Undertaker: The Last Ride – Chapter 4 brings us to what might be the most painful moment of the Undertaker’s recent saga.
The Goldberg match.
As Undertaker continues his quest for a fitting match to end his storied career, WWE puts what should be a no-brainer before him. A match with Goldberg. Two Attitude Era stars who never crossed paths. A pair of storied, legendary beasts of the pro wrestling business.
But if this WWE Network docuseries proved anything, it’s that there’s no such thing as a sure thing.
While WWE manufactures its own debate about “the greatest wrestling match ever,” Undertaker: The Last Ride – Chapter 4 offers an inside look at what may be the worst.
And it’s equal parts fascinating and heartbreaking.
Undertaker: The Last Ride – Chapter 4, titled ‘The Battle Within,’ begins where the third chapter ended. With the Undertaker smarting from his performance at Crown Jewel 2018.
“I left Saudi thinking I was done.”
To that end, Undertaker talks about feeling free to step outside the character. He spent years passing up opportunities outside wrestling, because he didn’t want to harm the character.
There is some really cool behind-the-scenes footage. Early takes of Undertaker filming some of the old “Rest in peace” vignettes. And some fascinating interview footage with Bruce Prichard describing the character’s creation. But the Deadman wouldn’t budge. Wrestlers had a running gag trying to get him to break character in the ring. And still he wouldn’t budge.
Flash forward, and the Undertaker thinks he’s finished in the ring. And Undertaker set up a booking at the Starrcast III podcast event. Over AEW All Out weekend. WWE forced Taker out of the event, which led to a temporary falling out with Vince McMahon.
“Every Time I Think I’m Out”
During WrestleMania 35 weekend, Undertaker was there as a fan. Seeing the set and the Axxess events with his family. So, of course, Vince McMahon calls with an idea for Raw.
And in a funny moment, Taker has to cop to the fact that he didn’t bring his gear. “Rookie mistake,” his wife, Michelle McCool calls it. Later, at the WrestleMania Gorilla position, Vince gives the Deadman hell, too.
“A pro would’ve brought his gear,” Vince tells him.
“A pro would’ve booked me before he asked,” Taker replies. Vince teases that his real vision is for Taker to take on Giant Gonzalez’s son. That got another genuine laugh out of me. Gotta give Undertaker: The Last Ride – Chapter 4 credit for having the camera in the right places.
In the midst of being close to the action, Undertaker gets the bug again. And his Raw segment with Elias just made the virus spread. At the time, another Saudi Arabia show – Super Showdown – was on the horizon. Another chance for redemption.
Now Undertaker: The Last Ride – Chapter 4 comes to what the whole documentary has been building to.
Undertaker is genuinely excited by the prospect of delivering on the hype. A first-time ever match between a pair of legendary figures. On paper, there’s no reason it should’ve failed.
For the build-up, we get more behind-the-scenes between Taker and Vince. I almost feel like that could be a documentary in and of itself.
Back to the match, Taker says, “The match should build itself. We don’t really have to do anything but be there.” If only it was that simple.
It’s been barely a year. And the match is historically bad. Undertaker: The Last Ride – Chapter 4 shows us every painful, disastrous moment. Goldberg concussed himself after a spear. And Undertaker – the ring general – is charged with bringing the match home.
But Undertaker can’t do it. Goldberg goes for a jackhammer and almost kills Undertaker. Undertaker goes for the tombstone. And Goldberg can’t do his part. Which almost killed him. It ended with the weakest chokeslam ever. And a very dejected Undertaker.
Undertaker: The Last Ride – Chapter 4 takes great pains not to directly blame Goldberg. But the undertones in the voices don’t lie. And neither does the footage. McCool reveals that Undertaker told him the match wrenched his already-overtaxed back.
“It could’ve been really catastrophic,” Undertaker says. And for the first time, Undertaker: The Last Ride does something it hadn’t yet. It pulled its punches. They had no issue dogging on the Crown Jewel disaster. The interview sound bytes are what they are. But Goldberg gets away with zero accountability here.
“I Got Lucky.”
Undertaker states that the tag team match at Extreme Rules was already booked prior to Super Showdown. And in Undertaker: The Last Ride – Chapter 4, he admits that the Goldberg match made him wonder: “Can I get out of this?”
On the way to Extreme Rules, Taker laments having to filter out feedback from the fans that he should retire. But we once again come around to the crux of the documentary. As hard as fans might be on him, Taker is harder on himself.
So once again, he sets out to have a performance good enough to erase a failure.
But it’s at Extreme Rules that we get more foreshadowing. Some backstage pleasantries exchanged between Taker and AJ Styles.
The story repeats itself yet again. Taker vocally laments that he doesn’t want to stay past his prime. He doesn’t want to be a parody of himself. Rinse, lather, repeat. And we get more of his contemporaries – Triple H, Edge, Austin, Flair – reminding us that the business is addictive. And Father Time is always counting the seconds.
At the end of the Extreme Rules match, though, we finally get it. Undertaker approaches Vince and says, definitively, “I’m done.” And Vince pledges, “I’ll follow your lead.”
It would’ve been perfect. A victory alongside Roman Reigns, the man who sent Taker down this winding internal struggle. And yet, as he walks away from the building – side-by-side with AJ Styles – he says again that he might have more in the tank.
Undertaker: The Last Ride – Chapter 4 really should’ve been paired with Chapter 3. Because they both tell one story.
The desire to stretch the series out as far as possible is a disservice to the material in some respects.
It’s just too many ups-and-downs – repetitive ones, no doubt – disguising themselves as new chapters. Another disservice is the lack of candor – or accountability – when it comes to the Goldberg match.
With just one entry left to go, it almost feels like the story is told. But we have one more ride to take with the Deadman.
All images courtesy of WWE.
'Undertaker: The Last Ride - Chapter 4,' The Battle Within
- A fascinating glimpse at the Undertaker-McMahon relationship
- Interesting looks at the early construction of the Undertaker
- And, in doing so, an interesting look at Undertaker becoming himself again
- The series's unrelenting candor was missing from the Goldberg recap
- Taker's roller coaster is repetitive for a five-part series