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Undertaker morphs into Outlaw Josey Wales

The Undertaker has a new lease on life.

Currently, his wife Sara portrays herself on WWF TV. That works well with the veteran grappler.

"It's pretty exciting," said Undertaker. "We're able to spend more time together. My schedule pretty much keeps me away from home all the time. That kind of road life was getting kind of old and tiring."

The Undertaker, portraying a stoic wrestler impervious to pain and drawing power from the dark forces of evil, made his mark in the world of professional wrestling.

"The old-school Undertaker is my legacy," he said. "It's probably what I'm going to be remembered for. It's still a part of what I believe in, but I took that as far as I could take it."

The Undertaker took the persona to new heights with managers Ted DiBiase and Paul Bearer. The character was based on the stereotype of undertakers of the Old West with long black coat and hat.

"That's all the (creative team) had," he said. "The rest was left up to me. That was my perception of who the Undertaker was.

"Vince (McMahon) was real high on the gimmicks at the time. I wasn't a gimmick guy then. They kind of left me alone and let me translate his (McMahon's) vision into what I thought it should be.

"I've always been fascinated with death and darkness, and I still am. I used that to develop that character. It's a part of me, and that character took me to where I am, but now is the time to move forward."

The new Undertaker rides Harleys, chews tobacco, wears jeans, biker boots and T-shirts and listens to Kid Rock and Limp Bizkit. His ring music drew from Kid Rock (American Bad A_) and Limp Bizkit (Rollin').

"I like to consider the newer character an Outlaw Josey Wales 2000," Undertaker said. "That's where it is right now. I don't try to insult the fans or anybody who watches what we do. The persona is more representative of me."

After the Undertaker lost a first-blood match to Stone Cold Steve Austin at Fully Loaded in 1999, he disappeared from the scene to recover from the toll more than 10 years have taken on his body. In May 2000, he helped make Judgment Day a night to remember when he returned to the WWF and attacked the entire McMahon-Helmsley faction.

"The Undertaker came back at Judgment Day 2000 off a variety of injuries," WWF announcer Kevin Kelly said. "By Judgment Day 2001, he was at the absolute best I've ever seen him. It took him 12 months of full-time work for the Undertaker to get back to where he needed to be. He did it."

Undertaker said, "In the past I led such a mysterious life. I didn't give interviews. I didn't do anything. People were like, "What's the Undertaker like outside of wrestling?'

"The reality is I'm getting close to the end of my (in-ring) career. People who have stuck behind me and wanted to see what I'm like, well, what you see now is what you get. If you see me out on the street, you would see me in jeans and cut-off shirt riding a motorcycle. It's just me being me, and people are finally starting to accept it.

"I think it was such a shock to a lot of people at first. They thought it was a biker gimmick. I don't look at it like that. It's me being me. If you want to call it a gimmick, then so be it. It's just me fulfilling something I want to do. Riding a motorcycle out is what I love to do best. Now, in the ring, I may not be dressed like Satan, but I'm still down with the devil."

"Civil War 2001'

The IPW Hardcore Wrestling and National Wrestling Alliance will present "Civil War 2001: the Battle For Florida" at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Frankie's Patio, 1920 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City, with these events:

NWA World Tag Team Title vs. IPW Tag Team Titles: Heavenly Bodies vs. the Shane Brothers with "Hardcore Giant" Ron Niemi.

NWA Florida Heavyweight Title Match: "Iceman" Buck Q (champion) vs. Mike Sullivan with XTC vs. Vic Capri.

NWA Junior Heavyweight Title Match: Lex Lovett (champion) vs. Jet Jaguar.

IPW TV Title Match: "Fashion Patrol Man" Pat McGroin (champion) vs. "Stormtrooper" David Black.

IPW Light Heavyweight Title Match: Seijin Akki (champion) vs. "Turncoat" Rod Steel.

Battle of Former WCW/WWF Superstars: Marty Jannetty vs. Cuban Assassin with Fantasy.

Special Challenge Match: Pepe Prado vs. Hack Myers.

IPW Six-Man Tag Team War: Quickiemart and Mark Zout vs. Kamikaze Kid, Special Ed and Bug.

Tickets are available at the Pumping Station, 5915 Fourth Street N, St. Petersburg, (727) 525-7131, and Discount Nutrition, 4115 Gunn Highway, Tampa, (813) 264-7339.

For more information, check out http://ipw-hardcore.com or e-mail ipwhardcoreyahoo.com.

Pro wrestling columnist Jim Varsallone can be reached at wrestlingtampabay.com or visit his Web site at www.ringfury.com.

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