WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels recently spoke with Brent Brookhouse of CBS Sports to talk about The Undertaker and his “Final Farewell” at Sunday’s WWE Survivor Series pay-per-view.
Michaels recalled what the WWE locker room thought of Taker and idea of his character back around the time Taker debuted at the 1990 WWE Survivor Series. Michaels said there was a belief that the character would have a short life despite being unique.
“I was a lower midcard tag team guy at the time,” Michaels said. “From the locker room scuttlebutt I was hearing, it was this unbelievably cool character. As I’ve told over the years, the biggest takeaway I can recall is everyone thinking it was very cool and a great idea, but we all questioned what kind of longevity a character like that can have. He’s dead. He doesn’t sell. It sounded from the locker room standpoint like maybe a limited character. It seemed like he would be very cool, but it would be short lived. Which, of course, 30 years later, that’s pretty dang amusing if you ask me. But it speaks to Mark’s ability. And then seeing it, it was a hard character not to think, ‘What a cool idea.’
“That’s pretty dang simplistic, but trying to recall a time ever seeing anything like that at that time or since — I know it certainly has spawned a lot of maybe offshoots, so to speak. I don’t know, I think it goes down as one of the greatest thought-up characters of all-time. I don’t know how you could argue against that. And again, for him to have it last 30 years and still be unbelievably strong and awe-inspiring when he comes out, that’s pretty dang impressive, and it’s really tough to do.”
Michaels and Taker shared a ring several times over the years, beginning with their first featured singles match at “In Your House 17: Ground Zero” in September 1997. That main event ended in a No Contest and was just one month before the Hell In a Cell debut at “In Your House 18: Badd Blood” where Michaels defeated Taker. Michaels maintains that their best match together was the WrestleMania 25 bout, which Taker won. Michaels also believes that match is one of the most perfect things he’s ever done.
“The perfect one is always going to be 25 to me,” Michaels said. “But the first time in Louisville [In Your House 17 was special] getting in there with a guy you’ve never really been in there with and you recognize the uncanny chemistry you have with someone.
“Look, Mark and I were never friends. We weren’t close, and we didn’t ride together. Usually you have that chemistry with guys who you did do that with where you have at least a little more positive working relationship. Mark and I had just fantastic chemistry without ever really even talking to each other, which is pretty different. My two favorite matches I’ll always enjoy will be the Hell in a Cell and fast forward what feels like 100 years later. To me, that’s probably one of the most perfect things I’ve ever seen or done, and I think there are a lot of people who feel the same way.”
Regarding Taker stepping away from the business and having his “Final Farewell” this coming Sunday, Michaels believes he will be able to find the same kind of contentment in this new phase of his life. Michaels said he really wants that for Taker.
“I do. That’s one of the things I sensed that time,” Michaels said. “Like I said, I want that for him. It’s one of the things that bums me out, that I didn’t know. Mark has never struggled with anything, and if he has, I’ve never known because he keeps things close to the vest. Everybody’s got their kryptonite, too. No matter how much everyone thinks someone has it all together, nobody does. Everybody has a chink in their armor. Every Superman has his kryptonite. I believe he can [be content], but some of that is on you as an individual to allow yourself to find contentment and peace in a situation.
“He’s a smart, bright, intelligent man, and I believe that, yes, he will find it. All I know is that in these last few years, I’ve never wanted it for someone so badly like I do with him. Because, again, I feel like s–t for not — it’s one of the things I always say to him when I see him. You know, ‘Thank you so much for giving me that.’ He didn’t know he was giving me that, but he did. To me, that will be the greatest gift that dude or darn near anyone has ever given me, that feeling to be able to walk away from the wrestling ring and not struggle with it because I understand how unbelievably rare and special that is.”