There never seems to be enough said about Shawn Michaels, whether it be about the legacy he left within the ring or his infamy outside of it. Such discussion is well-documented and full of real-life context. However, what can be said about the character of Shawn Michaels?
We tracked down near everything commentary said about Shawn Michaels from 1991 through 1998 (the first half of his singles career) and put it all together. Relive the evolution of a young Rocker and how he developed into the legendary “Heartbreak Kid,” through the words of Bobby Heenan, Gorilla Monsoon, Vince McMahon, Bret Hart, and more!
Shawn Michaels – The Early Days: Charisma, Brains, and Talent in the Ring
We will try not to add too much analysis here, as we want the quotes to speak for themselves. Some matches contain large quantities of commentary, while others may have only a line or two at best. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of every Shawn Michaels match, nor is this meant to be a must-watch list of any kind. We have only listed here the matches where something of (any) significance was mentioned that contributed to Shawn’s evolution as a character. For the sake of "brevity," we will begin with some of his singles matches in 1991, but then lead straight into his singles career in 1992, up until his story ends for the first time in 1998. A side objective of this is to track where Shawn’s image or in-ring psychology changed to reflect the ‘final’ version of himself that we would see in 1997/98.
Shawn Michaels – 1991
Shawn Michaels vs. Mr. Perfect (WWF World Tour 1991 VHS – March 3rd, 1991)
Bobby Heenan: "Michaels is good as long as Jannetty’s around. See, they’re tag-team specialists – one-on-one, the guy’s lost. He’s always looking to the corner for help."
Lord Alfred Hayes: "And who else put such a series of successful moves together, such as these, and in the end, come up fruitless?"
Sean Mooney: "Shawn Michaels, so agile…and you’re right, Lord Alfred Hayes: he can spring at any second."
Lord Alfred Hayes: "It shows you that Shawn Michaels has all his capabilities, mentally, together to do such a move at such a fantastic time."
Sean Mooney: "Shawn Michaels, we have always known, is a fighter."
Shawn performs his familiar Superkick and Elbow Drop in this match but in reverse order. Neither gets him the victory, in this case. We won’t see the top rope elbow drop again for some time.
Lord Alfred Hayes: "Shawn Michaels: a gifted wrestler, very talented, and a man who could certainly go to the top very, very quickly, indeed, in singles one-on-one action. But we’re going to watch him test it here by Ric Flair."
Lord Alfred Hayes: "Sean, I don’t know about you, but wouldn’t you rather see Michaels in one-on-one action? He’s such a gifted, talented wrestler; he holds a lot of [personality?] and force inside that ring, he’s very charismatic, he thinks about his matches, he doesn’t waste any motion at all, and he has BOUNDLESS energy!"
Lord Alfred Hayes: "Michaels has now fallen afoul his own impatientness [sic] here, his own anxiety to get this victory against Flair."
Shawn Michaels – 1992
Gorilla Monsoon: "The traitor, Shawn Michaels."
Gorilla Monsoon: "Certainly no conceit in his family; he’s got it all."
Bobby Heenan: "Nothing wrong with being conceited if you know you got it."
Bobby Heenan: "If you were to put all the women’s faces on the back of his jacket who love this man – there’s not a jacket big enough."
Bobby Heenan: "[…] he’s not a little punk. [That] happens to be Shawn Michaels, who I always thought had the potential to be champion. Now, he’s coming into himself. Now, he has that feeling; he knows what it is to be in there in the World Wrestling Federation."
Gorilla Monsoon: "He’s got an awful lot of ability."
Bobby Heenan: "OH, does he have [ability]."
*Gorilla tries to make a point about Shawn’s ego*
Gorilla Monsoon: "Upper body strength obviously goes to the Superfly, as is obvious right there, but speed and agility, I’m afraid, falls into the hands of Mr. Michaels."
Bobby Heenan: "[laughing] And brains, you’d have to say."
Bobby Heenan: "This is a new Shawn Michaels. I like this. I like this look. Talk about being aggressive, talk about being quick – the man’s determined. This man’s gonna have some gold here in the World Wrestling Federation, VERY SOON."
