Greatest Survivor Series Matches: The Undertaker Vs. Hulk Hogan

by Ricky Fernandes da Conceição

Deadman Walking

Best Survivor Series Matches (1991)

Survivor Series 1990 is known for the iconic debut of The Undertaker, and technically that is correct if you don’t count the two times Mark Calaway appeared as Kane the Undertaker in WWF Superstars tapings that didn’t air until after the pay per view. But yes, the first time the Undertaker was revealed to a television audience was when Ted DiBiase introduced him at Survivor Series on Thanksgiving night 1990 as the mystery member of Team Dibiase.

If you were alive at the time watching the event, you’ll never forget Taker’s first appearance. His entrance didn’t yet benefit from lights going out and the sound of the gong, nor was he yet escorted by Paul Bearer— but as The Deadman walked towards the ring wearing a mortician’s garb consisting of gloves, a trench coat, a brimmed hat, and a tie — and the sinister sounds of the organ drowned out the sounds of the crowd — you knew you were witnessing the birth of a future Hall of Famer. His ghostly appearance sent shivers down our spines as he removed his hat to reveal his lifeless face. The Undertaker became an instant star that night but Survivor Series 1990 was just a taste of things to come.

It’s easy to see why Vince McMahon has gone on record in saying his favorite WWE superstar of all time is The Undertaker. Widely regarded as one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time, Mark Calaway began his wrestling career in 1984, working under various gimmicks for other affiliate promotions including WCW before being introduced to McMahon by Paul Heyman. It didn’t take long before Calaway took on the persona of the Western Mortician and gained significant mainstream popularity. Vince had big plans for Calaway and in order to increase his popularity, he decided to slightly refine The Undertaker gimmick in the months preceding his debut. One year later, The Undertaker would return to Survivor Series, only this time he would kill Hulkamania.

Greatest Survivor Series Matches: The Undertaker Vs. Hulk Hogan

Hulkamania is Dead

At the time Hulk Hogan was still the biggest wrestler in the world but many fans (including myself) were tired of his gimmick and even more tired of his opponents who were usually just big guys who couldn’t wrestle well. Hulkamania” was still a presence but many of the Hulkster’s fans were growing up and sick of the Hulkster telling us to say our prayers and take our vitamins. We wanted something new and so when The Undertaker came along, we couldn’t help but fall under his spell.

For a dead man, The Undertaker sure did breathe new life into the WWE. From a pure wrestling standpoint, his match with Hulk Hogan wasn’t great. This was, after all, a time when The Undertaker’s gimmick had him purposely moving slowly even though Mark Calaway later proved he was actually one of the quickest and most gifted athletic big men of all time— but nevertheless, the match remains a classic.

The Immortal Hulk Hogan was still very much Hogan – meaning he was largely unbeatable— and The Undertaker was looking to change that. Thanks to some outside interference from Paul Bearer and Hogan’s long-time nemesis, Ric Flair, Taker won his first world title as Flair slipped a steel chair into the ring which Taker would use to deliver the Tombstone Piledriver that ultimately ended Hogan’s championship run and left hundreds of kids in the crowd with tears streaming down their cheeks (seriously, watch all the kids cry). It was a landmark moment in both the decline of the Hulkster and the rise of The Undertaker who at the time, was the youngest person to ever hold the WWE title. 

A few months later Hulk Hogan challenged The Undertaker and won back the belt at This Tuesday in Texas, a pay-per-view event that took place on December 3, 1991, at the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio, Texas. The two legends only wrestled each other a handful of times during their storied careers making their Survivor Series match essential viewing for any wrestling fan.

Editor’s Note: This is part of an ongoing series. You can find all the entries here.

  • Ricky D

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