Monday, April 6, 2020

Backstage Details on The Boneyard Match, Original Plans For Undertaker's Entrance

Backstage Details on The Boneyard Match, Original Plans For Undertaker's Entrance
As noted, The Boneyard match between the Undertaker and AJ Styles received very positive feedback from fans, who saw the cinematic bout as something completely different from anything they've ever seen.

As seen in the photo on the top right below, Jeremy Borash was involved in the filming of the segment. Borash worked with Matt Hardy for the "Ultimate Deletion" match in Impact Wrestling, which is being compared to the Boneyard match.

WhatCulture reports that the match was taped over 8 hours from 9 p.m. on Wednesday, March 25th to 5 a.m. in Florida in a location that was not near the Performance Center. The company contracted an outside production company to create the set, which took five days.

That kick ass arrival scene for The Undertaker was almost very different. It would've still included Metallica's 'Now That We're Dead' track, but it wouldn't have happened in the same location.

WWE officials wanted to use an abandoned ditch, bridge and roadside to herald 'Taker's biking bad ass arrival for the match, but the production crew warned them it was city property. They didn't have a permit to shoot there, and there wasn't enough time to secure one let alone build sets. So, WWE pivoted and decided to use ground that wouldn't land them in legal hot water.

The druids that emerged from the barn at Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson's behest were nervous about getting things right. According to our source, The Undertaker, AJ Styles and his OC buddies spent as much time as necessary with the extras to ensure they'd know how to take a good kicking on camera.

Nobody got impatient about this. Both 'Taker and AJ knew that everyone would have to sell some strikes, and they wanted them to look good. To their credit, the veterans smiled and led each druid who was unsure through their respective parts. It was a thorough, professional experience from start-to-finish.

This should come as a neat surprise to anyone who hopes to work with WWE (even as an extra) someday. Nothing was left to chance, and the stars involved knew they needed everyone singing from the same hymn sheet if their match was going to be a success.

One of the best aspects of the 'Boneyard Match' was all that smack talk 'Taker and Styles shared throughout. Apparently, that wasn't in the initial script for the brawl. Instead, it was something that both guys felt was necessary when filming, and they implored Triple H to let them try some things out.

He let his charges improvise to see what gold they could dig up. That's fascinating insight; Trips was happy to let The Undertaker yak away to AJ as he carried him around, for example, and it came out great on camera. The match might've felt a bit empty without that back-and-forth chatter.

It reeked of classic 'American Bad Ass'. Triple H eventually encouraged 'Taker and Styles to do as much talking as they felt they should. Nothing was off limits, and everyone agreed that the bickering and aggressive banter helped the scene feel much more engaging.

Not everything went right during the extended shooting session.

The Undertaker decided to re-shoot his hearse window attack from a different camera angle, and accidentally ended up smashing the glass. After some deliberation from the crew (they toyed with the idea of flipping the car around so they had fresh windows), everyone decided it looked cool and that they should keep that shot.

The blood that spilled from 'Taker's arm following his spiked strike wasn't intentional. Rather than pausing to bandage him up though, WWE kept filming and liked everything they captured. Eventually, the blood wasn't even an issue, and some thought it added to the spectacle.

They were right. It's amazing to think that the stunt staff were ready to turn the hearse around so fans would be none the wiser and try again. The little hints of bloodletting on offer fed into the narrative that this was an intense brawl between two men who couldn't stand one another.

Earlier, Triple H and Michael Hayes had spotted a prop hand on location that they wanted to use at some point during the match. The only problem was that they didn't have any idea when it could come into play. 'Taker, meanwhile, did.

He was the one who pitched "AJ's hand" poking up through the dirt once he was buried underneath. It was reminiscent of 'Taker's own desperate bid for survival back at In Your House: Buried Alive in October 1996. You know the image - it's the one that has his purple-gloved digits poking through the soil towards freedom.

The Undertaker believed that'd be a nice touch for the production, and that was that. Upon closer inspection (like in the brightened-up pic accompanying this entry), it's obvious that the hand is fake. In real-time though, under the shroud of clever lighting tricks, it looked fantastic.

There you go. Trips and Hayes had found the phoney hand hours before and thought it'd be a fun idea, but it was 'Taker himself who thought to include a nod towards his own past as WrestleMania 36 went off the air.