Bobby Heenan: "This is a new era for Shawn Michaels. He is going right to the top; I can feel that. Sometimes you can just…[think of] Hockey, Baseball, or Basketball – can’t you just look at a team sometimes and just tell they’re gonna make it? They got everything going for them? They don’t have a flaw?"
Gorilla Monsoon: "Sometimes."
Bobby Heenan: "That’s this guy."
Shawn Michaels vs. Rudy Gonzales (WWF Superstars, February 15th, 1992)
Vince McMahon: "He’s as close as you can get to being perfect without being perfect. I can’t blame Sherri [for being in love with him]."
[Upon jumping off the apron for a running flying clothesline]
Mr. Perfect: "There’s a move you don’t see every day."
Vince McMahon: "That’s for sure. The man will take chances."
Gorilla Monsoon: "[Sherri’s] dangerous."
Bobby Heenan: "Very dangerous. And so is Michaels, believe me. Probably one of the most gifted athletes in the World Wrestling Federation – maybe one of the most gifted athletes I’ve ever run across in my whole career."
Shawn Michaels vs. Scott Hen (WWF Superstars, March 7th, 1992)
Vince McMahon: "Look at this guy. He slays me. Who does he think he is? EARRINGS?"
Mr. Perfect: "That’s total confidence, McMahon. Take a look at that Shawn Michaels. I really enjoy watching this guy. I think he’s one of the greatest wrestlers in the World Wrestling Federation right now."
Mr. Perfect: "Shawn Michaels has the ability to adjust his talents to whomever he’s wrestling."
Vince McMahon: "Every time he will take advantage of every situation. Shawn Michaels, if nothing else, other than being a great wrestler, is unquestionably an opportunist."
Shawn Michaels vs. Virgil (WWF on MSG Network, March 23rd, 1992)
Gorilla Monsoon: "Tremendous athlete."
???: "This man is cocky. This man’s conceited. This man only cares about himself. I don’t like it." [I can’t identify who it is that said it; it sounds like Heenan, but it feels out of character]
Bobby Heenan: "You can’t get in the ring with Shawn Michaels and not be 100%."
I believe this is the first time Shawn does what looks like his signature "flexing" pose, although he does a prototypical version in an earlier squash match against an unnamed jobber prior to this.
Gorilla Monsoon: "He’s got some tremendous wrestling skills and abilities, no denying that!"
Bobby Heenan: "Look at the confidence in Shawn Michaels. This man is a future – FUTURE – champion, and the Star of the 90s."
Gorilla Monsoon: "He’s got all that speed, all that agility, and he’s playing right into Piper’s hands!"
Bobby Heenan: "He is playing Piper’s game, and it’s not right."
[Following a kick-out from a slingshot to the turnbuckle]
Bobby Heenan: "That shows you how tough and gutsy this Michaels is!"
Shawn Michaels vs. Tito Santana (WrestleMania VIII, April 4th, 1992)
Bobby Heenan: "Well, I think if there’s going to be an Intercontinental Champion down the line, it’s got to be this Shawn Michaels. He’s ready; he’s arrogant, he’s cocky, he’s got Sensational Sherri – that’s MY kind of girl – he’s GOT to have the gold around his waist."
Bobby Heenan: "Well, you’ve gotta be concerned about Santana; he’s a premier star here in the WWF. BUT, Michaels is young, he’s eager, he’s hungry, and he wants it bad."
Bobby Heenan: "Tell ya what’s good about Santana: he always goes back to the same hold. He goes back to wear a man down. That’s good, basic scientific wrestling. But it’s not gonna work. Michaels is just too, too quick."
[Bret Hart during a promo earlier in the show]
Bret Hart: I know all about you, Shawn Michaels, and when I think of you now, I don’t think of this cool, high-flying wrestler that you used to be. I think of this conceited jerk that you’ve turned into. Shawn Michaels, success comes from being able to go the distance, and Shawn Michaels, you’re gonna be nothing but a short drive.
