Over the two decades that professional wrestling superstar Mark Calaway has been wrestling for World Wrestling Entertainment (formerly the World Wrestling Federation), he has become a seven-time world champion, and was previously unbeaten at WrestleMania with a record of 21-0, later being beat by Brock Lesnar, to make the streak 21-1. But what Calaway is probably best known for is his "Undertaker" Gimmick, it has gone through a number of personality changes. This is a list of them from the start of his career, to now.
- November 1990 - January 1994
Symbolized by the original western look with a black overcoat, stetson hat with a grey ring, black leather gloves, later changed to grey leather gloves and grey boot spats. This persona was born at the Undertaker's debut at the 1990 Survivor Series. He was a quiet character, originally managed by Brother Love, until he aligned himself with Paul Bearer during a segment of the Brother Love Show.
This was the beginning of a long time partnership that would have many twists and turns in nearly all of the Undertaker's facets. The Undertaker won his WrestleMania debut versus Jimmy Snuka and beginning his undefeated streak at WrestleMania. The persona itself can be split into two halves — the original heel attitude from his debut, including his brief feud with Hulk Hogan which saw him win the WWF Championship in late 1991 and his later face turn following the rescue of Miss Elizabeth from the hands of Jake "The Snake" Roberts just before WrestleMania VIII in 1992.
During this time he introduced the "Casket match" which not only put fear into the hearts of his opponents but also eventually led to the demise of the "Western Undertaker" when he (kayfabe) died and "ascended to the heavens" as a result of him being entombed in a casket at the 1994 Royal Rumble.
The Deadman (Darkness Era)
- August 1994 - October 1996
The Undertaker returned at Summerslam 1994 with an updated attire, now utilizing the color purple for his leather gloves, boot-covers, and tie. His return saw him facing Ted DiBiase's fake "Undertaker", who was distinguishable by his grey accessories. This persona continued through to the Undertaker's revenge on Yokozuna, the man who "killed off" the previous incarnation. It was during this era that he was forced to wear a grey Phantom of the Opera-style upper-face mask after an attack by King Mabel and Yokozuna that left him injured with a legit fractured orbital bone and by bringing the "Era of Darkness" for the rest of this era.
In August 1996 he fought in a Boiler Room Brawl against Mankind at SummerSlam, being betrayed by his long time manager, Paul Bearer, at the end. Two months later they wrestled each other in the first ever Buried Alive match, at In Your House 11: Buried Alive. Although the Undertaker won the match, The Executioner interfered and with the help of several other heels, buried the Undertaker alive, signaling the end of another era.
Lord of Darkness
- November 1996 - December 1998
The Undertaker was "re-born" a month later, this time descending to the ring from the rafters in black leather attire with bat-like wings. He only wore these wings once, but was dressed completely in black. In addition to a new outfit, the Undertaker would also come out with a black teardrop below his right eye, and his long hair combed back and wet, instead of in front of his face and scraggly like before. His run as the "Lord of Darkness", on the February 5th edition of Superstars he was going to unlease the "new age of Darkness" upon the WWF could be distinguished not only by his second world title and his new leather accented wrestling gear, but it was also during this era when he displayed his devastating supernatural powers such as creating lightning and starting fire by pointing his finger. It was in this persona that the Undertaker fought in the very first Inferno and Hell in a Cell matches. However, when the Undertaker fought Sycho Sid in the main event of WrestleMania 13 after the event he proclaimed to be a Knight (for the creatures of the night) for the WWF Championship, he came out in his original "Western Mortician" look with grey gloves and boot covers. An attempt of a character shoot was made in this persona, showing The Undertaker with normal clothes and speaking normally, but he was much into character.
Ministry of Darkness
- January 1999 - September 1999
Towards the end of 1998, while feuding with his (kayfabe) younger brother Kane and Stone Cold Steve Austin, the Undertaker began speaking of the "dark days" and a "Ministry of Evil" that would soon be taking over the WWF. This was the first sign of the Undertaker becoming more demonic than ever before and soon he would put together his Ministry of Darkness stable. During his time with "The Ministry" (as well as the months he spent prophesying it beforehand) he began using his TX "symbol" more and more, not only wearing the emblem on his tights, but attempting to "crucify" his enemies on the cross (as well as being seated on a throne in the style of that same symbol, in a flaming area of a building used as the dark temple in his Ministry entrance video).
After being Buried Alive at the December 1998 Rock Bottom pay-per-view and missing a month, 'Taker returned shortly before the 1999 Royal Rumble draped in a black hooded robe with a "Satan-like" goatee. He continued with The Ministry and this look and was portrayed as a super-heel. He kidnapped Stephanie McMahon and attempted to wed her but the ceremony was interrupted by Steve Austin. The Undertaker often claimed he was answering to a Higher Power, eventually revealing Vince McMahon as his "higher power". After losing the WWF Title to Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Undertaker formed an alliance with the Big Show and won that tag team belts at Summerslam 1999. However, The Undertaker had also suffered a groin tear and was seen limping in several matches. In his last month, The Undertaker was hardly in any matches and often sat at the announcer table and provided commentary. He was scheduled to participate in a six-man match at Unforgiven 1999 against Triple H, Big Show, Mick Foley, The Rock and Kane but his groin injury had worsened so much that he had no choice but to leave before. On Smackdown, September 23, three days before Unforgiven, he (kayfabe) refused to participate in a casket match against Triple H and walked out. This would give him time to heal his groin injury.
