The Undertaker recently spoke with Newsweek to hype the next episode of his Last Ride documentary series on the WWE Network. Highlights from the interview can be found below.
Whether he wanted a WrestleMania 35 matchup after Crown Jewel:
It came up. I touch on it a little in the doc, but at this point it’s like, do I want to have a match to just have a match? At the time, there wasn’t the right person to build a WrestleMania-worthy angle. I had to look at it—”OK, I don’t want to be on this card just to say I’m on the card. One, it’s not going to be what it’s been built to be when you see Undertaker on the card. And two, I felt it was really unfair because if I go on the card, that means someone else won’t be on the card who has been making the rounds all year and working their butts off to try and get on that card. I just felt like it was the right thing to do at the time.
Details on why he pulled out of Starrcast:
It wasn’t the friendship aspect of it, or the personal feelings for each other. It was definitely business. And the fact that Vince and I are at this point where we rarely have to talk business, especially that kind of business. I believe that caught us both a little bit off guard. Like I said in the doc, I was oblivious to what’s going on. At the time, I wasn’t really keeping up with what’s going on here and there. And when he called and made me aware of it, it was a no-brainer. I can’t associate myself and I can’t be there. And I understood that. I don’t like committing to things and not being able to fulfill my commitment, either. In this case, it was a no-brainer and I had to pull out of that.
In general we had [Starrcast], and I had some other things lined up and it was more of a misunderstanding in the sense of, “OK, I’m not working that much anymore and now it’s time to capitalize on the brand that I built in outside projects.” So that’s what I did. I finally started a social media account to get out there and work on different opportunities. And WWE at the time wasn’t doing that for me and I didn’t have a problem with that. The way I perceive it, I had my run and there are guys out there working all the time and that’s where your focus is going to be. We were filming and we didn’t know what we had at that point, as far as the doc was concerned. I was just trying to be a businessman in the sense of trying to earn a living off of other ways other than being in the ring, and Vince, with some of the things that I set up, said I couldn’t do those things without this being in the WWE nest.
The big thing was, there’s nobody working for me on this side of things now. And I’m fine with that and I get it and I’m good. So we had to realize, he had to realize, that now that I’m not in the ring anymore there still needs to be someone to generate interest and get my name out there for outside projects. And once we let our man-pride and egos get out of the way, we were obviously able to sit down and have a productive conversation and he saw my point of view and I saw his point of view, and it was back to business as usual again.
How his relationship with Vince McMahon grew because of it:
Oh yeah, it was like once we gave our positions and both apologized to each other for the way we treated each other, it was back to like nothing ever happened. It’s been great since and I have people out there looking for opportunities for me and everything was great. It was just a bump in the road. When people say, “Oh, Undertaker and Vince had this falling out”—we did, but it was just one of those things that happen and make a relationship stronger and the friendship stronger, and that’s the way I look at it.
On the missing element in professional wrestling these days:
Right now, there’s a little bit of a disconnect because these guys are so athletically gifted that they rely way too much on that. Guys are climbing up to the top rope and doing a double backflip, laying out someone on the floor and obviously that’s going to get a tremendous pop from your audience, but what happens when you work that way and, as an example, and I really think a lot of this guy, like Drew McIntyre. I’ve seen him in the last three or four times he’s been on TV, and in matches he’s doing the big suicide dive over the top rope. That’s great to have in your repertoire, but you don’t want to do that every single week. For a big guy like that, it’s a pretty impressive move, but if you did that every week, people become desensitized to it and they say, “I’ve seen you do that, now what do you got?”
When I used to do [that move], I was much more judicious. You might get it at WrestleMania, but you won’t get that on TV week after week—it doesn’t become special. That is one example. So you have to continue to push the envelope to what your physical limitations are and in turn, they don’t get invested in the character, they are invested in seeing what athletic crazy move they’re going to do. That was a part of the success of the Undertaker. People were invested in that character and the good characters through the years, like Stone Cold. Stone Cold didn’t have a huge moveset, it was about his character. He was the anti-establishment, he was a working man’s hero.
Wrestling isn’t about wrestling moves. Wrestling is about telling stories. We use wrestling moves to tell that story and at the end of the day, we’re telling stories of good and evil, this guy did this guy wrong and that’s where you hook your audience. That’s what makes them care, is being able to tell stories. When I work with these guys, yeah, I work on technique and things like that, but I try to tell these guys why you do that and when to do this.