Shawn Michaels
Shawn Michaels WM24 shot.jpg
Michaels at WrestleMania XXIV in March 2008
Birth nameMichael Shawn Hickenbottom
Born (1965-07-22) July 22, 1965 (age 57)
Chandler, Arizona, U.S.[1]
  • Theresa Wood
    (m. 1988; div. 1994)
  • (m. 1999)
FamilyMatt Bentley (cousin)
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Sean Michaels[2]
Shawn Michaels
Billed height6 ft 1 in (185 cm)[3][4]
Billed weight225 lb (102 kg)[3]
Billed fromSan Antonio, Texas[3]
Trained byJosé Lothario[5]
DebutOctober 10, 1984[6]
RetiredMarch 28, 2010

Michael Shawn Hickenbottom (born July 22, 1965), better known by his ring name Shawn Michaels, is an American retired professional wrestler. Widely regarded as one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time,[7][8][9] he is known by the nicknames "Heartbreak Kid",[10] "The Showstopper", and "Mr. WrestleMania".

Michaels wrestled consistently for WWE, formerly the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), from 1988 until a back injury forced his first retirement in 1998.[11] He performed in non-wrestling roles for the next two years and returned to the ring for a match in his own Texas Wrestling Academy (TWA) in 2000. Michaels resumed his wrestling career with WWE in 2002 and retired ceremoniously in 2010, before being assigned as a trainer in 2016. He returned for a final match in 2018.

In the WWF/WWE, Michaels headlined pay-per-view events between 1989 and 2018, main-eventing the company's flagship annual event, WrestleMania, five times. He was the co-founder and original leader of the successful stable, D-Generation X. Michaels also wrestled in the American Wrestling Association (AWA), where he founded The Midnight Rockers with Marty Jannetty in 1985. After winning the AWA World Tag Team Championship twice, the team continued to the WWF as The Rockers and had a high-profile breakup in January 1992. Within the year, Michaels twice challenged for the WWF Championship and won his first Intercontinental Championship, heralding his arrival as one of the industry's premier singles stars.

Michaels is a four-time world champion, having held the WWF Championship three times and WWE's World Heavyweight Championship once. He is also a two-time Royal Rumble winner (and the first man to win the match as the number one entrant), the first WWF Grand Slam Champion and the fourth WWF Triple Crown Champion, as well as a two time WWE Hall of Fame inductee (2011 as singles wrestler and 2019 as part of D-Generation X). Michaels won the Pro Wrestling Illustrated "Match of the Year" reader vote a record eleven times, and his match against John Cena on April 23, 2007, was ranked by WWE as the best match ever aired on the company's flagship Raw program.[12]

Early life

Hickenbottom was born on July 22, 1965, in Chandler, Arizona.[1][13] The last of four children – Randy, Scott, and Shari are his older siblings – he was raised in a military family and spent a brief part of his early years in Reading, Berkshire, England,[1] but grew up in San Antonio, Texas. As a child, Hickenbottom disliked the name Michael, so his family and friends just called him Shawn.[14] Ever since, he has been referred to as Shawn. Additionally, Hickenbottom moved around frequently since his father was in the military.[14]

He knew he wanted to become a professional wrestler at the age of 12 and said he performed a wrestling routine in his high school's talent show, complete with fake blood.[13][15] Hickenbottom was already an athlete; his career began at the age of six when he started playing football.[16] He was a stand-out linebacker at Randolph High School on Randolph Air Force Base and eventually became captain of the football team.[3][17] After graduating, Hickenbottom attended Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, but soon realized that college life was not for him.[18] He then began pursuing a career in professional wrestling.

Professional wrestling career

National Wrestling Alliance (1984–1985)

Hickenbottom began to train under Mexican professional wrestler Jose Lothario.[5][6] During his training, Hickenbottom adopted the ring name, "Shawn Michaels".[2] After his training with Lothario, he debuted as Shawn Michaels with the National Wrestling Alliance's (NWA) Mid-South Wrestling territory on October 16, 1984, against Art Crews, losing to Crews via swinging neckbreaker. Michaels's performance in his debut match impressed many veterans, including Terry Taylor.

In January 1985, he debuted for World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW), the NWA territory in Dallas, Texas. In April 1985, Michaels went to work for another NWA territory in Kansas City called Central States Wrestling.[19] There, he and tag team partner Marty Jannetty defeated The Batten Twins for the NWA Central States Tag Team Championship, later losing it back to the Battens.[13]

Texas All-Star Wrestling (1985–1986)

After leaving Kansas City, he returned to Texas to wrestle for Texas All-Star Wrestling (TASW).[2] During his time with TASW, Michaels replaced Nick Kiniski in the American Breed tag team, teaming with Paul Diamond. Michaels and Diamond were awarded the TASW Tag Team Championship by Chavo Guerrero Sr.[13] The team was later renamed American Force.[20] While in TASW, Michaels and Diamond feuded with Japanese Force.

American Wrestling Association (1986–1987)

Michaels made his national-level debut, as Sean Michaels, at the age of 20 in the American Wrestling Association (AWA), in a victory over Buddhakhan on ESPN. He was once again teamed with Marty Jannetty, billed as The Midnight Rockers. The Midnight Rockers won the AWA World Tag Team Championship, defeating Doug Somers and Buddy Rose.[5]

World Wrestling Federation and return to AWA (1987–1988)

In 1987, The Rockers were signed by a competing promotion: the World Wrestling Federation (WWF).[5] They were fired from WWF two weeks later, for a bar incident (a misunderstanding, according to Michaels's autobiography).[5][21] They then returned to AWA, where they won the AWA tag team titles for a second time,[13] but were re-signed by WWF a year later.[21]

Return to the WWF/E

The Rockers (1988–1992)

Main article: The Rockers

Michaels (left) with Marty Jannetty during their time as The Rockers
Michaels (left) with Marty Jannetty during their time as The Rockers

The Rockers redebuted at a WWF live event on July 7, 1988.[22] Due to WWF chairman Vince McMahon's desire to have his performers carry WWF-exclusive ring names, Michaels and Jannetty were renamed, as simply The Rockers.[2] The team proved popular with both children and women[5] and was a mid-card stalwart of television and pay-per-view shows for the next two years.[23] During this time, Michaels headlined his first pay-per-view for the WWF when The Rockers were involved in the 4-on-4 Survivor Series match main event of the 1989 Survivor Series.[24]

