Michael Shawn Hickenbottom (July 22, 1965), better known by his ring name Shawn Michaels, is an American former and semi-retired professional wrestler, currently signed to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), where he has served in an ambassadorial role since December 2010. He actively wrestled for WWE, formerly the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), in every decade from the 1980s onward, officially retiring in 2010. He is considered one of WWE's senior performers, having consistently performed for the organization from 1988 to 2010, albeit in non-wrestling roles from 1998 to 2002.
Hickenbottom began his wrestling career with Mid-South Wrestling, now known as Universal Wrestling Federation, and American Wrestling Association (AWA). During his time with AWA, he performed in partnership with Marty Jannetty, as The Midnight Rockers; winning the AWA World Tag Team Championship twice. Hickenbottom and Jannetty briefly signed with World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in 1987, while in contract with AWA. They returned to AWA, only to go back to the WWF in 1988.
Hickenbottom later worked as a single performer, taking on a new persona of "The Heartbreak Kid" and, first as a villain and later as a fan favorite, moved into the main event sphere. He yielded considerable influence on booking decisions as the leader of The Kliq, a backstage group, which however fell apart in 1996. The following year, he teamed up with Hunter Hearst Hemsley, who often was referred to as Triple H (HHH), Chyna and Rick Rude to form D-Generation X (DX). This group of wrestlers was known for their sophomoric crude humor. That same year, Hickenbottom took part in one of the most controversial matches in wrestling history, dubbed as the "Montreal Screwjob." After a back injury forced him to retire following his WWF Championship loss at WrestleMania XIV, Hickenbottom opened a wrestling academy, called The Shawn Michaels Wrestling Academy, in which he trained upcoming wrestlers. He made his in-ring return at SummerSlam in 2002. In 2006, Hickenbottom and Triple H briefly reformed DX, but after an injury that Triple H sustained, Hickenbottom returned to singles wrestling. Although as of 2009, the duo reunited as a tag team once more, with the two capturing the Unified WWE Tag Team Championship. At WrestleMania XXVI, Michaels was forced to retire from in-ring competition when he lost a career-threatening match. In December 2010, he signed a long-term deal with WWE, making his first live appearance at a WWE show since WrestleMania later that month. He will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2011.
Among other accolades, Hickenbottom is a four-time world champion: a three-time WWF Champion and a former World Heavyweight Champion. He was also the winner of the 1995 and 1996 Royal Rumbles and was the company's first Grand Slam Champion. He has also won the Slammy Award a record 11 times. Hickenbottom currently resides in San Antonio, Texas with his wife, Rebecca, and their two children.
Early career (1984–1988)
Hickenbottom began to train under Mexican professional wrestler Jose Lothario. During his training, Hickenbottom adopted the ring name, Shawn Michaels, a stage name used by a professional wrestler to hide their true identity from the wrestling fanbase. After his training with Lothario, he debuted as Shawn Michaels, with Mid-South Wrestling and Texas All-Star Wrestling (TAW) promotions in 1984. During his time with TAW, Michaels and Paul Diamond (Tom Boric) were awarded the TAW Tag Team Championship by Chavo Guerrero, Sr. (Salvador Guerrero Llanes). He also worked for Central States Wrestling. There, he and tag team partner Marty Jannetty (Frederick Jannetty) defeated The Batten Twins for the Central States Tag Team Championship, later losing it back to the Battens. Michaels also made several appearances in the Dallas, Texas-based World Class Championship Wrestling throughout 1985.
Michaels made his national-level debut at the age of twenty in American Wrestling Association (AWA), once again teaming with Marty Jannetty. The pair were billed as "The Midnight Rockers", and held the AWA World Tag Team Championship, defeating Doug Somers and Buddy Rose (Paul Perschmann). In 1987, The Rockers were signed by a competing promotion: the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). They were fired from WWF two weeks later, for a bar incident (a misunderstanding, according to Michaels' autobiography). They then returned to AWA, but were re-signed by WWF a year later.
World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment (1988–1999)
The Rockers (1988–1991)
The Rockers redebuted at a WWF house show on July 7, 1988. Due to WWF chairman Vince McMahon's desire to have his performers carry WWF-exclusive ring names, they were renamed, as simply "The Rockers." The team proved popular with both children and women.The team was a mid-card stalwart of television and pay-per-view shows for the next two years.
