Hell in a Cell 2018 Thoughts

Hell in a Cell from this past Sunday, September 16th, 2018, was overall a pretty decent show. While some of it came across as questionable long term, I felt that this PPV did a really good job of advancing a lot of stories and being able to spark some interest in the Australia show coming up at the beginning of next month. It also didn’t really drag too much, although there were changes that should have been made to the overall feel of some matches, but we will get into that in a bit, and I felt pretty entertained for the duration of the card, which hasn’t been the case for most WWE events this year.

Hell in a Cell is a weird Pay Per View to me because I really don’t prefer gimmick matches to be the center of an event. I think it works for things like Survivor Series, or the Royal Rumble, but for things like Hell in a Cell, or Extreme Rules, I think those should be more of a blow-off to a feud rather than an annual event. It came across strange to keep saying how Hell in a Cell match shorten careers and change peoples lives, and here we are throwing professional wrestlers inside them once a year? Not just that, but it causes the envelope to be pushed each time you see one of these matches, and with it escalating all the time, these matches start to get a little harder to watch. I know people like to see some blood and guts in their wrestling, and hell, I do as well. That is why I enjoy deathmatch wrestling, but at the same time, seeing some of these spots in WWE events doesn’t let me enjoy the match, it just makes me fear for the person up that high off the ground.

The other point of having it annually is that matches that could have benefited from having a stipulation like a Hell in a Cell match to their story. WWE booking is frustrating right now, because they have the talent to shine, really interesting match-ups to capitalize on, and a very hungry fan base who seems to be eating up everything that is being thrown at them, and we still have these storylines and angles that don’t show the full potential of their crew of wrestlers. I know that no company is going to run perfect angles for every wrestler all the time, but the focus remains on a few big stars, and the rest of the people seem to be floundering.

Here are my thoughts on the matches from Sunday:

 

Randy Orton vs. Jeff Hardy (Hell in a Cell)

Wow, this match was insane. I figured that this was going to be a hot match, but the problem I found was that it didn’t seem to need to be in a cell before it started. I see that they did use the stipulation as a way to get Hardy into a match where he could do some of his crazy spots. But this could have been an AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe match or even Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch and it would have made more sense. Still, it was an entertaining bout. Both of these guys went full tilt, and I was pretty into it for the entire match.

The things I did like about it was the brawling and the spots they did were so brutal, so it felt like a fight rather than a wrestling match. Parts of the match were so intense that it was hard to watch though. Jeff Hardy is getting up there in age, and seeing him put his body on the line as he did is commendable, but also concerning. I’m hoping he gets some time off to heal and recover. The spot where Orton dumped him chest first on the open ladder was harsh. Same thing with the ear and screwdriver point of the match. If you didn’t see this, Randy actually took a screwdriver from a toolbox under the ring, and then proceeded to twist it around inside Jeff’s gauges. It was grosser than it sounds.

The end of the match came when Jeff tried to hang onto the roof of the cell and swing into some sort of splash on Orton as he laid on a table in the ring. Randy moved, and Jeff went face first into the table. It looked cool, but at the same time, it felt anti-climatic. Orton just walks over and pins him while the ref throws a fit trying to get the cage up and get EMTs inside to attend to Jeff. Orton gets on the turnbuckle and celebrates. It just felt too much confusion to be the end of the program, but at the same time, I couldn’t tell you where they are going with it further.

Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair (c) for the SmackDown Woman’s Championship

Okay, so here is the first match on the card I felt could have been made a lot better by being inside of the cell. Two women, former friends, who each have wronged the other. This right here has all the makings of an amazing grudge match, but the story they seemed to want to tell was Charlotte trying to win back the respect of her friend. Started out very slow, and I thought this hurt the match a bit right from the get-go. Now don’t think I thought the match was horrible. It was decent, especially when things picked up near the climax, but I just thought with the character of Becky Lynch being so vengeful, this would have been the time for her to show some more aggression. Also, things started falling apart after the Boston Crab spot from Charlotte.

