Undertaker’s one of the good guys
By Ken Hoffman
Originally posted by the Huston Chronicle June 15, 2013
He is the Undertaker — the biggest, meanest, toughest superstar in WWE wrestling rings around the world. His 21-match winning streak at WrestleMania — forget it — no one will ever come close to breaking that.
Outside the ring, in a rare interview, the Undertaker is breaking character as Mark Calaway, who grew up in Houston, was in the Astrodome when Oilers legend Earl Campbell ran for 199 yards against the Dolphins on “Monday Night Football,” cheered on the Astros and Nolan Ryan, played basketball at Waltrip High School and was voted “Most Humorous” his senior year.
At WWE shows, the Undertaker, naturally (or supernaturally), is billed from Death Valley.
“Not too many people know that Death Valley is really T.C. Jester in Houston,” he said.
Real-life undertakers are rarely known for their sense of humor.
“I guess my career went in a different direction,” Calaway laughed.
Calaway is breaking character for a good reason — he is raffling off his prized West Coast Chopper motorcycle, and every penny is going to the America’s Mighty Warriors veterans support group and SPUR Compassion Ministries of Lake Hills Church in Austin.
“I had this motorcycle — it’s actually the last one I own — and wanted to do something positive with it,” he said. “Lake Hills Church told me about America’s Mighty Warriors. I met the founder and learned about their mission. So that was a no-brainer. It was a nice combination with SPUR Compassion Ministries. So I felt comfortable donating the motorcycle, having a raffle and supporting these groups.”
The bike is a custom West Coast Chopper called “The Ghost.”
“Jesse James designed it. It’s one of a kind. It’s got a 126-cubic-inch motor. The paint and detail work are phenomenal. I’ve donated my other bikes to charity, but I always hung onto this one. It’s a really special bike.
“It’s a monster.”
To buy a raffle ticket — they’re $10 each — click on www.spurraffle.com. Act fast. The deadline is 11:55 p.m. Friday.
“It means a lot for me to be able to help veterans groups. My father served in World War II, and two of my brothers served in Vietnam. I’ve been able to achieve my dreams because of the sacrifices of veterans and active servicemen,” Calaway said.
If the raffle winner wishes, the Undertaker will autograph the motorcycle, even though “my signature may mess up the paint job.”
Supporting charitable causes isn’t new for Calaway — he’s behind the Zeus Compton Calaway Save the Animals Fund at Texas A&M — although he usually stays in the background to protect his WWE persona.
“This time, the church and I figured we could raise more money if the Undertaker’s name was attached to the raffle. That’s why I’m doing this interview,” Calaway said.
The last time I saw Calaway, it was WrestleMania 29 in April. Undertaker was running his Wrestle-Mania winning streak to 21 matches. It was a grueling, gut-wrenching, brutal match against CM Punk. As usual, Undertaker’s match stole the show.
Undertaker won, but he sure looked beat walking back to his dressing room. Each year, it becomes a drama played to the final scene … will Undertaker overcome his injuries and surgeries from last WrestleMania to make another WrestleMania?
I asked him, why do you keep doing this?
“Honestly, I love it, that’s why,” he said. “I’ve got 26 years in the business and all these injuries, but WrestleMania has become so huge, it’s just hard to walk away from it. I want the audience leaving the stadium going ‘Wow!’ It’s a responsibility I have being a top dog in this business. The crowd will let me know when it’s time to leave. They haven’t yet.
“And if I didn’t perform at WrestleMania, in some strange weird way, I’d feel like I was letting Vince McMahon down. I’ve been in the WWE for so long, and he’s done so much for me.”
I asked Calaway, what do you do when you’re not the Undertaker?
“I spend a lot of time with my family, my children. I also work on my horrible golf game. I love golf, but I’m awful. For some reason, I go out there and make myself miserable because I’m so bad at it.
“But most of my time is spent healing up … so I can be the Undertaker again.”
Undertakers, at least this one, can be funny.