Recently on WOOOOO! Nation, two-time WWE Hall Of Famer Ric Flair talked extensively about his WrestleMania 18 match with The Undertaker.
When Flair returned to WWE in the fall of 2001, he was not going to be used as an in-ring performer. A couple of months later, Flair would find himself in a street fight with Vince McMahon at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view. According to Flair, The Undertaker asked to work with him at WrestleMania a few weeks later and Triple H broke the news to him shortly thereafter.
“Hunter walks out to me at [WWE Monday Night] RAW about a month [after WWE Royal Rumble] and says, ‘Taker wants to work with you at ‘Mania.’ I said, ‘what?’ I mean, I was in shock, right, that he would [want to]. He said, ‘yeah, well, Taker wants to work with you at WrestleMania.’ And I said, ‘my God, I’m overwhelmed. That’s great.'” Flair continued, “I was just thrilled. I never dreamed that I would even be in that spot again because when I told him I’d come back [to WWE], I thought I was never going to wrestle. It ended up, obviously, being part of my legacy, wrestling all those matches.”
When asked whether Flair prefers the somber ‘deadman’ version of The Undertaker or the Limp Bizkit loving Bikertaker, Flair went with the former.
“I like the original Undertaker better, but he pulls this off too. He said, ‘I just got tired of it.’ And he likes motorcycles. Like, it didn’t change the persona of him. I mean, he didn’t change his work or anything. He just changed the look a little bit and he just was great.”
Unlike Flair’s WrestleMania 8 contest with ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage, which took days to orchestrate, Flair said that he and The Undertaker, along with Michael Hayes and Arn Anderson, worked out the match the day of WrestleMania and most of it was called in the ring.
“He and I, we just talked out there [in the ring]. Does that make sense? I mean, we had an outline, but I had worked with him a lot in the 90s, so we were really familiar with each other.”
Although Flair admitted that he would have liked to have wrestled ‘The Phenom’ when ‘The Nature Boy’ was in his prime, he acknowledged that the two of them put on “one hell of a match” together, nonetheless, and that The Undertaker selling Flair’s offense made all the difference.
“I would have loved to have worked with him when I was, like, 35 or something like that. I could’ve really given him a match, but this worked out pretty good.” Flair added, “he sold the crap out of stuff for me. That’s what got the match over because nobody thought I would be able to do anything with him. But when he let me get him down on the ground, he let me get on him good.”
According to Flair, he was paid in Canadian dollars for WrestleMania 18, which was broadcast live from Toronto, Canada.
“Well, the difference is, remember, this is in Canada. And so, at that time, we got paid in Canadian dollars. I actually made more money wrestling Randy [Savage at WrestleMania 8 in Indianapolis, Indiana] than I did wrestling this match.”
Source: WOOOOO! Nation
Considering WM8 was Jake’s last televised WWF show and Taker’s dark, destructive character at the time, it was perfect for Taker to face, dominate and defeat Jake, essentially writing him out of WWF entirely. Randy Savage vs Flair along with Bret Hart vs Piper were the matches of the night at a mostly lackluster WM8 and Savage/Flair really should have closed out the show.
Had Flair been at WM9, he’d have been a great opponent for Taker, better than Gonzalez, but then that can be said for a good portion of WWF’s 1993 roster. The fact that Taker requested to work for Flair and sold for him like he did to make Flair look better than he really was, it just pours out from me to Taker, respect and appreciation because he could have requested anyone and there were some great names on the roster – Angle, Austin, Rock, Jericho (whether he would be granted any of these requests or not if he had made them is an entirely different subject matter) – but he requested someone who was past their prime by that time in Ric Flair.
Taker and Flair did have some house show matches and some matches that were “Coliseum Video Exclusive” such as the one on Taker’s His Gravest Matches tape. But a main event PPV feud would’ve been nice.
Deadman or ABA….in the end, Taker’s Taker, Deadman, biker or otherwise. As Flair stated, aside from what was on the surface – looks, entrance, music, promos/interview, nothing beyond that stuff changed.