The Undertaker is one of the most mysterious and captivating sports-entertainers in modern history, but not many people realize his first WWE run was not quite as successful under the moniker “Crush.”
The man who would go on to become The Deadman started as a third member of Demolition, alongside Smash and Thrasher, who later went on to become The Headbangers.
As part of Demolition, Crush and Smash battled legendary tag teams including the Killer Bees, The Legion of Doom (Animal and Heidenreich), and The New New Midnight Rock and Roll Express V2 (Timothy Well and Stephen Dunn, managed by Oliver Humperdink).
When Demolition disbanded, the future Deadman performed as a repackaged “Kona Crush,” a Hawaiian surfer gimmick that was a hit with children and intellectually simple adults.
“Crush was just my real personality, but turned up to 11,” says The Undertaker (real name Cal Markowitz) in the new WWE Network docu-series: Dead Man Talkin’. “The character felt like a real extension of me.”
Unfortunately, the wrestler would soon be saddled with an undead mortician gimmick, which he spent the next 20 years struggling to get “over” with wrestling fans, who near-unanimously preferred the Crush character.
Asked in the documentary whether he will revive his surfer alter-ego for one “last surf,” he is cagey: “Anything can happen in the WWE,” The Undertaker replied with his trademark giggle.