On October 30, 1990, The Rockers unofficially won the WWF Tag Team Championship from The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart), as Neidhart, half of the championship team, was in the process of negotiating his release from the company.[23] The match was taped with The Rockers winning the title, but soon after Neidhart came to an agreement with management and was rehired.[23] The championship was returned to the Hart Foundation, while the title change was never broadcast or even acknowledged on television (though The Rockers did have a successful title defense on November 3, 1990, against Power and Glory (Hercules and Paul Roma) before the title was returned to the Hart Foundation).[23] When news spread, WWF explained that the original result was void due to a collapsed turnbuckle in the ring during the bout. A buckle had indeed broken, but not to a noticeable or dangerous extent during the match.[2] The Rockers continued their partnership, eventually splitting on December 2, 1991, aired January 11, 1992, on Wrestling Challenge, during an incident on Brutus Beefcake's televised Barber Shop talk show promotional segment.[25] Michaels superkicked Jannetty and threw him through a glass window on the set of Beefcake's talk show.[5][26] Jannetty returned to the WWF the following year and enjoyed moderate success before leaving the company in 1994, while Michaels became a prominent villain of the early to mid-1990s as "The Boy Toy".[25]

Heartbreak Kid (1992–1995)

See also: Two Dudes with Attitudes

At the suggestion of Curt Hennig, Michaels adopted the nickname "The Heartbreak Kid".[5] Along with his new name came a new gimmick as a vain, cocky villain.[27] He was put together with mirror-carrying manager, Sensational Sherri, who according to the storyline had become infatuated with him.[25] Sherri even sang the first version of his new theme music, "Sexy Boy".[2] During that period, after Michaels had wrestled his scheduled match at live events, his departure was announced with "Shawn Michaels has left the building", alluding to the phrase "Elvis has left the building".[28]

Diesel acted as Michaels's on-air bodyguard and tag team partner for two championship reigns
Diesel acted as Michaels's on-air bodyguard and tag team partner for two championship reigns

At WrestleMania VIII, Michaels defeated Tito Santana in his first pay-per-view singles match after both men had simultaneously eliminated each other from that year's Royal Rumble.[29] Michaels subsequently became a contender to the promotion's singles titles and failed to win the WWF Championship from champion Randy Savage in his first opportunity to compete for that title at British event UK Rampage, held on April 19 at the Sheffield Arena and broadcast on Sky Movies Plus[30] (the match later aired in the US on the edition of June 15 of Prime Time Wrestling).[31] Michaels was also unable to win the Intercontinental Championship from Bret Hart in the WWF's first ladder match at a Wrestling Challenge taping on July 21, which was subsequently made available on multiple Coliseum/WWE Home Video releases.[32][33] However, he won the title from The British Bulldog on Saturday Night's Main Event XXXI, which aired on November 14.[34] Shortly thereafter, he faced Hart for the WWF Championship in the main event of the Survivor Series, but lost the match.[35] Originally the secondary main event, Michaels and Hart became the primary main event after The Ultimate Warrior was unable to compete and was replaced by Mr. Perfect (Curt Hennig) in the tag team match that involved Randy Savage against the team of Ric Flair and Razor Ramon.[36] During this time, Michaels and Sherri split and he engaged himself in a feud with former tag team partner Marty Jannetty.[5] Michaels lost the Intercontinental Championship to Jannetty on the May 17, 1993 episode of Raw,[34] but regained it on June 6 with the help of his debuting "bodyguard" (and off-air friend) Diesel.[2][34]

In September 1993, Michaels was suspended for testing positive for steroid – a charge he never admitted.[37] On WWF programs, his suspension was explained by his having neglected to defend the title often enough. After turning down World Championship Wrestling (WCW)'s advances, Michaels returned to the WWF and made several appearances in the United States Wrestling Association (USWA) during a WWF/USWA cross-promotion. He returned to WWF television in November at the Survivor Series substituting for Jerry Lawler, who was dealing with legal issues, in a match pitting himself and three of Lawler's "Knights" against the Hart brothers, Bret, Bruce, Keith and Owen.[38]

Michaels in 1994
Michaels in 1994

In 1994, Michaels entered a rivalry with Razor Ramon, who had won the Intercontinental Championship, which had been vacated during Michaels's absence.[39] Since Michaels had never been defeated in the ring for the title, he claimed to be the rightful champion and even carried around his old title belt.[39] This feud culminated in a ladder match between the two at WrestleMania X.[39] Michaels lost the match, which featured both his and Ramon's championship belts suspended above a ladder in the ring.[38][39] This match was voted by fans as "Match of the Year" by Pro Wrestling Illustrated.[5] It also received a five-star rating from Wrestling Observer Newsletter editor Dave Meltzer, the first of nine WWF/E matches to do so. Over the next few months, Michaels battled various injuries and launched the Heartbreak Hotel television talk show segment, mainly shown on Superstars.[40]

On August 28, Michaels and Diesel captured the WWF Tag Team Championship from The Headshrinkers (Samu and Fatu).[41] The next day at SummerSlam, Diesel lost the Intercontinental Championship to Ramon when Michaels accidentally superkicked Diesel.[38] This triggered a split between Michaels and Diesel, a storyline that was drawn out until Survivor Series that November.[42] Michaels went on to win the Royal Rumble in 1995,[43] which set up a championship grudge match at WrestleMania XI against Diesel (who had gone on to win the WWF Championship from Bob Backlund).[43] As part of the storyline, Michaels recruited Sid as his bodyguard for the build-up, lost the match[44] and was attacked by Sid the following night.[45] After this, Michaels took time off[45] because Vince McMahon wanted Michaels to become a fan favorite.[46]

Formation of the Kliq (1995–1996)

Main article: The Kliq

Michaels returned to the ring as a fan favorite in May 1995 and he went on to defeat Jeff Jarrett to win his third Intercontinental Championship in July at In Your House 2: The Lumberjacks.[5][47] This led to a title defense against Razor Ramon at SummerSlam in a ladder match, which Michaels won.[5] Around this time, Michaels became the leader of a backstage group known as The Kliq.[5] Critics perceive the group to have sufficient clout with WWF owner Vince McMahon, becoming dominant wrestling figures in the WWF for several years in the mid-1990s, causing friction with other wrestlers. Michaels disputes the perception, saying that McMahon pushed only deserving wrestlers.[48] Michaels's fan base was later nicknamed "The Kliq" as an inside reference to the real "Kliq".[49] In October 1995, Michaels was the victim of a legit assault outside a bar in Syracuse, New York.[2] Due to not being able to compete, Michaels was forced to forfeit the Intercontinental Championship to his original opponent Dean Douglas at In Your House: Great White North,[50] who in turn Douglas lost the championship to Razor Ramon, another member of the Kliq.[51] This event has been cited as an example of the Kliq holding others down. During a match with Owen Hart on a November episode of Raw, Hart performed an enzuigiri that struck the back of Michaels's head.[52] They continued the match, but Michaels collapsed in the ring, supposedly because he had suffered a concussion.[2][52] The concussion was scripted, which was kept from most fans at the time.[2] A retirement angle was written so that Michaels could take some time off after he came back from an injury too soon.[2]

WWF Champion (1996–1998)

