The Undertaker won the WWE Championship for the very first time just one year into his tenure with WWE at the 1991 Survivor Series from Hulk Hogan. It was a huge moment for the young superstar that sadly didn't last very long. Taker lost the title back to Hogan just six days later at This Tuesday In Texas. He wouldn't hold the title again until winning it from Sycho Sid at WrestleMania 13 in 1997. One of the legacies of the 1991 Survivor Series match, and Taker's subsequent title loss just days later as a result, was the fact that Hogan claimed to be injured in the bout. Understandably, that situation and Hogan's backstage politics left a bad taste in Taker's mouth.
During an interview this week with ESPN, The Undertaker went into great deal about the situation.
“That was crazy. It started out bad, and it progressively got worse," he said. "Hogan claims that I hurt him on the tombstone during the PPV. So I’m thinking to myself, like I didn’t find out until Tuesday. I knew there was going to be another PPV, but I didn’t know I was going to drop the belt back, or what was going on. That came up out of nowhere. But I kind of figured, oh, ok, maybe it’s because he’s telling everybody I hurt him, and ya know, Hulk was still the golden goose at the time. So I’m thinking, OK, they’re gonna take this off of me because they can’t trust me or whatnot. It really wasn’t explained to me what the reasoning was behind it.”
Taker went on to describe what happened at the venue (the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit) early in the day prior to the Survivor Series match and how he believes Hogan set him up.
“I was devastated," Undertaker explained. "The whole deal was, it was a setup from the get go. So back then, on a TV or PPV day, we’d show up at the arena around noon, one o’clock. Hogan would roll in about four or five. So I remember getting there about noon and Hogan was already there. And I’m walking down the hall, so he goes, ‘Hey kid, can I talk to you?’"
"So we go into one of the locker rooms into the shower. That was where all the business was done back in the day, you went into the shower, whether it was to fight, settle whatever score, it always happened in the shower. So he’s telling me, he goes, ‘Hey, I got this neck injury,’ he says, ‘I’m really nervous about taking your finish.’ I was like, ‘Hulk, believe me,’ I said, ‘I will protect you, I pride myself on not hurting people and I promise you, I will have you so tight that there is no way possible that you’re going to hurt your neck.’ So with that, we went about our business. Every point during the day, I’d pass him in the hall or whatnot, I’d get the, ya know, remember about my neck. So that was all I got all day, was my neck.”
Following the match, Hogan reportedly got very dramatic backstage in playing up the injury.
"So we go into the finish, Flair comes down, slides the chair down, I pick him up, and when I tell you I had the brother secure, he was secure. Boom, I give him the tombstone, as soon as my knees hit, I hear, ‘Ohhh, you got me, brother.’ I’m like, how? I’m, what, I was 24, 25 years old, and I just crushed Hulk Hogan, right? That’s what’s going through my head. Like they gave me this opportunity, they gave me this chance to run with the ball, and I hurt the golden goose. So I’m devastated, mortified, right? So they get Hogan out of the ring, and I get the belt, and Paul Bearer and I are doing our stuff. I go backstage, and I’m asking, where’s Hulk at? ‘Oh, he’s laying on Vince’s office’s floor.’ So I go in there and he’s laying out on the floor, ‘Ohhhh,’ carrying on. I’m going in to check on him, but here come the paramedics, so I go behind a wall with Shane. Me and Shane are behind the wall, and I’m having to listen to, ‘Can you feel this, can you do that?’ Then I hear, ‘Somebody get my wife and kids on the phone.'”
It was during this moment that Shane McMahon also doubted the story, telling Taker that Hogan's head was nowhere close to hitting the apron.
“I don’t know what the hell is going on other than the fact that I just hurt the golden goose. Shane’s right there telling me, he’s like, ‘Mark, his head wasn’t anywhere close to touching that mat.’ And I’m like, ‘No man, I hurt him.’ I couldn’t put a thought together, I just thought I killed him. And we didn’t have access back then to watch things back right away like we do now. So I didn’t see it until Tuesday in Texas. The next day I was in Hamilton, Ontario defending the title against Davey Boy Smith or somebody. I was gone. There was no Monday Night RAW yet. We had house shows.”
Other wrestlers then chimed in as well. They had seen the match live on the backstage monitors during the PPV.
“By now, a lot of the boys have come up to me and they’re like, shaking their heads, like, his head never got anywhere close to the mat. And you watch it back, you can tell, his head never touched. So now I’m in this precarious situation. I’m still a greenhorn. And now I’ve got to confront the face of wrestling, the biggest draw ever, and now I gotta figure out what I’m going to do here. As a man, I gotta know what the hell, but I also know that it’s risking my professional career, and at that point, everybody is so paranoid too about their position and their spots.”
When the following Tuesday's PPV in San Antonio came along, Undertaker explains how he confronted Hogan.
“Finally I got to San Antonio and I was like, ‘Terry, I watched it back, your head never hit.’ He’s like, ‘Well, brother, what it was was you had me so tight, that when we came down, I had nowhere to move, and that’s what jammed my neck because I couldn’t move at all.’ It was too tight. At that point, I was like, OK. Then I knew. I was like, OK, I kinda realized, I know what you’re all about, and that’s all I needed.”
Obviously, this situation changed the way that Taker interacted with Hogan moving forward. Hogan would leave the WWE less than three years later to jump to rival WCW. He and Taker wouldn't work together again until Hogan returned to WWE in 2002.0comments
“I treated him with the respect that I think, for what he did for the business, he deserved," Undertaker said. "So I treated him that way. I was not overly friendly but I didn’t, if he was in the building, I always made sure to say hello, engage him in conversation, but I always, from that Tuesday in Texas when I got that answer, I knew all I needed to know about him. Then my radar was always up anytime I had to interact with him, but I dealt in a professional manner with him.”
H/T to 411 Mania for the transcript.