When he made his iconic entry into the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) ring on Sunday night, millions of fans around the word expected an impressive wrestling match and, to cap it all, a grand win by The Undertaker.
However, at the end of the WrestleMania 33 match against his rival Roman Reigns, a wave of sadness filled the Camping World Stadium in Orlando, which had 75,245 people, according to statistics from the WWE.
Born Mark William Calaway on March 24, 1956, the professional wrestler, who is also nicknamed “The Deadman” and “The Phenom” by his fans and has graced WWE shows since 1990, did not just lose the match but left the ring in a manner suggesting that it was his last match.
Under the cover of darkness at the stadium with only camera lights on, he dressed up ready to leave the ring after the defeat but, before that, he took a long look at the thousands in the crowd, as if taking it all in for the last time.
The Deadman then moved as if to walk out of the ring as his spine-chilling signature tune went on but, instead, went back and stood right in the middle, removed and dropped his symbolic black gloves, trench coat and hat at the centre of the ring in slow, calculated moves and arranged them in a neat pile.
In the meantime, the cameras took close-up shots of teary grown-up men and women in the crowd.
But the most emotional moment was yet to come. The Undertaker walked out of the ring dejected, took another long look at the crowd, turned his back to the ring, lifted his right hand to say goodbye and, still in that position, literally went under, disappearing into an opening in the floor.
As this went on, Twitter was awash with WWE fans expressing their sadness about “the end of an era” for the wrestler who has been in the sport for 27 years as news websites strived to outdo each other in breaking the news that caught many unawares.
By midday yesterday, the hashtag #ThankYouTaker was still trending on Twitter, where users expressed their emotions about the retirement, some wishing him well as others said they hoped he would return to the ring.
A Twitter user identified as @NYDoodleBug captured the mood of many fans around the world when he stated: “My childhood! I’ll always remember you Taker! You gave us so many good memories.”
Return of Jim Ross
The match was the main event of WrestleMania 33 and its significance was evident by the return of the famed commentator Jim Ross, who is also a legend in his own right in the WWE circles.
In the no-holds-barred match, which had no count-out or disqualification, viewers who have been watching The Undertaker for ages may have noticed a big difference in the strength of his attacks towards his opponent.
Not even his epic ‘chokeslam’ and ‘tombstone piledriver’ moves managed to take Roman Reigns down, to his own amazement. His downfall came when the youthful opponent, who had been earlier described as “a young, athletic machine”, attacked with his popular ‘spear’ move.
With no official communication from neither the WWE management nor Mr Calaway himself about the retirement, his die-hard fans can only hope that the exit was part of the show’s script and that, hopefully, The Deadman shall rise again.