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Wrestling Icon The Undertaker Retires In Wake Of Wrestlemania 33 Defeat


This weekend, an impressive athletic entertainment career may have come to an end. For almost three decades, the pro wrestling icon The Undertaker has been a dominant presence with his 6-foot-10 frame and spooky, macabre character.


The undertaker once won at 21 WrestleManias in a row, and this year's WrestleMania was going to be no different.


THE UNDERTAKER: At WrestleMania, you will rest in peace.

MCEVERS: But that's not what happened.

SIEGEL: The Undertaker's opponent, Roman Reigns, hit the 'Taker with multiple Superman punches, speared him through a table and pinned him for the three count.


UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: Spear into the heart of The Undertaker, and Roman Reigns...

SIEGEL: The Undertaker was defeated.

MCEVERS: This was no ordinary defeat, though. A stunned crowd watched as The 'Taker removed his duster coat, flat-brimmed hat and signature gloves, folded them neatly and left them in the center of the ring.

SIEGEL: The wrestling universe has taken all that to mean that after a storied career, Mark William Calaway, aka The Undertaker or Mean Mark, the Master of Pain, the Punisher or Texas Red is retiring.

GRAHAM SPEKTOR: That was all the confirmation that we really needed that, oh, this was 100 percent it.

MCEVERS: Graham Spektor is a brewer at a wrestling-themed brewery in Massachusetts. He was at WrestleMania in Florida this weekend, and he said the scene was emotional.

SPEKTOR: There was a person behind me crying, a grown man. There were people visibly emotionally upset. You know, he debuted in 1990. I was 4 years old. I'm a 31-year-old man now seeing someone that I grew up with kind of walk off into the sunset. There were definitely people rattled by that.

SIEGEL: Three decades is a long time to be active in any sport. In the bruising world of professional wrestling, it's an eternity.

MCEVERS: Fans continue to talk about his retirement on social media, tweeting with the hashtag #ThankYouTaker, honoring the more-than-quarter-century career. Though, we should say professional wrestling is a little like a soap opera. Anyone who is, quote, "gone forever" could come back at any time for a little extra drama.

SIEGEL: We've reached out to The Undertaker for comment and have not heard back. Undertaker, if you're listening, we challenge you to come into NPR's ring to talk about your 27-year career. Congratulations.

(SOUNDBITE OF MF DOOM SONG, "COFFIN NAILS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.