Shawn Michaels


Michael Shawn Hickenbottom (born July 22, 1965), better known by his Shawn Michaels, is an American retired . Widely regarded as the greatest in ring performer of all time, he is known by the nicknames "Heartbreak Kid", "The Showstopper", and "Mr. ". Michaels wrestled consistently for , formerly the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), from 1988 until a back injury forced his first retirement in 1998. He performed in non-wrestling roles for the next two years and returned to the ring for a match in his own (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 between 1989 and 2018, main-eventing the company's flagship annual event, , five times. He was the co-founder and original leader of the successful stable, . Michaels also wrestled in the (AWA), where he founded with in 1985. After winning the 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 and won his first , heralding his arrival as one of the industry's premier singles stars. Michaels is a four-time , having held the WWF Championship and WWE's . He is also a two-time winner (and the first man to win the match as the number one entrant), the first and the fourth , as well as a two time inductee ( as singles wrestler and 2019 as part of D-Generation X). Michaels won the ' "" reader vote a record eleven times, and his match against on April 23, 2007, was ranked by WWE as the best match ever aired on the company's flagship ' program.

Early life

Hickenbottom was born on July 22, 1965, in . The last of four children – Randy, Scott, and Shari are his older siblings – he was raised in a family and spent a brief part of his early years in , England, but grew up in . As a child, Hickenbottom disliked the name Michael, so his family and friends just called him Shawn. Ever since, he has been referred to as Shawn. Additionally, Hickenbottom moved around frequently since his father was in the military. 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 . Hickenbottom was already an athlete; his career began at the age of six when he started playing . He was a stand-out at on and eventually became captain of the football team. After graduating, Hickenbottom attended in , but soon realized that college life was not for him. 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 . During his training, Hickenbottom adopted the ring name, "Shawn Michaels". After his training with Lothario, he debuted as Shawn Michaels with the 's (NWA) territory on October 16, 1984, against , losing to Crews via swinging neckbreaker. Michaels's performance in his debut match impressed many veterans, including . In January 1985, he debuted for (WCCW), the NWA territory in . In April 1985, Michaels went to work for another NWA territory in Kansas City called . There, he and tag team partner defeated The Batten Twins for the , later losing it back to the Battens.

Texas All-Star Wrestling (1985–1986)

After leaving Kansas City, he returned to to wrestle for (TASW). During his time with TASW, Michaels replaced in the , teaming with . Michaels and Diamond were awarded the by The team was later renamed American Force. While in TASW, Michaels and Diamond feuded with .

American Wrestling Association (1986–1987)

Michaels made his national-level debut, as Sean Michaels, at the age of 20 in the (AWA), in a victory over Buddhakhan on ESPN. He was once again teamed with Marty Jannetty, billed as . The Midnight Rockers won the , defeating and .

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

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

Return to the WWF/E

The Rockers (1988–1992)

The Rockers redebuted at a WWF on July 7, 1988. Due to WWF chairman 's desire to have his performers carry WWF-exclusive ring names, Michaels and Jannetty were renamed, as simply . The team proved popular with both children and women and was a mid-card stalwart of television and shows for the next two years. During this time, Michaels headlined his first pay-per-view for the WWF when The Rockers were involved in the 4-on-4 main event of the . On October 30, 1990, The Rockers unofficially won the from ( and ), as Neidhart, half of the championship team, was in the process of negotiating his release from the company. The match was taped with The Rockers winning the title, but soon after Neidhart came to an agreement with management and was rehired. 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 ( and ) before the title was returned to the Hart Foundation). When news spread, WWF explained that the original result was void due to a collapsed in the ring during the bout. A buckle had indeed broken, but not to a noticeable or dangerous extent during the match. The Rockers continued their partnership, eventually splitting on December 2, 1991, aired January 11, 1992, on Wrestling Challenge, during an incident on 's televised ''Barber Shop'' talk show . Michaels ed Jannetty and through a window on the set of Beefcake's talk show. 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".

