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WRESTLING COLUMNS

The Road To Wrestlemania 18
Undertaker on OFF THE RECORD
March 17, 2002 - By Chris Fothergill-Brown

It's not The Undertaker - it's Mark Calloway! Bring it on!

You always remember your first, though your first usually isn't surrounded by cameras and lasts a half hour. Today, this is the first time Michael Lansberg has had the chance to sit down with The Undertaker who's coming out of character. Welcome!

What's it like to enter the ring with a motorcycle as Mark Calloway these days? For him, it's still a rush. For years, people have wondered about his other side. When he got injured, he knew it was time to freshen himself up. Some people don't like him because he's not the same Undertaker, but he IS still the same guy, just evolved. It's a kick to come out there and show a different side.

The original Undertaker was the brainchild of Vince McMahon. It was a collaboration between Mark and Vince. Vince LOVED the idea of an old western style Undertaker with the hat and the long black coat. Mark just took the ball and ran.

When he came from WCW, and met with Vince at his house he decided to sweep Vince off his feet and get a job. It didn't happen. Vince suggested at the beginning of the year they might have something. He didn't have any work and figured he was off to Japan. One day he's at home and the phone rings. He didn't recognize the voice right away who said "Hello, is this The Undertaker?". He thought it was one of his friends - but when he realized it was Vince he said "Hell yeah I'm your Undertaker!"

Lansberg says that's where Hell Yeah came from as well. Mark laughs at that and says he gets a kick back every once in awhile.

In his twelve years, he's never gone out of character until today. Does this bother him at all? Yes and no. He says there are certain things that are none of our business. What kind of things get revealed that are none of our business? Things like people coming in, or storylines revealed. The Internet makes it hard to do their jobs well.

Once upon a time, Shawn Michaels was debating whether or not as to do a job and Taker told him to do the job. Does he still do that with guys like the n.W.o.? Well, the title as backstage general was kind of bestowed on him. It was nothing he went out and politicked for. He takes pride in what he does and in Vince McMahon. His number one agenda is he puts the business before anything else. You have to do business. Do they have to answer to him if they screw up? Overall, a lot of people look to him for answers when things aren't going right. But they have a way of policing themselves before it goes to the office. He thinks things can be nipped in the bud before going up to the office. So what about the n.W.o.? Those guys came in with a huge rap. He's dealt with them before. He had some reservations about them coming in due to their history in WCW. He doesn't want them influencing the young guys with their behaviour. So far, they've been fine but he's keeping an eye on them. The WWF locker room is WAY different than any other locker room they've ever been around. It's a close knit group - and they're all there to do business. There's no time for any bullshit.

Hell In The Cell - we'll talk about that when we come back from commercial.

Does he ever worry about winding up like Mick Foley? He's concerned about his health, and when you go to the ring you risk not being able to walk back. Any athlete that does anything is going to pay the price at some point in their lives.

Here's some clips of Mick Foley falling off the cage. He's told it's over, but he climbs back up the cage. What was going through his mind? Mark figured he was in for a long night. Mick had a bit of a longer night than him though. When he was tossed off the cage, it was like time stopped. Taker had an out of body experience - where he could see both himself and Foley from above. It was such a violent impact. And that part was planned. The chokeslam was far more serious than the first fall. Did Mark think about stopping the match? He TOLD Mick to stay down. His tooth had gone through his mouth. He looked in his eyes and knew Mick wasn't there. He stuck it out. It was violent, but he still shook off the attack. The thumbtacks thrown in made it a really violent night for Mick and all because he was concerned about the fans.

When there's no way to continue, they'd stop it. But what separates WWF wrestlers from any other sport is the fact the guys take so much pride in what they do.

Does it piss him off at all that it has a stigma of being a fake sport, while never getting any time off to recover? It used to eat him up when he'd get a snicker or a look. But he's gotten over it. He knows the people who shell out the money appreciate it. No one could possibly understand the physical abuse they go through though. He once wrestled through a broken eye socket.

QUIRKY FACT: The Undertaker's debut came at the 1990 Survivor Series. He was not led to the ring by his longtime manager Paul Bearer, but by his original manager Brother Love.

Here's a look at The Undertaker's hearse at Fan Axxess. Michael loves it. Mark thinks his legacy will be remembered as the dark Undertaker with the hearse.

TODAY'S E-MAIL

Mark, What did you think of The Undertaker vs. Undertaker feud? B.L.

On paper, he thought it was very intriguing. He was really disappointed with how it ended up - but on paper it was a great idea.

Hey Taker, When you were champ, title matches would always headline. Does the title mean less today then when you held it? Sean McDermott

He doesn't know that the title means less, so much as TV being storyline driven. Whoever has the title is still The Guy. The title has taken a bit of a step back due to the storylines.

UT, What's the tattoo on the back of your neck? Chris Rohde

It's the fighting skeleton. A lot of his tattoos have to do with skeletons and stuff. He doesn't know how many tattoos he has. He has two huge ones on each arm though. Every once in awhile he goes and gets a little ink, but he's not as big into it anymore.

Hey Taker, Rumour has it that you are retiring after Wrestlemania X8. Is it true? Alex Farrell Mississauga

No, he contemplated retirement about two years ago. He doesn't want to be out there past his prime with people saying "you should have seen him x years ago..." As long as he can keep pace with the guys, then there's no need to leave.

Some would say the guy he just described was Hulk Hogan. Well, maybe, but that's Hogan's decision and if he wants to carry on, so be it.

Out of sight, out of mind. He keeps his finger on his pulse as to where he's at. He speaks with Vince and needs input. Lansberg promises to give him a signal when it's time. Mark suggests using his thumb to show him the way out.

Michael mentioned Shawn Michaels earlier. Was it really true that he had to discipline him? Well, Shawn was causing headaches for sure. It was questionable whether or not Shawn was going to do the right thing. If it hadn't been done the way it was done, it would have been a VERY long night for Shawn. It didn't happen. As far as Shawn Michaels the performer goes, he's off the chart. But there were times he could be a pain in the ass. If that was the case, he was going to do what he had to do.

Who has he had to keep in line on the current roster? He says The Big Show has all the gifts in the world. He can do ANYTHING he wants in the world, but sometimes his motivation lacks. He remembers at Joe Louis one night, he was cutting up backstage. He was talking about making Taker blow up. In a matter of 30 seconds into the match, he was out of shape and couldn't catch his wind. That bothers him to see a guy with those gifts not to keep himself in shape. He also had a problem with treating people poorly, and he had to discipline him there.

Michael invites Mark to come back any time, and they sign off.



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