The Undertaker Felt Handcuffed By 'Deadman' Gimmick, Leading To 'American Badass' Character

Undertaker discusses his switch to being the 'American Badass.'

After a decade of being 'The Deadman,' Undertaker transformed into the 'American Badass' in May 2000, playing a biker instead of a phenom. The change helped refresh the character, giving Undertaker extra legs at the end of the Attitude Era. Speaking to Steve Austin on the Broken Skull Sessions, Undertaker revealed why he decided to make the switch.

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"I think that's my best attribute is being able to figure out -- I always felt like, if I started feeling stale, my audience is probably feeling it before me. You get wrapped up in what you're doing. The small changes, the breaks at the right time. I don't think I would have made it through if I hadn't changed when I did to go to the American Badass. I don't think the [Deadman] character would have lasted through the Attitude Era. I was too handcuffed for our content. I had already been there for 9-10 years. I needed the handcuffs off and let them see a different variation, which opened the door to when I brought the gimmick back, I kept a little bit of everything."

Undertaker continued, "So many variables there. One, the bike. I had been off close to a year. I had a big-time groin injury. And about three weeks before I came back, I tore my peck. It ended up being close to 8 or 9 months that I was off TV. Not only am I coming back, I'm coming back as a completely different dude. You're running through all those (scenarios). Everything that could go wrong. If this doesn't work, you're dead right there. Fortunately, it was the right move at the right time."

Undertaker would evolve the 'American Badass' character into 'Big Evil,' which was a heel take on the gimmick. The 'American Badass' gimmick lasted until 2003 when Kane buried Undertaker alive at Survivor Series. Undertaker returned as the 'Deadman' at WrestleMania XX.

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