Post-Summerslam 2002 article

Last match or not, Michaels amazes

by Phil Speer

UNIONDALE, N.Y. Aug. 25, 2002 It was the kind of match that friends, spouses and parents fly into town to see. Shawn Michaels and Triple H performed in a contest tonight that neither one of them nor, if the fans at Nassau Coliseum are any indication, the fans will ever forget.

For the record, Michaels won, but he took a severe beating from Triple H after the match.

Kevin Nash sat next to his longtime friend, Michaels, as the Heartbreak Kid received ice on his back after the match.

It was everything I knew it would be, Nash told about the match. Its not like Im surprised about how good it was. I didnt fly here to watch anything but. It was watching two of the greats.

Nash was one of a few dozen Superstars who stopped by to shake Michaels hand and express their admiration for his ability and the match. How long have you been off? Chris Benoit came by and asked Michaels jokingly, implying that HBKs performance in the match made it look like he was a full-time competitor, not one who had not wrestled in WWE since WrestleMania XIV.

Even Triple H expressed his admiration.

Shawn Michaels proved to the world, to me, tonight, that hes the greatest worker possibly theres ever been, said the Game, his face covered in dried blood, in an interview. To be able to come back after four years, and look like he never missed a day

Michaels modestly disagreed.

Oh gosh no. Ive missed a day, he said with a chuckle. (Ive missed) 365 days, times four. Ive gotta tell you Im so jumbled right now, its hard to accurately describe (what I thought of the match). Im very happy with it that I came out healthy, the people seemed to like it, everybody back here was pleased. Im no longer the guy who comes out of the ring and says, I can do better. I think that was just fine. Im pleased with it.

Im happy to be healthy, but I dont really know how it looked visually. I cant comprehend that right now.

Triple H was much more than pleased.

I just had one of the greatest matches in my life, he said. Im sure Im going to be beat up tomorrow. But in the meantime theres nothing like being able to go out in front of capacity, sold-out arena and do what we do. Theres nothing like it. For me to be in a role that is who I am (an antagonist), I was able to get what I havent been able to get now for about a year and a half, since May of 2001. It was a hell of a night. Win, lose or draw, I did what I said what I was going to do put on the show of shows. Whether you love me or hate me, thats what I do.

During the interview, The Game wore a bandage that was at least six inches long across his forehead. He said it was too early to tell if hed need stitches.

Michaels, meanwhile, said his back was becoming increasingly sore as his muscles tightened and the adrenaline wore off. And after the beating Triple H gave him after the match, he wont be appearing on WWE television in the immediate future. He certainly wont be wrestling any time soon, or possibly ever.

Because his wife, Rebecca, had never seen him wrestle, he flew her to the show tonight. And because it was such a big match, he also brought his mother and father. The three watched the match out in the audience, cheering when HBK took the offensive, chanting HBK! when the crowd did, literally jumping up and down with Michaels won. But Rebecca also shed a few tears when Michaels took the brunt of a high-impact maneuver; his mother covered her mouth with both hands.

Michaels jumped off the top rope to the ring-apron area, crashing through a table. He jumped off a ladder, dropping an elbow on The Game. He took several chair-shots. He was clobbered with a sledgehammer. In his first WWE match in four years, with a back thats surgically fused, did Shawn take too many risks?

Of course Im concerned about (his health), but at the same time, I was working four years watching him do those things every night, Nash said. He took a couple of risks I wish he wouldnt of tonight. But thats Shawn, and theres no way hes going to go out there and not give it his all. Thank God he didnt get hurt.

Asked if he agreed with Nash that he may have taken too many risks, Michaels said, Thats probably pretty accurate I guess. I still only know one way of doing this. My biggest concern was going out there and trying to do something too conservative and getting hurt. I dont know if that makes any sense. But for me a lot of times if I start giving things too much thought, thats when I get hurt.

It was just that kind of match. Even if Im not going to do much, Im going to try to do something somewhat memorable. I dont know what was that big of a risk. The splash through the table -- its not like the move is that tough. You just sort of fall off and fall through the table. Its just the impact at the end. The impact at the end of all the moves hurts, so what are you going to do?

Michaels said he doesnt know about his future in the wrestling ring, and he wont make any decisions for at least the next few days.

Ill see how I feel tomorrow. I have no idea how Im gong to feel, he said. If I cant get up and walk, yeah, you bet it is (my last match). If I feel good, I might be able Im sure its my last singles match. I just dont think I can handle that on a regular basis.

Although Triple H doesnt know if hell ever have the opportunity, hed love to have another match with Michaels. But he said he went into the match assuming he wouldnt.

I think we both went in with the mindset that this was a one-off for Shawn Michaels, Triple H said. You know, Shawn has a broken back. If you asked a doctor, he would tell you that Shawn is crazy for doing what he did tonight. Most people wouldnt be walking if they were in Shawns position. We went out there with the mindset of, Lets shoot our wad, because we might not get another one. And if this is our only opportunity to live the dream with each other, we better make the most of it.

I cant say this for sure because only the people that watched it can answer it, but I dont think we disappointed anybody. I dont think anybody who watches that match is going to say, Damn it, I expected so much more from those guys. And if they do, kiss my ass.

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