The Undertaker has been fiercely on the promotional rounds ahead of the launch of his documentary series, The Last Ride, this weekend.
As part of this promotional barrage, Undertaker (Or as he is being referred to so often by official sources now, Mark Calaway), sat down with ESPN and dropped some fairly hefty bombs about his match with Roman Reigns in the main event of WrestleMania 33. More specifically, those bombs were dropped squarely on his own performance.
Many expected that match to be Taker’s WWE swan-song, even more so when he left his iconic hat and gloves in the centre of the ring after the match.
We now know that wasn’t to be with The Deadman making plenty of in ring appearances since then against opponents such as John Cena, Goldberg, HHH & Shawn Michael’s.
Specifically, Taker has the following to say about the shift he put in that night:
“That was one of those times it was tough having the cameras there. That was the first time that I watched that match back. I was so disgusted with it that I didn’t want to watch it back.
“So, a little insight into how we used to do things. We used to have a pay-per-view on Sunday, and then obviously do TV on Monday. During catering, they’d be replaying the pay-per-view from the night before. Everybody would be watching the matches. I couldn’t do it. I cannot watch myself in that atmosphere.
“I wouldn’t watch my matches back until I was by myself, at home. No wife, no kids, nothing. I had to be by myself, alone. I wasn’t looking for the good stuff. I was looking for the bad stuff. What I should have done when I did that [move]. I wanted to pick it apart.
“You can watch a match with your peers and they’ll be like, “Aw, man, that was awesome.” I don’t want to hear that. Early on in my career, I watched everything back. Good, bad, indifferent. As I got older … I know when I’m out there and I’m moving slow. I know when my limp is more prominent that it may be. Or when I’m behind in a spot. I just know now.
“[Watching that match], I’m battling with it. I was so disappointed for Roman. Even after Brock Lesnar beat the streak, for guys coming up to have a match against The Undertaker at WrestleMania — especially where Roman was at — it was important for his career. Especially because he was going over.
“For me, in that role, I wanted to do the very best that I could do for Roman. I think the world of him. You want to be able to do the best you can for him, and you know you have no business being in the ring.
“Yes, I could have mailed it in. Protected myself. Only done a couple of things that I knew that I could do. But that’s just not the way I work. And it wouldn’t have been fair to him. So I just tried to do the best I could.
“The harder I tried, the more I did — at least in my perception — it was not a good night. It was really disappointing. Watching it back finally, and watching it back in front of a film crew, it was like … I didn’t have to say much. You could just tell from the expression on my face that I wasn’t really pleased with it.”
In the wide-ranging interview, Taker also chipped in on how he has noticeably opened up more in recent years than he ever had previously.
The Last Ride series will follow him becoming active on social media, various speaking and autograph events and even allowing AJ Styles to refer to him as ‘Mark’ in the build to and during their Boneyard match at WrestleMania 36. He offered:
“It was pretty difficult, honestly. But it was my idea. The end is near. [Laughs] I knew that I needed to document some of this stuff, because I wouldn’t have another chance to do it. Because once I finally pull the plug, I won’t have the opportunity to have footage of me behind the scenes and what I was thinking at the time.
“I really didn’t know what we were going to do with all of this. We didn’t start out with any thoughts. We just started filming this stuff with the thought that somewhere down the line we’d maybe do something with it. But it was extremely difficult. Even though it was my idea to have a crew start following me, it was extremely difficult for me to get used to it, to let my guard down.
“They would be there. They’d be filming. And then next thing you know, I’d snap at them, ‘Why are you filming me?!’ And they’d be like, ‘Because that’s what you asked us to do.’ And I was like, ‘Aw, s— you’re right.’ That’s one reason why The Undertaker had the longevity that it did. Because all they got was The Undertaker. So it was really difficult at first to let the guard down.
“[For example], it took me forever to get on the social media thing. A couple of years ago, I started a social media account, and I started getting things like ‘The Undertaker is on Instagram. My childhood has been ruined.’ [Laughs] That’s how protective I was of that character. So some people are really receptive to the fact that I’m opening up. Others are acting like I’ve ruined their childhood.”
The full ESPN interview is available here and The Last Ride premieres this Sunday on the WWE Network.