WWE Network’s Undertaker: The Last Ride documentary mini-series has been getting rave reviews. It’s jarring to see the Undertaker open up about the man behind the gimmick, and it continued this week when he was interviewed by ESPN’s Ariel Helwani.
Helwani asked him if the decision to release this documentary means that his wrestling career is over. Undertaker teased that he can’t answer that question before the full series has aired:
“Hey I love you brother, but I can’t give you that before episode two comes out...I’ve been retiring, personally, here when I’m at home, for at least six years. Every year I’ll come back and I’m all beat up and everything hurts the next day, and I’m like, ‘Man that’s it.’ And all I get from [Michelle McCool] is a big eye roll and she goes, ‘Until April comes around.’ She’s been pretty accurate so far.
I learned you never say never, but it’s very obvious that I have far more matches behind me than I do in front of me. Nobody beats father time.”
Helwani then asked him about the real story behind what happened in 2010 when Undertaker appeared at UFC 121 and called out Brock Lesnar, after a loss to Cain Velasquez. Undertaker offered this explanation:
“I was sent there personally to pick a fight. I was unaware that Dana [White] had no clue what was gonna happen, which I felt horrible about after the fact. I thought there had been some kind of discussion between him and Vince. But at that time, Brock was so hot in the MMA world. So obviously, it was like, you know what? Why not try it? There was no personal animosity, really. It was basically me saying, ‘Alright you left our world, I’m gonna come into your world and call you out.’ That was it. Obviously, it was a huge media storm.”
Undertaker goes on to make it clear that he wasn’t looking for a UFC fight with Lesnar; it was all about bringing Brock back for a big match in WWE.
According to Wrestler Observer’s Dave Meltzer, Vince McMahon’s plan at that time was for the main event of WrestleMania 27 in 2011 to be Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar, but Lesnar was under contract to UFC, and Dana White was not interested in his guys doing scripted fights in WWE. Meltzer implied that the incident at UFC 121 was essentially Brock shooting his own angle because he really wanted a match with Undertaker at WrestleMania, and that’s why Dana White didn’t know about it. Vince’s backup plan was to get in the ring himself for either a worked or shoot fight with White, but that awful idea thankfully never came to fruition either.
Getting back to Undertaker’s interview with Helwani, the topic of his undefeated streak at WrestleMania was brought up. Undertaker said the four consecutive matches with Shawn Michaels and Triple H at WrestleMania were the proudest moments of his career, as far as in-ring work is concerned.
Helwani then asked him if he had any regrets about the end of the streak, or if that decision was a mistake. Undertaker had a very interesting answer to that question:
“Internally, and the way this business works, I knew that some day it probably would [end]. In our industry, you just don’t walk away like Floyd [Mayweather] and retire undefeated or Rocky Marciano. It just doesn’t happen that way in wrestling. So it was always in the back of my mind that it would end. Although most of my peers and people that I work with thought it was a horrible decision. I just asked Vince, are you sure? Is this what you want? He was like, ‘If it’s not Brock, who can beat you?’
So it was like, alright, well, it’s your call. Everybody thinks that I have all this juice, that I can say yes or say no. I mean I could have said no, but what good was that gonna do?...What do I do? Not go out? Or throw a tissy?...That’s not me. I’m business, and business comes first before anything personal. So I just double checked and made sure that he was 100% sure that’s what he wanted to do. And that was the plan, so I went with it.”
It sounds to me like Undertaker wasn’t thrilled with the idea of losing the streak at WrestleMania 30. He at least makes it clear that his co-workers thought it was a very bad idea, and he doesn’t argue against that opinion. He also makes it clear that it was 100% Vince McMahon’s idea to have Brock Lesnar end the streak, and Lesnar was not handpicked by Undertaker.
Looking back on it now, where Undertaker has wrestled on five additional WrestleMania events since then, it does seem like a glaring error to have ended the streak in 2014. The Undertaker’s streak became a huge selling point of WrestleMania every year. It makes the most sense to end it when the Undertaker is on the verge of retirement, rather than 6+ years away from retirement.
You can check out the full video above to see more thoughts from the Undertaker on how comfortable he is with the release of the documentary, as well as the physical pains he deals with every day.
Do you agree with the Undertaker’s peers that it was a horrible decision to end his undefeated streak at WrestleMania 30?