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On this episode of KAYFABE CRITICS, we look back on the Career of one of the most iconic and ageless superstars in the history of the WWE, The Undertaker.
From his debut in 1991 at Survivor Series to his final match against AJ Styles at Wrestlemania 36, we take a look back at some of the Undertaker's most iconic moments, influential matches, and what he meant to the WWE inside and outside the ring.
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Hosts: Dave Clarke, Michael Marcangelo
Producer: Craig D'Alessandro
Welcome into Kayfabe Critics on missing the point I am DK Sizzle we're joined by Mark Marcangelo, I'm so excited to be doing this show, as everybody knows, I geek out about the wrestling shows. I'm always honored to be asked to do them. I asked Mike to let me sort of lead the dance because it just it occurred to me in sort of a moment of inspiration today that we really never talked about the undertaker retiring at length, what I would consider sort of the biggest thing to happen in wrestling for many years him finally leaving. And I think there was a lot of you know, there was documentaries that came out there was like a lot of coverage of it. It was you know, it was done. I thought this time well, as opposed to the last time they tried to do it. But I think now that all that's settled down, I think we can have sort of, you know, State of the Union type discussion about the Undertaker, where he ranks for you, for me for the outside world. What was great about him what maybe sort of fell short and like, I'd love to just go through, you know, just as a credit to him existing in wrestling. Just go through some of the big matches and talk about like, kind of our perspectives on it. Mainly your perspectives on it, Mike, because I think his two biggest passions are again, Shawn Michaels. So let's just get right into it. I'd like to start off right off the top. There's a lot of goat conversation about around Undertaker, I would say it's probably the most hotly contested goat subject in wrestling right now, if you're on any forum, there's one comment underneath like anything about like, who's the best, like, do look at the numbers taker, this this the street, et cetera, et cetera? Where is he on your list? And just give us your top five? If he's in there? Great. If not, we'll have to talk about that. Yeah, I mean, the top five for me, because I think you have to take into consideration like the the in ring work like their their abilities, their drawing power. Number one, Shawn Michaels. I mean, I've always been a Shawn Michaels fan. That's we know about that. Number two, Stone Cold Steve Austin just because of the impact that he had on the business for as short of a time relatives you take her that he was in it. Three staker fours the rock five is Bret, the Hitman Hart. Wow, I'm so glad he could squeak in there for you. But I mean, if you think about those five, those are and you notice that Hogan is not in my top five and he could be the greatest wrestler or superstar of all time. But all three, all five of those people, they could draw, they could talk. And they could wrestle and I think taker is by far. I mean, he's the greatest big man of all time. But I think that's a cop out because there aren't that many great big men. So for him not to be in anybody's top five, or at least top 10. I think it's blasphemous. Sure, but I mean, don't you think there's sort of a consensus heartache sort of going around in the wrestling community that he's number one, and should be number one on everybody's list? And like, Do you dispute it? Apparently you do, because he's three for you. Yeah, I just I just viewed that and that's like, just to make this relative for anyone that may not be a wrestling fan, but just listen to this because they automatically downloaded it. It's like it's the it's the it's the Carl yastrzemski arguments, the Red Sox, right? But he played there for 65 fucking years. But he's, he's not the greatest he was just around the longest taker happened to be you know, he came in at the end of the Hades arena, really where we thought was a golden age of wrestling. And then he weathered through the storm of the early 90s into the Attitude Era. But if you look at it, he had great matches, great feuds and great moments every single one of the areas that he was a part of. I do think that there I mean, the reason why he's not number one, it's just because I think Sean's a better wrestler and I think I think Austin was a bigger pop culture icon and influence in professional wrestling, but that's it. Whoa, that's pretty fair. I I have met three as well but my top five is actually very different than yours otherwise, which fit which means listen, what I do like about your top five though, and I think that it's part of the reason taker gets sort of knocked down to three is you've always banging the drum of great champions are also vulnerable. champions like great champions need to put other people over they need to lose at the right time. You know, they need to have these kind of redemption arcs and I think with taker apart from the ascension after he was to Yokozuna, I don't really remember any great like huge vulnerable moments for him you know I think that you can level that criticism and taker but even more so like a whole Cogan and it makes sense why he doesn't why he doesn't make your top five it makes sense probably why Brett's five for you because I think that you hold that quality wood fairly you know that to tell a story there has to be ups and downs like this is what we're this is what kind of what we're doing here and I think the best vulnerable champions I think do fall down your list because my top five is Brett one obviously I mean we've litigated already just scroll back in the in the episodes we've litigated this today HBK number two taker three for all the same reasons Stone Cold Steve Austin for and Hulk Hogan five so I think the vulnerability thing to me means a little bit less than impact and I think if I have for instance if I have stone cold at number four I you know Brett's number one credibility actually goes up because I think he did a lot to put stone cold where he is, but that because we're talking about the Undertaker, that same argument can be made for taker with Shawn Michaels. You know, I think that if it's not for those three bouts between those three between those guys, they elevate each other but I think like what Shawn does for his size being a high flyer does for the Undertaker, and like what what makes him good at in actual matches, like forget the character taker was better at wrestling, smaller guys, like he just was, you know, I mean, he had great