The Undertaker has been wrestling in WWE for over 30 years and has been widely regarded as one of the greatest of all time. Even now at the age of 54, The Undertaker shows no signs of stopping as he is scheduled to face AJ Styles at WrestleMania 36.
Jim Ross discussed how important the Undertaker has been to the WWE and where he views him in terms of the Mount Rushmore of wrestling on a recent episode of his Grillin' JR podcast.
"At the top of the mountain," Ross said. "He's the Babe Ruth of WWE. No matter all the guys, the Brunos and the Backlunds, the Bret Harts and the Hogans, the Austins, The Rocks, as far as tenure and what he means to the locker room, no one can be placed ahead of The Undertaker in my eyes. I could see having a Hall of Fame with one entrant: him. And having people that he worked with over the years do presentations and talk and show video clips. Mark is that kind of guy. He takes his time to help you. That's what the old veterans used to do."
Mr. Kennedy was the topic of discussion on the podcast. Ross went in-depth into the career of Kennedy and how he ended up not making it in WWE. Kennedy was in a program with The Undertaker in 2006 which culminated at the Survivor Series pay per view, where Kennedy defeated Taker in a first blood match. Ross talked about the match and what went into the finish.
"To show how much Vince and others thought of Kennedy, he didn't put Taker over," Ross noted. "He would have obviously if they had asked but they thought enough about him to say 'let's not beat him'."
Kennedy and MVP faced The Brothers of Destruction in November of 2007 in a match that involved several restarts, count outs and DQs. Ross talked about the decision to keep restarting the match and what working with Kane and The Undertaker meant for wrestlers like MVP and Kennedy.
"Interesting booking, they made chicken salad out of chicken s--t," Ross stated. "For both Kennedy and MVP to get the rub and be in the ring, to get the association with Taker and Kane is big business. No matter the outcome. For them to hang with The Brothers of Destruction was a good thing."
At WrestleMania 23, Mr. Kennedy won the Money in the Bank briefcase in a match that was filled with future legends. The match included CM Punk, Edge, Randy Orton, Jeff Hardy, Finlay, King Booker, Matt Hardy, and Kennedy was the one who walked away with the briefcase. Ross talked about what the win meant for Kennedy in Vince's eyes.
"Evidence that the office, of Vince and company, had great hope and plans for Kennedy," Ross said. "When you win that MITB ladder match, that concept had worked for talents that won that match. Kennedy was just an aberration. Everyone thought that Kennedy was going to become the champion because he won MITB, but that was not to be."
Kennedy tore his triceps during a match with Batista which would keep him out of action for 7-8 months. The injury led to Vince deciding to have Kennedy drop the briefcase to Edge, who eventually cashed it in to defeat The Undertaker for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. On the idea of Anderson trying to prevent Vince and Stephanie from making him drop the Money in the Bank briefcase due to his injury, JR noted the show had to go on.
"At the end of the day, you want to do what they ask," Ross said. "The salvation for Ken was the fact that they did have high hopes for him, by winning the Money in the Bank ladder match, to be talked about regarding The Undertaker's title and Ken becoming that champion. That's big, big news. That's bigger than anything he could've told them or they could've told him. That was the biggest thing in his career at that point in time.
"But Ken had these injury issues, I'm not blaming him, it's just a part of the game, it ain't ballet. I was surprised that's how it was going to be done. But yes, Ken should've had a nice pleasant conversation and pitched his idea. If you never pitch it, you know it's not going to be accepted because they don't know about it."
The plan was for Undertaker to drop the title to Kennedy because he was dealing with an injury as well at the time. JR described why the WWE needed to act fast and move the briefcase to Edge while Kennedy was dealing with his injury.
"Every company is always charged with protecting their championships," Ross said. "If championships become too frequent and they change too often, they start losing credibility. Protecting the championship, and the WWE title, has always been a priority for WWE, it's a priority for AEW. Your main title has to be embraced and protected and that's what Vince was trying to do here with that decision."
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Grillin' JR with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.