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Wrestling Icon The Undertaker Retires In Wake Of Wrestlemania 33 Defeat

Apr 5, 2017
Originally published on April 5, 2017 4:12 pm
Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This weekend, an impressive athletic entertainment career may have come to an end. For almost three decades, the pro wrestling icon The Undertaker has been a dominant presence with his 6-foot-10 frame and spooky, macabre character.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

The undertaker once won at 21 WrestleManias in a row, and this year's WrestleMania was going to be no different.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

THE UNDERTAKER: At WrestleMania, you will rest in peace.

MCEVERS: But that's not what happened.

SIEGEL: The Undertaker's opponent, Roman Reigns, hit the 'Taker with multiple Superman punches, speared him through a table and pinned him for the three count.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: Spear into the heart of The Undertaker, and Roman Reigns...

SIEGEL: The Undertaker was defeated.

MCEVERS: This was no ordinary defeat, though. A stunned crowd watched as The 'Taker removed his duster coat, flat-brimmed hat and signature gloves, folded them neatly and left them in the center of the ring.

SIEGEL: The wrestling universe has taken all that to mean that after a storied career, Mark William Calaway, aka The Undertaker or Mean Mark, the Master of Pain, the Punisher or Texas Red is retiring.

GRAHAM SPEKTOR: That was all the confirmation that we really needed that, oh, this was 100 percent it.

MCEVERS: Graham Spektor is a brewer at a wrestling-themed brewery in Massachusetts. He was at WrestleMania in Florida this weekend, and he said the scene was emotional.

SPEKTOR: There was a person behind me crying, a grown man. There were people visibly emotionally upset. You know, he debuted in 1990. I was 4 years old. I'm a 31-year-old man now seeing someone that I grew up with kind of walk off into the sunset. There were definitely people rattled by that.

SIEGEL: Three decades is a long time to be active in any sport. In the bruising world of professional wrestling, it's an eternity.

MCEVERS: Fans continue to talk about his retirement on social media, tweeting with the hashtag #ThankYouTaker, honoring the more-than-quarter-century career. Though, we should say professional wrestling is a little like a soap opera. Anyone who is, quote, "gone forever" could come back at any time for a little extra drama.

SIEGEL: We've reached out to The Undertaker for comment and have not heard back. Undertaker, if you're listening, we challenge you to come into NPR's ring to talk about your 27-year career. Congratulations.

(SOUNDBITE OF MF DOOM SONG, "COFFIN NAILS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.