The Undertaker Opens Up About Breaking Kayfabe With ESPN
Photo credit: AMER HILABI/AFP/Getty Images
It’s mighty odd to see The Undertaker not “in character” so to speak, but fans have been getting more and more of Mark Calaway than they ever have before.
Undertaker spoke with Greg Wyshynski of ESPN and talked about how difficult it was for The Deadman to pull back the curtain after having a steady 30 years of not doing so under his belt.
“It was pretty difficult, honestly. But it was my idea. 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.’
“I’m a notorious old-school guy. When I hear people talking about matches and this and that, I just cringe, because I’ve always protected the business. Obviously I realize that it’s the natural progression and that things have changed. I’ve changed with it, but there’s that certain aspect of it being not for everybody.
“That’s one reason why The Undertaker had the longevity that it did. Because all they got was The Undertaker.”
Taker continues as he talks him taking the dive into social media a couple years back:
“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. 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.”
“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 in the character.
Undertaker does talk about turning into “The American Badass” biker Taker and how that became a benefit to upholding the longevity of his Deadman persona.
“When I started feeling stale in the Attitude Era, I thought that if I didn’t change the character, I don’t think it would have lasted through that era. It was everything goes, reality based. That’s when I switched to the American Badass character. I kept some elements of The Undertaker. Kept the name. But I took the shackles off for a little while for how that character presented itself. And it worked. People accepted it, and it fit for that time period. Once I felt like it ran its course, I was able to bring [the Undertaker] right back. Now I had elements of the original Undertaker, elements of the American Badass and I was able to keep adding to the character while staying true to it. That’s what’s given it the longevity that it’s had: Adapt, but keep the core elements of it.”