rivalries with Cain, which we'll get into. But as far as the actual technical wrestling goes, I think he was just so much better with high flyers. And it's part of the reason that myth sort of exists, right? That stereotype sort of is this where like to better match if you put the size the guy in the guise of a Jayson size next to income. Right? Yeah. And you can I mean, you can see that too, because early on in his career, he was going up against, you know, statues and fossils, like, like Jimmy Superfly, Snuka, King Kong Bundy, Jake the steak, frickin giant Gonzalez, like, I think that was just an internal rib on him. But when you saw him, you know, I think the first I don't count Yokozuna, as a big man only because he could just move now he happened to be large, but he could move but the the first big man that he fought that I believed and there was actually an entertaining match was you know, diesel at WrestleMania 12 is good match. And Kevin Nash wasn't known for having good matches. So when you saw that, okay, well, he could do with the small guys, all the big guys can but now to your point you get into diesel sit at 30 was okay, I probably would have said the best matches. But then, hey, I mean, Heaven and Cain had a 16 year rivalry that they could just happen to whatever they wanted. Yeah. And it's that's a testament to take your but also how good Ken Olson wasn't the right. Yeah, I agree. And I and you know, I think it that elevated canes character too, because when taker showed up, it was the you know, you remember the announcement of SummerSlam right where he comes in or was at WrestleMania. Seven was his first match against Jimmy do good. Takers first match was a was Survivor Series. 1990. Right. That's it. It was first Wrestlemania match was against Superfly Yeah, right. Superfly right, who Chris Volker move at all? And like, that's not a great match. But what is cool about it is take walking in and then being like, what is this guy like? 350 pounds? What is he like? 610 they're like all guessing his weight and his height. And they're like, look at the fucking size of A and he is picking up Jimmy Dukkha you know, he's throwing them around a good amount. There is one purpose general purpose. What Dukkha Yeah, I mean, isn't that how you say his name? Am I saying it wrong? My dude aneema snicker Oh, yeah, why am I saying dude? Dude, I've been doing this for wrestling names. I called the Hacksaw Jim Duggan fucking pins Jim Dugan for like years. I don't know why I keep fuckup wrestling Superfly Snuka he there's one great move or take her ducks like a die from him and he goes right over the ropes but he doesn't quite make it and he like bounces on the ropes and then falls back over but he does the first to stood against him right? Yep. So like you see that that move and but that's another criticism. People love her level of taker that he has moved and changed enough over the course of that billion year career, you know? So you have guys like that. And then eventually Yes, you get you start to get them rivalries. His first match against Cain was that the first ever hell in the cell? That was WrestleMania 14 in Boston. I mean, they've been teasing it. That's what so Kane showed up at Hell in the cell in 97. Riots, right? Yeah, my, I think it was bad blood, or my Gala was one of those in your houses. And then KCUR went through. I think it's four or five months where he vowed to never lay a hand on this brother. Right? They did a really good job building that storyline. And then ultimately, after after, you know he broke Shawn Michaels back Royal Rumble Maxine ADA. And he, they put it in the casket, they lit it on fire, and then in Boston, 14, and you really didn't know what three there? No, no, no, no only because I mean, it was 10 going to be 10. At the time, I had a suspicion that Charlotte is going to lose. And I couldn't deal with being there in person for that. So, but you have that match, though? You don't really know. But you know, take your kid do. You know, Cain was Isaac Yankem. For his first run in WWE. There were no five star matches there. But that's where the storyline actually elevated the inrae. It made you so invested in that. And they capitalized on that and I think, you know, yeah, there, Shawn. Yeah, there's mankind. But there we're not talking about Undertaker that whether we are right now, if not for Kane. Yeah, I had that written down. I wanted to go and I'm thinking that's a good time to his transition into I want to talk about the people that elevated him because I think that obviously the kings of the world, I think the pallbearer character. And I think that kind of the way that they weaved that into the storyline, one of the early moments of them weaving it into the storyline of the behind the scenes of the WWE WWF at the time, where it's like, oh, there's like all this weird dark art stuff going on. And he's, you know, and he played a great character as well, you know, like the way they the way that the whole betrayal goes down with with Cain in the first place, where it's like, he turns his back and he can't get the urn, and the urn, they do that great gag with the urn with all the green stuff coming out. It's like the betrayal. And then he's always, you know, pallbearers on Kane's team for like, the remainder and it's like, all this drama. It's like, it's the opera of it at its finest. And I think that that elevates the Undertaker's character further, because you're kind of with him through this whole, like, supernatural, you know, but you know, betrayal brother's father, like all this kind of like high minded operatic storyline that that brings you through. And it does sort of cover up I think, a little bit some of his technical inefficiencies early on. And I think he's like, he's a little bit like, lucky to be elevated to that point at like, would you agree, or would you disagree? Or do you think it was maybe partners until before k. So I do think that taker gets a little bit of a bad rap for his early run it in the 90s, or WWE for being slow and methodical. But that's what they wanted him to the beat, right? Who lurking this like this Frankenstein character that they had going for him at first? Yeah. At the drop of a dime, he could move quickly. He would do that, that over the head clothesline. The old school like he couldn't move fast. But cheer like to your actual question. I think that in the 90s there were three people, only three people that may take her vulnerable. It was Yokozuna, it was mankind, Mick Foley, and it was Kane, you did not know based on how the feuds went, how he was going to do and it actually crossed your mind that he could lose, you know, three Yoco just a big guy athletic and it's