Main article: D-Generation X

After teasing a retirement, Michaels returned to the WWF at the Royal Rumble match in 1996, which he wound up winning for the second year in a row, to receive a WWF Championship match in the main event at WrestleMania XII.[53] Around this time, Jose Lothario became Michaels's on-screen manager.[54] At WrestleMania XII, Michaels defeated WWF Champion Bret Hart in the overtime of their sixty-minute Iron Man match, which had ended in a scoreless tie.[5] On May 19, Michaels and his fellow Kliq members were involved in the incident known as "Curtain Call". Diesel and Razor Ramon were about to leave WWF to company rival WCW. After Michaels won a match against Diesel, Ramon and Hunter Hearst Helmsley came to the ring and joined Michaels and Diesel in a group-hug.[55] As Diesel and Helmsley were seen as villains at the time, in contrast to Michaels and Ramon, this constituted a breach of "kayfabe", as acting out of character, which was rare and controversial at the time.[55] As WCW gained momentum due to the signings of Hall and Nash, Michaels held the championship for most of the year. Michaels's championship reign ended at the Survivor Series event, where he lost to Sycho Sid, his former bodyguard.[56] Michaels recaptured the championship from Sid in January 1997 at the Royal Rumble.[57]

On a special episode of Raw dubbed Thursday Raw Thursday, Michaels vacated the WWF Championship.[2] He explained to fans that he was informed by doctors that he had conjured a knee injury and that he had to retire.[58] His speech was regarded as controversial, as Michaels was allegedly unwilling to lose to Bret Hart at WrestleMania 13 (since it was noted that he was going to have a rematch with Hart at WrestleMania).[5] Michaels contemplated thoughts of retirement and stated that he "had to find his smile again", which he had "lost" somewhere down the line.[5] After knee surgery by Dr. James Andrews, Michaels returned a few months later, briefly teaming with Stone Cold Steve Austin to win the WWF Tag Team Championship.[59] In his autobiography, Michaels reveals about his real-life feud with Bret Hart, claiming that Hart did interviews on live television claiming that he [Michaels] was faking his whole injury.[60]

Michaels portrayed his cocky, vain character with colorful outfits
Michaels portrayed his cocky, vain character with colorful outfits

By the spring of 1997, the real-life backstage conflict between Michaels and Hart was reaching its height. Both men were going out on television and frequently making personal, true to heart remarks about one another. Michaels briefly left the WWF in June of that year after a real backstage fight with Hart, just hours before a Raw Is War show, which allegedly resulted from Michaels making an on-air remark, known as the "Sunny Days" comment, implying that Hart (who was married at the time) was having an affair with Tammy Sytch, a manager and valet who was signed to the WWF as Sunny. Michaels and Austin were still WWF Tag Team Champions at the time during an ongoing feud with the Hart Foundation and a tournament was made to decide new tag team champions. Michaels eventually returned that summer in July. At SummerSlam, Michaels officiated the WWF Championship match between WWF Champion The Undertaker and Bret Hart.[61] The match ended controversially, with Michaels hitting Undertaker with a chair (unintentionally, as he was aiming for Hart after he spat in his face).[61] Michaels was then forced to award the championship to his nemesis, Bret Hart.[61] The next night on Raw Is War, signs of a heel turn started to show as Michaels told the WWF fans what happened at SummerSlam was an accident and that he dealt with the Undertaker when the time came. At WWF One Night Only, held in Birmingham, England in September, Michaels defeated The British Bulldog to capture the WWF European Championship.[61][62] The fans at the event were so appalled at the result of the match they booed Michaels out of the building to the extent that they littered the ring with garbage, cementing his second heel turn.[61][63] With this win, Michaels became the first Grand Slam Champion.[3] At In Your House: Badd Blood, Michaels defeated Undertaker in the first Hell in a Cell match, during which Michaels fell off the side of the 5-metre (15 ft) high structure through a table.[64] The match received a 5-star rating from Dave Meltzer.

In the fall, Michaels joined forces with real-life friend Hunter Hearst Helmsley (later known as Triple H), Helmsley's then real-life girlfriend Chyna, and Rick Rude to form the stable D-Generation X (DX).[65] Michaels continued his rivalry with Bret Hart and his reformed Hart Foundation, which was now a pro-Canada stable. Michaels taunted the group and Canada by engaging in acts such as blowing his nose with and humping the Canadian Flag. Michaels later claimed the flag desecration was Hart's idea.[66] Michaels's feud with the Hart Foundation culminated in a championship match at Survivor Series in November 1997 against Hart. Michaels came out of this match, dubbed by fans the "Montreal Screwjob", as the WWF Champion.[67] Michaels now held both the WWF and European championships at the same time. Michaels dropped the European Championship to D-Generation X member Hunter Hearst Hemsley in a farcical match.[68]

First retirement and hiatus (1998–2002)

Michaels (pictured here in 2008) was the WWF Commissioner in 1998
Michaels (pictured here in 2008) was the WWF Commissioner in 1998

At the 1998 Royal Rumble, in a casket match against The Undertaker, Michaels took a back body drop to the outside of the ring and hit his lower back on the casket, causing him to herniate two discs and crush one completely.[5][69] Michaels went on to win the match[5] but the injury rendered him unable to compete on the following month's No Way Out of Texas: In Your House as advertised, and forced him into retirement a night after losing the WWF Championship to Stone Cold Steve Austin at WrestleMania XIV.[70]

After being away for nearly four months, Michaels made a surprise return to the WWF as a guest commentator on the July 13 episode of Raw Is War. Michaels continued to make non-wrestling appearances on WWF programming and on November 23 he replaced Sgt. Slaughter as the WWF Commissioner, eventually joining Vince McMahon's group of wrestlers called The Corporation.[71] Throughout late 1998 and early 1999, Michaels made regular television appearances on Raw, in which he scheduled matches, throwing around his authority, and sometimes even deciding the outcome of matches.[72][73][74] On the January 4, 1999 episode of Raw Is War, Michaels re-joined D-X as a face, but disappeared from WWF television for a few weeks to have back surgery[75] and by the time he returned DX was on the way of dissolving within the next couple of months.

