Wrestling fans witnessed the farewell of The Undertaker this past Sunday at the Survivor Series.
The Undertaker was honored with a video package featuring some of the best in-ring moments of his career, and a number of his closest friends filled the ring. Vince McMahon introduced The Undertaker, and 30 years to the day of his pay per view debut at the Survivor Series in 1990, Mark Calaway cut an extremely honest promo, informing the wrestling realm it was his time to let The Undertaker rest in peace.
Wrestling farewells are notorious for their short shelf lives. Two of WWE’s most unforgettable retirements occurred at the end of the in-ring careers of Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels. Both Flair and Michaels were on hand for The Undertaker’s tribute at Survivor Series—and both are examples of wrestlers who returned to the ring after vowing never to do so, which, in Flair’s case, took place almost immediately after the tears dried up from his emotional farewell ceremony.
Charles Wright, who reached his highest peak of fame in WWE as The Godfather, is one of Calaway’s closest friends. He believes this retirement is permanent, though he wouldn’t completely rule out a return for The Undertaker.
“When I heard about this farewell, I texted and said, ‘Big Dog, you done?’” said Wright. “And he said, ‘Bear, I’m done.’
“Now he’s said that before, but they just wouldn’t let him go. This time, he said he’s done. I don’t know what Vince is going throw at him down the river, but I think he’s done.”
Wright was part of The Undertaker’s tribute at Survivor Series, and his presence was specifically requested by Calaway. Their friendship dates back to 1989, when they first met in pro wrestling’s vaunted Memphis territory.
“He was Master of Pain, I was the Soultaker, and we met in the ring,” said Wright. “That was an experience. I thought I was the only big guy in that territory, I was green, and I wasn’t looking for any new friends, so it didn’t start off well for us.”
The match, as Wright recalled, was competitive, working stiff and snug in a physical presentation of the art form. Both Wright and Calaway sought to prove themselves to each other by seeing who could inflict more pain on his opponent.
“Finally, he hit me over the head with a chair, and said, ‘Are we going to do this the easy way or the hard way?’” said Wright, who began laughing at the memory. “So we reached an understanding. From that point on, we’ve been the best of friends.
“I’m not sure many people know this about me, but I am a hardcore biker. That’s where Taker got a lot of his swagger. A tear almost came to my eye during his conversation with Steve Austin on the Stone Cold podcast. That’s the first time I’ve heard him tell a lot of our stories. Our friendship means a lot to both of us.”
A member of the WWE Hall of Fame, Wright worked many different personas before finding the perfect fit as The Godfather. Despite his imposing size at 6’6” and over 300 pounds, his sweet spot in WWE was showing off his gregarious nature and personality. That same charm was on display this weekend, when he helped organize The Undertaker’s retirement party.
“When WWE invited me to the Survivor Series tribute for Mark, I texted him right away and said, ‘Let’s do a BSK reunion,’” said Wright, referring to his traveling crew in WWE, which gave themselves the title of the Bone Street Krew. “We paid homage to Mark Calaway and the phenom that he created with The Undertaker.”
The invite-only gathering took place on Saturday night at their hotel’s lounge and bar. No food was served, as guests were instead treated to whiskey and beer.
In addition to Calaway and Wright, those in attendance for the Saturday night celebration included the BSK’s Savio Vega, Rikishi, and Henry and Phineas Godwinn, as well as close friends Booker T and longtime WWE official Tim White.
“For that one night, the past came back to life,” said Wright. “If you didn’t know any better, it felt like it was 20 years ago. We told stories, we hugged, we cried—and we put Timmy White to bed, just like we used to back in the day.”
In a demon-filled industry, deluged with an overabundance of travel and temptation, too many performers have passed away far too soon. While legends may be timeless, life is not. Wright was grateful to be surrounded by so many friends as they honored the career of The Undertaker, soaking in the pride as Calaway took time to also pay tribute to his longtime opponents and peers.
“Mark is honest, he respects the business and he never forgets about his friends,” said Wright. “He changed the business, especially for big men. He’s one of a kind.
“All of us that could be there on Saturday were there, and we had a hell of a night. I’ll remember it forever.”