Shawn Michaels recently appeared on Ring Rust Radio, here are the highlights…
On His 2002 WWE Return: How the process sort of went was I had gotten saved, I called Vince about a previous offer months before that to come back, and I had turned them down because something was going on in my life that I didn’t want to miss. So after I got saved, I called him and said this is what it is, Jesus had saved me, and my life is wonderful now. If you still want me to come back I would love to. At that time, he said that window had closed but they will keep the door open if something comes up. Few more months down the road and I got the call, “We’d like to bring you back as an on-air character.” Of course we agreed to that and we did the short NWO stint. In that time if I recall, I think it was Nash that was going to the next PPV with Hunter? It might have been they were building to a match with them and that’s when Kev blew out his quad. The next day I was on a plane reading the book of Joshua and just thoughts came into my head about possibly returning. The words “be strong and courageous” at the beginning of Joshua just kept jumping off the page at me. Then I thought maybe I can come back and do this. So I made a call to Vince and threw out an idea that involved just wrestling him actually more than a street fight. The story line was him pushing and forcing Kevin to be in a match when he wasn’t healthy and ended up getting hurt. I was going to come in and defend the honor of wrestlers being pushed too hard by Vince. The story line would cumulate in a throwaway match between Vince and myself. He asked if I was ready and I said I believe I can do it. He said let me think about it and he called me back two weeks later. He said, “Look, if you can do that with me, couldn’t you have a match with Hunter? He is a heck of a lot better than I am.” I said of course but Hunter was the main guy at the time. I wasn’t looking to come back in some big fashion. Just like a couple of exciting matches something a little lower on the card. Just so this way all the focus wouldn’t be there and if I’m going to stumble and fall that it’s done a little lower on the card without the spot light. The opportunity was there to do it with Hunter and I guessed that would be fantastic but it turned into a much bigger and promoted match than what I originally had anticipated. As far as knowing if I could come back I didn’t. That was the million dollar question. Those are all great ideas but you still gotta deliver. Haven’t been in the ring in almost four and a half years, how is it gonna be, and clearly I didn’t know. That soon after my salvation and everything of that nature I was feeling pretty confident that it was either gonna be there or it wasn’t. It really was a sink or swim moment. Thankfully, everything went well when we got out there.
On what his legacy might be: I guess performance. There are phrases like stealing the show and stuff like that that weren’t even talked about years ago. Some folks are going too far when they base everything on the idea of don’t pay attention if I win or lose just pay attention to my performance. I think you can go too far in that one direction. Even the truth taken to extreme can be a bit dangerous. It’s important to still strike a balance, but I think my legacy would be performance. A smaller guy that can prove you can still do well. My legacy is going to be determined between the WWE and the internet folks and neither one of them are dealing in hard and fast reality. I’ve done what I’ve done and very proud and thankful for it. Somebody else will make those decisions and I’ll be just living with them.
On Roman Reigns Being Criticized: As far as him being a top star moving forward, I have very little insight on that. I’m the guy that sits there and looks in the rearview mirror and am very thankful for the stuff that I got to do. As far as the pressure, it’s going to be tough. WrestleMania is pressure filled anyway and more so when you’re going for the first time in what might be the main event. If you are being dubbed or people seeing you as the next guy those things mount up. They are important and you want to live up to them and it’s especially hard. Back in my day it was the beginning of the internet and we had the newsletters, but I imagine now with social media it’s all right there at your fingertips. I’d imagine it’s even tougher nowadays. Our line of work if very cynical and a lot of it is driven by cynicism, cruelty, and meanness. It’s easier to believe the negative stuff than the positive stuff. The feel good stories don’t usually spend a lot of time on the front pages. It’s gotta be a pretty tough row to hoe for the guys nowadays. Along with the great notoriety and the good stuff that comes with it, there’s always some negative that comes with it and you have to do your best to balance it along the way.