Even people who aren’t pro wrestling types, I believe, have to tune in at some point for the silliness.
I can still remember some of the talent lineup when I was a young ‘un. There was Irwin R. Schyster, the tax collector whose initials were IRS. There was the Mountie, who was … well, a Mountie. There was Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, who would hopefully never lose his mental acuity and have to fall back on his pure athletic talent.
And then there was my favorite — the Undertaker.
The Undertaker’s gimmick wasn’t that he was an actual undertaker, although I suppose that wasn’t mutually exclusive given what we knew of his background. He was a wonderfully ridiculous horror stock character, the kind of over-the-top thing the WWE does in a chef’s-kiss kind of way. The thunderous sound effects! The funereal entrance music! The fact he had a manager named Paul Bearer!
I mean, just let that last one sink in. If you’re a wresting refusenik, you just discovered a wrestler called the Undertaker had a manager named Paul freaking Bearer and you still can’t give the WWE credit, there’s literally nothing I can do for you as a human being. You’re dead inside.
As someone who left that behind, I was surprised to learn the Undertaker — driver’s license name Mark Calaway — only retired from the WWE last year after performing since the 1990s. He remains one of the most recognizable wrestlers to have ever stepped in the ring — and, he said during an interview, he once had the excessive lifestyle to match.
Then he rediscovered God’s purpose for his life.
In powerful testimony shared at the C3 Christian Conference in 2019, the Undertaker talked about his journey back to the Lord, which came thanks to his wife.
In the sit-down with Pastor Ed Young, Calaway discussed how he grew up in a Catholic family but wasn’t necessarily religious.
“I’ve always believed in God. I just didn’t lead my life that way. … I lived a pretty excessive lifestyle and I didn’t have a, you know, I believed in God but I wasn’t living my life for God,” he said.
However, he started dating fellow wrestler Michelle McCool, and she began pestering him to attend a service at Lake Hills Church in Austin, Texas.
But could the Undertaker go into church without rattling the house of God?
“I’m going to walk in there and the rafters are going to start shaking,” Calaway said of his fears.
“I believe in God. I’m good. Just, I don’t want to, you know, it’s not going to work.”
There’s a reason they call him the Almighty, because his house was able to withstand it. Another fear — that the preacher would judge him for his character or his lifestyle — also turned out to be unfounded.
“I was thinking, ‘OK, all right, the pastor’s going to see me and he’s going to throw fire and brimstone right at me’ — ‘Sinner! Sinner!’ — and it wasn’t nothing like that,” Calaway said.
“I found myself from being kind of tense and pensive to kind of leaning in and like, ‘Wow, this is, you know, this is, this is pretty cool. This is, yeah.’ And that started my journey back to leading my life the way I should.”
Even though he was raised in a Catholic home, Calaway said, “I wouldn’t have been able to recite any kind of Scripture whatsoever that first day.”
“It was the start of me and my journey and realizing that there was a whole ’nother part to life that I was missing out on. And I’m not perfect. … I’m still, you know, I’m still in my process. I’m getting there, but I spend, you know, I spend a lot more time these days reading my Bible.”
So, yes, in the ring he played a man who gave off the aura of death. Outside of it, he’s never been more alive in the Word and in the Spirit.
Nothing silly about that.
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