Welcome back to Sports Obsessive. The following is what have learned about The Undertaker from Mark Calaway’s perspective in Chapter Two of The Last Ride.
As noted in my break-down of Chapter One of The Last Ride, this is a five part limited series documentary encompassing the legendary career of The Undertaker, told by man behind the character, Mark Calaway.
Chapter Two of this documentary began with a continuation of Mark Calaway’s view of his performance with Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 33 and his redemption the hoped to achieve in his WrestleMania 34 match against John Cena.
Taker admitted that he was hugely disappointed with his performance that night and that he could not give Roman Reigns the WrestleMania match he deserved. He added that many dream of being in that spot on that night and feels that he let Roman Reigns down. We saw Taker watching back over his performance at home with his wife Michelle McCool, eight months after the match had taken place. Taker looked as he was tearing up watching himself back and even said that WWE production-crew ‘should have just played the package and called it a day‘. His performance at WrestleMania 33 really left some negative emotions within the man, Mark Calaway. Taker said that he was not where he should have been physically, and that he should not have been in the ring on that night and took full responsibility.
After the WrestleMania 33 match, The Undertaker took off his signature coat, hat and gloves and leaving them in the centre of the ring as he slowly walked away from the ring, implying that he had officially retired. WWE Legend, The Big Show added that when Taker left his gear in the ring at WrestleMania, ‘it was very religious, that he left it all in the ring, whether there was 400 people there (in attendance) or 400,000 people there, you always leave everything in the ring and The Undertaker will rest in peace’. Taker then said ‘that was 100% real and me saying goodbye’.
Roman Reigns had the following to say regarding his WrestleMania 33 match with The Undertaker:
It was heartbreaking, it made me emotional and it made me want to cry. I don’t regret anything. Was it perfect? No. When we are out there in the moment, as live performers anything can happen. To be able to do that, its all coming back on his character, its all coming back to the responsibility that he holds and he succeeds. If there is something that has to be done with a goal at hand, the man gets it done, plain and simple. I think that it couldn’t have been easy. I couldn’t imagine that decision or being at that point in my career or in my life, to where this is the last one. Its still hard to fathom.
The Undertaker said he did the best he could do for Reigns, the problem was his personal physical condition and that his body was at the limit of what it could take. Taker added that he was going to have his hip replaced as it was causing pain on a daily basis. On May 3rd 2017, four weeks after WrestleMania, Taker began his surgery process. Taker said that he has had this same hip surgery before and until time of time of filming he was pain free on his left side every since. Taker went on to mention many injuries that he has sustain over his career than spans just over three decades. When asked by doctors, Taker advised that he has had over 15 different surgery’s including eye surgery where he stated that he has had blow-outs in both eye sockets.
Along with rotator-cuff surgery, bicep repair, skull repair and has broken every finger on both hands. The cameras documented Taker having a metal bowl and metal socket inserted into his hip. The doctor’s had a little bit of fun with the situation and entertained The Undertaker by playing his WWE theme music as he dozed away under the anaesthetic. The day after the operation, Taker was walking up and down the hospital corridors using crutches and said that the pain he would feel by putting weigh on the right side of his body was gone. Taker said ‘it was amazing to wake up and be pain free’.
The Meeting with McMahon
Three months after the above mentioned surgery, The Undertaker’s WWE contract had expired. Taker told the story about how he travel to Stamford CT to have a meeting with Vince McMahon. Taker explained how we wanted to have a discuss with McMahon to see what his role within the company was going to be, admitting that he didn’t see himself ever getting in the ring again, but as he admitted, he has said that in the past. Taker said that he gave up strategizing meetings with McMahon a long time ago, and that in the past, he had been dead set with what he was going to do but McMahon could convince him otherwise. Taker even said that McMahon could ‘sell ice to an Eskimo’. Proving that the WWE chairman, Vince McMahon can come to a deal with just about anybody.
Taker spoke very highly by saying ‘I cant think of anybody more influential in my life other than my father than Vince. He’d be the first one to pat you on the back, but also the first one to kick you in the ass when you needed it’.
WWE legends including Kane, Big Show, Bret Hart and Vince McMahon’s son, Shane McMahon all spoke about how Taker has been Vince’s ‘right hand man’ over the years. During the Monday Night Wars, when some wrestlers who were employed by McMahon at the time ‘jumped ship’ to join Ted Turner down south at World Championship Wrestling, McMahon’s rival at the time. Taker was the only one who stood by McMahon’s side through thick and thin and McMahon never forgot that. WWE Legend Kane said that ‘Vince McMahon is one of those people that if you’re loyal to him, he’s going to be loyal to you’.
