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411’s Undertaker: The Last Ride Report: ‘Chapter 2: Redemption’

May 17, 2020 | Posted by Robert Leighty Jr.
Undertaker's Last Ride 7

411’s Undertaker: The Last Ride Report: ‘Chapter 2: Redemption’

-Air Date: 05/17/20
-Run Time: 59:57

-Welcome to the latest chapter in this series on The Undertaker and his run over the last three years. Last time it seemed like Mania 33 was going to be the final match for Taker, but the match with Reigns wasn’t good. Taker and Vince both seemed to realize this and that’s where things left off with the previous episode. Let’s get to it!

-Jan 31, 2018: Austin, Texas: Taker is sitting down to watch the Mania match with Reigns. He already notices he is limping just during the entrance. He gets noticeably disgusted by the botched Tombstone reversal spot. He says he feels bad for Roman as you want to tear down the house in that spot and he wasn’t there for him. He points out that he looked lost on the ending spear and thinks Reigns was probably questioning what Taker was even about after that match. McCool says she knows Taker is disappointed, but she doesn’t think Roman is questioning him. Taker retorts that he probably is when he watched the match back. This was fascinating to watch! Taker feels like he needs redemption after this performance and you can hear the resignation in Michelle’s voice as she knows Taker is going to get back in the ring.

-Taker talks about all the emotion of that night: disappointment, pain, and it was to be the last time he was going to be wrestling in a ring. Big Show calls the moment of Taker putting his gloves, coat, and hat in the ring religious. Shane McMahon was taken back then and even now at the moment and you could see it on Taker’s face. He admits he had a tear in his eye. McCool says that she had hope he was stopping because he broke character on air and kissed her. Taker mentions that was real and was 100% him saying goodbye.

-Reigns says it was heartbreaking and it made him want to cry. He doesn’t regret anything and knows it wasn’t perfect, but it didn’t matter to him. We see Reigns waiting backstage for Taker as the crowd chants “Thank You Taker.” Taker says he did the best he could for Reigns, but his body wasn’t up for it. Vince: “He wasn’t there and he knew, in his heart, it wasn’t there.” Taker says he is going to take a vacation and probably have his hip replaced. Vince talks about worrying about the individual first and then you worry about the character. Taker reflects and says it is time to enjoy and spend time with his kids.

-May 3, 2017: New York: Taker talks about taking pride of what he can do in the ring and giving the fans what they expect. He doesn’t want to be a parody and cheapen the work he has done the last 27 years. Taker is on the way to the surgeon to get his hip replaced. There are a few members of the paparazzi there as they have to be told to leave the area. Taker talks about having one hip done and that one is pain free. We see him and Michelle sitting around in the room waiting. They have a light moment where the nurse asks if he has had any previous surgeries. Taker chuckles as Michelle says it’s literally been head to toe. Taker says he has had over 15 surgeries and then another doctor comes in to go over each one. Taker shows off his hands where he can’t straighten his fingers. Good lord the damage to this man’s body! Another light moment as Taker mentions to a doctor that Vince is already on him about discharging the same day. Vince told him if the surgery is at 1:15 PM then he should be able to leave by 5:15 PM. The doctor laughs and tells them to keep the testosterone in the ring.

-Surgery Time: You see these videos all the time in telling a wrestler’s story, but again, just so weird seeing it be Taker. The surgeon says it’s just another day at the office and nothing to be worried about even if it’s just the biggest wrestling star of all time. Props to these doctors who have all this pressure on them anyway and then let camera crews film them on top of everything else they are doing. Great moment by the production team as they play Taker’s theme while the surgical team gowns up and get ready. Apparently it’s because Taker remembers hearing his theme play as his anesthesia was kicking in. The surgery footage is just gruesome as they are hitting bone with hammers and implanting a cobalt replica. Taker is awake and recovering and is visited by the doctor who shows him a different implant so he knows what’s fixed him.