believable that of 480 pound man can beat a 320 pounds. But that's just, it's fair. He fully comes in, and he's just, he's ripping his hair out. He's having boiler room brawls buried alive matches and nothing that take your dust and will kill them. I mean, when he appeared on raw the night after Wrestlemania, he put them in he put the mandible claw and take care. They have like a little foam coming out of his mouth. That was pretty fucking wild. That's the first time that you've seen take care like that. And for Kane all the same things. He was the same size. And there was this great storyline where taker did not want to hurt his brother because he already thought that he did a disservice by leaving him in the funeral parlor that was their home and when it burned like that is WWE at its best. Yeah, like it like I was saying the whole sort of pageantry of it and I think it does elevate the character. I think a lot of times when people are talking they are debating the undertaker is the goat thing. I think they're talking about the character. And I think the points that people make in order to elevate him to number one in their minds is he might be the best character ever. You know, longevity wise storylines wise, it's kind of difficult argue that he is you know, what I think when you and I sort of have these you know dissections and debates I think a lot of it factors in with you know the wrestlers themselves the stuff that they did with and when they did it and you know, again I saying that Undertaker had great partners, especially during the run where we're talking about right now, like leading up to Shawn Michaels I want to dedicate more time to that later but when he tosses mankind off the top of the cell, you know, everybody gives that's a mankind match to most people right? Like it's like oh, wow, that's this guy will fucking do anything. This guy will like literally do anything like he's out of his mind. So people start to become a huge Mick Foley fans right? And what taker does a great job in that have like really fucking him up and like really selling it? You know what I mean? Like really, really selling it like when he tosses him? It's with this sort of cold abandon with that heat. Yeah, he He acts it you know and it this is a big stunt this is like I think at the at that time I think that's the highest anybody it had dropped. I think people have gone higher since. But it was shocking it was the toss hurt around the world at the time. And yeah, you can you people can rightly give credit to I think mankind in that match but I mean taker, I think does a great job of selling. You know, I think when he has a dance partner, like like the Mick Foley's of the world, I mean, it's like you get, or I should say, mankind's of the world. You get magic, you know, and I think he is he plays a big part in that because, you know, it's the pageantry of it. Yeah. The theatrics of it. Yeah, exactly. like to know, you know, when you're watching that where, you know, I was 10 years old, you were nine at that time, right? You just instantly went? I think he's dead. You have, right. I mean, not to say it's one of those moments where you're like, Did this go wrong? And you can just hear Jr. Yelling. Oh, my God that killed him. Yeah. Yeah, that man is split in half, I'm sure of it. And then you just see taker just peeking over the edge. And like not even bugging out not not flinching. It's like, I'm meant to kill it. Yeah. And then character. Yeah, yeah. That you know, now, all these years later, we know that that move was not cleared by anybody, like that was not discussed. And for him to do that, and then do all the things that he did in that match. I mean, this is getting a little bit too in the weeds, but he had a broken foot that match. Everyone always talks about the fact that you have Mick Foley almost died twice. Sure. And it's true. But take his climbing a cell with no holes in it to go to the top, jumping from the top to the ring, the roof of the cell wasn't doing great, either with those two big guys up there, like the roof was starting to fall apart as they're up there. And you're like this. So that adds some kind of tension and realism to it. Because it looked to me like it really was breaking. And they're like, oh, there's a mower, they're like, kind of like gingerly. But that wasn't that wasn't planned, it was not supposed to go through. So yeah. But it absolutely wild. You know, mankind does get that credit. But at the same time, when you have a guy like me and kind in your real professional, and you know, oh, my god, Brett, he bangs this drum all the time. You don't hurt the other guy even Yeah, he's willing to do whatever. I would argue I would criticize rock more for how he kind of went over the top with mankind and like what he'd allow him to do. I think he took it too far, to be honest, because you know, he's never gonna say no to this stuff. But I think taker kind of protected them and weird way, you know, because he is kind of a pro. You know, like, he didn't let them die. I know, he's stable, but he didn't let him die. You know, he threw him in the right spot. So, you know, you gotta give him credit for being a consummate professional there. I mean, I know we have these injury record. And I mean, that in the sense of like, injuring other people. I know it's not 100% clean as your want to point out, but I think I wouldn't say he was a dangerous wrestler. No, you know, he wasn't Goldberg you know, he wasn't out there like not knowing what he was doing. And I think you need a guy like that if you're going to perform stunts at that level at the at that Mick Foley level, you know, or at the you know, as we should I think move on to the at the Shawn Michaels level. So, I think we all know the three matches, where do you put them? One on top of the other? And why is that tough question. Have you not thought about that? Yeah, well, I just think so. WrestleMania 25 is the greatest wrestling I think that I've seen only because, you know Yeah, the wrestling was great, but also the theatrics and the fact that this is 12 years after they had their last match. But wait hold on catch me up because I'm not as deal with with the actual names of the events is that the launder over the fuckin over the ropes and fucks it up? And he like, yeah, he nearly dies. And he has to keep the streak alive by like, getting up, basically. But then after after that, what are your was breaks his neck, they drove for another 18 minutes. And that's when it actually picks up. Right. So I think that's a true testament to both of them. Just the fact that you know, 12 years later, there was so much interest in those two meetings for the first time at WrestleMania. And that they