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WWE Legend The Undertaker Revealed His Blunt Reaction To The First WrestleMania

The Undertaker turning around while driving.
(Image credit: WWE)

WrestleMania is, without a doubt, the biggest wrestling event in the world, though it took few years to fully establish and maintain that reputation. WWE legend The Undertaker has long been a central element within the event’s history, and was always good for a memorable entrance, but he wasn’t part of the company's roster for the first PPV event in the mid-'80s. The now-retired phenom looked back on those early days and shared what he'd thought about WrestleMania at the time, and his opinion might be a bit blunter than some would expect. 

The Undertaker, real name Mark Calaway, officially debuted in the WWE in 1990, years after the first WrestleMania took place at Madison Square Garden in 1985. Ahead of his Biography: WWE Legends episode that spans his legendary career, Undertaker gave Peter Rosenberg and A&E his not-exactly-flattering take on WrestleMania's emergence, and why it didn’t really matter to him what was happening there: 

At that point, I was still in the process of having to set rings up and work for nothing, and actually have to pay to work and set up the ring just to get some ring time. Funny enough, it was huge because, I mean, it was such a spectacle already on the scale where wrestling was at. WrestleMania was big news but I didn’t really — other than Hogan’s match — keep up with it because I didn’t like the product. I’m an old-school wrestling guy [and] it was different.

As weird as it may sound to hear, the athlete who went on to become a WWE Hall of Famer wasn’t into the hype that Vince McMahon's WWE was putting out there for its first mega-event. He even went so far as to say he didn’t like the product in those years, meaning that he wasn’t a fan of how the WWE orchestrated matches and the presentation as a whole. He was just trying to make any kind of a name as a professional wrestler with his technical skills, so it's hard to blame him for not being all about the flashy glitz of WrestleMania from the start. 

The Undertaker justified his somewhat surprising stance and essentially stated that the McMahon-style of wrestling and storytelling just wasn’t something he had familiarity with. Back in the day, before so many places were bought out or forced out, far more territories and competing organizations were around, and given the sport's ties to locations, Undertaker said he was a fan of other promotions elsewhere in the country. 

I didn’t grow up in the northeast…and to be completely honest I was a [Ric] Flair guy. I was a Harley Race guy…that was my goal at the time, so you know. I was aware of it, but it wasn’t on my radar as much as what the other guys were doing at the time. Little did I know [laughs]

Undertaker was laughing at his own youthful naivety, considering WrestleMania is such a big part of his legacy and featured many of his greatest moments in the ring and on-camera. To the point where “The Streak” is commonly used to refer to Undertaker's 21 consecutive wins at the event — Peacock premium subscribers — which is a benchmark that likely won't be surpassed in the years to come. One has to assume his viewpoints on WrestleMania and the WWE's core athletes changed once he was hired on, especially when he was winning consecutive matches during many of the biggest matches of the 1990s and beyond.

Wrestling fans might still be getting used to this candid side of Mark Calaway, the retired superstar, since he notably didn’t often speak about his character or personal viewpoints while actively working in the WWE. Now that he’s out, fans are hearing more of his stories and memories related to the wrestling industry, and it's been an informative blast so far. Hopefully, his retirement era (assuming it sticks) will continue giving fans much more thoughts on his time in the industry, and maybe even his views on more current goings-on. 

Undertaker is officially retired from the WWE, but a vast majority of his matches are available to watch on Peacock, which is where SummerSlam will be streaming live on Saturday, July 30th, which should be a great night for wrestling fans.

Mick Joest
Mick Joest

Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.