WWE's Mick Foley on The Undertaker Finally Breaking Character in "The Last Ride," Why Wrestlers Struggle With Retirement
Undertaker: The Last Ride, a five-part documentary series covering the last three years of The Undertaker's career, premiered its first episode on the WWE Network this past Sunday to rave reviews from wrestling fans. One of the standout aspects of the series is that "The Deadman," who was notorious for staying in character, shed all signs of kayfabe and spoke as Mark Calaway throughout the episode. WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley, who appears in the documentary and has history with Calaway that stretches back decades, spoke with ComicBook.com this week to give his thoughts on Calaway's decision to pull back the curtain.
"I was concerned when I first heard about this documentary project," Foley said. "I remember being interviewed for it two years ago, and when it did not materialize within six months, I assumed that the project had been sidelined. I would have guessed that a decision was made to continue to protect that character. So I was surprised when I heard that it not only was coming out, but it's coming out as a five part documentary series. Within five minutes I realized that I need not be concerned that in pulling back the curtain it was, in some way, creating even more mystique around the character because you could see how different the character was from the actual person."
"The Hardcore Legend" said that after watching the first episode he had no idea that Calaway's confidence had been shaken after his WrestleMania XXX match with Brock Lesnar.
"I didn't know that his confidence had been hurting," he said. "Yeah, that was a surprise to me, not only that his confidence had been suffering, but that he allowed people to know that his confidence had been suffering. He's always been the consummate professional, so to know that he was questioning his own abilities, that was a revelation to me."
One of the big themes in the series is Calaway struggling with the idea of retirement. Pro wrestling is infamous for having wrestlers come back for more matches long after they claim to be done. Foley explained why that's the case.
"I think because success is subjective in our business," Foley said. "It's not like you can gauge it based on a batting average. In baseball, if a guy can't get around on the fast ball, his career is done. Whereas, in sports entertainment, you are often at your peak years after your physical peak ends. In that you understand more about crowd psychology, you connect more with the fans, and you find ways to have better matches even though your prime physical years are over. I think there's a fine line between self-confidence and delusion. I think some of us, myself included, when we get older tiptoe over that line and still believe we have that one last match left in us."
The former WWE Champion admitted that even he struggled with retirement. He technically retired from wrestling full-time in 2000, but went on to have more than 40 matches for both WWE and Impact Wrestling from 2004-12. He said that if he could go back and re-do his retirement, he would've outright stopped in 2006.
"I should have stopped sooner," Foley said. "I did stop in 2000, wrestling full time. I was out for a full four years and I had a great two matches. One had [Cactus] Jack teaming with The Rock at WrestleMania [XX], and then another singles match with Randy Orton. I should have called it a career then, but definitely should have called it a career after Edge and I, we had an incredible match at WrestleMania . Followed it up with some great stuff with Nature Boy, Ric Flair. So 2006 probably should have been for me. I went a little longer than I should have, for sure."
Episode 2 of Undertaker: The Last Ride premieres on the WWE Network this Sunday.0comments