Undertaker: The Last Ride Top Moments and Reaction from Premiere Episode

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 10, 2020

IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR WWE - Undertaker gazes at the crowd after what could be his final WrestleMania match on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Orlando, Fla. (Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP Images for WWE)
Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

The Undertaker offered a rare peek behind the curtain with the premiere of the WWE Network series, Undertaker: The Last Ride.  

For decades, The Deadman rarely broke character in public settings. With his career obviously winding down, fans are getting to see more of the real Mark Calaway.

First, he dissected his career on Steve Austin's Broken Skull Sessions. Now, the former world champion is the subject of a multi-part series in which cameras followed him in the days leading up to and after his WrestleMania 33 match against Roman Reigns in 2017.

Roman Reigns @WWERomanReigns

The main event of #WrestleMania means you’ve made it in @WWE. Being in that spot against @Undertaker ... indescribable. A lot of memories to relive tonight. I’ll be watching #TheLastRide. @WWENetwork

Much like with The Last DanceUndertaker: The Last Ride takes a wide view and focuses on more than just Undertaker vs. Reigns.

The Undertaker told Austin last November he doesn't recall anything about his WrestleMania XXX defeat to Brock Lesnar due to a concussion he suffered midway through the match.

Sunday's episode included backstage footage immediately after he walked through the curtain, with WWE chairman Vince McMahon calling for trainers. 

WWE trainer Larry Heck said 'Taker "had the happy gazed look on his face that he had no idea where he was at," which was when Heck knew something was seriously amiss.

The Undertaker was transported to a local hospital, with McMahon and Lesnar following behind in another vehicle to check on him. His wife, former WWE star Michelle McCool, said he was unable to recall his name or where he was.

His mental recovery from the concussion might have taken longer than his physical recovery. He says the injury "destroyed my confidence" as he prepared for his WrestleMania return against Bray Wyatt in 2015. Beating Wyatt helped him return to his usual self.

McCool and The Big Show briefly talked about The Undertaker's toughness and desire to compete regardless of what ailments he might be battling.

The Big Show recounted one instance in which he wrestled with a 103-degree fever and required an intravenous drip upon getting backstage because "it was coming out of both ends."

McCool noted he worked the SmackDown Elimination Chamber bout in 2010 after suffering second-degree burns due to a pyrotechnics accident during his entrance. The documentary showed him pouring water on himself.

$ McCool @McCoolMichelleL

So many of y’all have already reached out from watching episode 1! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts! It’s only just begun......💙#TheLastRide https://t.co/Sps3GjraUg

During his conversation with Austin, The Undertaker also explained how he didn't have a firm date on when he'd finally retire but that his "biggest fear is becoming a parody of myself." That was a theme throughout the documentary early on.

"Here I am, at this late point in my career, and I'm wondering, 'Am I gonna be able to hang with this young guy,'" he said.

He also reflected on how getting inside the ring so sparingly—a strategy intended to keep him healthier—presents its own problems:

"I'm just trying to figure out, because I knew I wasn't anywhere close to being at a hundred percent. I was trying to figure out how to make it work. That's a huge challenge to only work once a year and then try to have timing, cardio, have your gimmick. It's tough. ... But it's my reality. That's where I'm at. At this point in my career, I can't work a full schedule. There, I said it."

The Phenom has become synonymous with WrestleMania in a way no other wrestler has. It's difficult envisioning anybody repeating his 21-match unbeaten streak at the marquee pay-per-view.

He explained how he felt an obligation to work WrestleMania due to his famous streak, which exacted a demanding physical toll:

WWE Network @WWENetwork

Prepare ➡️#WrestleMania ➡️Surgery ➡️Rehab ➡️Train ➡️Repeat ↩️ Chapter 1 of Undertaker: #TheLastRide is AVAILABLE NOW on WWE Network. https://t.co/NWCi6yG7NC

Triple H related to the problem because his schedule has become similarly limited in recent years, while Austin said one benefit of wrestling year-round is that the body builds up a pain tolerance. That makes lengthy layoffs counterproductive to some extent.

The Undertaker made it clear he doesn't plan on reaching a point at which his matches are limited to signature moves and a hasty retreat.

"I'm either gonna go out with a match befitting The Undertaker at WrestleMania, or I'm going out on my shield one way or another," he said.

The debut episode concluded with Reigns toppling 'Taker in Orlando, Florida, which at the time appeared to be the last time he'd step inside the squared circle. In the teaser for the next episode, he reveals his disappointment with how he performed, which motivated him to continue going.