On November 23, 1999, Michaels made a special appearance for Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling at the 10th Anniversary Show at the Yokohama Arena, serving as the guest referee for the H vs fake Hayabusa (Mr. Gannosuke) main event. He got himself involved in the match when Gannosuke delivered a low blow on him and he responded later on with Sweet Chin Music.[76]

Michaels made occasional appearances as the WWF Commissioner during the spring and summer of 1999, but remained absent from television after August until May 15, 2000, when he returned on Raw Is War to declare himself the special guest referee for The Rock and Triple H's Iron Man match at Judgment Day.[77] One month later, Michaels briefly reappeared on Raw Is War to hand over the role of Commissioner to Mick Foley, and after another appearance in October did not make any in-arena appearances until mid-2002.[78] He appeared briefly on television to make a speech at WWF New York during Armageddon in December 2000.[79]

Believing that his wrestling career was over, Michaels was interested in training individuals who wanted to become professional wrestlers.[80] He saw potential in using his name and opened the Shawn Michaels Wrestling Academy (later the Texas Wrestling Academy) in 1999, after his lawyer Skip McCormick suggested the idea.[80] During his time as a teacher at the academy, he had his first match since 1998 on April 4, 2000, where he defeated Venom in a Hardcore Street Fight.[81][82] Michaels left the academy in 2002,[80] giving co-founder Rudy Boy Gonzalez sole responsibility due to Michaels's new contract with WWE.[5] Michaels was also a sportscaster for San Antonio's local news for a short period during his retirement.[80]

Feud with Triple H (2002–2004)

On the June 3 episode of Raw, Michaels returned to WWE television after an absence of 18 months when Kevin Nash announced him as a new member of the recently reformed New World Order (nWo). Michaels was the only nWo member to have never worked in WCW.[83] After the nWo had disbanded, Triple H appeared to make amends with Michaels. This was solidified when Michaels pleaded Triple H to return to Raw.[84] Later on, they came down to the ring sporting their DX music and attire. When the pair was about to perform their trademark "Suck It" taunt, Triple H turned on Michaels by performing a Pedigree on him.[84] Continuing the angle, a week later, Triple H attacked Michaels from behind in a parking lot and put his head through a car window, in storyline.[85] In response, Michaels challenged Triple H to "a fight" (a non-sanctioned match) at SummerSlam,[86] which Triple H accepted, laying the foundation for a rivalry that lasted for several years. In his first WWE match since WrestleMania XIV, Michaels defeated Triple H at SummerSlam, but was attacked by Triple H with a sledgehammer after the match.[87] At Survivor Series, Michaels won the World Heavyweight Championship from Triple H in the first Elimination Chamber match.[88] Michaels's reign as champion came to an end a month later when he lost the championship to Triple H in a Three Stages of Hell match, a series of three matches in which wrestlers attempt to win the majority of matches, at Armageddon.[89]

Michaels's match with Chris Jericho at WrestleMania XIX in March 2003 was his first match at a WrestleMania event since WrestleMania XIV in March 1998
Michaels's match with Chris Jericho at WrestleMania XIX in March 2003 was his first match at a WrestleMania event since WrestleMania XIV in March 1998

Michaels then began a rivalry with Chris Jericho, after Jericho claimed that he was the next Shawn Michaels.[90] On January 13, 2003, after Jericho won a battle royal to select his entry number for the Royal Rumble, choosing number two in order to start the match with Michaels,[91] who had already been named number one. At the Royal Rumble, Jericho, with the help of Christian, eliminated Michaels. Michaels later interfered in the match, causing Jericho to be eliminated.[92] Michaels defeated Jericho at WrestleMania XIX. Despite this, Michaels was low-blowed after hugging Jericho.[93] On the December 29, 2003 episode of Raw, Michaels seemingly defeated Triple H after a Sweet Chin Music for the World Heavyweight Championship in his hometown of San Antonio, Texas with Eric Bischoff as the special guest referee (Earl Hebner originally refereed the match, only to be knocked out by Triple H in the middle of the match). However, Bischoff reversed the decision and declared the match a draw due to both men's shoulders being on the mat. Angered by this, Michaels attacked Ric Flair and Bischoff. He was subsequently fired by Bischoff but rehired by Stone Cold Steve Austin.

As a part of an ongoing feud with Triple H, the two competed alongside Chris Benoit in the main event at WrestleMania XX for the World Heavyweight Championship. The former DX partners both came up short in the match, however, as Benoit won the championship.[94] The night before this, Michaels inducted Tito Santana in the WWE Hall of Fame. A triple threat WrestleMania rematch for the title took place in April at Backlash in Benoit's hometown of Edmonton, where Benoit successfully retained it, forcing Michaels to submit to a Sharpshooter.[95] Due to the "Montreal Screwjob" incident, the Edmonton crowd booed Michaels, with chants of "You screwed Bret!" being heard during his match at Backlash.[96] At Bad Blood in June, Michaels lost to Triple H in a Hell in a Cell match.[94] Four months later, he lost a World Heavyweight Championship match against Triple H, after Edge interfered at Taboo Tuesday, when the fans voted for him ahead of Edge and Chris Benoit to face Triple H one more time.[97] Following this, Michaels was out of action for a few months with a legit torn meniscus.[3][98]

D-Generation X reunion (2005–2007)

See also: D-Generation X reunion

At the Royal Rumble in 2005, Michaels competed in the Rumble match and eliminated Kurt Angle. In seeking revenge, Angle re-entered the ring and eliminated Michaels, and thus placed him in an ankle lock submission hold, outside the ring.[99] Michaels issued a challenge to Angle for a match at WrestleMania 21, which Angle accepted when he appeared on Raw to attack Michaels.[100] The following week on Raw, Marty Jannetty and Michaels had a one time reunion as The Rockers and defeated La Résistance (Robért Conway and Sylvain Grenier).[101] Three days later on SmackDown!, Angle defeated Jannetty, after Angle made Jannetty submit to the ankle lock.[102] To send a "message" to Michaels, Angle also humiliated Michaels's former manager, Sensational Sherri, when he applied the ankle lock hold on her.[103] At WrestleMania in April, Angle defeated Michaels by submission, again with an ankle lock.[99]

Michaels performing his signature pose
Michaels performing his signature pose

Following the events of WrestleMania 21, the next night on Raw, Muhammad Hassan and Daivari came out to confront and assault Michaels.[104] On the April 11 episode of Raw, Michaels approached General Manager Eric Bischoff, in which he demanded a handicap match with Hassan and Daivari. Bischoff refused to schedule such a match and instead told Michaels to find a partner. Michaels then made a plea for Hulk Hogan to come back and team with him.[105] On the April 18 episode of Raw, Hassan again led an attack on Michaels until Hogan appeared to save Michaels and accept his offer.[106] At Backlash, Hassan and Daivari lost to Hogan and Michaels when Daivari was pinned.[107] Later, in a WrestleMania rematch, Michaels defeated Kurt Angle (who was drafted to Raw in the draft lottery) at Vengeance.[108] On the July 4 episode of Raw, Michaels and Hulk Hogan had a tag team match against Carlito and Kurt Angle, which they won.[109] During the post-match pose, Michaels hit Hogan with his Sweet Chin Music, knocking Hogan to the ground and turning heel for the first time since 1998.[109] The following week on Raw, Michaels appeared on Piper's Pit where he superkicked Roddy Piper and then challenged Hogan to a match at SummerSlam, which Hogan accepted the following week.[110][111] Hogan defeated Michaels at SummerSlam, and after the match Michaels extended his hand to him, saying "I needed to know, and I found out" and he and Hogan shook hands. Michaels left the ring to allow Hogan to celebrate with the crowd, turning face once again.[112]

Michaels followed this up with a short feud with Chris Masters, becoming the first person to cleanly defeat him at Unforgiven with Sweet Chin Music.[113] On the October 3 WWE Homecoming episode of Raw, he wrestled old rival Kurt Angle to a 2–2 draw in a 30-Minute Iron Man match. Afterwards, he challenged Angle to sudden-death overtime, but Angle refused and walked out. He was part of Team Raw at Survivor Series in a losing effort.

