It’s April, it’s time for WWE’s WrestleMania pay-per-view which means here at The Wrestling Mania it’s time for our Superstar of the Month. Last month I took a look at the life and times of Eddie Guerrero after the 10th anniversary of him winning the WWE Championship at No Way Out 2004. This month it’s the turn of Mr. WrestleMania himself – The Heartbreak Kid, Shawn Michaels.

    So, it’s WrestleMania. The biggest show of the wrestling calendar. There was only on person in my mind who I could write a piece on for this month’s Wrestling Mania Superstar of the Month. That man has put on more top highly acclaimed matches at the event than anyone else. Yes, Mr. Wrestlemania himself, Shawn Michaels. Now, everyone reading this article will know everything about his career from 2002 onward, I have no doubt in that, therefore the biography section will go up until 2002. Never fear though, those who haven’t already got the WWE Network, at the end of the article will be the Wrestlemania matches from XIX-XXVI.

    Michael Shawn Hickenbottom was born on July 22, 1965 in an Air Force Base just outside Phoenix Arizona. With his father being in the air force he had to move around as a child. Not long after being born the family moved to Reading, England due to a deal with the Royal Air Force in the United Kingdom. By the time he he was two years old he was back in America, in Camp Springs, Maryland. However, he did spend some time in Storm Lake, Iowa before Camp Springs became his main residence with his grandmother and mother, while his father got settled in at the Laughlin Air Force Base just outside the Pentagon.

    Playing football was a big part of growing up, even though he struggled while making plays as he could not tell his left from his right and still struggles with it at times to this day. This was no fault of his own, Shawn was just ambidextrous, he says “While this can be advantageous in many ways, but for a child of 6 years old trying to learn his left from his right, it can be very frustrating.” Aside from this Shawn would suffer at school because of his surname, it would always draw sniggering from the class and was a constant source of teasing. He never really managed to fully fit in and feel at home until he moved to Randolph, before then he had never had any steady friends apart from one in Del Rio. It was in Randolph Shawn started to discover himself.

    His first encounter with wrestling came during the summer between 6th and 7th grade while sitting at home one day; he was bored. He says, “I don’t even remember flipping the channels to see what was on. I just turned on the television and there it was: Southwest Championship Wrestling.” After watching the full hour with such stars as Tully Blanchard and Wahoo McDaniels, it was at this moment Shawn fell in love with the world of professional wrestling. He wasted no time in telling his mother when he grew up he wanted to do this. Wrestling was not as highly publicized on television at this time so through a friend and magazines he learned of the other greats in the sport such as Ric Flair, Harley Race and Nick Bockwinkel. As soon as cable television did come to his area though, Shawn fell in love with Ric Flair on a whole other level, a man with which in later time he would make history with.

    Thanks to his dad playing golf on the weekends Shawn met a man who ran shows around the San Antonio area called Fred Behrend. Fred and his father agreed college was a good idea and Shawn had to keep his grades at a level his father thought of as sufficient, before the two could meet up again. It was at this second meeting that Fred introduced a 19 year old Shawn to Jose Lothario. This was the start of Shawn’s boyhood dream. His dad took out a $3,000 dollar loan to pay Jose for the training and Shawn was set. His dad later said to him “Son, the idea of walking up to you when you were thirty-five with a wife and two kids and having a job you couldn’t stand and having you look at me and say “You never let me try. I know I cold have done that wrestling stuff.” I couldn’t live with that. I couldn’t have lived with myself if I never gave you that chance.”

    At the age of 19 years old, with Ken Johnson doing all the physical work and Jose Lothario shouting instructions on the outside of the ring, he was finally undertaking the training. Shawn recalls Ken as being a ‘snug’ worker but loving the contact and physicality of it. For weeks they’d just do move after move never actually learning how to put a match together. It was not until Jose convinced him to attempt a back flip off the top rope and to land on his feet that Jose really began to have faith in his abilities and passion, but still, he never smartened the youngster up on the way a match was worked.

    Through Jose, the boy, Michael Shawn Hickenbottom transformed into the man Shawn Michaels; Jose would call him by that name regularly and it just stuck. Shawn hated the name Michaels but had nothing better. On the bright side this made his mother happy as it kept him true to himself. With his first pair of wrestling boots, black with silver snakeskin tips, he was finally ready for Jose to send him into Bill Watts promotion with his main booking agent Grizz Smith, Mid-South Wrestling on October 16th, 1984 in Alexandria Louisiana.

    Just knowing where to go, what time to be there, the bare basics, Shawn was about to step into the ring. He knew he’d lose with a neck-breaker and he was wrestling Art Crews, other than this Shawn knew nothing. He had no idea what to do out there; he just knew he had to go out there and wind up looking at the lights. After a little ribbing in the locker room by Jim Duggan and the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express about his ring attire being a rip off of there’s; it was show time.

    From then on Shawn just kept learning during his 6 months for Mid-South Wrestling, whether it was from missing a T.V. taping and receiving a $50 fine for it, before being informed all wrestlers must attend whether booked or not, or with the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express taking Shawn under their wings teaching him the ways of the wrestler, then Terry Taylor showing him the ways to work inside the ring helping him to bring out facial expressions and the art of selling. Shawn remembers Terry Taylor as having “A real passion for the art of wrestling.” He listened to anybody and everybody willing to give him advice even guys now known as jobbers like Tony Falk, who taught him the carny talk.

    After a small problem with Buddy Landell laying potatoes on in his matches with him, the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express proved helpful again when they advised him to stiff Buddy back and they would end up having a good match, as this would show he wouldn’t take any crap from Landell, earning his respect. Jack Roberts taught him how to call a match in the ring with code words such as ‘the office’ for reversals. Then it was time for Shawn to move on to Central States Wrestling ran out of Kansas City, which was ran by Bob Giegal, and his right hand man Terry Garvin.

    It was here that Shawn met Marty Jannetty who would go on to be one of his closest friends inside and outside the business for many years. After Shawn had introduced himself to Jannetty, Marty offered for Shawn to ride with him and Dave Peterson. It was also in CSW Shawn and Marty teamed up for the first time and they both felt it was just right. Shortly after though, Jose offered Shawn a top spot back in San Antonio for Southwest Championship Wrestling which Jose and Fred had just bought off of Tully Blanchard. With a guarantee on a wage and a top spot as the home-town hero, how could he resist?

    All set for his top push, in the small hall where Texas All-Star Wrestling (Formally SWCW) was recorded. His debut match went successfully against a Mexican jobber. Feeling like he was on the verge of making it in his mind, a thousand miles away of ever dreaming of heading a PPV or wrestling Ric Flair, but making it in his own mind. When Jose was alleviated of his role in TASW and Chavo Guerrero Sr. took over. He allowed Shawn a good showing to start with, but then pushed him into a tag team with Paul Diamond. Like Marty, Shawn instantly clicked with Diamond and received his first ever championship when it was handed to him and Diamond by Chavo and Al Madril on September 1, 1985. Only to lose it three weeks later.

    When the promoter Gary Hart took over the show, he took a liking to the young stars Michaels and Diamond and made them a white-hot tag team. Again during this time Shawn was taken under the wing of yet another veteran, Al Madril, riding the road with him learning how to be successful in later years at a slower pace and acquiring a love for Elvis Presley which he still has to this day. Shawn and Diamond as the American Force would go onto win the belts one more time on November 17th, 1985.

    Once again thanks to Jose Lothario Shawn received another shot at making it when Jose advised him to turn down an agent contract offered by Fred and to make some tapes to send off to the World Wrestling Federation and American Wrestling Alliance. The AWA responded positively and snatched Shawn up, with a few sad farewells to Texas and his partner Diamond, off he went. One step close to the wrestling mecca that is New York City, the city that had captured his imagination as a kid reading the magazines.

    Around this time Shawn would get engaged unbeknownst to himself and his now fiancée, Theresa. Upon giving her a promise ring, his and her family announced they were to be getting married. Shawn also purchased his first house as a natural investment from the money he had been saving wrestling. Although engaged with Theresa, she still lived at home with her family whilst Shawn lived in his new house. His ‘financial adviser’ as he remembers his dad being to him at the time also convinced Shawn to take out a car to get around easier, a maroon 300ZX.
    Birth of the Rockers

    Once he arrived at Las Vegas, where the AWA’s television program was filmed, he met Greg Gagne the son of legendary wrestler and owner of the AWA, Verne Gagne. Here Shawn and Marty would meet again. In a casino. Marty would provide him with some life changing advice, feeling inadequate in the locker room due to everyone else carrying themselves better and being older than Shawn who wasn’t even old enough to drink; Marty told him to grow his hair long, like other wrestlers and Shawn has never looked back.

    With a smooth first match in AWA and a couple more under his belt, Marty and Shawn were informed they would be teaming up by Verne. Straight away moving into the same apartment complex and thinking of ideas, the name came to Shawn while listening to a Judas Priest song, The Midnight Rockers. Using Marty Jannetty’s ring attire which consisted of tights and tiger stripes, they were ready to rock and roll all over the AWA, hoping no one would think they was imitating another tag team who helped Shawn a lot in the beginning of his career. Shawn remembers Verne asking him and Marty “Are you sure people won’t confuse that name with rocking chairs?”

