Shawn Michaels had a near-perfect send off into pro wrestling retirement in 2010 at WrestleMania 26. He lost against the Undertaker in a main event that was a worthy follow-up to their all-time great classic from the year before.
The stipulation of the defeat meant that HBK would never wrestle again, and he kept his word out of respect for the Undertaker. Things suddenly changed in 2018, however, when a huge chunk of money from Saudi Arabia was offered to him in order to come out of retirement.
And so it happened at Crown Jewel 2018: Degeneration X vs. The Brothers of Destruction. Everything about his comeback felt wrong, and the match was an uphill battle from start to finish. Triple H tore his pectoral muscle early on, Kane’s mask accidentally fell off, and bald HBK had to carry the match. He was still somehow the best worker of the four men despite not wrestling in over eight years.
The match was widely panned as one of the biggest pro wrestling disappointments of 2018. That didn’t stop HBK from saying that he had “no regrets” about his comeback match in a 2019 interview. He justified his feelings by saying he thought of it as a glorified house show, and wasn’t putting any pressure on himself to have a fantastic match.
That’s not at all how Undertaker perceived that match. In last year’s The Last Ride documentary series, we learned that Undertaker knew his career could be over with any given match, and he was desperate to go out with a great match. He thought the tag match with HBK might end up being the one, but instead it turned into a nightmare.
With Undertaker’s perspective in mind, Shawn Michaels now finally regrets what transpired during his comeback match in Saudi Arabia. He told the New York Post that he would have approached things differently if he knew what Undertaker was hoping to get from the match:
“I had no idea that from [Undertaker’s] standpoint he was looking at it as that might be one he could walk away on…That’s something that I think to myself now, ‘oh my goodness I wish that I’d have known that.”
“For me it was…just a chance to be with my buddies…All I can do is apologize to the guys.”
Even though the match was a failure, Michaels says he is not remotely tempted to come back one more time to make up for it. He said the Crown Jewel match “lives in a separate world” from the rest of his WWE career, and he is at peace with everything he accomplished in the squared circle.
Do you think Shawn Michaels’ comeback match in Saudi Arabia stained his legacy in any way?