The matched ended clean after Becky rolled through a spear from Charlotte. Great reaction from the crowd at that point, with an earth-shattering pop. Flair goes to shake Lynch’s hand after, but Becky starts talking trash and holds the belt up in Charlotte’s face. Amazing end to a decent match.

Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins vs. Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler (c) for the Raw World Tag Team Championship

Wow, this match was good. Best match on the card by far, and it didn’t need any sort of cell or gimmick, just four guys going in the ring and working their tails off. Drew looked amazing in this bout, starting off looking mean and in control. Dean Ambrose also came off great and truly missed from his injury early this year. One spot that stuck out in my mind was where Rollins went for a tope on Drew and Dolph, they end up catching him. Before they can react, Dean comes through the ropes with a tope of his own, sending all four crashing down.

End of the match came when Drew goes over clean on Rollins with a Claymore while Seth was going for his superplex/Falcon Arrow spot. It was perfectly timed, and it came off great on TV and with the live crowd. The last three minutes or so of this was nuts, absolutely some of best wrestling you can see anywhere. My only question would be: where do Dolph and Drew go from here? These are two guys that have proven before that they can go once the bell rings, can get over with the crowd, have a pretty decent presence with the fans, and they still aren’t looked at as stars in the WWE’s eyes. I’m hoping this run changes that perception, but I have my doubts.

Samoa Joe vs. AJ Styles (c) for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

I don’t know how these guys were able to follow the match before them as well as they did, but they pulled it off like some pros. This build-up was one of my favorites for the past year, and seeing how hard these guys have been working with stuff that essentially writes itself is so great to see.

Joe sticks out so well in the WWE. His look, his style, and his intensity really set him apart, and I am glad that he is getting these opportunities to show just how good he is. They started the match off perfectly too, with a lot of brawling, with AJ trying to go toe to toe with Joe and coming up on the short end. Samoa Joe is a striker, and a brawler if need be, while AJ is a high flyer and more technical, and I thought that was a cool little story to tell in the match of AJ being so mad and just throwing his game plan in the trash at first, proving that Joe has gotten in his head. Once the action started picking up, it really came across smooth and very entertaining. I don’t think people realize how hard it is to keep a crowd going after such an amazing match before this one, and these guys did it almost like nothing.

The end came when Joe went for his Coquina Clutch and AJ did the old Bret Hart roll up for the pin. Joe got up and started celebrating like he won the belt, but then was informed that he actually got pinned. Amazing to see this entire thing fleshed out from beginning to end, and I am excited for what is to come from these two.

The Miz and Maryse vs. Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella

This match was good at some points and really bad at others. The bits where Brie was chasing Maryse and everyone going crazy were really good. The parts with Bryan and Miz are always good, as the chemistry between the two seems to get better and better all the time, and they managed to keep the crowd through a match with a lot of smoke and mirrors at points.

But some things were really bad. The botched finish at the end along with it looking so choreographed sort of lost me at times. I know that most of these bigger matches are planned and plotted out, but Brie has a way of sort of telegraphing what is going to come next, and she makes a lot of movements look awkward. That could be chalked up to ring rust. I used to find Brie as the more talented of the Bella Twins, but lately, Nikki has been the better of the two. Maryse pinned Brie with a super sloppy roll up and this feud continues.

Alexa Bliss vs. Ronda Rousey (c) for the Raw Women’s Championship

So this match was good and bad. If you ask me, it is interesting to see Ronda working from underneath, but at the same time, I scratch my head at this booking. You could have had Ronda on a huge streak like Goldberg or Brock Lesnar where she is untouchable until you give her an opponent that you want to get over as a legit threat. This could have been an Asuka or a Charlotte Flair, and it could have happened at a big Pay Per View like the Royal Rumble or even Wrestlemania. But it gets thrown into this storyline within a couple of weeks of Ronda becoming champion. I just don’t get WWE booking at times.

But the match was pretty good. I don’t like some of Ronda’s selling, but selling is the hardest part about wrestling. That’s what makes everything look the most real, and when you look at really great performers like Ric Flair, Bret Hart, and Shawn Michaels, you look at how they got the crowd to get behind them, and that was great selling.

