The end of the year often brings with it end of the year recaps and look backs. But I just use it to vent about something that disappointed me during the year. Last year, I used this space to rant about how they should have used Luke Harper in the Bray Wyatt/Randy Orton match.
This year is less of a venting and more of a true disappointment…
Shawn Michaels’ return
If I traveled back in time to this point last year and told myself that Shawn Michaels would return to the ring this year, I’d be ecstatic. Then I’d have to break it to myself how it really went. Here’s how I imagine this conversation would go:
2018 Me: So Shawn Michaels wrestles next year.
2017 Me: That’s great! Who does he wrestle? AJ Styles?! It’s gotta be AJ Styles, right?
2018 Me: Well…. actually… it was a tag match with Triple H against Undertaker and Kane.
2017 Me: Oh. OK. That’s it?
2018 Me: Yeah, that was it. I should also mentioned it was for a show paid by Saudi Arabia as a means of propaganda to improve their image that was right after they killed a journalist living in the United States.
2017 Me: …. oh. I see.
2018 Me: Yup. Well, I’m off. Also, you come to terms with the fact you’re losing your hair in the next year. See ya!
(I suppose I should have at least told myself Daniel Bryan returns to wrestling to make myself feel a little better.)
Growing up, Shawn Michaels was one of my favorites. When my friends would make our own wrestling characters in whatever we’d play, whether it be video games or actually wrestling each other at the town pool, my character was always some combination of Shawn Michaels and Kevin Nash. My friend once photoshopped of my head on Shawn Michaels’ body as a gag. I should mention it was the picture of him naked except for the title. Something we felt was totally normal at the time. (Said picture may still be somewhere out there in the world.)
As I continued watching wrestling, that kind of fandom faded but my enjoyment of Michaels’ sure didn’t. It instead turned into absolute respect for what he could do in the ring and how he could continue to amaze. He’s one of the best ever after all.
When he retired, it was disappointing but understandable. The man wanted to go out on top, something that often doesn’t happen in this business. Years went by and he actually stuck to that retirement, something that is even rarer.
Even as the years passed and I saw all these different wrestlers that could have awesome matches with HBK such as Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, & AJ Styles, I respected the man to sticking to his guns.
Then he finally came out of retirement like they all do eventually. And it was the biggest let down.
He came out of retirement this year to face Undertaker and Kane alongside Triple H. The match he came back for was one with people we’ve seen him mix it up with countless times. Not only that, but against men who I don’t really want to see wrestle at all, let alone in HBK’s return match. Undertaker hasn’t looked good in the ring for years now. Kane is still fine, but he’s Kane.
The build to this match wasn’t any good. It was set up by a LONG Triple H/Undertaker match (30 minutes that should have been half that) in Australia. It was sold with underwhelming Raw segments. Some done in boiler rooms, others in cemeteries. This all led to a rather forgettable match at the event itself.
Then there’s the fact the match took place at the much maligned Crown Jewel event, a shown sponsored by the Saudi Arabian government just weeks after said government was responsible for the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
It really was a perfect storm of crap surrounding his return.
What made matters worse is that Michaels actually looked good in the match! He looked the best of everyone in there! (An early injury to Triple H limited him the entire bout.) If HBK looked bad, it would probably be an easier pill to swallow. We could all come to terms with the fact that he doesn’t have it any more and move on. The fact that he looked like he can still go but that was his only match makes this all the more disappointing.
Shawn has talked about how he didn’t want to come back in some high pressure situation and chose this because he felt that pressure wasn’t there. And that’s fine. It’s his career and he can do what he wants with it. But as a fan who loved HBK growing up, this was sorely disappointing. If he didn’t come back at all, it would have been all the same.
HBK sounds pretty adamant that this was it when it comes to his return. Who knows? Maybe next year, the Saudi prince will request Shawn Michaels vs. AJ Styles, and this will just be a footnote in Michael’s return. But as it stands now, this is my biggest disappointment of the year.
That was what left me most wanting in 2018. What was on your list? Let us know below.