Heartbreak Kid (1992–1995)

At the suggestion of , Michaels adopted the nickname "The Heartbreak Kid". Along with his new name came a new as a vain, cocky . He was put together with mirror-carrying , , who according to the storyline had become infatuated with him. Sherri even sang the first version of his new , "Sexy Boy". 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 " has left the building". At , Michaels defeated in his first pay-per-view singles match after both men had simultaneously eliminated each other from that year's . Michaels subsequently became a contender to the promotion's singles titles and failed to win the from champion in his first opportunity to compete for that title at British event , held on April 19 at the and broadcast on (the match later aired in the US on the edition of June 15 of '). Michaels was also unable to win the from Bret Hart in the WWF's first at a ' taping on July 21, which was subsequently made available on multiple releases. However, he won the title from on ', which aired on November 14. Shortly thereafter, he faced Hart for the WWF Championship in the main event of the , but lost the match. Originally the secondary main event, Michaels and Hart became the primary main event after 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 and . During this time, Michaels and Sherri split and he engaged himself in a feud with former tag team partner Marty Jannetty. Michaels lost the Intercontinental Championship to Jannetty on the May 17, 1993 episode of ', but regained it on June 6 with the help of his debuting "" (and off-air friend) . In September 1993, Michaels was suspended for testing positive for – a charge he never admitted. On WWF programs, his suspension was explained by his having neglected to defend the title often enough. After turning down (WCW)'s advances, Michaels returned to the WWF and made several appearances in the (USWA) during a WWF/USWA cross-promotion. He returned to WWF television in November at the substituting for , who was dealing with legal issues, in a match pitting himself and three of Lawler's "Knights" against the Hart brothers, Bret, , and . In 1994, Michaels entered a with Razor Ramon, who had won the Intercontinental Championship, which had been vacated during Michaels's absence. 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. This feud culminated in a ladder match between the two at . Michaels lost the match, which featured both his and Ramon's championship belts suspended above a ladder in the ring. This match was voted by fans as "" by '. It also received a five-star rating from ' editor , the first of nine WWF/E matches to do so. Over the next few months, Michaels battled various injuries and launched the ' television talk show segment, mainly shown on '. On August 28, Michaels and Diesel captured the WWF Tag Team Championship from ( and ). The next day at , Diesel lost the Intercontinental Championship to Ramon when Michaels accidentally superkicked Diesel. This triggered a split between Michaels and Diesel, a storyline that was drawn out until that November. Michaels went on to win the in 1995, which set up a championship grudge match at against Diesel (who had gone on to win the WWF Championship from ). As part of the storyline, Michaels recruited as his bodyguard for the build-up, lost the match and was attacked by Sid the following night. After this, Michaels took time off because Vince McMahon wanted Michaels to become a .

Formation of the Kliq (1995–1996)

Michaels returned to the ring as a fan favorite in May 1995 and he went on to defeat to win his third Intercontinental Championship in July at . This led to a title defense against Razor Ramon at in a ladder match, which Michaels won. Around this time, Michaels became the leader of a backstage group known as . 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. Michaels's fan base was later nicknamed "The Kliq" as an inside reference to the real "Kliq". In October 1995, Michaels was the victim of a legit assault outside a bar in . Due to not being able to compete, Michaels was forced to forfeit the Intercontinental Championship to his original opponent at , who in turn Douglas lost the championship to Razor Ramon, another member of the Kliq. This event has been cited as an example of the Kliq holding others down. During a match with on a November episode of ''Raw'', Hart performed an that struck the back of Michaels's head. They continued the match, but Michaels collapsed in the ring, supposedly because he had suffered a concussion. The concussion was scripted, which was kept from most fans at the time. A retirement angle was written so that Michaels could take some time off after he came back from an injury too soon.