But the crowd is already behind Ronda. While Alexa did look good and I believe that she gets better with every match, it still felt disjointed at times. Ronda worked from underneath after an initial flurry and then Bliss started to work the ribs.

Match ended when Ronda got her comeback. She got some fire, did the spot in the corner with the punches, and then finished Alexa with her variation of a Samoan drop and an armbar.

Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns (c) for the WWE Universal Championship (Hell in a Cell) w/ Special Referee Mick Foley

So this one was not a bad match by any stretch. I understand people being tired of Roman being shoved down our throats as fans, but I do always have to admit that the guy can work. His matches have good timing and good pacing, but I don’t know if crowds are ever going to give him a chance. Braun is a lot more limited than Roman, but he is still making good progress, and this match is one where it can accentuate his strengths rather than his weaknesses. Great brawling to start, and each spot led into the next. WWE is great with laying out their main events like this, but there are times in stipulation matches where you want to believe this is a real fight, and with things plotted like they are, that can be hard.

Roman and Braun eventually do a double down after a spear through a table and they stay down forever. McIntyre and Ziggler come out to help their stablemate, and then the rest of the Shield run out, and they start tearing into one another. Both groups get on top of the cage, and then they start brawling. Ambrose and Drew both go down on top of the cell roof, and then Dolph and Seth go through the announcer tables off the sides of the cell, and then, Brock Lesnar’s music hits.

At this point, the crowd is going nuts. Lesnar walks out with Heyman, and Paul starts asking for the key, and Brock kicks in the cage door. It was a pretty impressive spot. When Foley goes to confront Heyman, Paul sprays something in Mick’s eyes. Lesnar comes in and starts beating up Reigns and Strowman with a broken table before giving them both F5s and leaving. The match is called a no contest due to no one being able to continue.

Well, that was certainly an entertaining way to end the show. It also sets up for another match with Brock, as he wants to get one big payday in before he goes to the UFC. But what concerns me is that the WWE seems to always return to their wheelhouse rather than keep focused on getting current and future stars over. Look at Braun Strowman. He was an unstoppable force just a couple months ago, so over that entire arenas were cheering for him. And what does creative do? Attempts a heel turn while watering down the character to make him seem like a coward. Now it just creates a main event scene that no one cares about, just like people did when Brock was Universal Champion. I know a lot of people are going to point the finger at Roman, but I feel like that is such a cop-out. WWE needs to focus on creative, and focus on CREATING a new star rather than just telling us that they have one. The only thing WWE has tried to do is work us into believing that Roman is cool, and it is not working.

 
Overall, this was an awesome show. Top to bottom you saw amazing wrestling, and a couple of the story advancements have me excited for the fall, which usually isn’t the case for me personally. Do I want to see Brock and Roman again? No. But I also understand that this is a business and WWE needs to look out for their best interest, and if they are getting as much money as being reported in the dirt sheets and on MMAFighting.com (which reportedly is around $45 million, which eclipses even Wrestlemania) then they have to load up these Saudi Arabia shows as much as possible. I don’t agree with these government propaganda shows, the first came off trashy and somewhat boring, but you have to realize that Vince knows where his bread is buttered, and he is trying to create as much cash flow as humanly possible for his company.

Also, if I were UFC, and Brock still hadn’t signed a fight contract and was going to be working a triple threat match where their heavyweight title fight could be put in jeopardy rather than getting ready to fight Daniel Cormier, I would be extremely angry. But the fact of the matter is that Brock can do whatever he wants and people will pay him. He is and always has been a hot commodity, and that’s the reason why Vince and the UFC will continually throw money his way. It gets eyeballs on the product and interest in mainstream circles. But I also would like to point out that Brock clearly isn’t taking fighting that serious, and is doing the DC fight solely for the payday. Can’t blame him, because I know Cormier is doing it for the exact same reason.