Triple H and Michaels as D-X in 2006
Triple H and Michaels as D-X in 2006

On the December 26, 2005, episode of Raw, Vince McMahon lauded Michaels for his part in the "Montreal Screwjob". Michaels said he was only being loyal to his company, he had moved on, and McMahon should move on as well. McMahon then began setting unusual stipulations for Michaels's matches and interfering on behalf of Michaels's opponents.[114] During the Royal Rumble, McMahon made his way to the ring, and as Michaels stared at McMahon, Shane McMahon made a surprising appearance, eliminating Michaels from the match.[115] On the February 13 episode of Raw, McMahon tried unsuccessfully to force Michaels to sign retirement papers.[116] The following week, Michaels won a handicap match against the Spirit Squad (Kenny, Johnny, Mitch, Nicky and Mikey) and after the match, Michaels's former partner, Marty Jannetty, came down to help Michaels from the assault by the Spirit Squad. After the two reunited, McMahon offered Jannetty a contract if he "kissed his ass."[117] The following week, Jannetty refused McMahon's offer and instead took Chris Masters's "Masterlock challenge."[118] Michaels tried to help Jannetty, which ultimately resulted in Shane attacking Michaels and forcing him to kiss his father's behind.[118] At Saturday Night's Main Event XXXII, Shane defeated Michaels in a Street Fight after he applied a sharpshooter on Michaels, which led to McMahon immediately ordering for the bell to be rung, even though Michaels did not submit, which was an allusion to the "Montreal Screwjob".[119] Despite interference from the Spirit Squad and Shane, Michaels defeated McMahon at WrestleMania 22 in a No Holds Barred match.[116] At Backlash, The McMahons (Vince and Shane) defeated Michaels and "God" in a tag team match, with help from the Spirit Squad in a no disqualification match.[120] On the May 22 episode of Raw, the Spirit Squad was scripted to injure Michaels's knee.[121] This angle was written so that Michaels could have surgery on his knee, which had been legitimately injured for some time.[122]

In 2006, a series of events took place which suggested a reunion of Michaels and Triple H as D-X. They began at WrestleMania 22, where both Michaels and Triple H performed the crotch chop, during their matches.[116] On Raw, the two continued to deliver chops, as Michaels feuded with Vince McMahon and Triple H went to challenge John Cena for the WWE Championship, repeatedly butting heads with Vince McMahon in the process. On the June 12 episode of Raw, D-X officially reunited.[123] During Triple H's gauntlet match, which had him compete against the Spirit Squad. Michaels came in to help Triple H, and the two did the D-X "crotch chops."[123] At Vengeance, D-X defeated the Spirit Squad in a 5–on–2 handicap match.[124] They also defeated the Spirit Squad at Saturday Night's Main Event XXXIII in a 5-on-2 elimination match and defeated The McMahons at SummerSlam.[125] At Unforgiven, D-X once again defeated the McMahons and ECW World Champion The Big Show in a Hell in a Cell match, finally ending the nine-month long feud.[126]

At Cyber Sunday, D-X took on Rated-RKO (Edge and Randy Orton). The fan-selected referee Eric Bischoff allowed the illegal use of a steel chair to give Rated-RKO the ill-gotten win and the plaudit of being the first tag team to defeat D-X in a tag team match since their reformation in June 2006.[127] At Survivor Series, however, Team D-X emerged victorious against Team Rated-RKO in a clean sweep victory.[128] At New Year's Revolution, Triple H suffered a legit torn right quadriceps during their match with Rated-RKO.[129] Rated-RKO claimed victory over D-X, citing Triple H's injury, as the "end" of D-X.[130] On the January 15 episode of Raw, Michaels lived up to his word of "dealing" with Rated-RKO, from his comments the previous week before,[131][132] when he took out Randy Orton with a con-chair-to after a handicap match against Edge and Orton.[133] At the Royal Rumble, Michaels was the last man eliminated in the contest by the Winner of the match, The Undertaker.

Various feuds and championship pursuits (2007–2009)

Michaels confronting John Cena on an episode of Raw
Michaels confronting John Cena on an episode of Raw

On the January 29 episode of Raw, Michaels captured the World Tag Team Championship with WWE Champion John Cena after defeating Rated-RKO.[134] He then defeated both Edge and Orton in a triple threat number one contender's match on the February 5 episode of Raw to earn a shot at the WWE Championship.[135] At WrestleMania 23, Cena retained the championship, after he made Michaels submit to the STFU.[136] The next night on Raw, Michaels and Cena competed in two back-to-back ten team battle royals, winning the first and losing the World Tag Team Championship in the second to The Hardys (Matt and Jeff) when Michaels threw Cena over the top rope.[137] Michaels's feud with Cena continued and he faced off with Cena, Edge and Randy Orton in a fatal four-way Match at Backlash for the WWE Championship. Cena retained the championship when Michaels performed Sweet Chin Music on Cena, causing him to fall on Orton for the pinfall.[138]

Michaels then entered a feud with Randy Orton when Orton claimed that he could beat Michaels.[139] The week before their scheduled match at Judgment Day, after Michaels won a match against then-World Heavyweight Champion Edge, Orton attacked him, punting Michaels in the head.[139] Orton assaulted Michaels again prior to their match at Judgment Day, interrupting Michaels's interview segment.[140] Michaels collapsed during their match, causing Orton to win by referee stoppage.[140] Afterwards, Orton continued the beating, when he performed an RKO to a fallen Michaels. Michaels was then removed out of the ring in a stretcher.[140] During the feud, Michaels suffered a storyline concussion. This injury was used to keep Michaels out of action, as he required surgery for his knee.[141] Michaels made his return on the October 8 episode of Raw, performing Sweet Chin Music to newly crowned WWE Champion, Randy Orton, during his title ceremony at the end of the show and then celebrating over the knocked-out champion as Vince McMahon watched.[142] At Cyber Sunday, Michaels was voted by the fans to face Orton for the WWE Championship, though he won via disqualification when Orton hit Michaels with a low blow, which resulted in Orton retaining the championship.[143] Michaels got another opportunity at the WWE Championship, when he was granted his rematch against Orton at Survivor Series.[144] In their match, Michaels was banned from using Sweet Chin Music upon request by Orton, referring to as Michaels superkicking Orton week after week.[145] Michaels lost the match, when Orton performed an RKO for the win, which ended their feud.[144]