The relationship between Taker and McMahon is a truly special relationship that we as fans have been unaware of. Taker said that he love McMahon to death and he would take a bullet for him.
Yes he’s my boss, my friend but he’s been like a dad and he’s been like a brother. He’s been it all to me. I’ve gone through some really harrowing personal issue’s in my life and kind of let them take over who I am as a person. The problems just became so monumental that I didn’t care about anything else. He was the one that basically sat me down in a chair and he said to me, Mark, you can quit feeling sorry for yourself. I’m like there’s no other person that could say that to me and I wouldn’t have got up and just knocked the s**t out of them but it was Vince and I knew it was the truth and I knew where it came from. Tough love, you know but that’s what I needed and not because he was my boss or anything else but it was because he was my friend. and he cared about me. He’s an incredible man and a very important person in my life that has made me a much better man.
Taker revealed that when he watched back his WrestleMania 33 match with Roman Reigns that he was embarrassed and incredibly unhappy with the performance he gave. That was when he decided that he needed to redeem himself. Taker was training to get him mind and body in ring shape in time for WrestleMania 34. Vince McMahon had a wrestling ring delivered to Taker. Taker had access to an old jet-ski warehouse that was abandoned near his home and he had the wrestling ring set up there. Taker underwent his training in the warehouse and since the hip surgery, showed some incredible changes in his movement that he was capable of at WrestleMania 33. Former WWE Superstar, Primo, visited Taker in his training ring to have a couple of training sessions with Taker. Primo is very fast, very agile and Taker was very grateful to have Primo there to train with because wrestling another individual will give you such a better grasp on exactly where you are at with your in ring ability that solely lifting weights and working on your cardio. Taker added that he needed redemption for his character and for himself, his plan was to come back at WrestleMania 34 to show everybody who he is and why he is still the best at what he does.The night before WrestleMania 34, Taker was thinking over his match the next day and said the following:
To be quite honest, after last years performance, there was a lot of reason to doubt. That’s not how I want to be remembered so yeah it’s for the fans but a lot of it is for myself and my pride and the legacy that I want to leave in this business.
Taker spoke about how he felt before WrestleMania 34 by saying that he felt that could have been the last time he walked down that ramp and a very important part of his life could stop so that he could start to to open a new chapter in his life. Taker said it was a true honour to face off against John Cena at WrestleMania and that they have only ever had one singles match in Cena’s entire career in the WWE. On April 8th, 2018, the day of WrestleMania 34, Taker was kept a secret from a lot of people inside of the arena including WWE talent and crew. Taker explained how important it was for him to perform at a level that the audience expected him to be at and he wanted people to think that he had a lot more left in the tank, If he could leave with that, he would be content and could walk away. In the story-line, John Cena had challenged The Undertaker to a WrestleMania match and week after week was met with no response whatsoever. Cena then bought a front row seat for WrestleMania because, as he put it, If he could not have that match at WrestleMania, he was going to experience WrestleMania with the fans.
Of course, The Undertaker arrived and the fans (me included) lost their minds. Taker looked great in the match, so fierce and so ruthless. Taker was wrestling for a purpose, now we all now what that purpose was. Redemption for The Undertaker and for Mark Calaway. Now, after seeing this documentary, we have learned how happy Taker was with his WrestleMania 34 performance. He said that his body did everything that he asked it to and how he didn’t have to think about how to hit them ropes, it just did it. After his match, Taker approached Roman Reigns at told him that the performance he gave last year with Reigns bother him. Taker added that he should have never been in the ring at WrestleMania 33. Taker said that he felt good after the WrestleMania 34 match and wished he had more time to wrestle. Taker feels that he accomplished what he set out to accomplished and has a lot more in the tank. Its very evident that The Undertaker does not know when he will official retire. The man behind the character does not even know if he will ever want to retire and he couldn’t even answer his question to himself. Only time will tell.
Join us again next week, as I will be looking back at the episode 3 out of 5 of this incredible limited series documentary covering the career of The Undertaker.
As always, I would love to hear your take. Let me know how you feel about what we have learned about The Undertake so far and feel free to reach out, and we’ll have a discussion.
Thank you once again for joining us here at Sports Obsessive.