One fact that I would like to point out is that Pay Per Views for the past couple of years have felt like another episode of Raw or Smackdown, not really resolving anything concrete and setting you up for television the following day. This show was pretty much that. Did any one feud come to a comprehensive conclusion? I don’t think so. But, with WWE getting so much money for their television rights, why shouldn’t they keep the train moving. Clearly, I know diddly about making money with a wrestling company, because for years I thought it was live gates and PPV buys that kept the lights on, and here we are on the verge of WWE getting more money than they ever have in a couple of years just for providing TV for 52 weeks a year. So if I pay $9.99 a month to see an exclusive television show on the internet, I guess I shouldn’t complain when there is no decisive ending to a program.

That’s it for WWE Hell in a Cell. Next couple of months are going to be packed with Evolution, Super Show-Down, and Crown Jewel all coming at us. I hope you all are enjoying this change of pace in the fall and winter as much as I am. Take care out there, and you all enjoy your wrestling.

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Smackdown Thoughts (09/11/2018)

I have to start this off by saying that if you are going to watch one wrestling show throughout the week and you want to get the most for your time, Smackdown or New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS are your best bets. I don’t know how many of you have AXS in your cable package, and I’m guessing it’s not much, so with it having the better outreach, I would say go with SD. You really get a different product than Raw. Raw is stuff happening with an occasional plot twist, while Smackdown delivers with actual storylines and payoffs.

That doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. The Jeff Hardy/Randy Orton/Shinsuke Nakamura thing is weird and confusing. Sure, you get Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton at the Pay Per View come Sunday, but why do you need Nakamura for this story? All it does is tie up the United States Title and it doesn’t do anything for Shinsuke or the championship. These two could have had this same feud away from the belt and still be able to deliver on a good story. Instead we have this meandering tale of whatever it is. Come Sunday, I am almost certain the match is going to deliver, but this hasn’t really piqued my interest at all.

Another complaint I have is obviously the Becky Lynch scenario and how badly WWE has dropped the ball, yet again, on an organic baby face that people want to get behind. Charlotte Flair is amazing, and she is clearly one of the top female wrestlers in the world, but anytime WWE tries to cram someone down the crowd’s throat, this same thing happens and it backfires. I understand their thinking. If they call an audible for this, it will mean they will have to make changes to everything the crowd hates, and then what will happen to their writing? But in some instances, especially ones as glaring as the Lynch situation, you just have to give in and do what the people want to see. I guess the one positive out of all this is that Becky has been killing it, and taken her role and ran with it like a pro. She has really stepped from the back of the line and shown how good she can really be lately, and anytime that happens for any worker, I think we should applaud that. This has turned into one of the most interesting stories in all of wrestling, and I really can’t wait to see what happens next on Sunday.

On one last Charlotte note: did anyone else notice that she botched that armbar reversal and still was able to power Sonya Deville into a powerbomb? Holy hell, that was amazing.

The tag team match for the shot at the championship on Sunday really stole the show for me. Rusev Day vs. The Bar is another reason you want to see Smackdown every week, and that is great tag team wrestling that you aren’t going to see on Raw. It just hands down has a deeper roster when it comes to tag teams, and each Smackdown Tag Team Championship match seems to always steal the show for me. I am partial towards tag team wrestling, and I felt it was a dying art before the roster split, at least when it came to WWE. Now a days I feel like it has evolved into a great division.

AJ Styles and Samoa Joe are so good in this feud, and I think that it may be the top program of the year so far. Holy hell, if I told you ten years ago that AJ Styles and Samoa Joe were going to be stealing the spotlight in a WWE ring for the WWE Title, I don’t know how many of you would have believed me. I am not sure I believe it myself. But this is one of those amazing stories where AJ is playing the whitemeat baby face and Joe is playing the cocky jerk taking swipes at AJ’s family to get in his head, and it all melds perfectly. I just want to point out that this feud is so good, so alive, and it is really just basic professional wrestling. No crazy gimmicks or hotshots, just a nice build, around a reason anybody can relate to, which makes you want to see Joe get his face bashed in. How did we miss the mark on things like this for so long?