    The first match they had as a team didn’t go as well as expected, the team they fought were a little awkward as was Shawn in his new gimmick. He quickly realized part of wrestling was having charisma and a natural energy to draw the crowd in, not all about the wrestling ability. Soon however they came into their own and found that chemistry they were looking for. Being one of the first teams to actually utilize the 5-second count, to perform double team maneuvers and keep a constant fast pace through-out the match. They were not the first team to do all of this, but they were certainly one of the first teams to put it all together in a efficient manner.

    Again Michaels found a veteran in Buddy Rose to take him under his wing along with Marty, and the ring general that the Playboy was, helped bring along the Midnight Rockers onto a whole other level. The feud between the Rockers and Rose & Somers, the AWA tag team champions, started on April 20, 1986, the first match ended with the Rockers losing to veterans. This would be a pattern for nearly a year, with the young duo always coming up slightly short. December 25, 1986 they finally beat Somers and Rose in a none title match held inside a steel cage. Then at last they finally captured the gold on January 27, 1987, the show however was just a house show and never shown on TV. That long feud. full of blood, guts and sweat was the defining moment of the pairs career, that helped get them started on the road to stardom.

    They began traveling along the road in the AWA, with guys such as Scott Hall and Curt Hennig. With the duo of Hall and Hennig, Marty began to shine backstage, as a ribber. Shawn and Marty had agreed to stick together through thick and thin, something that would serve Marty well when all of the older veterans began to take a liking to the constant ribbing. It was also around this time Curt would begin to explain how wrestling politics work. However, Shawn does remember Nick Bockwinkel also helping him tremendously, explaining to him how everyone needs to be able to see everything in the ring, whether in the front row or the nose bleed seats.

    After winning the tag belts, Shawn started to really experience the lifestyle of a wrestler in the ’80′s. Drinking while not wrestling and getting into the pill scene, Shawn was struggling to deal with being himself. He was no longer Michael Shawn Hickenbottom; he was constantly Shawn Michaels. Living alone in his apartment, with just occasional visits from Theresa to keep him sane, which she couldn’t accomplish.

    In denial of his problems he would tell her he was a wrestler and she just could not understand the way he was living as she did not get it. Garnering a reputation with Marty, Curt and Scott as being the party animals of the AWA, he just continued to sink deeper into the world he had created for himself. The office politics also started to get to him with people like Rose teaching the ‘screw the office’ attitude, leading to the Midnight Rockers started to choose what shows they turned up to depending on what the payout would be.

    With the AWA declining due to the success of then WWF (Now WWE) the majority of stars wanted to jump ship to the promotion on the rise, luckily having fans in high places such as Pat Patterson lobbying for them, they found themselves with a deal in New York. Shawn’s dream had come true, he had finally made it to the place he had only dreamed of going while reading the magazines as a twelve year old kid. After dropping the AWA belts to Boris Zhukov and Soldat Ustinov on May 25, 1987 it seemed like nothing could go wrong.

    On June 2, 1987 the Rockers appeared at their first TV taping for Wrestling Superstars. With their reputation preceding them, everyone knew who they were and seemed rather hostile towards them, or at least in Shawn’s mind anyway. With drug testing just put in place things could not have been more stacked against them, things could not have been arranged in a state to make them anymore nervous.

    Not being used at the taping didn’t help matters. Feeling forced to sit alone and uncomfortable in the arena they watched the whole show. Michaels recalled they were too scared and nervous to introduce themselves to anyone and no one introduced themselves to them either. Being encouraged by Terry Garvin they went to the bar where all the wrestlers hung out, still feeling like all eyes were on them they stood alone until finally plucking up the courage to introduce themselves to Davey Boy Smith and Jim Powers.

    What happened next depends on who is telling the story, Shawn recalls in his book that Jimmy Jack Funk challenged him and Marty to show him how hard they can party, and after being provoked, Shawn smashed a bottle over his own head and walked out the bar. Marty stayed and is meant to of taken home a girl Jimmy Jack Funk had been hitting on. In Bret Hart’s book he recalls Marty and Shawn being loud, obnoxious, smashing stuff and getting overly wasted for the whole night. The truth of what happened that night in the bar may never be known.

    The next day at the taping in Rochester the bill was the Midnight Rockers Vs. Jimmy Jack Funk and Jose Estrada. Shawn and Marty were nervous about the match in case Jimmy started to shoot on them or refused to sell. The match however went fine and turned out good with them getting the clean win over Jimmy and Jose, everything seemed dandy with everyone congratulating them on a good match, including Vince McMahon himself. Soon after they heard they had been fired, they arranged a meeting with Vince, assuming the reason was the night in the bar, so they could tell him their side of the story.

    Sitting outside his office, Vince called them in, they were both wearing cowboy boots, he quipped ‘Nice boots, they are made for walking you know,” after a hearty laugh he finished “Just kidding, come on in.” After they explained their side of the story to him, Vince gave his reasoning that it just was not the right time for them to be there due to emotions and feelings of the boys and if they don’t like you, you just won’t last in the WWF family, but somewhere along the line the door would be open for them once they have matured. To Shawn, no matter what Vince had said or how much Pat Patterson told them they had so much talent, his career was over, his aspirations had died and at 22 years old he felt like a broken man.

    When they had left the AWA they had been very obnoxious and self righteous, so naturally Shawn was unsure about what his future would hold and where they would end up, all he knew was he did not like anything other than wrestling. Marty secured them a job in Ron Fuller’s Birmingham, Alabama promotion. With no guarantee and no respect. Really struggling to deal with losing the opportunity in the WWF, Michaels turned more to drugs, drink and sank deeper into depression. He begged Theresa to stay with him and would not let her go home from fear of being alone. After demoralizing a girl at a show by writing “I Am A Dyke” on her jacket instead of autographing it, Shawn was given his two week notice from there too. He remembers Marty sticking right behind him and the pair turned down the two week notice and quit on the spot.

    Shawn it took upon himself to actually get the team some work as he’d never done it before and it was his fault after-all that they were jobless once again. He got them a gig with Jerry Jarrett up in Tennessee. Meeting up with old party friends, the Nasty Boys from the AWA, Shawn started to get wasted again but for the fun of it now rather than just to soothe his inner sadness. Enjoying the time around them, this was cemented when they got to have their first match in the company against Knobbs and Saggs. This also started a turn in their work ethic, being allowed to play the heel for the first time, he had an open canvas to release all his suppressed anger and depression in a creative manner. Playing a cocky young team with Marty, much like his ‘character’ in the WWF would later be. They upped their games in the ring now that they could wrestle a more aggressive style.

    When they turned heel against Rock ‘N’ Roll RPM’s, they picked up the AWA Southern Tag Team championship on October 26, 1987. As the feud raged on they would lose the belts shortly after back to the same team on November 16, 1987. Just to regain them on November 22, 1987. During this period Jarrett was trading the Rockers with Greg Gagne who had heard how hot the Rockers now were again and wanted to use them. To give them another chance. Eventually, the Rockers would start working full time for the AWA again, as their trips become more frequent to Minneapolis. They held the AWA Southern Tag Team titles until December 27, 1987 when they defeated The Original Midnight Express for the AWA World Tag Team Championship, due to the rules they could not hold both belts and therefore had to vacate the Southern belts. They held the belts for three months before losing them to Badd Company.

    Shortly after they started working on the Gagne’s to give them a guarantee such as other wrestlers had. Verne was having none of it, so once again the Rockers quit, with no job.

    They thought Japan might be a possibility, they had heard people made good money there, but there was nothing confirmed for them. Once again someone was smiling down and Pat Patterson lobbied for a return to the WWF. Eventually Vince relented and the Midnight Rockers had their jobs back. In just under a year Shawn felt his life had hit rock bottom and hewas now being given a second chance, even if Vince had told them if they did absolutely anything wrong they would be gone; no questions.

    His professional career was blossoming more and more. Shawn still had some personal issues to deal with though, like the marriage to his neglected fiancée, Theresa. The arguments continued and Theresa still wanted to break up. Shawn convinced her to stick it out, again out of his own fear. Fear of being truly alone and fear of never finding someone else to love him and to always be there for him. They got married at a Catholic church in San Antonio, Texas three weeks before he started for Vince. This was followed by a two week honeymoon in the Caribbean, then back to work for the WWF and a second shot at his boyhood dream.

    July 7, 1988 at Toledo Ohio was the first match of the Midnight Rockers in the WWF they beat the Conquistadors in a match in a non-televised show. This time after being humbled before they went round introducing themselves to everyone and shaking everyone’s hand at the bar and the rest of the people the next day at the taping. Shawn recalls how Andre the Giant would not shake their hands for over a year until they wrestled together in a match, it was at this point Andre told Shawn he did not like them to start with, but after that he was just ribbing them for a year. It was the Dynamite Kid this time who encouraged them to introduce themselves to everyone as a sign of respect to the boys.

    During the opening of this stint in the WWF the Midnight Rockers officially shortened their name becoming simply The Rockers. Their program with the Conquistadors lasted a few months having nice tidy matches with them, showing off their skills and their work ethic inside of the ring. Shawn remembers having problems with Demolition as he and Marty felt they would not give enough in the ring but being to scared to say anything as not wanting to cause a rift with anyone due to what the consequences could be. It was against Demolition Shawn lived one of his dreams in wrestling, which was to have a match at Madison Square Garden, the arena of arenas in the wrestling world.