-Taker leaves the hospital on crutches and says that he already feels better. He was able to wake up and was pain free and is pain free when he puts weight on it now. He is pain free for the first time in 15 years. Taker says if this one is half as good as the other it will be Christmas. Michelle knows it is a blessing and curse because he is pain free and in good shape, but that means he is pain free and good shape to do things again. Taker: “around April.” Michelle says weird how that works as Taker rolls his eyes at her. Michelle brings up Mania is in New Orleans and last time Taker was there he doesn’t even remember the match with Brock. Taker says that he has changed.

-Austin, Texas: Being able to walk around pain free has been huge for Taker and he is loving life being able to do things he hasn’t been able to do. We see him attending NBA games in San Antonio and helping out with a halftime show. They have spent time going to kids’ soccer games, and baseball games. Taker says Michelle should get a medal for what he has put her through and what she does for the family. Oh man, we are going to get mushy Taker and I am here for it! Apparently Taker is playful and romantic as he talks about Michelle being his soul mate. He gets a little emotional as he mentions he would not be the man who he is without her.

-They share a story where Michelle had two people she was afraid to meet when she started in WWE: Kane and The Undertaker. Taker says one is the nicest guy in the world and then she married the other one. Taker admits he is fabricating when he says that Michelle was chasing him for weeks. He says that he loved her work ethic and drive to get better and it wasn’t the blonde hair, blue eyes, and kicking body. He then stops as he says the kids might watch this. I love this side of Taker! Michelle says Taker fell in love with her because she knew how to throw a football. Taker says that is a true story as they were at a taping and he had a football they were throwing around the arena. There were a lot of wounded ducks being thrown and Michelle threw a 35 yard spiral. Taker had never seen a girl throw a ball like that and we get footage of Michelle throwing ball in powder puff. Michelle says that is when Taker really started putting on the charm and you can see Taker is getting embarrassed. Again, this is great!

-Taker’s contract expired during this time and he is heading to Stanford to figure out his role with the company. He doesn’t see himself getting in the ring again, but he has said that before and Michelle laughs. He knows Vince will want what is best for him and he says that Vince is what he is like on TV, but amped up. It seems Taker’s mom asks often if Vince looks at himself when he does his walk. AWESOME!

-Stamford, CT: WWE HQ: Vince is in the gym so Taker and Michelle get to wait in his office. They discuss the relationship the two have as Michelle says they would each take a bullet for the other. Taker gave one of his sons the middle name “Vincent.” Wow! Taker says outside of his father nobody has been more influential in his life. We get Mania IX footage of them going through Taker’s entrance. We also see video of a younger Vince and Shane. Batista is here and says Taker is Vince’s right hand man and Bret puts over that Taker had no fear of barging in on Vince when he wanted something addressed. Big Show talks about the amount of respect they have for each other. Kane attributes a lot of it to Taker staying during The Monday Night War when other hand picked stars bounced for WCW. We see a Taker interview on RAW from 1998 where he brings up that he stayed when others pushed above him left for more money. Kane says that if you are loyal to Vince, he will be loyal to you. Vince calls Taker the most loyal employee he has ever had and Taker says he loves Vince and would take a bullet for him. Vince has been a friend, father, and brother to him. Shawn says that Vince is one of the few guys that knows Mark personally. Taker says when he had personal issues, Vince was the one that sat him down and told him he needed to stop feeling sorry for himself. Taker says if anyone else said that he would have knocked the shit out of them. With Vince it was what he needed and he gets emotional talking about the tough love. Great footage of them hugging backstage telling each other “I love you.” Vince is asked what Taker means to him and the WWE and Vince cuts the interview off as you can see the emotion on his face as he says “I can’t do that.” This was all just amazing and a side to both men we don’t see.

-Vince arrives fresh from the gym and greets both of them. Taker is shocked as he was expecting at least another 90 minutes. The meeting is on Saturday as Taker mentions nobody meets on a Saturday other than Vince. The cameras are given the boot as they talk Taker’s future. Taker told Vince he doesn’t plan to get in the ring again, but he will continue to train if he is needed. He is doing it out of loyalty to a friend. Michelle knows that if Vince calls, Taker will be there. Taker was taken back a little as Vince wasn’t full throttle about him being able to still do this. He didn’t know if Vince was trying to challenge him in a different way. He mentions that Vince can sell ice to an Eskimo.

