The speculation and desire to see The Heartbreak Kid return for one more match were so strong, it caused WWE chairman Vince McMahon to do something he never did before.
Since retiring from in-ring competition in 2010, Shawn Michaels has not wrestled in any way and stayed true to his word of never competing again. However, a Michaels vs. AJ Styles bout was dreamed about by many and caused McMahon to call his former champion and ask if he’d be interested in a return, HBK revealed on the latest WWE Network special Table for 3, alongside his longtime friend Kevin Nash and Styles himself.
McMahon had never reached out to Michaels about returning but “Mr. Wrestlemania” added that he appreciated the “Phenomenal 1” keeping his name relevant.
“When [Michaels and Styles] finally got the chance to be talking at The [Royal] Rumble, I said, ‘you’re a bright young man. That’s tremendous. Clearly, Old Man River here, I appreciate it because you’re keeping my name out there.,’” Michaels said (H/T Wrestling Inc). But the thing is, in all the years, there has always been speculation about whatever, me coming back, it has never gotten so high as to where different writers or this person or producer, have asked. But for the first year ever, this is the first time Vince asked.”
Interesting photo….. is it not? pic.twitter.com/MKgF4XoAF1
— AJStyles.Org (@AJStylesOrg) October 20, 2016
The interest began when Styles found out that Michaels was doing more hands-on work at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. He mentioned on the program that he asked around to see if the WWE Hall of Famer is interested in a return match.
“I literally said, ‘hey, did anyone ask Shawn if he wants to do something at Rumble?’ I think they ended up saying, ‘no’, so I was like, ‘can you? All he can say is ‘no,” Styles said.
Michaels discussed his reasons for not wanting to return. One major reason was simply ring rust and age. “The Showstopper” had not competed in nearly seven years and is currently 51 years old.
While he made an improbable comeback in 2002, returning from a serious back injury, an older and wiser Michaels says he’s not fooling himself in terms of his current abilities.
“I’d do [Styles] no favors and I’ve given [Nash] my best. There’s absolutely no way at 51 [years old] I’d [be at peak performance level]. Again, just because you can still do it, I still can’t do it at the level that I did, I don’t think.”
Another cause for concern was the result of the match if Michaels did agree to face Styles. Michaels would merely be making a one-off appearance whereas Styles is currently a fixture on WWE television and one of the company’s top performers — so who benefit the most from a victory?
Styles went on to face and defeat Shane McMahon at Wrestlemania 33. [Image by WWE]
“Let me ask you this: who wins? From a business standpoint, what do you do? Old sentimentality. Do you do that and kill [Styles]. It doesn’t do anything for [Styles] and it hurts [Styles] bad.” Michaels said. “So fine, then you do it to me, and it doesn’t do anything [to hurt Styles] and it’s spectacular. But it’s like, if you’re going to come back and do something, why would I do that and lose, whatever, three, four, five in a row or whatever it was? I mean, creatively, that’s kind of anticlimactic as well.”
While he hasn’t wrestled since retiring, Michaels has been involved with WWE. He has made several appearances as a guest referee for big matches; been beaten up by the likes of Daniel Bryan and Brock Lesnar; and helped advance storylines for guys like Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns.
Michaels will be involved with WWE for years to come but just not as an active performer.
[Featured Image by Michael Buckner/Getty Images]