WWF Champion (1996–1998)

After teasing a retirement, Michaels returned to the WWF at the match in 1996, which he wound up winning for the second year in a row, to receive a match in the main event at . Around this time, Jose Lothario became Michaels's on-screen manager. At WrestleMania XII, Michaels defeated WWF Champion Bret Hart in the overtime of their sixty-minute , which had ended in a scoreless tie. On May 19, Michaels and his fellow Kliq members were involved in the incident known as "". Diesel and Razor Ramon were about to leave WWF to company rival WCW. After Michaels won a match against Diesel, Ramon and came to the ring and joined Michaels and Diesel in a group-hug. As Diesel and Helmsley were seen as villains at the time, in contrast to Michaels and Ramon, this constituted a breach of "", as acting out of character, which was rare and controversial at the time. 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 event, where he lost to Sycho Sid, his former bodyguard. Michaels recaptured the championship from Sid in January 1997 at the . On a special episode of ''Raw'' dubbed ''Thursday Raw Thursday'', Michaels vacated the WWF Championship. He explained to fans that he was informed by doctors that he had conjured a knee injury and that he had to retire. His speech was regarded as controversial, as Michaels was allegedly unwilling to lose to Bret Hart at (since it was noted that he was going to have a rematch with Hart at WrestleMania). Michaels contemplated thoughts of retirement and stated that he "had to find his smile again", which he had "lost" somewhere down the line. After knee surgery by , Michaels returned a few months later, briefly teaming with to win the WWF Tag Team Championship. 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. 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 , 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 , Michaels officiated the WWF Championship match between WWF Champion and Bret Hart. The match ended controversially, with Michaels hitting Undertaker with a chair (unintentionally, as he was aiming for Hart after he spat in his face). Michaels was then forced to award the championship to his nemesis, Bret Hart. 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 , held in in September, Michaels defeated The British Bulldog to capture the . 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. With this win, Michaels became the first . At , Michaels defeated Undertaker in the first match, during which Michaels fell off the side of the high structure through a table. 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 , and to form the (DX). Michaels continued his rivalry with Bret Hart and his reformed , 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 . Michaels later claimed the flag desecration was Hart's idea. Michaels's feud with the Hart Foundation culminated in a championship match at in November 1997 against Hart. Michaels came out of this match, dubbed by fans the "", as the WWF Champion. 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 match.

First retirement and hiatus (1998–2002)

At the , in a against The Undertaker, Michaels took a to the outside of the ring and hit his lower back on the , causing him to and crush one completely. Michaels went on to win the match but the injury rendered him unable to compete on the following month's as advertised, and forced him into retirement a night after losing the WWF Championship to Stone Cold Steve Austin at . 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 as the , eventually joining Vince McMahon's group of wrestlers called . 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. 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 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 at the at the , serving as the guest referee for the vs 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''. 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 and Triple H's Iron Man match at . One month later, Michaels briefly reappeared on ''Raw Is War'' to hand over the role of Commissioner to , and after another appearance in October did not make any in-arena appearances until mid-2002. He appeared briefly on television to make a speech at during in December 2000. Believing that his wrestling career was over, Michaels was interested in training individuals who wanted to become professional wrestlers. He saw potential in using his name and opened the Shawn Michaels Wrestling Academy (later the ) in 1999, after his Skip McCormick suggested the idea. During his time as a teacher at the academy, he had his first match since 1998 on April 4, 2000, where he defeated in a Hardcore Street Fight. Michaels left the academy in 2002, giving co-founder Rudy Boy Gonzalez sole responsibility due to Michaels's new contract with WWE. Michaels was also a sportscaster for 's local news for a short period during his retirement.

