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The Trial of The Undertaker


Liam O'Rourke

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So, for this week's podcast, we're returning to our "Court Case" format to debate the career of the Undertaker on the charge of misrepresentation of stature and level of contribution to WWE's success. We'd like your feedback to the question:

 

When you examine Undertaker's body of work on and off screen from 1990 to today, did he deserve the career and legacy  WWE bestowed upon him, and do you feel he's been as important to WWE's success as they imply?

 

As always the best contributions will be read on the show during the debate and you'll be credited accordingly. So what do you think, guilty or not guilty, and why?

 

EDIT - Our show titled "The Trial of The Undertaker, featuring many of your contributions, is now online and available to listen to at the following link: http://squaredcirclegazette.podbean.com/mf/web/sxq2kc/SCG_Radio_95_-_The_Trial_Of_The_Undertaker.mp3

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Not guilty. His body of work is remarkable. Sure, there is a ton of tripe in there but I put about 95% of the blame for that at the company and the way they booked the character's feuds and chose his opponents. He had periods, 2001-2002 particularly were he was an insufferable berk but the rest of the time, the bad was down to the company trying to match him with huge or imposing guys who couldn't work for shit. But despite that, you can look back and see a career littered with great matches and angles that befits his status as a legendary character and from 1996 onwards, matches that showed the guy was a tremendous worker. I think the HBK stuff is his best legacy, particularly their greatest match at Bad Blood in 1997 but the matches with Mankind, Bret, Kane, Austin, Rock, Edge, Batista and Lesnar are memorable and mostly great.

 

His feuds with Kane and Austin were crucial at a time when the WWF was doing huge business and overhauling WCW. He was more important in the mid 90s though, post Hogan-era, when the company needed stars and he was the one constant. He was always a star, he was always an attraction and while they floundered around looking for answers, Taker, Bret & HBK carried the company through some really hard times. I know there's all the backstage stuff that we've heard down the years but I don't think any of it was particularly detrimental to business. It certainly didn't offset his great stuff.

 

The gimmick is an interesting one. There's no doubt it's the reason he became anyone in the first place but it would go on to massively hold him back. We saw when he turned up in 2000 that it had been holding him back as a character and a talker for years. He was an outstanding mic guy in his Biker-Taker years. Unfortunately they coincided with him being a knobhead backstage. I think he went back to the deadman too early. While he was working full time, he should have just been himself. When he became an occasional worker, it really suited him. in fact, it was inspired. A gimmick that allows him to sit at home all year and then someone to talk about demons for a month in February and bring him back for a WM match. Genius.

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The "locker room leader" stuff is quite fascinating.

 

I recently read one of Jericho's books where he talks about the night he was cutting a promo in the ring and got pelted in the back of the head with a battery.

 

A fucking battery.

 

Incensed, Jericho stormed to the back, telling the fans they'd just been cost the chance of seeing him wrestle.

 

When he passed through the curtain, Taker was standing there. "You're really gonna do that, huh? You're sure that's what you wanna do?"

 

Jericho turned around and walked back into a potential shower of Duracell AAs to the cranium rather than debate his position with The Undertaker.

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Should have been thrown out of court before coming to trial, absolutely no case to answer. Possibly the most iconic wrestler of all time not called Hulk Hogan. Even the bad matches with Gonzalez had a fascination to them that most of the modern roster will never achieve. He's also built up a legacy of top drawer matches that will stand up for years and years.

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Shit hair? That's the closest I can get to a criticism.

 

The guys has had some turgid shit to work with. Undertaker vs Undertaker, Gonzalez, Khali. Sid (that'll piss off some) but has always made the most of it. Even on paper the gimmick shouldn't work. He started off as a zombie. An acual zombie. Put that gimmick in the hands of any other worker and it would have been a complete and utter failure. He even survived those trousers he wore against Kurt Angle.

 

I can't think of another performer who has evolved their style as much as he has. From slow moving Zombie, to athletic big man, to purest striker to grizzled out shoot fighter he has found a way to work with all the top guys and some of the shit guys too.

 

Matches with HBK. Matches with Triple H. The angles with Kane and Austin. 

 

Edge, Batista, Angle. 

 

He even laid on his back when he was asked. (Khali pinned him with one foot. Vladimir Koslov beat him clean)

 

Everyone looks up to him. 

 

To repeat what others have said. There is no case to answer. 

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Hmmm, it depends really. 

 

There's no doubting that the Undertaker was a very important character at the very end of the WWF's Golden Era and then the late 90's, but he was never "the" man. I don't think he quite deserves the pedastle he's been placed upon and I never liked "the streak", which was a quirk of history until the late 2000's. But that's not his fault to be honest.

 

What I will say, is that he was one of the very few with star power who stuck around past mid-1993 when everyone with any name value had fucked off.

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Absolutely not guilty. He's been my favourite since I can remember, and he's just... Great. He's always had that aura, that mystique, that presence that makes him utterly worthy of the level WWE has bestowed him with. His entrance gives me goosebumps every time I see it. He's been in some of my favourite ever matches. And I would watch or go to see a show if he was on it, so he's a draw to me. So yeah, absolutely not guilty. He's my fave, Well said, Tiger Rick and everyone else!

 

Edit: cheers for remembering my reviews Undefeated Steak!

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The stand out point of criticism so far has been that he was never 'the man' but in a weird, Undertaker way I think that's exactly what made him the man. You always had the best worker, the best draw and The Undertaker. The phenom that always ran parallel to these guys. I think that's one of his 'things'. Not a negative at all in my book. If you want to then argue that if he was never the best worker or best draw and it was all just an aura and hype thing then I'd say bullshit point, that's no grounds for a trial. Because it's so much of what wrestling is.

 

Now we have a battery farm of good workers, one full time but on the way out draw and a complete drought of aura or hype. Just 7,000 hours of shiny TV. And it sucks.

 

How do WWE position 'Taker in their canon? Let's have a look. One of the best ever, the most respected guy ever, involved in some of the biggest angles and matches ever, remained a top star through multiple eras by way of reinvention, the company stalwart.

 

Just put a big green tick next to all of them. It's not like we've suddenly been sold a bill of goods in the last few years trying to thoughtpolice us into thinking Mideon was the shit.

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I was at Summerslam 92 as a 15 year old kid. Always remember the stick I got after claiming Kamala would get the duke. So fuck him yeah Guilty of my ass being taunted for backing the Ugandan Giant....... But my first ever ppv I saw live was Survivor series 90 so fuck him yeah Guilty of making me watch for all these years! 

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I can't believe this would make court either. That he wasnt "the guy" is perfect for his role. He's not your make a wish, chat shows , be a star front man. His character is the perfect representation of less is more. Some guys should be out front, other guys should be your strong backup guys that you know you can stick in with anyone and will produce. Undertaker is not guilty of being built up more then he is. He is the glue that binds 25 years of wwe. And made mania a spectacle with the streak that helped add to manias mystique as a cant miss as was only time you seen him for a few years.

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No argument here, he's well deserving of his status for time served and supporting the company through thick and thin alone. He's also pretty much synonymous with wrestling now isn't he, and has been for years. If you mention it, or WWE/F then the chances are someone will bring up the Undertaker.

On an unrelated note, I think the below comment is the best summary of modern day WWE I've seen.

 

Now we have a battery farm of good workers, one full time but on the way out draw and a complete drought of aura or hype. Just 7,000 hours of shiny TV. And it sucks.

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