In October 1990, The Rockers were scheduled to win 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. The match was taped with The Rockers winning the belts, but soon after, Neidhart came to an agreement with management and was rehired. The belts were returned to the Hart Foundation, while the title change was never broadcast or even acknowledged on television. 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. The Rockers plodded along, eventually splitting on December 2, 1991 during an incident on Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake's (Edward Leslie) televised Barber Shop talk show promotional segment. Michaels superkicked Jannetty and threw him through a glass window on the set of Beefcake's talk show. Jannetty disappeared from the company, and Michaels became a villain as "The Boy Toy."
Heartbreak Kid (1992–1995)
At the suggestion of "Mr Perfect" Curt Hennig, Michaels adopted the nickname "The Heartbreak Kid." Along with his new name came a new gimmick as a vain, cocky villain. He was put together with mirror-carrying Manager, Sensational Sherri (Sherri Schrull), who, according to the storyline, had become infatuated with him. Sherri even sang the first version of his new theme music, "Sexy Boy." During that period, Michaels normally wrestled during the first half of house shows, and his departure was announced with the words, "Shawn Michaels has left the building" (alluding to the phrase "Elvis has left the building").
Michaels failed to win the WWF Intercontinental Championship from Bret Hart in July 1992, even losing the WWF's first-ever ladder match against him at a house show, a match where the objective was to climb a ladder and reach an object hanging above the ring. He, however, won the title from The British Bulldog (David Smith) on the October 27, 1992 edition of Saturday Night's Main Event, which aired on November 8. Shortly thereafter, he was in a pay-per-view main event for the first time, in which he lost to Hart, for the WWF Championship at the 1992 Survivor Series. Michaels and Hart were moved to the main event after The Ultimate Warrior (Brian Hellwig) was unable to compete in the tag team match that involved Randy Savage (Randall Poffo) against the team of Ric Flair (Richard Fliehr) and Razor Ramon (Scott Hall). 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 Monday Night Raw on May 17, 1993. He then regained it on June 6 with the help of his debuting "bodyguard" (and off-air friend) Diesel (Kevin Nash).
In September 1993, Michaels had quit the company, after it was announced that he had failed to defend his title enough times during a set period; in reality, he had been suspended for testing positive for steroids – a charge that Michaels denies to this day. 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 for November's Survivor Series pay-per-view, 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.
He soon entered a staged rivalry with Razor Ramon, who had won the vacated Intercontinental Championship, during Michaels' 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 WrestleMania X. Michaels lost the match, which featured both his and Ramon's belts suspended above a ladder in the ring. This match was voted by fans as "Match of the Year" by Pro Wrestling Illustrated. Over the next few months, Michaels battled various injuries and launched the Heartbreak Hotel television talk show segment, mainly shown on WWF Superstars.
On August 28, 1994, Michaels and Diesel captured the WWF World Tag Team Championship from The Headshrinkers (Samu Samula Anoa'i and Fatu Solofa Fatu). The next day, at SummerSlam, 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 Survivor Series that November. Michaels went on to win the Royal Rumble in 1995, which set up a championship grudge match at WrestleMania XI against Diesel (who had gone on to win the WWF Championship from Bob Backlund). As part of the storyline, Michaels recruited Sycho Sid (Sid Eudy) 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 crowd favorite.
Clique's influence (1995–1997)
Michaels returned to the ring, as a crowd favorite, in June 1995. He went onto defeat Jeff Jarrett at the July pay-per-view event, In Your House, to win his third Intercontinental championship. This led to a title defense against Razor Ramon at SummerSlam, in a ladder match, which Michaels won. Around this time, Michaels became the alleged leader of a backstage group known as The Clique.Others perceived the group to have sufficient clout with WWF owner Vince McMahon, becoming dominant wrestling figures in WWF for several years in the mid-1990s. Michaels disputes the perception, saying that McMahon pushed only deserving wrestlers. Michaels' fan base was later nicknamed "The Kliq" as an inside reference to the real "Clique". In October 1995, he was legitimately attacked by several men outside a bar in Syracuse, New York.Shortly afterwards, at the In Your House: Great White North pay-per-view, Michaels forfeited the Intercontinental championship to staged rival Dean Douglas (Troy Martin) because he was, according to WWF, unable to compete. Later in the night, Douglas lost the championship to Clique member Razor Ramon. The next month, during a match with Owen Hart on an episode of Raw, Owen performed a kick that struck the back of Michaels' head. They continued the match, but Michaels collapsed in the ring, supposedly because he had suffered a concussion in the Syracuse incident. The concussion was scripted, which was kept from most fans at the time.