Michaels interacting with the fans at WrestleMania XXIV before his match with Ric Flair
Michaels interacting with the fans at WrestleMania XXIV before his match with Ric Flair

As part of the storyline involving Ric Flair, Michaels faced Flair in a Career Threatening match at WrestleMania XXIV, in which he won by performing Sweet Chin Music and thus ending Flair's career.[146][147] Afterwards, Batista confronted Michaels about his actions at WrestleMania, calling him selfish and egotistical.[148] The two faced off at Backlash with Chris Jericho as the guest referee. Michaels won after faking a knee injury and performing Sweet Chin Music.[149] Jericho then confronted Michaels on this matter, in which Michaels admitted to faking the injury in order to defeat Batista.[150] Michaels then defeated Jericho at Judgment Day.[151] At One Night Stand, Michaels lost to Batista in a stretcher match, thus ending their feud.[152] On the June 9 episode of Raw, Michaels was attacked by Chris Jericho during his talk show segment, The Highlight Reel, being thrown directly through a television screen.[153] The following week, it was revealed that, within the context of the storyline, Michaels had suffered a detached retina.[154] At The Great American Bash, a match between Michaels and Jericho was scheduled, in which Jericho assaulted Michaels's eye, which caused Jericho to win by referee stoppage.[154]

Shawn Michaels feuded with John Bradshaw Layfield in early 2009
Shawn Michaels feuded with John Bradshaw Layfield in early 2009

A month later at SummerSlam, Michaels announced his retirement from professional wrestling. That night, Jericho punched Michaels's wife in the face.[155] On the August 25 episode of Raw, Michaels renounced his retirement and challenged Jericho to an unsanctioned match at Unforgiven, which Jericho accepted.[156] The next week, they had an in-ring contract signing for the unsanctioned match. During this, they started to fight, causing a legit small triceps tear for Michaels.[157][158] He was medically cleared to compete at Unforgiven, and beat Jericho so severely that the referee called the match, making Michaels the winner.[159] Later that night, Jericho replaced CM Punk in the World Heavyweight Championship scramble match, and won the title.[159] The next month, at No Mercy, Michaels lost a ladder match for the World Heavyweight Championship to Jericho.[160]

In December 2008, Michaels was written in a storyline where he lost his family's savings due to the global recession and reluctantly accepted a one-year general employment contract from John "Bradshaw" Layfield (JBL) at Armageddon.[161] After failing to help JBL win the World Heavyweight Championship from John Cena at the Royal Rumble,[162] and being derided for it, Michaels agreed to face JBL in "All or Nothing" match at No Way Out in February.[163] Michaels defeated JBL at No Way Out, letting him out of his contract early, while still receiving full payment.[164]

On the March 2 Raw, Michaels became the first person to defeat Vladimir Kozlov, and so earned a match with The Undertaker at WrestleMania 25 in April.[165] Michaels then began a second chapter to his unresolved feud with The Undertaker from the late 1990s, over a decade prior to this point when all their matches resulted in interference. This renewed feud was two dimensional, in part focusing on the wonder of The Undertaker's undefeated WrestleMania Streak in relation to, however, the fact that he had never before defeated Michaels in a singles match, only vice versa.[166] Michaels also made the buildup to their WrestleMania encounter personal, repeatedly demonstrating his Christian objections to the demonic dark side nature of the Undertaker's Deadman gimmick, even briefly abandoning his "Heartbreak Kid" gimmick to portray a heaven-esque, bright side anti-Deadman Undertaker variant (Michaels is a real-life born again Christian).[167][168] The feud culminated in a WrestleMania 25 singles match between the two in which Michaels made a heaven-sent entrance from high in the air portraying his bright side anti-Deadman, while The Undertaker made a grave-risen entrance emerging from the ground.[168][169][167] After a suspenseful, competitive wrestling match, Shawn Michaels was defeated, thus extending The Undertaker's WrestleMania winning streak to 17–0.[166][170] Their match was highly acclaimed by critics and audiences alike and is now considered by many to be one of the greatest WrestleMania matches of all time.[167] After WrestleMania, Michaels took a hiatus from WWE.

Final matches and second retirement (2009–2010)

Michaels reconciles with Bret Hart in January 2010
Michaels reconciles with Bret Hart in January 2010

Michaels returned to WWE programming in a series of segments that aired on the August 10, 2009 episode of Raw, where he had, in storyline, left the WWE. Triple H met with Michaels at an office cafeteria in Texas where he was working as a chef; throughout the segments, Triple H tried to convince Michaels to return to WWE and reform D-X. After several incidents during the segments, Michaels agreed to team with Triple H to face The Legacy (Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase) at SummerSlam.[171] At SummerSlam, D-X defeated Legacy.[172] The two teams exchanged victories, with their feud concluding in October. Two months later, at TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs, D-X defeated Chris Jericho and Big Show to win the Unified WWE Tag Team Championship in a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match (TLC).[173] On the January 4, 2010 episode of Raw, Michaels buried the hatchet with long-time rival Bret Hart, as they shook hands and hugged in the ring. In contrast to the storylines featured on the show, this was in fact a real-life reconciliation which laid to rest animosities surrounding the Montreal Screwjob. While some cast doubts on its sincerity, both men have confirmed that it was indeed genuine.[174][175] D-X lost the Unified WWE Tag Team Championship in a Triple Threat match to the team of The Miz and Big Show on the February 8 episode of Raw; the match also included The Straight Edge Society (CM Punk and Luke Gallows).[176] At the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view, Michaels cost The Undertaker the World Heavyweight Championship in the main event.[177] At WrestleMania XXVI, Michaels lost to The Undertaker and, as a result, he was forced to retire due to the match stipulation, the same way Michaels ended Ric Flair's career.[178] The following night, on the March 29 episode of Raw, Michaels gave an emotional farewell speech, departing with the familiar sentence, "Shawn Michaels has left the building."[179]

In an interview with Bill Simmons of shortly after his retirement, Michaels stated that his decision to retire came a month before WrestleMania 25, when a backstage employee asked about his son Cameron, and, in response to Shawn telling the employee that he'd just turned nine, the employee said that he was "halfway gone"; meaning that he was halfway to his eighteenth birthday, and after that, he'd be "gone". The statement affected Michaels deeply; he did not want to be absent when his son left home, so he decided that year would be his last year as an active wrestler.[180]

WWE Hall of Famer and sporadic appearances (2010–2018)

Michaels at WrestleMania XXVII, with other 2011 WWE Hall of Fame inductees
Michaels at WrestleMania XXVII, with other 2011 WWE Hall of Fame inductees

