By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
The Undertaker on being inducted by Vince McMahon: I mean, what else could it be? I mean, it’s such an honor… Our relationship has gone from boss-employee to friends, he’s been like a father figure to me, a brother, a friend. Our relationship has kind of grown outside of the realm of WWE. More times than not when there has to be something to discuss business-wise, it’s someone other than Vince that I discuss it with. We text and call each other and talk about the most obscure things at this point. That’s really cool. When I got the call that they wanted to induct me, there was nobody else that I could think of that I wanted to induct me more so than Vince. Put it this way: he brought me in and he will take me out. So that’s pretty cool.”
The Undertaker on having fans at the Hall of Fame ceremony after crowd-less retirement: “The short answer is extremely special. The long answer is it’s extremely nerve-wracking. I’ve wrestled in front of 100,000-plus crowds [and] not bad an eye about it. I can get in front of thousands and thousands of people as The Undertaker and cut a promo on somebody. I don’t think twice about it. But what’s going to happen at the Hall of Fame is, yes, you’re going to get a kind of a retrospective of The Undertaker and his 30-plus years with the company, but you’re going to get a look behind the curtain at Mark Calaway. What all of those things that people have been so attached to for all those years, you’re going to find out what those things have meant to me personally. The retirement was during the pandemic and it was what it was. That was easy. I mean, it was hard for me to say that I’m retiring, but it was easy because there was nobody there. Now I’m going to be making eye contact with 15,000 to 20,000 people and try to keep my composure. There are going to be some emotional moments, I’m sure. At this point, I’m extremely honored that I’m being inducted. I’m honored and I’m excited to be able to share some things with the fans who have been with me all these years. It’s really exciting.”
The Undertaker on taking a break from speech writing, nervousness: “Actually, I needed a little bit of a break. I’ve been working on the speech. I didn’t realize that the pressure was going to be quite as much as it is, but it’s going to be interesting. [Maybe] I get stage fright and forget everything that I was going to say that might be it. I might have to do a throat slash, eye-roll and call it a day… I know for me it’s going to be an extremely emotional, special night. Deep down, I’m very thankful that there will be an arena full of people there to see it, and I get to share that with them.”
The Undertaker on growing more comfortable with media, but nervous about HOF speech: “Doing this kind of thing has become much more comfortable and speaking about the business. Now, when you started talking about your career and Hall of Fame and then you add fans to it, I’m going to be as honest as I can, I’m going to be a nervous wreck out there because I can share stories of things that have happened from Mark Calaway’s perspective, but actually, to share the things that I’m feeling, that’s going to be a first for me. That’s really going to be new. I can tell stories of things that me and Godfather did years ago and laugh about it.
“There are a few stories, some that we could actually say in public. But when you pull the curtain back and you start unravelling the emotions that come with it, it’s going to be a very interesting night for sure. I don’t know how well I’m going to do. When I first started doing this media over the last year or so, I got all the hate from like, ‘Well, there goes my childhood. There goes my childhood.’ Well, what happens when The Undertaker is a babbling, blubbering mess on stage and can’t get a sentence out? You know, that’ll put the nail in the casket, for sure.”
The Undertaker on “Where to, Stephanie?” meme: “There are times when you do something and you just know that’s money. There are other times when you need to watch it back and you critique. As soon as we did it, you know, the scream and everything, it was just one of those times where you go, ‘This is going to be a classic that people remember.’ I didn’t know they remember it this long and for it to be so relevant at this stage, but I do remember shooting it that day. It was set up so well and caught people so off guard. It was a really, really cool segment that we did that day.”
The Undertaker on the Corporate Ministry and Higher Power storyline: “It was a huge storyline. I wasn’t a big proponent of the higher power being Vince. I just thought it watered The Ministry down; although, it led to me abducting Stephanie and all of that. It all works out. But, you know, originally I wasn’t real thrilled about the Corporate Ministry. That really felt watered down to me. I felt like it kind of took away from what we were doing. Although, as I said, we got it back. But, you know, anytime you can be involved in a storyline with the boss, you know you’re going to get a lot of eyes on you. So, yeah, it all worked out.”