After teasing a retirement, Michaels returned to WWF at the Royal Rumble match in 1996, which he wound up winning for a second year in a row, to receive a WWF Championship match in the main event at WrestleMania XII. Around this time, Jose Lothario became Michaels on-screen manager.At WrestleMania XII, Michaels defeated Bret Hart in the 'sudden death' overtime of their sixty-minute Iron Man match, a match where the winner is determined by the number of scoring conditions by a certain time limit, which had ended in a 0–0 tie. On May 19, 1996 in an incident known as "Curtain Call: The MSG Incident," Michaels won a steel cage match, a match where the ring is surrounded by a steel cage, against Kevin Nash. After the match ended, Scott Hall, who was about to leave WWF to company rival WCW, came to the ring and hugged Michaels. Although, Hunter Hearst Helmsley (Paul Levesque) and Nash were seen as villains at the time, in contrast to Michaels and Hall, they were also members of The Clique, and group joined in the good-bye hug. The incident was seen as a rare breach in "kayfabe", which is the faux action and storylines that promoters wanted the fans to see as real.As WCW gained momentum due to the signings of Hall and Nash, Michaels held the championship for most of the year. Michaels' championship reign ended at the 1996 Survivor Series event, where he lost to Sycho Sid, his former bodyguard.Michaels recaptured the championship from Sid in January 1997 at the Royal Rumble.
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 WrestleMania 13 (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 Dr. James Andrews, Michaels returned a few months later, briefly teaming with Steve Austin (Steven Williams) to win the WWF Tag Team Title. In his autobiography, Michaels reveals about his real-life feud with Bret Hart, claiming that Bret did interviews on live television claiming that he (Michaels) was faking his whole injury.
At SummerSlam, Michaels officiated the WWF championship match between champion The Undertaker (Mark Calaway) and Bret Hart. The match ended in controversial fashion, with Michaels hitting Undertaker with a chair (unintentionally, as he was aiming for Bret after he spat in his face). Michaels was then forced to award the championship to his nemesis, Bret Hart. At WWF One Night Only, held in Birmingham, England in September, Michaels defeated The British Bulldog to capture the WWF European Championship. 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 rubbish. With this win, Michaels became the first Grand Slam Champion, a distinction made to a professional wrestler who has won all of the major titles in a promotion. During the 1997 SummerSlam event, a feud culminated between Michaels and The Undertaker, after Michaels struck The Undertaker with the usage of a steel chair. At the October pay-per-view event, In Your House: Badd Blood, Michaels and Undertaker participated in the first Hell in a Cell match, a match contested in a ring surrounded by a steel cage made of metal. During the match, it saw Michaels fall off the side of the 15 foot high structure through a table and saw him as the winner in the match.
D-Generation X (1997-1998)
In the summer, Michaels joined forces with real-life friend, Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Hunter's then-girlfriend, Chyna, and Rick Rude (Richard Rood) to form the stable, a group of wrestlers, D-Generation X (DX). Moving away from the family-oriented product, this marked the beginning of the WWF Attitude Era. 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 Bret's idea. Michaels' feud with the Hart Foundation culminated in a championship match at Survivor Series in 1997 against Bret Hart. Michaels came out of this match, dubbed by fans the "Montreal Screwjob", as the WWF Champion. Michaels now held both the WWF and European championship at the same time. Michaels, however, lost the European championship to group member, Hunter Hurst Hemsley, who often was referred to as Triple H (HHH), when he pinned him during a farcical match, making Triple H the European Champion.
At the 1998 Royal Rumble, Michaels received a legitimate back injury in a Casket match against The Undertaker, a match where the objective is to place the opponent inside a casket. Michaels took a back body drop to the outside of the ring and smashed his lower back on the casket, causing him to herniate two discs and crush one completely. This forced Michaels into retirement after losing the WWF Championship to Steve Austin at WrestleMania XIV.
Michaels returned to the WWF on November 23, 1998, but not as a wrestler; instead, he replaced Sgt. Slaughter (Robert Remus) as the WWF Commissioner, a portrayed match maker and rules enforcer, joining Vince McMahon's group of wrestlers called the Corporation as a villain. 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. In early 1999, Michaels re-joined DX as a crowd favorite, but disappeared from WWF television for a few months to have back surgery, and by the time he had returned, DX had broken up.
