The Ministry of Darkness
|The Ministry of Darkness|
|Disbanded||April 29, 1999
(fused with The Corporation into the Corporate Ministry)
The Ministry of Darkness was a heel professional wrestling stable in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in 1999. Led by The Undertaker, the Ministry was a controversial group with pseudo-Satanic themed storylines, that included rituals and sacrifices.
In October 1998 at the Judgment Day: In Your House pay-per-view event, Paul Bearer turned his back on his son Kane and rejoined the side of Kane's brother the Undertaker. The next night on Raw is War, the Undertaker announced the Ministry of Darkness and a "plague of evil" that would be unleashed on the WWF, thus making Undertaker a villain. The Undertaker continued to feud with Kane and Stone Cold Steve Austin, which involved segments in which the Undertaker hit Austin in the head with a shovel giving him a storyline concussion. On the following Raw is War one week later, interviews were conducted with Austin throughout the night in his hospital room in a medical center in the San Jose, California area, where the night before at a WWF live event Austin blacked out, as part of the storyline in the lead up to the Buried Alive match.
Later, a hearse was seen pulling up in front of the medical center, in what was assumed to be Undertaker and Paul Bearer. The Undertaker and Paul Bearer invaded Austin's hospital room and attacked him and then they held Austin under with ether and dragged him out of his hospital room. They were seen outside the medical center putting Austin into the back of a hearse and driving away, abducting Austin. Later in the show, the hearse was seen backing up into a cemetery, pulling up to a grave site. Undertaker went to the back of the hearse and dragged Austin out, then attempted to bury Austin alive. Shortly after, Austin came to and grabbed Paul Bearer, Undertaker grabbed Austin and Paul Bearer held a cloth over Austin's face putting Austin under again.
Undertaker changed his mind and he and Paul Bearer took Austin to a funeral home and tried to embalm Austin alive. However, Kane came in through the embalming room door and moved Paul Bearer out of the way as Undertaker was starting the embalming process. Kane attacked his brother, but while that was happening Paul Bearer grabbed scissors and was about to drive them into Austin, but Austin got his arms up just in the nick of time before the scissors were driven into him, and Austin was able to escape. Later in the week on Sunday Night Heat, Undertaker said that Austin would be sacrificed the next night on Raw is War. On Raw, Undertaker called out Kane, they fought, and orderlies came out to the ring and Kane escaped.
Backstage, Undertaker knocked Kane out with a chair shot, and told Paul Bearer to go get the orderlies, and Undertaker tried to wrap Kane in a body bag to punish Kane, but failed because Austin hit Undertaker in the head with a shovel, knocking Undertaker out. It was assumed that Undertaker attempted to have Kane committed to the mental asylum because Kane saved Austin from the embalming process in the funeral home. However, Austin puts on a fake Kane mask on Undertaker, fooling everybody to make it look like it was indeed Kane going to the mental asylum, unbeknownst to Paul Bearer and The orderlies, The Undertaker was the one being fooled, knowing that he was going to the asylum. Also, Undertaker tied Austin down on his symbol and crucified Austin. Undertaker's evil plans were delayed when Kane cost him a Buried Alive match to Austin at Rock Bottom: In Your House, and he was not seen until the following month.
Justin Hawk Bradshaw and Faarooq formed Hell's Henchmen, a dark and brooding tag team briefly managed by The Jackyl. Shortly after their debut, the Jackyl would mention on color commentary that his acolytes would usher in "an age of tribulation" in the WWF and that the Jackyl would be the "puppet master" controlling everything from the shadows, effectively setting the stage for the Ministry of Darkness with the Jackyl acting as the power behind the throne. However, the Jackyl left WWF and the team changed their name to The Acolytes. The characters Bradshaw and Faarooq ended up as the henchmen of a then-unknown new leader.
As one of their first orders of business, they abducted Dennis Knight on the January 11 episode of Raw Is War and took him to "He". Weeks later, "He" turned out to be a renewed, druid-like Undertaker, who proceeded to initiate Knight as his servant via a ritual, rechristening him as Mideon. At the Royal Rumble 1999 show, the group of Undertaker, Mideon, and The Acolytes abducted the 485-pound Mabel, who was renamed Viscera the following night on Raw Is War, and turned him to the Undertaker's side. Another faction, the Brood (Edge, Christian and Gangrel), was recruited to the Undertaker's service as well. Then, the Undertaker made it clear that he wanted to own the World Wrestling Federation and oust Vince McMahon.
Vince McMahon turned face during this time, claiming that Mark Calaway (Undertaker's real name) was taking his gimmick too far, and that Calaway actually believed that he was in fact the Undertaker and that he was the second coming of the Lord of Darkness. McMahon, shook up, put Undertaker in the second-ever Inferno match, a rematch of the first as Undertaker faced off against his "brother" Kane (who had joined Vince's Corporation to avoid being committed to the asylum). Undertaker defeated Kane again, and reduced the WWF owner to tears at the sight of a burning teddy bear. The bear was later said to have once belonged to Stephanie McMahon as a child.