did it it wasn't just 245 year olds out there just because their names stole the show. Yeah, I mean, this is that that was a half hour match. You know, like all in and these guys are old as fuck and they're doing crazy stuff. You know and I agree with you and it's a testament to both of them that they were still doing it at that level especially Shawn to be honest with you with the injuries that he had had I don't think he enjoyed you can there's a million interviews out there to have him witnessing taker take that fall and being like, Oh, dude, no, no that like your God, are you okay? Like it goes to him of all people he knows you know? I think Helena cells number two, right? That's the that's the first Elena cell. I think. The fact that that Nick Pivetta does show and neither of those men were champion. And you know, you have the introduction of Cain. Yeah, monster monsters, Cain comes out with Paul bear, which gives Shawn Michaels the chance to crawl out of his pool of his own blood and escape this right beat down to the dirt receiving and it's the first ever one to sell. It might still be the best ever Hela cell like it could possibly be. And it's because it's an amazing match between those two we continue. And then I think the third is 26 year Sean's last match. There It's really hard to even come close to following up your the match that you had the year before. Rockin Hogan tried to do it in, in tune after their 2002 match with no way out 2003 It was awful. Like, I recommend that you never watch that. But, you know 26 For what it was, was really good. And the storytelling was again on point the fact that shaker could have put him out but didn't want to. And then Michael slaps him across the face taker does his little sign and then and really puts a tombstone down. I mean, it's that is storytelling in the ring at its best to they knew those two wrestlers or sports entertainer humans knew how to elicit a response from the audience by doing not a lot with the just the facial expressions they didn't in WrestleMania 25. Take your dose the tombstone for the first time ever crosses that thing does the hair flip? And Shawn kicked out? And the look on takers face? I mean, he just it told you. This has never happened before. I don't know how if I could be doing well, yeah, I mean, it was peak storytelling in the sense that they had built not only takers character, but also that they built that move into, once this happens, it's over there. And they really, really punch that home every single time it happens. He wrapped the arms across the chest, like in a coffin. He'd pin him. That's it, you know, it's lights out, and they did some cool stuff with that move over the years, you know, like, don't get me wrong, like when Kane does it to him? Yep. You know, that's a whole crazy moment where like, you're not a zone move. But I agree. I think that's actually the height. Ironically, Sean kicking out of it. I think that's the highlights of the move itself, because I think that's the it's congruent. And it's convalescent with the peak of Shawn Michaels, you know, like him in this crazy at this crazy level of performance. And adding to this narrative that like, he's the one minute taker can't kill you. Like he's the one he's the easiest enemy. Because they're smart about it. They see the kind of matches they have, they see the way that they work together in the ring, which I think you're absolutely right to touch on that how they were with each other, how they bounced off each other, I thought was great. I think Sean did a lot to elevate taker in those moments. And I think, in the kind of the acting part of it, and I think taker did a lot to really show off Shawn's moves. Yep. In the actual technical part of it. And I think, to me, that is my number one, between those two, because I think it's like, it's got everything that take her and Shawn always brought to the table, it's got a whole thing, you know, the whole package in there, because the every element that we're that we just discussed at length, is there in a huge way. You know, like it shows their rivalry, it shows why it works. The acting is on point the moves are on point. And nobody was harmed in the making of this. This this great match. Right. So yeah, I think I really do think that they elevate each other. I think there's a reason why both of them are on both of our lists, maybe in different spots, but they're they both kind of have to be and it's a lot of it's sort of because of each other. Let me ask you this sort of moving on to more pressing topics. As far as like his retirement goes, Do you think that his first retirement, quote unquote, in 2013, or whatever it was? Do you think that he his legacy might have been in better shape? Had he not had he stopped wrestling around 2013 2014? Do you mean the streak? Sorry, asking me well, the streak ends, right, the fact that the streak ends in I think 2014, right. Yeah. If he retires before that. Is that better? Is that better for the legacy of the of that happening from you know, from Wrestlemania? You know, say he beats CM Punk or Wrestlemania? 29. Right. Yeah. And then it's he's just walks away into the sunset. You know, there's, there's that Shane McMahon thing never happens. That weird man, the street doesn't end, he just had a lot. I thought there was a lot of stuttering after that, you know, like, there was a lot of kind of stop start. It just didn't, it didn't feel like the same career anymore after that point, you know, and I know he wanted that kind of perfect ending, which to me would have been Shawn coming out of retirement and giving him the retirement match that he gave Shawn, to be honest with you, which doesn't seem like that's on the cards anymore. They tried that. Well, there are a million right, like it said, but like, do you think that there was any shine taken off his career after that, after the streak ended, and he couldn't quite find his like perfect retirement match in that era. So I think that when the fans talk about this, right, it's a lot of the hindsight is 2020. Because in the moment when you think about it, 23 is a great match at the tooth and 24 is a great match of that. It's 2526 with Sean 2728 with Triple H with that Helena Sal, it's want to be an all time classic. And he's 20. No, at this point. Yeah, has a great matchup with CM Punk. So you think, Okay, this guy can still just show up once a year, and he can do it. And based on based on the matches that he had with Brock before 30, and even after 30 My God is if he wasn't severely concussed in that match. It would have been a great match. And it would have been something where He could have felt like he could have walked away, because he then elevated a guy