When the WWE announced 30 Days of the Deadman, a series of weekly broadcasts with content from the Undertaker on the network, I was not surprised. “The Deadman” is still a big attraction for wrestling promotion, and this year’s documentary “The Last Ride” was a rare and important insight into the life of Mark Calaway.
Starting this Sunday, “The Undertaker” celebration begins with WWE Untold: The Phenom and The Legend Killer, which deals with the 2005 rivalry between The Undertaker and Randy Orton.
The one-year rivalry took place 15 years ago, and the place of the Undertaker and Orton in society was very different. Taker wrestled much more frequently at the time, and Orton was in the process of establishing himself as one of the company’s top salespeople after taking the nickname “Legend Killer. The documentary shows this difference in experience very well, but an important aspect of the 40-minute documentary is not so much how the two men overcame the rivalry, but how The Undertaker helped take Orton’s career to the next level. For this reason, it feels more like a documentary by Orton than a documentary by Taker.
The documentary begins with Orton and Callaway talking about an incident in an episode of SmackDown where Randy is supposed to hit Taker with a steel chair – back when head shots were still allowed. Orton, who is inexperienced, misses his target by a few inches and actually tears off Taker’s skin from his forehead to his nose, leaving “The Deadman” lying face covered in blood.
Orton explains that in this way he learned the hard way what a “receipt” is, something that viewers will see later in the documentary.
Unlike “The Last Ride”, there are no backstage shots of wrestlers interacting with each other, but in typical WWE Untold fashion Orton, Calaway and other WWE officials and personalities talk about some of the greatest moments of their rivalry, and there is much more insight into what went through their minds during that time.
“I was back to doing what I was comfortable with, being an asshole, being a bad guy, being a scoundrel in the wrestling business,” Orton says in the documentary, after leaning into the role of “Legend Killer. “That’s what I always felt most comfortable with, and I was back where I was happy.
The documentary is about four big fights in their rivalry. WrestleMania 21, SummerSlam, the casket game on No Mercy and the game Hell in a Cell on Armageddon. Each section offers different shots and shows how these games and stories were put together.
“Cowboy” Bob Orton, Randy’s father, is a welcome surprise in this documentary. He describes how events unfolded when he started working with his son after the SummerSlam match.
Producer Bruce Prichard is also involved in the documentary and takes a look at how the officers backstage reacted during some risky stunts of the feud, for example when Randy set the coffin – with Taker inside – on fire and Orton almost set himself on fire, or when Randy had problems getting the lowrider, with Taker passing out in the back, through the LED screens.
All participants provide something interesting and entertaining for wrestling fans, which further enhances this look back on the feud.
Calaway is still great. The man behind the Undertaker continues his no-nonsense attitude from The Last Ride. It’s hard not to smile when you hear Taker making fun of Bob Orton, or not to smile when you think of the roar of the crowd when he jumped out of a burning coffin weeks after losing in Casket Match at No Mercy.
It’s also exciting to hear how he takes the business and why wrestlers do the things they do, especially when they speak through hell in a cell match on Armageddon 2005. He reveals what he told Orton before the match, explaining why the fight has to be violent and builds on the drama of the fight. Even if you’ve seen the game a thousand times before, it’s a must see with this comment.
While the documentary Untold celebrates a part of Undertaker’s career, Randy Orton is the star. He feels so comfortable with himself and his place in society that every time he speaks, it feels real and off the cuff. Listening to him reflect on this period in his career and what it ultimately meant for his maturation is something else, especially at the very end when he humbly tells the story of one of his immature moments, the one of his