American Bad Ass
- May 2000 - November 2001
After eight months time-off due to real-life injuries, the Undertaker made his long-awaited return at Judgment Day in May 2000. However, the days of pitch black, blue fog and church organ music entrances were gone. The Undertaker was now The "American Bad Ass" (termed by the Kid Rock song which was his entrance music during the early months of the persona, later to be changed to "Rollin'" by Limp Bizkit) biker complete with sunglasses, bandana, jean shirt and motorcycle.
The Badass allowed everyone to see a new side of the Undertaker. While still one of the most dominant forces in the WWF, he appeared human, introducing the world to his wife Sara and speaking as a normal human being. Also, the character began to Take more moves from opponents, making him appear more vulnerable. In addition, he began to use the Last Ride (an elevated powerbomb) as a replacement finishing move for the Tombstone Piledriver, which he began using only on occasion.
Many argue that the only reason that this persona occurred was because of the ongoing feud with WCW during the Monday Night Wars and shortly after the Invasion, Taker rerouted to his original "Dark Theme"
- November 2001 - November 2003
In probably one of the most shocking of his heel turns, Undertaker attacked Jim Ross on an episode of RAW. The Undertaker now had a new partially shaved haircut, dyed jet black, accompanied by a new brawling, "do-what-I-want" bullying attitude, arguably more aggressive than ever before. He had now assumed the Big Evil persona, defeating Rob Van Dam for the WWF Hardcore Championship. He would then debut new original WWF-produced music. Although the Undertaker still rode a motorcycle, he did not use it as much as he did during the American Badass run.
As Big Evil, he would become the WWE Undisputed Champion, and declared that as Champion, he would come out and do and say whatever he pleased. During his run he would assault superstars if he felt they did not "respect" him. One of these superstars would be a rookie then babyface, Randy Orton, although the Undertaker gave Orton his first shot at the WWE Championship.
After the Undertaker turned face again by showing Jeff Hardy full respect, Big Evil would turn out to be more of an extension of the American Badass persona than a different mode in itself. An example would be during his feud with The Un-Americans. While part of a major power struggle with his main enemies being Brock Lesnar, Big Show, and Vince McMahon, he found himself once again Buried Alive (again with the help of Kane).
The Phenom (Deadman Hybrid)
- March 14, 2004 - June 1, 2008
For three years, The Undertaker showed a different, more human, side of himself before being Buried Alive by Kane at Survivor Series 2003. When Undertaker returned at WrestleMania XX facing Kane in an Interpromotional Match, once again accompanied by Paul Bearer, he returned to his death oriented character. This Undertaker was a culmination of all his previous personas; dressed in his Big Evil attire accompanied by a long leather trench coat and hat. His updated "old school" attire included tights as part of a full body suit with big evil pain-syndicate devil symbols on his legs (which were white at first, though the color would change with time). His supernatural powers and mind games returned, as did his long hair (over time through 2004-05), and his invulnerability and signature 'sit-up' (though reduced in intensity from his previous dark side personas). Paul Bearer returned by his side, but was disposed of by 'Taker himself after only a short time for being "a weakness", after a Handicap Match against The Dudleys.
The Undertaker became somewhat invincible during this persona as he was booked to be 'destroyed' several times and yet continually 'came back'. The first such instance occurred during his feud with Randy Orton after a casket match, when Randy and his father, Cowboy Bob Orton, burned him inside a casket, much like Kane did years before, only to have Undertaker emerge several months later from a burning casket. The Great Khali and Mark Henry both claimed to have taken the Undertaker out of action in 2006 and 2007, respectively. Undertaker returned both times to ultimately become the first person to defeat Khali, and defeat Henry, each time putting claims of his demise to rest. Two other notable feuds of his during 2007 and 2008 were against Batista and Edge. Both of them were defeated by the Undertaker at WrestleMania 23 and WrestleMania XXIV respectively, for the World Heavyweight Title (thus making this the only persona in which he held the world title twice). At WrestleMania XXIV, the Undertaker entered wearing a cape similar to the one he wore as the Lord of Darkness instead of his usual hat and trench coat.
After being (kayfabe) stripped of his title by Vickie Guererro, Taker continued his feud with Edge. On June 1, 2008, The Undertaker took on Edge in a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match at the One Night Stand pay-per-view for the vacant World Heavyweight Championship. The pre-match stipulation was that if Undertaker were to lose, he would be "banished" from the WWE. Undertaker lost the match and (kayfabe) "left".
