More than any other wrestler of his era, the Undertaker was always an avid protector of kayfabe. He lived the gimmick, rarely giving the public a glimpse of his life as Mark Calaway. In recent years, though, as his in-ring career wound down, Calaway opened up. He did more interviews. He joined Instagram to post about Texas Longhorns football and his guns. And now, he’s even started doing Cameo videos.
Cameo.com is a strange website. The basic idea is that people can pay celebrities for personalized video messages, which sounds straightforward enough, but there’s something inherently awkward about receiving a 250-character request from a total stranger and then recording a video directly into your phone’s front-facing camera, and so the results are often cringeworthy. (John Cullen and Stefan Heck, hosts of the podcast Blocked Party, wrote an excellent primer on the world of Cameo for The Atlantic.)
’Taker joined Cameo as a limited-time-only thing, tied to his “Final Farewell” at Sunday’s Survivor Series. He agreed to do 30 videos, priced at $1,000 a pop—and they sold out quickly. Calaway appears to have taped the videos backstage at Sunday’s show, so now they’re available for us to view. (Cameo allows a certain number of video to be public, so potential customers can get a sense of what to expect when ordering a video.)
Here’s one for a kid named Sebastian, in which ’Taker growls that, “It wouldn’t be Christmas without a ‘Rest in peace.’”
Bizarrely, somebody else used their $1,000 to have Calaway thank Vince McMahon and his family for running WWE.
The best one, though, is definitely the video addressed to “All Elite Scooby Doo,” in which Calaway congratulates Mr. Doo on his upcoming wedding. ’Taker breaks character in the middle of the video, begins to chuckle and but saves himself by transitioning the giggle into a menacing cackle.
(Twitter user @BossMoz compiled a few more highlights from the videos, which are definitely worth checking out.)
Calaway played the Undertaker character for 30 years, so it’s not a surprise that he’s able to cut a promo for a kid’s Christmas present while staying in character. He could probably make his shopping list sound menacing if he put on the hat and duster. For wrestling fans, there’s definitely something surreal about hearing the Deadman wish somebody’s grandma a happy 91st birthday or provide someone with an encouraging message after their heart surgery. What makes the videos so uncanny is the fact that he seems so natural doing it, even though he’s saying things you never would have thought you’d hear come out of his mouth. That commitment to the gimmick is what made ’Taker such a legend in the business and is why he’ll be so sorely missed.