Deadman to American Bada**- Transformation of The Undertaker’s Gimmick and Attire Over the Years

Published 10/28/2021, 8:30 AM EDT


The Undertaker is by far the most iconic and most over wrestling superstar has ever been and ever will be. A career spanning over three decades, Mark Calaway flipped the pro-wrestling gimmick on its head and has paved the way for the younger superstars of this generation.

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His mastery of carrying kayfabe, and delivering a storyline is immeasurable and the wrestling fans know it all too well. Eventually, throughout his career, ‘Taker experimented with his gimmicks and attires while keeping ‘The Deadman’ persona as his core.

However, whatever attire/gimmick the former WWE Champion took on, the WWE Universe would accept it with open arms.

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‘Taker debuted for Vince McMahon’s WWE (then known as WWF) at Survivor Series in 1990 and had a gimmick/attire unlike anyone on the roster. Let’s have a look at Undertaker’s gimmicks and attires throughout the years.

The Western Mortician: Birth of The Undertaker, 1990 – 1994

The first gimmick he ever had was ‘The Western Mortician’ which lasted from November 1990 all the way through January 1994. This gimmick is partly responsible for him being named ‘The Undertaker’.

‘Taker had an original western look where he wore a black overcoat, grey leather gloves, and a Stetson hat. His looked completely justified his gimmick because as a real mortician, ‘Taker would prepare coffins and tombs for his victims.

The Undertaker won his first-ever WrestleMania match against the legendary, Jimmy Snuka, which gave birth to the most iconic streak in all of sports entertainment.

However, this Mortician gimmick ended when ‘Taker was put inside a coffin in a ‘Casket Match’ against Yokozuna at the Royal Rumble PPV ’94, and ‘Taker kayfabe died.

The Deadman, 1994 – 1996

After his match at Royal Rumble, ‘Taker took some time off the TV and then returned on the SummerSlam PPV of the same year where he faced the ‘fake’ Undertaker in an Undertaker vs Undertaker match.

However, Undertaker tweaked a bit in his gimmick now. He added a bit more color to the overcoat and the Stetson Hat and started wearing purple gloves this time around with a little makeup on his face.

After his underwhelming match against ‘himself’ at the SummerSlam PPV, Undertaker re-ignited the feud with Yokozuna, the man who ended his original gimmick.

The two individuals had a series of matches. However, during the storyline, ‘Taker got legitimately injured where he broke his orbital bone when Mabel and Yokozuna attacked him.

This injury made ‘Taker get immediate surgery on his nose. However, ‘The Phenom’ returned to the ring sooner than expected, but this time he wore a scary mask to protect his orbital bone.

And this mask looked terrifying to the WWE Universe and marks the only time when ‘Taker would wear a mask in his prolonged career.

During this ‘Deadman’ gimmick, ‘Taker got into a feud with Mankind when Paul Bearer turned on Undertaker and joined forces with Mankind.

In 1996, the two would face each other in the first-ever ‘Buried Alive’ match at In Your House where in order to win the match, one has to bury his opponent 6 feet deep in the ground and cover the pit with sand.

Unfortunately, ‘Taker lost the match when Mankind successfully buried Undertaker in front of the live crowd. Hence, ‘killing’ him, and ending this gimmick in 1996.

The Lord of Darkness, 1996 – 1998

Just a month later in November ’96, Undertaker was ‘reborn’ and entered from the rafters wearing bat-wings and dressed in all black, with his hair all slicked back and not on his face like they used to be.

Although he itched the bat wings and never wore them again, ‘Taker kept the black leather outfit during his ‘Lord of the Darkness’ gimmick.

It was the time in his career when he had supernatural powers like creating fire and producing electricity just by pointing a finger. One noticeable change in his attire was the black ‘teardrop’ paint on his face.

It was during this gimmick when Undertaker and Shawn Michaels produced a classic match in the first-ever Hell in a Cell match and the first-ever Inferno match with his kayfabe brother Kane.

Undertaker brought out the old Western Mortician attire one last time when he was in a match with Psycho Sid in the main event of WrestleMania 13.