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 (nWo). Michaels was the only nWo member to have never worked in WCW. 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''. 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 on him. 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. In response, Michaels challenged Triple H to "a fight" (a non-sanctioned match) at , 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 after the match. At , Michaels won the from Triple H in the first match. Michaels's reign as champion came to an end a month later when he lost the championship to Triple H in a , a series of three matches in which wrestlers attempt to win the majority of matches, at . Michaels then began a rivalry with , after Jericho claimed that he was the next Shawn Michaels. On January 13, 2003, after Jericho won a to select his entry number for the , choosing number two in order to start the match with Michaels, who had already been named number one. At the Royal Rumble, Jericho, with the help of , eliminated Michaels. Michaels later interfered in the match, causing Jericho to be eliminated. Michaels defeated Jericho at . Despite this, Michaels was low-blowed after hugging Jericho. 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 with 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 in the main event at for the World Heavyweight Championship. The former DX partners both came up short in the match, however, as Benoit won the championship. 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 in Benoit's hometown of , where Benoit successfully retained it, forcing Michaels to submit to a Sharpshooter. Due to the "Montreal Screwjob" incident, the Edmonton crowd booed Michaels, with chants of "You screwed Bret!" being heard during his match at Backlash. At in June, Michaels lost to Triple H in a Hell in a Cell match. Four months later, he lost a World Heavyweight Championship match against Triple H, after interfered at , when the fans voted for him ahead of Edge and Chris Benoit to face Triple H one more time. Following this, Michaels was out of action for a few months with a torn .

D-Generation X reunion (2005–2007)

At the in 2005, Michaels competed in the Rumble match and eliminated . In seeking revenge, Angle re-entered the ring and eliminated Michaels, and thus placed him in an submission hold, outside the ring. Michaels issued a challenge to Angle for a match at , which Angle accepted when he appeared on ''Raw'' to attack Michaels. The following week on ''Raw'', Marty Jannetty and Michaels had a one time reunion as The Rockers and defeated ( and ). Three days later on ', Angle defeated Jannetty, after Angle made Jannetty submit to the ankle lock. To send a "message" to Michaels, Angle also humiliated Michaels's former manager, Sensational Sherri, when he applied the ankle lock hold on her. At WrestleMania in April, Angle defeated Michaels by submission, again with an ankle lock. Following the events of WrestleMania 21, the next night on ''Raw'', and came out to confront and assault Michaels. On the April 11 episode of ''Raw'', Michaels approached , in which he demanded a 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 to come back and team with him. On the April 18 episode of ''Raw'', Hassan again led an attack on Michaels until Hogan appeared to save Michaels and accept his offer. At , Hassan and Daivari lost to Hogan and Michaels when Daivari was pinned. Later, in a WrestleMania rematch, Michaels defeated Kurt Angle (who was drafted to Raw in the ) at . On the July 4 episode of ''Raw'', Michaels and Hulk Hogan had a tag team match against and Kurt Angle, which they won. 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. The following week on ''Raw'', Michaels appeared on ' where he superkicked and then challenged Hogan to a match at , which Hogan accepted the following week. 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. Michaels followed this up with a short feud with , becoming the first person to cleanly defeat him at with ''Sweet Chin Music''. On the October 3 ' episode of ''Raw'', he wrestled old rival Kurt Angle to a 2–2 draw in a . Afterwards, he challenged Angle to sudden-death overtime, but Angle refused and walked out. He was part of Team Raw at in a losing effort. On the December 26, 2005, episode of ''Raw'', Vince McMahon lauded Michaels for his part in the "". 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. During the , McMahon made his way to the ring, and as Michaels stared at McMahon, made a surprising appearance, eliminating Michaels from the match. On the February 13 episode of ''Raw'', McMahon tried unsuccessfully to force Michaels to sign retirement papers. The following week, Michaels won a handicap match against the (, , , and ) 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." The following week, Jannetty refused McMahon's offer and instead took 's "." Michaels tried to help Jannetty, which ultimately resulted in Shane attacking Michaels and forcing him to kiss his father's behind. At ', Shane defeated Michaels in a 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". Despite interference from the Spirit Squad and Shane, Michaels defeated McMahon at in a . At , (Vince and Shane) defeated Michaels and "" in a tag team match, with help from the Spirit Squad in a no disqualification match. On the May 22 episode of ''Raw'', the Spirit Squad was scripted to injure Michaels's knee. This angle was written so that Michaels could have surgery on his knee, which had been legitimately injured for some time. 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. On ''Raw'', the two continued to deliver chops, as Michaels feuded with Vince McMahon and Triple H went to challenge for the , repeatedly butting heads with Vince McMahon in the process. On the June 12 episode of ''Raw'', D-X officially reunited. During Triple H's , which had him compete against the Spirit Squad. Michaels came in to help Triple H, and the two did the D-X "crotch chops." At , D-X defeated the Spirit Squad in a 5–on–2 . They also defeated the Spirit Squad at ' in a 5-on-2 elimination match and defeated The McMahons at . At , D-X once again defeated the McMahons and in a Hell in a Cell match, finally ending the nine-month long feud. At , D-X took on (Edge and ). 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. At , however, Team D-X emerged victorious against Team Rated-RKO in a clean sweep victory. At , Triple H suffered a torn right during their match with Rated-RKO. Rated-RKO claimed victory over D-X, citing Triple H's injury, as the "end" of D-X. 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, when he took out Randy Orton with a after a handicap match against Edge and Orton.