Michaels made occasional appearances on WWF television as the commissioner during the spring and summer of 1999. Michaels was absent from WWF television until May 21, 2000 when he returned to officiate the Iron Man match between The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) and Triple H. One month later, Michaels briefly reappeared to hand over the role of commissioner to Mick Foley and afterwards was absent from television for nearly a year. During this time, believing that his wrestling career was over, Michaels was interested in training individuals who wanted to become professional wrestlers. Michaels eventually left the academy. During this time, Michaels was a sportscaster for San Antonio's local news for a short time during his retirement.
Return to World Wrestling Entertainment (2002–2010)
Return to wrestling and feud with Triple H (2002–2004)
In 2002, Michaels returned to wrestling and was brought into the New World Order (nWo) by Kevin Nash as a new member of the group. 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 tucked Michaels' head between his knees and lifted him up to slam his head to the mat, a move Triple H calls the Pedigree. 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 SummerSlam, which Triple H accepted, laying the foundation for a rivalry that lasted for years. Michaels won at SummerSlam, but was attacked by Triple H with a sledgehammer after the match. At Survivor Series, Michaels won the World Heavyweight Championship from Triple H in the company's first-ever Elimination Chamber match, where the ring is surrounded by a steel structure of chain and girders. Michaels' reign as champion came to an end 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.
Michaels then began a rivalry with Chris Jericho (Christopher Irvine), after Jericho claimed that he was the next Shawn Michaels. On January 13, 2003, after Jericho won a Battle royal, a multi-competitor match type in which wrestlers are eliminated until one is left and declared the winner, to select his entry number for the Royal Rumble, 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 Christian (William), eliminated Michaels. Michaels defeated Jericho at WrestleMania XIX. After the match, Michaels offered his hand to Jericho, who instead of shaking it, hugged Michaels. At first it seemed like good sportsmanship by Jericho until he quickly kicked Michaels in the groin.
As a part of an ongoing feud with Triple H, the two competed alongside Chris Benoit in the main event match at WrestleMania XX for the World Heavyweight Championship. The former DX partners both came up short in the match, however, as Benoit had been scripted to win the championship. At Bad Blood 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 Edge (Adam Copeland) interfered at Taboo Tuesday, 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 legitimate torn meniscus.
Feuds with Angle and Hogan (2005)
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 of the ring.Michaels issued a challenge to Angle for a match at WrestleMania 21, 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 La Résistance Rob Conway and Sylvain Grenier). Three days later on SmackDown!, Angle defeated Jannetty, after Angle made Jannetty submit to the ankle lock. To send a "message" to Michaels, Angle also humiliated Michaels' former manager, Sensational Sherri, when he applied the ankle lock hold on her.
The next night on Raw, Muhammad Hassan (Mark Copani) and Daivari (Shawn Daivari) came out to confront and assault Michaels. The following week, Michaels approached authority figure Eric Bischoff, in which he demanded a handicap match with Hassan and Daivari, a match consisting of one wrestler or team of wrestlers facing off against a team of wrestlers with numerical superiority such as two against one, or three against two. Bischoff refused to schedule the match, but informed Michaels to find a partner and he would grant him the match. Michaels then made a plea for Hulk Hogan (Terry Bollea) 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 Backlash, Hassan and Daivari lost to Hogan and Michaels when Daivari was pinned. On the July 4 edition of Raw, Michaels and Hulk Hogan had a tag team match, which they won. During the post-match pose, Michaels hit Hogan with his superkick, knocking Hogan to the ground and making Michaels a villain for the first time since returning in 2002. The following week on Raw, Michaels appeared on Piper's Pit where he superkicked Roddy Piper (Roderick Toombs) and then challenged Hogan to a match at SummerSlam. 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, and Michaels once again became a crowd favorite.
