JRE Review-Episode 1598: Mark “The Undertaker” Calaway

This list reads as “The Undertaker’s Greatest Moments.” But save for the Hell In A Cell with Mankind, The (consecutive) classic Wrestlemania match(es) with the G.O.A.T. HBK Shawn Michaels (fight me), and the first title win against The “Immortal” Hulk Hogan (he was no longer “Incredible” and not yet “Hollywood”), this is more of a list about how ridiculously silly some of this characters moments were. However, it’s only silly in hindsight because as it was happening it was AWESOME!

The Undertaker’s greatness resides in several facts regarding his career. One being that he is the best “Big Man” to ever step foot in the “squared circle” is undeniable from the perspective of his size vs athletic ability. The statement “The Undertaker is one of the greatest in-ring performers as it relates to the lost art of story-telling through a match” will find little to no debate. His reputation as the epitome of consummate professional both in the ring and especially backstage precedes him. But part of The Undertaker’s greatness is due to those silly storylines and dramatic spots that seem cringe to us now, although they were anything but back then.

The Undertaker character played by Mark Calaway was a vehicle for the WWE to utilize elements of theatre in their storylines from the character’s inception in 1990 until his curtain call in 2020.  Whether it was the drama of his relationship with long-lost burn victim little brother Kane, the horror of “Big Evil” dragging opponents to the depths of Hell, or the fantasy of his quasi-supernatural abilities (he could control lightning – just not when getting F-5’ed 5 times by Brock Lesnar), the Undertaker provided the company with a means to incorporate cinema into their product. Now with that intro as lengthy as a classic Undertaker Wrestlemania entrance, let’s dive into the podcast appearance.

One of the premiere takeaways from ‘Taker’s podcast appearance was that although wrestling is scripted or as non-wrestling fans say “fake,” in reality it’s dangerous as all f@!&. By the time Calaway gets finished describing his hip surgeries, his torn shoulder, and how he now lives with a mesh-constructed eye socket holding his eyeball in place because King Mable was an out of shape fat f@!& who railed sugar and jizzed lard, you’re left wondering how Vince MacMahon didn’t “Old Yeller” a bunch of these guys over the years.

The moral of the story, kids: stay away from backyard wrestling matches and Bills Mafia tailgates.

(He actually landed that really well)

Calaway’s grind to become The Undertaker, namely, going to the Von Erich’s offices in Dallas every Wednesday for 8 months and waiting to talk to someone, is a shining example of the generational difference in attitudes toward working for one’s achievements versus expecting handouts. In ‘Taker’s day, you drove to another city, lived in your car, and sacrificed for what you wanted; whether that was a booking in a wrestling ring or a gig at a bar on Sunset Boulevard. Nowadays, entitled, suburban, middle-class Millennials drive to the inner cities where minorities live, and stay in Air BnB’s, for the purposes of rioting, looting, and burning down minority-owned businesses, and government-subsidized housing in their moral fight for racial equality because the system is bad and it owes us something.

Wrestling fans might be interested to hear ‘Taker give huge props to Kurt Angle when Joe refers to Angle’s neck size as “a waist”. In regards to Angle, ‘Taker says, “He could go. I really enjoyed working with Kurt. What an athlete. He’s a beast.” He also paid the same respect to Brock Lesnar.

At 41min into the show, Joe highlights the butterfly effect of ‘Taker meeting the guy in the gym who planted the seed of pro wrestling as a career in his head. To which ‘Taker responds that he might have ended up playing professional basketball in Europe or joining the military. This is something many of us have experienced whether we are conscious of it or not. Sometimes it’s the people you least expect that have the most impactful influences on your life.

When you’re expecting your parents, siblings, or close friends, to be the source of that profundity (usually because they already are in so many ways), it ends up being that work colleague, some 3-month romantic fling, or in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button that piano teacher that serves as the catalyst for a change in the way you think, act, or what you choose to pursue. With the acknowledgment that everyone you meet has the potential to inspire greatness in you, it should be easier to be kind to one another. Unless you meet a true @$$hole, then I say chokeslam that d!psh!t to Hell.

At around 2 hours in, the guys play the old 1984 clip of David Schultz slapping reporter John Stossel and Joe mentions that Stossel disrespected Schultz and that’s why he got slapped. This is a shining example of why Twitter is such a toxic environment, because disrespectful dweebs who speak in the same tone that Stossel did to Schultz are safe from being slapped by guys like Schultz.

At approximately 1:40min, Joe talks about us being in Kali Yuga and can’t remember the exact Hindu doctrine. If my memory serves me well, Kali Yuga is the final of the four stages of existence. It’s the phase of moral deterioration which ultimately leads to the destruction of all of existence performed by Lord Siva. Because life is cyclical in Hindu belief, Brahma then creates the universe again, which is subsequently maintained by Vishnu, until the degeneration happens once more and Siva destroys it all to continue the cycle. To put it simply:

G: Generator (Brahma)

O: Operator (Vishnu)

D: Destroyer (Siva)

Finally, near the end of the show, ‘Taker critiques the current WWE product as soft and lacking substance. Hinchcliffe agrees, as do I, that the edge has been lost.

Not that Edge. He had been lost but miraculously returned at the 2020 Royal Rumble making even former wrestling fans’ eyeballs sweat. There’s also this bar reaction to Edge’s return which I dare you not to watch 3x in a row:

The guys refer to the market and the appeal to a more PG audience. ‘Taker’s theory is that the main eventers from the Attitude Era aged out having never really taught the up and coming guys because they were working with each other as they were the biggest draws. The young guys ended up learning with other young guys and that’s why the product changed. This is evident in the lack of “storytelling” which has been replaced seemingly by acrobatics and often times unnecessary rolls and flips to make moves appear to be more flashy and consequently less impactful. Contemporary wrestlers appear to have added “pizzazz” to moves or jumble a bunch of flashy spots together to disguise or distract from the lack of meaning in the move as it relates to the story being told in the ring.

Here’s an explanation of storytelling:

That’s all I’ve got for you on this one folks. Just for fun, here are a couple of videos. The first is a highlight reel of the rapidly growing AEW brand which is getting a lot of heat (wrestling term not regular usage). Followed by The Undertaker’s theme song because it’s one of the best ever – use headphones. Finally, a list of some of the greatest moments in pro wrestling’s golden age. Enjoy!

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