 

The Smackdown writing team is leaps and bounds better than the Raw team. These shows feel alive and like can’t miss television. Meanwhile, Raw is something you fast forward through when it gets slow and tiresome. I think you can attribute that to the three hour format. Smackdown, without commercials, is about ninety minutes, and that is a lot easier to fill than the gargantuan running time of Raw. Regardless, it is much easier to watch a show where you find some things that you shake your head at while enjoying the majority of it, compared to a show where you have to dig through a lot of filler to find any gems. For those of you with less time on your hands and a Hulu subscription, their ninety minute version of Raw is vastly superior to the live version. The only problem is that you have to wait for it to get posted the next day. By that time, if you have social media, forget it, the entire show will probably be spoiled already.

Take care everyone, and enjoy Hell in a Cell this Sunday!

Raw Thoughts (09/10/2018)

Although I can’t promise being able to do these every week, I thought a weekly Raw segment would be a nice touch to the blog. Now this won’t go in full depth of the show, as there are many fine blog that already do a good job of reviewing Raw as a whole, but I do want to dive into some topics or spend a little extra time on other important ones. This week’s Raw (09/10/2018) had quite a bit packed into it to set up this week’s PPV, so let’s go ahead and dive in.

The Shield being back has been pretty lackluster to me so far. Maybe it’s because Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre, and Braun Strowman are so different together and it comes off as unique compared to the Shield, but also I think it is partly the booking since they made their return. Rather than let them get over in matches like they did during their inception and initial long run on the main roster, they have them doing these weird angles with police vans and axe handles. I think the main problem is they are booking backwards, and trying to get the crowd into hating Braun enough to boo him come Sunday has made them pull out a couple of tricks out of the hat.

This week’s angle with the heel army being demolished seamlessly just reminded me of old WCW television where I would see Kevin Nash plowing through an entire roster with a baseball bat. But they want to make Strowman and his new group seem cowardly, and they want to make sure to accelerate it as much as possible. The go home segment wasn’t bad though. I sort of find it weird when they do these big gimmicks on a go home show. I always liked the approach where the two guys don’t touch each other. But this worked, I didn’t hate it, and it seemed to really get over.

Ronda Rousey needs new gear. There is just no cutting it. All these other women have phenomenal gear, with cool patterns and personality, and Ronda is here with shorts that ride up constantly and she looks like she is going to hop on a treadmill. Some new threads which accentuate her MMA background while also making it a bit more comfortable to work in would be ideal. Aside from that, Ronda and Alexa Bliss is a really nice program with an old school build. I know people on the internet knock on Bliss for her work rate or whatever, but she plays the role of heel very well and gets better each time she is out there. The rib injury angle worked spectacularly, and it makes the match on Sunday a bit more believable with Alexa being able to get some more offense in this time. The only problem I see with this is that as a person who watches MMA, I know that fighters compete injured all the time, but I don’t think most pro wrestling fans are going to consider that. I also find it cool that we are getting quite a bit of free matches from Rousey on a regular basis, and it shows that she is going to be more than just a special attraction.

Mick Foley promos are always great, and Mick has gotten to the point where he can do them in his sleep. He is going to be the guest referee in the Universal Title match. I’m not sure that this match needs anymore thrown at it, especially because this is a newly established feud, but part of me is interested to see where it goes from here. I like stipulations thrown onto matches later on down the road, and this one seems like they are trying to heat it up too quick.

I see a lot of vitriol coming around due to the Bellas being back on the main roster, and while I can understand some of it, most of it has me shaking my head. A roster isn’t always going to be packed with workhorses that can steal the show. Sometimes it needs a bit more of a mainstream appeal, and even with the talent out of the women’s division, the Bellas do have an audience that they can cater to. Not only that, but Nikki has really tried to broaden her moveset and diversify her offense. Even if she isn’t as crisp as other females on the roster, she is still out there working hard. I could compare her to the Miz in a sense that she goes out, does her best in the ring, even though it doesn’t look great, and gets over. Although, I will admit that Miz is far stronger on the mic, but there aren’t many women on the roster that are crazy strong on the mic either.

