WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels took some time to speak with WrestleMania Series, which is a new five-episode podcast from Sports Illustrated's Justin Barrasso, about his legendary feud with The Undertaker.
Dating back to the mid-90's, Michaels and The Deadman's rivalry has traveled through casket matches, Hell in a Cell matches, and countless singles matches on the way to the end of Michaels full-time, in-ring career at WrestleMania 26.
A year prior to his WrestleMania 26 match, Michaels once again reminded the world why he is the "Showstopper" when he took 'Taker to his limits in arguably one of the greatest matches in WrestleMania history. Michaels remembered the pressure leading up to the 'Mania in 2010, however, he was confident that the stipulation and his experience would help him excel.
"I'd certainly been in enough of those situations to where I knew enough to know that one," Michaels began, "the stipulation in-and-of-itself would make it different, and I'd also been in that situation enough times to know it's not so much about topping it as it is to make it equally as special from a storyline aspect."
Since his retirement from full-time, in-ring competition, Michaels returned just once more to team up with his fellow DX member, Triple H, to face 'Taker and Kane at WWE Crown Jewel last November. Beyond that match, Michaels finds it hard to convince himself to lace up the boots for another.
"There was one (angle pitched in the past) that was particularly interesting... but it just felt so complete, and it felt like doing anything else didn't fit," Michaels explained. "I looked at the arch of the Heartbreak Kid character over the years, and to add anything to that last piece didn't work for me. It wasn't anything I was really interested in."
On the prospect of that return match being another one-off with The Undertaker, Michaels sees the story they have created as being complete.
"There was a match with The Undertaker, and there were a number of different aspects to it that made it seem interesting and logical," Michaels said, "but it didn't have anything finality to it... I felt like that book was closed."
There have been a number of times that Michaels has used 'Taker's taunts to send The Deadman a direct message of defiance. One instance saw Michaels gesture slitting his throat and then slapping 'Taker in the face during the closing moments of their WrestleMania bout. At the time, Michaels saw that as a final symbol for his against the grain attitude throughout his WWE run.
"That's exactly what it was. Certainly as my career progressed, and especially as the WWE evolved and allowed me to evolve getting a little more subliminally artistic, it was those types of things I very much enjoyed bringing to my character. A little depth and, dare I say, sophistication in the world of storytelling in the WWE. And it's small things like that I wanted to convey that about this character, and how [The Heartbreak Kid character] characterized and symbolically was... the Heartbreak Kid saw that the end was near, but he wanted to fall on his sword and go out with bravado. And that's what that moment was supposed to replicate."
Michaels wasn't shy to admit that The Undertaker will always hold a special place in his heart.
"It's still special every time I see him," Michaels said, "and it will continue to be that way for as long as I live."
Overall, even with this most recent Crown Jewel show behind him, Michaels has no regrets about his career. He's making certain to enjoy the journey along the way.
"I'm a guy that wasn't really supposed to do that well," Michaels explained. "Everything, honestly, after about 1993 was really, even though there was a time in my life I didn't appreciate it, everything was all beyond my wildest expectations. When I came back in 2002, I just made it a point to make sure I really enjoyed absolutely every one of them. And I did that."
You can listen to Michaels' full interview on the WrestleMania Series on iTunes.