When is it time to walk away?
That's the question WWE's new documentary, Undertaker: The Last Ride, seemingly attempts to answer. Through a five-part series that spans three years, fans of the Deadman will not only learn more about the wrestler, but also the man himself, Mark Calaway.
Ahead of the docuseries debut on the WWE Network on Monday, May 11, we got an early preview of the first episode.
The documentary starts with an opening chapter, The Greatest Fear, which offers viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the Undertaker's WrestleMania 33 match with Roman Reigns in 2017. At the time, it was thought that would be his last wrestling match, which is why he allowed camera crews to follow him around and document the occasion.
At the beginning of the 55-minute episode, we’re introduced to Calaway, sitting in a chair and looking slightly weary. “I want them thinking, ‘This guy has got a lot left in the tank.’ If I can leave with that, I’ll be content. I can walk away,” he says. “I say that. But I’ve been saying that for a long time.”
The first half of the episode takes a look at his impressive career, which has spanned more than three decades, beginning with his debut in a WWE ring in 1990. It also delves into how “The Streak” came to be (in which he won 21 straight matches at WrestleMania) and how The Undertaker become synonymous with WWE’s biggest yearly event.
A 13-minute preview from the docuseries:
“Who would have thought that one man could make so many WrestleManias to even be able to put himself in the conversation to even make that happen?” asks WWE Hall of Famer Stone Cold Steve Austin.
It also touches on his shocking loss to Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 30 in 2014, which is the match that ended his streak. We learn that Calaway suffered a severe concussion in the ring and has no recollection of it even happening. He reveals his last memory from the day was at 3.30pm – hours before competing.
“He was so severely concussed, he had no idea of his name,” says his wife Michelle McCool. “He didn’t know where we were, he didn’t know why we were in New Orleans. He didn’t know his name until 4am.”
Yet despite the injury and the loss, Calaway, 55, didn’t step away from the ring, choosing instead to return the next year to compete again.
"At this point in my career, I can't work a full schedule. There, I said it,” he admits in the documentary. “But I love and respect this business so much and all I ever wanted to be was a wrestler."
The episode ends after his second WrestleMania loss to Reigns and his seeming goodbye to the wrestling world. He claims he’s content and he’s ready to go, but with hindsight, fans already know that isn’t true, as he competed against AJ Styles at WrestleMania 36 only last month.
Undertaker: The Last Ride offers a poignant look at an ageing wrestler who has meant so much to so many fans. It also offers an interesting insight into Calaway himself, a man who has previously been known to keep quiet about his personal life.
While he’s still one of the biggest draws for the WWE crowd, no one would be upset if did decide to finally retire. Whether he will or won't still seems to be the big question. But even though it doesn't get answered by the end of this series, fans will still find plenty to be satisfied with.
Undertaker: The Last Ride will be broadcast on the WWE Network on Monday, May 11. More information is available at www.wwenetwork.com