Feud with McMahon and reformation of DX (2006–2007)
On the December 26, 2005 edition 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' matches and interfering on behalf of Michaels' opponents. 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. On the February 13 edition of Raw, McMahon tried unsuccessfully to force Michaels to sign retirement papers. The following week, Michaels won a handicap match against the Spirit Squad (Kenny (Ken Doane), Johnny (Johnny Jeter), Mitch (Nick Mitchell), Nicky (Nick Nemeth), and Mikey (Michael Brendli) and after the match, Michaels' 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 Chris Masters' (Chris Mordetzky) "Masterlock challenge."Michaels tried to help Jannetty, which ultimately resulted in Shane attacking Michaels and forcing him to kiss his father's ass. At Saturday Night's Main Event, Shane defeated Michaels in a Street Fight, a match without disqualifications and where scoring conditions can occur anywhere, 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 WrestleMania 22 in a No Holds Barred match, a match where there are no disqualifications. 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.On the May 22 edition of Raw, the Squad was scripted to injure Michaels' knee. This was 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 DX. 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 for the WWE Championship, repeatedly butting heads with Vince McMahon in the process. On the June 12, 2006 edition of Raw, DX officially reunited. During Triple H's gauntlet match, which had him compete against the Spirit Squad, a match consisting of two wrestlers beginning the match, and replacing whenever one is eliminated (by normal means), with the last person standing being named the winner. Michaels came in to help Triple H, and the two did the DX "crotch chops." At Vengeance, DX defeated the Spirit Squad in a 5–on–2 handicap match. They also defeated the Spirit Squad at Saturday Night's Main Event in a 5-on-2 elimination match and defeated The McMahons at SummerSlam. At Unforgiven, DX once again defeated the McMahons and ECW World Champion The Big Show (Paul Wight) in a Hell in a Cell match.
At Cyber Sunday, DX took on Rated-RKO (Edge and Randy Orton). The fan-selected referee Eric Bischoff allowed the illegal use of a Folding chair to give Rated-RKO the ill-gotten win and the plaudit of being the first tag team to defeat DX in a tag team match since their reformation in June 2006. At Survivor Series, however, Team DX emerged victorious against Team Rated-RKO. At New Year's Revolution, Triple H suffered a legitimate torn right quadriceps during their match with Rated-RKO. Rated-RKO claimed victory over DX, citing Triple H's injury, as the "end" of DX. On January 15, 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 con-chair-to, a wrestler placing their opponent so that they are horizontal with their head resting on a chair, then hitting their head from above with a second chair, squashing the head of the opponent between both chairs, after a handicap match against Edge and Orton.
Various feuds (2007–2010)
On the January 29 episode of Raw, Michaels captured the World Tag Team Championship with WWE Champion John Cena after defeating Rated-RKO. He then defeated both Edge and Orton in a Triple Threat number one contender's match on another episode of Raw to earn a shot at the WWE championship. At WrestleMania 23, Cena retained the championship, after he made Michaels submit to the STFU. The next night on Raw, Michaels and Cena competed in two back-to-back ten team battle royals, winning the first and losing the titles in the second to The Hardys (Matt and Jeff) when Michaels threw Cena over the top rope. Michaels' feud with Cena continued and he faced off with Cena, Edge and Randy Orton in a standard wrestling match involving four wrestlers at Backlash for the WWE championship. Cena retained the championship when Michaels performed Sweet Chin Music on Cena causing him to fall on Orton, which gained Cena 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 Judgment Day, after Michaels won a match against Edge, Orton interfered, punting Michaels in the head, this kick sees the wrestler take a run up to a kneeling opponent and strike him in the head with the sole of his foot. Orton assaulted Michaels again, just prior to their match at Judgment Day, interrupting Michaels' interview segment. Michaels collapsed during the course of their match, causing Orton to win by referee stoppage. Afterwards, Orton continued the beating, when he performed a jumping cutter to a fallen Michaels. Michaels was then removed out of the ring in a stretcher. During the feud, Michaels conjured 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 a superkick to newly crowned WWE Champion, Orton, during his title ceremony at the end of the show and then celebrating over the knocked-out champion as Vince McMahon watched. 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. Michaels got another opportunity at the WWE championship, when he was granted his rematch against Orton at Survivor Series. 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 a jumping cutter for the win.