that maybe didn't need to be elevated. But in reality 48 year old Undertaker is not beating Brock Lesnar, and anything, I don't care if it's Rock Paper, Scissors, or if it's a wrestling match, I mean, Brock Lesnar was still competing in the USA and competing successfully in the UFC at this point, you know, he was a showing off, like some true athletic, you know, CONUS in another sport, so I think it was unrealistic, but like, just stop that. Right? Just stop, you don't have to do it. You don't have to do it. Just keep the streak alive. You ever seen the wrestler? With Mickey Rourke, I mean, there's a lot of parallels there. And I think even Stone Cold says in the last ride, you know, it's like riding the edge of like riding the tip of a lightning bolt. And like you there's something about walking out and hearing 30,000 People screen for your entrance. And I do think that his Sean's last match. And then consequently, the last match that they had all three of them in the Helena cell where Shawn was referee. I think after Brock, he was chasing that. And there just weren't those guys left until he came up against AJ Styles. And he was sent off the way that he should have been sent off. Yeah, I think they got it right. In the end, you know, and the very end, and I want you to talk about that too. Like, what your sort of impressions were of that the kind of retirement go around and give him the sort of the goat the Kobe treatment, you know, in in wrestling terms. And I think, to sort of see him say, okay, you know, like the characters laid to rest. I think I finally got that retirement that I think I deserved. It wasn't as you know, like you said, I mean, there really just isn't anyone wasn't anyone to give him that level of send off that he gave Shawn Right. Like, there's just there just wasn't anyone to do that for him? Which, I mean, that's more I think of a credit to how good that match was how good those two guys were together. Like we you know, like we discussed, what do you want, you know, he went out finally, sort of the way he wanted, the characters laid to rest. He's talking sort of like as himself to all these people that sort of made his career what it was. There's a little bit of revisionist history in it, you know, as there is when like, sort of, you know, I mean, it whenever you get this kind of laparotomy I think I think that sort of happens. So what was your impression of like that the kind of ceremony? And and like, what, how it all came to an end? Did you like it? Were you satisfied with it? Because it doesn't seem like you. You thought it went on for too long? I thought maybe it went on for a little bit too long. But oh, you mean it's his TED talk? No, no, I mean, I mean, the whole I mean, his career. I mean, it Jaiku. You know, quite frankly, I think that there was like, we're talking about the stops. Yeah, I do want to hear about that. But we're talking about the stop start nature from 2013 2014 Onward, when he gets the AJ Styles match. I do agree with you that that is the best match he's had in years. And the only one that would have probably made sense for him to be his retirement match, like the way he wanted to go out. But before that, there was just you know, there's a lot of stuff stop start. What do you think? In the end, Were you satisfied? Were you left with like, feeling like you wanted more like he wanted less? And then yeah, like, I'd love to, I'd love to know what your feelings were about the sort of long it one on one interviews that he was conducting with all the people sitting in the stands as he went around. So this is kind of like a double edged answer. I'm glad that he got the ending that he deserved. I'm just I don't think it hurts him because of how much equity he built up with everyone with that character. I am sad that it took so long. Right? I mean, you think about 2014 He's gone all of it. He comes back he I mean, credit to Bray Wyatt for promoting a Wrestlemania match to that. Take your ever shown up on a ROB beforehand? That match wasn't good. It was fine. There was an awful King Go. I like that though. Yeah. Shane match can't go out that way. Roman Reigns. Yeah. You need to know and that's one of the that's what it looks like the most like the wrestlers to me, is like he looked like he, he says in the documentary, like fat outs, but he was out there. He couldn't do any of the things that he needed to do. But then you see him a year later, again, Cena Cena. Yeah. had they given that 1520 minutes. I think you would have hung it up there. And he should have because he looks great. He looks excellent in that match. And then you have some other examples where they did bring up that, you know, they did bring back Shawn for DX versus the Brothers of Destruction. Yeah, they should probably should have told him before he shaved his head. But you know, every kid gets hurt in that match. Triple H tears his tricep and then you get a guy shot has been in the ring eight years against a beaten down broken take. What can you do? Right? You can't get by you can't get back to that level. He can't pay it back. At that point. It's not physically possible for anybody. I mean, if you watch that match now I say if you watch it, because if you really are having a really good day and want to bring it down, watch it because you see, like, you see, Shawn, he's the only one in there trying. I mean, yeah, he had been in the ring for eight years, and he does a moonsault off the top row to the outside. And everyone's here really at one speed. You know, I think that like, Yeah, I think that what I think a lot of what I like about Shawn Michaels is like, there's only he only knew one way to do it, you know, and I think it's why he probably has a really tough time getting from his bed to the shower in the morning. But it's also why he had probably the longest prime of any of anybody, you know, he kept his prime alive after the next that all the next stuff by having classic matches after that. So I think yeah, I think that there's always gonna there's gonna be some contrast, if you have a bunch of like old dudes in there. Well, you're right, he did go and do the work. And he did come back. And I think he had a great match against Cena. I, to your point, I think if you if they had to let it go a certain amount of time, I think it would have been a little bit more appropriate. But what about the AJ Styles match? Like? How do you feel about that? Do you think Cena would have been a better way for him to go out? Or do you think that was just scripted the right way? I think that Undertaker was saved. And I don't mean because culture is here. But I think the fact that that the pandemic had just started, and fans are not, we're not available. I