Below are the highlights from a shoot interview that The Undertaker did back in 2003:
On Being The Locker Room Leader:
Undertaker: It was nothing like I would politic for…. or I said “Okay, I’m gonna be this locker room leader guy”. It’s gonna happen through the course of time. I think our guys respect the fact that well first, I’ve been here for 13 years.
For most of those 13 years I’ve been on top and I think they all know that they can trust me. They trust me to give them the right advice and to help them do what’s right for our industry and they know that I put our business first and foremost above anything else within our industry ….you know… what’s the best for the product and that goes inside and outside of the ring and how guys carry themselves and how they act and deal with our fans and the effort that they put forth while they’re in the arena.
Host: You’re one of the last, I guess with Hulk Hogan coming back last year, you’re one of the last guys to kind of really bring the links to the Old School and the New School.
I mean you’ve kind of seen it all and you are kind of the guy that a lot of guys point you as being the man that carried the torch during the lean years as well.
Undertaker: Yeah. Guys such as myself and Bret Hart and all those guys that stayed during the lean years…. and I’ll tell first and foremost – I’m Old School, but I appreciate where our business is going and where it’s growing.
And it’s up to me to stay up with the times, but also still have those Old School values and realize that some of the Old School ways still work. They just have to be applied to our current product.
On The State Of The Wrestling Business (in 2003):
Host: What do you like about the state of the industry right now?
Undertaker: I think first and foremost is the effort in which our guys perform…Off the chart! These guys take so much pride and they put so much effort in what they do.
A lot of our guys, they really don’t know what they’re doing yet, but boy they try hard and they work hard and to me that’ll cover for their lack of knowledge or their lack of understanding or psychology. They’re going out there, they’re busting their butt to do the best that they can do and you just can’t ask any more of that.
A lot of these guys didn’t have the privilege of coming up to the smaller territories like I did. That’s where you learned your craft, that’s where you learned how to deal with certain different situations.
These guys were right out of wrestling camp, most of them, and thrown right into the limelight in our product which was at its peak. I mean, they came in and they’re working in front of sold-out houses.
It’s gonna be a test. Our business takes peaks and valleys just like any other entertainment in sports. To be in Sports Entertainment, I guess that’s going to doubly affect us.
Host: Is it in the valley right now?
Undertaker: I don’t know that it’s in a valley, but it’s not where it was 4 years ago.
I think a lot of it has to do with just the economy in general. As the economy goes and comes down, I think our business too. I mean when there’s more money out, extra money for people to spend…you know. It’s always been that way as long as I’ve been in the business.
That’s probably the biggest key. I don’t think it’s the product. I mean we have some of the finest riders and like I said our athletes, they’re the best in the world. It’s not from a lack of effort. I just think there’s a lot of outside situations that kind of contribute to this.
I usually base everything on the performance end of it and I think our guys are more… they’re more concerned in their performance of trying to do these outlandish stunts and it’s very exciting.
You can’t argue that, but a lot of it is awful reckless and they’re laying their lives and their health on the line to entertain the people which you have to respect, but it’s not very good resource management because it’s only a matter of time before those kind of things catch up with you.
I’m not saying that at a WrestleMania or that…. hey, you lay it on the line man because that’s the biggest thing we have, that’s our Super Bowl, that’s our World Series, that’s our Stanley Cup.
So that’s where you lay it out on the line, but a lot of these guys, the fact that they don’t know proper psychology. They try to substitute high risk and I think that’s a fault because a lot of our guys unfortunately listen to the people on the internet…who are the so-called experts who’ve never laced up…
On The Internet Fans Who Think They’re Experts:
Undertaker: It’s fine. There are some really good fan based sites that are good. They’re fans that enjoy wrestling. The ones that call themselves experts and have all these cures for the ailments of our business, you know what I think? They’re a big joke.
They’re only smart because of what we let them be smart to, but you listen to them and they’ve got all the answers and this guy needs to be pushed and this guy needs to go, Undertaker needed to retire two years ago.
I kind of think it’s funny they forgot that they are fans and that’s all they are, our fans. And I’m not downplaying the role of our fans because that’s what we’re all about.