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. Afterwards, Batista confronts Michaels about his actions at WrestleMania, calling him selfish and egotistical. 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. 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 Judgment Day. At One Night Stand, Michaels lost to Batista in a stretcher match, a match where the objective is to place the opponent on a stretcher at ringside and move it across a line located on the entrance ramp, thus ending their feud. 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. The following week, it was revealed that, within the context of the storyline, Michaels had suffered a detached retina. At The Great American Bash 2008, a match between Michaels and Jericho was scheduled, in which Jericho assaulted Michaels' eye, which caused Jericho to win by referee stoppage. A month later at SummerSlam, Michaels was scripted to announce his retirement from professional wrestling, though the staged rivalry between Jericho and himself continued after Jericho punched Michaels' wife in the face. On the August 25 episode of Raw, Michaels denounced his decision to retire and challenged Jericho to an unsanctioned match at Unforgiven, which Jericho accepted. The following week, Michaels and Jericho held a scripted official contract signing for the unsanctioned match. During the contract signing, a confrontation with Jericho occurred. A predicament insured when Michaels suffered a small tear on his left triceps. Though, Michaels was medically cleared to compete in the match. At Unforgiven, Michaels defeated Jericho, after the referee stopped the match, due to the severity of the beating Michaels was giving Jericho. It was at the same September event that Jericho replaced CM Punk in the World Heavyweight Championship scramble match, which saw him win the match and become World champion. The following month at No Mercy, Michaels met Jericho in a ladder match in which Jericho defended the World title against Michaels. At the event, Jericho defeated Michaels to retain the title. In December 2008, Michaels accepted an offer to become an employee of John "Bradshaw" Layfield (JBL). The storyline was that Michaels had lost his family's personal savings due to the global recession, forcing him to accept JBL's offer of employment. After failing to secure JBL the World Heavyweight Championship against John Cena at the Royal Rumble, Michaels agreed to take part in an "All or Nothing" match at No Way Out in February. Michaels won the match, letting Michaels out of his one-year contract with JBL immediately while still receiving full payment. Michaels became the first person to successfully defeat Vladimir Kozlov on the March 2 episode of Raw, and as a result earned the right to face The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXV in April. At the event, The Undertaker defeated Michaels to extend his WrestleMania winning streak to 17-0. After WrestleMania, Michaels took a hiatus from WWE. Michaels returned to WWE programming in a series of segments that aired on the August 10, 2009 episode of Raw, where he had scripted 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 would try to convince Michaels to return to WWE and reform DX. After several incidents during the segments, Michaels agreed to team with Triple H to face The Legacy (Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase) at SummerSlam. At the pay-per-view event, DX defeated Legacy. The two teams would exchange victories, with their feud concluding in October. Two months later, at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs, DX defeated Chris Jericho and The Big Show to win the Unified WWE Tag Team Championship in a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match (TLC). 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, Hart has confirmed that it was indeed genuine. DX lost the Unified 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). At the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view, Michaels cost The Undertaker the World Heavyweight Championship in the main event. At WrestleMania XXVI, Michaels lost to the Undertaker and, as a result, was forced to retire. The following night, on the March 29 episode of Raw, Michaels gave his farewell speech, departing with the familiar sentence, "Shawn Michaels has left the building."
Post-retirement appearances (2010–2018)
On the December 14 episode of Raw, Michaels won the Slammy award for Moment of the Year for his match against The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXVI. Michaels made an appearance via satellite to accept the award. Three days later, he announced a long-term deal with WWE, where he will serve in an ambassadorial role. Michaels made his first live appearance at a WWE show since the night after WrestleMania at the December 11 Tribute to the Troops taping, where he and Triple H made a special appearance for a one-night only DX reunion. Michaels appeared on the January 10, 2011, episode of Raw, where it was announced he was to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2011. After being ridiculed by Alberto Del Rio, 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 WrestleMania XXVII. Michaels was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on April 2 by Triple H. The two were also joined by Kevin Nash (who had returned to WWE previously to participate in the recent Royal Rumble) and Sean Waltman, reuniting the majority of The Kliq. He further made an appearance 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 made a special appearance and was interrupted and threatened by Drew McIntyre, Michaels superkicked McIntyre. He made another appearance on February 13, 2012 to confront his friend Triple H about not accepting The Undertaker's challenge. He also declared the fact that he was the special guest referee for the match between The Undertaker and Triple H inside Hell in a Cell at Wrestlemania XXVIII. On August 6, the live audience experienced "shawn Michaels Appreciation Night" on Raw. On the August 13 episode of Raw, Shawn was attacked by Brock Lesnar with an F-5 and then put into the Kimura Lock thus breaking Shawns' right arm. On the January 24, 2013 edition of NXT, Michaels appeared to announce a tournament to crown the inaugural NXT Tag Team Champions. afterwards, He had an off-screen DX reunion with Kevin Nash as well.
On April 1, 2013 episode of Raw Michaels returned to offer his moral support for Triple H against Lesnar at WrestleMania by being Triple H's manager. As a result, at WrestleMana 29 Triple H defeated Brock Lesnar to keep his career on the line and Michaels would launch a super kick to Paul Heyman during the match. Michaels returned on the May 27 edition of Raw in a backstage segment with John Cena, while also appearing on the SummerSlam Kickoff.
