After three full decades of destruction, The Undertaker dominated the WWE and ruled the ring with the majority of that time being under one gimmick. Sure, there was a short amount of time where he ruled the company as a biker, but it didn’t last long and he went back to being “The Deadman.” Well, one legend has now revealed that The Undertaker character almost didn’t exist at all as Vince McMahon wanted him to be something entirely different.One of the most amazing debuts in wrestling history took place at the
One of the most amazing debuts in wrestling history took place at the Survivor Series in 1990 when Mark Calaway (real name) appeared as The Undertaker. From that point on, a legend was born and dominated the ring until his retirement at WrestleMania 33 just last month.
Before joining WWF/WWE, Calaway had wrestled under the ring names of Texas Red, The Master of Pain, and The Punisher in different promotions. During his short stint in WCW, he was “Mean Mark” Callous before appearing in NJPW as “Punisher” Dice Morgan and then, landing with WWE.
Upon signing with the company, Vince McMahon originally had a different gimmick in mind for Calaway and it wasn’t of the mortician. No, he wanted to have the legend head to the ring as a true Viking.
Wrestling legend and former Four Horseman manager/leader JJ Dillon recently appeared on “The List & Ya Boy” podcast to discuss a number of topics. As a backstage executive with WWF in the ’90s, he was witness to a number of big things that happened and that includes the debut of The Undertaker.
As transcribed by IW Nerd, Dillon says that The Undertaker almost didn’t exist as Vince McMahon wanted Calaway to debut as a Viking.
“Vince’s first reaction was ‘maybe he could be a Viking with the helmet and the horns.’ He just saw this guy and Vince had a really creative mind. He had a department [Vince] would take somebody and turn this person over to this department and say to look at them, their body, their features, play with him and feed me some ideas. In all the years that went by, I think the Undertaker is the great wrestling character/persona that has ever lived in the WWE/F. Hands down.”
While it is difficult to think of The Undertaker not existing and Mark Calaway doing a different gimmick, it appears as if Vince McMahon didn’t just let the Viking gimmick go away quietly.
In 1991, John Nord joined WWF/WWE and made his debut as The Viking, but his name was soon changed to The Berzerker and he received Mr. Fuji as a manager. For those who aren’t aware, the guy would constantly scream “HUSS” while on camera and win matches by throwing them over the top rope and letting them be counted out.
The Berzerker was in WWE for less than two years, but he had some pretty good feuds and programs with Jimmy Snuka, Davey Boy Smith, and Bret Hart. At one point, he even feuded with The Undertaker and tried to stab him with his sword.
Yes, that really happened.
There are times that gimmicks just don’t work and they end up failing miserably. Other times, the gimmick works well and ends up giving a man or woman a very successful career. Then, there are rare instances such as The Undertaker who is one of the most iconic characters in all of WWE and wrestling history. It’s a good thing Vince McMahon’s idea to make him a Viking didn’t work as JJ Dillon said he wanted to do as we all know how The Berzerker turned out.
[Featured Image by WWE]