Mr. Perfect: "You know, McMahon, take a look at that guy. There’s a guy with confidence."
Vince McMahon: "I’d say ARROGANCE."
Mr. Perfect: "…Okay, whatever you wanna call it, but you know what, when you’re good, and you know it, you can be like Shawn Michaels."
Mr. Perfect: "Very impressive, McMahon. This guy has got a lot of confidence."
Vince McMahon: "Well, yes, he does. He has a great deal of confidence, a great deal of ability as well.”
Shawn Michaels vs. Randy Savage (WWF Championship, April 18th, 1992)
Lord Alfred Hayes: "I have no doubt that we’re going to see a new champion crowned here. Shawn Michaels will wear that crown with a lot of distinction. He is truly a great wrestler."
Bobby Heenan: "Well, he can do moves like no one else, can’t he?"
Gorilla Monsoon: "’Stay on him’ – the words of advice from the main squeeze of Shawn Michaels."
Bobby Heenan: "She is in love with him."
Gorilla Monsoon: "Yeah, but is the feeling mutual?"
Bobby Heenan: "She’s there. I don’t see any other woman around."
Gorilla Monsoon: "I don’t believe that Shawn Michaels has the capability of loving anyone."
Bobby Heenan: "Why is that?"
Gorilla Monsoon: "Because he’s in love with himself!"
Gorilla Monsoon: "He reminds me of an ox. A big fat one!"
Gorilla Monsoon: "Oh, here he comes!"
Bobby Heenan: "The heartthrob of the World Wrestling Federation!"
Bobby Heenan: "This man’s gonna wear the gold someday, I’m tellin’ ya Monsoon."
Gorilla Monsoon: "I’ll tell you what: if and when Shawn Michaels steps into the ring with the newly-crowned Intercontinental Champion Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart, he better pay more attention to what’s going on than he did just now."
Bobby Heenan: "Oh, he pays attention; he knows what he’s doing. Believe me."
Mr. Perfect: "What a matchup that would be, McMahon: Shawn Michaels against Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart?"
Vince McMahon: "Yeah."
Mr. Perfect: "I gotta go with Shawn Michaels on that one, for the simple reason: Shawn Michaels is the Wrestler of the 90s. Look at this lean, mean, wrestling machine. He’s got everything down pat, all the moves, he knows how to push the right buttons – I think he’s too much for The Hitman."
Mr. Perfect: "What confidence, huh, McMahon? I really like this guy!"
Vince McMahon: "That’s not confidence; that’s arrogance!"
Mr. Perfect: "That’s confidence. You wouldn’t know the difference anyway."
Bobby Heenan: "He’s cocky, he’s conceited, but he can back it up, ‘cause this man has 100% of ability – and he’s gonna be the next Intercontinental Champion! I just feel it! Some things, you know. You know you get up in the morning sometimes, and you feel like it’s gonna rain or you know it’s gonna be a good day? I feel this man’s gonna be a champion."
Bobby Heenan: "[Sherri] is in love with him."
Gorilla Monsoon: "Yeah, but is the feeling mutual? I don’t think so! He’s too much in love with himself to love anybody else!"
Bobby Heenan: "Well, what he uses on himself, if there’s any leftover, she maybe gets a little."
(WWF Wrestling Challenge, May 31st, 1992)
Bret Hart: "[…] when I think of Shawn Michaels, sometimes he kinda reminds me of me. You gotta give Shawn Michaels a lot of credit: he’s a great, great wrestler. He’s got a lot of ability, he’s a little unfocused, but he’s got a lot of ability. He’s got some really, really great moves. He’s fast – you know, you just don’t know where to start sometimes. Just a tremendous amount of ability. But there’s two, real, real big differences – BIG differences – between me and Shawn Michaels."
Gene Okerlund: "What are those differences, Bret Hart?"
Bret Hart:"Well, the first one is: I don’t gotta pay my women to go out with me! And the second big difference between me and Shawn Michaels is Shawn Michaels, you don’t have this (the Intercontinental Title), and you’re never, ever gonna get it!"
