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411’s Undertaker: The Last Ride Report: Chapter 1 – ‘The Greatest Fear’

May 10, 2020 | Posted by Robert Leighty Jr.
Undertaker's Last Ride Roman Reigns

411’s Undertaker The Last Ride Report: Chapter 1 – ‘The Greatest Fear’

-Air date: 05/10/20
-Run time: 55:15

-Welcome to what should be a fantastic new series from the WWE Network. Documentaries on historic sports figures/teams is all the rage right now with ESPN’s ‘The Last Dance,’ showing how great they can be and the WWE isn’t going to be left out as cameras have been following Taker for the last few years. I have seen some hate about this series as some feel The Undertaker character should remain a closed book that never breaks kayfabe. For me at this point I think is a great idea and if he is all for getting his final years documented for the world to see, I am all for it. Before we get to the debut episode, I want to take a quick second to wish all the moms out there a Happy Mother’s Day. A special shout-out to my wife and my mom who won’t see this because they have no interest in wrestling, but it’s here on the off chance they finally read something wrestling related I wrote. Let’s get to it!

-Taker tells us he wants people thinking he has a lot in the tank and if people say that, he can walk away. Then again he says he has been saying that for a long time. Edge talks about the danger in being that you don’t know when it’s time. Taker has had an internal struggle of when to quit and he has started to second guess himself. He talks about being 2 inches away from making his wife a widow and his kids fatherless in the Goldberg match. AJ Styles, Flair, Vince, Shane, Austin, and HBK are just some of the talking heads for this. This is Undertaker The Last Ride. That opening was great and I am so pumped for this!

-Graphic reads: “The following takes place between 2017 and 2020. In 2017, three days before WrestleMania The Undertaker contacted Vince McMahon. For the first time ever Mark Calaway allowed his career to be documented.”

-Taker arrives in Orlando on a private jet. He tells us he doesn’t share a lot of things that are personal, but he wants to know what happened to him. He used to be a tough son of a bitch. He is at a late point in his career and he is wondering if he can keep up with this young guy. Reigns catches up with Taker as he checks into his hotel and Taker jokes that Roman couldn’t keep kayfabe for 20 minutes.

-Taker admits that in this point in his career he can’t work a full schedule. He loves and respects this business so much and all he has ever wanted to be was a wrestler. He would have never imagined the success of the character.

-We head back to Nov 22, 1990 as The Undertaker debuts with Brother Love at Survivor Series. Mick Foley says he has never been drawn to a character so immediately. For him it never felt like a performance. Flair calls it the greatest character in the history of the business. Bret Hart always thought of him as Frankenstein in that you couldn’t do much to him. Through all the talking heads we are getting some great early moments in Taker’s run.

-Taker tells us how the eye roll came to be as it happened in a match with Greg Valentine. Everyone in the back was freaking out so he kept it. Vince talks about the love Mark has for the character and all the sacrifices he made. Michaels talks about Taker being 300 lbs and doing things a guy that size shouldn’t be able to do.

-For Taker WrestleMania is big time and be all, end all for what they do. He talks about The Streak and how it just happened. Someone just mentioned to him he was undefeated at Mania and he thought that was cool. JR is here and he calls Taker the star of the show at WrestleMania. Batista knew he arrived when he earned Taker’s respect at Mania 23. Cole talks about how every match was different and unique and each year it became an attraction. The final victim of The Streak was CM Punk (in a great match that blew away everything else on the card) and that put Taker at 21-0.

-The Streak is what made it okay for Taker to work once a year. He tells us that he had to defend The Streak and it took it’s toll. He had a 5 year stretch where he would prepare for Mania, have the match, and then would need some kind of surgery to repair what was bothering him heading into Mania. Then he would rehab to just get ready to train for Mania again. HHH says he can relate as he got to a point where he was doing the same thing and it is draining physically and mentally. He says performing 1-2 times a year is the hardest thing he ever had to do. Austin backs that up as he mentions that ring rust and timing are real. His wife, Michelle McCool, says nobody has any idea the pain he is in on a daily basis. Austin sums it up by calling him a tough son of a bitch.

-Back to Orlando as Taker says the issue is always wondering if there is enough gas in the tank. It’s a crazy web he weaves in trying to train effectively and get the maximum results with what he has. We head to the Performance Center and Taker is working out for the final time before the Mania match with Reigns. Seeing Taker weight train is just weird as I just have this idea in your head growing up that the man is in a desert building caskets all day or throwing around headstones. I mean of course he weight trains, but it doesn’t fit what you would expect.

-Taker discusses the two matches with Shawn and then the war with HHH at Mania 27 (I was there for all 3 of those matches). That Mania match is where he had to be carried from the ring with hip issues. He says he felt good the following year with HHH and really good at 29 with Punk. Then came the Lesnar match at XXX and Taker says to this day he doesn’t remember anything from that match.

