When talking about the most enduring characters in wrestling history, The Undertaker has to be right up there. What is the source of “The Dead Man”’s supernatural powers? The urn. Branded by Paul Bearer for many years, this symbolic prop had the authority over ‘Taker with his strength stripped when the driving magical force was removed. Although an essential plot point of the spectral character, the kayfabe contents of The Undertaker’s urn has varied over the years. These are four different impediments that have been contained within Mark Calaway’s urn.
The seemingly most obvious answer would be ashes.
One of the most famous examples of ashes in the urn occurred at the one-off 1991 Pay-Per-View This Tuesday In Texas. The WWF title was currently in ‘Taker’s possession after a controversial title finish at the Survivor Series days prior. Although WWF President Jack Tunney was at ringside to prevent any tomfoolery in the bout, it ended with Hogan full-on throwing the urn’s ashes in “The Phenom”’s face before rolling him up for the win.
Yes, that is top babyface Hogan winning by throwing the human remains in someone’s eyes. To nick a phrase from OSW, he truly is “c*nt Hogan”.
It was indeed the ashes of humans in the urn. Whose? Well, in his early months, he was body bagging fallen opponents so not likely them. Perhaps his mother and father who were burned in a house fire started by ‘Taker but how and why did these fall into the possession of The Undertaker? Plus, this was not bought into the storyline for another six years. More likely, they were just the random, deceased corpses ‘Taker was working with.
What was more explicit was Paul Bearer’s ashes, which were the subject of controversy in 2013. To build a feud with CM Punk, the recently-passed Paul Bearer’s ashes were poured out onto ‘Taker after an assault that transpired just weeks after death. The contents again were ashes but this time with an explanation. That said, it raises the question as to the urn’s contents prior.
‘Taker’s urn too has contained smoke.
At 1994’s Royal Rumble, Yokozuna beat The Undertaker in a casket match. During a 10-on-one beatdown, the faux Japanese sumo opened up the urn as a green stream of smoke was released. The source of ‘Taker’s powers, he laid motionless as his spirit was released, shortly afterward drifting up to Heaven.
This was not the only time smoke was released, however, as the same happened in 2015. Having to build the feud by himself as “The Demon Of Death Valley” was absent from TV, Bray Wyatt cut a promo on Raw with the urn. After a short while, lightning hit the urn before a thin waft of smoke generated.
The idea of smoke is one entrenched in horror, with special effects of a smoky room forcing a mystical aura. Not just that but spirits too can exist within the smoke, which may serve as an explanation for ‘Taker’s supernatural abilities.
A third artifact within the urn is a beam of light. This is probably what most fans think of first when thinking about the contents of the urn, including usage in memorable angles featuring The Undertaker across various decades.
Most famously, light emerged from the urn at SummerSlam 1994. This was his return to the WWF after six months, with his miraculous entrance seeing Paul Bearer not only debut a new, bulkier urn but also removed the lid to show a beam of light. A cool image as the bright light reflected the pale face of Bearer in one of the most iconic ‘Taker entrances.
In 2010, the light was again shown in the urn during the Hell In A Cell PPV. Bearer betrayed ‘Taker, flashing the blinding light into his face which hindered “The Dead Man” like garlic to Dracula. It is questionable how this supplies power to ‘Taker indirectly but when shone upon him is harmful but such is the mystery of the urn’s power.
So, what is the origin of this light? There may be life within the light, contacting and speaking to ‘Taker à la Stranger Things series one. This light may give power when in the urn but is dangerous when released.
Our fourth and final theory is one not discovered deeply in kayfabe but perhaps true nonetheless.
Maybe the urn holds nothing, it is just a symbol with strong enough sentimental or traumatic value in order to nonetheless control ‘Taker.
Now, in shoot, it is very likely there is nothing in the urn, simply just a hollow prop. In fact, the whole reason the “cookie jar” urn, as Shawn Michaels joking described it once on commentary, was that the larger urn would be harder to take around when traveling and was thus a massive rib on Bearer. So it seems the urn was a priority and insides a distant second.
In 1995, Kama “The Supreme Fighting Machine” Mustafa stole ‘Taker’s urn amidst the endless Million Dollar Corporation vs Undertaker feud. Quickly, Kama melted down the urn into a gold chain, in doing so forcing the removal of the urn’s insides. Very little was mentioned of what was inside the urn after Kama stole it in order to destroy it.
Plus, the urn has always been very rinky-dink, with the urn often bouncing around due to its lightness. This means that on various occasions, the lid has fallen off and nothing has fallen out. In 1995 alone, both Kama and Irwin R. Schyster (IRS) stole the urn with the lid falling off with nothing falling out.
The Undertaker & His Urn: What Is In It Really?
What is really in the urn? On-screen, all three of the former have been shown with the shoot urn being empty.
The truth to The Undertaker’s kayfabe powers may never be known, with changes over the years depending on the storyline, character development, and other factors. No matter what, the urn is a powerful mechanism in the hands of ‘Taker whilst cursing others.
The urn, whatever the contents and however changing, is perhaps the single most effective prop in wrestling history – and it will forever remain that way.