An errant steel chair shot at the hands of special referee Shawn Michaels allowed Bret “Hit Man” Hart to dethrone Undertaker at SummerSlam in 1997. Yearning for revenge, the “Deadman” shifted his focus from the WWF Championship scene to destroying HBK. After a series of inconclusive contests, the two wrestlers agreed to settle the score in the first-ever Hell in a Cell Match at Badd Blood. Once locked inside the satanic structure, Undertaker released all his frustrations on Michaels, but just when it appeared as though victory was certain, Undertaker came face to face with a familiar figure from the past that cost him the match: Kane.
In the months leading up to Kane’s shocking debut, Paul Bearer, in an attempt to blackmail Undertaker, threatened to uncover a disturbing secret from the “Deadman’s” past. When Undertaker refused to give in to the demands, Bearer finally revealed that the “Phenom” set fire to his family’s funeral parlor twenty years earlier, killing his mother and father. Undertaker assumed his younger brother also perished in the fire. At Badd Blood, Undertaker’s assumption proved to be dead wrong, as his disfigured sibling appeared from out of nowhere to attack him.
In the months following the shocking revelation, Undertaker refused to step in the ring with his flesh and blood. However, after Kane attempted to send him to a fiery grave at the 1998 Royal Rumble, Undertaker had no choice but to respond with force. The two brothers finally squared off at WrestleMania XIV. Undertaker won the emotional battle, but the war between the two was just heating up. Undertaker and Kane went on to engage in some of the most bitter battles ever seen, including two Inferno Matches.
In 1998, Undertaker adopted an even darker, more demonic demeanor. He also made the unpopular decision to reconcile with Paul Bearer to form the Ministry of Darkness. Claiming to serve a “higher power,” Undertaker unleashed a never-before-seen assault on the entire World Wrestling Federation. Nobody was safe from Undertaker’s wicked wrath, not even Vince McMahon’s daughter Stephanie, who was abducted by the “Deadman.” Luckily for Stephanie, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin rescued her from further torment. The heroics, however, landed Austin in WWF Championship defense against Undertaker the following month at Over the Edge.