The Royal Rumble is coming through the hometown of The Heartbreak Kid and lot of fans are hoping that Shawn Michaels will make some sort of appearance. It wasn’t even that long ago that A.J. Styles was teasing a potential one-on-one matchup with HBK on his Twitter account.
However, despite showing up at WrestleMania 32 last Spring in full wrestling gear to take out the League of Nations (with the help of Stone Cold and Mick Foley), Michaels insists that he is retired, and retired for good. On a recent episode of the Sam Roberts Wrestling Podcast, Michaels explained that retirement is important to him and he’s not really interested in one big final paycheck. Not only that, but the WWE hasn’t even contacted him about a potential return to action.
“I’ve got to be honest, what kept me accountable, again, last year, six months out of WrestleMania, them calling and going, ‘we’d like you to come down with your shirt off and your gear,’ and I was like, ‘you’ve got to be kidding me!’ Yes [the shirt off was WWE’s idea], and I’m like, ‘oh my goodness, you’ve got to be kidding me!’ So, from that point on, I kind of just decided that I think it’s probably better if I just stay relatively TV ready, just in case.
” … I can still remember [when I was] a talent, sort of somewhat being offended [when the older guys would come in and] take a big payoff or whatever. And so, and the thing is, I at least can say without a shadow of a doubt, I’ve never booked myself. I’ve never called them and said, ‘hey, I’d like to do something.’ Everything is a call, is [an] offer, to me.
“Literally, no one has talked to me about [coming back for another match]. I recognize, again, you guys have a field day with it and you guys talk about it and you say that they’ve talked about it and talked to me, but no one has. And I don’t say that because, and again, I’m also past that.
“My wife doesn’t understand either. She’s like, ‘why don’t you just go back and ba-bang, make the payoff?’ and, honestly, the greatest thing about those matches is the after. Okay? It’s the doing it, it’s the doing it in the ring, and then, it’s the after when it’s phenomenal to go, ‘that was awesome,’ sitting there with Taker and Michael Hayes and just basking in that moment for whatever. But the whole process up to it is just … even just last year, I sat there and all I did is walk out there for five minutes and my wife sat there and looked at me and she goes, ‘oh my goodness,’ for the first time the light went off. And she goes, ‘I understand it.’ She goes, ‘it’s the whole process going up that you don’t want to go through.’ She said, she goes, ‘I’ve seen you do it. All you do is walk out for five minutes last year and kick somebody, you can do that with your eyes closed and you still went into that place where you’re focused, you get quiet, and there’s the six weeks of training.’
“If I’m doing something, I want to put 100 percent of my time into it and make it good. I know the reasons why I wrestled [and] why I don’t. And, look, I would be doing it just for the money now and I don’t want to do that!”
Let’s face facts here: Michaels is 51-years-old now and has already endured a lifetime of punishment, both from being one of the best wrestlers of his generation and also from his hard-partying younger days. And then there was the first retirement from a serious back injury, which he miraculously recovered from and returned for a second memorable run. There’s no way that HBK would be able to perform like he used to, no matter how much fans might wish for it. Michaels is keenly aware of this fact, and knows that “one final match” could do plenty to tarnish his legacy as one of the greatest in-ring performers ever.
Michaels should just enjoy his retirement and show up on WWE every once in a while to superkick whichever wrestler needs to be brought down to Earth a little bit. That works for us.