In the early years of The Undertaker’s run in WWE, Vince McMahon would position him to face larger wrestlers, with some not being the most talented in the ring. During that period, Taker feuded with King Kong Bundy, Kamala, a copycat Undertaker played by Brian Lee, Sycho Sid and most notably Giant Gonzalez.
During an interview with Sam Roberts on the Notsam Wrestling Podcast, The Undertaker described what it was like working with some of those names. Taker noted how Vince McMahon would always position him to work first with some of the greener wrestlers during his time there.
“I begged him all the time,” Undertaker said. “It was funny because I knew somebody would come in and I would know, even before I got the call into his office I knew he’s heading my way.”
Yokozuna was one of the more notable names as a 400 pound wrestler who could work and have a fantastic match. He debuted in 1992 along with the near 8 ft. tall Giant Gonzalez. Taker told the story of how he begged Vince to be the first to work with Yokozuna, but says Vince told him he had other plans.
“He came in around the same time Yokozuna came in,” Taker said. “He was doing a dark match in Baltimore so I see Vince standing there watching him and me and him are both watching him and the stuff that he’s doing and the kicks he’s throwing at 400 pounds. I remember turning my head to Vince and saying ‘Please, please, please, let me work with him first’. Vince laughs, ‘You’ll work with him in time, but I’ve got somebody else in mind for you’. I kid you not, coming down the hall from the other direction here comes Giant Gonzalez and Vince goes ‘That’s your guy’.”
At WrestleMania 9 in Caesars Palace, The Undertaker faced off against Gonzalez in a match that ended in disqualification. Taker went on to defeat Gonzales at Summerslam in a Rest in Peace match. Undertaker described what being in the feud with Gonzalez did to his career.
“That whole thing took years off my career,” Taker said. “I would be in much better shape now if I could’ve skipped that one program. As physically demanding as it was, it was twice as much the mental strain because you have Bret, Yokozuna going out and having these great matches. Obviously you want to be mentioned in the same breath as those guys and it was just not possible.
“It was survival every night trying to figure out what he could do and it took me to try and make chicken salad out of chicken crap.”
Undertaker continued to talk about how every match he had was always about making sure his gimmick was kept strong.
“It was always about the gimmick,” he said. “It didn’t really matter who [Vince] plugged in against it, it was me working the gimmick. When I finally got a taste, with Bret Hart being one of the first guys I got to work with, Bret didn’t want to change his style to cater to the Undertaker character so it was my first chance to really work. Then I had to figure out if you can work the gimmick and work a wrestling match. I had some really good matches with Bret that I’m really proud of and that’s where I started to work with better talent.
“When I was young and really healthy, I wasn’t taking a lot of bumps, and as I got older and more beat up, the more bumps I took. I had the whole thing mixed up, I did it backwards.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Notsam Wrestling with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.