MONTREAL – Failure was the theme of the night as World Wrestling Entertainment legend The Undertaker presented his aptly titled 1 deadMAN Show to a ruckus crowd and packed house at L’Olympia in downtown Montreal.
A full house chanting and cheering on arguably the greatest single WWE superstar in history following his hall-of-fame wrestling career is hardly a failure. But the man himself, who now goes by his real name, Mark Calaway, built his one-man show, which is still in its early stages having been performed less than a dozen times, around what he deemed his failures.
And failures, he told his adoring fans, are necessary on the path to success.
The device-free event, which saw fans agree to have their cellphones and devices locked in bags prior to entry and unlocked upon departure, featured a pre-show meet and greet with the man formerly known as Undertaker.
Calaway addressed the request during his show by recounting his first such event, where he singled out someone using their phone as a means of sending a message to fans, which turned out to be one of his highlighted “failures.”
The roughly 90-minute show saw the nearly seven-foot-tall Texas native pace back and forth across the stage, recounting moments and memories from his legendary career, while taking shots and swigs from a bottle of Jack Daniels placed on stage.
Speaking candidly about his life is new territory for Calaway, who for 30-plus years was fiercely private and protective of the wrestling industry, which meant he never granted interviews, rarely did autograph signings and never spoke out of character.
“It is what it is, man,” he told the crowd when he was asked what it’s like to “break kayfabe” after all these decades. Kayfabe is wrestling terminology basically meaning staying in character or keeping wrestling secrets.
Calaway explained to fans that the show is in its early stages, with hopes of putting together a special that will eventually end up on A&E or another network. While it certainly had a format, which included a middle segment he called “S*** the Internet Made Up,” in which he addressed some longtime false rumours about his character, it felt very casual and it was heavy on fan interaction.
Fans who purchased VIP tickets had a chance to get a photo with Calaway, and an autograph, early access to the merchandise table and the option of writing down questions that might be asked during the show.
And while it had a very casual feel, Calaway ran a very tight ship when it came to fans blurting out chants or questions while he was talking, stopping in his tracks and reminding fans it was his show and not theirs.
Thursday night’s show was heavy on Montreal content, with Calaway calling Montreal a favourite city of his and many other wrestlers during his career for its nightlife and food. And other inferred attractions. He also riled the crowd by throwing his support behind Montreal’s Sami Zayn, who will be facing the WWE’s Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns on Sunday at Elimination Chamber at the Bell Centre.
Fans generally soaked up any stories the iconic former wrestling star offered, some touching on names like Hulk Hogan, Randy (Macho Man) Savage, Bruiser Brody, The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin and others, including a hilarious “rib” he played on The Ultimate Warrior.
Calaway answered about a half dozen or so fan questions, which prompted laughs from both himself and the crowd. One question prompted Calaway to address his long-rumoured dislike of Hogan, who he told the crowd “did him dirty” early in his rise to stardom.
Other questions were lighter, poking fun at his shortlived movie career, which includes only Suburban Commando, while some went unanswered, such as the question about what Undertaker whispered into the ear of Bray Wyatt recently inside the ring during a WWE segment on TV.
While failure may have been the theme Calaway worked around as he exhumed the stories from his hallowed career and pulled back the coffin lid to let fans inside for the first time, success was certainly the theme of the night from a fan standpoint.
Now, fans can rest … in … peace.
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