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The Higher Power

Corp-Ministry

In early 1999, Vince McMahon found himself being terrorized by The Undertaker and his group the Ministry of Darkness. The angle was heavily featured on WWF programming. Each week something dastardly would take place and yet continue to be matched each week on television. The ending of the angle was met with not much fanfare, however. 

Before we get to the ending of the angle, lets relive the angle from the beginning. At the October pay per view event Judgment Day, The Undertaker aligned himself with Paul Bearer and had feuds with the likes of Kane and Steve Austin to finish 1998.

By early 1999, the Undertaker had abducted several wrestlers to have them brainwashed and joined his group. Those wrestlers were Mideon, who was previously Phineas Godwin and Mabel who was named Viscera. Along with Edge, Christian and Gangrel, the Undertaker’s group was growing rapidly as Bradshaw and Faarooq had joined the group at the end of 1998. The mission of the group was to get rid of Vince McMahon and takeover the World Wrestling Federation.

For the previous two years, Vince McMahon had been presented as a heel whose main rival was Steve Austin. The evil boss persona reached the WWF to great success and propelled McMahon to an iconic character in wrestling history. While McMahon was still a heel in early 1999, it would only be a few months into the year before McMahon was the once hated heel becoming a sympathetic face character that nobody trusted.

McMahon believed that Mark Calloway, the man who plays the Undertaker character, was delusional and truly believed he was the Undertaker and the Lord of Darkness. On February 22nd, 1999 Vince ordered Kane to compete in an inferno match against the Undertaker. Mind you, Kane was only associated with McMahon to avoid being sent to an asylum. So, while McMahon was a face in some aspects, he certainly was still playing a heel role as well. Anyway, Kane would lose the match and eventually the Ministry members would give McMahon’s daughter Stephanie’s childhood teddy bear. The Undertaker played mind games with McMahon by setting the bear on fire and McMahon was left on the ground in tears seeing something important to his family.

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Taker setting the bear on fire. 

Following the teddy bear incident, the Undertaker started to make reference to higher power that he was answering to. The higher power held the key to Vince McMahon’s heart and soul. Throughout the whole angle they would switch from greater to higher power, but there isn’t much of a different, I guess.

On an episode of RAW, the Undertaker and his ministry would go to McMahon’s house and burn a crucifix on the front yard. The incident would piss McMahon off to the point of making the Big Bossman take on the Undertaker inside Hell in a Cell at WrestleMania XV. At the event, the Undertaker wouldn’t have much problem with Bossman winning the match rather easily. After the match, Taker would hang Bossman from the cell in an infamous moment.

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The RAW following WrestleMania saw the on-screen debut of Stephanie McMahon. Stephanie was presented as a loving, innocent woman much different than what her character would become less than a year later. The same night she made her debut she was abducted by the Ministry causing Ken Shamrock to go on a manhunt and finally find her after making Christian tell him he relocation by putting the ankle lock on him. Taker would attempt to sacrifice Shamrock’s sister Ryan as well, but Ken found her in time in the boiler room, where he had found Stephanie the previous week.

Shamrock would fail to defeat the Undertaker at Backlash in April, but at the end of the night the Undertaker got control of the limousine that Stephanie McMahon as in and asked “Where to Stephanie?” to end the pay per view.

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The “Black Wedding” as it were to be known as took place on the RAW after Backlash. In the mind of the Undertaker if he were to marry Stephanie then he would get all control of the WWF. Oddly enough, that would play out in real life, just not with the Undertaker. Anyway, the Undertaker had Stephanie strapped to his crucifix but would eventually be stopped by the WWF World Champion Steve Austin who saved Stephanie and Vince McMahon would thank Austin for helping him despite their history.

Since he wasn’t able to marry the daughter of Vince, the Undertaker formed an alliance with Shane McMahon on the first edition of Smackdown. As a result, their enormous stable would be known as the Corporate Ministry. Of course, Vince McMahon was kicked out of the group.

The week before the June 7th reveal of the Higher Power, Steve Austin would get a glimpse of the mystery man and his reaction was that of fury and shock at the same time. In a confusing part of the angle, for six days Austin wouldn’t inform anybody who the power was. So, the reveal of the Higher Power would come on June 7th.

According to internet reports and speculation there were three people who were favored to be the Higher Power. Don Callis, Jake Roberts and Mick Foley. Callis may have been the man for the angle but was fired before the completion of the angle. Roberts had previous mind control of the Undertake for a brief time some seven years prior and was beaten by Austin for his rise to the top in ’96 to begin. Lastly, Foley was a high possibility due to his connections with McMahon and Austin during the previous two years and the usage of the boiler room being the headquarters of the group, I guess you could say.

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Don Callis

On the June 7th RAW the mystery man would be revealed to be neither of the three men mentioned. Instead, it ended up being none other than Vince McMahon himself. The reasoning was that it was “just business” and one epic mind game to get under Austin’s skin. You must hate someone really bad for your daughter to be abducted by a crazed Undertaker, don’t you think?

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I must admit the angle is captivating and interesting each and every week. However, that payoff is one of the worst ones in wrestling history, I’d say. I don’t think Jake Roberts was in the right mental state to be considered, but a guy like Don Callis leading the angle would have been phenomenal since he was a great talker on the microphone. There may not be a lot of people who know whom I’m talking about, so I suggest you watch some ECW circa 2000 when he was the Cyrus character.

The character gave much needed shot in the arm for the Undertaker who had become kind of dull in his role prior to this heel run. Sure, some of the ideas were way out there but it was a creative attempt of writing and again entertaining despite an awful payoff with the Vince McMahon reveal.

The union of Undertaker and Vince McMahon wouldn’t last all that long as the Undertaker would go out with injury in the fall. Oddly enough, by the end of the year Vince McMahon was back playing the face role feuding with Triple H fighting for his daughter, the same person he had abducted six months previously. Only in the World Wrestling Federation, I suppose.

What’s you memory of the angle? Did you enjoy it or was it just too “out there” to enjoy?

Thanks for reading.

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