Shawn Michaels' return to WWE Raw was interrupted by The Undertaker, and what followed was the laying of groundwork for a potential WrestleMania match between the legends.
Michaels' promo started off as a bumbling mess, but the surprise gong strike and appearance of Undertaker quickly brought out the best in the WWE Hall of Famer. It also helps that The Deadman cut one of his best promos in years to shoulder the burden.
What made Undertaker's words ring true was that he played on the reality of taking away Michaels' career. HBK's admission that he has turned down millions of dollars and main event opportunities out of respect for Undertaker and the retirement match, only for The Deadman to imply the reason he stayed away was fear, created a potential rekindling of their feud.
The stage is set for Undertaker vs. HBK at WrestleMania 35.
One of the reasons Undertaker's promo helped tease a long-term storyline with Michaels is that he said if HBK ever came back, it would be to gain vengeance against The Deadman. Monday's promo battle made it feel like Undertaker was leaving the door open for a match, but HBK's lack of response added even more intrigue.
There is no doubt Monday's war of words helped build excitement for the Triple H vs. Undertaker match at Super Show-Down in Melbourne, Australia, in October. But there is also a newfound excitement about Michaels' possible in-ring return.
HBK acknowledged Monday that he will play a major role in the forthcoming Triple H-Taker match, so the door is wide open for interference. Having Michaels cost Undertaker the victory would not only give Triple H a much-needed victory after a string of losses, but it would also set up HBK's WrestleMania return against a vengeful Deadman.
With WWE typically pulling out legends for Raw and SmackDown ahead of Survivor Series through to January's Royal Rumble to bolster ratings, HBK can appear to gloat with Triple H about the Super Show-Down victory and to sell his new shirts.
Each time Michaels shows up to Raw, though, Undertaker videos should haunt him.
The sporadic teases would be enough for hardcore fans to realize a new chapter in the history between Undertaker and HBK was on the horizon. From the company's perspective, another match in the storied rivalry would help to ensure a sold-out audience at MetLife Stadium on April 7.
To build to the blockbuster WrestleMania showdown, Undertaker and Michaels should come face-to-face for the first time since Australia at the 2019 Royal Rumble. The Deadman would call his bluff, and HBK will agree to return to the ring for a one-off match at WrestleMania 35.
While there are undoubtedly matchups for both men against younger talent on the roster that would better help WWE in the long run, there are few bouts that would gain as much attention from hardcore and casual wrestling fans alike as Undertaker vs. Michaels.
A war that was thought to be over long ago looks set to be rekindled.
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