While The Undertaker now stands as one of the most famous wrestlers in history, it took a very lucky and somewhat unusual break to get his career off the ground.
When The Undertaker began training in 1986, World Championship’s, sold out stadiums, and the Hall of Fame were a million miles away. In fact, it was a struggle for the would-be Deadman to even get a foot on the ladder.
However, one lucky meeting with Fritz Von Erich changed his life forever. In an effort get his career underway, ‘Taker drove to the legendary Dallas Sportatorium once a week in the hope of meeting Von Erich, who was at the helm of World Class Championship Wrestling.
After months of making this journey without success, the man behind The Undertaker, Mark Calaway, finally found himself face to face with Von Erich. He explained that the legendary promotor decided to book him on the spot for an upcoming show due to his resemblance to his late son David.
David Von Erich died during a tour of Japan with All Japan Pro Wrestling in February 1984.
Speaking during the recent A&E Biography episode looking back at his career, Calaway described how the meeting with Von Erich came about.
“I didn’t have any kind of legacy, I didn’t really know anybody. So I was kind of left to my own creativity on trying to figure out how I was going to get someone’s attention,” said ‘Taker. “So at the Sportatorium, in Dallas, that’s where a lot of the wrestlers would come in, they would pick their checks up.
So every Wednesday for nearly eight months, I would go up there and I said, ‘Well, if someone doesn’t speak to me or acknowledge me, in some positive sense, I’m gonna, you know, I’m gonna have to stop coming,’ because I couldn’t afford the gas to drive out there. Lo and behold, who walks in the office is Fritz Von Erich.
He’s kind of standing right in front of me and he’s just looking at me,” ‘Taker continued.
“He goes, ‘Who’s that kid out there?’ The next thing I heard was probably what changed everything for me. He goes, ‘Let’s book him Friday night. He looks like David.’ David being one of his sons that he had just lost in Japan, that I happened to resemble, and that’s what it took. Next thing you know that Friday, I’m working in the Sportatorium on their TV show.”
After appearing in WCCW, Calaway moved to the Continental Wrestling Association which became part of the USWA. From here he moved to WCW in 1989, before heading to the WWF a year later where he became The Undertaker.
In the WWF/WWE Undertaker went on to enjoy a three-decade long run that made him one of the biggest names that the industry has ever seen. After calling time on his in-ring career at Survivor Series 2020, The Deadman was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2022.
H/t to Fightful for the transcription.