Former WWF Tough Enough winner and WWE Superstar, Maven, has spoken out about eliminating The Undertaker from the 2002 Royal Rumble Match.
On January 20, 2002, the relative rookie provided one of the biggest upsets in WWE history when he seized the opportunity and eliminated a distracted ‘Big Evil’ with a dropkick from the 30-Man Royal Rumble Match.
Following the elimination, Maven was left to rue his success when Undertaker returned to the squared circle and obliterated the talent with chair shots, before taking him into the stands and driving him head first through a popcorn dispenser.
Maven recently joined the cast of WWE’s The Bump to discuss the moment that defined his career, how he thought it was a joke when it was first pitched to him and his relationship with ‘The Deadman’ before and after that historic moment:
“I got the call literally the day before. The day before, they called and said, ‘You’re going to Atlanta.’ That’s where the Rumble was. I flew out the next day, no clue what was going to happen. At that point, I’m not an idiot, I knew I was probably in the Rumble, but I knew I would probably come out, get a quick pop Tough Enough was going to get and then I would be thrown out and got rid of as soon as possible.”
It didn’t quite work out like that, however. When Maven arrived in Atlanta, he was given the surprising news that he would be eliminating The Undertaker from the most famous match in wrestling history:
“When I got there and they called me to the ring, there was Shane and ‘Taker. They called me to the ring and at the time, I’m terrified. I’m the rookie, young, in my 20s and here I was with Shane McMahon and with Undertaker, scared to death. Then he tells me, ‘Maven, you’re going to go out there and eliminate [Undertaker].’ I thought he was completely joking. I thought it was the rib of the century.”
Maven then recalled The Undertaker’s hostile reaction to the news which was less than the inexperienced talent could have hoped for:
“Well then, ‘Taker turns, looks at me and says, ‘Are you effing kidding me?’ At that point, I wanted to run. I just wanted to leave. ‘Taker had his hands full with what was going on that day. He helped my career more than anyone on that single day.”
Following the moment, however, The Undertaker and Maven got on famously as the inaugural Tough Enough victor recalled:
“He was happy. From that day on, me and him kind of had a bond. He always gave me a smile, that little, ‘Hey kid’’ look and let me know what I did, he was satisfied.”
Following the 2002 Royal Rumble, Maven’s career stayed on a steady path for a brief period. He captured the WWE Hardcore Championship three times, challenged Triple H for the World Heavyweight Championship and even had a feud with Shelton Benjamin over the WWE Intercontinental Championship.
Maven turned heel in 2004 after attacking Eugene and was saddled with the forgettable Simon Dean for the remainder of his time in WWE. He was released from his contract in 2005.
Though Maven competed for TNA and had stints on the independent scene, he has suffered his own personal demons and has not wrestled since 2016. However, his legacy will be one of the most famous Royal Rumble eliminations in history and that’s not bad at all.
Credit for the interview: WWE’s The Bump
h/t for the interview: Fightful