A year after his WWE debut in 1990, The Undertaker challenged Hulk Hogan for the WWE Championship at Survivor Series 1991.
Although The Phenom entered the match as the heel, the fans at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan, couldn’t help but cheer for him against Hogan, arguably the most popular performer in pro wrestling history.
In a recent interview with Yahoo Sports, Undertaker explained what was going through his mind when the fans unexpectedly cheered for him.
“You’re nervous, then when you do the walkout that night it threw me off because it was like 60-40 the crowd was behind me,” said Undertaker. “[The fans turned me] and I was the babyface. Here I am trying to be this killer, this scary dude, and you come out and the crowd is leaning toward you. You have to put that out of your mind so you can do business and be what you’re supposed to be, but it was amazing.”
The match was billed as “The Gravest Challenge” that Hogan had ever faced. Since his debut, Undertaker remained undefeated in televised matches although he did suffer few pinfall losses at untelevised events, including a loss to Hogan [as seen in the video below].
Undertaker still can’t believe he was in line to defeat Hulk Hogan and capture the WWE Championship, within his first year in the WWE.
“That was a fast year,” he said. “It all happened really fast and then I got the word at Survivor Series, my one-year anniversary, that I am going to be wrestling the golden goose and I’m going to be world champion.
“It was amazing. A year into this thing, I’m still looking at myself kind of as a greenhorn. That’s how it was back then. I had only been in the business for about four years and here I am, wrestling one of the biggest legends our industry has ever seen and I’m going over. It was really surreal.”
Undertaker defeated Hogan following outside interference from Ric Flair. He was 26 at the time.
This Sunday, the wrestling world will bid goodbye to Undertaker, who celebrates his 30-year anniversary exactly 30 years since his WWE debut on November 22, 1990. WWE is billing this year’s Survivor Series as Undertaker’s “Final Farewell.”