Rise no more

Af­ter 28 years, WWE phe­nom The Un­der­taker has left us.

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Dearly beloved, we are gath­ered here to­day to pay trib­ute to The Un­der­taker, a gi­ant among men (lit­er­ally – the 52-year- old stands 2.08m tall and weighs over 140kg). Hav­ing made his de­but in 1990, The De­mon From Death Valley has left the ring, los­ing his fi­nal match to Ro­man Reigns at WrestleMa­nia 33 on 2 April. Let us now pay our re­spects to the most iconic WWE Su­per­star in his­tory.

THE DARK SIDES

Born Mark Cal­away, The Un­der­taker walked out of pay-per-view spe­cial Sur­vivor Se­ries (Novem­ber 1990) hav­ing de­stroyed leg­endary wrestler Dusty Rhodes in a tag team match with “The Mil­lion Dol­lar Man” Ted DiBi­ase. His gim­mick was a mor­ti­cian from the Wild West, with grey gloves, boot spats and a striped tie. His char­ac­ter/cos­tume changes over the years have in­cluded: Dead­man de­but (1994-1998): pur­ple in­stead of grey, with darker hair. Min­istry Of Dark­ness (1998-1999): flow­ing cape and a dif­fer­ent beard. Amer­i­can Bad-ass (2000-2004): bad- boy biker look, jeans and a ban­dana – and much shorter hair. • Dead­man Rises (2004-2017): back to the trench- coat and mor­ti­cian wide­brim hat look, but in all-black.

MATCH MAKE-OVERS

A dark and sadis­tic char­ac­ter like The Un­der­taker gave WWE CEO Vince McMa­hon a blank can­vas for new fights. Be­sides the Cas­ket Match (like against Yokozuna at the 1994 Royal Rum­ble), Taker rev­o­lu­tionised the WWE with the Buried Alive (1996) and Hell In A Cell (1998) matches, both against Mankind.

LAST RITES

“Af­ter 27 years, my body’s taken a beat­ing,” Taker re­vealed in Jan­uary. He had a se­ri­ous back in­jury in 1994, then had his or­bital bone (cheek) shat­tered in 1995 and “too many con­cus­sions to count”. He un­der­went dou­ble knee re­place­ment surgery in the mid2010s and is ru­moured to have al­ready un­der­gone ca­reer-end­ing hip re­place­ment surgery af­ter WrestleMa­nia.

REST IN PEACE

Taker’s fans aren’t the only ones sad about his re­tire­ment – Ro­man Reigns col­lapsed and sobbed back­stage af­ter their bout. “I’ve been a fan since I was a child,” he re­veals. “This is my big­gest match and changes my ca­reer. I can­not thank him [Taker and Mark] enough for choos­ing me to be his fi­nal op­po­nent.”

The Un­der­taker bid farewell to the WWE Uni­verse at WrestleMa­nia.

Ro­man Reigns was vis­i­bly up­set af­ter his match with Taker.

Mark left his Un­der­taker le­gacy in the ring as promised.

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