November 22, 1990: A day that lives in infamy across the board with wrestling fans. I’ll never forget that fateful Thanksgiving where our stereotypical giant Italian family got together for our fat-fuck annual holiday feast. Italian cold cuts platters, Italian Christmas Soup, the big turkey feast and of course, the mother fuckin’ PPV holiday event of the year: The WWF Survivor Series!
Real talk- To this very day, no WWE event intros can hold a candle to the ones of the 80s’ and early 90s’. If their sole purpose was to rile you up and make you want to suplex your little brother into the mashed potatoes, well then goddammit they did their job!
Credit: greene chloe
Anyway, after the twelfth course of dinner, we all gathered around my grandparents’ oversized Magnavox floor television to witness wrestling mullet glory in all its splendor; with my eight-year-old ass popped squat right in front of this beast. Everyone was pretty excited for the entire program, with levels of exhilaration varying between us over what match we were most looking forward to. However, collectively we WERE VERY ANXIOUS for two things in particular with this Survivor Series: what the hell was in this giant egg that the WWF heavily hyped up the weeks leading up to the program, ( we’re gonna go over this in a separate Thanksgiving article-stay tuned) and who exactly, was this mystery Million Dollar teammate that “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase kept boasting about leading up to the feud group match with Dusty Rhodes and his American Dream Team?
Well, like I said. I’ll NEVER forget the intro made by DiBiase himself once the match was ready to get underway. A very simple introduction, hailing from Death Valley, weighing in at 320 pounds- THE UNDERTAKER. Followed by his signature maniacal laughter, (one that I always got a kick out of). And what came out of those tall, dark curtains leading to the arena was nothing short of a spiritual experience for everyone watching. I WAS IN AWE.
Roddy Piper took the words right out of our mouths: “LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THAT HAMHOCK!!”
The debut of one of the most celebrated wrestlers in history, a man who’d go on to win seven WWF (now WWE) Heavyweight Championships, as well as 21 straight WrestleMania matches, is truly a golden moment in wrestling history. From his entrance alone, we initially expected a slow-moving superstar that relied on gimmick and strength but holy FUCK we were so damn wrong. The very first opponent to get a taste of the PHENOM, as announcers dubbed him later on, was appropriately the legendary Bret “The Hitman” Hart. However, Hart’s teammates Rhodes, Neidhart, and Koko B. Ware all got a graveyard style ass-whoopin’ at the gloved paws of the Deadman- with Koko being on the receiving end of the Undertaker’s signature finisher, the Tombstone. Now again, with a man as large as Mark Calaway (The Undertaker) you can imagine our surprise when this dead-eyed wrestler started moving around the ring like a beautiful ballet with wrestling moves. His agility paired with intimidation tactics was quite remarkable and unlike anything I had personally seen in my short-lived life up until then. And I can personally say with confidence it hasn’t been matched since.
This Thanksgiving marks over 30 years since The ‘Taker stole the show in the WWE and watching his Boneyard Match with AJ Styles this past April, just proves my point all the more. The man is truly a goddamn treasure in the industry and he made a fan for life with me on that very first night in 1990.
And yep- this is my little tribute to the Phenom, OG and traditional style on my right-back shoulder done by husband and soulmate Bradley Pauley at our shop, Last Chance Tattoo . Funny enough, a few years back this picture made it to a tattoo list in Wrestlezone, and I just stumbled upon it accidently. Oh the internet is full of surprises.
Also worth noting, is our seven degrees of separation with The Undertaker that actually includes our shop. Our dear, departed friend MoJo Thomas, who sadly passed away earlier this year, was taught by Doc Dog and Smilin’ Paul of Las Vegas Tattoo Company- who initially was the artist of a few of Calaway’s tattoos! So yes, he was around while the Undertaker was getting drilled on his skin back in the early 90s’ and I am so envious of this. Also, it’s a great story that intertwines a friend I miss dearly and one of my childhood heroes and it had to be said.
Anyway, the debut of this magnificent specimen of a superstar definitely ranks up there as one of my favorite childhood pop-culture memories. So let’s relive it together with the magic of YouTube! Cheers to 30 years of non-stop beautiful, bone-breaking entertainment brought to you by the American Badass!