-WrestleMania XXX: Taker says he isn’t sure when he got concussed, but they show a spot where he fell on the back of his head during a throw on the floor. His last memory of that day was about 3:30 PM, which was hours before the match. Lesnar pins Taker to end The Streak and creates one of the most shocking wrestling moment in a long time. Just jaws on the floor and I had the same reaction watching at my friend’s house. Taker collapses in the back as we see Vince screaming for help. A trainer who was there says Taker had that far off gaze and they knew something was wrong. They decided to take him to the ER and they noticed a car was following them. WrestleMania is still going on, but Vince McMahon and Brock Lesnar were the first two out of their car to meet Taker as he was being taken into the hospital. Michelle tells us that Taker started cussing Vince out about having a show to run, but Vince wasn’t hearing it. Taker sat up in the room and told everyone “I’m not dead guys,” to lighten the mood. Michelle says Taker tried to cheat as anytime they asked his name he would ask her. He didn’t remember his name until early the next morning. Damn!

-Taker thinks that between getting older and not taking all the bumps through the year it caught up to him. He tells us that one concussion in that one match destroyed his confidence. That leads to Mania 31 and Bray Wyatt is here out of character. He tells us that he didn’t know Taker was lacking anything. He felt it just another day at work for him. Taker says that HHH is the one that spotted it and told him “remember who the fuck you are.” They then show HHH saying exactly that and that’s just awesome to see one legend firing up another. It was enough to get Taker through that match and it restored a little of his confidence. We see Taker joking around with HHH and Vince after the match as you can see that he felt much better.

-Taker was back and he then had a great match with Brock at SummerSlam and then a brutal, bloody war with him at Hell in a Cell. That Cell match was just fantastic and a great throwback to violent cage matches of the past. It was just two mean monsters killing each other to see who was the better man. Now while he was back in the groove he was also getting more wear and tear on his body.

-Rumble 2017: Taker says he knew something was wrong and he knew he had no business being in that match. He admits that match should have been for someone else that may not have been on that card. It’s his duty to make sure it is worth putting him on the card. He doesn’t think anyone would tell him if he stunk it up, but he would know. He says it would kill him if some dad had to tell his son that he should have seen him 10-15 years ago.

-March 31, 2017: Hall of Fame: Taker meets up with some of the inductees and legends in the back. Taker calling Bruno Sammartino “sir” and making the move to shake his hand is perfect and shows the respect he has for those that came before him. He congratulates Kurt Angle, who tells us that Taker had immediate respect for him because he won a Gold Medal. Taker tells a story of how in their first match he went to throw a punch and Angle already made a face before the punch even came. They show Taker and Angle back in the day off camera with Taker joking to Angle he may become something in this business one day. Give me more of cool moments like that!

-They discuss the role of being a locker leader. Shawn calls Taker the benchmark, and JR says he has never been around a wrestler that carries more respect from his peers than Mark Calaway. Show mentions Taker backed up everything he told them. Razor brings up a house show in Seattle where Taker tore the house down (we see some footage). From then on Razor told everyone he had no problem with Taker making more money than him.

-JBL talks about the first match they had against each other the day after Mania XII. After the match Taker was smiling ear to ear because he was so happy with how things went. JBL calls him the greatest performer in the history of the business and that nobody has had a bigger impact or more legendary matches. He then mentions that he has never seen Taker in worse shape than he is before this Mania match.

-We are still at The Hall of Fame and Taker meets up with Michael Hayes and says he is the one that calls him about 5 months out to pull him back in. He then jokes that it’s an old timers convention as he hugs Shawn with Jericho and Christian also hanging around. Shawn jokes that they were all waiting for the head honcho to show up. Ted Dibiase asks him how he is doing and Taker says we will find out in a few days. Edge compares it to Brett Favre as a Viking and how you can see flashes, but when do you say it’s time. “He is Undertaker to everyone and that is an expectation you have to live up to in people’s eyes.”

-Next Taker meets up with Reigns as he is introduced to his wife. They joke around about Michelle wanting a baby. Reigns talks about Taker being everywhere he wants to be and the experience he has. He sits with Reigns and tells stories about Mania X-Seven. Reigns calls the match the biggest business of his career and he has to pinch himself to make sure it is real. For him it is a responsibility and he wants to do right by Taker. They leave each other by saying they are going to tear things up.

-Entrance Rehearsals: Nothing is sacred here as we see Taker practicing his entrance and trying to work out the kinks. Taker says this is all the quiet before the storm and seeing the stadium all blacked out with just a few lights shining is pretty awesome.

