Roundtable: #ThankYouTaker

The Wrestledelphia staff shares their favorite memories of The Undertaker.

What is your favorite Undertaker look?

Jay Mackle: Trench coat and hat combo. That’s the look that screams Undertaker more than anything to me.

Evan Cross: I’m going with the Ministry of Darkness since it’s the most mysterious and fits the character the best. I will also cop to being OK with the American Badass getup.

David Gibb: Ministry of Darkness. That angle with Undertaker and Austin was when I went from occasionally watching wrestling behind my parents’ backs to watching wrestling every week behind my parents’ backs.

Anthony Mahalis: I assume that I am going to be in the minority here, but I loved American Badass/Big Evil Undertaker. I thought that angle was terrific. He’ll make all of you famous!

Troy Taroff: No one is more iconic than the American Badass rolling down to the ring in his motorcycle.

Mark Macyk: What many people forget is that before the Undertaker started the Ministry of Darkness, Pacific Sunwear (now “PacSun”) was by far the most popular store in the mall. Thanks to the Undertaker’s goth turn, Hot Topic became the mall’s most popular store, which it remains to this day.

John Corrigan: The precursor to Ministry of Darkness, his outfit at WrestleMania XIV. Cloaked in black, he wore the chest protector long before Roman Reigns made it uncool. His entrance attire included a diamond-encrusted jacket with a hood that combined Batman with Satan. And the black painted teardrop was the perfect touch to show his regret over kicking his baby brother’s ass.

What is your favorite Undertaker match?

Mackle: The “End of an Era” Hell in a Cell match from Wrestlemania 28. I grew up watching Taker, HHH and HBK during the Monday Night Wars and to see that grueling match really symbolized the end of the Attitude Era and the dawn of the New Era. The finish of seeing the three embraced at the end brought a tear to the eye!

Cross: The best Taker match was at WrestleMania 25 vs. Shawn Michaels, and I’ll always have a soft spot for the 6-man Hell in a Cell match at Armageddon 2000 (also starring Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H, Kurt Angle and Rikishi). But my favorite is definitely Taker vs. CM Punk at WrestleMania 29. Punk is at the top of his game as a heel and it was Undertaker’s last truly great match.

Gibb: Undertaker never really became a “favorite match” wrestler until very late in his career. He and Michaels at WrestleMania XXV was probably his best match, but I have a big soft spot for his match with Flair at X8 and his matches against Vader in ’97.

Mahalis: This may be the easy way out, but my favorite Undertaker match is WrestleMania 25 against Shawn Michaels. This may very well be one of the best matches of all time, so it is hard to pick anything else. Truly a masterpiece.

Taroff: WrestleMania 25.  Without a doubt.  No questions asked.  If any one match is going into the Hall of Fame just for the match itself, it’s Taker vs HBK in 2009 in Houston.

Macyk: When he chokeslammed Mankind through the Hell in a Cell, because it showed how tough the people of Long Island are.

Corrigan: Hell in a Cell 2015 vs. Brock Lesnar. These arch rivals went to war with each other in the most brutal Cell match since the Attitude Era. Of course, the Beast Incarnate devoured The Phenom.

Should The Streak have ended?

Mackle: The streak should have ended only to a person whose career would be elevated by it. One of the young guys of today’s era should have done it. My choice would have been either Finn Balor or Kevin Owens. Either would definitely have been a permanent stay on the main event scene for a long time with that win on their record. Brock was by far the worse choice, well until Roman beat Taker, too.

Cross: Absolutely, and the Streak ending should have doubled as his last match. Brock Lesnar, Bray Wyatt and Roman Reigns were all great choices to end it, but Wyatt hasn’t and Reigns won’t gain anything from facing Taker at WrestleMania.

Gibb: No, but if they were going to do it, Lesnar was the best possible choice.

Mahalis: I was against ending The Streak. However, as wrestling fans we want to be shocked. We want endings to not be so predictable, and this was just about as shocked as I have ever been in my WWE watching career. I do think the Undertaker should have retired after The Streak was broken though. His WrestleMania matches didn’t really matter anymore after that.

Taroff: Nothing lasts forever.  I’m glad it was Brock that took it for the sole reason he was the only logical choice at the time.  I’m neither happy or sad.

Macyk: The Undertaker has always existed to remind the audience of our own mortality. (When he’s not wrestling his job is literally to prepare dead bodies at his funeral home in Death Valley, California.) Keeping The Streak alive would not have been true to this character. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. The streak needed to die, just like we all will.

Corrigan: No! WWE could have milked it until the day Mark Calaway dies.

What’s your favorite Undertaker moment?

Mackle: Winning the WWE Title from Hulk Hogan. As a boy, I was a Hulkamaniac, but something about Taker made me like him more and when he beat Hogan I was like YES! It angered by friends but I was like this guy’s a monster and he should be awesome in the future.

Cross: It’s got to be his return at WrestleMania 20 as The Deadman. The character had been gone for more than four years at that point, and it still got a bigger pop than anything besides He Who Must Not Be Named winning the main event.

Gibb: Undertaker hitting the Tombstone on Hulk Hogan onto a steel chair being held by Ric Flair at Survivor Series ’91. Just look at all the keywords in that sentence! The spot could’ve looked tighter, but it was the moment that elevated a great gimmick into a true main event wrestler.

Mahalis: Tossing Mankind off of the Hell in a Cell match in 1998. This is one of the most heart-pounding moments in the history of the business. Not to mention JR’s call here was absolutely tremendous.

Taroff: This moment during WrestleMania 28 will always be etched in my mind.  HBK, Triple H and Taker standing on the top of the stage overlooking the crowd as “The End of an Era” truly takes place.  I still get chills to this day thinking about it.

Macyk: When he rode out on a motorcycle at WrestleMania XIX while Limp Bizkit played “Rolling” live. You know what time it is.

Corrigan: “Where to, Stephanie?”

What is The Undertaker’s legacy?

Mackle: Respect. He’s the one guy, though he started in WCW, who was with Vince and the WWE forever. He truly is the heart and soul of the WWE and no one, neither Cena nor Reigns, will ever take that away from him. He gave us everything until the very end. Thank you Taker!

Cross: He’s the best big man of all time, the best entrance of all time, the most consistent Wrestlemania performer and draw, the most successful gimmick of all time and the most respected wrestler – in and out of kayfabe – of all time. Other than that, his career was forgettable.

Gibb: Undertaker is the most important wrestler in WWE/WWF history who was never the most important guy on the roster at any one time. Between ’91 and ’10, he worked basically everybody who mattered in the business, and he got better when he should’ve gotten worse.

Mahalis: The Undertaker’s legacy, for me, is that he is one of the greatest and most loved performers in wrestling history. His career was really one of a kind.

Taroff: He’s the greatest to ever do it, hands down.  No one will ever put the audience into a cinematic trance like Taker did and no one will ever do it again. He will go down in not only WWE, but all of wrestling lore and legend until the end of time.

Macyk: The last good wrestling character.

Corrigan: Besides maybe Bruno Sammartino, nobody has lasted on top longer than Undertaker. He’s the bridge from Hulkamania to the New Generation to the Attitude Era to Ruthless Aggression to P.G. to the New Era. Look at the matches that were invented because of him: Buried Alive, Casket, Hell in a Cell. He was a main event attraction who didn’t need the championship, but could always carry it if need be. Hell, he carried WrestleMania some years as well. For over a quarter century, Undertaker was the constant in pro wrestling.

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