    The longer they was in the WWF the more Shawn realized he wanted to be treated like Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage and other major stars, travelling first class being mobbed for autographs, that was another goal he set for himself. The first step to this was being on a PPV. On November 24, 1988, they succeeded,just a few months into their second WWF tenure. They were part of a 10 man tag team, which started possibly the best feud they had as their time as a tag team in WWF against the Brain Busters, Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson. This was a dream come true for Shawn who had grown up watching Tully and idolizing him. The Brain Busters were very much renowned artists in the art that is professional wrestling, they helped teach the Rockers the way to put the strokes onto canvas and paint the perfect tag team match. Taking advice from Tully especially feeling drawn to the other native of San Antonio, Shawn used the advice all the way through his singles career too. It was the philosophy of wrestling which Tully taught Shawn, it’s about who can make the fans scream the loudest and longest, it’s that simple.

    The next stepping stone for Shawn and Marty was Wrestlemania V and the Twin Towers. Like with the Brain Busters they were on the losing end, but the crowd ate up the match and even with doubts running in Shawn’s mind about their losing streak, but at the same time he felt he was tearing down the house at every chance and that is all that mattered at that point in time. Theresa had been to the show and as normal things ended up with Shawn and Theresa arguing the night before the event actually took place.

    Wrestlemania V:

    Then a program with the Fabulous Rougeaus kicked off, started by the Rougeaus claiming the Rockers were merely carbon copies and could not do anything as good as themselves. The Rockers attacked them, which ended with Michaels getting struck by Jimmy Harts megaphone in his throat. Michaels remembers Pat Patterson telling them they’d be working 60 minute matches together on house shows, for Shawn this felt like a badge of honor, making him a real wrestlers wrestler, something he could tell his grandchildren about one day. The feud ended on August 28, 1989 at Summerslam. The Rockers teamed up with Tito Santana whilst the Rougeaus teamed with Rick Martel. Although on the losing side of things again, Shawn was happy as was Marty, they felt like they finally fit in with the WWF family, making good money and having great matches.

    Briefly at the end of 1989, the Rockers reignited their feud with the Brain Busters having yet more matches of high quality with them, finishing with a two out of three falls match. They won the match which finally set them on their winning ways in the WWF, although not much happened for them as far as moving up the ranks; it was still a good sign of things to come.

    The beginning of 1990 looked positive also for Shawn Michaels with an appearance in the Royal Rumble match. However, Shawn only lasted a few seconds in the match when he was eliminated the Ultimate Warrior, he would go on to learn this had no gauge on his future year, like he thought it did at the time. At Wrestlemania VI they put on a great match on with the Orient Express after a several month feud with the eastern menaces.

    Wrestlemania VI:

    With that behind them they moved on to varying matches at house show events and a match-up against Power and Glory on August 27, 1990 at Summerslam. Unfortunately for Shawn however, in a motorcycle accident which he claims happened due to an old lady breaking suddenly while he was travelling at 40 miles per hour, he jarred his knee. Michaels continued to wrestle but while wrestling Honky Tonk Man and Valentine his knee buckled, by the time the PPV match actually came around he could barely move it. The match had to be changed, to fit in around this, with the help of a lot of pain pills and Animal of the Road Warriors taping up is knee, Shawn managed to run to the ring where Hercules promptly attacked him with his steel chain. For the rest of the match he spent it on his back on the apron, leaving Marty to wrestle an uphill battle, that he’d ultimately lose.

    His ACL had completely been blown out and his medial meniscus had been torn. Due to worries of missing time in the ring and not getting paid for it and possibly losing the momentum they had gained over the last year, Shawn simply had his knee scoped, instead of having the surgery. In the short run it served him well, he was back in the ring within 6 weeks, but this injury would come back to haunt him later on his career.

    Although suffering from an injury, on October 30, 1990 the Rockers received their first WWF World Tag Team championship. In a match which pitted them again the Hart Foundation, they were scheduled to win the two out of three falls match. This was not meant to be though, the ring ropes snapped half way through the match, and the match continued. The Rockers won and were rewarded the title belts, they even defended the belts on November 3, against Power and Glory. Shortly after the whole thing would be stricken from record books, like a lot of stuff in Shawn’s career stories vary on why. The official reason is the match simply could not be aired due to the condition of the ring. Shawn claims the Hart Foundation used politics to keep the titles and not re-tape the match, other people say The Anvil was fired, but they came to some agreement and The Anvil was permitted stay, which one of these stories if any are true, we will probably never definitively know.

    On November 22, 1990 at Survivor Series, the Rockers had a small role on Jake “The Snake” Roberts team, the Vipers, and came up on the losing end of the stick. At the Royal Rumble 1991 on January 19, the Rockers met up with the new Orient Express, which now consisted of Pat Tanaka and Paul Diamond after Akio Sato left. This match was considered maybe the best televised match the Rockers ever had and one of the best tag-team matches to of appeared on WWF T.V. in general. At Wrestlemania Vll, they had another nothing match against Haku and the Barbarian, the Rockers won the match but it seemed to be there just fill time up on the card more than anything else.

    Wrestlemania VII:

    It was just after Wrestlemania Vll that things started coming to a head with Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty. After over 5 years together constantly on the road and in the ring, things were really getting to Shawn and would appear to be getting to Marty also. Things got really bad one night while getting wasted with Roddy Piper, and Piper talking about how much potential Shawn had as a singles wrestler, some accounts say Piper was purposely stirring things up. Things broke down in a fight until Piper broke it up. Marty did apologize the next day to Shawn, however, Shawn continued to pursue information about making it as a singles competitor, receiving advice from Roddy Piper. He remembers Piper telling him to never ask someone how your match is, as it makes you look like you have no confidence in yourself. This story was also told by Marty as the police turned up trying to arrest him after the fight, but Randy Savage convinced them not to as it was all part of a story-line. Marty claims this was one of the deciding factors in splitting the Rockers up.

    A recurring theme pipes up again, Shawn claims over an incident on a commercial for a Wheaties box they were underpaid compared to other wrestlers, he said he’d back Marty no matter what; unaware Marty would give Vince an ultimatum with no back-up plan. Shawn then told Marty that he could not do it and wanted to stay with the WWF and go on for a singles career. Which Vince had already told him they could do at anytime. Marty was unhappy about this, as he felt Shawn would be utilized better than himself. Other sources however say it was Michaels who let the side down and instead of sticking with his partner as he had always claimed he would actually stabbed Jannetty in the back with this singles push for himself which he would receive shortly after.

    On screen the break up really started at Survivor Series on November 27, 1991 during a four-on-four elimination style match when Marty slammed a Nasty Boy accidentally into Shawn, causing Shawn to be rolled up for a pin. Before that in a singles match, Marty had rolled Shawn back into the ring allowing Ric Flair to pin him, both incidents caused Shawn to believe he was being betrayed. The final straw came on the Barber Shop on January 12, 1992 after the Rockers seemingly had made up out of no where Shawn super kicked Marty, throwing him through a plate glass window on the set. With a bit of convincing Vince let Marty blade causing the blood to flow. Following this Shawn ripped in half a picture of the duo.

    Finally Shawn was the singles wrestler he wanted to be back in TASW, albeit not a babyface, but a heel. With his singles career about to get under way, Shawn was all ready to start his feud with Jannetty after the big break up; everyone wanted to see the feud. Due to Jannetty’s ever increasing personal problems it never happened and Shawn was left to begin afresh with no big kick off.

    The original idea by the WWF was for Shawn to be the “Boy Toy” of the WWF due to him now being paired with Sensational Sherri, who previously had managed Somers and Rose, the team that helped the Rockers get noticed in the first place. He recalls feeling comfortable around her and her being a very positive and willing person to work with.

    He remembers, “If Sherri saw that someone wasn’t selling for me, she would yell, “Throw them out here, Shawn.” I’d throw them out and she’d kick them with her big old boots and scratch them on their back. They would come rushing back to the ring to be with me where it was safe.”

    Sherri the older woman was infatuated with Michaels, and Shawn played the young, cocky and vain superstar. At the beginning of the matches Sherri would hold a full length mirror while Shawn admired himself in it, followed by her disrobing him. The song that he still uses today ‘Sexy Boy’ as ring music was actually originally sung by Sherri. To further get over he would use such phrases as “Shawn Michaels has left the building,” and, “I am the greatest living thing on God’s green Earth.”

    With Jannetty gone, Michaels would wrestle a number of pointless matches finding it hard to move anywhere up the card he became noticed for being a very good seller and making anyone and everyone look good in the ring. He was supposed to fight Jannetty at Wrestlemania Vlll on April 5, 1992 at the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis, Indiana. However, due to Jannetty being gone, Michaels wrestled El Matador in the opening match-up, a good solid match.

    Wrestlemania VIII:

    Finally he ended up with a program of some sorts even if it was only house shows with only occasional matches televised, against Bret Hart; this consisted of losing for three months to the Hit Man while trying to capture the WWF Intercontinental championship. This mini feud ended on July 21, 1992 in Portland Maine, in the first ever ladder match in the WWF, which Bret Hart also won. The ladder match had been an old Stampede Wrestling idea which Bret suggested for Shawn and himself to work.

