Real Name: Michael Shawn Hickenbottom
Born: July 22, 1965
Hometown: San Antonio, TX
Debut Date: Oct. 16, 1984
Trademark Moves: Sweet Chin Music, Elbow Off of The Top Rope, The Nip-Up, & The Flying Clothesline
Titles Held in the WWE: WWE Title (3 Times), World Heavyweight Title, WWE Intercontinental Title (3 Times), WWE European Title, 1995 & 1996 Royal Rumble Winner, World Tag Team Titles (5-Times), First WWE Grand Slam Champion, & Fourth WWE Triple Crown Champion
Titles Held in the AWA: AWA World Tag Team Titles (2 Times) & AWA Southern Tag Team Titles (2 Times)
Titles Held in the NWA: NWA Central States Tag Team Title
Titles Held in TAS (Texas All-Star): TAS World Tag Team Titles (2 Times) & TAS Six-Man World Tag Team Titles
Titles Held in TWA (Texas Wrestling Alliance): TWA World Heavyweight Title
Shawn Michaels was born Michael Shawn Hickenbottom on July 22, 1965 in Chandler, AZ. Michaels was born into a military family and Michaels even attended high school on a military base (Randolph High School in San Antonio). Though he lived for a short period in England, Michaels grew up in San Antonio and still resides there today. Michaels was trained to be a wrestler by Mexican wrestler, Jose Lothario.
Shawn Michaels has one of the most storied careers in the history of professional wrestling. Michaels was never a stranger to controversy, in fact, it seemed to follow him no matter where he went. Michaels started wrestling for such organizations as Mid-South Wrestling, Texas All-Star Wrestling, & Central States Wrestling. He and Marty Jannetty won the TAW Tag Team Titles in 1984, this would be Michaels’ first title reign in his illustrious career as a wrestler. Throughout 1985, Michaels wrestled for the WCCW. In 1986, Michaels joined up with the AWA and was there until he left for the WWE in 1988. While with the AWA, Michaels won the AWA Tag Team Titles twice (with Marty Jannetty) as one half of “The Midnight Rockers”. The Rockers signed with WWE, but were fired two weeks later for “partying too hard”, so Michaels & Jannetty returned to the AWA, but WWE came knocking again and Michaels and Jannetty stayed employed this time around. Michaels would go on to see his biggest success in the WWE, winning every major title the company had to offer. With a little under 20 years in the WWE under his belt, Shawn Michaels is arguably the best wrestler that WWE has ever seen and he is still going strong today.
From the time that Michaels entered the WWE, he was destined to be a star in the company. Michaels & Jannetty debuted as the Rockers in June 1988 on an episode of WWE Superstars. They would go on to win the World Tag Team Titles from The Hart Foundation later on. After a very memorable heel turn in December 1991 on the “Barber Shop”, Michaels moved to a singles career and skyrocketed as “The Hearbreak Kid” (he was originally “The Boy Toy”), winning the Intercontinental Title three times (even losing it and winning back from his former partner, Marty Jannetty) and would later be managed by WWE Hall of Famer, “Sensational” Sherri. Michaels took part in the first Ladder Match in WWE History against Bret Hart at a house show in July 1992. Michaels finally won the title at Saturday Night’s Main Event in October of 1992.
Due to the departure of some of WWE’s major stars, Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels benefited from it, getting bumped up to the main event level in 1992. Michaels would eventually split from Sherri and then get a bodyguard by the name of Diesel. After a match Michaels had with Mr. Perfect (that disappointed, despite all the hype), Michaels quit the WWE in September 1993. Michaels quit due to a suspension by the WWE for alleged steroid use, which Michaels still denies. With Michaels departure, the WWE Intercontinental Title (which Michaels held at the time), became vacant.
After a short period, Michaels returned to the WWE and did some untelevised work for the USWA (United States Wrestling Alliance) in a cross-promotion between WWE and USWA. Michaels made his official return to WWE at the 1993 Survivor Series, where he substituted for Jerry “The King” Lawler, who has been arrested.
In 1994, Michaels entered a feud with Razor Ramon, who won Michaels’ vacant Intercontinental Title after he quit in 1993. Michaels made the claim that he never lost the title, therefore he was the true champion. This feud culminated in an infamous ladder match for the Undisputed Intercontinental Title at WrestleMania X. Throughout the rest of 1994, Michaels struggled with various injuries, but continued to wrestle. Diesel won the WWE Title in 1994, effectively breaking up the partnership between Diesel and Michaels. The focus was drawn to Diesel so that Michaels could take some time off to heal from nagging injuries.
Michaels started off his 1995 strong by winning the Royal Rumble Match. Michaels would go on to win the Intercontinental Title (for the third time) from Jeff Jarrett in the summer of 1995. In October 1995, Michaels was (legitimately) attacked by several men outside of a bar in Syracuse, NY. Due to this, WWE deemed him unable to compete and Michaels would ultimately forfeit the title to Dean Douglas (who quickly lost it to Razor Ramon).
Michaels would then take some additional time off due to the Syracuse incident (and to nurse a concussion, which was a work). Michaels then announced he would return at the 1996 Royal Rumble, in which he won the Royal Rumble Match for the second year in a row. At WrestleMania XII in the infamous Iron Man Match, Michaels would defeat Bret Hart (in sudden death overtime) to win the WWE Title. However, Michaels would lose that same title at the 1996 Survivor Series.
