The fifth and final episode of The Last Ride is now live on the WWE Network, and the ongoing theme of The Undertaker trying to find peace with his career and come to grips with its conclusion doesn’t feel like the theme anymore.
That’s because it sure feels like the documentary itself accomplished that.
That’s the word from the man himself, who says the series helped him not to judge himself and his last several years in the industry so harshly. Sure, there were some tough matches, and maybe they didn’t go exactly the way he wanted them to, but it hasn’t been nearly as bad as he allowed himself to believe. He also got to see just how much both the fans and, more importantly, his contemporaries actually care about not just the character, The Undertaker, but the man behind it, Mark Calaway.
The episode starts with Extreme Rules 2019 and “The Phenom” telling Vince McMahon backstage after the show that he’s done because it went so damn well that how could he top it? Immediately after, though, he’s shown talking to the camera saying “it almost went too good. I might have a couple more in me.”
That’s what leads us right on into AJ Styles campaigning for at least one of those couple, if they ever happen. Ultimately, he get his wish and we see all the backstory to the match, how it came together, and how difficult it ended up being on Undertaker. It was more like a movie shoot than a match, after all, and that meant stopping and starting and retakes and all the standing around between all that action.
That’s hard on an old man’s body.
In the end, taxing as it was, the finished product was incredible, garnering rave reviews from nearly all who got eyes on it. It also featured a symbolic close, maybe the perfect final scene to the on-screen career of one of the greatest to ever do it: Undertaker riding off into the darkness on his motorcycle.
He recognized it as such, too. “If there was ever a perfect ending to a career, that right there is it.”
Would he come back if Vince McMahon was in a pinch? He cops to the old cliche — never say never — but also says “I’m at a point… this time, the cowboy really rides away. There’s nothing left for me to conquer, there’s nothing left for me to accomplish. The game has changed. It’s time for new guys to come up. The time just seems right. I think this documentary has helped me discover that.”
You could certainly say this is something we’ve heard in various other ways in the past, but it feels different this time. A major part of that is a deeply emotional moment roughly 44 minutes into the episode. Undertaker takes a call from his niece on a car ride back to the Performance Center and she tells him her father, his brother, had a heart attack. He did not survive. You can see in his tear soaked eyes just how impactful this was on Undertaker. “It’s just another indication of how important being present with your family is, because you just never know what’s going to happen.”
The episode closes with a tribute to his career but not before we see him out fishing with his wife by his side, his child showing up to playfully joke that she was actually rooting for Styles to win their match at WrestleMania. “I don’t want to miss out on anything else because I feel like I have to have this certain match to walk away,” he says. “My career, my legacy, it speaks for itself and I’m happy with it. At the end of the day, that’s really all that matters. I have this other life that I need to go and experience, and enjoy the fruits of my labor, and enjoy the blessings that I have with my wife and my children.”
Maybe it’s not the end. It hasn’t been before. But maybe this time it is, and you know what?
It feels right.