“I’ll show you how to lose”- The Undertaker once proved a point to the roster by agreeing to a shock loss
WWE has always boasted of having incredibly deep rosters with a wide variety of talents. The Undertaker was surely one of the most unique talents of the lot. Understandably, not everyone can always win, and falling short of booking expectations can often lead to a frustrated group of workers.
We have come across various stories of wrestlers refusing to lose matches over the years. Jim Ross discussed the issue in detail during a recent Grilling JR episode, which focused on King of the Ring 1996, where The Undertaker faced Mick Foley.
As we had covered earlier, Big Van Vader was almost fired from the WWE due to his reluctance to do jobs. Vader wanted to preserve his monster heel image, which was a moneymaker in Japan, and he refused to drop a match to The Ultimate Warrior at a Rosemont house show in 1996.
Vader wasn’t the only superstar protected by the WWE at the time, as Jim Ross highlighted various instances of the company’s inability to book talents to lose.
Unlike most talents of his generation, The Undertaker had a different vision as he suffered a shocking loss to Mick Foley at the 1996 KOTR show.
Mick Foley was a newcomer specifically brought in to feud with The Undertaker. Jim Ross believed that The Deadman wanted to prove a point to the roster by showing them how to take a loss.
WWE’s decision to have Mick Foley go over the Undertaker that night proved to be a masterstroke. It kicked off one of the most groundbreaking feuds in wrestling history.
King of the Ring 1996 was the first chapter in the iconic rivalry between Foley and ‘Taker, and the stunning upset got the angle rolling on the right note:
“I find it somewhat ironic, and a headscratcher that we can figure out ways to beat Undertaker, but we can’t figure out a way to beat Vader, we can’t figure out a way to get Ahmed, you know, there are so many guys protected, and I think ‘Taker was probably one of those guys who said, ‘What the hell are we doing?’ Nobody can lose? I’ll show you how to lose. And it worked. Like you said, it launched a really good program, that was ongoing for quite some time,” JR noted.
The Undertaker needed new dancing partners: Jim Ross
The Undertaker was quick to realize the potential in a long-term feud with Foley as the Harcore Legend had all the traits to be The Phenom’s ideal dance partner:
“Well, the thing about it is that Undertaker knew where his bread was buttered. He knew that he had a potential great opponent for quite some time and a fresh opponent, which is why we hired Mick, to begin with. The Undertaker needed new dancing partners,” Ross added.
Jim Ross also explained why every wrestling company needed to maintain a healthy balance of wins and losses regarding a wrestler. The veteran announcer said many wrestlers in the ’90s didn’t want clean losses and would instead push for DQ and count-out finishes:
“Leon (Vader) overthought a lot of guys, not just Leon; the Japenese did a good job of selling them that ‘Don’t do jobs, don’t do too many jobs.’ Just DQ, count-outs, all those things. So, I just say, sometimes, that’s not what’s best for the company. We need winners and losers here. So, if you can’t lose, how can we justify sending you out there beating everybody even though you don’t reciprocate? Things made no sense, so that’s kind of where we were there,” JR stated.
The Undertaker was a true company man who saw the future benefits of losing to Mick Foley. In hindsight, WWE and the legends involved throughout the decision-making process couldn’t have asked for a better outcome.