The Undertaker's Role
by, 08-31-2011 at 11:33 AM (2949 Views)
It’s always been one of the more pressing questions when it comes to the wrestling world, do you prefer spectacle or realism? There are of course companies which cater to both of these needs, for example Dragon Gate are enormous fans of the spectacle to the point when at some stage in the future they will have to put suicide detonators on all their wrestlers shoes for me to be able to watch another one of their ruddy 6-man matches again. But there are also companies like Battlarts (which is sadly closing down soon) who opt for a bit more MMA in their soup, joining the school of ‘kick them in the face until they stop moving’ art of telling a story. For me however, both schools of opinion have a very good point, on the one hand it irritates me no end when Cena’s enemies have apparently passed out thanks to the Attitude Adjustment when a big back drop sends them higher and they seem quite happy to get back up for another taste of knuckle sandwich, but on the other hand I simply cannot get into MMA stuff, of course it’s as realistic as it gets but I can’t get excited about someone ‘actually punching someone for real’ because they go straight down and stay there, when if I was watching wrestling he would get up for more instead of making me wait about a month to see it happen again.
It is this constant war of opinion that brings me onto ‘the last outlaw’ himself, The Undertaker. Here is a man who has plus points in the camp of realism and the stronghold of spectacle. On the realism side of things, he has the advantage of not actually looking old, but experienced instead. This is something that Shawn Michaels also had in his favour as both he and Undertaker have aged into grizzled, boot faced men who have been through so many wars that one more match would barely leave a hint on their resistant bodies, as opposed to guys like Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan who look like a strong enough fart placed in their direction could cause them to crumble (especially Flair who looks like someone took the skin of a human and draped it over a much smaller human).
The points that Undertaker has in his favour when it comes to spectacle is of course his entire persona and entrance, each Wrestlemania becoming more and more extravagant for the warhorse of the damned, crowds popping their heads off for the sounds of that first gong. However, this point also happens to be his ultimate downfall. When i get to the characterisation of this man, both camp realism and stronghold spectacle send their best tactical nukes straight at the bloke in a black cloak and hat.
I want you to imagine that The Undertaker character had never been thought of before and that you are in a board meeting with Vince and his posse, pitching yourself as The Undertaker in this day and age. Here is a brief transcript of how such a meeting would progress.
Vince: So, I hear that you have a character idea to pitch to us.
You: Yes, I want to portray a character called ‘The Undertaker’.
Vince: (looks around the board).....OK, do you really think that there’s much call for a funeral director gimmick these days?
You: Oh no, I don’t intend that sort of thing at all.
Vince: Ah! Good, then what is it that you do intend?
You: I intend the character to be a spirit of the damned from the other side who built the house the devil lives in.
You:.....He also raises the lights by rolling his eyes into the back of his head...
You:.............A-and he tells his opponents that they can rest in peace.....
You:............They wouldn’t actually die of course they would just......just......
Vince:......Are you finished?
You:.................He could ride a motorbike if you want.....
Vince: (Motions to the door at which two burly men take you bodily from the room and deposit you at the nearest mental health clinic).
DO YOU SEE WHAT I’M GETTING AT?
I was always amazed that they had a go at Kevin bloody Thorn the Mahoney bashing vampire as a character and when The Boogeyman first aired I considered an eye transplant just to check I wasn’t seeing things. At least Paul Birchill had a vague reason for being a pirate (and it was the vaguest reason in history).
It seems that I was the only one who wasn’t howling with laughter by the end of every single promo during the Kane vs Undertaker feud from last year. I now pray for the day when he completely retires for good, not because of his in ring work, as I stated earlier I find that very believable. But instead because of his entire persona, the last live WWE show I went to see with him in it I could just imagine Michael Cole bleating on about ‘the ominous presence’ as Taker slowly walked to the ring, when all i kept on thinking was ‘please Christ will you just walk a bit quicker and get to the ring where you earned my respect instead of ponsing about with that fucking pyro!’
In essence, I feel that any character like Undertaker doesn’t so much struggle for relevance as fight tooth and nail to stop the sun setting on its relevance. I hope you enjoyed my brief little ramble into the wilderness and I’m very interested in all of your opinions on this subject.
This is Fendevered, trying not to laugh at a bloke trying to turn his tongue into a step ladder.