On episode 39 of Something To Wrestle With Bruce Prichard, professional wrestling veteran Bruce Prichard discussed the early days of The Undertaker as well as whether we have witnessed The Undertakers final match.
"I had been managing Undertaker. I was given the opportunity… I also worked behind-the-scenes, d'uh, and Vince came to me and said, 'I'm going to give you a choice: you can either work in front of the camera and be Undertaker's manager, full-time,' because the package of Undertaker at house shows, it wasn't the same without a manager, and if I did that, I would have to give up my job behind-the-scenes, producing television. I chose producing television and we were looking for someone to manage Undertaker and take my place. Percy Pringle had inquired about working, so they brought Percy up just for a general interview to say, 'hey, what would you like to do?' and they said, 'what have you done in the past?' Percy said, 'well, I'm a licensed mortician,' and everybody popped because 'oh my God, we're looking for someone to manage The Undertaker and Paul Bearer was born."
Early on, The Undertaker would deposit downed opponents into bodybags and carry them away after their matches. In Prichard's estimation, Bearer came up with that idea.
"I want to say [the bodybag gimmick] was Paul Bearer's [idea] because it was easy and it had never been done before. And it was something that could be done…. see, this is the other thing people forget a lot: it was something that could be done with everybody."
According to Prichard, caskets would have been used instead of bodybags if they were not so burdensome on the road. Moreover, as a licensed mortician, Bearer got WWE a discount on bodybags.
"The whole idea behind the bodybag was it was so much easier than trying to get a casket every night and having to deal with caskets, so the bodybag was something Paul Bearer and the ring crew, they could buy a bunch of bodybags, Paul could get a discount on them because he was actually a mortician." Prichard recalled, "you couldn't just go buy a casket. It was illegal, so we had to use Paul Bearer's mortician license and pull some strings to get people to actually sell us a casket."
During the podcast, Prichard divulged that The Undertaker, who was initially introduced on WWE TV by 'The Million Dollar Man' Ted DiBiase, could have formed a tag team with Irwin R. Schyster called "Death & Taxes".
"You laugh, but that was an idea at one point." Prichard continued, "that was actually kicked around at one point."
Prichard recalled that Vince McMahon foresaw a monster babyface run in store for The Undertaker as early as 1990 when 'The Western Mortician' was still a heel.
"It's funny, back in 1990, we went to the gym one day. It was myself, Vince, and The Undertaker. And I was playing AC/DC's 'Hells Bells' and I was explaining to Vince that I wanted to do a video, 'we've got to get the rights to this song and do a video for The Undertaker.' He looked at me, 'Goddamn, pal, that'll make him a babyface. I've got plenty of years as a nasty heel before I turn him and what a babyface he'll make.' And we all kind of chuckled, thinking, 'how in the f--k do you make this big, ugly bastard a babyface?' But then, as time went on, and you started listening to the crowd, boy, they loved him. It did not take long for the audience to turn The Undertaker babyface."
Apparently, tours headlined by Yokozuna vs. The Undertaker in 1993 is when WWE brass realized 'The Phenom' could be a headliner, as the feud had the strongest advances of all feuds during that time.
"Probably right about then [they realized Undertaker had great potential as a headliner], but it still hadn't been tested yet. So, to throw him out there and to get that kind of a response was absolutely tremendous because we had developed that attraction that we were looking for."
Prichard claimed that the WrestleMania 33 main event match between The Undertaker and Roman Reigns was apropos as Taker's final match, but Prichard does not think the match was 'The Deadman''s last.
"I thought it was apropos and I cried like a b---h. It was a nice ending of a chapter if you ask me, but I don't think it's over." Prichard continued, "eventually, yes, I do [think Undertaker will wrestle again]. I'm saying short of being wheeled down to the ring in a wheelchair, that we've not seen the last of The Undertaker in the ring. Now, he would argue with me on that and say 'no, that's it,' but you never say 'never' in this business and The Undertaker and that character will live on forever and I think he could still go out and have a match. It may not be what it was 25 years ago, but by God, he'll go out and the people will be behind him just as much as they ever were."
If Something To Wrestle With Bruce Prichard wanted to hook you, you'd be hooked. If you use any of the quotes from this article, please credit Something To Wrestle With Bruce Prichard with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
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