Undertaker: The Last Ride, WWE’s new five-episode limited series event will begin streaming on WWE Network this Sunday, May 10, at approximately 10 pm ET immediately following the Money In The Bank pay-per-view. The highly-anticipated documentary series gives viewers an unprecedented look at Mark Calaway, the man behind the legendary Undertaker, as he prepares for the final chapters of his storied 30-year career in WWE.
The limited series will stream on WWE Network as follows:
• Chapter 1 – This Sunday, May 10 immediately following Money In The Bank at approximately 10 pm ET (3 AM BST)
• Chapter 2 – Sunday, May 17 on demand beginning at 10 am ET
• Chapter 3 – Sunday, May 24 on demand beginning at 10 am ET
• Chapter 4 – Sunday, June 14 on demand beginning at 10 am ET
• Chapter 5 – Sunday, June 21 on demand beginning at 10 am ET
In this Sunday’s premiere episode, Undertaker comes to terms with his own mortality as he prepares for what many believed to be the final match of his career against Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 33. Fans will get a rare glimpse into what led up to that moment, the pressure he puts on himself each year getting ready for WWE’s annual pop-culture extravaganza, and much more. In addition, the episode looks back at the physical and emotional toll taken on Undertaker after his 21-year WrestleMania undefeated streak came to a shocking conclusion against Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 30.
Episode two (Chapter 2: The Redemption) will premiere on Sunday, May 17 and take a look at Taker’s disappointment with his match against Reigns, undergoing surgery, and then taking on John Cena at the following WrestleMania, “The Undertaker’s greatest fear is realized as his disappointing performance against Roman Reigns fuels the Dead Man to rebuild and redeem himself in a match against John Cena at WrestleMania 34.”
The series will also feature first-hand interviews with Calaway, his wife and former Divas Champion Michelle McCool, Vince McMahon, Shane McMahon, Paul “Triple H” Levesque, John Cena, Roman Reigns, Batista, Ric Flair, Edge, Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley, and many others.
The Undertaker shared with WWE on the series in an audio interview (transcript courtesy of Humza Hussain).
The Last Ride has been more than three years in the making. Describe how it felt having the cameras with you throughout this time in your career.
“Yeah, it was really strange because, obviously, everyone knows I’ve been very protective of The Undertaker character, and what’s seen, and what isn’t seen. So it was very strange, and initially, uncomfortable for me having camera crews follow me around. But as we went through this, I’ve become more comfortable with it, and obviously allowed more access into everything, which I’m so glad we were able to do because I think this docuseries is going to blow people away.”
For the millions of fans around the world that have followed The Undertaker for many years, what can they expect to learn about Mark Calaway, the person behind Undertaker, in this docuseries?
“They’re gonna learn a lot, you know. They’re gonna see what the man behind the hat is really like on a personal level. I think they’ll be shocked by the contrast between The Undertaker and Mark Calaway. (Laughs) They’re gonna see a stark difference in the two, and probably a good reason why I kept them separate for so long.”
People are making comparisons between the story of another sporting legend, Michael Jordan, in the Netflix series The Last Dance, and you’re in The Last Ride. What do you think of the comparison with Michael Jordan’s story?
“Yes, I’m well aware of it. Actually, I’m watching that one as well. I think there are comparisons, but I think the difference is, obviously, we’re getting to a point, whether I’m gonna wind down, whereas they’re talking about more or less the last years that the Bulls were together under their 3 peat championship. But there are obviously similarities, but I think The Last Ride is a little more personal. It’s more on a personal level, but equally as intriguing and interesting.”
With a WWE career spanning four decades, you have travelled the globe putting smiles on faces around the world. Which particular countries outside of the US have you always enjoyed visiting or performing in, and why?
“Man, I tell you what. Yeah, I’ve been all over the world. I’ve always loved going to the UK, Germany, Australia, Mexico. The fans there, they obviously don’t get to see us as often, and the energy level when we go overseas, it’s phenomenal. It’s so fun because there’s so much energy in the arena that you always wanna go out and give it your best. Once I do take that Last Ride, that will be something that I miss, is travelling internationally, and getting to see all the people in the arenas.”
The Undertaker has been doing a lot of media appearances for the premiere of his WWE Network limited-series event. His gimmick has often been a reason for him to not do these kinds of things because he’s supposed to be a Deadman.
Taker was asked how difficult it was to open himself up for filming. “It was pretty difficult, honestly. But it was my idea,” Taker said. “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.’
Taker was also asked if there was ever a time in his career where he was worried about the character having run its course, that things may have been pushed too far. He said what really helped him is how he did protect the gimmick. “Regardless of the character, any talent runs the risk of burning themselves out, based on that content alone. I think what really helped me [stay viable] was that I did protect that character. I didn’t give them anything other than the character. You didn’t see me doing movies as something else. I had opportunities to do that other stuff, but I passed. I knew wrestling. I knew WWE. I knew Vince. That was my passion, and to this day [it still is]. I knew I couldn’t be [The Undertaker] here, and then go do something else. I don’t think people would have accepted it and stayed intrigued by the character.”
The interviewer compared him to a “magician who decided to start explaining the tricks” with the recent behind-the-scenes looks. “Exactly! 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,” Taker said. “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.”
Taker also spoke with another media about his recent Boneyard Match with AJ Styles at WrestleMania 36. Taker once again praised AJ and said they got lucky with the match. He said he was very happy with how the match turned out. “We got really lucky in that,” Taker said of the Boneyard Match. “I think the world of AJ not only professionally but personally. I just didn’t know if I had enough gas in the tank to give him what he was expecting…With all the negative aspects of what happened, we got to do something so unique and so innovative. It was like a mini-movie. I think there will probably be more matches in the future shot like that. Not on every card, but with those speciality matches I think they’re really on to something. It’s so different from what you normally see and so different from the regular product. I was very fortunate to be able to do that with someone of AJ Styles’ calibre. And then all the talent that was there production-wise, I was very happy with how that turned out.”
Taker is hoping to end his career on a high note but is still searching for what will truly be his final match. He talked about being honest with himself at this stage of his career. “You have to be honest with yourself,” he said. “It just may not happen the way you want it to. I think that’s part of the intrigue of this. Do I have the opportunity to have that match? Are my skills still at a level that will allow me to have that match? That’s me being as open and honest as I can be right there. I’ve got some pretty good matches that I have to grade things against. I have to grade on a curve now… Those are things that I have to struggle with. I have to look at things in a very realistic manner in terms of where I’m at with my age and my injuries.”
Taker is still searching for the perfect way to end his Hall of Fame career, but how does one say goodbye to a character they’ve played for more than half of their life? Taker said not even he knows the answer to that question right now. Taker said he never saw his character delivering a retirement speech, but he is looking for an “exclamation point” on his career that would serve as a fitting end cap. “I never saw the character getting in the ring and having a retirement speech,” he said. “I’ve been looking for that one match that I can say, ‘Yeah, that’s it. That’s the exclamation point on a career. Boom. I can walk away.’ And so, I’m struggling. I know what my limitations are, physically, and I’m having to weigh that against the long-term effects of continuing to wrestle. So all these things are intertwined, and they get in the way of each other. You start thinking one way, and then this other part of you thinks, ‘Maybe there’s a little bit more gas than you think.’ And then you go out and you do it and something goes awful and it’s like, ‘Oh man, what am I doing?’ So it’s this constant struggle of when to say, ‘When.'”
All pics and videos courtesy of WWE