Wisconsin State Journal
SECTION: Showcase Rock
star or World Wrestling Federation entertainer? By the Madison reaction
to the Undertaker during a recent visit to promote his Kohl Center match
on Tuesday, it is hard to tell the difference. From the minute he ducked
out of his navy limousine until he crawled back in, the Undertaker (also
known as ``Taker'' in professional wrestling circles) was swarmed by
fans and treated like a celebrity. Construction workers shook his hand
outside the State Capitol. Photography students stopped him on State
Street to pose. Schoolchildren on buses outside the Madison Children's
Museum stared. We had planned to meet and eat at another -- less upscale
Downtown restaurant -- but the WWF management informed me that they only
take the 328-pound Undertaker to ``nice'' restaurants. They weren't as
intrigued by the idea of treating the WWF's Prince of Darkness to a
Happy Meal as I was. That's how the Undertaker (that's ``Mr. Undertaker,
Sir'' to people like me) and I ended up at Kosta's Restaurant and Bar.
As people in suits and ties tackled their salads, we talked about
funeral music, embalming fluids, death, destruction, and wrestling moves
(such as his famed Choke Slam and Tombstone Piledriver). While I took
notes, the Undertaker explained the story behind his colorful Grim
Reaper-style tattoos and polished off several glasses of iced tea,
lemon-rice soup, calamari, and mashed potatoes and gravy with Greek pot
roast on the side. He was decked out in full biker funeral attire --
black boots, black jeans, black leather gloves and black sleeveless T-
shirt. A black bandana held his blood-red hair back. The Harley-Davidson
belt buckle was testimony to a favorite hobby. And dark sunglasses hide
his pierced right eyebrow and red weary eyes. The Undertaker had been
without sleep for almost 24 hours at this point. And his mood? Well, he
was dead tired. His voice was deep and he walked tall. He's dark and
mysterious. Much of a loner, except for his entourage which on this day
included WWF security manager Jimmy ``Jam'' Dotson, and WWF public
relations manager Natalie Woods. Here is some of the conversation.
(Editor's note: We're pretty sure he was serious, most of the time.)
Wisconsin State Journal (looking way up): How tall are you?
Undertaker: I used to be 6-foot-10 but I got dropped on my head a few
times so I'm 6-foot-9 now.
Q: What did you have for breakfast?
A: An ice cream bar and cereal.
Q: Where are you from -- hell?
A: Death Valley. But I grew up in Houston, Texas.
Q: I know you arrived by limo today, but do you drive a hearse at home?
A: No. I drive a Mercedes Benz.
Q: And you have your own license plate holders?
A: They say, ``Touch this car and you're dead.''
Q: ``Rest In Peace'' is your favorite phrase -- do you intend to have it
on your tombstone?
A: I doubt that I'll ever rest in peace. I want to be cremated, though.
Q: You don't sleep much. Where does your energy come from?
A: I focus, and the energy comes from the darkness.
Q: Professional wrestling fans are rowdy. Have fans ever turned on you?
A: (Pointing to a scar under his right arm) Someone stabbed me once.
Q: Did they catch the guy?
A: I was the one who got him. He got the worse end of it.
Q: You're a celebrity.
A: It's like being in a rock group without tour buses. We fly to our matches.
Q: Do you hang out with rock stars, too?
A: Rock and wrestling have been a match since the early 1980s. Marilyn
Manson showed up to our Detroit match. Other bands that hang out with us
are Kiss, Motley Crue and Soundgarden. Luther Vandross is a big fan of
Q: Did you go to college?
A: I went to college in Texas and was a communications and then sports
management major. I was the type of person who did the opposite of what
people told them to do.
Q: So even though you look like a linebacker, you didn't play football?
A: I played basketball. I was a forward-center. But then my basketball
game involved a little bit too much wrestling. And it's hard to get
Q: What's your advice for someone considering a career in professional
A: Don't take no for an answer and be prepared for a lot of doors to
slam in your face. Persistence, desire and a little bit of luck will
take you a long way. Always take care of your education first. Because
no matter how good of a wrestler you are, it could all be over in any
Q: Was beating Hulk Hogan in 1991, the match which made you a world
heavyweight champion, a career highlight?
