Because he’s a wrestler, and because he’s a wrestler we’ve been led to believe was retiring a few times now, WWE’s promotion of Undertaker’s Final Farewell at Survivor Series on Nov. 22 was met with some skepticism.
The focus of much of that skepticism has been on Vince McMahon. That’s because both The Last Ride documentary series where Mark Calaway announced his retirement and the media blitz leading up to last night’s ceremony has drilled into our heads that Taker can’t say no to Vince. It’s one of the reasons his past retirements haven’t lasted (the other is that Calaway wasn’t satisfied with what was to be his final performance - but he says he’s happy with the cinematic Boneyard match with AJ Styles from WrestleMania 36, so hopefully that addresses that).
So what if McMahon calls him up and pitches coming out of retirement to save a show? It’s a question the Dead Man was posed a couple times in the past week or so.
Here’s what he told a journalist (CBS Sports’ Brent Brookhouse):
“You know, I have to deal not only with my thoughts and my conscience, but I also have to deal with Vince’s thoughts and his conscience. A lot of times, they’re not always on the same page. Vince’s line is, ‘You never say never.’ But where I’m at, I don’t see myself getting to a point where I’m going to be physically better in a couple of years than I am now. I’m going to be a couple of years older and a couple of years slower. So yeah, I mean, I just don’t see it. Not in the capacity where I’m going to get in the ring and actually work. Whether I have some sort of role, that’s a different thing, but my days in the ring I think are long gone now.”
And here’s what he told a colleague (Steve Austin on the latest Broken Skull Sessions):
“In my mind, yeah, I’m good with that [being retired]. But, you know, the old man? You never say never. But I am, for the first time in my life I’m at a place where I can say, ‘I don’t need it. I don’t have to be there.’ And I’m gonna be okay. And this is the first time in my life that I’ve ever been there... I’m good with that.”
Taker goes on to tell both Brookhouse and Stone Cold that he still has the passion to perform and “would do this forever” if he could. But his physical limitations at 55 years old have finally proven to him that he can’t.
Will that resolve survive an ask from “the old man”? These answers don’t convince me they will, but I hope so. The key is probably in finding an outlet for his love of pro wrestling. He continues to talk about working with Triple H & Shawn Michaels at the Performance Center - maybe that’s the secret ingredient to Calaway letting the Undertaker rest in peace?
Time will tell.