Perhaps no wrestler on the face of the planet is responsible for more rumors and speculation than The Undertaker. But one rumor in particular, if true, would have drastically altered the course of professional wrestling; The Deadman almost left WWE for WCW.
Legend has it that after nearly a decade of working as "The Undertaker," Mark Calaway, circa 1999, was looking for a change of character. Sure, he had been Purple Gloves Taker, Phantom of the Opera Taker, Grey Gloves Taker, Corporate Ministry Taker, and Sith Lord Taker, but no matter the detail, he was always still The Undertaker. And according to the myth Mark Calaway wanted to be Mark Calaway.
However, Vince McMahon knew that "The Undertaker" was his single greatest creation and letting Calaway discontinue the character would be like Jesus Christ becoming a Scientologist.
But Taker was persistent, and in order to get some leverage on McMahon, he took a clandestine meeting with the enemy, WCW, and their general, Eric Bischoff.
With an offer from WCW in hand, Taker took it to Vince's desk and gave him a choice: He stays but as a new character, or he leaves for WCW.
This is the alleged story of how Biker Taker came to be.
Well, as fate has it, Eric Bischoff himself is taking calls to help promote Astronomicon, a Detroit based pop culture convention for which you can nab tickets here. In our chat with the former WCW boss, we had to ask if this rumor was baseless fan fiction or if The Undertaker actually was considering jumping ship.
"See, that's another one of those internet wrestling rumors that continues to survive, what is it now, 18, 19 years later? Nothing could be further from the truth" he said.
As we watched our theory explode, he continued.
"There was never one syllable of conversation between anybody that mattered," he illustrated. "Maybe some of the lower level guys on the production, maybe some freelancers said, 'Wow, wouldn't it be cool if the Undertaker came over?'"
Bischoff would reiterate that if there was any talk, it never came from anyone with decision making power.
"Or maybe there was some new assignees over at the Power Plant where some other people that really weren't very significant who had some indirect association with the company that speculated about how cool it would be. There was never any meaningful conversation with anybody that mattered at any level," asserted Bischoff.
As much as we'd like the print the legend, it's Eric Bischoff's truth that reigns supreme. It was fun to imagine Mark Calaway begging Vince McMahon to be Biker Taker. That he wanted it so dearly he sought out a meeting with WCW. And that Vince caved and let the Undertaker be himself to avoid a catastrophic loss.
But this campfire tale is officially dead.
If you're interested in seeing Bischoff or other WCW strongholds like Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, you can check them out February 9-11 at Detroit's Astronomicon.