    It was after these series of matches while standing around waiting for the meeting that everyone who wanted one, had with Vince at the shows which were taped, Shawn decided to take life by the horns. He had seen Savage and Hogan skip the queue many times, so he followed suit and did the same, he remembers knocking on the door going into Vince’s office and saying “What do I have to do to make it? I want to be one of your guys. I want to be one of those guys that are in everything. I believe I can do this. I’ll do whatever I have to do to get better at it. Just tell me what it is I need to do and I’ll do it. If you want me to work, I’ll go work. If you want me to do something else, I’ll do it. I’ll never say no. I want to be on top. Tell me what I have to do and I will do it.” He then remembers Vince just nodding at him and saying “You just did it.”

    Shortly after a small program started with Rick ‘The Model’ Martel. This feud all started over Sensational Sherri, they both wanted her and she wanted both of them. Summerslam 1992 on August 29th at Wembley Stadium London England saw the culmination to the love triangle. The match had a stipulation which was neither man could hit the other in the face, as Sherri was scared they’d ruin each others faces. The match may not have been a classic due to the stipulation; it was definitely another step up the ladder though. Ending with Michaels chasing Martel away from the ring. Sherri would stay with Michaels for the time being.

    Shawn would continue to seek out the Intercontinental title. Seeing how all the great workers of the time had worn it, Michaels knew it was a must have on his resume if he wanted to continue moving upwards. On October 27, 1992 at a Saturday Night Main Event’s show, he accomplished this goal against the British Bulldog. He recalls having no prior warning he would win the belt, just Davey Boy telling him when he arrived to the arena he would be winning it all. Just 9 months into his single career Shawn was feeling on top of the world.

    While doing an announcers job Curt Hennig got a feel for what Shawn was trying to accomplish with the direction his character was going and what the office wanted Shawn to accomplish. Being old friends from the AWA days also helped tremendously and Curt started to throw in the name “Heartbreak Kid” during the commentary.

    He suggested it to Michaels who was a little unsure about the name, but started using it nonetheless preferring it to ‘Boy Toy’, Michaels has never looked back as that name is associated world wide now with ‘the Heartbreak Kid’ Shawn Michaels.

    The next step was to fight Bret Hart once again, but instead of it being a house show, it was a one off match at Survivor Series 1992, November 25, at the Richfield Coliseum in Richfield, Ohio.

    This however was not just any old one off match, this was the main event, and this was champion versus champion. Shawn Michaels the Intercontinental Champion versus Bret Hart the WWF World Heavyweight Champion. Even if the match was only main event due to unforeseen circumstances with the Ultimate Warrior, the pair took on the challenge to put on a classic of a match. In many people’s minds the match was a classic, with Bret Hart winning after a 26 minute thriller of a match.

    Shortly after Jannetty reappeared on the scene coming out of the crowd on Monday Night Raw, he attacked Michaels trying to injure him with his own mirror, but Michaels ducked and Jannetty smashed the mirror into Sherri’s face instead. This feud would keep building until Royal Rumble, where Sherri would return after the injuries she sustained at the hands of Marty had healed.

    This would see Shawn sit out of the main Rumble match, and go on second with Jannetty, in a solid match, where Sherri shocked the world by siding with Jannetty instead of long time ‘Boy Toy’ Michaels. Even with Sherri’s help Jannetty still lost the match. Marty did however get some revenge beating up Michaels in the backstage area as he shouted at Sherri for betraying him.

    Jannetty couldn’t shake his personal problems, so with the feud open to pick back up at some point, he once again vanished from the WWF. With his life of partying ever increasing Michaels found himself having talks from Vince about it on a more frequent basis, but he was young and full of himself, his character was not just a character anymore. Shawn knew in his own mind he was the best and did not care what anyone had to say about it.

    He had to try and concentrate on Wrestlemania lX, wrestling a seemingly pointless match again, the same way he started his singles career. Michaels found himself in a program against Tatanka. This would not be an easy program though, in a match against Tatanka and the Nasty Boys while teaming with the Beverley Brothers, Shawn separated his shoulder and had to have four weeks off. He recalls having a couple of tune up matches before Wrestlemania and the referee knocking his tooth out while handing him the belt after one.

    With no build up, nor any real story-line of any kind Shawn Michaels and Tatanka squared off in the opening match at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada on April 4, 1993 for the ninth annual Wrestlemania. The match far from being a classic was still a okay match, with Shawn losing via count-out and managing to retain his Intercontinental belt utilizing that underhanded manner. However, this was not Shawn’s only showing as he went on to attack Mr. Perfect after his match with Lex Luger.

    Wrestlemania IX:

    While preparing for the feud with Mr. Perfect, Michaels found himself back with Jannetty who had made another go at his WWF career… In an open challenge on May 17th 1993, Monday Night Raw, Marty Jannetty came out in a disguise, accepted the challenge, after removing the gear, he went on to beat Michaels with Mr. Perfect causing a distraction to allow the quick victory.

    Michaels secured his soon to be buddy Kevin Nash a job in the WWF after seeing him in WCW while out with his separated shoulder. After some legal milestones it was official Shawn had a new body guard, he was 7 foot tall, 300 lb’s and went by the name Diesel. Both men quickly became friends inside and outside of the ring. With Diesel firmly by his side on June 6th in an untelevised house show in Albany, Michaels regained his title from Jannetty and finally ended their over 2 year long off and on feud.

    Back up to 3rd match on the card, Shawn found himself in a blow off match with Mr. Perfect at Summerslam 1993 on August 30th; this took place in Auburn Hills Michigan. Even though both superstars were renowned for their ability to make others look good, they just couldn’t get it together in a match and had a disappointing showing lasting only 10 minutes with Diesel interfering causing Shawn to win via a count out.

    Then disaster struck, Shawn tested positive for steroids in a wellness policy test. Feeling this was unjust and denying until he was blue in the face that he had ever took steroids his relationship with Vince temporarily exploded. Vince was adamant he had to take the six weeks off as did anyone who violated it, Shawn was adamant there was no reason as the test must have been wrong. This dispute ended with Vince telling to Shawn they’d talk about it after the six weeks were up and Shawn refusing to give back the WWF Intercontinental belt. While Shawn was off on screen they explained his absence by claiming Shawn had been lazy and not defended his title enough, and held a battle royal followed by a singles match to decide the new official champion.

    On Shawn’s return to the WWF they decided for him to claim he had never lost the belt and was the true champion, still with the belt he never returned it seemed he actually had a claim to the belt now held by Razor Ramon. Before this feud could start though, Shawn had to replace Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler in a match at Survivor Series 1993 in Boston Massachusetts, on November 24th. It would see Shawn and the King’s Knights battle out against the Hart family, on which Shawn’s team would eventually lose following his departure from the ring allowing a count out.

    He would also compete inside of the Royal Rumble match for a fourth time, this time lasting even longer than his previous one with just under 30 minutes on the clock. He recalls seeing Mr. Perfect in one and bumping all over the place nearly getting eliminated a thousand times but always managing to hold on, and he figured if he could do this then the camera would always be on him, so Shawn took his good friends idea and pulled it off without a hitch.

    The feud with Razor Ramon his other good buddy from the AWA days really kicked off from then. With Shawn claiming to be the champion and Razor also claiming to be the champion everyone wanted to see the true champion crowned. The only way the WWF could see fit to do it, was to raise both belts high above the ring for the second ever ladder match in the WWF, this match took place at Wrestlemania X at Madison Square Garden on March 20, 1994. This match undoubtedly shot Shawn into stardom, with Diesel being banned from ring side a few minutes into the match for interfering; Shawn was left alone with Razor. Although it would be Razor to go on to win the match, the match goes down in the history books as a classic and both men came out looking stronger than ever. This would be Shawn’s first 5 star match rated by Dave Meltzer, only four WWF matches have ever been awarded that rating, this was the first one.

    Wrestlemania X:

    Just after April 1994 the inevitable happened, Theresa asked Shawn for a divorce. Their marriage had been rocking and rolling to disaster from the moment they were told they were engaged rather than actually saying they were. Both parties seemed to realise it was a miracle they’d lasted this long and once Shawn calmed down he realised it was for the best. All Theresa asked for was the car, some belongings and enough money to help her start her new life and that was it, the marriage was over, the divorce settled.

    It was around this time Shawn came up with an idea for the “Heartbreak Hotel” a talking segment similar to Roddy Pipers Pit of a few years ago. It would appear mainly on WWF Superstars but if gave Shawn a chance to heal from some of his nagging injuries and show himself in a new light as someone legitimate on the microphone as well as in the ring. With Diesel still by his side the talk show went on. Diesel was starting to wrestle more, so Shawn took this as a chance to accompany him to the ring and stay in the spotlight with out a proper wrestling role. Shawn also helped Diesel capture the Intercontinental championship off his own rival Razor Ramon.

    Being bored of not being in the ring, Shawn had an idea for him and Diesel to win the Tag Team championships; with Vince’s approval it was set. After several months with barely any action in the ring apart from a couple overseas tours. Shawn got back in the ring and he and Diesel beat the Head Shrinkers. The good times wouldn’t last though, the next night at Summerslam 1994, Shawn accidentally super kicked Diesel costing him the title against Razor Ramon, with Walter Payton in Razor’s corner, and he held Shawn’s leg restricting him from breaking up the pin fall.

