"When I hear that trumpet sound,
I'm gonna rise right out of the ground,
Ain't no grave can hold my body down..."
That bell would sound, the arena would go dark and he would appear through the smoke. A slow walk to the ring. Letting the crowd come to understand in whose presence they're in. The unmistakable Undertaker. The Phenom.
Bone chilling. Exciting. Surreal!
For as long as wrestling has been around, The Undertaker has been around. 27 years in the ring and he has been the dominating force in the WWE. No matter how many times he went away, how many times he was injury-ridden, he would always come back. Always. Out of the darkness, rising from the ashes, digging himself out from 6 feet under.
As dramatic as all that sounds, it fits the Undertaker perfectly. For us, as kids, he was the eater of souls, he was the man who couldn't die. Dead Man Walking, the world called him.
He was the perfect blend of power and athleticism. It's impossible to forget his choke slams. He made that move famous. It looked seemingly impossible to pull off, but he had us practicing that on our younger siblings all day long.
He had us trying to roll our eyes into our heads too. I think that's where it all started. Us trying to be like him. Forget who had the belts and the titles, he was the lion amongst the wolves. The king of the jungle called WWE.
Heck, he could even walk on the top rope with the elegance of a ballet dancer. Not too shabby for a 6-foot-10-inch 308 pounder, is it?
No matter what generation you're from, you know the Undertaker! Our parents knew him as someone we tried to copy, we knew him as the best in the business, the ones after us know he's a legend they get short glances of now. A man who was part of some of the most epic battles in WWE history.
The Undertaker was all about his gimmicks. Remember he even donned that biker attire? He pulled that off. It just didn't matter. They may relate him to the devil, but in the wrestling business, he was nothing short of god.
He did what he wanted to, simply because he could. That's what you call dominance.
But then came the 2017 Royal Rumble. I heard that bell toll, I saw the lights go off and out came the Phenom walking towards the ring that he once called his yard. I was ready to roll back the years again. That nostalgic feeling urging to take over. The kid inside me jumped as he walked down the ramp. It was time to see that force again.
How many would he destroy? Will he do the RIP sign again and roll his eyes after winning the Rumble?
But inside the squared circle, I saw a man, not god.
I saw a wrestler, not The Undertaker. He could barely move around. The hairline receding, the belly protruding and the muscles sagging. The Choke Slams lost their 'slam', the punches lost their 'punch' and The Undertaker had lost his dominating demeanour. I was shocked to see the Deadman 'barely' walking. It was tough to watch, tear-inducing almost.
And he was soon eliminated from the equation. In that moment, I realised how the era was completely gone. How the last survivor of an exclusive breed of extraordinary men would soon be part of the annals of history.
They portrayed him as an immortal. You always knew all of it is scripted. But never did it hit me so hard.
The man known for coming back may never be able to come back again. The teenager in me felt cheated. The lion was now just a wolf, a wounded one, overpowered by the new big dogs.
Back in the day, he was everything. He was wrestling. The image of him sitting up is as clear in my head as those 'Please Don't Try This A Home' ads we defied so regularly. Nothing can take that away. And I guess I'll always be grateful for that.
But watching 'Taker not being even a shadow of his previous self, just breaks my heart. Makes me realise that my childhood is as far behind as his wrestling skills are. Sure he still has that aura when walks out. But beyond that, the man from Death Valley is going down hill into that same valley. And with his career close to being buried, my childhood, in his words, "Rests in Peace."