From his achievements in the squared circle, to how he turned his life around from a party boy to a well-respected family man, Shawn Michaels has had his life covered from every aspect for all fans to enjoy. However, there’s a difference one can see when they either read an article that was given to someone as a topic to cover or a dedicated fan that’s been passionate about HBK’s career.
Like many, I’ve been a fan of Shawn Michaels from a very young age. For nearly thirty years, the fans have watched and loved every moment that focused on “The Heartbreak Kid”. They imitated his walk, his hops, and the way he used to take off his flashy chaps in the center of the ring. His poses, his mannerisms, and his presence was something many imitated and enjoyed. Shawn brought a new age to the world of wrestling, showing a side that wouldn’t be considered the norm at the time. He was the object of women’s affection, the purest form of sex appeal. His defiance of authority and flamboyant personality catered to all that avoided what many could have seen as taboo for a public image. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin may be credited for the glory of the attitude era, but it was Shawn Michaels that started all with the concept and rise of Degeneration-X.
Digging a little deeper into the wrestling world would show just how Shawn slowly became HBK. His first televised match was in World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW) when he went against “The Sensational” Billy Haynes. The match only lasted a little over a minute, but it showed a unique form of entertainment not seen before. Shawn took the opportunity to do a back flip from the top rope with a little showboating right before he lost the match, and that alone would give viewers a glance of the man that would unknowingly become Mr. WrestleMania.
He knew he was going to make it big. The passion for it was in the way he carried himself. He was a small fish in a sea filled with sharks, and had to make it up with something that would put him over the others: charisma. He threw away the stereotype for anyone who wanted to be a wrestler, but didn’t quite have the size and physique promoters would usually look for. Anybody that followed Shawn Michaels beyond his persona in the ring, however, knew that he wasn’t exactly the greatest person to be around with and it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows.
Quickly finding himself at the top of the mountain, Michaels considered himself untouchable. His ego left him with little friends to count on and a bitter taste in the tongues of others. He was difficult to work with, and even had the Undertaker put him in his place at one point when Michaels initially refused to put over “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, who was reaching the height of his career. His antics even got him severely beaten during an outing at a night club dubbed the Syracuse Incident.
Regardless of the darker side of Shawn Michaels’ past life, avoiding having to dwell on the things he did wrong, it’s a praise of the legacy he left for fans and wrestlers to admire. The man has been a pinnacle in the world of professional wrestling, inspiring so many stars like Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens, Dolph Ziggler, and Daniel Bryan. Even his finishing move, Sweet Chin Music, became something of a legend. Stars like the Young Bucks are notoriously known for their superkick parties, and Dolph Ziggler himself has been given the blessings to use the Sweet Chin Music as one of his many finishing maneuvers, theatrics and all.
Fans, present and future, will all appreciate the WWE Hall of Famer for all he has accomplished as he continues to give into the business that gave him so much to begin with. Now a coach for the WWE Performance Center and the NXT producer behind the acclaimed Tomasso Ciampa vs. Johnny Gargano fued, he continues to ensure solid entertainment is provided whether he is in front of the camera or behind it. He has proven many times that a person with a dream doesn’t have to be a six foot plus monster with chiseled abs and no body fat to succeed in the world of professional wrestling. With a little confidence, hard work ethic, and undeniable passion, nothing is impossible.
On behalf of LWOS, I wish Shawn Michaels a very Happy Birthday.