If you asked a fan of professional wrestling who in their humble opinion was the ‘greatest’ of all time - many including myself would cite Shawn Michaels. This seems like a universal opinion, HBK’s career was legendary in the sense that if you had to write a career respective of the man, it would be incredibly problematic, just in the very nature of how much sheer quality he offered during his two respective WWE runs.
Shawn Michaels retired in 2010 at WrestleMania 26. Following another epic encounter with The Undertaker, HBK in storyline was forced to retire for good after failing to end the streak. This was the culmination of an epic multi-year story (that you could argue started way-back in 1997), between the two legends, that was very much built on natural competition. The HBK V Undertaker storyline is one of the most complete storylines in WWE history, it’s frankly untouchable from beginning to close, with little-to-no glitches along the way.
I would make an argument this is one of only a few, storylines that remotely comes to being ‘perfect’. Perfection is how I would describe HBK’s retirement storyline and proceeding match. He retired to his greatest rival in the main event of WrestleMania, could it possible get any better nearly a decade later?
“If it was just for a one-off then it's something that I would take a look at” - HBK in June 2018.
I think not. These pushes for HBK coming out of retirement started extremely quickly following his final match in 2010. If you recall, there were heavy rumours of WWE doing a Triple H v HBK match in 2013, which luckily got panned. In that same year - WWE planted the seeds to do a heel HBK v Daniel Bryan match, following HBK ‘turning heel’ and costing Bryan the WWE Title inside Hell in a Cell. Nevertheless, these rumours are now stronger than ever, due to HHH & Undertaker having ‘one final final final’ match at the ‘Super-Showdown’ PPV in Australia.
The demand seems to be coming from WWE internally as well as casual viewers, the latter is expected as casual viewers have been condition to only acknowledge legacy stars as actual stars, and the WWE brand as the current star, rather than one particular male or female as the star. The demand also comes from just how good he is, which is a credit to HBK and nobody else.
Recently - HBK had a promo segment with The Undertaker on RAW, despite the promo basically being a carbon copy of a promo from seven-years ago, the promo was the best thing on the show. It came across natural and injected investment into the fans; something that is very hard to achieve within the modern product.
If HBK decides to come out of retirement for a match with The Undertaker what does it achieve? And also, what does it intend to achieve? Obviously - it’s down to HBK in relation to what he decides to do, it’s ultimately his life, his career and his autonomous decision. Notwithstanding this - it goes without saying, is the direction mis-sighted from WWE’s viewpoint?
If the match is excellent - the demand will be for HBK to do more and more matches. At 53 years-old this will no doubt be problematic. If the match is below average (not saying it will be by any stretch) - questions will be raised concerning why HBK bothered coming out of retirement and in-turn altered a retirement was complete and flawlessly executed.
Additionally - would it not be better allocated for HBK to wrestle an up and comer? An Adam Cole or Velveteen Dream? When WWE legends are used shouldn’t the paramount goal to be to create stars so that the legends can actually enjoy their retirement? Doesn’t presenting HBK v Undertaker again in 2018, scream out how WWE don’t have ‘big drawing names’ (in their eyes at least)?
It raises bigger, wider issues that go beyond HBK, it ranges from how WWE is presenting their talent and how WWE is presenting their legends. They are very divergent presentations and this will continue to be problematic for many years to come.
As was previously mentioned - it is down to HBK and what he decides, but the cons of the WWE Hall of Famer coming out of retirement, certainly outweigh the pros.