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Here's How Much WWE Has Changed Since The Undertaker's Debut

Here's How Much WWE Has Changed Since The Undertaker's Debut

At WrestleMania 33, World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: WWE), its fans and shareholders said goodbye to one of the most successful characters in the history of the business: the Undertaker.

Played by performer Mark Calaway, the Undertaker left his iconic hat and wrestling gear in the ring following his match, implying that his 26-year stint as an in-ring performer with WWE is now over.

Parts Unknown

When the Undertaker debuted back in 1990, WWE was still more than nine years away from its life as a public company. Within a year of his debut, the Undertaker defeated the company’s top star at the time, Hulk Hogan, for the championship. Undertaker’s career spanned the rise of several generations top stars at WWE, including Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock and John Cena.

On the business side, Calaway was a loyal and consistent performer, headlining countless pay-per-view events throughout the years, including several WrestleManias. Calaway was one of the few constants during all of WWE’s tribulations over the past 25 years.

WWE launched its experimental Monday Night Raw TV show on January 11, 1993. The Undertaker performed on that very first episode and Raw, which ultimately grew into WWE’s flagship show.

That same year, CEO Vince McMahon was indicted on charges of distributing steroids to his performers. He was later acquitted.

Attitude Era

The Undertaker’s dark, morbid character allowed WWE and McMahon to push the envelope from a creative perspective during the TV-14 Attitude Era of the late 1990s and early 2000s. WWE spent these years fighting to survive in a battle with rival World Championship Wrestling (WCW) dubbed the Monday Night Wars. Calaway was one of only a handful of top performers who didn’t leave WWE during that span for more money at WCW.

WWE first went public on the NYSE back in 1999, and the Undertaker performed in the main event of three of the company’s pay-per-view shows that year.

The Undertaker performed in the main event of Monday Night Raw on March 26, 2001, the night on which McMahon revealed live on air that WWE had purchased rival WCW, bringing an end to the Monday Night Wars. WWE and WCW’s live shows were simulcast that night during a unique and historic live segment.

Get The 'F' Out

WWE officially changed its name from World Wrestling Federation (WWF) to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) in 2002 after a court ruled WWE had violated a previous agreement with the World Wildlife Federation (also WWF). The Undertaker was in the main event of Insurrextion 2002, the first pay-per-view event following WWE’s name and logo change.

Of course, the biggest business-related event for WWE in the past decade was the launch of the WWE Network in 2014. The Undertaker played a major role in the first WrestleMania following the launch of the network -- losing for the first time after 21 previous victories -- and in every WrestleMania since.

See Also:

Highest-Grossing Wrestlemanias Of All Time

High Ambitions And Free Promotions: The Slow Growth Of WWE Network

Image: Ed Webster, Flickr


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