    It was prior to this that Scott Hall had told Shawn the super kick should be his finishing move as it was the best move he had. Following a debate between the group outside of the ring which would be called ‘The Kliq,’ that Shawn finally agreed to use it as a finisher. The group of friends consisted of Shawn, Kevin, Scott and Sean Waltman (The 1-2-3 Kid) at the time. Aldo Montoya had also been a fringe member of this backstage group.

    The feud between Shawn and Diesel kept being teased for the next several months, until finally at Survivor Series November 1994 at the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio Texas; Shawn’s home town, it happened. During a five on five elimination match, he accidently super kicked Diesel one too many times. Diesel finally snapped and chased Shawn from the ring side area all the way to the parking lot only escaping thanks to a car being available to speed off in.

    This would be the biggest feud Shawn had ever had in the WWF; he was going to end up headlining Wrestlemania Xl against his buddy Diesel. First, though he had to win the 1995 Royal Rumble match. He entered number one, Davey Boy entered number two and the pair lasted the entire match, they were the last two left, when Davey Boy clotheslined Shawn over the top rope seemingly for the win, Shawn held on though, he dangled for a long time, even though Vince had previously instructed him not to. He then pulled himself back up over the top rope and eliminated Davey Boy while he celebrated what he and everyone else thought was his victory. This was the first time anyone had ever entered at number one and go on to win the whole thing.

    For the next few months the WWF concentrated on building Shawn up for his world title opportunity at the Hartford Civic Center in Connecticut on April 2, 1995 for Wrestlemania Xl. During the months between the Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania, Shawn acquired a body guard named Sid. Unlike Diesel, Sid wasn’t just a big man, he was a big man who looked like he wanted to hurt people, with him in Shawn’s corner people really started to doubt whether Diesel could hold onto the title. The match itself although it was a good solid match didn’t have the desired effect due to one spot where Diesel kicked out from Shawn’s finisher on a count of one, this seemed to earn Shawn some sympathy from the crowd and even with Sid’s influence at ring side Shawn lost the match. This was also the match where Diesel was accompanied to ring by Pamela Anderson and Shawn by Jennifer McCarthy.

    Wrestlemania XI:

    The next night on Monday Night Raw Sid turned on Shawn, power bombing him three times, with Diesel coming to the ring for the save. Shawn was officially turned face, with Vince seeing the mistake made at Wrestlemania, he gave Shawn six weeks off to make out Sid had really injured him and would welcome him back as a babyface.

    It was during this time off the controversy really began for Shawn and the Kliq, with Paul Levesque starting for the company and asking for permission to hang out with the already formed group, the fifth and final member was in place. According to other wrestlers the Kliq held people back and would bad mouth, ridicule and bash to Vince McMahon the ones they didn’t like. Shawn however claims this never happened, he says that although they were very outspoken they only ever told Vince if someone really couldn’t wrestle. If they didn’t like someone but they could wrestle, Shawn says they would tell Vince so. He also admits to trying to stay on top, but he also wanted the best on top with him so things didn’t get stale.

    Now Shawn was back and adored by fans world wide, but like much of his singles career there appeared to be no plan for him, wrestling a couple of matches with Sid, then going on to qualify for the King Of The Ring on June 25th 1995 only to go to a time limit draw with Kama. Feeling impatient and like he was going nowhere all over again Shawn admits he did have a dig at Vince exclaiming “you turned me face for this?”

    Shortly there after at the second ever In Your House on July 23 the WWF threw Shawn a bone and allowed him to beat Jeff Jarrett for the Intercontinental championship, making this Shawn’s third reign.

    Next up was the rematch from over a year earlier; Shawn Michaels versus Razor Ramon ladder match number two. Shawn remembers both men were unsure about doing the ladder match and that Vince stipulated there could be no violence using the ladder due to new policies. So, when it came for the two friends on and off screen to battle it out in the match prior to the main event, they knew they had to pull out all the stops. Through-out the match they used the ladder as a weapon but seemingly accidentally. Depending who you ask the second ladder match is preferred to the first, although the first acquired more accolades. With Shawn winning this time around and a show of respect from Razor after the bell, Shawn was set as the babyface and ready to move on to bigger challenges.

    There would be another controversial event even if it was just on screen controversy. It was In Your House 3, September 24, after patching up their differences on screen thanks to Diesel coming to Shawn’s aid when Sid attacked him, Diesel and H.B.K. would defend both their belts against the tag team champions Owen and Yokozuna who would in turn defend the tag belts. However Owen wouldn’t make the show due to a family casualty so Davey Boy took his place, towards the end of the match Owen would appear and get pinned by WWF champion Diesel. Shawn and Diesel were stripped of the titles though due to Owen not being a legal participant in the match.

    Then disaster would strike Shawn all over again, while out at a bar one night he would find himself wasted and getting attacked by a group of men, able to crawl back to his hotel where Sunny and Chris Candido would take him to hospital, he’d be left with a concussion and other minor injuries. With not much time before the next In Your House Vince decided Shawn would vacate the title to Dean Douglas who would then lose it to Razor just minutes later. Many including Douglas believe the Kliq politicked their way to keeping the belt with-in there off screen group of friends as they disliked him, but like most other accusations Shawn denies this.

    He would next wrestle at the Survivor Series 1995 in a four on four elimination style match where his team would be the victors after his own team member Sid again viciously attacked him. The only member of his team being eliminated was Sid.

    Michaels would then wrestle Owen Hart on an addition of Monday Night Raw, this would prove to be one of the most memorable storylines of this period in wrestling. It was kept from everyone and only those who needed to know would be told of what would happen. During the match Owen delivered on enziguri to Michaels, from which he later collapsed in the ring from. The show ended with Shawn unconscious of the floor and no commentary the whole arena shocked and unsure as to what had just happened was real or scripted. It all seemed very real especially after Shawn and J.R. had done an interview going into detail about the seriousness of the injuries he had suffered during the beat down in the parking lot of the bar.

    For the next month or so on screen was talked of Shawn having to retire from the severity of his concussion followed up by the post-concussion syndrome caused by Owen Hart. It was discussed how he had come so close to winning the WWF title but now would never be able to due to Owen causing him an early retirement. While all this was going on for the fans to see behind the scenes it was talked of Shawn winning the WWF title at Wrestlemania Xll.

    To huge fan fare and much speculation to the actual condition of his health Shawn reappeared just before the Royal Rumble 1996, he threw his hat into the mix and stated he would win it. There were many neigh Sayers the biggest of all being Owen Hart who claimed he would put Shawn out once and for all if he came across him in the Rumble. So on January 21 at the Selland Arena in Fresno California, Shawn entered the Royal Rumble with number 18, Owen would attempt to end Shawn’s career with the enziguri again leaving him on the floor for part of the match but with the whole arena behind him he came back to finally eliminate good friend Diesel from the Rumble match and earn his opportunity against Bret Hart at Wrestlemania, making him the second back to back Rumble winner.

    First though, he had some unfinished business to take care of against Owen Hart at In Your House 6. It was built up by Owen challenging him for his slot against Bret at Wrestlemania. Shawn being the face with more guts and pride than brains accepted the challenge. The match took place on February 18 from Louisville; the whole match was based around could Shawn beat the man so intent on ending his career, who had come so close to ending it before. With Owen hitting the enziguri one more time in the match and Shawn barely kicking out it looked like it was all over, but Michaels fought back managed to avoid a second one and attained victory with his patented super kick.

    It was set Shawn ‘Heart Break Kid’ Michaels versus Bret ‘Hit Man’ Hart at Wrestlemania Xll on March 31, 1996 from the Arrowhead Pond, Anaheim California. For the next several weeks it was built up around Shawn’s boyhood dream, how from the age of 12 this was all he ever wanted. Jose Lothario was brought in to be Shawn’s mentor to run up for the big match, while off screen his girlfriend at the time Themis helped him with his physical training. Shawn remember how he and Bret got on around this time, there was no bad blood or any hard feelings, he remember Bret as always being a loner and keeping himself to himself and the two of them set out to lay out the best match they could, which was decided by Pat Patterson as being a one hour iron man match.

    Wrestlemania XII:

    The match in many peoples mind was a true classic, others consider it as being a bit slow in places, whether they were for or against it everyone agrees it was a turning point in the history of the WWF. It started with Shawn Michaels gliding down from the rafters into the middle of his on screen Kliq, the audience, and then Bret Hart came out to the ring. The match went the full hour with no pin falls, submissions, disqualifications or count outs. Therefore Bret stayed the champion, until President Gorilla Monsoon came down and stated there would be overtime, Michaels had barely hung in for the last 40 seconds in Bret’s sharpshooter and now they would start all over again in sudden death rules. Bret was in solid control when out of no where Michaels hit his super kick, still fazed from the beating he couldn’t get the cover, and both men returned to their feet where Michaels hit it again and got the pin fall. He knelt in the ring clutching the belt crying before he finally got up and celebrated his victory, the completion and surpassing of his boyhood dream.

    Outside of the ring Shawn learned that his good friends Scott and Kevin were going to WCW for a big money offer, Waltman would go before them. This made Shawn realise it would be just him and Paul, now known as Triple H, left in the company left out of his group of friends the Kliq.

