The Undertaker has opened up about the story behind his WrestleMania X8 bout with ‘The Nature Boy’ Ric Flair and how he had his choice of opponents for the event.
During his second appearance on Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Sessions entitled ‘One More Round’, The Undertaker told of how Vince McMahon gave him the choice of who he would battle on ‘The Grandest Stage of Them All.’
According to ‘The Deadman’, he was given the choice between Ric Flair and Rob Van Dam who he’d already been feuding with through the end of 2001 over the WWF Hardcore Championship, stemming from WCW and ECW’s invasion of the then World Wrestling Federation.
“I remember Vince pulling me into the office at TV and he goes, “Mark I’m so sorry, I haven’t got you figured in to ‘Mania”, and I was like “yeah I kinda noticed, right?” Everyone’s kind of deep into their builds already and he goes, “I got two guys. I got two guys for you. I got RVD and I got Flair.” And I don’t think he got Flair all the way out before I said, “Flair.” And he was shocked. Vince was shocked because he thought I was going to go with the younger guy and RVD was on his way up and he was doing good things. But it was like, I wanna work with Flair and he was still trying it like…”you don’t wanna work with RVD?” I said, “nah, I got plenty of time to work with RVD, I want to work with Flair.” ‘Cus you know, Flair wasn’t one of Vince’s guys, he didn’t come up, he didn’t have the same feel like me and you do [Austin] or that respect level. I said, “I got a choice right?” He goes, “yeah.” I said, “I wanna work with Flair” and he goes “ok.”
Of course, the Ric Flair of 2002 wasn’t the Ric Flair of the late eighties. His time in WCW during the nineties had soured him towards the wrestling business and dented his confidence greatly. When ‘Naitch returned to the WWF in 2001, he was a shell of his former self.
However, his match with The Undertaker brought back ‘The Nature Boy’ of old and Calaway spoke to Austin about what occurred after their WrestleMania war and how ‘The Dirtiest Player in the Game’ credited him for giving him back his confidence:
“I’m really proud of that and I thought Ric – and I didn’t understand this until later – Ric thanked me after that match. He goes, “I just want to thank you because you’ve restored my confidence.” And I’m like, “what do you mean? You’re Ric Flair. The greatest to ever do this.” He was as sincere as he could be and I didn’t understand, until after my ordeal with Brock.”
The Undertaker went on to explain that he was invincible until the concussion occurred at WrestleMania XXX. It was only then he realised how easy it was for someone as legendary as Flair to lose his confidence.
The Undertaker retired from professional wrestling at WWE Survivor Series 2020, stating that it was time he allowed ‘The Deadman’ to rest in peace. Taking to the knee, fans worldwide were brought to tears as a hologram of Paul Bearer appeared on the ring apron, urn raised, and a ten bell salute sent ‘The Phenom’ to his rest.
Credit for the interview: Broken Skull Sessions
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