On the July 25, 2008 episode of Friday Night SmackDown, Vickie Guerrero announced that Edge would face the Undertaker at SummerSlam in a Hell in a Cell match, which The Undertaker won. After the match The Undertaker chokeslammed Edge from the top of a ladder and through the ring canvas. The Undertaker "summoned" the flames from hell to take Edge. Following this match, Guerrero tried to make a peace-offering with the Undertaker on SmackDown by apologizing, but the Undertaker told her that he is not the forgiving kind. This continued his rivalry with La Familia, especially Guerrero. At Unforgiven, as the Undertaker approached the ring to "take Guerrero's soul" and take her in a casket, the Big Show, who appeared at first to aid the Undertaker, turned on him and assaulted him. As a result of this altercation, the Undertaker and Big Show faced each other in a match at No Mercy, where the Big Show knocked the Undertaker out with a punch to the back of Undertaker's head. At Cyber Sunday the Undertaker defeated the Big Show in a fan picked Last Man Standing match after applying the Hell's Gates. The Undertaker then went on to defeat the Big Show at Survivor Series 2008 in a casket match after pushing him into a standing casket.
The Last Outlaw
2008 - 2013
After being carried out after defeating Triple H at the 2012 Wrestlemania, he changed his image and cut off most of his hair, keeping a mohawk until 2013. At this point on Undertaker began getting commonly referred to by others as The Last Outlaw.
This portion of Taker's career ended for the most part after his Hell in a Cell match with Triple H at Wrestlemania XXVIII . With two of his top rivals from the Attitude Era, Triple H and Shawn Michaels, dealt with in the very match type made famous by the three, Undertaker had officially solidified himself as the true Last Outlaw. His legend was established and then some, but Undertaker still had some gas in his tank.
Following his victory at Wrestlemania XVIII, Undertaker appearances became less common in the WWE. Rarely appearing before Wrestlemania season, Undertaker took on the embodiment of the classic western archetype of a "gunslinger". Much like classic gunslinger heroes, The Undertaker would often find himself as the mysterious protagonist at the heart of a heated conflict around Wrestlemania season before riding off into the sunset following the event, with no real indication on whether or not he'd be back.
His run as The Gunslinger took him through CM Punk at Wrestlemania XXIX before his historic run in with Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania XXX. Another trope of the gunslinger archetype is that, sometimes, they suffer heartbreaking defeat. There is no better example of this than the legendary Streak coming to an end at the hands of the Beast Incarnate.
Despite taking his first loss at Wrestlemania, The Undertaker strode back in the following year to defeat Bray Wyatt at Wrestlemania XXXI before once again entering Hell in a Cell at Wrestlemania XXXII to defeat the boss's son himself, Shane McMahon. These years in particular were light on Undertaker appearances, and it truly felt like his time in the sun was drawing to an end.
The Undertaker's Last Stand
In what seemed to be The Undertaker's Last Stand, his Gunslinger role comes full-arc when he suffered yet another Wrestlemania loss against Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania XXXIII. After losing, The Undertaker left his jacket, gloves and iconic hat in the center of the ring before walking to the back. To many, this signified the end of The Undertaker's in-ring career. Much like the classic western gunslinger Shane, The Undertaker fought as hard as he could for as long as he could but in the end, he simply had nothing else to do but walk away...until he returned on January 22, 2018 at 25th anniversary of RAW.
- The Phenom
- The Deadman
- The Man from the Darkside
- The Grim Reaper/Reaper
- The Lord/Prince/Minister of Darkness
- The Indestructible Force
- The Master of Mind Games
- The Man Who Cannot Be Destroyed
- The Big Dog of the Yard
- The Conscience of the WWE
- The American Bad Ass
- Big Evil
- The Gunslinger
- Texas Red
- The Red Devil
- Booger Red (By Jim Ross after WrestleMania X8 in reference to Undertaker's natural red hair being visible and to Tommy Nobis. He was asked to refrain from using this nickname shortly after. By Jim Ross when on RAW.)
- The Demon of Death Valley
- The Last Outlaw
- The Most Respected Athlete in the history of the business.
- The Best Pure Striker in the history of the game.
- The Most Dominant Force in the history of professional wrestling.
- The Measuring Stick for all Superstars of the WWE.
- The Greatest Phenom in the history of the organization.
- The Most Phenomenal athlete ever to compete in the WWE.
- For Whom the Bell Tolls.
- The Greatest mind-gamer in sports entertainment.
- One Of The Most Respected Man In WWE.
- Rest In Peace (R.I.P.)
- This Is My Yard and I'm the big dog that runs that yard!
- If you try me.... I'll Make You Famous
- Its the beginning of the end for you
- If you stand before me, you will fall before me
- Death waits for no man
- The end is near
- Signals to cuts the throat slowly (usually during a match), signifying he is going to perform a tombstone piledriver.
- Rolls his eyeballs up with a look to intimidate his opponents (usually during the start of a match).
- Raises his hands while entering the ring, to bring back the lights.
- Sits on one knee with one hand on the other knee, and the other hand raised up (earlier as a tribute to the urn held by Paul Bearer which carried his "powers", later to just an unknown power), and sticks his tongue out, signifying his dominance in the ring (usually after a match).
- Raises his right hand in the air usually after the match (while leaving the arena), signifying victory over his opponents (sometimes along with Kane during their tag-team matches as Brothers of Destruction).