    Before Razor and Diesel would leave though it was time for one last match between Shawn and Diesel at In Your House 7: Good Friends Better Enemies. The match was to be a no holds barred match for the WWF championship, with a rival promotion ECW on the rise and WCW becoming a serious threat, Shawn and Diesel wanted to do something special, they pleaded with Vince to let Diesel put Shawn through the announcers table, eventually he succumbed and it happened. Pat Patterson also had the idea of Diesel attacking old school wrestler Mad Dog Vachon and stealing his prosthetic leg to be used as a weapon, which would end with Shawn using it as a make shift super kick for the 1, 2, 3.

    Then it was time for Scott and Kevin to leave, this would once again create huge controversy through-out the WWF locker room as much of what the Kliq did. A week before the next pay per view on May 19th at Madison Square Garden, it was the last night of the Kliq, after the main event which was Shawn versus Diesel in a steel cage the Kiq came down and embraced in the ring to say good bye one last time. The problem with this show of respect and love was at the time Triple H and Diesel were heels while Michaels and Razor were faces which broke the law in wrestling known as kayfabe. Shawn claims Vince knew about it and was okay about it, but a few days later was getting heat about it so he made Shawn and Triple H apologize to everyone and Triple H, Hunter, was put on punishment for the next year to make the boys and agents happy, whether this is the exact order of events we probably will never know.

    Then it was time for In Your House 8: Beware of Dog on May 26. This pay per view is also full of disaster and controversy, due to a storm outside the power was very unstable and no one knew if it would stay on for the entire show or not, due to the uncertainty of the situation Michaels and Davey Boy just wrestled to a no contest, and the pay per view had to be redone two days later to make up for the bumbled first take.

    The next PPV was King Of The Ring 1996 on June 23, which saw the rematch between Shawn and Davey Boy, this time with no pressure of power failures looming, it came out much more successful with a nice little ending where two referees were counting Owen Hart, Davey Boys partner, pulled one out of the ring but the second official counted to 3 anyway, making Shawn the winner of the match.

    Then it was In Your House: International incident on July, the scheduled match was Shawn, Ahmed Johnson and The Ultimate Warrior versus Vader, Owen Hart and Davey Boy, but the Warrior had to be replaced by Psycho Sid. Michaels would lose his match for the team when Vader pinned him after a Vader bomb.

    Yet more controversy followed on August 18’s Summerslam, it is felt Shawn refused to lose to Vader in the match, which Shawn adamantly denies saying he was never asked to lose. The match however was a good solid match as most of Michaels’ were during this period; however he recalls shouting at Vader during the match for messing up a spot. He recalls being under a lot of pressure at this time was WWF were losing the war against WCW and he took a lot of the responsibility on his own shoulders as the world champion, which caused him to snap at a lot of people. The match however proved to be one outlining Shawn’s courage after losing twice, once by count out and once by disqualification with Vader’s manager, Jim Cornette, demanding it be restarted on both occasions, only for Shawn to go on and win it.

    Feeling the stress from being the company’s flag bearer Michaels was thrown into a one time match with Mankind at In Your House 10: Mind Games, on September 22. This match is often forgotten from Shawn’s career but is considered a real star of a match; it is even remembered by Mick Foley in his book saying “I don’t think I’ve ever been that good again. This match is also on the short list of the three best things I’ve done in wrestling.” In what was essentially a 26 minute brawl, Shawn won by disqualification and then only being saved after the bell by Sid attacking Mankind’s ally Vader and the Undertaker popping out from a casket.

    It was around this time at the end of 1996 that Shawn Michaels famously appeared in the magazine for homosexuals called Playgirl. It was a constant source of ribbing afterwards, Michaels claims he was unaware that it wasn’t for women and didn’t realize until doing a signing for it and being greeted by not your typical male wrestling fan. He was also split up from now best friend Hunter to try and enforce some kayfabe as Shawn was still a face while Hunter a heel, no longer able to ride with his buddy, he found himself truly alone for the first time in his wrestling life.

    The following PPV, In Your House 11, took some pressure off Michaels as he was only featured in a dark match against Goldust, which he won, as the whole thing was built around Undertaker Vs Mankind in a buried alive match.
    – Survivor Series 1996 from Madison Square Garden, November 17. This match was possibly the worst of his championship reign wrestling the big man Sid who Michaels remembers as being very uneasy to move around and wrestle with. The match is often forgotten from his reign and rightfully so, it was the match he lost his belt in and the match the fans really turned on him. Times were changing with the NWO beginning to run rampant in WCW the rebel face was officially the man to be going with. The crowd booed Michaels during the match and made himself and the office doubt whether he was still the man to go with, as ever Michaels would drink and pop pills to push away his problems still getting as wasted as he did back in the days with Jannetty if not worse so.

    In Your House 12 was another easy show for Michaels again in a dark match this time against Mankind, again Michaels went over in.

    The Royal Rumble 1997 from his home town San Antonio Texas proved much more promising for Michaels as he regained his championship from Sid. During this match we continued to see a more aggressive side of him which we had first seen with Vader and then even more so with Mankind. Michaels won the match when he hit Sid in the face with a camera from ringside.

    It was also around this time he had started calling his finisher Sweet Chin Music, this had actually been stolen from announcer calling a baseball came who Michaels heard exclaimed that Roger Clemens had delivered some ‘sweet chin music’ with his pitch.

    What happened next in Shawn’s match is probably the second most controversial thing he has ever done in his career. It was running up to Wrestlemania Xlll and he tweaked his knee; he went to see a doctor who told him he could never wrestle again and would need a knee replacement. Devastated by the news he went further into drink and pills, he had nothing outside of wrestling. Shawn would vacate the belt on Thursday Raw Thursday a special edition of Monday Night Raw, this was filled with much speculation, had he really suffered a career ending injury? Did he not want to lose to Bret Hart at Wrestlemania? According to Shawn both were true, he had been told he couldn’t wrestle again, but he openly admits he didn’t want to lose to Bret, he notes that even if he didn’t want to there was no getting out of it unless Vince said so. It was on this edition of Raw Shawn gave another speech to remember, talking of what the doctor had said and how he’d lost his smile travelling up and down the road, which he actually got from something his mum had said to him.

    Michaels’ recalls around this time it was when rumors started to fly of him being a homosexual and how Bret was burying him and his family in newspapers and dirt sheets, all apparently for the good of their feud. Michaels told Vince for these reasons it was why he wouldn’t work with Bret, but admits he would have if pressured, due to his knee injury the situation never arose. It is still ascertained by the Hit Man that all this was faked to get out of dropping the belt.

    Vince with the help of Steve Austin convinced Shawn to visit a doctor called Dr. James Andrews, a man well known for his work with athletes and had just repaired Steve’s knee. Andrews informed Shawn he could rehab it and attempt to go back to work as it would do no more real damage as the other option was for a replacement anyway. With rehab and motivation Shawn returned to the ring on May 25th to capture the tag team titles with Steve Austin from Davey Boy and Owen Hart. Michaels recalls doing his back flip off the top rope purposely to annoy Bret and other people to make them say his knee injury was definitely faked.

    Michaels and Austin would also fight at King of the Ring 1997 in a good showing of 22 minutes which went to a double disqualification when both men attacked referees; this was another example of Shawn’s more aggressive in ring mentality and character, his way of trying to stray from the white-meat babyface.

    More controversy struck as the mud slinging between Shawn and Bret continued culminating for now in fight backstage, both men account the fight in their advantage but the general idea is Shawn was took down by Bret while he had Bret in a face lock, it is disputed to whether Bret actually landed a punch before this. They do both agree that he tore a lump of hair from Shawn’s head. As a result of this fight Shawn was suspended, it was explained on tapings that Shawn had been suspended for 4 – 6 weeks and the tag team titles were officially vacated on July 14, 1997. Shawn also didn’t appear on In Your House 16 which was a week prior to the vacating of the titles.

    A lengthy meeting took place between Shawn, his dad and Vince following this debacle, Shawn had had enough and wanted to leave WWF and go to WCW with his friends, he was upset he couldn’t ride with Hunter anymore, he remembers being miserable that he made everyone else miserable and just wanted to go with his friends where wrestling could be fun again. During this meeting Vince confronted him about his pill problem but Shawn adamantly denied he had one. In all reality Shawn was more into pills than ever before, he was beginning to reach the bottom of the slippery slope. Vince would convince Shawn to stay with the WWF explaining he could make it fun for Shawn again and that WCW would never be able to use a guy like him appropriately.

    After another long talk with Bret and Shawn trying to put their differences aside with Vince as the intermediary it was decided they would work together at Summerslam 1997 held in New Jersey on August the 3rd. They however would not be wrestling; Shawn was the special guest referee for Hart Vs Undertaker. If Undertaker would lose his championship if Bret won and Bret would never be allowed to wrestle in America again if he lost. It was publicized that Shawn would have to be an impartial referee or face never receiving another championship opportunity. Towards the end of the match Hart would spit in Michaels face, to which he would retaliate by wildly swinging a chair missing Hart and striking the Undertaker; reluctantly he would count the 1, 2, 3 as Hart pinned the Undertaker for the belt.

