We were the first people we knew to get satellite television. There were a number of things that my brother and I were exposed to earlier than the other kids because of this: The Simpsons, ‘infotainment’ and what was called back then the Worldwide Wrestling Federation.
Because we were two brothers, we had to pick different favourites so when we watched we could root for opposing wrestlers and play out our sibling rivalries by proxy. My brother was first to wrestling so he, logically I suppose, decided to side with the good guys leaving me to go for the anti-heroes when I had the chance to pick. I believe my brother’s favourite was the Ultimate Warrior, which, as names go, is pretty much the Ronseal of wrestling. Or rather you hope it is if you are backing him. Imagine the scene down at the betting shop: “Which of these wrestlers shall I bet on, hmmm ‘Sad Henry’, ‘Weak Jim’ or ‘Tired Larry’, or I suppose I could go for the ‘Ultimate Warrior’. Yeah he sounds good”.
I ended up picking the Undertaker and this worked out quite well for me. In 1991, the storyline was that the Ultimate Warrior and the Undertaker were bitter rivals, so I assume that was what solidified it for me, but I have to admit that I was never a very assiduous supporter. I remember distinctly that after not having seen any wrestling for a while, I caught a match featuring the Undertaker in the mid ’90s which suddenly piqued my interest. After a few minutes, I realised something was wrong – it wasn’t the same man playing the Undertaker – wait what? I knew that WWF wrestling was staged, but I hadn’t thought they would just replace people. My understanding had been that what you were watching was a stage performance, but Hulk Hogan was always going to be Hulk Hogan.
That was when I officially stopped paying attention to wrestling. But I never can completely ignore one of my prior interests forever. Every so often the fact that the Undertaker was two people will float up to the surface of my mind and frustrate me, and I will inevitably have to look it up. And wikipedia always tells me that the bloke who played the Undertaker, Mark William Calaway, is the longest serving wrestler in WWF/WWE history, he’s still going at 50, and actually was taking a 7 month sabbatical to heal his back during the time I happened to watch it and see this other guy. And most importantly they weren’t trying to pretend that this other guy really was the undertaker. A character in the plot was, but nobody believed him, he was even referred to by some as the Underfaker. It was all about making a huge entrance when the real Undertaker came back.
So I have misremembered this fact for 20 years, and here’s the odd thing: I think I have looked up this information every couple of years during those 20 and I never remember the correct information. It just won’t stick in my mind. Maybe, finally, by writing this article I will remember it. But who knows?