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28 Years Ago Today, The Undertaker Made His WWE Debut At Survivor Series

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28 Years Ago Today, The Undertaker Made His WWE Debut At Survivor Series

Going back to an era where WWE had a more cartoonish feel about it always feels quite strange now. It was vibrantly colourful with its wrestling attires and would never have dared to cross the boundaries that the Attitude Era did with its outlandish storylines. So, when a character like The Undertaker made his debut at the 1990 Survivor Series, it was truly a sight to behold for wrestling fans.

The stage was set at the Hartford Civic Center in Hartford, Connecticut, with a traditional Survivor Series tag-team match scheduled. The Dream Team was made up of team captain Dusty Rhodes, Koko B Ware, Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart, while the Million Dollar Team was comprised of leader Ted DiBiase, Greg Valentine, The Honky Tonk Man and a mystery partner.

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It meant that the Million Dollar Man came down to the ring to introduce the remaining member of his team. From the moment that The Undertaker's macabre funeral-style theme played to his ominous walk down to the ring with then-manager Brother Love, a wrestling legend was already born.

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Almost three decades later, watching that very same entrance back in its entirety is worthwhile for the crowd's reaction alone. For its time, a wrestler like The Undertaker had never been seen before. His long dark trench coat, his iconic hat and even that classic striped tie he wore for his earlier outfits made him look like he had been plucked straight from a horror film.

Meanwhile, the legendary Gorilla Monsoon was on commentary with WWE Hall of Famer 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper, both of whom were shocked by the size of the Phenom.

"Holy cow! Look at the size of that ham hock! Check out them drumsticks, baby!" Piper yelled.


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It was only the beginning of a fruitful career for the man behind the legend, Mark Calaway. He went on to reach main-event status in his maiden year with the WWE, taking on Hulk Hogan at the 1991 Survivor Series to win his first WWF World Heavyweight Championship.

However, Taker's debut entrance is still fondly remembered by many wrestling fans around the world.

One WWE fan from Liverpool, Jack Francis, told SPORTbible: "I think even now you can watch that [entrance] with no context of his future and you know that he's a big deal."

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Rick Ekuwem, who lives in Nigeria, said: "At the time, I was much younger so it was really frightening and eerie. I honestly felt he was going to kill his opponents.

"Looking back now, with a much better understanding of professional wrestling, I think it's one of the most impressive character introductions ever."

Credit: WWE
Credit: WWE

A third fan, Stephen Oates, added: "I mean, to have someone with such an iconic sound as Ted doing the intro for him certainly made the entrance that much better. Being given an early rub from someone of DiBiase's stature can only be a benefit.

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"The sound of the organ playing for the first time still gives [me] chills even 28 years later. I think this might possibly be what people even now most associated with Taker. Seeing the look on the fans' faces as well: every single person in the arena seems stunned with what they're seeing from the entrance all the way down to the match itself.

"Obviously, the quality of the match wasn't the best, but I think it established what it was sent out to do. Make sure everyone at home knew there was a new monster around and that it's gonna take something special to take him down."

Now 53 years old and presumably heading into the tail end of his career, Calaway has forever changed professional wrestling and the WWE. It's a testament to how Calaway has continued to change or develop The Undertaker's character through different incarnations over his 28 years with the company.

Credit: WWE
Credit: WWE
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That's not to mention the introduction of Paul Bearer as an on-again, off-again manager, which has only added to the character's glowing legacy.

The Undertaker has transcended the company to the point where casual wrestling fans (or even those who have never watched WWE) know his name.

So, what does the Phenom of the WWE mean to wrestling fans?

One wrestling fan from Wales, Mark Abraham, told SPORTbible: "I think it's a testament to his impact on the business and pop culture. He's become this larger-than-life personality who is a household name and regarded as a legend.

"It's not uncommon that someone who doesn't watch wrestling will still name the Undertaker in their list of known wrestlers along with [Stone Cold Steve] Austin, [The] Rock, [Hulk] Hogan and I think it speaks volumes of his popularity and visibility as a longtime performer.

Credit: WWE
Credit: WWE

"It's a sign [that] he has withstood the test of time in a business where people come and go all too quickly. I think it is also a really nostalgic thing -- we did fancy dress as wrestlers a few years back and a gang of lads came up to us for photos and they all said, 'I loved The Undertaker as a kid,' so it's like the association with childhood, too."

Ross Bousfield, who is from Nottingham, said: "Ultimately, he is one of the best wrestlers of all time, who fully understood his character and his role. He's also [come to define] WrestleMania, as without him and the streak WrestleMania isn't as big as it is!"

A third fan, Shakib Ullah, added: "I think it's unique and both a testament to how they created a character that never really underwent drastic changes (other than the biker Taker phase), yet he managed to consistently capture the imagination of the audience."





What was The Undertaker's best match?

Let us know in the comments

Featured Image Credit: WWE

Topics: The Undertaker, Mark Calaway, Survivor Series, WWE News, WWE

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