES Center as the forces of nature suddenly threw a mystical blanket of darkness upon the WWE Universe. And with one shocking chokeslam heard 'round the world, Undertaker rose again. (Photos)
The Phenom has vanished numerous times from the eyes of WWE. And though many things have changed, one thing is certain: Both his most frightening disappearances and legendary returns have incorporated an array of dangerous specialty matches. What could the unrelenting ritual of Undertaker's historic wrath mean to the reign of the new World Heavyweight Champion CM Punk as they prepare to face off in a championship Submission Match at WWE Breaking Point? (Preview)
With each dramatic return, The Deadman has breathed the full force of his dark fury into the life of WWE. When Undertaker first disappeared at the Royal Rumble in 1994 -- after being sealed in a casket by Yokozuna at the conclusion of their Casket Match -- his "spirit" seemed to appear from inside. Like an ancient prophesy, it screamed that Undertaker would always return.
Following The Million Dollar Man's introduction of an impostor Undertaker the following year at WrestleMania X, The Phenom reappeared to face him at SummerSlam, delivering three skull-crushing Tombstone Piledrivers on the would-be Phenom. He then engaged in another act of specialty match revenge, defeating Yokozuna in a second Casket Match at Survivor Series later that year.
In October 1996, suffering the betrayal of his trusted associate Paul Bearer, Undertaker won a Buried Alive Match against Mankind, only to end up buried himself with the help of several Superstars. But, Undertaker returned at Survivor Series once more, overcoming Mankind in a specialty match where Paul Bearer was hanging 20 feet above the ring in a mini steel cage.
During a Casket Match with Shawn Michaels at the 1998 Royal Rumble, an emerging Kane locked The Phenom inside a coffin and set it on fire. When the casket was reopened, Undertaker had disappeared. Two months later, he returned to overcome Kane at WrestleMania XIV. He then reigned supreme over The Big Red Monster in the first-ever Inferno Match.
When Undertaker and Batista carried their long standing rivalry in a Steel Cage Match on SmackDown in May 2007 -- ending in a draw when both men's feet touched the floor at the same time -- Mark Henry suddenly attacked the war-torn Phenom. Immediately afterward, Edge cashed in his Money in the Bank contract and took his World Heavyweight Championship. Undertaker was carried backstage and vanished yet again. After rematerializing to take down Mark Henry at Unforgiven, the scourge from Death Valley turned his sights on The Ultimate Opportunist.
Undertaker engaged in a series on memorable battles with The Rated-R Superstar, culminating in a TLC Match for the then-vacant World Championship at One Night Stand (Photos). When Undertaker lost with the help of "The Family," Undertaker was banished from WWE. But, when SmackDown General Manager Vickie Guerrero summoned Undertaker back to face her husband in a Hell in a Cell Match at SummerSlam, not only did Undertaker prove triumphant, he chokeslammed The Rated-R Superstar from the top of a ladder and through the canvas, "sending him to Hell." (Photos)
And now, after proving victorious against Shawn Michaels in one of the greatest matches of all time at the 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania (Photos), Undertaker has returned. Moments after CM Punk defeated Jeff Hardy for the World Heavyweight Title at SummerSlam, The Deadman unleashed his destructive powers on The Straightedge Superstar. (Photos)
Though The Straightedge Superstar has had incredible success in specialty matches -- ranging from Money in the Bank to TLC to Steel Cage -- can he deliver against the time-tested institution of destiny that is The Deadman? Or will The Phenom close the door on another unfortunate victim at WWE Breaking Point? (Preview)