Shawn Michaels vs. Graig Brown (WWF Superstars, June 13th, 1992)
Vince McMahon: "Narcissus himself could take lessons from Shawn Michaels."
Gorilla Monsoon: "What a tremendous athlete we have here in Shawn Michaels, who in many folks’ opinion […] think he’s gonna be the next reigning champion."
Gorilla Monsoon: "[…] he’s stuck on himself."
Bobby Heenan: "I think he’s got a right to be. Good looking man; talented man; talented athlete; the next Intercontinental Champion, a lot of people are putting odds that way."
Gorilla Monsoon: "No one is questioning his ability, his credentials, the tools he carries to the ring –"
[Camera shot to fan dressed as Shawn]
Bobby Heenan: "Look, look at it! Shawn Michaels impersonators! Everybody wants to be like Shawn Michaels!"
The commentary indicates that this is the first time Shawn had a mirror brought to the ring with him (on television, it first appeared a day before against Jason Speed). This mirror carries the "broken heart" symbol on its back, similar to the ones that would adorn Shawn’s tights later on in his career. Perhaps we’re seeing the genesis of his most famous moniker?
Shawn Michaels vs. Chico Martinez (WWF Superstars, July 11th, 1992)
Vince McMahon: "Here comes someone who likes to throw his weight around […]"
Vince McMahon: "I think more than anyone else in the WWF today, this man exudes more arrogance than anyone else. I think the fans all over the world would like to see this man defeated more than just about anybody."
Mr. Perfect: "Yeah, they might want to see him defeated, but it won’t happen. Shawn Michaels is a great wrestler, and he’s confident, McMahon, not arrogant."
Vince McMahon: "I see. So how do you account for that mirror that Sensational Sherri carries around all the time so that Shawn Michaels can take a look at himself? That’s confidence?"
Mr. Perfect: "He wants to look at himself – a reflection of greatness; that’s what that is."
Vince McMahon: "He probably thinks he can be the World Bodybuilding Federation champion."
Ric Flair: "The man they say is gonna hold it all – it’s his destiny. The great Shawn Michaels."
Mr. Perfect: "You’re not gonna outwrestle Shawn Michaels."
Although this would air later, this match was the first taped match after Shawn got his arm tattoo. He likely got it in the 3 weeks between his match with Jason Speed and this one.
Gorilla Monsoon: "Double axe handle from the apron – one of the trademarks of Shawn Michaels."
[Referring to Shawn’s upcoming SummerSlam match against Rick Martel]
Bobby Heenan: "What a match that’s gonna be. Think about it: they’re basically the same size, they both have youth, they both have speed, they have a knowledge of the ring, and both of these athletes have an ego as big as the world."
Vince McMahon: "You talk about conceit and talk about arrogance – Shawn Michaels might even come close to your level now, Mr. Perfect."
Mr. Perfect: "Yeah, he’s the Heartbreak Kid. This guy breaks hearts all over the country."
[Regarding an article in WWF Magazine titled "Does Shawn Michaels Really Hate Women?"]
Mr. Perfect: "[…] women do bother him, I think."
Vince McMahon: "They bother him?"
Mr. Perfect: "Yeah, they get in his way, you know, everybody wants to touch him, everybody wants to see him, everybody wants a piece of Shawn Michaels. He’s the Heartbreak Kid!"
Vince McMahon: "Look at Shawn Michaels here – undoubtedly a master technician!"
Now I’m not 100% about this, but I’m sure this is one of, if not the earliest instance of Shawn being called The Heartbreak Kid. Feel free to correct me on this one.
Gorilla Monsoon: "Take a look – the height of conceit, Shawn Michaels!"
Gorilla Monsoon: "Unfortunately for a lot of people that have to step into the ring with Shawn Michaels, he’s got a lot of tools that he can bring to the table."
Bobby Heenan: "The man is not only quick, he’s not only strong, he has a great knowledge of the sport, and he’s got youth on his side."