A: It was one of the highlights.
Q: Any regrets?
A: (singing like Frank Sinatra) Regrets? I've had a few. But then again,
too few to mention. (Talking now): I regret that I never got to wrestle
Andre the Giant. Andre was so big all over the world before wrestling
really took mainstream society by swarm in the early 1980s. He set the
standards for extraordinary wrestling. You were awe-struck when you saw
Q: And whom do you admire?
A: Elvis. There are a lot of similarities between Elvis and me. I can't
go out a lot of places because I am so recognizable ... I' m a recluse
away from the arena. And I liked the way he controlled his audience with
what he did.
Q: Tell me about your brother Kane, the one who wears the mask. He was
disfigured by the same fire that killed your parents many years ago?
A: Kane is my younger brother. We were getting along until Vince
McMahon (WWF's owner and one of the men who tried to buy the Minnesota
Vikings football team earlier this year) decided that we would have to
wrestle each other to see who would be the new champion. I thought that
we had come to an understanding that I would be the champion but he
wants to be world champion, more than he wants to be good siblings.
Q: Are you at your strongest now?
A: Mentally, yes. Physically, no. As far as knowledge and understanding
of my wrestling I am peaking. And for me, the mental is more important
than the physical part. I have to out think my opponent to compensate
for all the injuries I have.
Q: Is Kane stronger?
A: If Kane, with his physical dominance, had my knowledge and
psychology, I don't think there is anybody who could beat him.
Q: Do you and Kane fight outside the arena?
A: Kane wants the same thing I do. To be the champion. We fought as kids
and we'll fight again. That's what brothers do.
Q: Who is your worst enemy?
A: McMahon. He's really fallen off the deep end and his obsession with
(Stone Cold Steve) Austin has rubbed me the wrong way. He's tried to
manipulate me into doing some of his dirty work. I believe I've been
here long enough and deserve a little more respect than to be his goon.
He suffered the consequences a couple weeks ago when I broke his leg.
Q: What do you think of Austin?
A: Of late, people have been a little standoff-ish toward me because of
Austin's popularity. He's the working-class man's hero. He's done pretty
much what everybody in mainstream society wants to do -- slap their boss
around. His brash style has really taken off. It's always my goal to
just take on whoever the best is and it happens to him. He's got to
realize, though, that his day as champion is over.
Q: Don't you ever want to be the ``good guy''?
A: I don't look at it as being good or bad. It's the way people perceive
me. One week they think I'm the most vile, evil creature around and the
next week they think it's the coolest thing they've ever seen.
Q: What do you usually eat?
A: When I'm not eating Greek food? I'm trying to eat more healthy now.
Not so much fast food. I eat steak, chicken, rice and pasta.
Q: What is your pre-match routine?
A: I stretch and warm up. I try to be at the arena an hour before bell
time of the opening match. Most of my time is spent thinking about what
it is that I want to accomplish and taking care of injuries.
Q: Injuries? You?
A: I'm coming off a broken ankle. And I have chronic hip problems. I'm
a 34-year-old guy going on 64.
Q: How do your fans see you?
A: My presence is one of mystique and darkness. What I bring to WWF is
that I have always had a very strong connection to Medieval time -- I
feel like I missed my time period. Not that I'm morbid or anything but
I've always been fascinated by death and what happens to the soul when
you leave this world. Before the WWF, other promoters thought it was too
Q: Do you watch cartoons?
A: I like Spawn.
Q: I noticed your tattoos -- skulls, etc. -- also depict a dark period.
A: Over the course of the last 10 years, these are all thought that I've
had and they've been interpreted by my tattoo artist. They are pretty
close to what I've envisioned, Medieval times, skulls.
Q: Did the tattoos hurt?
A: Pain is something I'm accustomed to. It ain't like breaking a bone or
Q What do your friends call you?
A: Ded Man.
(Thanks to DestinyLAF for sending this article)
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