wrestling / Columns

Evolution Schematic 08.16.08: Mark ‘The Undertaker’ Calaway (Part 7)

August 16, 2008 | Posted by Mathew Sforcina

Writer’s Notes

I’m really not feeling this right now.

There I was, preparing to sit down and write this out, getting ready to sprinkle a little logic and reason in your lives, when I saw the link.

6 More Releases from WWE.

So, I clicked on it, as you would. And the Highlanders didn’t surprise me, a ref being let go was kinda eh. Delaney was a bit of a shock that he lasted as long as he did (he was dead the moment he turned heel) and Cherry was a bit of a shocker, given that she looked actually human, which outside of My Goddess and Natayla (My Goddess’ Right Hand) is kinda rare in WWE and is a good thing to point out.

But then you have… Stevie.

I’ll admit to I’m blue in the face that I’m a Stevie Mark. Hell, I’ll go a step further, and say that the Stevie/Victoria double act was one of the best duos in Wrestling History. I LOVED that duo, it’s what made me realise Victoria’s deity status, and I was so glad to see Stevie getting a chance to let loose. The guy’s made mistakes, but he’s gone out there and done everything they’ve asked of him, and he’s made it work each and every time. Unlike guys like Funaki and… actually Funaki seems to be the only other long time Jobber left that’s not from Brooklyn, but regardless, unlike guys like Funaki and Scotty etc, Stevie always had that loyal group of fans. Who else would get chants while dressing up like a woman? The guy made RTC work for goodness sake, he almost became a legit upper mid-card guy out of it!

I thought that Stevie was set for life, he got paid for what, half a year to sit at home? I thought that Vince loved him, and thus he was fixed. But that turns out to be not true. Alas.

Well, we can remember The Times, both Good and Bad. And, of course-

Lucky Bastard.
Lucky, Lucky Bastard.

Oh yeah, go Enter StableWars PPV Contest. Beat me up why don’t you.

Part 1 and Part 2 and Part 3 and Part 4 and Part 5 and, of course, Part 6 are available. I really should go through one day and link up all the parts, so you can follow it through from 1 to whatever. Huh.

Cherry's not great either, but STEVIE...

Phase 29- He. Is. An. American Badass.

When we last left off, The Undertaker had had enough of listening to Vince call the shots, and thus quit.

Rumours would swirl about him returning here and there, he would come back this week, at this show, he was set for Wrestlemania, no he’ll be back later… As mysterious as he was when he left, his not being there only helped add to the whole persona.

But the persona wasn’t to last.

For while Taker was out, the WWF underwent somewhat of a metamorphosis. Steve Austin being run over, an influx of Real, Honest To Goodness Down To Earth Wrestlers, a Hardcore Division, the WWF became much more gritty and real. So much so that, as his contacts must have informed him, his act, his mind games, would no longer work. If he came out and made with the smoke and lightning, a guy like Chris Jericho would laugh at him, Kurt Angle would cluelessly ask about the fire escapes and Tazz would just suplex him into unconsciousness.

It was clear that he had to change with the times. Besides, he had learnt some MMA style fighting, and a Zombie doing chain wrestling would ruin the effect.

So, when he was ready to return, he altered his approach.

Hell, he totally revamped it. He had to ditch the concepts of being dead and impervious to pain, now people would not believe him and go out of their way to prove him wrong. He had to get the fans back on his side, in order to get allies quickly. Being patriotic would take care of that. And above all, he had to keep some sort of impressive entrance. While he got rid of the mystical aspects, he still needed some intimidation factor, he had to play SOME mindgames, otherwise he was just another slub.

So, he waited, and spotted his moment. And when the Factgime (The HHH/McMahon Alliance that was running the show at the time) attempted to help HHH regain the WWF title at Judgment Day 2000 from The Rock, at the end of the Iron Man match, he returned, driving his motorcycle down to the ring and taking out anyone and everyone moving. Unfortunately he also took out HHH, which was a DQ and thus he inadvertently helped HHH win the title. But Rock was remarkably calm about it, and the two teamed up to fight the Factgime instead of letting it force them into battle, with Kane becoming their ally as well.

This caused problems as the Factgime all had members who could make rulings and judgements. And on an episode of Smackdown, Rock, Taker AND Kane (who had stolen the World Title Belt) all demanded the King Of The Ring title shot, all were given matches for them, and all of them won, thus leaving 3 men who hated HHH to get a shot.

This led to a 6 man tag at KOTR, Rock/Taker/Kane vs. HHH/Vince/Shane, with (thanks to a bet between Linda and Vince that saw the good guys all win handicap matches) the winner getting the World Title Belt, not just the #1 Contendership. This was a problem for Taker, as while he felt fairly sure he could trust Kane, he and Rock’s alliance was quickly breaking down, and now that the World Title was on the line, all bets were off.

