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The Last Ride – Chapter One: The Greatest Fear

The man behind one of the most significant characters in Professional Wrestling has spoken out, extensively, perhaps for the first time in 30 years.

The WWE Network has brought us some incredible documentaries over the years. However, this right here, may be the holy grail.

Mark Callaway is the man behind the mystical, legendary and ever relevant character, The Undertaker. Since WrestleMania 33 in 2017, Taker allowed WWE camera-personnel to follow and film him during his professional and personal endeavours. The announcement of this documentary has led many to believe that this is Mark Callaway saying goodbye to the character that he has portrayed for just over three decades.

The Undertaker in 1995.

For me, just writing this up is giving me goosebumps. This is such an important limited series documentary.

This is the first time that us fans have seen this side of The Undertaker. The first glimpse that we had was when Taker appeared on the Broken Skull Sessions with Steve Austin. This is a limited series documentary, with only five episodes in total. As always, Sports Obsessive has you covered.

The beginning of chapter one of this documentary started off by focusing on the early years of The Undertaker’s career within the WWE. Legends within the company such as Bret Hart, Mick Foley, Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair began to explain how they first perceived the man behind The Undertaker, since his debut in 1990. Shawn Michaels expressed how impressed he was with not only that fact that Taker was near 300 lbs with a 6′ 10″ frame, but the way that he could move in the ring, and do things that people his size should not be able to do, within the wrestling ring.

The following is what have learned about The Undertaker from Mark Calaway’s perspective.

The Undefeated Streak

Taker began to speak about WrestleMania, specifically his undefeated streak, and how he was not even aware of it until somebody brought it to his attention. Taker explained how important WrestleMania is to him, personally, and how much that he truly respects the business. Taker said that the undefeated streak at WrestleMania made it okay for him to wrestle only once a year.

It takes it’s toll, I had a 5 years stretch or so there, where my schedule would be, I would prepare for Mania, I would have my Mania match, then I would have some kind of surgery to repair whatever had been bothering me, going into that match. Then go straight from Mania, to rehab, to go to Mania again.

As Callaway admitted that he can no longer work a full schedule, you could see in his face that he did not want to admit that. Being The Undertaker means much to Callaway and you can really see that when he talks about getting his body into shape to perform at WrestleMania.

The Undertaker's Wrestlemania winning streak.

WWE legends, Triple H and ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, then spoke about the struggles of only wrestling one match a year. Triple H mentioned that he could relate to that in regards to some injuries that had sustained during his career. Triple H expressed that working such a limited schedule is a true test of physicality. Steve Austin, a man that has his fair share of injuries, hit the nail right on the head when he said ‘ring rust is real, and the nerves play into all that.’

30 years worth of injuries

Taker revealed that during the two matches he had with Shawn Michaels, referring to WrestleMania 25 & 26, that he was ‘excessively sore’. Also the following year, at WrestleMania 27 in a match against Triple H, Taker mentioned that match was particularly ‘brutal’. In the Triple H match, Taker was driven away from the ring in a cart, and has admitted that he spent two full days in his hotel recuperating after this particular WrestleMania, then flew out to get his hip replaced.

The Undertaker at WrestleMania 30.

Callaway brought up WrestleMania 30, in which Brock Lesnar shockingly defeated The Undertaker and broke Taker’s undefeated streak at WrestleMania. The opening sentence from this scene in the documentary gave me chills when Taker said ‘I still don’t remember that match.’ As a fan, looking back at WrestleMania 30, I was devastated to see the streak end. It was such a huge moment in the career of The Undertaker, one that no wrestling fan will forget. The fact of the matter was that The Undertaker was concussed during this match.

I’m not sure when I got concussed. I don’t know how that match happened. I have no recollection of any of that. My last memory of that day, was at about, I’d say 3:30 in the afternoon.

The documentary showed the footage of The Undertaker losing the match to Brock Lesnar. Immediately after this, we saw Vince McMahon in the Gorilla Position, shouting for help. WWE’s Athletic Trainer, Larry Heck revealed that after the WrestleMania 30 match, The Undertaker was sat down in the hallway backstage with ‘a happy, dazed look on his face, that he had no idea where he was at. He looked at me and kind of smiles and said Hey! and I’m like, oh boy, something went wrong here’. Undertaker was rushed to the hospital, while WrestleMania 30 was going on. It was revealed by The Undertaker’s wife, Michelle McCool, that the first person waiting outside the ambulance at the hospital was Vince McMahon. That is true testament to how much the man, Mark Callaway means to Vince McMahon. For McMahon to leave WrestleMania, seems to show how close the relationship between Vince McMahon and Mark Callaway really is.

McCool revealed that while in the hospital, Taker did not know his own name, where he was, or why he was in the city. Taker did not remember his own name until 4:00am that following morning.