For weeks, Undertaker revealed that his Ministry actually took orders from a "greater power", and kept talking about a higher power who apparently owned the key to McMahon's heart and soul. Undertaker and the Ministry trespassed on McMahon's property, leaving a burning symbol resembling a crucifix in McMahon's front yard, the Corporate leader ordered his enforcer the Big Bossman, to face Undertaker in a Hell in a Cell match at WrestleMania XV, which Undertaker won. After the match, the Brood lowered themselves from the ceiling onto the top of the cell and then lowered a noose to the Undertaker. He sent McMahon another message, by hanging the Bossman from the cell.
After WrestleMania, the mysterious woman in the storyline was revealed to be McMahon's own daughter Stephanie. The Ministry took Stephanie captive that night, and Corporation member Ken Shamrock found Stephanie, crying in the boiler room and with the Undertaker's symbol on her forehead. As revenge on Shamrock for ruining his plans, Undertaker ordered The Ministry to abduct Ken's storyline sister Ryan, and sacrifice her on one of his symbols. The next week, Shamrock found his sister crying in the boiler room. Since Shamrock had attained the information to Stephanie's whereabouts by forcing it out of Christian, Undertaker punished Christian by flogging him. The next week, he tried to sacrifice Shamrock and then ordered Christian's fellow Brood members Edge and Gangrel to sacrifice him as well, but they refused and turned against Undertaker instead. This defection of the Brood was the only voluntary defection from the Ministry during its tenure.
The Corporate Ministry
At Backlash: In Your House, Vince McMahon had a crazed Shamrock face Undertaker in the hopes that Shamrock would break Undertaker's ankle with his ankle lock toehold submission. His plan backfired, and Shamrock was attacked by Bradshaw after the match. Later, The Undertaker commandeered Stephanie McMahon's limo and drove off into the night with a screaming Stephanie in tow as Backlash went off the air. The next night, Undertaker held a "Black Wedding" for himself and Stephanie because if he married the WWF owner's daughter, he would control the entire Federation. Undertaker never got his wish, as the ceremony was disrupted by Steve Austin, the WWF Champion, after attempts by Ken Shamrock and the Big Show failed.
As a result, on the very first ever episode of SmackDown!, The Undertaker proceeded to join forces with Vince McMahon's son Shane, in turn gaining control of the Corporation and merging his Ministry with it to form the even more powerful Corporate Ministry. After Vince McMahon was revealed as its "Greater Power", however, the Corporate Ministry would eventually dissolve. The Undertaker formed a new Unholy Alliance with Big Show, Mideon and Viscera, which led to two tag team title reigns for Undertaker and Big Show. This group came to an end when the Undertaker suffered an injury in September and was written out by quitting, rather than taking a match ordered by Vince McMahon.
Aftermath and legacy
In the final three SmackDown! shows prior to The Undertaker and Bradshaw (now under the gimmick of John Bradshaw Layfield) facing off at No Mercy 2004 for the WWE Championship in a last ride match, a series of Ministry-reminiscent events occurred between the Undertaker and his former servant:
- On the September 16, 2004 episode of SmackDown!, JBL called out the Undertaker. When Undertaker came out and had JBL cornered, Gangrel and Viscera appeared and took out Undertaker from behind, commencing an assault by the foursome of Gangrel, Viscera, JBL, and Orlando Jordan (Orlando Jordan, however, was not a former member of the Ministry).
- The September 23 edition saw Gangrel and Viscera, introduced as the Ministry, face Undertaker in a handicap match. Undertaker defeated them.
- On the September 30 edition, JBL faced Hardcore Holly in a match. Undertaker had a vignette with the hearse telling Bradshaw to prepare to take his last ride and rest in peace at No Mercy. In an interview after that and prior to the match, JBL had asked where was Orlando Jordan, who was not with him. Following a preemptive assault by Holly, JBL came out for the match. During the match, he assaulted Holly with a weapon, getting disqualified, after which yet another Undertaker vignette interrupted him. Undertaker revealed Orlando hung high in the stands, crucified on his symbol.
JBL would beat the Undertaker at No Mercy with interference, to retain the WWE Title. During this series, the SmackDown! announcers mentioned Gangrel and Viscera's former Ministry status, but never during the entire Undertaker/JBL feud was it brought up that Bradshaw used to be a part of the Ministry. Instead, the excuse given for Gangrel and Viscera's insert was that "JBL paid them off." At the Great American Bash 2006, however, as JBL was calling the match between Undertaker and Big Show, JBL mentioned that he had fought the Undertaker for the world title and had been on his side in the Ministry of Darkness.
Since his return to Raw for WrestleMania XXX season in 2014, Undertaker has been sporting a goatee similar to what he wore in the Ministry.
- The Undertaker (Leader)
- Paul Bearer (Manager)
- The Acolytes (Bradshaw and Faarooq)
- The Brood (Gangrel, Edge and Christian)
Championships and accomplishments
The championship and accomplishments of both the Ministry and Corporate Ministry
- WWF Championship (1 time) – Undertaker
- WWF Tag Team Championship (2 times) – The Acolytes
- WWF European Championship (1 time) – Mideon