-Four Months Later: Royal Rumble: Jan 2018: Taker is here and he catches up with Kurt Angle in the back. He then sees Flair who tells him he predicted that he will be back for Mania. Taker says he feels better than he did last year, but the phone for April hasn’t rang yet. In his mind it is still an “In Case of Emergency, Break Glass” situation. We then get a great glimpse into what came to be as Taker is watching the show and says he regrets missing AJ Styles and would love to work with him. He mentions that AJ gets it and he reminds him a lot of Shawn Michaels. Seth meets up with Taker as they make small talk and it dawns on me now that Taker is there to support Michelle as this was the first Woman’s Rumble.

-Taker enjoys watching Michelle work because she has so much passion and fire for the business. He enjoyed being there just to support her and it felt great to be there for her because she has been there for him so many times. After the match Vince brought up the idea of working a match with John Cena. Taker says it is appealing in one sense, but he wasn’t mentally prepared for what it would take. It wasn’t a thought until he finally watched the Roman match back and it affirmed that he looked old, slow, and was overweight. He admits he had one match too many and the wheels started turning that he needed redemption. He told Vince he would give him an answer after he trains for a few weeks and sees how he feels.

-They flew in a ring and built it in an old storage facility that needed work done. Taker knew Vince had a deadline so he could book his card, so he needed to find out soon if he could have that match. We see Taker working through things and he gets blown up and asks what he is doing as he thought he was retired. Michelle: “at least five times.” HA! Taker then started feeling good running the ropes and taking bumps so he had Michelle video a promo where Taker says he can be good once as he ever was and he would see everyone in New Orleans.

-He sent the video to Vince during the Elimination Chamber. Vince sent a text back that basically read “Fuck Yeah” from what I gather. The decision was made and now Taker’s mind was to get in the best shape he could and have it be safe for him. They started from ground zero working on the cardio. Taker jokes it takes longer for him to get ready and warm-up than the actual work-out does. We get footage of Taker doing cardio training and some boxing in the ring. I love the posters on the walls of various WWE PPVs. Taker feels like he can have a better match than he did last year and even the best match on the show. He wants to go out on his terms instead of what happened last year. He looks absolutely gassed after one of the workouts and says the posters are there to motivate him. Specifically the one from Rumble 2001 which has the WWE roster at the time looking back at him. He also has some scripture on the wall.

-He heads to another gym where the training looks like hell. It’s like old school Rocky stuff and Taker says he didn’t expect the heat and workout to be that tough. The weather was 60 yesterday and tomorrow, but today it just happened to be 90 degrees. He knows people won’t feel sorry for him and admits again he shouldn’t have been in the ring last year. He won’t let something like that happen again.

-RAW: March 12, 2018: Cena cuts a promo on RAW talking about Taker failing and hiding to never be seen again. “If you were broken down, you wouldn’t be posting workout videos on your wife’s Instagram.” Burn! That got the response from the crowd you would expect. Cena talks about the story and how they needed to bring back The Undertaker. The entire story was built around Cena getting his ass kicked by The Undertaker. Yeah, Cena is the ultimate company man as he is one of the biggest stars ever and he was cool with basically doing a story by himself with the payoff being he gets his ass kicked.

-Two Weeks Until WrestleMania: The training facility has leaks in the roof so they have to put a tarp on the mat. Taker wants to focus on getting himself in shape to not have to use the match to warmup and Primo is here to work with him. I always love seeing the guys these legends get to help them get ready for matches. Taker selling for Primo is an amazing sight! Primo mentions that Taker doesn’t half ass anything and Taker talks about how good he feels. For him it is a clean slate and this is a new Taker that is proving to world who he is and what he can do. For it to mean something it has to payoff on April 8.