And Taker ended up with a short end of the stick as he prevented Kane from winning the world title but was unable to prevent Rock pinning Vince to win it.

Taker thus began to focus on the tag division, as he and Kane sorted out their differences yet again, reforming to try and win the tag belts. Taker was however quickly re-sidetracked by new King Of The Ring Kurt Angle, who at first just tried to help his buddies Edge and Christian and ended up pissing Undertaker off something fierce. Getting milk on his bike, his peace offerings rejected, Angle was forced to attack Taker’s leg with a wrench the size of a family of 4, but it didn’t help him as Taker destroyed poor Kurt at Fully Loaded.

This led to Taker having to fight Shane’s proto-Corporation, as Shane McMahon began to help Kurt Angle, and then Big Show who turned on his former partner and the three beat down Taker. Shane then also enlisted Chris Benoit, only for his group to be totally ignored by Taker as Kane once again turned on his brother, chokeslamming him through the canvas and worse, STEALING HIS BIKE!

The bastard.

So the duo fought at Summerslam. And that’s all they did, the rules were ignored, and after Taker took Kane’s mask off Kane just walked off, shocked. This was the first tease that maybe, just maybe, Kane wasn’t burned. Whether or not Taker meant that is questionable, more than likely he just wanted to piss Kane off, although seeing that his brother wasn’t burned might have forced Taker to reconsider his own life.

But not for long.

Having proven his point, Taker then demanded a title shot. Rock was more than happy to oblige, as was Commish Foley, but Kane and Chris Benoit both felt otherwise. The four men would fight at every chance, and Foley was forced to make Unforgiven into a 4 way match with the title on the line. Taker seemed to suffer a shocking defeat as Benoit nailed him with a chair and pinned him, but Foley restarted the match since Taker’s foot was on the rope. So Benoit had to go back with 3 angry men and try to survive. Taker would be unable to get his revenge for the insult as this time round Kane held him back while Rock pinned Benoit.

Taker was thus shut out of the title picture in the immediate future, since he had his shot. So he began to police in a way the WWF, taking on RTC for a short while (and paying tribute to Yokozuna after his passing) before he won the #1 Contendership once again, and got the right to fight Kurt Angle, a guy he squashed like a bug, at Survivor Series. But alas, the Survivor Series Screwjob returned, as Kurt got help from his brother Eric and pulled a Doink style switcheroo on Taker, rolling him up after he tried to pin Eric, thus screwing Taker out of the title yet again.

The Taker/Angle war continued as the two constantly fought each other, even while Kurt had to fend off threats from all sides, Rock, HHH, Rikishi, and, of course, one Stone Cold Steve Austin.

Because of all the chaos, the first and only 6 man Hell In A Cell match was signed for Armageddon. At first, this seemed to favour Taker, as the survivor of more HITC’s than anyone. But while he did make an impact by chokeslamming Rikishi off the cell and onto a truck, he was unable to fully utilise his experience and thus could only watch as Angle managed to pull it out and pin Rock, thanks to Austin.

So, this somehow led to Rock and Taker teaming up to defeat Edge and Christian for the tag belts on Raw, only to lose them back a couple days later on Smackdown. After failing to win the #1 Contendership for the first Raw of 2001, he entered the Royal Rumble, alas failing to win the #30 slot but still liking his chances nevertheless, especially once it seemed that he and Kane had, yet again, reunited. It seemed a logical plan, have the two work together and destroy any and all in the Rumble, then duke it out. And it worked, at first, as Kane drew and early number but managed to hold his own until Taker came out, and the two cleared the ring. Taker drew #25, and lasted until the final 6 before he got distracted and tried to headbutt Rikishi a few times.

This left him easy prey for Rikishi to toss.

After Kane came oh so close to winning, the duo officially re-reunited, having to team up to fight off the newly rejoined Samoans of Rikishi and Haku. After the Brothers of Destruction managed to dispose of them, they had jumped up the Tag Ranks and got a title shot at No Way Out, albeit a three way when their match with Edge & Christian to crown new #1 Contenders ended in a no contest. Just to make things interesting, the match was a Tables match. While the BOD were no strangers to hardware, The Dudley’s experience was too much and they put Christian through one to keep their belts.