    Just after Summerslam Michaels was finally allowed to turn heel again, he loved being a heel and he knew the fans loved to hate him for being a cocky obnoxious punk. He was finally allowed to ride with his good friend Hunter again and wrestling started to become fun. A program being set up with the Undertaker leading from the chair shot, Michaels cut a program on Raw which lead to his heel turn. With a tag team match on Raw teaming Hunter and himself against ‘Taker and Mankind, the seeds for one of the most recognized teams in history was born. With Chyna already in the picture managing Hunter, D-Generation X was about to be born. Chyna would also begin to date Hunter off screen in a real life relationship making the threesome very close and tight knit.

    The build up for the formation of D-Generation X continued as the weeks passed, with Michaels battling Undertaker at In Your House 17: Ground Zero, the match would eventually be thrown out due to it breaking down into a brawl, with Hunter and Chyna coming down to aid Michaels in fending off the man from the dark side the Undertaker.

    At One Night Only filmed in Birmingham, England from the NEC Arena on September 20, D-Generation X was officially born. With original members, Chyna, Rick Rude and Hunter helping Shawn Michaels capture the European title from British Bulldog to make him the first ever Grand Slam winner. DX was booed out of the arena hardly a fan enjoyed the way Davey Boy had just been robbed just a few miles from his home town, the ring filled with garbage being thrown at the group who still hadn’t got a name.

    The next step was Michaels versus Undertaker the rematch, due to the group Michaels held and their interference in the previous match it was decided a new structure, more deadly than anything ever seen before would be created. The Hell in a Cell was born. Locking Shawn and Undertaker inside leaving Hunter, Chyna and Rude outside to watch as Shawn would be decimated. Leading up this the on screen pranks of the group was similar to those of off screen, very sophomoric and crude. It’s remembered how Shawn went to the ring wearing just tight fitting shorts on a dare filled with gauze tape and started using what would be a famous sign of DX; the crotch chop.

    The Hell in a Cell would take place at In Your House 18: Badd Blood, on October 5, in the Kiel Center St. Louis Missouri. Michaels recalls the Undertaker stating this was possibly his favorite match ever to wrestle, and Shawn remembers being very proud of the match himself. The match would start with both men inside the Hell in a Cell as time would pass though they had conjured up a way to escape the seemingly impossible to escape cell. With Undertaker controlling much of the match, he back body dropped Shawn over the ropes onto a camera man which Shawn then beat up further. The medics would arrive and remove the name injured camera man from the ring area and the cell, this gave Shawn the opportunity to break out the cell while the padlocked door was open. Undertaker followed Shawn in quick pursuit using Shawn as a javelin, ramming him face first into the side of the cell further opening cuts on his head. Momentarily escaping Shawn started to scale the huge cell structure again being followed by the relentless Dead Man, while on top of the cell the audience went crazy, nothing like this had ever been seen in the WWF before. Undertaker press slammed Shawn onto the structure before Shawn could roll to the edge of the cell and attempt to climb down the cell, ‘Taker however as always would catch Michaels whilst dangling from the top of the cell hanging on for dear life, slowly and methodically ‘Taker stamped on Shawn’s fingers forcing him to let go and take a big bump through the announcers table. The Undertaker then retrieved Michaels after making a slow decent down the cell, returning to the ring Undertaker inflicted more punishment on Michaels hitting him with a steel chair leaving Michaels in a bloody mess on the canvas. However the lights would go out and Kane, Undertakers storyline brother would make his debut in WWF ripping the now padlocked door off it’s hinges, entering the ring, causing fire to explode from the ring posts and then tombstoning the Undertaker after which Kane departed leaving Michaels to gain the victory. This was Michaels second match to receive the 5-star rating from Dave Meltzer and is the only one ever to do so, it is considered by many as the most well told story in a Hell in a Cell as it is the original version of the match, although the Undertaker versus Mankind is more remembered.

    Still nameless the group of Chyna, Michaels, Hunter and Rude were finally Christened when Bret Hart kept referring to them as degenerates, Vince Russo would take Bret’s comments and turn the into D-Generation X and on October 13 on Raw, Shawn officially christened them by this name and it would be the first time they used their soon to be trademark and very over slogan “Suck It.” Going on Shawn would reignite his feud with Bret Hart as he would take offence to DX’s sophomoric humour and antics on screen, both men still had ongoing issues with each other off screen and this was carried on screen in one of the most intense and real feuds ever to be screened on TV building up for their match at Survivor Series 1997. Their antics at time were extremely borderline offensive, however looking back on it Michaels remembers everything being done just to gain heat as the original intention was for D-Generation X to be a heel group. Two of the more memorable segments were DX playing strip poker, until the Head Bangers came out to interrupt only to be viciously attacked by DX clad in boxer shorts and not much else. The other was Shawn inserting Bret’s Canadian flag in his nose and using it as a handkerchief. Another incident not so commonly remembered was Shawn making a reference to Bret having an affair on his then wife with manager Sunny, in an on screen promo which Michaels stated Bret had seen “Sunny Days”, this kind of thing was not done bringing personal life on screen.

    With all the controversy to happen through-out Shawn’s career what would happen next at the Molson Centre Montreal Canada on November 9. It was Shawn Michaels versus Bret Hart one last time, the last time it would ever happen, Bret was going to be going to WCW after this match. The incident about to be written would haunt Shawn Michaels for years and still does to this day with angry responses from audiences in Canada whenever he goes there to wrestle no matter if he is a face or heel. With Bret as the WWF champion and him leaving to go to WCW, it was important in Vince’s eyes for him not to have the WWF championship when he left as he feared a similar situation to when Alundra Blaze left with the women’s belt and threw it in the trash on Monday Night Nitro. Bret refused to lose the title to Shawn in Canada, he felt as his character was so pro-Canadian and he was seen as a hero there, on top of the personal off screen feud with Shawn that he could not lose to him in his home country for sake of face and in case it tarnished his tenure in WCW. Whether McMahon planned to do a swerve in the match before the night he spoke with Shawn and Hunter it remains unknown, but Shawn admits to suggesting the swerve on Hart for the sake of the company and said he’d do whatever he had to do to make it right for Vince, Hunter agreed. It is also unknown how many people knew about the job, it is known Vince, Hunter, Shawn, Jack Brisco knew about it prior to the night of Survivor Series, Earl Hebner, the referee, found out on the night. It is believed Earl told his brother who in turn told Jack Lanza, this however is not known for definite. Pat Patterson, Vince’s normal closest confident was kept in the dark due to his close relationship with Bret it was feared he’d tell Bret and try to work the whole situation out. Shane McMahon is also believed to of known and Sgt. Slaughter, another of Vince’s close confidants. It was decided though between Shawn and Vince it would take place and Vince would take as much blame as possible instructing Shawn to deny any involvement in the planning. Shawn would do as instructed for several years before he finally admitted he knew it was going to happen. Michaels and Hart had a long talk on the night of Survivor Series discussing their past and apologizing for all they had done to each other, acting very courteous to one another, they went over the layout of the match together with help from Pat Patterson. Bret suggested Shawn put him in his own move the sharpshooter which would then be reversed, a light went off in Shawn’s head and he knew this was the spot where the bell would be rung and Bret would leave without the WWF belt. Shawn would go and discuss the finish with Vince and then after his approval Shawn would inform Earl Hebner of what would happen during the match.

    It was now time for the match, Shawn entered first jeered and booed by the capacity crowd which exceeded 20,000. He would again perform acts on the Canadian flag such as wiping his rear with it, once again pick his nose with it and eventually hump the flag totally desecrating it. Bret would come down to a standing ovation besides a few smart fans who chanted “You sold out”, knowing his departure to WCW was imminent. Bret was completely oblivious to the fact Shawn, Vince and Hebner were about to screw him out of his world championship and his last match in WWF. In the gorilla position just behind the stage curtain Owen Hart, Davey Boy, Jack Brisco, Hunter and Jim Neid-Hart all congregated as if they knew something was going to happen, which of course Brisco and Hunter did. The match was basically a brawl for the first half, battling outside the ring, in the audience and everywhere except for the ring. When they got into the ring for a period of time at last it was nearly time for the sharpshooter spot, with WWF agents all round the ring already just in case, in storyline it had been explained they was there to protect Shawn from the audience and because the feud was so intense. Vince and Sgt. Slaughter (Then commissioner) would appear at ring side also several minutes before the decided spot happened. It all went to plan, Shawn put Hart in the move and remembers shouting “Ring the bell”, Hebner signaled for the bell to be rung and Vince also shouted for the timekeeper to ring the bell at the same moment. Hebner ran from the ring, Shawn acted surprised and angry as Vince shouted for him to take the belt and leave. Meanwhile Bret spat at Vince and tore up the whole ring side area smashing equipment and anything in sight.

    That was the beginning of Shawn’s 3rd WWF championship reign, after being escorted from the ring by Brisco, Hunter and Chyna, Michaels remained in the corner of the locker room looking bewildered. Hart confronted Michaels and asked if he had anything to do with what just took place, as instructed Shawn denied any knowledge and swore to God, he has now expressed his remorse for doing so, although says he doesn’t regret the actual act as it was right for the company. Bret’s wife had an argument with Hunter regarding what had happened, Bret would punch McMahon, Shawn recalls Vince telling him beforehand Bret would punch him and would take a dive for him as he owed Bret that much. Bret however remembers hitting Vince squarely and knocking him out legitimately. When Shawn, Chyna and Hunter left the arena they had to run across the street to their hotel avoiding angry mobs of Canadian fans. That was the end of the day, the day that changed history the most infamous match ever in the WWF, possibly the one match that will overlook Shawn’s many accomplishments in the industry. One thing that will always be remembered is that all men involved in this situation believed they were doing the right thing, including Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart. Shawn has since come out and apologized for lying about the situation and claimed he should of told him the truth after the match, Bret has always refused to even consider forgiving Shawn, until late 2009 when Bret admitted he has finally cooled down and would now forgive him if offered an apology.