Gorilla Monsoon: "Boy, he is in tremendous, tremendous physical condition – obviously another proponent of ICOPRO!"
Gorilla Monsoon: "Obviously, this guy will NEVER […], in my opinion, have the Intercontinental gold around his waist. He’s too conceited! He’s too much in love with himself!"
Gene Okerlund: "Make no mistake about it, Shawn Michaels may be Sherri’s ‘boy toy,’ but he is indeed a worthy contender for the World Wrestling Federation title."
Gorilla Monsoon: "Shawn Michaels, always in excellent physical condition."
Reverend Slick: "You talk about working and chewing gum at the same time, huh?"
Reverend Slick: "Don’t take Shawn Michaels lightly. He’s a real technician. He knows exactly what he’s doing at all times. He doesn’t lose control of himself."
Gorilla Monsoon: "Understand also, a tremendous proponent of ICOPRO, Shawn is."
Reverend Slick: "Yeah, exactly. That’s how he manages to keep that great physique of his."
Gorilla Monsoon: "In my opinion, it’s just a question of time, Reverend, before some kind of gold is around the waist of Shawn Michaels."
Reverend Slick: "You said that right, Gorilla. He’s a great competitor, whether you like him or you dislike him, he’s a great competitor, and he knows what he’s doing."
I think this may be the first time Shawn does a straight superkick for the victory, at least for a long time. For a while beyond this point, he goes soul searching for finishers. Often times, later on, he does a superkick, teases a Teardrop Suplex, and then decides he doesn’t need to.
Gorilla Monsoon: "Talk about a man’s man; you’re looking at one right now."
(WWF Intercontinental Championship, Saturday Night’s Main Event, November 14th, 1992)
Bobby Heenan: "Well, the Bulldog is stronger, I would say, than Shawn Michaels. And I would say their speed is equal. […]. But the Bulldog is definitely not too bright a person."
Vince McMahon: "Shawn Michaels wants to make something of himself – wants to be Intercontinental Champion!"
Bobby Heenan: "Shawn Michaels will get away with whatever he wants to get away with. He is prepared! I smell a champion!"
[After Shawn wins the Intercontinental title]
Bobby Heenan: "It just goes to show you: you can have all the muscles in the world like the Bulldog has [but] it’s not gonna do you any good when you’re in there with a man like Shawn Michaels who has nothing but determination and uses good Greco-freestyle wrestling!"
Vince McMahon: "And who also cheats and has lady luck riding on his side!"
Shawn debuts a white and gold version of his normal attire during this match. Foreshadowing…
Gorilla Monsoon: "You know, I’m surprised, Brain, at Shawn Michaels for even considering taking this match with Saturday Night’s Main Event just hours away."
Bobby Heenan: "Well, I’ll tell you why he did it: he’s gotta prove himself. He’s gotta prove himself to everybody in the World Wrestling Federation. They think he’s just a good-looking guy. They think he’s just a [mat-may-I?]. He’s not just that. This man is championship material! And tonight on Saturday Night’s Main Event, he could walk out Intercontinental champion […]"
Bobby Heenan: "Man, this man could do it all. He can do it all. And he might do it all. There’s your World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Champion."
Vince McMahon: "Remember now, there’s only the WWF title up for grabs – not the Intercontinental championship."
Bobby Heenan: "No, that shows you how smart he is. He’s on a roll. He can’t lose the Intercontinental belt – he can only win more gold."
Bobby Heenan: "When we had him as a guest, he wouldn’t even wear his headset. He didn’t wanna ‘mess up his ‘do’ he said."
Gorilla Monsoon: "No, he wore it around his neck! Obviously, thinking he could hear through his carotid artery! Give me a break…"
Bobby Heenan: "Some people can!
Bobby Heenan: "He is smug; he is cocky – he is the champ."
Bobby Heenan: "Still chewing the gum, now THAT’S confidence. You never chew–"
Gorilla Monsoon: "NO, that’s DANGEROUS!"