Michaels returned in October 2013 and was selected to be the guest referee in the Hell in a Cell match between Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton for the vacant WWE Championship after winning a WWE App poll. at Hell in a Cell, michaels delivered sweet Chin Music to Bryan which allowed Orton to pick up the victory. The next night on Raw, Michaels told Bryan that Triple H was his best friend and always will be, and was upset at how Bryan attacked Triple H during the Hell in a Cell match the previous night. Michaels would then degrade Bryan for not showing him the respect he deserves, turning heel for the first time since 2005. Bryan would then put Michaels in the Yes Lock to end the segment.
In-ring return (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 the match, Michaels and Triple H were attacked by Undertaker and Kane.
Hickenbottom's marriage to his first wife, Theresa Wood, was brief and ended in divorce, but was amicably settled. He is now married to former WCW Nitro Girl Rebecca Hickenbottom (née Curci), who went by the stage name of Whisper. They were married on March 31, 1999 at the Graceland Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas, Nevada in a small ceremony. The only people present were the couple and an Elvis impersonator. The couple have a son, Cameron Kade (born on January 15, 2000) and a daughter, Cheyenne Michelle (born on August 19, 2004 ). His cousin Matt Bentley is also a professional wrestler having wrestled in TNA and WWE.
Hickenbottom has several tattoos. He has a tattoo of a heart with a sword through it, that has a snake around it in the shape of an "S." He has one on his wedding finger, that has an R for his wife Rebecca. Another in his left wrist, is a bracelet design that says "Cameron" for his son and "Cheyenne" for his daughter. On his left leg he has a picture of his wife, the other leg has a picture of the state of Texas. Finally, he has a small broken heart with the letters "HBK" above it, tattooed on his right hip.
In 1996, Hickenbottom posed in a non-nude layout for Playgirl magazine. It was not until after he posed that he discovered that Playgirl has a mostly homosexual readership, which was seen as humorous by his fellow wrestlers. He is ambidextrous, which caused him problems as a boy playing football, as he had trouble differentiating between his right and left directions. He uses his right hand to draw and color and his left hand to write. He typically uses his right leg when performing Sweet Chin Music, but has been known to use either arm when performing his signature elbow drop. Hickenbottom is a fan of the San Antonio Spurs. He has been seen wearing Spurs merchandise and attending Spurs games. John "Bradshaw" Layfield made a reference to Hickenbottom being a season ticket holder during the 2007 Royal Rumble.
Hickenbottom is a born again Christian. He was raised as a Roman Catholic, but became a non-denominational Christian under the influence of his wife Rebecca. His ring attire often incorporated cross symbols, and while on the way to the ring, he would normally get down on his knees and mouth a prayer while his pyrotechnics went off. He has been seen in the congregation during a televised service of John Hagee's Cornerstone Church in his hometown of San Antonio, where he is also a Bible teacher. He also appeared on a Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) program along with fellow professional wrestler Sting.
- Shawn Michaels defeated Ric Flair at Wrestlemania 24, which is why Ric Flair was forced to retire.
- Shawn has two brothers, Scott & Randy, and a sister, Shari.
- Shawn is the only wrestler in WWE history to simultaneously hold the WWE European Championship and WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
- Shawn was the first ever man to compete in a Ladder match, Hell in a Cell match, Ironman match and Elimination Chamber match.
- Shawn is also the first wrestler to achieve the "Grand Slam".
- Shawn, along with Chris Benoit, is the only superstar to have won the Royal Rumble event at entry number 1.
My persona is who I am: a born-again Christian, everything I do is real.
And of course, if you're not down with that. We got two... words... for ya!
