At this point, Undertaker’s comments about today’s wrestlers being soft are essentially a part of ‘Reality’ Era kayfabe. Everyone’s getting some mileage out of offering their take on them. They’ll linger over the conversation until the next breach of locker room etiquette or some youngster on the independent scene “disrespects the business” and we all move on to that.
So, while Roman Reigns had an admittedly very good line on the SI Media Podcast about The Dead Man’s opinion...
“I think it was just like a retired guy trying to sound gangster.”
... and his diss of Goldberg’s support of Taker’s stance was just [chef’s kiss]...
“Goldberg is just Goldberg. Who cares?”
... that wasn’t the most noteworthy pull quote from the interview to me. Instead, it’s his measured response to the veterans criticism of video games in the locker room...
“I choose to play video games sometimes on my own time. I don’t do it at work. As you can see, some of my character is based around it. I’ve always been one that networked and politicked and tried to communicate and work while I’m at work. Some guys choose to stay in the locker room. And for guys like the New Day who are überly talented, they can get away with that. I hope the younger guys in the locker room don’t fall into that because we’re not all the same. I have to put my whole mind into work as I come to work on a Friday. Sometimes my wife has to tell me to shut it off. She’ll be like, ‘Stop, be at home, be present.’ Because I can’t turn it off sometimes and I think to be at the highest level of anything, you have to be borderline obsessive. So, yeah, I don’t always think there’s room for video games in the locker room, but when we’re running our regular touring system and it’s a live event and there’s nowhere to go, you got kicked out of the hotel because you couldn’t get the late check out, you already hit the gym, you already picked up your food and you’re sitting in the locker room, I’d rather my guys be playing video games than breaking into a bag of some sort.
“It’s a different time and I think we’re smarter. I think you’re gonna see that from the financial side of it, from how we save our money, how we prepare for the future, having a life after the business when we can’t fall down anymore to our actual health.”
... and his overall defense of the modern product...
“It’s a challenge to be PG. It’s a challenge to not have to go the cheap route. Being able to shove everything up everyone’s ass, to do that stuff, to just chug beers—and I’m not taking anything way from the performance and the physicality of what they did and the stories they told in the ring—these guys were great performers and great in-ring wrestlers. But the character development was easier. If I could just start chugging bourbon and smoking cigars, imagine what my character could be. We could go even further on this mob boss thing.
“It’s more challenging what we do now. It’s the facts. That’s why the business is bigger. That’s why we have a bigger platform now. And that was all due to the work done before us to get us to this point, but at the same time if we don’t do it the way we do it now, it wouldn’t be that way. It was a different time.”
I’m not saying I agree 100% with either quote, but if I were on the WWE roster, this is what I’d want to hear a veteran leader say. There’s both support and a slight kick in the ass in both quotes. He’s leading by example in talking about how much he puts into his own craft and how he’s getting ready for life after wrestling, which would motivate me to do the same.
He also manages to say these things in a way that maintains the edge of his current character, which to me is the real art of modern pro wrestling. It’s also the second example the headline refers to, where the Universal champ gives a free plug to the NXT tag team Kevin Owens was repping on SmackDown last night (Jan. 29) - by promising to outlaw their merchandise after he beats their buddy KO at Royal Rumble tomorrow night:
Damn, he’s good.