Michaels would once again win the WWE Title at the 1997 Royal Rumble in his hometown of San Antonio, TX. In what can be viewed as a foreshadowing to around a decade later, Michaels came down with a knee injury that required surgery. Michaels refused to lose the WWE Title to Bret Hart at WrestleMania 13, so Michaels made the infamous speech in which his reason for taking time off was to “find his smile again”. WrestleMania 13 instead featured Bret Hart vs Stone Cold Steve Austin, while Michaels sat in on commentary. After a few months of recovery time from his surgery, Michaels made a surprise return to the WWE and would team up with Stone Cold Steve Austin to win the World Tag Team Titles. That would be shortlived, however, as Michaels would quit the WWE (again), this time due to a backstage argument between himself and Bret Hart (leading to Dude Love replacing Michaels as one half of the tag team champions). Vince McMahon convinced Michaels to reconsider and Michaels returned and refereed a WWE Title Match between Undertaker and Bret Hart at SummerSlam 1997. A couple of months later, Michaels would face Undertaker in the first ever Hell in a Cell Match at Badd Blood: In Your
House, in which Michaels won (thanks to the debuting Kane).
In the summer of 1997, Michaels joined up with Chyna and Triple H to form D-Generation X (the original incarnation), Rick Rude would also briefly join DX before jumping ship to WCW (the formation of DX unofficially kicked off the ‘Attitude Era’ of the WWE). Controversy would strike Michaels yet again at the infamous 1997 Survivor Series in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in what was dubbed, “The Montreal Screwjob”. The 1997 SurvivorSeries was Bret Hart’s last match before heading to WCW. While Vince McMahon knew and ‘supported’ Bret’s decision, Vince made the call that would be talked about for years and that call would be to end the match early and declare Michaels the winner and new WWE Champion by submission to Bret Hart’s own sharpshooter. The only problem was that Bret didn’t tap out or give up, nor was he aware of the decision made by Vince to cut the match short. Bret Hart then proceeded to spit in the face of McMahon and then destroy everything not nailed down at ringside. On the next night, on RAW, Vince did an interview in which he claimed that “Bret Screwed Bret”. With this interview, Vince McMahon became a heel and would continue to be a regular on-screen character (known as Mr. McMahon).
Some would say that 1998 may have been one of the worst years (if not the worst year) of Michaels’ career. At the 1998 Royal Rumble, Michaels would defend the WWE Title against Undertaker in a Casket Match. However, during the match, Michaels would be backdropped on the casket, but something went horribly wrong and Michaels ended up herniating two discs in his lower back. This injury would prove to be a state of consternation for Michaels, which would lead to his alleged retirement from wrestling. Michaels would lose the title at WrestleMania XIV to Stone Cold Steve Austin (with Mike Tyson as the Special Enforcer). After his title loss, Michaels made his forced retirement known.
Michaels returned to the WWE in November of 1998, but due to his back injury, he couldn’t return as a wrestler. Instead, he took the on-screen character of the WWE Commissioner (previously held by Sgt. Slaughter). Michaels would eventually turn heel and join Vince McMahon as his Corporation stable. Michaels would later give his position to Mick Foley and after becoming the WWE Spokesman, Michaels disappeared from WWE television in order to open his own wrestling academy.
In 2001, Michaels signed an extension with the WWE. 2002 would be Michaels’ big “return year” as he would feud with Triple H throughout the year and at the 2002 Survivor Series, in the first ever Elimination Chamber, Michaels defeated five other wrestlers (including Triple H) to win the World Heavyweight Title.
After 2002, Michaels worked a regular schedule with the WWE, feuding with wrestlers like Triple H, Edge, & Chris Jericho. Michaels was momentarily slowed down in late 2004 after he was injured with a torn meniscus. Michaels would return at the 2005 Royal Rumble to referee the Elimination Chamber Match. Michaels would go on to have an incredible match with Kurt Angle at WrestleMania 21.
In 2006, Michaels competed in the Royal Rumble Match, but would be eliminated by Shane McMahon (In December 2005, Michaels confronted Vince McMahon and implied for him to move on from the Montreal Screwjob of 1997). This would set up a feud that would run throughout the remainder of the year, including a Street Fight against Mr. McMahon at WrestleMania 22. In June 2006, Triple H and Shawn Michaels reformed D-Generation X. DX would go on to feud with The McMahons and the Spirit Squad, and later, the team of Edge & Randy Orton (Rated RKO). Unfortunately, the new DX didn’t last as long as WWE wanted, as Triple H suffered a quadriceps injury (second time in his career) at New Year’s Revolution 2007. This injury would force Triple H out of action and that left Michaels to return to a singles career. After carrying the DX banter for awhile, Michaels dropped the DX gimmick and entered a feud with WWE Champion, John Cena, which culminated at WrestleMania 23. Michaels would go on to compete at Backlash, as well.
Unfortunately, in May 2007, Michaels severely aggravated a knee injury that he had been competing with. Michaes would have surgery on his knee on May 24, 2007. The kayfabe reason for Michaels absence was that Michaels suffered several severe, possibly career-ending concussions by Randy Orton. Michaels would have his last match before having surgery at Judgment Day 2007 against Randy Orton.