Besides, Ronda is going to need people to face going forward. Introducing the Bellas so that Nikki can eventually turn and face off against her could be really good. I had my doubts about Alexa Bliss at first too, but this program is shaping out to be a pretty entertaining one. I say give them a shot, and let’s see if things will really be that bad going forward.

 

I thought it was a decent Raw. Nothing too crazy to get me ready for Sunday, but better than some go home shows I have seen in the past. WWE seems to be trying to have longer storylines to keep fan interest up through the entire show, and it seems to be working for the most part. While this is the lull before the Survivor Series in November, we have the Evolution and Melbourne specials to build towards in October, and that has sort of rejuvenated the weekly shows right now. It’s interesting to see how this will shake out as the fall goes on.

All In & Shawn Michaels

It has been over one week since the inaugural All In Pay Per View, and it has allowed some time for me to digest what exactly happened that night in Chicago. Though we may have to wait a while, at least until April, to see exactly what this means in the long run, one thing immediately comes to my mind about the event, and that is that nothing beats hard work in this day and age of wrestling. You can have the greatest body, you can have the flashiest moves, but if you aren’t willing to put the work in and chase your passion, people are going to notice and you are going to be left behind. Where the Young Bucks, Cody, and Kenny Omega are heading is leaving everybody else in the wrestling world in the dust, and we haven’t seen superstars the likes of this in about twenty years.

Should it be celebrated? I think so. It took a lot of guts and know how to pull off an event of this magnitude. While the biggest gripe from the show was the wrestlers following time cues and missing their mark, you can’t really blame the producers when only one match went over on time as extreme as Scurll and Okada. Everything else seemed to run beautifully, even able to get the show off the air with only seconds left was really crazy. It reminded me of Barely Legal, and watching that on Pay Per View back when I was a kid, and feeling pretty similar watching this event. It was a product of love and passion, not just for wrestling, but for the fans, particularly the fans who watched a bit more hardcore wrestling than your average WWE follower.

The work rate delivered. Every match seemed to draw the most out of every competitor. Even though it probably didn’t stack up match quality wise with this past year’s G-1 shows, there still were multiple matches you should go out of your way to see. All three main events were can’t miss matches.

But this event wasn’t solely about good wrestling. A lot of what we saw was the culmination of months worth of Being the Elites off YouTube. The Bucks have really created their own brand off of their social media and their merchandise. They are going to roll that together with their wrestling skills come contract time and get a fat payday,

And that is really where this story will get interesting. If you don’t think this didn’t show up on the WWE’s radar, you are mistaken. Word is that the front office at WWE already requested that Mysterio not perform in the main event before he heads back to New York. It also has got to drive them crazy that Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling will be holding an event inside Madison Square Garden, and it is totally in their wheelhouse to try and spoil the big day come next April. I’m sure money isn’t the most important thing for guys like Omega, Cody, and the Bucks, but when someone throws a contract at you in millions guaranteed, and you have been hustling merch tables for the past decade, it will definitely make you rethink your stance on where you’ll be wrestling. I think it would be naive to believe otherwise. Vince has always had the ability to promise life-changing money. Now he has the ability to throw life-changing money at anyone and everyone. While it may not translate to everyone jumping onboard, this is the WWE we are talking about, and eventually, most of the top wrestlers in the world end up there for a nice payday at the end of their run.

A couple more thoughts before we wrap up: I was happy to see MJF opening the card with Matt Cross. While it probably could have been scrapped, I thought it was a nice nod to MJF for being one of the next top indy workers you’ll be seeing a lot of. He already wrestles in a lot of different places, and his look, character, and charisma will take him far. Amell did really good, again, but still looked a little green and awkward at times. No fault though. He actually had the best celebrity match I have seen, and reportedly that was his goal. Blanchard came off as spectacular. How you aren’t seeing her in NXT right now is beyond me. I would have figured she would be a shoe in for the May Young Classic at the very least, yet she is still on the indies tearing down houses and will be featured in the next incarnation of GLOW being taped later this year. The NWA Heavyweight Championship match felt like a big fight the entire time it was going on. That speaks volumes to how the match was promoted and presented. That belt hasn’t really meant anything in a very long time, going back really more than twenty years, and the energy of the arena made it feel like it was 1984. Janela and Page really delivered, and Penelope Ford came across like a star. I don’t feel a need to comment on the main events. Those just have to be seen for themselves, although I will say that the Penta vs. Omega match was my favorite out of the group.