Various feuds and championship pursuits (2007–2009)

On the January 29 episode of ''Raw'', Michaels captured the with WWE Champion after defeating Rated-RKO. 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. At , Cena retained the championship, after he made Michaels submit to the . 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 ( and ) when Michaels threw Cena over the top rope. Michaels's feud with Cena continued and he faced off with Cena, Edge and Randy Orton in a at 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. Michaels then entered a feud with Randy Orton when Orton claimed that he could beat Michaels. The week before their scheduled match at , after Michaels won a match against then- Edge, Orton attacked him, Michaels in the head. Orton assaulted Michaels again prior to their match at Judgment Day, interrupting Michaels's interview segment. Michaels collapsed during their match, causing Orton to win by referee stoppage. Afterwards, Orton continued the beating, when he performed an to a fallen Michaels. Michaels was then removed out of the ring in a stretcher. 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. 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. At , Michaels was voted by the fans to face Orton for the WWE Championship, though he won via disqualification when Orton hit Michaels with a , which resulted in Orton retaining the championship. Michaels got another opportunity at the WWE Championship, when he was granted his rematch against Orton at . In their match, Michaels was banned from using Sweet Chin Music upon request by Orton, referring to as Michaels superkicking Orton week after week. Michaels lost the match, when Orton performed an RKO for the win, which ended their feud. As part of the storyline involving Ric Flair, Michaels faced Flair in a at , in which he won by performing Sweet Chin Music and thus ending Flair's career. Afterwards, confronted Michaels about his actions at WrestleMania, calling him selfish and egotistical. The two faced off at with Chris Jericho as the . Michaels won after faking a knee injury and performing Sweet Chin Music. Jericho then confronted Michaels on this matter, in which Michaels admitted to faking the injury in order to defeat Batista. Michaels then defeated Jericho at . At , Michaels lost to Batista in a , thus ending their feud. On the June 9 episode of ''Raw'', Michaels was attacked by Chris Jericho during his talk show segment, ', being thrown directly through a television screen. The following week, it was revealed that, within the context of the storyline, Michaels had suffered a detached retina. At , a match between Michaels and Jericho was scheduled, in which Jericho assaulted Michaels's eye, which caused Jericho to win by referee stoppage. A month later at , Michaels announced his retirement from professional wrestling. That night, Jericho punched Michaels's wife in the face. On the August 25 episode of ''Raw'', Michaels renounced his retirement and challenged Jericho to an unsanctioned match at , which Jericho accepted. 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. He was medically cleared to compete at Unforgiven, and beat Jericho so severely that the referee called the match, making Michaels the winner. Later that night, Jericho replaced in the scramble match, and won the title. The next month, at , Michaels lost a ladder match for the World Heavyweight Championship to Jericho. In December 2008, Michaels was written in a storyline where he lost his family's savings due to the and reluctantly accepted a one-year general employment contract from (JBL) at . After failing to help JBL win the World Heavyweight Championship from John Cena at the , and being derided for it, Michaels agreed to face JBL in "All or Nothing" match at in February. Michaels defeated JBL at No Way Out, letting him out of his contract early, while still receiving full payment. On the March 2 ''Raw'', Michaels became the first person to defeat , and so earned a match with The Undertaker at in April. The Undertaker defeated Michaels in a highly acclaimed match to . After WrestleMania, Michaels took a hiatus from WWE.

