As previously noted, WWE Legend The Undertaker, also known as Mark Calaway, recently caught up with Fellowship Church's Senior Pastor Ed Young for an out of character interview on a number of interesting topics including getting the call from WWE Chairman Vince McMahon about The Undertaker gig, evolving his character over his long and storied pro wrestling career, and how he deals with attention from fans.
During the interview, The Undertaker recalled getting a call from McMahon about starting work for WWE.
"I got the call from Vince. The call was something like this. The phone rings. I pick it up. 'Hello?' 'Is this The Undertaker?' 'Undertaker? Yeah, this is The Undertaker.' 'Haha! Alright then. Can you be up here tomorrow?' And the next day I was on a plane. That was Vince, [he] called me. He had this character. The original character was based on an old western undertaker." Undertaker remembered, "at the time, people were just so enthralled with it because it was so different."
According to The Undertaker, his longevity can be attributed at least in part to his ability to evolve his character over the years.
"Trying to keep the character relevant for this long, you really have to keep your finger on the pulse of things because if you don't, what usually happens is before you realize you're stale, your audience [has] already moved on." Undertaker explained, "I never, like, once I got to the WWE and then, I kind of started to realize that we have something special with that character, I was never satisfied. I was like, 'we're here and we're getting a great reaction, but what's next?' I'm always looking down the road. Like, 'okay, I need something. I've got to bring something new to the table, but I have to stay true to what my fanbase and my audience, what they've accepted and this is what they want. But you have to figure out ways to keep it fresh, so you're watching what everybody else is doing and you're trying not to fall in because that happens so often in our business. Somebody will hit something and then everybody's trying to do the same thing."
On the subject of being approached by fans, The Undertaker admitted that it is difficult for him to blend in.
"Yeah, it's kind of hard to hide." Undertaker laughed, "it really is. It's tough, yeah. [6'9"] with sleeves. Even if people aren't [pro] wrestling fans, it doesn't take too many removals to find that person who knows wrestling. So normally, your size, 'oh, that's a big dude. I wonder if he plays football or something.' 'No, that's The Gravedigger.'"
Apparently, starstruck or otherwise fearful fans who send their unknowing spouses to meet him instead of going for themselves should not expect a selfie with 'The Deadman'.
"For years there, I sort of lived the character. It was this guy everywhere, right? [Points to poster of Undertaker in full regalia] Well, yeah. If they came up to me it would be different, but I did try to give them that aura of 'don't mess with him - he may drop you where you stand, right?'" Undertaker said, "it's funny, there are a lot of people that think that and they'll either send their wives or they'll send somebody that has no clue. And then, if I don't snap at them, then they come over, like, 'really? You send your wife over here? I'm going to take a picture with her, but I'm not going to take a picture with you because you need to man up a little bit.'"
Along these lines, The Undertaker is irked by people trying to hide the fact that they are photographing him.
"I hate, and I hate using that word, that's twice, but people that will do the old take the camera out and do the sneak pic. Like, the guys that are afraid to come up to you, so they'll like try to video you. And then, somebody else that has come up to me, 'hey can I have an autograph?' 'Absolutely! What's your name?' Then, the person that was trying to be sneaky is like, 'oh, he's okay. Oh, I'm going to go up to him.' I'm like, 'wait a minute! What about the 10 pictures you just took a minute ago?'" Undertaker later commented, "obviously, you want to treat your fanbase right, but people really, really assume and take a lot for granted. They're like, 'but I'm your fan.' And I'm like, 'I get that and that's why I show up to the towns where I'm booked and I work my tail off for you.' That's my obligation. I give it everything I have. At this point, however much I've got left, I give it to you. This is a bonus. You were lucky enough to come across me and I'll sign it, if you give me just a little bit of respect."
With that said, The Undertaker stated that he is accommodating to fans except when his kids are with him.
"I try to be as accommodating as I can unless my kids are with me. I try to be as polite as I can, like, I don't want my kids pictures taken. I don't want them on social media. I'm really protective of that. And I normally say, 'look, my family's with me. Normally, I would, but I don't take pictures because it causes something' and most people understand that and respect it."
Watch the interview in the video above. If you use any of the quotations from this article, please credit Wrastlin': A Series By Ed Young with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Source: Wrastlin': A Series By Ed Young