Additional thoughts: where do we go from here? Is the ultimate goal to just run random big arenas and hope that someone of note takes notice? Or is this only an annual thing, sort of like an independent version of Wrestlemania every year? I don’t even think these guys know, but I know they are excited for where things may be taken going forward. A lot has to be factored going forward, such as a new venue, how to maximize profits this time, rather than just being able to pull it off, and also a goal to achieve if they hit their marks like they did this time.

 

***

 

Shawn Michaels made some rumblings this past week when speculation began to run rampant as to if he is returning to wrestling later this year, quite possibly in Saudi Arabia and against The Undertaker this November. While the understanding has always been that Michaels retirement was always going to be a sure thing and he had no interest in wrestling again, this is professional wrestling, and no retirement is ever regarded that sacred. The nature of the business is a work, and when that is the case and there is money on the table, it is hard to continually say no over and over again.

When Michaels came out on Raw he did so to help promote the HHH vs. Undertaker match coming up in Australia, being billed as the last time the two will face off ever against one another. While the majority of WWE Legends have sided with Taker, Shawn said he was surprised that more people weren’t picking his former Degeneration-X partner to win, noting that he felt HHH had more left in the tank. The Undertaker then proceeded to come out, saying that he beat both Michaels and Hunter at Wrestlemania, also insulting Michaels in the process by claiming he was scared to face him again. What this did was set up a return match eight years in the making, pitting Shawn against the man who retired him. While this match may have been impossible to have until recently, the amount of money and investment that is going into the Saudi Arabia shows is huge, and cannot be downplayed, especially considering the Prince’s affinity for nostalgia acts. Reportedly he had requested for his shows “the guy with the crown”, “the guy with the cowboy hat”, Ultimate Warrior, Yokozuna, and the Undertaker. Shawm Michaels definitely falls into that category of being a worker during that timeframe.

I know some fans are probably soured on this idea. Especially after eight years of Michaels sticking to his promise of wanting to stay retired and not wanting to be like other wrestlers before him, noting that it would diminish how he went out, this is pro wrestling. Everyone from Terry Funk to Bret Hart has come out of retirement in some shape or form. It just seems to be the nature of the business at times, especially if there is a demand for it, and with Shawn being in as good of shape as he is at his age, and also not having to deal with an insane travel schedule, just a one-off match on the WWE Network, it does seem like the ideal time to capitalize on the moment while he can. Shawn Michaels isn’t like other characters in wrestling. What got him over was ultimately his work inside the ropes, and if he does come back, they have to be sure to protect that. Keeping that in mind, this match can’t take place any further down the road if that is going to happen. We don’t even know if those eight years off has done anything negative towards his in-ring ability, although we are talking about one of the greatest in-ring performers of all time. Chances are the muscle memory is still there, but older bodies break down easily. I think we should all look at a guy like Sting as an example. He wanted to go in there and have the best possible match he could against Seth Rollins, and the result was an injured neck and the end of his comeback run.

One point of conflict that has me going back and forth regarding the return would be if you go ahead and go with what makes sense storyline wise, which would be a match against Taker, you are possibly missing out on an even bigger match that could help get one of the younger talents over. I’d much rather see Michaels facing off against Daniel Bryan, Roman Reigns, or even AJ Styles, rather than seeing him face off against the Undertaker one more time. I understand there are certain politics to get around, and in the wrestling sense, matching up with the guy who retired you is probably the best solution, but I still think you put over the younger guy. The problem with that is WWE has a horrible track record when it comes to handing down the torch like that.