long career the focus of WWE documentary
The first time I ever saw “The Undertaker” perform, I was 11 and my dad took me to the old Sports Arena to watch the WWE star face Sid Justice in a “casket match.” In hindsight, an interesting way for father and son to bond.
The Undertaker has long been one of pro wrestling’s biggest stars, and while I felt I knew the performer, I knew little about Mark Calaway, the man who has played the character since 1990.
Given the opportunity to interview him over the phone this week led to an uncomfortable question I’d never asked anyone before: “What exactly should I call you?”
## ## “Mark is fine, ‘Taker is fine, whichever one works for you, sir,” Calaway said. He laughed. “Most of the guys call me ‘Taker, but I’m getting more used to Mark now. But whatever you want, I’m good.”
“I’ve been watching ‘The Last Dance’ every Sunday and it’s been really good,” Calaway said. “And now maybe ‘The Last Ride’ is something people can watch on Sundays. As big a sports fan as I am, I can only watch the 1988 World Series and the 1991 NBA Finals so many times.”
The documentary marks the first time Calaway has pulled back the curtains on arguably the most popular character in professional wrestling history.
“Only the people in my personal life got Mark Calaway. At work it was always The Undertaker,” Calaway said. “We all know I have far more matches behind me than I do in front of me, and I had the mindset three years ago going into WrestleMania in Orlando that it could possibly be my last match, so I felt like I wanted to document all the raw emotion around that. We didn’t set out to make a documentary, but I wanted to capture my last few days doing this. Calaway still struggles with it as he talks about the documentary, which not only highlights his career but his personal life at home with his wife and children.
Everyone wants to know what’s going on behind the scenes and I’m the last to do it,” he said. “I’m a dinosaur. I love kayfabe. I wanted to protect the business and protect The Undertaker character, but it died somewhere along the way and you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube.”
The first two episodes of the docuseries shows a vulnerable side of Calaway as he struggles with the physical pain of being in the ring over three decades, including what happened behind the scenes with his hip surgery, and candid conversations with WWE chairman and CEO Vince McMahon, who he views as a second father.
“It’s funny when people actually do meet me because people have all these preconceived ideas, because they only know what they’ve seen on TV,” Calaway said. “They think I’m this ghoulish guy, but then they hear my normal voice and see that I can actually string more than one or two sentences together. I’m a pretty fun loving guy actually, and I like to cut up and I try not to take life too seriously.”
“I knew when we did it, it was going be well produced, but you don’t know until it’s all put together,” Calaway said. “It felt good. I feel like I’m a story teller in a wrestling match and that match had great story telling.”