Final matches and second retirement (2009–2010)

Michaels returned to WWE programming in a series of segments that aired on the August 10, 2009 episode of ''Raw'', where he had, , 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 ( and ) at . At SummerSlam, D-X defeated Legacy. The two teams exchanged victories, with their feud concluding in October. Two months later, at , D-X defeated and to win the in a (TLC). On the January 4, 2010 episode of ''Raw'', Michaels buried the hatchet with long-time rival , 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 . While some cast doubts on its sincerity, both men have confirmed that it was indeed genuine. D-X lost the Unified WWE Tag Team Championship in a Triple Threat match to the team of and Big Show on the February 8 episode of ''Raw''; the match also included The Straight Edge Society ( and ). At the pay-per-view, Michaels cost The Undertaker the in the main event. At , Michaels and, as a result, he was forced to retire due to the match stipulation, the same way Michaels ended Ric Flair's career. The following night, on the March 29 episode of ''Raw'', Michaels gave an emotional farewell speech, departing with the familiar sentence, "Shawn Michaels ." In an interview with 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.

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

On the December 14, 2010 episode of ''Raw'', Michaels won the for Moment of the Year for his match against The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXVI. Michaels accepted the award via satellite. Three days later, he announced a long-term deal with WWE, where he would serve in an ambassadorial role. Michaels made his in-person television return at the December 11 ' taping, where he and Triple H had a one-night only DX reunion. Michaels appeared on the January 10, 2011 episode of ''Raw'', where he was announced as a inductee. After being ridiculed by later that night, Michaels hit Del Rio with ''Sweet Chin Music''. On the March 28 episode of ''Raw'', Michaels addressed Triple H and The Undertaker about their match at . Michaels was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on April 2 by Triple H. They were also joined by fellow members (who had returned to WWE for the ) and . He returned on the June 27 episode of ''Raw'', where he was confronted by , and superkicked and . Later that night, when 's special appearance was interrupted by , he superkicked McIntyre. 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. On the February 13, 2012 episode of ''Raw'', Michaels confronted Triple H about accepting The Undertaker's challenge for a at , and announced he would be the special guest referee for it. 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. Michaels appeared at on July 23 alongside fellow D-Generation X alumni Triple H, X-Pac, Road Dogg and Billy Gunn. The group were interrupted by before Michaels struck him with ''Sweet Chin Music'' and Triple H delivered a ''Pedigree''. The group then performed their signature poses before departing. Michaels appeared on the August 6 episode of ''Raw''. He was confronted by (who was scheduled to face Triple H at ) and . Michaels announced he would be in Triple H's corner for the match. 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. On the following week's episode of ''Raw'', Lesnar () broke Michaels's arm after putting Michaels in a ''Kimura Lock''. As a result, Michaels was unable to appear; Lesnar defeated Triple H at SummerSlam. On the January 24, 2013 episode of ', Michaels announced a tournament to crown the inaugural . On the April 1, 2013 ''Raw'', Michaels returned to offer to corner Triple H in his match with Brock Lesnar at . During that match, Michaels superkicked an interfering Paul Heyman, helping Triple H win and keep his job. He returned on the May 27 ''Raw'' in a backstage segment with John Cena, and again on the pre-show. In October 2013, Michaels won a fan poll to become special guest referee for the 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 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 , 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 who was cutting a promo on relieving of his duties as Director of Operations. At , Michaels made an appearance during the event in his in-ring attire, confronting alongside and where Michaels delivered Sweet Chin Music to and before celebrating with Foley, Austin and . 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 . Michaels was then confronted by , and , before and 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 advice about for their match at , before attacked Reigns on the entrance ramp. According to ''Pro Wrestling Torch'' in 2017, Michaels along with teach the finishing class at the , the last of four levels of classes. Michaels and numerous other WWE legends appeared on the January 22, 2018 episode of .