think that played to a lot of takers strengths at that time, because he could still do all of the brawling. He's a great trash talker, as you can see that match it, but he didn't have to go out there and find 80,000 people and potentially put on a 20 minute like shitty Max, they filmed it. And they I think in that match, it told the story of, you know, the dead man, the American badass, big evil. And you had a guy like AJ, who was willing to do what Sean did in 98. And then 97 Just throw themselves around and make Tigger look good. So I thought that was the perfect way to end. The career. I do. Do like a real live match that was sort of Ode to his career, though. Like the way that like you'd like you said he looked great and seen a match. It wouldn't have been a terrible note to go out on. That was a seven minute match. Yeah, sure. But I mean, he looks good. Yeah, no, but I don't know. Do people remember that? You know, like to Pete, like, it's just like, if you just if you can still just play some highlights from it. As opposed to making it work in the pandemic, like, do you think that takes some shine off it or not? Well, I think if you look back at taker, right, we talked about like his great moments, and the things that stick out to you. When you think about him. I always think about TierPoint the casket mesh with Yokozuna, and then they show him with on the old bricks Titan shot, right? That's a moment that's theatrics you think about? Buried Alive? You think about what he put stone cold on the cross and the Ministry of darkness. So all of those effects, I think, have always been a part of his career to be able to look tough look like a badass and still have all those things in a really unique way. I think because there was another cinematic match on that card. Free whites fun house which was which would Cena which was entertaining, but in all the wrong lights. If you watch take your in AJs match, you are thoroughly entertained. Are you not entertained? I just watch gladiator that it is so good. Did he deserve the you know the roar of 80,000 people? Yes, definitely course. But do you? I mean, I think that there's always a question of what happens if something goes wrong. And we're those situations and now they're just clapping because his name is energy and not the rest of what actually happened in the ring? And like how many more chances do you get after that? You know, how many more tries how many more bites of the apple do you get before you gotta hang it up on some shitty because you're a billion years old. You get I mean, he got a standing ovation after the Roman Reigns. And actually, that was a terrible match. Yeah, he's always going to the right. He's like, he's the most cemented fan favorite there ever was like there's his, when he was fighting in that era from probably 2015 to 2020. Like post streak. He was fighting legends matches, you know what I mean? Like he was that was sort of a retirement tour, you know, for better for worse during that time. Because once the streak is over, I mean, it's, there's no you're not building any new narratives. At this point. You're just playing off what's already been established with The Undertaker, which is you can established quite a bit, quite a bit has been established and people fall in love them so you can drop them in to other storylines and enhance those storylines. You can drop into other matches and enhance those matches just by the presence of and being there near in that cloud. You know, I think you're in that. But yeah, I agree. I think I think what you're kind of getting to is it would have gotten sadder and sadder as time went on, if we hadn't hung it up at the time. But let's talk about as you so eloquently described his TED talk. I mean, we're laughing but I mean, he deserves his little lap of honor. Right? I mean, based on everything that we're talking about, he deserves to just sort of take in the moment as he sees fit. What did you think about the stuff he was saying? I thought it was kind of funny that he finds it difficult to not like be go kind of in and out of character when he's on the mic, you know, because he's like, that's his comfort. So what'd you think? Like I thought he had a cool moment with stone cold. A lot of people said were saying it was a little tacky. But I thought that was a genuine moment. I think he was really paying him a compliment as a professional. So talk to me about how you're feeling. I mean, you were you're 10 years old, sitting in your bedroom again, like, watching the undertaker ride off into the sunset. Oh, yeah, I mean, so everything that everything that I just said about that, that age, a match is true. But to have a 30 year career, your last match in front of nobody. You're announcing your retirement, you know, 30 years after you show up and Survivor Series in front of nobody. Then if you get to be near your home, like in your home state with 100,000 people 20,000 people there at the Hall of Fame. You can do whatever you want. And I love the nods to to go. I loved you know, we looked at Shawn and AAA and said, you know, thank you. It's not a surprise to me that he's a really good speaker. Right that he can he it's not one of his deficiencies like most big men, right, do that. Right. I thought he did a great job summing everything up. And then, you know, being the old worker that he is at the end, you know, never say never, and put the hat on. But please like Mark Calloway, please say never. Yeah, he's too old. He's too old. It's not. I also really enjoyed at WrestleMania when, you know, both nights, but night one, but his music hit. They reduced the Hall of Fame and like you actually had 60,000 people on their feet. He he did deserve that. Yeah, I mean, we're I mean that in that moment, we're all back at that back at Yokozuna match, you know, when he comes up on the TV, live with a red background and you hear that music? And you're like, oh, man, this guy's here to stay. That haunted me, by the way for such a long time. Oh, dude. Yeah, he was scary. When you were a kid. He was like, full on like horror movie scary. Like he was like, Look at this lurking giant. And so it was like the whole Paul bear thing. I mean, yeah, maybe it looks silly when you're looking back on it now. It you know, through the lens of like, I did a 2022 You know, the world is fucked and everything is crazy. But when you're 10 and you're watching that, like you're alive, you're afraid for your life for this guy. He's dead. And he's Yes, exactly. You know, you're with them. You know that like, for better for worse. I say just you guys about Tom Brady for you know, for better for worse. That guy's been around most of my life, you know, and doing stuff in the sport