The Undertaker is regarded as one of WWE's most respected Superstars. In the latest episode of his docu-series "The Last Ride" Taker's rivalry with WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels is showcased. SI's Justin Barrasso shares his takeaways from the history between the Deadman and HBK.
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Robin Lundberg: 'The Last Ride' is sort of the WWE'S answer to 'The Last Dance' and it features, of course, The Undertaker. For more, I'm joined by our wrestling writer, Justin Barrasso, who had a chance to catch up with the Heartbreak Kid, Shawn Michaels, which is a focus of Episode 3 of the documentary. And of course, the Undertaker and HBK had some classic WrestleMania showdowns, Justin.
Justin Barrasso: You can't think of the entertaining without Shawn Michaels. And I know Shawn's always connected or tethered to Bret Hart. And obviously, they had a pretty fierce rivalry. But in that 97, 98 eras take her, and Shawn had some great matches. They had the first-ever Hell in a Cell match and the bad blood Pay-Per-View in October of 97. So but they performed the best they possibly could that night in the first-ever match. They had, like you said, the back-to-back WrestleMania classics at WrestleMania twenty-five and twenty-six. In a big part of this episode, I thought it was honesty. Their match in Saudi Arabia, you know, no one retires and wrestling. Shawn's retired for eight years. He's never coming back. He finally comes back for this tag-team match AD crown jewel in Saudi Arabia. And it's just short of a disaster. And I appreciated the honesty from that, too, because the whole story is the undertaker dealing with his wrestling mortality. So it was interesting to hear them talk about the brilliant work as well as the disappointment.
Robin Lundberg: You know, when you take into account these other superstars, it's sort of interesting because, you know, you've gone through WWE history and you've seen Hulk Hogan and Brett, the Hitman Hart and Sean, Michael Stone Cold, Steve Austin, The Rock, John Cena. But the undertaker has sort of been this constant figure. How does someone like Shawn, who had a run and was at the top of the game and faced off with The Undertaker view the prism of taker's career?
Justin Barrasso: Great question. They weren't close for the longest time and it wasn't even like that. You know, they wouldn't be on this Christmas card list. They just didn't like one another. And I know that's kind of the common theme with Shawn Michaels. No one like Shawn for a long time unless you were in his inner circle, but they really didn't get along. Up until 2002. And Shawn talked about that, too, that the taker's big point was "prove to me you've changed." I think that he had a far different last couple of years, eight years in WWE than he did for the dozen years before that. They're just two. They're close in age, but they're two very different people. And I think that made them work so well together. Wrestling's interesting, too, because a little bit of tension is best and Taker was positioned in it in a top position pretty quickly after his debut in WWE in nineteen ninety. Shawn really had to work to get there. Everything that Shawn is the undertakers not and vise versa. So I think they're just a great contrast. Shawn's full of personality. Taker's straight to the point. You couldn't find more to different, get two more different people. But in the ring, it really worked and they brought the best out of each other.
Robin Lundberg: And certainly, they are both all-time greats. Justin, I appreciate your time, as always.
Justin Barrasso: Thank you.
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