Posted by James Tee
On Monday night’s Slammy Awards, HHH and The Undertaker won the Match of the Year for their hellacious battle inside Hell in a Cell at Wrestlemania. It was whilst accepting the award that The Game said we had not seen the last of The Undertaker. The question is, who will he face at Wrestlemania?
Anyway, back on track, and today, I will focus on a time where Mark Calaway was arguably the biggest heel in the world. It was also a time where I started watching Wrestling religiously. I was bought a copy of No Mercy 1999 on VHS, a PPV filmed in Manchester, England. The Ministry were the over-riding theme of the show, with stars such as Mideon, Viscera, The Acolytes and The Undertaker dominating the show, although it was Stone Cold Steve Austin who was successful in the main event
THE MINISTRY OF DARKNESS
At the start of 1999, The Undertaker returned to the WWF, claiming to be working for a higher power. It was at the Royal Rumble where the formation of The Ministry began. Having already recruited Mideon and and The Acolytes (Bradshaw and Farooq), the group went on to abduct the 485 pound Mabel, who was rechristened Viscera the following evening on Raw. It also the saw The Brood, a group containing Gangrel, Edge and Christian align with the Deadman. For weeks, The Undertaker would talk about how he wanted to own the World Wrestling Federation, and how he owned the key to McMahon’s heart and soul.
It was during this time that the character of Mr. McMahon turned face, and almost breaking the fourth wall of kayfabe by claiming that Calaway was taking the gimmick too far, implying Calaway believed he was the second coming of the Lord of Darkness.
Taker faced Kane in the second ever Inferno Match, after Kane joined Vince’s Corporation to avoid becoming part of the Ministry. It was after the match, and after Taker had defeated his brother again, that the Undertaker proceeded to burn a teddy bear, bringing the owner to his knees.
The terrorizing of McMahon didn’t end there though. The Ministry went on to burn a crucifix into the McMahon family lawn, the whole of the Ministry trespassing on his property. This led Vince to send his own enforcer, The Big Boss Man into battle with The Deadman at Wrestlemania 15, in a Hell in A Cell match.
Although the match was not a classic like previous matches inside the cell, The Undertaker won, after hitting a Tombstone Piledriver. It was after the match that things started to get interesting, with Taker seemingly calling to the rafters. It was at this point that Edge, Christian and Gangrel descended onto the roof of the cell. They proceeded to cut a hole in the top of the cell, before lowering a noose into the ring, and hanging the Boss Man by his neck.
It was after Wrestlemania that the Undertaker’s character became even more sinister. Ken Shamrock found Stephanie McMahon in a boiler room, with an emblem on her forehead. Angry with Shamrock interfering with his plans, the following week, Taker ordered the kidnapping of Shamrock’s sister, Ryan, and in turn to offer her as a ‘sacrifice’. Once again, Shamrock found his sister the following week in the boiler room, and in turn, revealed that Christian had given him the information.
Taker now wanted revenge; he firstly flogged Christian, and following that, attempted to sacrifice Shamrock. He had not finished with Christian though, and ordered his fellow Brood members, Edge and Gangrel to help sacrifice their partner. The pairing refused however, becoming the only people to voluntarily leave the Ministry of Darkness.
It was at Backlash 1999 that Vince made Ken Shamrock face the Undertaker, hoping that a crazed Shamrock would break Taker’s ankle with his Ankle Lock submission maneuver. His plan backfired, with Shamrock being defeated, and in turn being attacked by Bradshaw after the match was over. The night was far from over though. The main event saw Steve Austin defeat The Rock in a rematch from Wrestlemania 15, and after the match, Vince McMahon reluctantly handed over the Smokin’ Skull Championship to Austin.
As the camera feed moved to a backstage area, Stephanie was shown sitting in her limo. Despite Vince not being there, the limo was starting to move. As the divide between passenger and chauffeur was lowered, The Undertaker was revealed to be the driver, asking, ‘Where to Stephanie?’
The next night, The Undertaker held a Black Wedding, an attempt to gain control of the company by marrying the owner’s daughter.