most of my life. Like, since I gained consciousness pretty much onward the undertaker has been there there abouts doing something, you know, in wrestling, like having these moments across, like you said, at the very start of the show across multiple eras. Nobody ever No, no one else can match that nobody else can match career longevity. And I think you know, you can say there's some people out there that might say like, oh, well, that's why he gets the credit. It's just that career longevity. And I think that's okay. That's the case. I think that's really cool. And impressive that he did that. You know, I mean, there have been people that have been around for a long time that are terrible, right? Yeah. But I mean, when you just think about it in this sense, if you were, let's say there's a chance there was a four year old dad with his 10 year old son, at Survivor Series 1990. And that same person was now a seven year old grandfather with his 30 year old son, or four year old son and his 10 year old grandson. All what look at the same guy, right? Like he, and he carried that company through through so much like before there was Austin, there was always taken. You know, Jim Ross used to always say, he's the conscience of WWE. And he was like, he was the reason why people like the back didn't fall apart. And he had shitty storyline after shitty storyline. But he never wavered. And he also, I know that we'll wrap up soon, I'm sure. But I can go on for hours about this. Well, I mean, this is actually what I wanted to talk to you about. So I'm curious to hear what you have to say that was gonna be the thing I wanted to sort of end on is the idea of a wrestling world wrestling organization without the undertaker the idea of who he was in the locker room who he was in the back room and the sort of amount of times he kept. What could very easily a very, like fat fallen apart completely at the seams he kept. He seems to keep it together from all the stories that you hear about what he was like as the back room, the locker room leader, and what does it look like going forward in an era without him because we haven't had to imagine it for so long. So yeah, this is all what I wanted. I want to hear what you have to say about this. Yeah. So I think, you know, when he when he comes into WWE, you know, the locker room leaders at the timber Hogan, Andre Savage, and they all age out, and now it's it but he worked with them. So like he was there to experience that right. And then now there's the new generation where it's him, Kevin Nash, Bret Hart, Shawn, and then it's Austin rock but there's always that guy that's been there with the old man as he calls him, you know since 1990. And you know, whether it was having to face an imposter Undertaker at SummerSlam and the guy you know, at that point, wasn't a great worker, I'm talking about the imposter. The giant Gonzalez to King Kong Bundy was 10 years past his prime. He kept showing up. And then you when you go into 2002, and he's been, you know, the American badass for two years at that point, which by the way, that just shows you how much he cared about the business and how much he respected the stance, because, you know, Hogan did the same thing for 20 years, and only change because he smelled money. And it didn't really work either with the Hollywood Hulk Hogan stuff that didn't even really work. But a college like cost a pretty big thing, right? Like that's who, but I would say, take her wasn't asked to change his character, but knew that it needed to, or he was just going to get lost in the shuffle. He did it. And then he went back to it in 2004. But you think about the fact that you have a guy that works with Hogan was around Andre worked with warrior Savage, that's now working with Cena, Orton Roman, like, so I think it's, it's scary to think that he's no longer in the locker room when in reality, he hasn't been a locker room leader since 2013. But she hasn't been traveling with him. Now, when he shows up, he'll still demand the same respect. But I think and maybe I'm giving him too much credit for being selfless. Maybe one of the reasons that he held on for so long was that he wanted there to be people there that were now locked leaders that worked with him and saw the way that it was supposed to be done. But that there would be the WWE would probably not be erect in its current form. If it weren't for this award for them, it just might have been. Yeah, I mean, I think that there's very easily lines to draw from, from moments. I mean, it's not as if you're dealing with a bunch of accountants back there, either. You know, I mean, I think people could maybe come back and say like, Well, yeah, he oversaw these eras as the quote unquote, locker room leader, but like, a lot of shit happened back there, too, you know, a lot of real stuff, like a lot of stuff that wasn't, you know, works. And it's like, I think, you know, you're dealing with a bunch of fucking madmen. Back there. You know, it's like, you're not you're herding cats at the end of the day. So I think what he did was he kept a baseline. And he and eventually, he sort of became the example. And I think that there's nobody, you know, to your point, there's nobody coming up in wrestling that's going to come in and say, Who is that guy? You know, like that. I don't think he ever sort of aged into being a mascot or anything along those lines. I still think he had, like, you know, things to say. And I think people listened to him when he talked, but I think he grew into that role, too, which I think you're getting at coming from the Hogan era. And then you know, eventually even facing off against Hollywood Hulk Hogan and sort of working through those moments you know, and everything coming full circle having that through line I think was is so beneficial right wrestling across those those years like you can point to every era and the undertaker probably has a great match in there. I mean, you think about like this right? In one of his in his first title would be Cogan in 1991. Logan then leaves it like a year or two later, he goes off to WCW to try and take Vince down in his second. And his first title match that as the undisputed champion 2002. Who does he go up against taker? The guy that never left? It's still here. The Company Man, but he really was that? That's not even part of the character. He really was that like is I think your to your point. Yeah, I think he's just loyal now loyal to a fault. You know, Vince, is what he is. But when it comes to that character, that character was Vince's idea. But I'd say nine out of 10 people would have taken that gimmick and run into into the ground within a year, and Tigger extended it to 30. Yeah. Yeah, that