WWE fans loved The Undertaker, but he was even more respected in the locker room.
The Undertaker debuted at the 1990 Survivor Series in a match that also featured Bret “The Hitman” Hart. ’Taker looked dominant from the start, annihilating the likes of “The Birdman” Koko B. Ware, Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, and even Dusty Rhodes. Hart recalled doing anything and everything he possibly could to make The Undertaker look phenomenal in his first-ever match in the World Wrestling Federation.
Seven years later, fittingly, at the ’97 Survivor Series, ’Taker repaid the favor to Hart during the infamous “Montreal Screwjob”.
“I punched out Vince McMahon in the locker room, but the only reason Vince was in the locker room was because of Undertaker,” explained Hart. “Undertaker pounded on Vince’s door after the ‘Screwjob.’ He said, ‘Get your ass down to that dressing room and explain yourself’, and Vince wouldn’t have listened to anybody else.”
Throughout all the chaos of the “Screwjob,” The Undertaker’s gesture of respect left a lasting imprint on Hart.
“I wrote ’Taker a letter when I left,” revealed Hart. “I said, ‘You have to be the voice of the dressing room and the leader now that I’m gone.’
“I always felt that I was the leader of the dressing room and looked after everything. If guys had a problem, they could come to me and I’d go to Vince and say, ‘This guy has a problem, maybe you can help him.’
“Then ’Taker stepped in and became that guy. A lot of times he had to straighten out guys like Shawn Michaels and stand up for the other wrestlers. Undertaker was always a force in the dressing room.”
Due to concussions, Hart was never afforded a final match with pomp and circumstance like The Undertaker’s apparent send-off at WrestleMania 33 against Roman Reigns. Hart paid close attention to The Undertaker’s final match at WrestleMania.
“I liked his final moment,” said Hart. “I enjoyed his last match, and I thought he gave his all. He’ll forever be one of the wrestling giants, and he is one of the guys I respected the most.”
The Undertaker, Hart explained, was like a modern-day Andre the Giant in the locker room, but to an even larger degree.
“Andre was a great guy, but Undertaker was a voice for the whole dressing room,” said Hart. “I was a voice, too. Then, after I left WWF, [Steve] Austin and certain guys, like [The] Rock, also became a voice in the locker room.
“Undertaker was always a leader in the dressing room, always a man’s man. No one ever doubted what he said because his word was good. He was a guy that set the dressing room standard. If you had an issue or personal problem, you could go to Undertaker and he would help you.”
Hart admitted that The Undertaker’s match against Roman Reigns made him reminisce about his own main event with ’Taker at SummerSlam ‘97.
“When I wrestled him, Undertaker said something to me that I loved,” said Hart. “He said, ‘I’m so glad I get to work with you because I can finally show everybody that I can actually wrestle.’ He wanted to show everyone that he could do stuff, not just be Frankenstein. I thought he was a phenomenal wrestler and I loved working with him. The match I had with him at SummerSlam is one of my favorite matches of all time.”
Hart expressed that, although the heart of wrestling will keep beating, the entire industry forever lost a giant with the retirement of The Undertaker.
“I learned in working with him that he was a real professional all the time, and I loved the style he worked,” said Hart. “We had great chemistry.
“The Undertaker stood up for what was right. He earned everything he got.”