    To commemorate the official new era of D-Generation X, the next In Your House would be named after the group. Leading up to the PPV, they performed skits in the ring using a midget Bret Hart making him tap out to the sharpshooter and became all round more derogatory. Off screen Shawn was struggling more and more with pain especially in his back which he recalls had bothered him for some time, he had to pop pills just to get up in the morning. The boys in the locker room however once the situation was explained to them by Vince were supportive over the “Montreal Incident”, but DX member Rick Rude actually left the company of the whole situation. At In Your House: D-Generation X Shawn was pitted in another one off match against Ken Shamrock, this match ended in disqualification after the rest of DX interfered and attacked Shamrock, in what would be one of the more forgettable of Shawn’s matches.

    Post In Your House, Shawn who was the WWF and European champion was forced by DX’s main rival, then commissioner, Sgt. Slaughter to defend the European title against Triple H, in an attempt to make them fight and split up DX. This would turn out to be an unwise move as for the first time in his career Shawn simply laid down for Hunter to cover him and pick up the pin fall, becoming the new WWF European champion on the December 22 edition of Raw.

    The Royal Rumble 1998 would see the final chapter in Shawn Michaels versus the Undertaker taking place in a casket match. In the weeks prior to the PPV Shawn had teased that Kane would be joining DX much to ‘Takers dismay. The week before though Kane attacked DX and saved the outnumbered ‘Taker from a beating on Raw. The actual match at the Rumble showed ‘Taker dominate Michaels for much of the match until fellow DX members got involved. Shawn would take a back body drop over the top rope and hit his lower back on the very edge of the casket; he thought nothing of it until two days later. As the match continued ‘Taker took over control again until Los Boricuas came down to help DX, as it all looked done for the man from Death Valley, Kane would appear cleaning the ring of all extra superstars, only to then turn on ‘Taker choke slamming him into the open casket for Michaels to pick up the win and retain his WWF championship.

    Four days later Shawn woke up in agony he could not move. He remembers not even being able to get up to get the phone; instead he had to drag it by the cord to him so he could call his parents and ask for help. His parents rang for an ambulance and made their way to his house, being met by Shawn on the floor who had attempted to crawl to the door which he recalls as being approximately 10 feet away from his bed and his parents living a 25 minute drive away. At the hospital the doctors informed Shawn he had two herniated discs in his back and had completely crushed one. Unhappy with this Vince asked Shawn to see a doctor who had operated on another athlete who had a broken neck; this doctor would inform Shawn he could never wrestle again. For the second time in his career Shawn had been told it was all over for him. It was at this time it seemed so evident something Randy Savage had said to him many years ago about slowing down, Shawn rebutted with “I’m Superman,” if the doctors were right another match could turn him into Christopher Reeves. Still dedicated to the business and what had become his whole life he told Vince he would still perform at Wrestlemania XlV and get surgery afterwards. He would have to spend all of February rehabbing his back unable to work a match, simply show up at recording for vignettes.

    During the lead up to Wrestlemania, boxer Mike Tyson joined the group as some what of an honoree member, this also helped alleviate some of the attention off Shawn as well as bring big amounts of publicity to the WWF. Due to the situation he was in Shawn was popping yet more pills and becoming a real pain to deal with, making threats of no shows if not getting what he wanted. It is rumored that ‘Taker made a symbolic threat to him in case he refused to put Steve Austin over. He remembers Vince giving him his own personal locker room for the night as a way to say thank you for doing what you are doing and acknowledging how hard the situation must be for him.

    The match itself, which took place in Boston on March 29th, wasn’t a classic but it turned out better than anyone could’ve ever imagined. It is visible through-out the match that Shawn is in agony as he wrestles and even had trouble pulling off certain moves; the most memorable was his signature flying forearm where he could hardly jump off his feet. The show went on however, Austin got the pin fall as Mike Tyson turned on DX proving to be aligned with Steve, after the bell rang Michaels argued with Tyson and Tyson laid him out with a punch to the jaw, followed by Austin covering him with an Austin 3:16 shirt. Shawn had officially just passed the torch to Steve to take the Attitude Era, that he and Hunter had been instrumental in starting, and to run with it and take it to all new heights.

    Now with his career officially over Shawn had nothing to do, his whole life had depended on going out to the ring and performing. His doctor informed him, his best option was to continue to try and rehab his back and avoid surgery if possible. For the next several months he attempted to rehab it, in November 1998 he took up the role of commissioner in the WWF making appearances on TV for a short period of time before feeling the need to get away again, he was however the official commissioner until June 2000. He took up hunting enjoying the time outside with nature helping him feel like he was accomplishing something again and buying a season ticket to see his beloved San Antonio Spurs. His back kept causing him constant agony though reducing his ability to move around properly and as he had done for over a decade he turned to popping yet more pills to get away from the reality of the pain.

    In January 1999 his doctor finally admitted he had to have surgery, although it would further reduce his mobility it would take away the pain and eventually he may be able to live a normal life again. The surgery scheduled for 3 hours actually took closer to 4 and a half due to more damage in his back which hadn’t shown up on the MRI he originally took in January 1998.

    Just before his surgery Shawn had started to watch Monday Night Nitro keeping up with his old buddies Scott and Kevin, doing this he saw a beautiful Nitro girl who went by the name of Whisper on screen. He told one of his buddies who owned a gym where wrestlers would go to train if in that area of this girl. Several weeks later his friend contacted him with her number as she’d been in the area; this was much to Shawn’s annoyance as he thought it was a really embarrassing situation. He eventually gathered the courage to call her and leave her a message on her answer phone which she returned and proceeded to be the start of a long conversation and a relationship. Several months later on March 31, 1999 Shawn and the Nitro girl Whisper, Rebecca, would get married at Graceland Chapel in Las Vegas.

    Soon after Shawn would open his wrestling academy, The Shawn Michaels Wrestling Academy, and take over a local promotion renaming it the Texas Wrestling Alliance. With Jose and his former trainer, Ken Johnston, by his side Shawn began training aspiring wrestling, three of which are well known names inside the wrestling world, Garrison Cade, Brian Kendrick and Daniel Bryan. This would not last long though as Shawn recalls remembering he felt bad taking money from people who he could see had no chance at making it in the profession. His drug habit was just as bad still popping pills, the Academy would end for Shawn when passed out during one of the training sessions. The operation was successful though complete with TV time for the students.

    His drug habit also affected his home life as he’d pass out and make life hard for Rebecca, whom was pregnant with their first child. His child was born early 2000, and his pill popping continued. Shawn would make a brief appearance in WWF during May 2000 where he would officiate an iron man match between The Rock and Triple H, the next month he finally relinquished his commissioner role over to Mick Foley.

    Life went on over the next year much the same, Shawn was being a sports caster for the local San Antonio news and he would continue with his pill popping. When Cameron, his son, was around one Rebecca threatened to leave him if he didn’t stop his ways for their own son’s safety. With help from Rebecca showing him religion and God, Shawn started to practice religion and regularly go to church with her; he also read numerous books that Rebecca bought him to help him grasp what he needed to do.

    Vince asked Shawn to come back as part of the NWO in late 2001, but Shawn turned down the offer as he felt he needed to continue his soul searching for God, his pill habit was significantly lower but he was still taking them recreationally.

    Shawn dove further into his religion studies with the guidance of Rebecca, his friends were telling him he had to stop pills, Kevin convinced him to call up Hunter and apologize for an incident where Shawn had ate out Hunter for no reason over a year ago. After an incident at home with pills, Shawn finally put his foot down and begged God for forgiveness and help to quit pills. That was the beginning of the new Shawn Michaels, he had been born again.

    The of course from here Shawn returned at the Summerslam event in 2002 and worked his way slowly back into a full time schedule. A further 7 or so years later he retired at Wrestlemania XXVI when he put on what some people have called one of the greatest matches, not just in Wrestlemania history, but, of all time. Truly it was a crowning moment for the Heart Break Kid to end his career on the biggest stage of them all, stealing the show, something he had done every year since 2003, and in the process earning his nickname, Mr. Wrestlemania.

    In 2011 he went into the WWE Hall of Fame and has made sporadic appearances WWE programming since then. While Shawn is retired, he is still very much apart of the WWE family who is hailed as one of their greatest performers of all time and always met with a warm reception of his return.

    For me, Shawn Michaels was my childhood hero, and I’m sure I’m not alone in that. Many dismiss him because of stories about him as a person and whether they are true or not, whether he has truly converted to the Christian life or not, is all irrelevant to his ability in the ring. No, he wasn’t the biggest draw WWE had ever seen, but those who did watch him and grew up watching him will forever remember him as one of the most entertaining guys they ever saw step inside the squared circle.