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 and at , 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 . On the October 8 edition of ''Raw'', Michaels appeared with Triple H and announced that he was coming out of retirement to reform . On the October 29 edition of ''Raw'', Michaels delivered Sweet Chin Music to the Undertaker. At , D-Generation X defeated . The match was poorly received by fans and critics alike, winning the 's "Worst Match of the Year" award. Afterwards, Michaels confirmed that he would be going back into retirement. On November 27, 2018, it was announced that Michaels was officially working as a writer and producer on brand and show. On the February 25, 2019 episode of WWE Raw, Michaels along with special guests , and appeared during the main event segment to celebrate the 70th birthday of Ric Flair. However, Flair would be attacked by instead of appearing on-screen. 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 . On November 22, 2020, he made an appearance at during The Undertaker's retirement ceremony.


Michaels is widely regarded as one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. 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. 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). In 2016, Dave Richard of CBS Sports ranked his match against Steve Austin at WrestleMania XIV as the best main event in WrestleMania history. His rivalry with Bret Hart has been named one of the best rivalries in WWE history. Michaels is cited as an inspiration for many wrestlers such as , , and more. After 8 years retired from in-ring competition, Michaels made his return at Crown Jewel, receiving criticism from the fans and media. PWTorch's Wade Keller said "Michaels shows glimpses and didn't embarrass himself".

Personal life

Hickenbottom's first marriage, to Theresa Wood, soon ended in an amicably settled divorce. He married Rebecca Curci, a former WCW known as Whisper, on March 31, 1999, at the in . Only the couple and an were present. Their son, Cameron Kade, was born on January 15, 2000, and a daughter, Cheyenne, born on August 19, 2004, followed. His cousin is also a professional wrestler, having wrestled in and WWE. In 1996, Hickenbottom posed for a non-nude layout in ' magazine. Only after he posed did he discover ''Playgirl'' has a mostly homosexual readership, for which some of his fellow wrestlers teased him. He is , 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. In 1987, Hickenbottom developed a pattern of "heavy" , which eventually alienated some of his closest friends. He in the late 1980s, and suggested that 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. Hickenbottom became a on April 24, 2002. He was raised a , but became a because of his wife. His later ring attire often incorporated and he made a praying gesture on his knees during ring entrances. Hickenbottom was in the audience for a televised service of 's Cornerstone Church in his hometown, San Antonio, where he is also a Bible teacher. In 2008, he appeared on a program with fellow professional wrestler .

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 , , as they hunt big-game animals around the world. This series airs on CarbonTV.




HBK Line

During their , the of the named a , consisting of , and , the "HBK Line" due to the fact that the trio's first initials, of their last names, recall Michaels's "Heartbreak Kid" moniker. Pens' game-day staff would regularly play Michaels's theme "Sexy Boy" over the PA system after goals or excellent shifts by line members. After weeks of having fun with Penguins fans on , the team officially invited Michaels for their matchup with the (whose fanbase contains a sizable number of pro wrestlers, including and , due to Tampa long being a home base for many wrestlers), upon which Michaels accepted. Michaels met with Penguins' owner and sat with former 's defensive lineman during the game. Keisel also gave Michaels a tour of the city including at the Steelers headquarters and having lunch at in the city's . The Penguins lost the game in overtime 4–3 but went on to defeat the Lightning in the series and advance to the , eventually defeating the for the . Michaels eventually befriended Keisel and attended his annual "Shear Da Beard" event in 2017. Outside of his numerous appearances with WWE, it was not Michaels first visit to . In 2013, he appeared at the opening of the first store in suburban . While the Penguins successfully defended their Stanley Cup championship , the HBK Line was broken up when Kessel was moved to the 2nd line with 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.

