The Ministry of Darkness was a Power Stable in WWE during the Attitude Era. It was a cult led by The Undertaker. The cult abducted people and perform sinister "rituals" on them, and turned a few wrestlers into new followers.
It started in October of 1998 when The Undertaker reunited with his former manager Paul Bearer and turned against his brother Kane. Undertaker referenced a "Ministry of Darkness" and admitted that he started the fire that killed his own parents and burned Kane because Kane was weak. Taker continued feuding with Kane as well as "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. During his feud with Austin he tried performing cult-like rituals on him and even killing him. Undertaker's threat was seemingly ended when Austin and Kane buried him alive.
That turned out not to be the case. Bradshaw and Faarooq (a.k.a. Ron Simmons), as the Acolytes, kidnapped Dennis Knight, and it was revealed that they were now henchmen of the returning Undertaker, who performed a ritual and Knight became "Mideon" and a new member of the Ministry. That same night Undertaker announced his plans to conquer the WWF. They later did the same with Mabel, who became Viscera, and the Brood (Gangrel, Edge, and Christian) joined as well.
It was then revealed that The Undertaker's goal was to take control of the WWF from Vince McMahon, starting a feud with The Corporation, as well as reveal that he was taking orders from a "Higher Power". The Ministry then threatened Vince's daughter Stephanie, prompting Vince to go into Papa Wolf mode and eventually a HeelFace Turn. The Ministry then abducted Stephanie and The Undertaker attempted to marry her, but this was thwarted by Vince's own Arch-Enemy, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. After this it was revealed that Vince's son Shane (who had taken over the Corporation) was in cahoots with The Undertaker the whole time, and the Corporation merged with the Ministry to become the Corporate Ministry. It was then finally revealed that the "Higher Power" who masterminded the whole thing was none other than... Vince McMahon, and it was all part of a plan to get the WWF World Heavyweight Title off of Austin once more. note
The Ministry collapsed after Vince was "banished" from the WWF when Steve Austin was appointed CEO of the company by Linda McMahon, though a few members continued to follow the Undertaker until he took time off to heal injuries, then came back with his Biker gimmick. The Brood ultimately went their separate ways to varying degrees of success, and the Acolytes continued to exist as a tag team in the form of the APA (Acolyte Protection Agency) for a few more years. However, the group briefly resurfaced in 2004, when former member Bradshaw (now called John "Bradshaw" Layfield with a Rich Bastard gimmick) hired Gangrel and Viscera to attack the Undertaker. They were simply known as The Ministry. They didn't last long at all, as The Undertaker took both of them out quickly, though Viscera did linger on for a time before changing his gimmick. Undertaker referenced the gimmick again a couple weeks later by making a sacrifice of Orlando Jordan on his symbol to play mind games with JBL.
Undertaker's ultimate opinion of the gimmick when interviewed on his "This is My Yard" DVD was that, while he enjoyed the Ministry of Darkness and was happy that it brought lesser known wrestlers like Edge, Christian and Bradshaw into the spotlight, he regarded the Corporate Ministry angle as a low point in his career because his character was a part of something "not derived from The Undertaker".
"Accept the Tropes of Darkness as your saviors":
- And Now You Must Marry Me: Undertaker attempted to marry Stephanie McMahon, but this was thwarted by "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.
- Ascended Extra: A few of the Ministry's Mooks went on to become stars in their own right, such as Edge, JBL, and Christian.
- Becoming the Mask: Ken Shamrock accused The Undertaker of letting his character take over who he really was, referring to him by his real name, Mark, in order to try to get him to come back down to Earth.
- Big Bad: Vince McMahon, aka The Higher Power.
- Big Bad Duumvirate: At first, Shane and Undertaker. At least it seemed this way until The Reveal, where it turned out they were Co-Dragons to Vince McMahon.
- Big Damn Heroes: Stone Cold somehow rescuing Stephanie despite being outnumbered.
- Big "WHAT?!": Jerry Lawler was shocked by The Reveal of who the Higher Power was; this was his reaction.
- Black Cloak: Undertaker's wardrobe.
- Blood Magic: The sacrifice of Dennis Knight involved Undertaker slitting his own wrist with a dagger and letting it drip into a goblet, which Knight was forced to drink from. Undertaker then carved his symbol into Knight's chest, proclaiming him Mideon.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: Mideon especially.
- Card-Carrying Villain: The Undertaker was this in spades during this era. Right before The Reveal of the Higher Power, Vince McMahon (via titantron) demanded that the "evil demonic SOB show his face to the world now". Right after this Vince revealed himself to be the Higher Power in an over-the-top villainous, gloating manner. So he basically called himself evil and demonic and was proud of it.
- Chewing the Scenery: Vince McMahon revealing himself as the Higher Power is one of the most famous examples in wrestling.Vince McMahon: IT'S ME, AUSTIN!!!! IT'S ME, AUSTIN!!!! IT WAS ME ALL ALONG, AUSTIN!!!!
- Complexity Addiction: The whole reason this page in pro wrestling history exists is because Vince McMahon completely fell off his rocker in his disdain for "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, and apparently couldn't just fire the guy. The ridiculousness of this is highlighted even more when Triple H, one of Vince's top minions during this whole scheme, took Austin out for months by getting Rikishi to run him over less than half a year later.
