‘The Last Ride’ is Undertaker at his most vulnerable in WWE
The Undertaker can’t be destroyed. Countless wrestlers have tried. Countless times they’ve come close.
He’s been set on fire. He’s been sealed in caskets. He’s been buried alive.
The Deadman rises every time, performing his trademark sit up and maintaining the cloak of invincibility he’s worn in the WWE since debuting at the 1990 Survivor Series.
Finally, he’s revealed what would shatter him.
“I always think this way, it would kill me to know, some dad who watched me when he was young, has to turn to his son, and go, ‘Man, he’s moving kind of slow now, but you should’ve seen him 10, 15 years ago,” the iconic wrestler said prior to WrestleMania 33. “It would just kill me if I was to know, ‘Yeah, you should’ve seen him when and not what he is now.’”
In the five-part WWE docuseries, “Undertaker: The Last Ride”, the legend who has famously protected his character and kayfabe during his incredible run finally allows people to meet Mark Calaway, a 55-year-old semi-retired wrestler grappling with the mental and physical toll he’s taken after more than three decades in the brutal business. The first episode premieres Sunday at approximately 10 p.m. on WWE Network following the Money in Bank pay-per-view. Two more installments will be on-demand each of the following two Sundays at 10 a.m. and the final two become available on June 14 and June 21, respectively.
“I used to be a tough son of a bitch,” he says in the debut episode. “What happened?”
In one of the most intriguing moments of the premiere, the star who headlined multiple WrestleManias and won several world titles — whose numerous injuries have limited him to performing as little as once per year for several years — admits his confidence was shaken before Wrestlemania 31, stemming from an in-ring concussion he suffered one year earlier against Brock Lesnar.
Prior to making his entrance at the 2015 event, Undertaker is seen backstage being given a pep talk by his contemporary/former champion/WWE executive Paul “Triple H” Levesque, who tells him to “Show them who the f—k you are.”
“I remember that being mind-blowing to me,” Triple H said. “This is the f—ing Undertaker. It was hard for me to contemplate that he had those doubts.”
It’s easier to understand after watching Undertaker discuss his famous WrestleMania 30 match versus Lesnar, who shockingly ended The Deadman’s 21-match winning streak at the company’s biggest event.
“The match with Brock, to this day, I still don’t remember,” Calaway said. “I’m not sure when I got concussed. I don’t know how that match happened.”
Calaway’s wife and former WWE superstar, Michelle McCool, said her husband didn’t know his name or where he was or why he was in New Orleans. One year later, Undertaker still didn’t feel comfortable doing what he’d excelled at his entire adult life.
“One concussion and one match destroyed my confidence,” he said.
By WrestleMania 33 — the focus of Sunday’s episode — Calaway had regained his swagger and felt comfortable finally walking away for good. After losing to Roman Reigns and leaving his hat and jacket in the middle of the ring, Calaway is met backstage by Triple H, who greets him with a long hug.
“That’s a hell of a run,” Triple H said.
Calaway then kisses his wife.
“It was so symbolic, him leaving everything out there, it was kind of like turning into my husband, he’s turning into Mark Calaway,” McCool said. “And he wasn’t afraid to kind of be vulnerable and come and give me a kiss and check on the kids and that kind of told us, I’ve heard it before that I’m done but that really said this is it.”
The Undertaker believed it, too.
“It’s kind of surreal I guess right now,” he said after the match. “It’s 30-plus years of my life. It’s what I’ve done. … Obviously this is gonna take some getting used to. … Right now I’m pretty content riding off into the sunset.”
The Undertaker returned one year later — unhappy with his farewell performance — and has wrestled multiple times since then. His search for the perfect ending continues.
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