The Undertaker, much like Chris Jericho, is a master of knowing when it’s time to change his character and keep it from getting too stale. Form the deathly zombie-like beginnings, to the American Badass, to Big Evil and back to a modern version of The Deadman. Undertaker has done it to perfection for so many years which is why he is still so relevant 3 decades later. But this Hybrid version of The Deadman and American Badass personas may just be his best yet.
Undertaker is still dressing like The Deadman character, all in black, but he also has a beanie hat and is speaking more like the man behind the gimmick. No more gravelly voice, no more talk of tombstones and souls. This is the most real Undertaker we have ever seen, and it’s brilliant to see.
Since this rivalry with AJ Styles began, Undertaker has responded differently than he ever has before. He’s displayed more shades of Big Evil and the American Badass. While we shouldn’t expect him to ride out on a Harley any time soon, we should prepare ourselves to hear and see more of the man behind the big black hat.
On Raw this past week, Undertaker cut one of his best promos in years, completely cutting Styles down to size. He was still dressed all in black, but this time it was leather. He was even sporting a bandanna underneath the beanie. Undertaker was his merciless best here, totally disrespecting AJ, using his real name and even claiming he was too scared to join WWE in the early 2000s because he “couldn’t hang with Rock, Austin, Edge and Guerrero”.
This was as far from The Deadman’s usual schpiel about death and souls that you could get. Undertaker took it down the reality route, and it worked. This version of Undertaker has added layers to the character that could help him remain in the mix for years to come, health permitting.
Undertaker discussed how he has been in the ring with the biggest names this industry has ever seen, and that Styles doesn’t come anywhere near the conversion when talking about the best. He clearly has no respect for AJ, in story line, which is exactly how Big Evil used to act back in the day.
Undertaker closed out the scintillating promo by warning Styles, “Try me, and I’ll make you famous!”, a line he hasn’t used since poor old DDP was stalking his wife. This is deeply personal, and thanks to Undertaker and Styles’ tremendous promo work in recent weeks, fans are anticipating something special, and I’m sure they will deliver.
Undertaker obviously has more matches behind him than he does in front of him, but this rivalry with Styles has seen him return to a form than many thought ended with the retirement of Shawn Michaels. Can he still deliver the goods between the ropes? He can ask for no greater ring partner than AJ Styles, who will do everything in his power to get this match over and make Undertaker look a million bucks.
Undertaker is 55 years of age. He’s no spring chicken to say the least. But this new hybrid character will allow him to lean into the reality of father time more, and be honest about the situation. He’s not the same guy he was 20 years ago, but he’s still a big, bad son of a bitch who can beat a lot of guys up whenever he chooses.
The Phenom has often spoken of his desire to return to the Big Evil/American Badass version of his character, and this might be Vince McMahon’s way of allowing it while not completely burying The Deadman persona.
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