With Bruno Sammartino, Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and The Rock, you see four guys who defined an era of great success within the WWE’s history. They all stood out at various points in the companies history as boom generating characters. The Undertaker has never been that kind of a name. While he’s by no means a flake when it comes to his drawing power, what made The Undertaker a true icon of the WWE is one thing; the legendary WrestleMania streak.
The Undertaker, real name Mark Calaway, was a mainstay in the WWE back into it’s WWF days. Debuting at Survivor Series 1990, The Undertaker would evolve may more so than any other wrestler during his time with the company. At first, a spooky, undertaker-type figure, who would bury his opponents alive, The Undertaker evolved into more of a dark character. Dubbed the Lord of Darkness, Undertaker would start to showcase his ability to truly headline at SummerSlam 1998, where he and Stone Cold Steve Austin set the SummerSlam record for pay per view purchases.
After injuries caught up to him, he ended up taking time off and coming back in 2000 as the American Badass and spent the next few years re-working his identity and in-ring style, before returning to his character roots in 2004. Along the way, he worked his love of MMA into his wrestling style and started to become known as the WWE’s best striker.
It was around the mid-2000s however that he started to become known for his career-defining achievement, his WrestleMania undefeated streak. While referenced before, it was 2004 and 2005 that would see his record at WrestleMania become propped up and hyped up to the point where it became as much a part of the show as any championship wrestling match or major feud.
The undefeated streak, or The Streak as it was referred to by fans, would abruptly end in 2014 when Brock Lesnar of all people defeated The Undertaker. Lesnar and Undertaker had real-life respect for one another, working several programs together since 2002, including one at a UFC event, where Undertaker confronted Lesnar after one of Lesnar’ bouts. While not the most popular decision to have Lesnar beat Undertaker, it made sense.
Undertaker’s run in the WWE helped elevate WrestleMania’s past just being a big show and giving it something special that many feels should have never ended. Thanks to The Streak, WrestleMania and the Undertaker are now more prestigious and celebrated than ever before.