Championships and accomplishments

* ** () – with * ' ** Feud of the Year (2008) ** Match of the Year (2007) ** Match of the Year (2008) ** Match of the Year (2009) ** Match of the Year (2010) ** Wrestler of the Year (2008) * ** Art Abrams Lifetime Achievement/Lou Thesz Award (2018) * ** Worst Angle of the Year (2018) * ** () – with Marty Jannetty * ** () – with Marty Jannetty * ' ** Feud of the Decade (2000–2009) vs. Chris Jericho ** (2008) vs. Chris Jericho ** Match of the Decade (2000–2009) vs. at WrestleMania XXIV ** (2010-2019) vs. at WrestleMania XXVI ** (1993) vs. Marty Jannetty on ''Monday Night Raw'' on May 17 ** Match of the Year (1994) vs. in a at ** Match of the Year (1995) vs. at ** Match of the Year (1996) vs. in an at ** Match of the Year (2004) vs. and Triple H at ** Match of the Year (2005) vs. at ** Match of the Year (2006) vs. in a at ** Match of the Year (2007) vs. John Cena on ''Raw'' on April 23 ** Match of the Year (2008) vs. Ric Flair at WrestleMania XXIV ** Match of the Year (2009) vs. The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXV ** Match of the Year (2010) vs. The Undertaker in a career vs. streak match at WrestleMania XXVI ** Most Inspirational Wrestler of the Decade (2000–2009) ** (2010) ** (1995, 1996) ** Ranked No. 1 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the ' in 1996 ** Ranked No. 10 of the top 500 singles wrestlers of the ''PWI Years'' in 2003 ** Ranked No. 33 and No. 55 of the top 100 tag teams of the ''PWI Years'' with Marty Jannetty and Diesel, respectively, in 2003 * ** Class of 2017 * ** () – with **TASW Six-Man Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with & * Texas Wrestling Alliance ** TWA Heavyweight Championship (1 time) * ** () ** () ** () ** () ** () – with Triple H ** () – with Diesel (2), (1), John Cena (1), Triple H (1) ** (, ) ** ** ** (15 times) *** Best Finisher () *** Best Slammin' Jammin' Entrance () *** Best Tag Team () – with Diesel *** Best Threads (1996) *** Double-Cross of the Year () – For turning on and costing him the at . *** Leader of the New Generation (1996) *** Master of Mat Mechanics (1996) *** Match of the Year (1994, 1996, 1997, , ) – vs. Razor Ramon in a ladder match at WrestleMania X; vs. Razor Ramon in a ladder match at ; vs Bret Hart at WrestleMania XII; vs The Undertaker at ; vs Ric Flair at WrestleMania XXIV; vs The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXV *** Moment of the Year () – vs. The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXVI *** Squared Circle Shocker (1996) – Won for collapsing; accepts the award for making Michaels collapse *** Worst Tag Team (1994) – with Diesel ** (2 times) *** – individually *** – as a member of * ' ** (1996) ** (2004) vs. Chris Benoit and Triple H ** Feud of the Year (2008) vs. Chris Jericho ** (1994) vs. Razor Ramon in a ladder match at WrestleMania X ** Match of the Year (2008) vs. Chris Jericho in a ladder match at ** Match of the Year (2009) vs. The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXV ** Match of the Year (2010) vs. The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXVI ** (2018) with Triple H vs. The Undertaker and Kane at ** (2011) Greatest Rivalries: Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart ** (1995, 1996) ** (1989) with Marty Jannetty as ** (2006) with Triple H vs. and Vince McMahon ** ()


Further reading

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External links

* * * * {{DEFAULTSORT:Michaels, Shawn WWE Grand Slam champions