- Continuity Snarl: Somewhat in 2004, when JBL brought back Gangrel and Viscera as the Ministry, there was no mention of JBL being a member of the Ministry in the past. In fact it was simply just said he paid them off, most likely to help sell JBL's rich bastard gimmick. Though a couple of years later while on commentary JBL referenced that he was part of the Ministry.
- Cool Chair: Undertaker's throne, shaped like his symbol.
- Costume Porn: Like no other time in Undertaker's career.
- Crucified Hero Shot: The Ministry was fond of doing this to their sacrifices and enemies.
- Damsel in Distress: Undertaker was fond of kidnapping women during this era, such as Ryan Shamrocknote and Stephanie McMahon. Mideon was practically a Gender Flipped example too until he was sacrificed.
- Darker and Edgier
- Dark Is Evil
- Dark Messiah: The Undertaker.
- Disc-One Final Boss: The Undertaker.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: The Undertaker revealed that the had abducted Stephanie during a segment that began when he and the Ministry crashed a match involving Sable, where he eventually grabbed Sable by the throat and forced her to her knees, with her head at the level of his waist, at which point the cameraman apparently decided to make his holy mission to invoke this trope and make it look like Undertaker is receiving a blowjob from Sable on the ring.
- The Dragon: Undertaker was demoted to this in the Corporate Ministry. At the beginning of the storyline, Vince was the Greater-Scope Villain behind Taker's Big Bad since he gave Taker orders behind-the-scenes. However when Vince revealed himself he played the Big Bad role directly while Taker played The Dragon.
- The Dreaded
- Evil Overlord: The Undertaker and his Higher Power, Vince McMahon.
- Evil Plan: Vince McMahon sending the Ministry to abduct Stephanie just to screw "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.
- Gambit Roulette: The reveal of this makes a lot of the logic behind the plan really suspect.
- Evil vs. Evil: Ministry of Darkness versus The Corporation, until the merger.
- Fat Bastard:
- Paul Bearer, of course.
- The 500 lbs Viscera.
- Greater-Scope Villain: Vince originally masterminded everything behind the scenes before revealing himself and playing the Big Bad role directly.
- Hijacked by Ganon: Or should that be Hijacked by McMahon-on?
- Hollywood Satanism
- Human Sacrifice
- Light Is Not Good: The Brood, who were blonde Lost Boys-inspired vampires in white clothing, in stark contrast with the all black garb of the rest of the ministry. Later on subverted in that The Brood defected from the group, but they were still blood sucking vampires.
- Loser Leaves Town: "Stone Cold" Steve Austin successfully retained his title at Fully Loaded 1999. As a result per stipulation, Vince McMahon was "banished" and could no longer interfere with WWE business, thus putting and end to the Corporate Ministry and the Austin vs McMahon feud, which had been the main storyline of WWE for over a year. This didn't last too long as Vince came back two months later.
- The Man Behind the Man: The Undertaker's "Higher Power" who turns out to be Vince McMahon.
- Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: The Brood defected from the Ministry of Darkness for the sake of Christian, whom Edge and Gangrel were ordered to help nail to the "symbol" after he failed Undertaker.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast
- Not My Driver: The way Undertaker kidnapped Stephanie in her limo.Undertaker: Where to, Stephanie? Ahahaha!
- Ominous Fog
- Ominous Latin Chanting
- Primal Stance: Mideon.
- Religion of Evil
- The Reveal: Vince McMahon was the Higher Power.
- Satan: Vince referred to the Higher Power as an "evil, demonic SoB". Turns out he was talking about himself
- Scary Black Man: Viscera.
- Self-Made Orphan: The Undertaker.
- Sinister Minister: The Undertaker, obviously.
- Also, Paul Bearer when he presided over Undertaker and Stephanie's "wedding".
- Stalker with a Crush: Undertaker on Stephanie.
- Take Over the World: Or at least the WWF. The Undertaker revealed that his goal was to take control of the WWF from Vince McMahon. Subverted when it was revealed Vince himself was the Higher Power, whose REAL goal was to get the title off of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.
- Touched by Vorlons: Mideon, who gains psychic powers.
- Unwilling Suspension: Their sacrifices usually consisted of tying someone to an Undertaker symbol and hanging them from the rafters. The Undertaker also "hung" the Big Bossman at WrestleMania 15, at the end of a Hell in the Cell match that most people found very disappointing. Of course, he got better, and in fact nobody ever mentioned it again.
- Villainous Breakdown:
- Vince McMahon after Paul Bearer presented him with a teddy bear that was stolen from Stephanie McMahon's bedroom, and Undertaker set it on fire. This turned out to be an act, though.
- The whole Higher Power angle is basically one massive Villainous Breakdown by Vince McMahon, as his hatred of Austin drove him completely insane to the point he formed an evil cult from behind the scenes with himself as the Higher Power that they worshiped and had them stalk and kidnap his own daughter as part of the plan to get revenge on Austin. It reached its peak during The Reveal, Slasher Smile and all.
- Villain Team-Up: With their former enemies The Corporation, probably has to do with the fact that both Power Stables were controlled by Vince McMahon behind the scenes.
- Villain with Good Publicity: Vince McMahon before The Reveal of him being the Higher Power.
- You Have Failed Me: Christian suffered this from the Undertaker after giving up Stephanie's location. It led to the Brood turning against the Ministry after the Undertaker tried to force Edge and Gangrel to flog him themselves. Nobody else ever jumped ship from the Ministry, by the way, before it dissolved.