On the December 14, 2010 episode of Raw, Michaels won the Slammy Award for Moment of the Year for his match against The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXVI. Michaels accepted the award via satellite.[181] Three days later, he announced a long-term deal with WWE, where he would serve in an ambassadorial role.[182] Michaels made his in-person television return at the December 11 Tribute to the Troops taping, where he and Triple H had a one-night only DX reunion.[183]

Michaels appeared on the January 10, 2011 episode of Raw, where he was announced as a WWE Hall of Fame class of 2011 inductee. After being ridiculed by Alberto Del Rio later that night, Michaels hit Del Rio with Sweet Chin Music.[184] On the March 28 episode of Raw, Michaels addressed Triple H and The Undertaker about their match at WrestleMania XXVII.[185] Michaels was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on April 2 by Triple H.[citation needed] They were also joined by fellow Kliq members Kevin Nash (who had returned to WWE for the Royal Rumble) and Sean Waltman.[186] He returned on the June 27 episode of Raw, where he was confronted by CM Punk, and superkicked David Otunga and Michael McGillicutty. Later that night, when Diamond Dallas Page's special appearance was interrupted by Drew McIntyre, he superkicked McIntyre.[187]

In June 2011, Jim Ross, Michaels and Hart announced that the three were working on a DVD chronicling the careers of Hart and Michaels that the WWE was planning to release in October 2011. The subject of the DVD was their on-screen rivalry and real-life conflicts, with a particular focus on the Montreal Screwjob. In his tweet, Hart described working on the DVD as a "cathartic" experience, and Ross asserted that both Hart and Michaels had been very honest and emotional in their interviews. The DVD, Shawn Michaels vs Bret Hart: WWE's Greatest Rivalries, was released in November 2011.[188]

On the February 13, 2012 episode of Raw, Michaels confronted Triple H about accepting The Undertaker's challenge for a Hell in a Cell match at WrestleMania XXVIII, and announced he would be the special guest referee for it.[189] Despite interference on Triple H's behalf from Michaels, The Undertaker defeated Triple H at WrestleMania. After Michaels and The Undertaker assisted Triple H out of the ring and up the ramp, the three embraced.[190] Michaels appeared at Raw 1000 on July 23 alongside fellow D-Generation X alumni Triple H, X-Pac, Road Dogg and Billy Gunn. The group were interrupted by Damien Sandow before Michaels struck him with Sweet Chin Music and Triple H delivered a Pedigree. The group then performed their signature poses before departing.[191]

Michaels appeared on the August 6 episode of Raw. He was confronted by Brock Lesnar (who was scheduled to face Triple H at SummerSlam) and Paul Heyman. Michaels announced he would be in Triple H's corner for the match.[192] After the show ended, many WWE Superstars (including John Cena and The Undertaker) celebrated Michaels's career. The live audience festivities were titled "Shawn Michaels Appreciation Night", as the show took place in Michaels's hometown of San Antonio, Texas.[193] On the following week's episode of Raw, Lesnar (kayfabe) broke Michaels's arm after putting Michaels in a Kimura Lock.[194] As a result, Michaels was unable to appear; Lesnar defeated Triple H at SummerSlam.[195]

On the January 24, 2013 episode of NXT, Michaels announced a tournament to crown the inaugural NXT Tag Team Champions.[196] On the April 1, 2013 Raw, Michaels returned to offer to corner Triple H in his match with Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 29.[197] During that match, Michaels superkicked an interfering Paul Heyman, helping Triple H win and keep his job.[198] He returned on the May 27 Raw in a backstage segment with John Cena,[199] and again on the SummerSlam pre-show.[citation needed]

In October 2013, Michaels won a fan poll to become special guest referee for the Hell in a Cell match between Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton for the vacant WWE Championship. He performed Sweet Chin Music on Bryan, allowing Orton to win. The next night on Raw, he explained that he was upset with Bryan for attacking Triple H during the match. He degraded Bryan for not showing him respect, turning heel for the first time since 2005. Bryan applied the "Yes!" Lock on Michaels to end the segment. On December 9, he presented Bryan with the Slammy Award for Superstar of the Year. Later that night, Bryan attacked Michaels with a running knee after Michaels attacked CM Punk with Sweet Chin Music. All three legends then became involved in an altercation with Big Show. Michaels appeared at WrestleMania 31, interfering as a member of DX in the Sting-Triple H match, performing Sweet Chin Music to Sting. Michaels appeared on the October 19, 2015, episode of Raw, confronting Seth Rollins who was cutting a promo on relieving Kane of his duties as Director of Operations.

At WrestleMania 32, Michaels made an appearance during the event in his in-ring attire, confronting The League of Nations alongside Mick Foley and Stone Cold Steve Austin where Michaels delivered Sweet Chin Music to Alberto Del Rio and King Barrett before celebrating with Foley, Austin and The New Day.[citation needed]

In late 2016, Michaels became a trainer at the WWE Performance Center.

On the January 9, 2017 episode of Raw, Michaels returned to WWE, promoting his new film. Michaels was then confronted by Rusev, Lana and Jinder Mahal, before Enzo Amore and Big Cass came to Michaels's side, leading to a match between Big Cass and Mahal, with Michaels being in Big Cass's corner. Big Cass won the match after Michaels superkicked Rusev at ringside, distracting Mahal. On the March 13 episode of Raw, Michaels gave Roman Reigns advice about The Undertaker for their match at WrestleMania 33, before Braun Strowman attacked Reigns on the entrance ramp.

According to Pro Wrestling Torch in 2017, Michaels along with Terry Taylor teach the finishing class at the WWE Performance Center, the last of four levels of classes.[200]

Michaels and numerous other WWE legends appeared on the January 22, 2018 episode of Raw 25 Years.

One match return and NXT backstage work (2018–present)

On the September 3, 2018, episode of Raw, Michaels made a special appearance to promote the match between Triple H and The Undertaker at Super Show-Down, during which he was confronted by The Undertaker himself. At Super Show-Down, Michaels assisted Triple H in defeating The Undertaker, after which, he was attacked by Undertaker and Kane. On the October 8 edition of Raw, Michaels appeared with Triple H and announced that he was coming out of retirement to reform D-Generation X. On the October 29 edition of Raw, Michaels delivered Sweet Chin Music to the Undertaker. At Crown Jewel, D-Generation X defeated The Brothers of Destruction. The match was poorly received by fans and critics alike, winning the Wrestling Observer Newsletter's "Worst Match of the Year" award, although PWTorch's Wade Keller considered that "Michaels shows glimpses and didn't embarrass himself".[201]. Afterwards, Michaels confirmed that he would be going back into retirement.[202] On November 27, 2018, it was announced that Michaels was officially working as a writer and producer on WWE's NXT brand and show.[203] On the February 25, 2019 episode of WWE Raw, Michaels along with special guests Ricky Steamboat, Kurt Angle and Sting appeared during the main event segment to celebrate the 70th birthday of Ric Flair. However, Flair would be attacked by Batista instead of appearing on-screen.[204] In April 2019, Michaels was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame for the second time as a member of D-Generation X as part of the 2019 class.[205]

On November 22, 2020, he made an appearance at Survivor Series during The Undertaker's retirement ceremony.[citation needed]


Michaels is widely regarded as one of the greatest wrestlers of all time.[206][207]

He received praises for several matches, including 15 Match of the Year awards between Pro Wrestling Illustrated and Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Also, his match at WrestleMania 24 against Ric Flair was named Match of the Decade by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Dave Meltzer gave him two 5 stars matches (the Ladder match against Razor Ramon at WrestleMania X and the first Hell in a Cell against The Undertaker at Bad Blood 1997).

