Mark Calaway, better known to WWE fans as The Undertaker, is finally pulling back the curtain on his storied career with a revealing new WWE Network docuseries titled “Undertaker: The Last Ride.”
The five-episode series, which began filming in 2017 ahead of WrestleMania 33, is meant to give fans an inside look at Calaway’s life as he prepares for his final outings in the ring.
“It goes without saying that I have far more matches behind me than I do in front of me,” Calaway tells Variety. “I think for the very reason I protected this character for so long is why I felt like this docuseries was the thing to do, because I don’t know how much there is left.”
Calaway says that he is searching for what will truly be his last match, with the hope being to end his career on a high note. No easy feat, considering he has been a part of some of the most memorable matches in WWE history.
“You have to be honest with yourself,” he says. “It just may not happen the way you want it to. I think that’s part of the intrigue of this. Do I have the opportunity to have that match? Are my skills still at a level that will allow me to have that match? That’s me being as open and honest as I can be right there. I’ve got some pretty good matches that I have to grade things against. I have to grade on a curve now…Those are things that I have to struggle with. I have to look at things in a very realistic manner in terms of where I’m at with my age and my injuries.”
Calaway has famously given few interviews during his career, let alone allowed himself to be followed by a camera crew, choosing to maintain the ironclad separation between his real self and his fictional persona that professional wrestlers calls kayfabe. During filming, he says that it took some time to let his guard down and relax his instincts to protect the business as he has throughout his adult life.
“Everyone knows for the better part of 30 years, that was off limits. You don’t get to see both sides,” he says. “Fortunately — it was probably luck more than anything else — I had the presence of mind early on in the process to realize that I had to separate Mark Calaway and The Undertaker.”
“I had to realize that the things early on that I was telling them not to shoot were the things I wanted them to shoot,” he continues. “I want people to see what it takes at this point for me to go out and be The Undertaker and perform and what it takes to get ready for it.”
Most recently, Calaway performed alongside AJ Styles in what was dubbed the Boneyard Match at WrestleMania 36. The match was originally meant to take place live, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced WWE instead to shoot it like a mini-film at a remote location. It received very positive reviews from fans, who praised not only Calaway and Styles but also the unique style of the presentation.
“We got really lucky in that,” he says. “I think the world of AJ not only professionally but personally. I just didn’t know if I had enough gas in the tank to give him what he was expecting…With all the negative aspects of what happened, we got to do something so unique and so innovative. It was like a mini-movie. I think there will probably be more matches in the future shot like that. Not on every card, but with those specialty matches I think they’re really on to something. It’s so different from what you normally see and so different from the regular product. I was very fortunate to be able to do that with someone of AJ Styles’ caliber. And then all the talent that was there production-wise, I was very happy with how that turned out.”
“It showcased what I do best. I’m a storyteller,” he continues. “That’s what I believe wrestling matches are. They’re stories. When it’s done right, you tell a great story, and I think we told a great story. To me, that’s a good night’s work.”
The first episode of “Undertaker: The Last Ride” will stream on WWE Network May 10 immediately following the Money in the Bank pay-per-view at approximately 10 p.m. ET. Episodes two and three will then drop May 17 and May 24, while episodes four and five will drop June 14 and June 21. Episodes two through five will all become available to stream at 10 a.m. ET the day they are released.