that gimmick too. You know, it's not as if he ever, you know, we talk at length about on the show about wrestlers losing their way when they turn heel, or when they change their characters. Like, it's usually I would say, not even often, I would say, usually the kiss of death to a big name wrestler to switch in the wrong way. Right. And I think that it being his idea saved him a little bit, you know, him sort of moving on organically, I think he did a really good job of recognizing what the brand was when he when he did the American badass and like, what, you know, what we were all like, in 2002 was the shit that we were into, like, everybody was wearing carpenter jeans, listening to tracks, you know what I mean? Like, it just made sense. Like it and I think to read the sort of read the socio, like as a sociologist like to sort of read society like that and be like, Okay, I can make a new character, but I'm going to put a lot of thought into it, and I'm going to be a reflection of the society we're sort of in right now, because he still needs to fit this, this this and this criteria in order for me to be able to do it, you know, for for the for taker to be able to sort of be malleable through those things, but also for it to work like when Brett turned heel didn't make any sense. You know, it did it just it didn't make any sense. He didn't want to he didn't want to do it. So he didn't put enough thought into it and and ended up just wrecking the Hitman character essentially. And that being sort of the end of Brett, right? Where, you know, you've seen it happen to. I mean, like, I mean, it seems you seem to think that Hollywood Hulk Hogan thing worked monetarily, maybe it did. I don't know the numbers, but it annoyed me when it happened. Because to me, it was like, come on. It's like that's the great American hero. That's the good guy. That's the stay in school kids guy. You know, like, that doesn't make any sense. Like, I hate this. You know? Maybe that's me. Maybe that's nostalgia. But we're taker did it? I think he does it seamlessly because I think we kind of got to the bottom of it. It's was that was taken the best character ever probably. Was he the best? At what you describe the theatrics of it? Quite possibly, quite possibly. He was I think that he makes number one on some lists, maybe not the overall goat for us, maybe for other people. And I it would make sense to me why he would. But I think on certain criteria, I think he's number one with a bullet. And I think there's certain things that you just sort of can't take from him. And I think we're all grateful to have had him. To be quite honest with you. I think that there's stuff you can say. There's negatives that you can say, but I'm just happy with here overall, you know, and I'm sad to see him go, it makes me feel like I'm getting old. from a performance standpoint. Like I don't think there's not very much that you can say now you ever about him right now. He had bad matches. Sure. But I mean, he's not a guy that could have they could have a good match with the broomstick. He's not a brand these other Shawn is not an agent. Right? But I mean, you look at the overall content of his work. You know, 2002 when he's at WrestleMania, when he fights flair flair, it was not Ric Flair. He would and it's, I feel like this happen Undertaker all the time, like what you're describing, I feel like it happened to him so often, that we're not as constant as they once were. And then he pulled a great night's out of them. Right? I think he was a good caretaker wrestler in that sense. Like, I think he was able to sort of be like, alright, well, we're gonna go through the beats here. I got you, you know, right. And, and you know that that respect wasn't always shown to him by others in the ring, like their immune, he should never have been in the ring with guys like the great colleague, I can go on, I would just say it's real. Wrestling is a really hard business to stay in. And both mentally, physically, whatever it might be. And he got in when people are still doing all the crazy shit behind the scenes. And he's still there. He's still around. And he made it and now he's, you know, helping out at the Performance Center. I think, you know, just think, longevity wise, there's never going to be another run like him. There's never going to be someone with such sustained. It's such a stain character, that interest. And yeah, I mean, it felt the when he retired. I've never felt older. Right? We both bought houses. We're both married. Yeah. What's that? When a guy that we started watching when we were three? Yeah, is it up? And we're 32 and 33? You're like, Well, shit. I mean, what else is there to say? A guy that goes from matches in the early 90s against you know, Jimmy Snuka and, and Jake the Snake Robertson, John Gonzalez, and those that you know, the start of the street all the way through like the canes of the world. And then to finish it off with a match against CM Punk who's like, modern era. I mean, like, full on modern era. Still, and, and I think for that to be the street that by itself was a Hall of Fame career, and he did stuff before that. And after that, so I credit to the Undertaker, we're sorry to see you go. I enjoyed your TED Talk. taught me a lot. I think you taught us all a lot. Thank you tell us a lot about how to act in business. You know, because if you could take the taker approach you might have a long and illustrious career. So he's terrible. He's terrible in business. Is he really I didn't know that. D invests poorly or something. Yeah, he started like real estate places that didn't really work out but Undertaker the character. Yeah, like Trump Steaks. Yeah. Well, these were real. buttoned it up, though. Like you when you say you're sorry to see him go. I'll just add to I'm glad that you were able to see us. Sorry to see you go. Yeah. Yeah. This was this wasn't a poster board of, you know, induction he deserves like he deserves definitely. And I hope he has an ice bath installed in his house. Somewhere. He's going to need it. I hope he has a sauna. Or like one of those. One of those like, cool your blood machines or whatever hyperbaric chambers? Yeah, there you go. Whatever's trendy now yeah, he's gonna need all of it. And like a daily massage because there's no way that guy doesn't feel like share it wakes up in the morning but thank you for that Undertaker. Thanks for feeling that way for the fans across such a long and illustrious career. Alright for kayfabe critics. I am DK sisal Dave Clarke. And for Mike Mark Angelou who did all the heavy lifting on the show as usual. I say thank you for listening and and good night.
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