-Mania Morning: Taker is up early as he talks about getting his confidence going. He wants people leaving talking about their match and he is most worried about people getting what they paid to see. He jokes about the boxing line that fighters can get old in one fight and hopefully this isn’t that fight. Sad face! Taker arrives at the stadium and everyone walks up to him because it’s Taker. Bray makes that exact point. Taker meets up with Goldberg and they wish each other good luck. Chris Jericho is next as a talking and he is listed as “Former WWE Superstar” and he brings up that it was weird seeing a camera crew follow Taker backstage. He questioned if this meant they were documenting the last weekend of his career. Taker informs Jericho that the ramp is the longest ever at 80 yards. Jericho seems stunned by this. That ramp was rather impressive and gave the whole set-up a cool look.

-Taker brings up that people say all the time that all he has to do is make his entrance, chokeslam someone and everyone will be happy. Taker says that he won’t be happy. He promises he is either going out with a great match or out on his shield. JBL says that no matter what Roman does in his career this will be his biggest match ever. Roman talks about the pressure of being Taker’s last opponent (so, yes that obviously was the thought everyone had) and giving him the last match he deserves.

-WrestleMania 33: Taker wonders how he is going to sell this and how he is going to do this and do that. Michelle knows there is a lot of emotion with Taker and that he wants to deliver for the fans, Vince, and himself. Taker says his job is to be a first class professional entertainer that gives the fans what they paid their hard earned money to see. He comes from an era where he worked no matter your condition. Show talks about Taker wrestling with 103 degree fever and getting IV fluids before and after the match. Michelle brings up the pyro accident at Elimination Chamber that burned Taker and they show the incident. Taker booked it to the ring because you could see something had happened. He then spent the time he had in the pod dumping bottles of water on himself. He then wrestled with second degree burns and never made any excuses. Crazy! Mick knew he was hurting as far back as when they were working with each other and obviously we need a Hell in a Cell 98 flashback. Foley mentions he left that match in worse shape, but Taker came into the match with a broken foot. He puts over Taker’s toughness. Taker went by the idea of don’t embarrass yourself, the company, or Vince.

-The process for getting him ready for Mania has become bigger and bigger with each passing year. We see Taker in the trainer’s room getting injections in his knee and that had to suck. My knees are killing me just watching that and the worst I’ve ever done is chip a bone in my knee and partially tear my MCL, PCL, and ACL. He talks about all the emotions, jitters and concerns you go through before a match.

-I forgot that JR was on commentary for this match. Taker’s entrance is epic as always and seeing it from below as he rises is pretty awesome. JBL on commentary calls seeing Taker at WrestleMania a bucket list item and I guess I can say I checked that one off. Taker and Reigns then close the show with a rather poor match that was kind of sad at certain points. The video package here makes it seem a lot better, but the WWE is great at doing things like this with these packages. They include the botched Tombstone reversal sequence which I assume was going to be something that annoyed Taker. Reigns wins with The Spear to many boos from the crowd. Reigns celebrates with pyro going off, but quickly leaves the ring to give the moment to Taker. The crowd chants for Taker as they can sense this is likely his last match. He puts his jacket and hat back on, but then takes them back off and his gloves to leave them in he ring as he exits. They show him giving his wife a kiss in a rare break of character and we get shots of some people in the crowd getting emotional. I didn’t realize there were people crying and yet they have shots of people straight bawling.

-Taker is lowered below the ramp and he tells someone that he is okay. He meets HHH first and they share a hug in a touching moment. HHH tells him “that’s a hell of a run.” He finds his wife and they share a hug. She can’t fathom what this night has meant to him and she talks about him symbolically leaving everything in the ring. She feels this is really it as far as his in ring career. He gets a standing ovation from everyone in the back and he calls the moment surreal. It will take some getting used to and then we see him back with the trainer getting his knee drained. Vince finds him and thanks him for what he did tonight. Vince relates that Mark wasn’t there tonight and while he was trying even he knew in his heart he wasn’t there.

-Next time: Taker talks about being disappointed with the match and he wants to get healthy to get redemption.

-Fantastic and everything I expected. I can’t wait for the next episode to get the fall out from the bad outing with Reigns. This has been everything promised as Taker is being very open and honest with his thoughts on this run in his career. If you have seen ‘The Last Dance’ on ESPN this documentary will look and feel familiar. The cast of talking heads are top notch and you can see and hear the respect they have for Taker. I have always been a sucker for behind the scenes footage at shows and this is giving me all that and more. The emotion of that Mania 33 match caught me off guard as I only remember it being a bad match and with Taker returning it took away from it, but there was more emotion in that crowd that I had ever figured. I truly believe he wanted to go out that night, but his performance and knowing it was likely due to his body failing gave him a reason to redeem himself. This is going to be a lot of fun and I am already looking forward to next Sunday. Thanks as always for reading!