Taker then turned to Wrestlemania X7, and since he had no match and HHH was begging for one, he tried to muscle HHH into giving him one. HHH refused and got a restraining order against Taker on Stephanie to keep Taker away. Taker then got Kane to help him (since he too wanted a match against Big Show at WM since both brothers were beaten down by the two), and threatened to kill Stephanie if Commish Regal didn’t give them their matches. Regal did (although he altered Kane’s one a bit to punish Raven), and Taker and HHH had one hell of a brawl at WM, which almost saw Taker’s streak come to an end before it was truly noted, but thanks to Taker’s perseverance and his family and it being in Texas (Taker was now residing in Houston Texas, Death Valley while being accurate was too much tied in with his old persona. That’s why he stopped with the Tombstone as well) he was able to overcome all odds and win the match.

And then the BOD became savours.

Phase 30- BOD vs. 2MPT

For Steve Austin and HHH were now aligned together under Vince McMahon, as the Two Man Power Trip. Since Rock was suspended, that left Taker and Kane to fly the banner and be the fans’ chosen ones. So the duo began to attack and fight with Austin and HHH at every chance, the duo nabbing the Tag Titles in order to try and get the duo to fight them. It worked, and at Backlash the 4 men met in an All Or Nothing Match, with the winner getting the loser’s belt. Unfortunately, that turned out to have the tag belts change hands, as the Power Trip cheated, HHH using his sledge to pin Kane to win the tag belts, despite the BOD having the last laugh on SD (and Taker earler in the night dismantling the RTC almost as an afterthought).

Taker then managed to beat both men in England at Insurrextion, but since he pinned HHH he failed to win the World Title, which he would have got had he pinned Austin.

Taker then got his one on one match at Judgment Day, forcing Commish Regal to make it No Holds Barred which ended up costing him as HHH interfered and helped Austin beat him.

HHH was then taken care of the following night in a tag match, but that didn’t matter to Taker, as something much more important began to occur.

Phase 31- You just don’t mess with a man’s family!

Taker, as part of the whole relaxing of the Deadman persona, made it known that he was now married. The tattoo across his throat was a dead giveaway.

But the downside of this was that she was now in the spotlight. And Diamond Dallas Page, former WCW Champion and one of the first guys Shane McMahon kept on, saw it as a chance to make a stand, to grab some attention for himself and WCW. So, he began to stalk Sara.

This, unsurprisingly, made The Undertaker very, very angry.

He began to tear through his opponents and everyone else in his way, trying to find the culprit. And soon enough, DDP shocked the world and revealed himself on Raw, pledging to be at King Of The Ring. Taker then turned the tables on DDP, having Sara stalk him before Taker beat him down like DDP was an Olympic Gold Medallist at the PPV. Taker and DDP continued to fight, even while the landscape of the InVasion changed around them, as WCW and ECW united to take down the WWF, firmly establishing that WWF was right and that everyone else was wrong. Taker was on Team WWF at the InVasion PPV, and thus saw first hand Austin betray the WWF, at least he would have if he and DDP hadn’t brawled off into the crowd. Taker and Kane then began to broaden their attacks, winning the WCW Tag Titles after DDP and his buddy Kanyon won the WWF Tag Titles. This led to a unification cage match at Summerslam, where Taker pinned DDP like he was, well, Kurt Angle, to win both belts. The following night on Raw Taker finally put DDP out of his hair by chokeslamming him on the floor and thus allowing Sara to pin DDP.


Phase 32- Here comes Kronik!

Steven Richards then made his surprise return, still bitter about Taker killing the RTC. He thus hired a tag team to take on BOD, former WCW Superstars Kronik. The new team, which was quickly welcomed into the Alliance, got the BOD at Unforgiven, the totally non-pot smoking team helping the Dudleys to win the WWF Tag Titles, leaving BOD with just the WCW ones.

The match has gone down in the annuls of time as one of the all time worst. So much so that, after Taker and Kane beat Kronik and then attacked Stevie, neither he nor Kronik were seen again for a long time, in Kronik’s case since then.

Phase 33- There goes Kronik.

Taker and Kane would then lose the belts to Booker T and Test, leaving Taker and Kane to begin to fight members of the Alliance in singles matches. Taker continued to be a WWF stalwart, as he stood for all that was good and wholesome about the WWF, keeping the barbarians at the gate. He defeated Booker T at No Mercy, and then was a member of the WWF’s team at Survivor Series, where he helped defeat Team Alliance and thus save the WWF from destruction.

And once that was done, he was able to focus on the more important things, like respect. For Taker had done a lot for the WWF, he’d bled, he’d sweat, he’d fougth day in, day out. And he deserved, no, demanded respect. And for someone like Jim Ross to refuse to kiss Vince McMahon’s ass, something Taker had to do from time to time to keep his job, was not something he’d take lying down.

The American Badass was dead. Big Evil was born.

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Mathew Sforcina