However, things in real life for Calaway were not so straight forward when it came to marriage. Calaway had divorced his first wife, and had met his future wife Sara at an autograph signing in San Diego. They were to be married in 2001, and it spawned arguably Calaway’s most famous tattoo; Sara across the front of his neck.
Back to his professional life, and things did not go to plan when it came to marrying Stephanie. After attempts of disruption by Big Show and Ken Shamrock, it was WWF Champion Stone Cold who saved the day, and carried Steph to safety. This led to the first episode of Smackdown, where Taker joined forces with Vince’s son, Shane. Their goal; to fight the common enemy of The Rock, Austin and Vince.
The Corporate Ministry was born, and their first act was to give Taker a shot at Austin’s title at Over the Edge; Shane would act as The Undertaker’s referee and Vince as Stone Cold’s. It was a quick 3-count by Shane that gave Taker the win, and in the process, he became a three time WWF Champion.
However, people were still wondering who the Higher Power was. On June 7th, with Austin served to the Higher Power, he was revealed.
It was all a plot to remove Austin from the top of the WWF pyramid, destroying him in the process. After the unveiling, things started to unravel for the male McMahon’s. Austin was given the ‘role’ of CEO by Linda, and in the process, received 50% of the company.
With Austin now feuding with Vince and Shane, Taker moved onto a feud with The Rock. After the Brahma Bull defeated the Deadman and HHH in a handicap match, Taker was forced into defending his title against The Rock at King of the Ring. That same night, Vince and Shane defeated Stone Cold in a ladder match to regain the 50% that was given away.
The Undertaker would go on to lose his title to Austin the following week, gaining a rematch at Fully Loaded. A first blood match was set, which Austin would win after hitting Taker with a camera after interference from X-Pac. The Corporate Ministry was starting to fall apart.
The Undertaker would go on to form an ‘Unholy Alliance’ with The Big Show, Mideon and Viscera, and despite two tag team reigns with Show, an injury in September meant the end of the year for Taker, and the end of a character.
In January 2000, just weeks before a scheduled return at the Royal Rumble, Calaway tore a Pectoral Muscle delaying his comeback by four months, and in the process, Calaway missed only his second Wrestlemania since his debut.
THE AMERICAN BADASS
The Undertaker re-debuted as a face, taking out all of the members of the McMahon-Helmsley faction and entered numerous feuds for the rest of the year with HHH, Edge and Christian, Kane and notably Kurt Angle, culminating in an ultimately unsuccessful challenge for the WWF Championship at Survivor Series. However, after Kurt swapped with his real life brother Eric, costing Taker the match, The American Bad Ass demanded a rematch at Armageddon.
As many of you know, Armageddon 2000 was no normal match for the World Championship. A six man Hell in A Cell match was arranged, with The Undertaker, The Rock, HHH, Steve Austin, Rikishi and Champion Kurt Angle.
The Undertaker promised to make somebody famous that night, and that man would be Rikishi.
Going into 2001, Taker once again teamed with his brother for the best part of four months. After challenging The Dudley Boyz at No Way Out, the Brothers of Destruction parted ways for Wrestlemania 17; Kane defeating Raven and The Big Show to win the Hardcore Championship and Taker defeating HHH to go 9-0 at the Showcase of the Immortals.
After Kane was defeated by Rhyno for the Hardcore title two weeks after Wrestlemania, the brothers once again teamed up, this time against a heel Stone Cold Steve Austin and Triple H. The Brothers had at this point claimed the WWF Tag Team Titles from Edge and Christian, although they dropped the titles equally as quickly to their new found rivals at Backlash.
Kane was injured in this match, and the Deadman would go onto a short lived feud with Austin for the WWF title, losing to the Rattlesnake at Judgment Day.
Then, came the Invasion.
NEXT TIME: THE INVASION TO THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEADMAN
This will be my last post before Christmas so may I wish all of the readers of wrestlingnews.net a Happy Holiday Season and I will see you again before the New Year.
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