The Undertaker and AJ Styles battled in a Boneyard Match during WrestleMania 36. That match could be Taker’s last ride, but Vince McMahon made certain to edit The Undertaker’s docuseries to leave room for an eventual return.
While The Undertaker spoke to Barstool Sports, he revealed some of the character development behind the Boneyard Mach. He said that the feud with AJ Styles got far too personal to bring back the original Undertaker character. Something new was needed.
The American Badass hadn’t been seen in a long time. A hybrid Taker was introduced and was working. The personal verbiage and shots AJ Styles was taking at The Undertaker’s family made it evident that The American Badass 2.0 needed to be introduced.
“No, once I left the American Badass, I think everyone was really content with the hybrid version of The Undertaker. My style had changed where I kept a lot of the elements of my in-ring work kind of geared to that American Badass character then brought the origins and the mystique of The Undertaker was kind of that outward look.”
“It didn’t come up until this year and it just kind of dawned on me with the type of promos that AJ was cutting, there’s really no way that I can bring the original Undertaker to this.”
“It’s become too personal, crossed too many lines, you’re going to have to get the American Badass all grown up and he’s still got that evil side to him. It’s going to be a much more personal approach to delivering that match. So that’s kind of how we ended up American Badass 2.0 if you will.”
“It was fun, at that point I hadn’t made the decision of whether I was gonna work or what I was going to do post this. It really felt good and I was like thinking to myself ‘I gotta run here if I want it’ and it was cool. We were out as they were setting up, doing the lighting and everything, I was taking that bike up and down the road. People in the neighborhood, their lights were coming on and I was like, this is fun, it was. Regardless of what I do on camera moving forward, I’m sure that’s the persona that I will continue to move forward.”
The Undertaker signed a deal with WWE that will keep him under their umbrella for decades. He’s not leaving WWE, and an in-ring return apparently isn’t off the table either. Introducing a new version of the American Badass character during the build toward WrestleMania likely just made fans want more.