However, this gimmick also ended when The Undertaker kayfabe died (again) when the masked Kane put ‘Taker in Cassie and put him on fire in front of the crowd at the Royal Rumble PPV, ’98.

The Ministry of Darkness, 1998 – 1999

In late 1998, while feuding with ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin and Kane, ‘Taker would mention a ‘Ministry of Evil’ as well as dark days that would soon take over. Hence, by doing so Undertaker would tease his future gimmick.

Later that year, Undertaker found his evil faction called, ‘The Ministry of Darkness’. During this time, he would use his iconic TX symbol and even started crucifying people on it.

The Ministry would dominate the WWF as top heels and did some of the most over-the-top things in the company at that time. ‘Taker also attempted to marry Stephanie McMahon while she was hung on the crucifix in the middle of the ring.

During this gimmick, Undertaker won the WWF Championship and the WWF Tag Team Championship alongside the Big Show at SummerSlam 1999. However, he suffered a groin injury which put him out of action for the rest of the year.

The American Badass, 2000 – 2001

After suffering a groin injury in 1999, Undertaker debuted a rather polarizing gimmick called ‘The American Bada**’ in May 2000. ‘Taker made his return at Judgment Day in 2000; however, this version of the Undertaker was one that the WWE Universe has never seen.

He was now a biker with a bandana on his head, sunglasses, a jean shirt, and a motorcycle. While he was one of the most dominant members of the roster; the fans viewed him as a human.

His wife, Sara, was brought in and spoke like a normal human being rather than his deep voice with no references to death and Satan.

The Big Evil, 2002 – 2003

There was not much difference between The American Badass and the Big Evil. However, Big Evil was one heck of a shocking heel turn when ‘Taker attacked Jim Ross and forced him to become a member of Vince McMahon’s – Kiss My A** Club.

‘Taker had now a new dyed jet-black hair cut and showed the WWE Universe his bullying attitude and eventually became the WWE Undisputed Champion and would beat superstars for not giving him respect.

In 2003, Kane would bury Undertaker in a ‘Buried Alive’ match which would leave him out of action for a few months.

The Phenom, 2004 – 2019

While Undertaker experimented with a more human persona, eventually, he came back to his old roots. ‘Taker made his return at WrestleMania 20 against Kane.

This gimmick was a combination of all of his prior gimmicks throughout his career. He wore his ‘Big Evil’ attire with a long leather-trenched coat and a hat.

Throughout this gimmick, ‘Taker had some legendary feuds with Kane, Edge, Booker T, Randy Orton, Batista, Shawn Michaels, and many more; he also won several championships during this time.

‘Taker kept this gimmick for the later part of his career; however, he tweaked his attire a bit when he appeared while rocking a mohawk.

Triple H and Undertaker fought in back-to-back WrestleMania matches in 2012 and 2013, respectively. However, during his feud with HHH in 2013, ‘Taker appeared with a mohawk which seemed pretty cool.

“The Boneyard” Undertaker, 2020

Soon, ‘Taker went back to his long hair and his WWE returns were more scarce now. However, ‘The Phenom’ had one last match in his long career.

And this match came after Undertaker had announced his retirement but was not feeling good about his performance. So he decided to come back to WWE in 2020.

This time, Undertaker came back with a mix of The American Badass and The Phenom gimmick where he rocked the same hairstyle and mannerism while he had his iconic theme song playing.

The match took place at the WrestleMania 36 PPV where AJ Styles and Undertaker battled it out in a ‘cinematic’ match in which ‘Taker won the match.

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This is how ‘The Phenom’ kept himself relevant over three decades and provided a testament to the young minds of how the wrestling industry works.

Now, ‘Taker stays at home with a well-deserved retirement to spend time with his daughters and his wife, Michelle McCool.

Undertaker is also part of a Netflix origin series, ‘Escape The Undertaker’.

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Prithvi Mishra

595 articles

Prithvi Mishra is a WWE and AEW author for EssentiallySports. He graduated from Raj Kumar Goel Institute of Technology in Ghaziabad. Having started his career as a UFC writer, Prithvi has nearly 2 years worth of experience in covering combat sports.

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