-April 7, 2018: New Orleans: Taker arrives on a private jet the day before Mania 34. He tells us that he has been home by himself the last few days as the family was in NOLA already. He is happy where he is at and it’s the best version of him since the first Mania Match with Shawn. Damn! He had some bangers the 3 Manias following that! He has pride in the legacy he wants to leave in the business. He talks about the speculation out there and how people think he will be The American Bad Ass because Kid Rock went into the HOF. Nice! Taker goes over his entrance a bit and his clothes. He talks about tomorrow being the last match and he will turn a new chapter in his life. He calls getting into the ring with Cena an honor and mentions they have only had one singles match (Vengeance 2003) in Cena’s entire career here. That’s crazy to think about and makes me wish we did get a proper Mania match between the two. The goal for Taker is now to go out once as good as he’s ever been.

-Taker brings up that they have done a good job of keeping things under wraps. He is brought into the stadium on a covered golf cart. We see footage of Cena in the crowd with the fans as he jokes about wearing fully extended jean shorts. In the back Taker is working out on a rowing machine and shows off the weight loss by wearing the same pant he wore last year. Impressive! He says he can walk away with an impressive performance, but he has been saying for a long time. He asks the camera crew to step out.

-Cena beats up Elias while Taker is taken to the entrance on a cart. I love all this behind the scenes footage and Taker putting on that hat while waiting to rise is great to see. The crowd loses it when the lights go out and the music hits. Cena sells it for everything he has to his credit. Taker mauls Cena and plays the hits including the zombie sit-up during the Five Knuckle Shuffle and ends with a Tombstone in impressive fashion. Again, Cena is a true company man! Taker gets a standing ovation backstage and shakes hands with Arn Anderson. He says his body did everything he wanted and it felt great. Shawn jokes with him “Don’t make me comeback watching you.” Yep!

-Vince is beaming at Gorilla as Taker says none of this happens without him. He says that he thanks Vince every year and gives him a hug. He then meets up with Reigns and apologizes to him for last year and Reigns shakes his head at him trying to say that wasn’t true. He tells Reigns he didn’t have it last year and that even Reigns knows that. Cena talks about Taker having his doubts last year and he hopes Taker understands who he is and appreciates who he is. He and Cena share a moment and thank each other for the match. Taker says it felt good and selfishly he wishes he had been out there longer. That wasn’t what he trained for and he knows they sell entertainment and not time. He admits he trained for 45 minutes and only got 5. He wanted a 30 minute back and forth war with that as the closing stretch. He says he can retire, but now it’s about if he wants to. He knows he can go now and it’s just a matter of if he wants to. He can’t give us an answer right now.

-Next Time: Taker is still looking for that one match that brings him back to yesteryear. Crown Jewel with DX and Brothers of Destruction and HHH and Taker admit it was a train wreck. Michelle: “which means he has to redeem himself and it’s a vicious cycle.”

-I loved Chapter One and this blew that one out of the water for me. I loved getting insight on Taker/Michelle’s relationship and Vince/Taker’s relationship. This one was more enjoyable to watch because the redemption of a hero is more enjoyable than the down times. Taker was hell bent on erasing what happened at Mania 33 and he put in crazy, hard work. I did find it surprising that even Taker anticipated a true match with Cena instead of what we got, and I don’t know if the WWE was being cautious about what he could do, or if they just felt the proper payoff was Cena getting destroyed after weeks of talking shit. Some of the foreshadowing moments were also great to see with Taker talking about AJ and then Shawn joking about wrestling again. The editors of this thing should be commended for what we are seeing. Again this continues to have vibes of ESPN’s “The Last Dance” and that’s a good thing. I have also found myself becoming a Michelle McCool fan watching this as she just wants her husband home, but knows he wants to go out on a high note. Even with the Cena match seeming like a great note you could tell Taker was slightly annoyed by only getting 5 minutes. Michelle is hip to the cycle she talked about and will be supportive while also joking around with Taker about the numerous retirements. Credit to her standing by her husband while also keeping him grounded in reality. The Vince/Taker relationship is also fascinating as I don’t know how many guys have that type of relationship with Vince. Seeing each man get emotional talking about the other was something I didn’t expect. I mean, I guess with Vince I could see it, but seeing Taker get like that is something else. This continues to be a must watch and I am already excited for next week. Thanks for reading!