- Signature moves
- "The Heartbreak Kid (HBK)"
- "The Showstopper"
- "Sexy Boy"
- "The Most Honored Champion in WWE History"
- "The Headliner"
- "The Main Event"
- "The Icon"
- "Mr. WrestleMania"
- "Mr. Hall of Fame"
- "The One and the Only"
- "The Best of the Best"
- Notable feuds
- Bret Hart
- Razor Ramon
- Marty Janetty
- Triple H
- Chris Jericho
- John Cena
- Hulk Hogan
- Kurt Angle
- The Undertaker
- John "Bradshaw" Layfield
- Vince McMahon
- Shane McMahon
- The British Bulldog
- Stone Cold Steve Austin
- Randy Orton
- Sycho Sid
- The Legacy
- Spirit Squad
- Sgt. Slaughter
- Mr. Kennedy
- Tag teams and stables
- Wrestlers trained
- Nickname for Fans
- "The Kliq"
- Theme music
Championships and accomplishments
- Continental Wrestling Association
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- PWI Feud of the Year (2008) vs. Chris Jericho
- PWI Match of the Year (1993) vs. Marty Jannetty on Monday Night Raw on May 17
- PWI Match of the Year (1994) vs. Razor Ramon in a Ladder match at WrestleMania X
- PWI Match of the Year (1995) vs. Diesel at WrestleMania XI
- PWI Match of the Year (1996) vs. Bret Hart in an Iron Man match at WrestleMania XII
- PWI Match of the Year (2004) vs. Chris Benoit and Triple H at WrestleMania XX
- PWI Match of the Year (2005) vs. Kurt Angle at WrestleMania 21
- PWI Match of the Year (2006) vs. Vince McMahon in a No Holds Barred match at WrestleMania 22
- PWI Match of the Year (2007) vs. John Cena on Raw on April 23
- PWI Match of the Year (2008) vs. Ric Flair at WrestleMania XXIV
- PWI Match of the Year (2009) vs. The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXV
- PWI Match of the Year (2010) vs. The Undertaker in a Career vs. Streak match at WrestleMania XXVI
- PWI Most Inspirational Wrestler of the Year (2010)
- PWI Most Popular Wrestler of the Year (1995, 1996)
- PWI ranked him #1 of the top 500 singles wrestlers of the year in the PWI 500 in 1996
- PWI ranked him #10 of the top 500 singles wrestlers of the "PWI Years" in 2003
- PWI ranked him #33 of the Top 100 Tag Teams of the "PWI Years" with Marty Jannetty in 2003
- Texas Wrestling Alliance
- TWA Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- World Wrestling Federation / World Wrestling Entertainment
- WWF Championship (3 times)
- World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- WWF European Championship (1 time)
- WWF Intercontinental Championship (3 times)
- World Tag Team Championship (5 times) – with Diesel (2), Stone Cold Steve Austin (1), John Cena (1), and Triple H (1)
- WWE Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Triple H (1)
- Royal Rumble (1995, 1996)
- Fourth Triple Crown Champion
- First Grand Slam Champion
- WWE Hall of Fame (Class of 2011)
- Slammy Award for Best Slammin' Jammin' Entrance (1996)
- Slammy Award for Best Threads (1996)
- Slammy Award for Squared Circle Shocker (1996) Won for collapsing; Owen Hart accepts the award for making Michaels collapse
- Slammy Award for Master of Mat Mechanics (1996)
- Slammy Award for Match of the Year (1996) vs. Razor Ramon in a Ladder match at SummerSlam
- Slammy Award for Leader of the New Generation (1996)
- Slammy Award for Best Finisher (1997)
- Slammy Award for Match of the Year (1997) vs. Bret Hart in an Iron Man match at WrestleMania XII
- Slammy Award for Match of the Year (2008) vs. Ric Flair at WrestleMania XXIV
- Slammy Award for Match of the Year (2009) vs. The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXV
- Slammy Award for Moment of the Year (2010) vs. The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXVI
- Slammy Award for Double-Cross of the Year (2013) for turning on Daniel Bryan and costing him the WWE Championship at Hell in a Cell.
^ In October 1990, Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty defeated The Hart Foundation for the title. Despite winning the match, the win and reign are not recognized by WWE, as the ring ropes broke and the match was not aired on television. As a result, Michaels is only officially recognized as a 5-time World Tag Team Champion.
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter
- 5 Star Match (1994) vs. Razor Ramon in a Ladder match at WrestleMania X.
- 5 Star Match (1997) vs. The Undertaker in a Hell in a Cell at Badd Blood.
- Best Babyface (1996)
- Feud of the Year (2004) vs. Triple H and Chris Benoit
- Feud of the Year (2008) vs. Chris Jericho
- Match of the Year (1994) vs. Razor Ramon in a Ladder match at WrestleMania X
- Match of the Year (2008) vs. Chris Jericho in a Ladder match at No Mercy
- Match of the Year (2009) vs. The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXV
- Match of the Year (2010) vs. The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXVI
- Most Charismatic (1995, 1996)
- Tag Team of the Year (1989) with Marty Jannetty as The Rockers
- Worst Feud of the Year (2006) with Triple H vs. Shane and Vince McMahon
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (Class of 2003)
- Shawn Michaels's event history
- Shawn Michaels Theme Lyrics
- Texas Wrestling Academy
- Shawn Michaels: From The Vault (DVD 2003)
- Shawn Michaels HeartBreak and Triumph (DVD 2007)
- Shawn Michaels: My Journey (DVD 2010)