WWE has been airing a documentary series on The Undertaker titled The Last Ride, which aired its final episode on Sunday. The series followed Undertaker’s last three years in WWE, chronicling his last half dozen matches with the promotion and his struggle with whether or not to retire over the last three years.
At the end of the final episode, Undertaker said that he’s done. The Boneyard Match against AJ Styles, which took place in front of no fans at this year’s WrestleMania, would be the last of his career … well, at least he thinks so.
“I believe I’m at a place now, post-Boneyard, which was a hellacious battle against one of the best in the business,” he said. “Here you are, climbing on your motorcycle and taking off. There was a lot of thought and a lot of emotion, one of those being ‘are you happy enough with that?’ It was a powerful moment. You don’t necessarily always get those. If there was ever a perfect ending to a career, that right there was it. If Vince was in a pinch, would I come back? I guess time would only tell there. In case of emergency, break glass, you pull out The Undertaker. I would consider it. At this point in my career, I have no desire to get back in the ring.”
Despite the handful of qualifiers in that statement, this does sound pretty final.
“I’m at a point, it’s time this cowboy really rides away,” he said. “There’s nothing left for me to conquer or accomplish. The game has changed. It’s time for new guys to come up. The time just seems right. This documentary has helped me discover that and opened my eyes to the bigger picture and not judge myself as harshly these last few years.”
Throughout the documentary, Undertaker thought he was retiring after his match with Roman Reigns three years ago at WrestleMania. But when McMahon needed him for WrestleMania the next year, Undertaker returned. His wife, former WWE women’s champion Michelle McCool, said multiple times over the course of the series that no matter what Undertaker says, if McMahon came calling for another appearance, ‘Taker would always go back.
Even in his announcement, Undertaker seemed to leave that door open…but only a little.
That said, there’s no mistaking Undertaker’s change in character since that Reigns match in 2017. He joined social media, he allowed the WWE film crew to document his career outside the ring, and when his WWE contract expired for a short time last year, he was even taking outside bookings (notably with Conrad Thompson’s Starrcast) before WWE shut down the appearances and signed Undertaker to a reported 15-year contract.
Undertaker had closely guarded his persona for more than 25 years before finally allowing himself to pull back the curtain in recent years.
While the Boneyard Match against Styles provided good theater, wouldn’t it be unfortunate if that was the last Undertaker match? For an icon like Undertaker, he deserves his final match to be in front of 90,000 fans at WrestleMania. He deserves the “Thank you ‘Taker!” chants as he walks up that aisle one last time.
But maybe in his mind, he had that already. Undertaker had the storybook ending against Roman Reigns, when he was pinned to the mat and left his hat and gloves in the middle of the ring. While it didn’t seem like, in the doc, he had any regrets, maybe in his mind, he believes that Reigns match should have been the final chapter. And there’s no sense doing it again.
It might not be 90,000 people chanting it, but… thank you, ‘Taker.