After several acclaimed matches at WrestleMania, Michaels has been known as Mr. WrestleMania.[208][209]

Sumit Rehal of Independent UK in his top 10 WrestleMania matches listed Michels 3 times (vs Razor Ramon at WrestleMania X, vs Bret Hart at WrestleMania XII and vs The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXV).[210]

In 2016, Dave Richard of CBS Sports ranked his match against Steve Austin at WrestleMania XIV as the best main event in WrestleMania history.[211]

His rivalry with Bret Hart has been named one of the best rivalries in WWE history.[212]

Michaels is cited as an inspiration for many wrestlers such as Chris Jericho,[213] Kevin Owens,[214] Seth Rollins,[215] Adam Cole,[216] Johnny Gargano[217] and more.

Personal life

Hickenbottom's first marriage, to Theresa Wood, soon ended in an amicably settled divorce.[218] He married Rebecca Curci, a former WCW Nitro Girl known as Whisper, on March 31, 1999, at the Graceland Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas, Nevada.[219] Only the couple and an Elvis impersonator were present. Their son, Cameron Kade, was born on January 15, 2000, and a daughter, Cheyenne, born on August 19, 2004, followed.[220][221] His cousin Matt Bentley is also a professional wrestler, having wrestled in TNA and WWE.[222]

In 1996, Hickenbottom posed for a non-nude layout in Playgirl magazine. Only after he posed did he discover Playgirl has a mostly homosexual readership, for which some of his fellow wrestlers teased him.[223]

He is ambidextrous, and had trouble differentiating between right and left, which affected his football games as a boy. He uses his right hand to draw and color and his left hand to write. He typically kicks with his right leg in Sweet Chin Music, but uses either arm for his signature elbow drop, depending on the position.[16]

In 1987, Hickenbottom developed a pattern of "heavy" substance abuse, which eventually alienated some of his closest friends. He contemplated suicide in the late 1980s, and suggested that psychological intervention was "probably sorely needed" by the late 1990s. His wife Rebecca observed: "There was something in him that he despised, and he was self-destructing." Hickenbottom's fear that he was going to negatively influence his young son, prompted him to abandon his previous lifestyle.[2]

Hickenbottom became a born-again Christian on April 24, 2002.[224] He was raised a Catholic, but became a non-denominational Christian because of his wife.[2] His later ring attire often incorporated cross symbols and he made a praying gesture on his knees during ring entrances. Hickenbottom was in the audience for a televised service of John Hagee's Cornerstone Church in his hometown, San Antonio, where he is also a Bible teacher.[2] In 2008, he appeared on a Trinity Broadcasting Network program with fellow professional wrestler Sting.[225]

Other media

Shawn Michaels' MacMillan River Adventures

Michaels is the host of the outdoor television show, Shawn Michaels' MacMillan River Adventures. Michaels joins his hunting partner and longtime friend, Keith Mark, owner and operator of the original MacMillan River Adventures camp in Yukon, Canada, as they hunt big-game animals around the world. This series airs on CarbonTV.[226]



Year Title Role Notes
2017 The Resurrection of Gavin Stone Doug Debut
Pure Country: Pure Heart Ted
2018 Avengers of Justice: Farce Wars Incredible Master Yoga
The Marine 6: Close Quarters Luke Trapper
2019 90 Feet from Home James Devine


Year Title Role Notes
1996 Baywatch Vinnie 1 episode
1999 Pacific Blue Michael Shane 2 episodes

HBK Line

During their 2015–16 season, the Pittsburgh Penguins of the National Hockey League named a line, consisting of Carl Hagelin, Nick Bonino and Phil Kessel, the "HBK Line" due to the fact that the trio's first initials, of their last names, recall Michaels's "Heartbreak Kid" moniker.[227] Pens' game-day staff would regularly play Michaels's theme "Sexy Boy" over the Consol Energy Center PA system after goals or excellent shifts by line members.

After weeks of having fun with Penguins fans on Twitter, the team officially invited Michaels for their Eastern Conference Finals Game 5 matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning (whose fanbase contains a sizable number of pro wrestlers, including Hulk Hogan and Titus O'Neil, due to Tampa long being a home base for many wrestlers), upon which Michaels accepted. Michaels met with Penguins' owner Mario Lemieux and sat with former Pittsburgh Steelers's defensive lineman Brett Keisel during the game. Keisel also gave Michaels a tour of the city including at the Steelers headquarters and having lunch at Primanti Brothers in the city's Strip District.[228] The Penguins lost the game in overtime 4–3 but went on to defeat the Lightning in the series and advance to the Stanley Cup Finals, eventually defeating the San Jose Sharks for the Stanley Cup. Michaels eventually befriended Keisel and attended his annual "Shear Da Beard" event in 2017.[229]

Outside of his numerous appearances with WWE, it was not Michaels first visit to Pittsburgh. In 2013, he appeared at the opening of the first Field & Stream store in suburban Cranberry Township.[230]

While the Penguins successfully defended their Stanley Cup championship the following year, the HBK Line was broken up when Kessel was moved to the 2nd line with Evgeni Malkin and Bonino left the team in free agency.


On February 10, 2015, Hickenbottom published an autobiography entitled Wrestling for My Life: The Legend, the Reality, and the Faith of a WWE Superstar. It was co-written by David Thomas.[231][232]

Championships and accomplishments

Michaels as WWF Tag Team Champion during his reign with Diesel
Michaels as WWF Tag Team Champion during his reign with Diesel


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Further reading

Achievements Preceded byBret Hart & Lex Luger Royal Rumble winner 1995 & 1996 Succeeded byStone Cold Steve Austin Preceded byBret Hart WWF world champion March 31 – November 17, 1996 Succeeded bySid Eudyas Sycho Sid Preceded bySid Eudyas Sycho Sid WWF world champion January 19 – February 13, 1997Vacated VacantTitle next held byBret Hart Preceded byBret Hart WWF world champion November 9, 1997 – March 29, 1998 Succeeded byStone Cold Steve Austin