Twenty years ago, at the pay-per-view Backlash 2002, The Undertaker faced Stone Cold Steve Austin. However, The Undertaker and The Texas Rattlesnake did not partake in the main event at this PPV. Instead, Vince McMahon booked Hollywood Hulk Hogan vs. Triple H for the Backlash 2002 main event.
The Undertaker is also one of Vince McMahon’s favorite guys in the WWE. So then why wouldn’t McMahon book The Undertaker for the main event?
WWE Hall of Famer The Undertaker was known for putting fear in his opponents’ eyes. The charisma of The Undertaker and his rage inside the squared circle made him the deadliest character in the history of professional wrestling.
Undertaker’s reaction to being snubbed for the main event
The former WWE official and commentator Jim Ross weighed on Taker’s reaction when Mr. McMahon took him away from the main event spot of Backlash in 2002. On the latest episode of the Grilling JR podcast, Jim Ross revealed Taker didn’t mind Hulk Hogan and Triple H sharing the main event spot at Backlash 2002.
Jim Ross said, “Taker is pi***d, ‘What’s going on?’ Taker is p***d. No, that was Taker’s style. He would speak up, he would express himself, and he often did because he was conscious of the locker room. He was Clint Eastwood. He’s the guy that everybody looked to for direction and things that nature.”
According to Jim Ross, the persona of The Phenom was only limited to the squared circle. Mark Calaway, aka The Undertaker, has spent over three decades in WWE, and no one has seen him losing his temper. Jim Ross clearly stated that getting upset or mad at Mr. McMahon was not Taker’s style.
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In fact, The Deadman was always self-conscious around the WWE locker room. This was because many superstars in the WWE locker room looked up to The Phenom and wanted to achieve his legacy.
Why was it important for Hulk Hogan to be on the marquee of Backlash 2002?
The former WWE official stated that even Undertaker understood the importance of Hulk Hogan in the company during that time. In 2002, Hulk Hogan had just returned to Mr. McMahon’s company after his NWO run in the WCW. So, as per Jim Ross, Hulk Hogan vs. Triple H at the main event of Backlash 2002 made sense because of Hogan’s significant return.
“But I don’t remember him being terribly upset because the booking of Hogan vs. Triple H made sense. And you gotta strike while the iron is hot. You got a 48-year-old guy with multiple back surgeries, and you don’t know how long he’s going to be available. He’s [Taker] more mature, a more refined professional than that,” Jim Ross added.
The Deadman defeated Stone Cold Steve Austin in the main event. WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair was a special guest referee for this match. However, The Texas Rattlesnake was pinned by Taker even though his foot was on the bottom rope. This victory of Taker earned a WWE title for him to face Hulk Hogan in the next PPV Judgement Day 2002.
At no point was The Phenom upset with Hulk Hogan and Triple H being at the main event of Backlash. Instead, Jim Ross couldn’t stop singing praises of The Deadman because Taker was too mature to let something like this affect him.