The Cool Connection Between Halloween’s Michael Myers & WWE’s Undertaker
WWE’s The Undertaker is the most successful horror-based character in wrestling history, and he took a specific cue from Halloween‘s Michael Myers. Played by Mark Callaway, The Undertaker debuted in WWE back in 1990, instantly making waves with fans. The character was a zombie from the start, although the level of supernatural powers Undertaker possessed increased as the years went on. As one might imagine, Undertaker was portrayed as nearly impervious to pain, with it taking much more to put him down than the average wrestler.
Everything about Undertaker spelled trouble. He was nearly 7 feet tall, weighed over 300 pounds, had deathly pale skin, wore thick gloves he used to choke opponents, entered to a theme song akin to a funeral dirge, and even put some defeated opponents in body bags. If played by the wrong person, or presented poorly, The Undertaker could’ve been laughed out of arenas, but thankfully, Callaway and WWE crafted a monster wrestler for the ages instead.
One of the now-retired Undertaker’s defining traits, and one that lasted his entire 30-year WWE career, was his tendency to perform a dramatic sit-up after taking a big move, then turn to menacingly stare at his opponent. This trait even extended to later character Kane, Undertaker’s on-screen brother. It turns out that the sit-up move was directly inspired by Halloween‘s iconic masked slasher Michael Myers.
The idea of The Undertaker doing his dramatic sit-up after getting knocked down by a heavy attack came from Bruce Prichard, a long-time WWE executive who at that point also worked on-air as obnoxious manager Brother Love, a parody of scam-artist televangelists. While Undertaker would gain a new, more appropriate manager named Paul Bearer – and the two would go on to become a legendary pairing in their own right – a bit later, it was Prichard that came up with the sit-up.
As confirmed by Prichard on his podcast Something to Wrestle, the move was based on the classic scene in Halloween in which Michael Myers slowly sits up behind Laurie Strode as she catches her breath in a doorway, thinking stabbing him in the eye with a hanger took him down for good. As done by Michael, the sit-up is chilling, and stresses that Mr. Myers is no ordinary psychopath. Prichard is a noted horror fan, and believed Undertaker doing it would have the same effect on WWE audiences. Sure enough, it worked, and Undertaker even kept it during the few years where he stopped being the Deadman, and became his American Badass biker character. It may not have made sense, but it still popped the crowd.