With The Royal Rumble round the corner, GiveMeSport looks back on the memorable moment when Maven shocked the WWE Universe and eliminated The Undertaker.
The year is 2002 and The Undertaker is embracing his role as ‘Big Evil’ as one of the top heels in the company, and one of the favourites for The Royal Rumble. Entering the match at number eight, The Deadman laid waste to Rikishi, Goldust, Al Snow, Billy Gunn and both The Hardy Boys to clear the field as he awaited entrant number eleven.
That lucky number was selected by relative rookie Maven, who had just become the inaugural
winner of WWE’s reality style show Tough Enough. The Undertaker was expected to make quick work of the newcomer, so much so Jerry Lawler jokes on commentary to ‘start the stopwatch’. But what was about to unfold was one of the biggest upsets in WWE history.
With The Hardys and Lita far from happy with their treatment from the former WWE Champion, they ceased their moment to attack The Undertaker and distract him the match. With his back turned from the action, Maven hit Taker with a dropkick, which flipped him over the rope and eliminated him from the bout.
It was a moment that left fans stunned and remains one the most talked about segments in Royal Rumble history, as well as a career hight for Maven, who recently spoke about the angle during an appearance on WWE’s The Bump.
“When I got there and they called me to the ring, there was Shane and ‘Taker. They called me to the ring and at the time, I’m terrified. I’m the rookie, young, in my 20s and here I was with Shane McMahon and with Undertaker, scared to death. Then he tells me, ‘Maven, you’re going to go out there and eliminate [Undertaker].’ I thought he was completely joking. I thought it was the rib of the century.”
“Well then, ‘Taker turns, looks at me and says, ‘Are you effing kidding me?’ At that point, I wanted to run. I just wanted to leave. ‘Taker had his hands full with what was going on that day. He helped my career more than anyone on that single day.”
The elimination led to an extended programme between Maven and The Undertaker, where the Tough Enough Winner would defeat ‘Big Evil’ for The Hardcore Championship before the feud fizzled out in the lead-up to WrestleMania X8.
A year later, WWE recreated the set-up for the elimination. Only this time Maven’s dropkick was less successful, and he was subsequently dispatched from the match by his advisory, The Undertaker.