The Undertaker has opened the door to his thoughts on one of his most famous and revered bouts, the infamous Ladder Match against Jeff Hardy in 2002.
It’s July 1, 2002, and an enigmatic Jeff Hardy is looking to leave the label of tag team wrestler behind him. For weeks he’s lobbied to get the attention of WWE Undisputed Champion, The Undertaker, and now he finally has his wish.
On Monday Night Raw, Hardy had been granted his wish in a Ladder Match against ‘Big Evil’ with the champion promising to make him famous as just another victim. But things don’t quite work out the way ‘Taker had planned.
Though he finally ascends the ladder and retains his gold, The Undertaker finds himself under a surprising attack from his challenger who throws absolutely everything at his oppressor in a match which is unintentionally pushing him up the food chain.
After a hard fought effort in which he takes the legend to his absolute limit, Jeff Hardy receives the endorsement he’s been desperately looking for. The Undertaker returns to the ring, lines up the youngster for a large right hand and then changes his mind. Instead of knocking Hardy out cold, the champion raises his hand and gives him a tap of approval on the face.
Now, The Undertaker has spoken to talkSPORT about that celebrated match and the moment which made Jeff Hardy and bonafide singles star:
“A lot of people don’t understand – that aren’t in the business – someone can lose and get elevated at the same time. Just by their performance against someone like The Undertaker who had been there for so long and had done so many things. I pride myself on the fact I was able to do that for quite a few people along the way.”
But the match wasn’t all plain sailing for ‘The Demon of Death Valley.’ According to the man of the hour, he had no idea he was in a Ladder Match until the day he arrived at the arena:
“I do remember getting to the arena that day and I had no clue I was in a ladder match until I got there. I was like ‘hmmmm’ – I wasn’t real thrilled about it! I was like it’s really not my forte, it’s not what I do best. But it did put a shine on Jeff and the things that he did.
Those are the kind of things that happen that just help you creatively because you do get comfortable sometimes doing the same things. It pushed me and it allowed me to push Jeff and him be able to shine in his kind of match.”
Having had eighteen years to reflect on the match, the performance and what it did for a young star who in his own right is considered a legend in the industry, The Undertaker has nothing but pride for what the pair accomplished:
“So I’m very proud of that match. I think it might have been the only [ladder] match I was ever in. I can’t think of the top of my head of another one. So we got it right the first time, we didn’t have to do it again!”
The Undertaker will bid a Final Farwell to professional wrestling on November 22 at WWE Survivor Series.
Credit for the interview: talkSPORT
h/t for the transcription: WrestleZone