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"Just when I thought I was out... They pull me back in." One of the most memorable modern movie quotes ever and probably the only thing you remember about The Godfather: Part III That seems to be the case when it comes to 90's stars this decade and Shawn Michaels is no different now... or so it seems.
The WWE has loved their nostalgia in the 2010's and why not? They've been proven money makers and, this is unfortunate in some ways, are bigger draws to this day than any of the current talent under 40. Yes the reach of the Attitude Era boom is that strong where taking a 53 year old like Shawn Michaels out of an 8 year retirement or bringing back Goldberg after 14 years is bigger than any full-time main roster match-up you can make today. Even many Attitude Era mid-carders are more recognized by the public today than a lot of the top guys in WWE right now. It's a sad reality, but a reality WWE has dealt with and recognized with every Wrestlemania in the 2010's being dominated by nostalgia acts not to mention other big PPV's as well. March 28, 2010 to date was Shawn Michaels' last wrestling match at Wrestlemania XXVI.
People, older fans but most younger fans as well, seem to really enjoy when these guys come out for one more rodeo. One more time to hear their music, chant their name, see their signature moves and watch them perform. However, Shawn Michaels is different. With a match in Saudi Arabia for "Crowned Jewel" heavily rumored right now, fans of his have polarizing feeling about the potential of one of the greatest of all time coming out of retirement to wrestle one more time and I can understand why.
Shawn Michaels is the one guy who has honored his retirement despite WWE asking him pretty much every year to wrestle another match. He was probably asked earlier this year for Wrestlemania and I wouldn't doubt that his haircut was his way of saying "I'm really done". It may sound silly, but a long-haired wrestler cutting their hair is a big deal. No different than a rock star cutting their hair. They are giving up part of their identity and could be seen as Shawn's way of saying "I'm not HBK anymore, stop asking." That absolutely plays a role in fans not wanting Shawn to come out of retirement. Shawn's retirement is almost seen as virgin purity since he is the one guy to actually stay retired after losing a retirement match and they don't want that purity tainted, yet they also love Shawn and selfishly (not always a bad thing) want to see him in the ring. Another issue that tends to leave a sour taste in people mouths is the rumored return match is a tag-team match with HHH and Shawn vs The Undertaker and Kane in Saudi Arabia in front of a papered crowd and political elites who have the best seats in the house and aren't even watching the show most of the time. The setting is only half of it. Coming out of retirement after 8 years of denying dream matches with the likes of Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles for a tag match like this seems like a waste.
I want to weigh the pro's and con's assuming Shawn Michaels returns. While I just mentioned some common fan concerns there are other concerns beyond Shawn just being the latest wrestler to not honor the stipulation of his retirement match. In all honesty, that is the least of my worries. Yeah, it's cool that one time a retirement stipulation was honored, but him being dragged out after 8 years by the very wrestler who retired him wouldn't be the worst thing. What would be bad are the consequences of putting a 53 year old in the ring again after not wrestling in 8 and a half years. With the plethora of wrestling podcasts out there you always hear about ring rust, not just performance wise but also how their body would get so used to bumping that if they took 4-6 months off to recover from an injury, when they first came back they'd really be feeling every bump and every run of the ropes the next day. Now imagine being 53 years old and having not wrestled in 8 and a half years. Considering the money Shawn would get for a return, I'm sure a few new bumps and bruises and a week of trading ice packs every hour would be worth it. Also, I'm sure if this rumored tag match happens, it would not end up being Shawn's last match. The concerns I have are mainly about his health. One of my favorite wrestlers growing up was Mick Foley and the selfish fan inside me loved all the times he came out of retirement until he went to TNA and it got pretty sad at times and the concussions kept piling on and when he finally returned to WWE he could barely walk never mind have that rumored feud with Dean Ambrose.
When Shawn Michaels retired he was 44, going on 45 later that summer. At the time that seemed like a good age to retire, but with how WWE has been so reliant on past stars in recent years 44 doesn't seem so old. Shawn, unlike guys like Steve Austin and Edge weren't forced to retire due to health reasons, but more so to spent time with his children and be more active and present in their upbringing instead of being on the road all the time. There's no question Shawn could still go at the time he retired. A year before his retirement at Wrestlemania 25, some would say he had the best match of his career. To this day he appears to be in great shape and has taken care of himself. He made an appearance at Wrestlemania 32 in full ring gear with his arms looking as ripped as they were in 1997. However, even though these guys play larger-than-life characters and Shawn Michaels for many years showed up super-human athleticism and ability but... he is human. He is a 53 year old man. He may be in 10 times better shape than your 53 year old father, but he was on the road for many years taking bumps. He did have a back injury that left him out of action for 4 years. He did wrestle another 8 years after that well into his 40's at a high level. Sure, he's been "resting" for 8 and a half years, but those punches on his bump card don't go away.
Now, for the positives. When Shawn came back on Raw and The Undertaker confronted him the only thing I wanted to see was Shawn Michaels wrestle The Undertaker again. I'm not sure if that's what they and WWE intended since the match we are supposed to care about is Triple H vs The Undertaker, but that's what that promo did. If Shawn does come back, I doubt he would "Mick Foley" or "Ric Flair" or "Hulk Hogan" or "Bret Hart" his return. For all the talk of Shawn Michaels tainting his retirement, the only thing that would really taint anything is if he came back and he just wasn't Shawn Michaels anymore. If he came back and overstayed his welcome or if he came back and just couldn't go anymore. Shawn retired as one of the best workers in WWE... not just in history but AT THE TIME as well. Yes, in his mid-40's few could match his ability and psychology in WWE. I'm sure if he came back he would want to come back and be as close to that Shawn Michaels as he could be and not feel he is short changing the audience. If he comes back, I'm certain you're going to get all of Shawn Michaels one more time. I really don't think it would be "one more match" if the rumored match happens to be his return. I've heard some suggest that Shawn Michaels has a last match at Wrestlemania next year against The Undertaker with another retirement stipulation where if Shawn wins The Undertaker will retire.
