Stone Cold Steve Austin recently appeared on ‘Busted Open Radio’ with Bully Ray. During their conversation, Austin voiced his opinion on The Undertaker’s retirement and his willingness to break kayfabe nowadays.
The Undertaker bid his final farewell to in-ring competition at Survivor Series in November, 30 years after debuting the same event. Upon his debut in 1990, the character instantly became a favourite amongst fans, drawn to the chilling mystique of the man from beyond the grave.
The man behind the character, Mark Calaway, spent his career protecting the image of ‘The Deadman’, rarely appearing out of character, or breaking ‘Kayfabe’. Since his in-ring retirement, Calaway has revealed more of his real-life persona in interviews and appearances.
When discussing The Undertaker’s retirement, Austin defended the backlash from some fans that are disappointed at Calaway revealing his true personality:
“I’m as big a fan of the business as anybody. And I understand Kayfabe, I understand protecting the business. When it’s time to ride off into the sunset, if Mark Calaway never talked about being The Undertaker, why shouldn’t he have that opportunity to do that, just like anybody else? Because he can’t be The Undertaker anymore. He can make an appearance on Raw, or whatever. But now, it’s time to live his life. And the majority of his life was being that guy. So I think it’s great for him to do it. It doesn’t bother me in the least.”
Steve Austin is no stranger to The Undertaker. The two would feud several times during their careers with WWE. Infamously, Austin was tied to The Undertaker’s symbol in 1998 in an iconic image similar to a crucifixion. The pair would face each other numerous times for the WWE Championship, including Fully Loaded 1999. Austin would emerge victorious from the First Blood match, resulting in Vince McMahon being banned from WWE television. Most recently, The Undertaker appeared on Steve Austin’s ‘Broken Skull Sessions’ during WWE’s month long celebration of ‘The Phenom’.
Leading up to his retirement, The Undertaker has become much more active on social media. Through Instagram, Taker has shown more of his true colours, sharing family moments and behind the scenes photos and videos showing ‘The Phenom’ in a more human light. One video shows Taker playing WWE Battlegrounds with his family at his home in Austin, Texas.
Appearing on the Bill Simmons podcast in May 2020, Calaway himself revealed the backlash felt from fans wanting to keep the spirit of The Undertaker alive:
“One of the first things I did out of character was I posted about the Longhorns winning the Sugar bowl. I’m scrolling through comments and I see ‘My childhood is ruined, The Undertaker is now on social media.. You’ve got to be shitting me. People were genuinely pissed I broke character after 30 years.”
Bully Ray, host of ‘Busted Open Radio’, echoed the sentiments of Stone Cold Steve Austin. Bully believes fans will ultimately enjoy getting to know Mark Calaway:
“I love it. Because there’s nothing left for The Undertaker, and the character of The Undertaker to do. And if we want to continue on with this man, there’s only so much emotion you can get out of that character. And we’ve run the gamut of emotions with The Undertaker. Now, I want to start run the gamut of emotions with Mark Calaway.
I’m getting goosebumps talking about it. The minute Mark Calaway starts to talk, I’m back at square one. And I know how square one was with The Undertaker, so I have real high hopes for square one with Mark Calaway.”
The Undertaker may be gone, but Mark Calaway appears to be very much present, embracing life after ‘The Deadman’.