The Undertaker on infamous 1997 interview where Vader got physical with a TV host: “If it had happened over here, I would have been a little bit more aggressive. But I’m trying to think, I think we might have been in Kuwait. We were somewhere over there in the Middle East, right? I’m just sitting there thinking. I’ve got my shades on and I’m sitting there with the belt. Vader, I could see it. I could see it coming long before it ever happened. I’m thinking of myself, ‘Don’t do it, Leon. Don’t do – he’s doing it. This is not going to be good.’ Everything just broke down immediately and I’m thinking, ‘Oh my gosh.’ You don’t know when you’re in a foreign country what the ramifications are for putting your hands on somebody else. It could be a misdemeanor. You just don’t know, so you don’t put yourself in that situation. I mean, I appreciate Leon. I appreciate the fact that he was protecting his business, but there is a time when you have to be a little more diplomatic and a little vaguer.
“You can say things a little differently. But when you start putting your hands on people, that hasn’t turned out well for many people that decide to slap a reporter or grab somebody because they mark on your business. I remember them whisking me out. When everything broke down, I remember Jerry Brisco grabbing me like, ‘Let’s get in the car. We’re getting out of here.’ I look back and I see Leon saying, ‘Well, Take, what do I do?’ I say, ‘I’ll see you at the hotel, brother’ because I’m actually I’m getting pulled. I’m physically getting pulled to get into the car and get out before everybody gets arrested because we just didn’t know. I knew that was going to be a bad decision right away and it was. He didn’t leave with us. He had to stay there for a week or so after we all left.”
The Undertaker reacts to Hulk Hogan failing to start motorcycle on 2002 episode of Raw: “It was funny. When you’re dealing with mechanical things, they’re going to sometimes just bite you in the ass. That’s exactly what it did. The bike would not start. He tried his hardest and the harder he tried, the worse the segment got. It just got to the point where it was just funny. I’m just glad it was him that couldn’t get the bike started and it wasn’t me. But that’s what you get. You try and steal another man’s motorcycle, that’s karma is what that is. You shouldn’t do something like that. He definitely paid the price. But yeah, that was horrible. It was so bad that it was good. Restorative for you. It’s great live TV trying to steal a bike that won’t start.”
The Undertaker on getting his retirement right through trial and error: “Yeah, absolutely. I was so disappointed in my performance with Roman [Reigns] at that Mania. I could give you a hundred excuses and my hip was this and all of that, but I’m the one that made the decision to do it so I need to accept the consequences of that decision. But, yes, it was very gratifying. One, it was special because I’ve always wanted to work with AJ [Styles]. The original plan was to actually do it in a ring and more conventional manner, but to be able to share such a unique match and go out with such a positive, I think it was the best-case scenario for me. I don’t know if the match had been in a wrestling ring, although I was in great shape and felt really good and motivated, I think I think everything worked out the way that it should. I left on an extremely high note and I was personally satisfied and that was what I was searching for those last few years. Is that one match that I could hang my hat on and say, ‘I’m done, I’m good. It’s time to go home.'”
The Undertaker opens up about Scott Hall’s death: “One of the great in-ring workers. He was just really gifted. Him and Shawn’s [Michaels] ladder match at Madison Square Garden is just one of those legendary, iconic matches. It’s just another sad example. We lose and have lost way too many guys at way too young an age. Some of the choices that we make early on, we don’t see the ramifications later in our lives. You can’t foreshadow that. It’s just sad to lose a guy that you’ve been in the trenches with. I was on my first tour of Japan with Scott. Scott kind of took me under his wing and showed me the ropes in 1988 or 1989 or whenever it was. Where to go to eat and such. It was a really sad day. I know it was sad for [Kevin] Nash and Shawn and Triple H and X-Pac. All those guys. They were all so tight. I know what it’s like to lose guys like that you’re really close with. I feel bad for them, I feel bad for Scott’s family. It’s just another sad loss that our business has offered.”
The Undertaker thanks his fans: “It’s just a whole-hearted, from the deepest part of my heart, thank you. Thank you for staying with me for over thirty years and supporting me and being fans of this industry. Just the emotion that I felt from my audience several nights is what got me to the ring when I felt at my physical worst. Just knowing that people had paid money to come to see me was enough motivation to go out and give them what I had. That’s not lost on me. I appreciate everything that they’ve done through the years and supported me. I’m just honored to be somewhat relevant even in 2022. So just a huge thank you to my fans.”