It's an interesting, albeit weird angle, but you're taking a guy out of retirement to retire another guy, so what would stop The Undertaker from coming out of retirement? Also, considering The Undertaker plays a supernatural character, his retirement probably wont be explicitly announced the way Shawn's was. It will likely just be one of those silent retirements (like what we thought happened after he lost to Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania) where he just removes his gear and it becomes "real" the next year when he is inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. I'm not counting on this happening any time soon. People have tried to predict The Undertaker's retirement for what seems like a decade now and every year when you think he's done he comes back and if WWE is going to pay him a healthy sum to work once or twice a year it's not a bad gig.
As for the fans up in arms about Shawn possibly coming out of retirement, I'm not sure there's anything I can say to ease your nerves. I've seen some go as far to question Shawn's faith if he comes out of retirement, which I think is ridiculous and unfair especially since none of us know him personally or his financial situation. If faith isn't important to you, then you are no one to question Shawn's and if faith is important to you it is wrong for you to judge someone else. Also, when you consider Shawn retired when he could still really go in the ring at a top level and every year WWE has tried to lure him back in and he has declined, if he comes back to give the fans one more good-bye and to give his retirement fund a comfortable boost then none of us should blame him or hold it against him. Yeah, he's collecting a pay check. Again, I'm sure he's not hurting for cash but I doubt after 6 or 7 years he left his quiet home in Texas to move his family to Florida to train kids at the WWE Performance Center just for something to do. Shawn is in a business where you have to collect those big pay days while you can and at 53 if he can collect one more huge payoff I wouldn't blame him for taking it while he is still physically able to perform. So, if you're still worried about the purity of his retirement, think of it that way. Think of Shawn Michaels as a real person looking out for his and his family's future and not the phony little stipulation from his match in 2010. It's pro-wrestling. His retirement, like any retirement is basically a story line. It's not like in real sports when you actually have to file paperwork and submit it to the league. His retirement was a stipulation to a WORKED match and the very promotion that booked the match has tried to lure him out of retirement ever since. If it isn't that important to them, how important should it be to us? At least they planted a logical story line reason for HBK to come out of retirement given The Undertaker's blessing unlike when Triple H "retired" Mick Foley clean in the middle of the ring only for Linda McMahon to just hire him back and put him in the main event at Wrestlemania 2000 just because she could.
One last thing, assuming Shawn Michaels comes out of retirement, who else does he face other than The Undertaker? I'm not sure. I'm not sure we are going to get all those "dream matches" like Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles but if he does come out just for a tag match then you've already opened the flood gates and I don't see what would stop him from doing those matches. However, I imagine Shawn's first one-on-one match will be with a guy like Undertaker who he trusts and has worked with before and also someone he knows he has chemistry with and can have a good match with. There's no way he becomes a full-timer again nor should he be. You'd probably only see him at big events. Maybe once a year at Wrestlemania like The Undertaker. I have to admit even as a big Shawn Michaels fan I have mixed feelings about him working matches again. He's not a young guy and this is a young guy's business. Yes, we have seen older guys do it, but it usually doesn't end pretty. Look at Undertaker himself. We all respect him, but some of his matches lately have been hard to watch. He returned at Wrestlemania this past year after seemingly retiring just to pretty much do his entrance, hit his signature spots, pose and leave. That was it. These guys aren't getting any younger or healthier. I just hope if HBK does hit the ring one more time that I am left on my feet applauding not looking down shaking my head. If you're worried about anything being tainted, a great match can fix anything. If he gets a good pay day and we get one last great match I suppose we should just try to enjoy the ride while it lasts instead of worrying about the sanctity of what was really just a worked stipulation for a worked wrestling match eight years ago.
There's my thoughts on the pro's and con's of the "Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels coming out of retirement for at least one more match. The weird thing in all this is how the HHH/Undertaker match at Super Showdown is being promoted as their "last match ever" yet the heavily rumored match for Crown Jewel is HHH and Shawn vs Undertaker and Kane.
*eye roll* Yeah, I know, they're going to retroactively promote the Australian match as their last SINGLES match ever. I know. Whatever.
Personally I can live either way. As a huge fan of HBK, I can live the rest of my life comfortable in his decision to stay retired. If he comes out, I just hope it is worth while as a fan and I hope he doesn't get seriously injured. Yeah, I know wrestlers are wrestling longer now, but 45 is a pretty good age to get out of the game. Not saying everyone should, but if you're a pro-wrestler at 45 and you're still in good shape and in one piece you should consider yourself lucky. Not everyone is Chris Jericho who has had a blessed career avoiding major injuries and is still going strong on his own terms today. Again, Shawn hasn't had as blessed a career when it comes to his luck with injuries but in the 2nd act of his career he walked away pretty unscathed. I just don't like the idea of tempting fate. Otherwise, good on him if he's 53 and can still go like he did at 43 at Wrestlemania 25 then God bless him for it and if he collects a couple million of all this excess cash WWE has been falling into lately then great. He's earned it. I just hope if he does work at Wrestlemania he starts growing his hair out now and maybe he will be rocking that 2002 Dutch Boy cut he had once upon a time.
Thank you for reading, everyone. I appreciate all you who follow my work and I will see you back here next week. For NoDQ, I'm K.C. and this is Planet Kayfabe. Feel free to leave a comment below and contact me on Twitter @PlanetKayfabe Enjoy your weekend and God bless.