During a recent appearance on the “Insight with Chris Van Vliet” podcast, The Undertaker commented on WWE’s product and why it’s evolved for the better, the death of kayfabe, and more.
You can check out some highlights from the podcast below:
On the death of kayfabe: “I think, yeah, I think kayfabe died for sure when I came out and started talking as Mark Callaway. I shouldn’t say that, no, you know what, because there are a few guys that are out there that are, they’re living their gimmick, and doing a really, really good job at that. And I think, obviously, we go out of our way now to let everybody know what sports entertainment is. But I think, and we did that even while I was working, right. But the way I approach things and even with my character and my over-the-top gimmick as, you know, as The Undertaker, especially the last probably 10-15 years of my career. I really, the way I set my matches up and I tried to, I always tried to suspend that sense of reality. I didn’t want people thinking, like, I wanted people, when I threw a punch, I wanted people to go ooh, that’s different. Or the things that I did to make sense, even like before I do old school, which is a stretch for somebody to grab someone’s arm and to be able to walk [the top rope]. But so, I would take the time to work that arm over and it hit that shoulder with the shoulder tackles and the shoulder tackles and this and that. I tried to have things make sense, and I always tried to get people invested and to forget everything else that we’ve told them about what sports entertainment and wrestling is, and try and let them immerse themselves into what’s going on. And that’s the way I approach things, and I think there’s some of that that is still applicable if you make the effort to do so. I think enlarge there’s just this okay, everybody, everybody’s in on it, and, you know, this is the way it is. But I think, I think there is room for kayfabe still. I just, I know everything’s evolving, and people have different perspectives on it, but that’s mine. And I’ll be the first to admit, I’m a dinosaur.”
On lessons learned from Vince McMahon: “Um, there’s several. You know, and I mentioned it last year in my speech at the Hall of Fame, perception is reality. And, you know, I think sometimes he may have forgotten that, but I never did. And so that went a long way. Perception is reality and how I dealt with people through my career. I always, I didn’t want anybody to ever think that, you know, that I swerved them or that I had to go behind their back or do anything. What they saw is what they got, and I think that was probably a large factor in people always considering me the locker room leader. Everybody knew my relationship with Vince and Bruce and all of those, Pat Patterson, everybody knew my relationship there. But those same guys that I was on the road with, that I was hanging out with and partying with, you know, they knew what happened there was safe, and there was never going to be any crossover. Don’t let what we’re doing at night get in the way of business. I mean, that was a, that was a really strong rule with me. I don’t care what we do, don’t be late, and work hard. That was, that was the only thing that I [told people], don’t get in trouble, don’t make us late, don’t embarrass us, don’t be late to work and work hard. And I think that was why I garnered, I guess the respect because people trust me. And they knew that the two never the two never cross, I was going to do what was best for business, and that’s something that I learned from Vince. With Vince, regardless of what anybody thinks, deep in his heart he’s one of the boys, he really is. And he has that mentality. Things had to change, obviously, whatever, things changed, when the business, when the company went public, there were a lot of changes that had to happen, changes for the better. Everything’s, you know, we’ve evolved into a whole I mean, it is a, I think, I think WWE is in a lot of [ways], a lot more now is regarded in the same way as as other major sports franchises, you know, NBA or the NFL, we’re on that, if we’re not on that level, we’re really close, and the company is run that way. It is not that circus, you know, carny kind of thing anymore. It is a big, huge business, as everybody knows. And that’s the way it’s treated. The product has evolved, and it’s evolved for the better.”
On multiple WWE Superstars trying to get The Undertaker to break character: “I do. You know what, I always thought that was the hokiest ever, but iconic, right? And always to get me to laugh. There was such a time period there where, I think that was the company’s goal was to see who could get me to break. I mean, it was nonstop. We spent an hour and a half one night after a TV event in Seattle trying to get me to the Spinaroonie. Booker T swerved me, we’ve been doing this same match after TV tapings that was our advertised dark match. We’ve been doing it for weeks, and, you know every night I’d get on there and say let’s have Booker do a Spinaroonie, everybody go crazy. Well, Booker gets the microphone one night and completely swerved me, which was all set up. Vince was in on it; everybody was in on it. You know? He tells his sold-out crowd in Seattle that he wants to see a Takeroonie, and I was like you son of a bitch, I was p*ssed. And here they come, one after another, just I mean everybody on the roster, everybody, Rock comes down, Triple H comes down, Big Show’s down, everybody’s down and doing these absolutely awful Spinaroonies. and I remember, I remember seeing my spot to leave because the ring is full of people now, right? And the crowd is going nuts trying to get me, everybody’s chanting Takeroonie and all this. And I finally saw my spot and I jumped out of the ring and I headed back to the back. And I looked over my shoulder and here comes Big Show, Vince had sent Big Show to come get me right and he came through that curtain. I said, I said you may kill me and eat me, but I’m gonna punch you in the face if you touch me. Vince, never forgive me. Because I always told him, I don’t care who you are, what you do, you’ll never get me to do that. And you don’t tell Vince that you can’t or won’t do something, because it becomes his passion in life. But I can honestly say he never got me to do a Takeroonie. So, I won. That’s the one battle I won with Vince.”
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