In an interview with Denise Salcedo, WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels talked about the growing number of talents who had come through NXT, only to leave for AEW. In the last year former NXT stars like Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly have both joined AEW, while another former NXT star Johnny Gargano is rumored to be considering an AEW contract. Shawn Michaels, who is currently overseeing NXT 2.0 admitted it was bittersweet to see big parts of his life suddenly depart, though he revealed they all still keep in touch.
“We still keep in contact, but yeah it is bittersweet, those young men were a big part of my life, they were a lot of the reason that I sort of got back into this line of work,” Michaels said. “I was happily retired. When it came to Johnny, Tommaso, Adam, those guys, even way back, the Revival Boys, Shawn Spears who was Tye Dellinger at the time, all those young men sitting in a room with them; their passion, their excitement, their desire to be better was just hard not to love. They are the reason that I came back, and fell back in love with Sports Entertainment, with this line of work. As you’ve heard and everyone has numerous times, in NXT at the Performance Center, is where it’s still pure, it’s still all the reasons we get into it before it becomes business, and money and negotiations and things of that nature.
“To fast forward your question, I miss them. One of the things I always try to instill on all of them is ‘your happiness, your contempt, your peace, is the most important thing to me.’ Because I learned that, yes mine all happened in the WWE but when everything was set and done that’s why I think that leaving and walking away was so much easier for me than it was for everybody else. I got all the answers to the questions that I had coming into this line of work and as long as they are at peace with that, that’s cool. At the very least, I tell them ‘if you’re not gonna be at peace with it atleast have a big bank account.’ At least it makes you feel better a little bit.’”
While Shawn Michaels does miss all of them, he also admitted he was happy for the success of guys like Cole, O’Reilly and others outside of the WWE umbrell. It has also opened the door for him to work with some of the newer talent in NXT 2.0.
“I miss them, but I am very happy for them,” Michaels admitted. “Some things gotta be real life, Hunter and I, we love this stuff, same thing our real lives take precedence over everything else and it’s the same whether its Johnny, Adam, Kyle and whoever else, he’s now Malakai but Aleister, all of those guys I want them to be happy. Do I miss them? Yes. Would I prefer they be with us? Absolutely. But again you’re getting the opportunity to establish new relationships with Bron and Tony, The Creed Brothers, Carmello and Trick; they have just been a joy to work with. Gigi and Jacy, I absolutely adore. It’s an ever evolving thing and that’s what this job is but it doesn’t mean that you can’t still have good relationships in the meantime.”