It’s only fair to start this post by stating that this match is probably not going to happen….but what if?
An image made its voyage around the internet last week hyping a fantasy match up at next year’s Royal Rumble pitting WWE World Champion AJ Styles against Shawn Michaels. Styles himself added more fuel to the speculative fire when he tweeted out the image in question and said “Interesting photo…is it not?”
If this match was to occur, the stars will never be more aligned to bring San Antonio’s hometown hero, Shawn Michaels, out of retirement. The event will be held at the Alamodome, which holds over 65,000 people, and marks the 20th anniversary of the 1997 Royal Rumble, in the same venue, where HBK dethroned the colossal Sycho Sid to capture his second WWF Championship.
Shawn Michaels vs. AJ Styles would be a generational match of epic combative theater. Both men are considered by many to be the best in-ring performers of their respective eras. Fantasy is great, but reality is kicking it in the teeth due to Michaels’ consistent stance that his wrestling days are over.
Michaels has stated that he doesn’t want to be one of the many wrestlers who retires, only to return later on, thus making his exit from the squared circle meaningless. HBK is known to be a creatively savvy individual when it comes to booking angles and putting matches together so it’s difficult not to take him at his word. He’s also been adamant about not taking bumps when returning for guest spots.
Even for a gifted wrestler such as Michaels, at 51 years of age and six years removed, he wouldn’t be coming back just to work with anyone in this scenario. Styles is WWE’s current “showstopper” when it comes to big time matches. Michaels is a 10 to Styles’ 11 on the athlete scale. While smoke and mirrors could cover up any possible limitations, Michaels still needs to hold up his end to put on a match worthy of its dream/fantasy standing.
While Shawn Michaels could be ready in 2 ½ months for a match with AJ Styles, the story of how this match would come to be is extremely important. Simply booking this match because of its probable artistic brilliance will entice die-hard fans, but it’s not enough for the casual majority.
Why would HBK lace up the boots one more time? What would “The Phenomenal One” do to pull the Hall of Famer out of retirement?
If those questions can be answered in a scintillating manner that along with the event’s peripheral similarities, could bring about a true match for the ages. The odds of the match happening are long at best, but still, if nothing else, it’s always fun to play what if.