Shawn Michaels: A tale of two careers.

Photo by Brady Hicks

As everyone knows the ‘Heart Break Kid’ Shawn Michaels is currently the first and only person known to be being inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame in 2011.This should come as a suprise to no-one given that he is arguably the greatest wrestler of all time managing not only to be one of the most gifted and exciting athletes ever to enter a wrestling ring but also to be a great showman at the same time.

As all followers of In The Room know DJ is a massive fan of HBK’s and like pretty much everyone else will be glad to see him inducted the night before Wrestle Mania 27, even it means saying goodbye and possibly never seeing him wrestle again. DJ has said (unbiased of course) that Shawn could or perhaps should be inducted twice, having had not one but two HOF worthy careers.To a lot of people this probably sounds just like a fanboy who is in love with one of his idols.But is it a stupid idea?  Stranger things have happened in the WWE.

Shawn Michaels ‘first’ career is unparalelled even by wrestling standards. Having originally started out as a tag team wrestler as one half of the Rockers, Shawn rose to prominence as a singles wrestler starting in 1992.That year he won his first WWE(f) Title, the Intercontinental Championship from the The British Bulldog.It was one of many titles but also of many firsts.Over the next seven years he would go on to win the Intercontinental Championship twice more though not at Wrestle Mania 10 where he lost what many consider to be one of the greatest matches of all time, the ‘first’ ever ladder match in the WWE against Razor Ramon.

Shawns accolades during his first career are almost too numerous to count.As well as being a three time IC champion he would win the European Title,The WWF Tag Team Title three times,the Royal rumble twice and three WWF Titles the first of which being at Wrestle Mania 12 in the now legendary inaugural 60 minute Iron Man match against Bret Hart.As well as title belts HBK won a plethora of accolades from critics winning among others four PWI match of the year awards, the Wrestling Observers match of the year in 1994 for his ladder match with Razor Ramon which was also considered a ‘5 star match’, a rare accolade and one of two the other being for his match against the Undertaker in the first Hell In A Cell match at the Bad Blood PPV in 1997.

Despite being adored by fans all over the world,winning multiple titles and being respected by fellow competitors and critics for his in ring work there was another side to Shawn.Ask any wrestler who knew Shawn during his first run and you will hear plenty of stories of drug induced stupours,bar fights,bullying,prima donna behaviour and infamously breaking kayfabe in the middle of the ring after a match in Madison Square Garden.Seemingly HBK was not a particularly likeable person for portions of his first run and subsequently wasn’t liked by many backstage.

On a personal note I never liked Shawns character towards the end of his first run.As a young fan who started seriously following wrestling in 96/97 I could never like him.I loved watching him wrestle but I could never cheer for him.It is said the best characters are those which are an extension of the person playing them and to me Shawn ,and HHH once they formed DX were assholes who did whatever they liked to piss people off and to make their lives miserable just because they could and they knew they could get away with it.By all accounts that wasn’t too far from the truth.

Shawns career took an unexpected turn when he sustained what doctors claimed was a career ending injury after landing badly on his back during a WWF Championship casket match against the Undertaker at Royal Rumble 98.As a ten year old boy watching a casket burn and what I believed was a man die right before my eyes once the match had finished (kids are stupid) it was actually the death of the career of HBK backstage.

A few months later Shawn would lose his WWF title to Stone Cold in the main event at Wrestle Mania 14 in what was supposed to be he last ever match.Even then it is rumored the Undertaker was ready to compete in place of Shawn.Whether this is because he didn’t want to lose knowing it probably would be his last ever match, he was physically unable or even if this is true or not we will never really know.
So ends the first career or ‘Old Testament’ of Shawn Michaels

Whilst Shawn did return to the WWE it was only as an authority figure and not as a full time active competitor.Not untill…2002

Shawn eventually returned to the ring reborn in more ways than one. After a suprise and short lived DX reformation HBK feuded with HHH for months once again providing classic matches and proving that form is temporary but class is forever.This began Shawns second chapter and the beginning of a lot of great work.His feud with HHH not only helped return Shawn to being a WWE main eventer and introducing him to a new generation of fans, it also help legitimise HHH, a wrestler who will always be plagued by stories of nepatism and backstage politics but more importantly had always been in Shawn’s shadow untill Shawn ‘retired’ and he could make a name for himself.

Similarly this could be said of Chris Jericho.Y2J had always idolised Shawn and many saw him a wrestler of the same mold.It was a major reason WCW signed him in the first place.Their feuding both in 2003 and 2008 helped solidify Y2J as an all time great and once again gave HBK a chance to put on some of the best matches of all time.

The reborn Shawn was different in many ways to ‘Old’ Shawn.While he continued to put on great matches including many more ‘match of the year’ winners everything negative that could be said about him seemed to disappear.No longer were there stories of drug use or backstage bitching.Instead Shawn did his best to entertain to the high standard only he could and whilst he was always in and around the main event scene he never needed or wanted titles in order to be great, winning one singles title during his entire eight year second run (The World Heavyweight Title at the first elimination chamber)

Shawn did win Tag Titles during his run.Once with John cena and eventually once with best friend HHH.Shawn won’t be remembered for those titles though but more the great matches and feuds he had often with younger talent he helped build up like Batista,Randy Orton,Shelton Benjamin,Legacy,JBL,Hulk Hogan,another all time great Kurt Angle,the legendary Ric Flair who he had the honour of retiring at Wrestle Mania 24 and even had great matches with John Cena who many wrestling fans wouldn’t consider a particularly gifted technical wrestler.He has even trained wrestlers the best so far being Bryan Danielson who looks to have a great future ahead of him.

Eventually all good things have to come to an end and the second great chapter of Michaels career did when his lost to the Undertaker at Wrestle Mania 26 in a rematch to another classic both men had put on the year before.Though a great match it was a much bigger moment and one fans will never forget ,either because the build up a few months before where Shawn seemed to become a shell of his former self, an old champ that wanted one more shot at the big time no matter what it cost or what he could lose, all the way to the last three count,the final bell and a heart felt goodbye the next night on RAW.

So, could Shawn Michaels be inducted twice? Yes I think he could. Should he? In my opinion no.

Whilst Shawns career has two distinct seperate parts they are much better when viewed together each one half of a whole.While HBK fans like DJ will always miss him and see his entire twenty year career through heart shaped glasses,it does the man a great diservice to ignore the bad parts,the negativity and all those things he eventually overcame.As one story his career is astounding and perfectly written.Just look at his final year.He got to finally win the tag team titles with his long time best friend HHH, feud with old rival and protege Y2J,resolve as best he could things with Bret Hart a man whose career his will always be linked for better or worse,have time on screen with Stone Cold whose great career he helped build and finally main event the Royal Rumble and Wrestle Mania both of which are names his will forever be connected to.

5 Responses to Shawn Michaels: A tale of two careers.

  1. Avatar Big Ern
    Big Ern says:

    Well done, Vince. You not only wrote the first editorial at but you wrote about one of my favorite topics. You also inspired me to write an article/editorial of my own.

    Many thanks to Brady for the efforts on his new site!

  2. Avatar Brad Anderson
    Brad Anderson says:

    Congratulations on your first-class nutriding.

    • Avatar BigErn
      BigErn says:

      And thank you too, bradley, for the comment. You really had to go back quite a ways for this. Glad to see that you are getting the full thebradyhicks experience. If you are always this insightful then please point me to your blogs on the world of wrestling.

      Thanks for the compliment too. Seeing as you appear to be the expert on nutriding and felching, it really means a lot.

  3. Avatar Vince G
    Vince G says:

    How dare you defile this masterpiece.