Time for a stroll down memory lane for one of the biggest ‘what ifs’ in wrestling history. If not for a role in Suburban Commando, we may have never had Undertaker as we know him.
Undertaker sat down with Chavo Guerrero Jr. to chat on Chavo’s new podcast, Suplexes & Cervezas. They went over Undertaker’s career path as the dead man told a story about Suburban Commando preventing him from tagging with Harley Race for a Japan tournament.
Undertaker had given his notice to leave WCW thinking that a gig with WWE was a sure thing. Undertaker met with Vince McMahon at his palatial estate, but it resulted in McMahon not having anything for Undertaker at that moment. Undertaker took the opportunity to read for a movie, which turned out to be Suburban Commando starring Hulk Hogan. Undertaker described it as, “probably the worst movie in the world ever made.” He played an alien bounty hunter, and his one line was dubbed over with a high, squeaky voice.
Chavo: So, now, you put your notice in, you had a meeting, and nothing for you. Then what happened?
Undertaker: So, now, I’m like, “Ah, crap.” So, Lawler was doing some kind of big tournament where he was bringing a bunch of different guys in. So, I did that. And then shortly thereafter, I got the call to go out and read for this movie. And, it was unfortunate, because I ended up getting the part. So, I got the part and maybe two days after I get the part, of all people who call me. I’m greener than shit at this point. Harley Race calls me and wants me to be his tag team partner in the Japan tournament. I’m like, “Oh, my gosh.”
Chavo: So, this is what year?
Undertaker: This is ‘88.
Chavo: ‘88 ‘89 something like that. So, Harley was still the man. I mean Harley was the man at all times. Never stopped being the man, but he was the man, the man. We always say with Harley Race, he was the man in wrestling when men were men. Nobody messed with Harley Race. (Insert Chavo’s Harley impression.)
Undertaker: Man, it was like ripping my heart out telling him that, because I had already committed to doing the movie, right? Man, I was just like, “Uh, god. How can I get out of this?” To go to the Japan tournament with Harley Race, I mean that would have...
Chavo: That would have changed your career too. You would have started going to Japan. Because once they saw you work, they would have been, “Okay, we want this guy.” You would have been a Japanese guy, I mean in Japan for a long time. Which is awesome, great. They paid incredible money back then. That would have definitely changed your career.
Undertaker: It probably would have. That’s the one thing on the resume I wish I could said that I was tag team partners with Harley Race in the Japan tournament. But, it wasn’t meant to be.
After the movie, McMahon eventually called Undertaker. It was during the push of the Gobbledy Gooker reveal. Undertaker dreaded that he might have been inside that egg. He experienced serious anxiety about being Eggman. In an ironic twist for this particular podcast, it was Chavo’s uncle, Hector, who became the Gobbledy Gooker. And we all know how history unfolded for the Undertaker.
It’s wild to think what could have been if Undertaker never got that movie role. In an alternate timeline, he would have tagged with Race and made lots of money. A continuing gig in Japan would have given him leverage to possibly pass on a WWE opportunity if he was too worried about becoming the Gobbledy Gooker. He may have even passed on the Undertaker gimmick if he was content with his earnings in Japan. I’m going to go real deep into insanity and pretend he could have been in the NWO as part of the Japan faction. Ah, what a fun daydream.
Back to reality. Now, we can all thank Hulk Hogan for his megastar status to make a movie and inadvertently give us the gift of the Undertaker.
How do you think Undertaker’s career would have unfolded if he found success in Japan prior to joining the WWE?