Anybody can lose their confidence

As one of the most successful Professional Wrestlers of all time, one would assume that confidence would always be at an all time high. However, Taker revealed that after his WrestleMania 30 performance, his self-confidence plummeted. ‘One concussion in one match, destroyed my confidence’.

Speaking about his next match, the WrestleMania 31 match against Bray Wyatt, Taker said that he didn’t even think that anybody knew that his confidence was affected. Wyatt said that he had no idea and that ‘it looked like another day at the office‘ for The Undertaker.

The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania.

The one person who could see right through Taker’s shield was Triple H. Taker said that he was ready to go out to the ring ‘riddled with self doubt and Triple h came to me and he said hey, remember who the f**k you are’.

It’s crazy to think, but we are all human at the end of the day, including The Undertaker.

Respect

It was made very clear during this documentary that The Undertaker is highly respected amongst his peers. The likes of Kurt Angle, Jim Ross, Mark Henry and Shawn Michaels all mentioned their deep respect and gave accolades to The Undertaker. John Bradsaw Layfield stated that The Undertaker was and still is the yard-stick that other wrestlers measure themselves up against. J.B.L continued by saying;

I think that he’s the greatest performer that has ever been, in the history of this business. I don’t think that there is anybody greater. I don’t think that there is anybody who has had more impact, bigger matches and a longer career and a more professional career than The Undertaker.

The Undertaker’s status as a locker room leader was backed up by his peers from the past and the present. This documentary showed The Undertaker backstage at WrestleMania 33 with current day wrestlers such as The Miz, Sheamus, Heath Slater and Xavier Woods all introducing themselves to The Undertaker as soon as they saw him in the arena, to shake his hand as sign of respect.

Its all about business 

Throughout the documentary, we learned that The Undertaker is all about business. Taker reiterated that fact by saying;

With me, its business, business comes first, first and foremost. That’s why we’re here. Our job is to go out and be first class, professional entertainers and give our fans what they gave their hard earned money to see.

WWE legend, The Big Show explained how The Undertaker came from a very special era of talent and that over the years he has watched The Undertaker go out to the ring and deliver night after night. Big Show stated that The Undertaker set the bar on what being a WWE Superstar was about.

The Undertaker before his match.

The Undertaker’s resilience and endurance has never been questioned. This is a man, who at the Elimination Chamber in 2010 was accidentally set on fire during his entrance to the ring. Taker stood in the chamber pod for 20 minutes pouring water on himself before he went out to wrestle for over 30 minutes with 2nd degree burns. As Michelle McCool stated, The Undertaker does not make excuses.

Wrestlemania 33 was intended to be the last ride

If we have taken anything away from WrestleMania 33 in terms of The Undertaker, it has got to be what took places after the epic encounter against Roman Reigns. As you may know, I am referring to to The Undertaker taking off his signature coat, hat and gloves and leaving them in the centre of the ring as he slowly walked away, in what seemed to be his retirement.

The Undertaker did return to the WWE after this memorable moment. However, it was heavily implied that this moment was intended to be his last. As mentioned above, after this match The Undertaker placed his legendary attire in the middle of the ring. Upon returning to the backstage area directly after this match, The Undertaker was met with with the warm embrace of Triple H, who hugged Taker and said ‘that was one hell of a run’. After spending some time with his wife backstage and being applauded by the talent and crew, The Undertaker said ‘it’s kind of surreal, thirty-plus years of my life, you know, this is what I’ve done. Right now I’m pretty content riding off into the sunset and we’ll see what tomorrow brings’.

Chapter 1 of this documentary closed with Vince McMahon meeting Mark Callaway in the doctors room after the WrestleMania 33 match. McMahon was teasing with Callaway asking asking ‘why didn’t you come to see me?’ Callaway responded with ‘are you happy? Then, that’s all that matters’. Proving once again that Mark Callaway is an incredible person who has a deep respect for Vince McMahon and for Professional Wrestling in general.

The Undertaker leaves everything behind at WrestleMania.

The Undertaker is one of the, if not the most successful characters in a Professional Wrestling history. Whether you are a die hard or a casual wrestling fan. Do yourself a favour and watch this documentary. There is something incredibly special about getting to witness the man who portrays the character break down every little detail of such an iconic figure that is admired by millions of people across the globe. As we know, The Undertaker has been the most protected character in terms of privacy that the Professional Wrestling world has ever seen. I for one am incredibly excited to see what else we learn from Mark Callaway as the remainder of this limited series documentary continues.

As always, I would love to hear your take. Let me know how you feel about so much light being shed on such a legendary career, so feel free to reach out, and we’ll have a discussion.

Thank you once again for joining us here at Sports Obsessive.

 

Written by James Corcoran

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