Bobby Heenan: "Yes, you can choke. But see how confident he is? No one’s gonna give him any trouble…"
Gorilla Monsoon: "No, to me, that’s stupidity, Brain."
[Regarding The Rockers]
Bobby Heenan: "When they were The Rockers, [Shawn] held the team together. He did all the work. He made them as famous as they were [because he was in the ring]."
Vince McMahon: "You don’t want to make him angry because he’s real, real stinky. He’ll set you up as you’ve never been set up before."
Vince McMahon: "Shawn Michaels, undoubtedly a consummate wrestler, a master technician; knows the holds, knows the moves, and indeed, from an athletic standpoint, has it all together."
Bobby Heenan: "He is sensational."
Vince McMahon: "I don’t know about that."
Vince McMahon: "Lightning-like speed, unbelievable agility by Shawn Michaels!"
Bobby Heenan: "That’s why he’s the Intercontinental Champion, dummy!"
Vince McMahon: "You talk about showboating, stuck on yourself–"
Bobby Heenan: "[He’s] Chewing gum, he’s relaxed! He’s under control!"
Shawn Michaels – 1993
Bobby Heenan: "Every arena he wrestles in, every time he’s seen in public, women are divorcing their husbands, women are leaving their boyfriends – he is probably the biggest heartthrob right now in the WWF."
Shawn wins with that "reverse crescent kick" yet again.
Shawn Michaels vs. Bob Backlund
(WWF Intercontinental Championship defense, WWF Grudge Matches VHS, January 5th, 1993)
Lord Alfred Hayes: "I want you to keep an eye on Michaels as he defends his Intercontinental title. You tell me if there’s anybody who executes his moves better than him."
Sean Mooney: "He certainly is one of the most skilled superstars I have ever seen in the World Wrestling Federation, and no one can deny the fact that he deserves to wear the Intercontinental belt."
Lord Alfred Hayes: "In fact, many [previous champions] would say ‘I’m the greatest champion ever’ to hold that particular trophy, but I think Michaels is justified in giving that opinion."
[After mounted punches to Backlund]
Sean Mooney: "Shawn Michaels is using such desperation moves – he’s usually much more disciplined than that, so obviously he’s experiencing a lot of frustration."
(WWF Intercontinental Title defense, first episode of WWF Raw, January 11th, 1993)
Randy Savage: "He’s a legend in his own mind."
Vince McMahon: "We’ve said before, he’s stuck on himself."
Shawn Michaels vs. Reno Riggins (WWF Wrestling Challenge, January 24th, 1993)
Gorilla Monsoon: "In tremendous condition, as always, is Shawn Michaels, and very proud, I might add, of that Intercontinental belt."
Lord Alfred Hayes: "This fellow, Shawn Michaels, turns into the spectacular because he is nothing short of that. This is the most exciting, vibrant young man every time he makes a public appearance, whether he’s wrestling or not."
Sean Mooney: "I would say he is certainly…gets an A+ for showmanship. Whenever he walks into a room, there is no question people take notice. I guess the gold helps too."
Lord Alfred Hayes: "It certainly does. It gives him a lot more luster, a lot more sparkle. But this man is such an incredible asset to the ranks of the World Wrestling Federation. He is a superb Intercontinental Champion, and he’s proven on many occasions just how brilliant he shines!"
Shawn Michaels vs. Kamala
(WWF Intercontinental Championship defense, WWF Bashed in the USA VHS, January 26th, 1993)
Lord Alfred Hayes: "He is indeed [The Wrestler of the ‘90s]. I’ve waited a long time for this match because everybody has been saying that his opponent is going to take the title from him, and I don’t see how that can possibly be done!"
Gorilla Monsoon: "I believe he can rise to the occasion, Alfred."
Lord Alfred Hayes: "Oh, he can, indeed. This man really has tremendous armament to call upon. He is a little conceited, but I think that goes with the ‘skillful’ and ‘clever’ […] Whatever he boasts about, he certainly backs it up!"
Lord Alfred Hayes: "Good maneuvers, these, by Shawn Michaels, showing you how elusive he can be. He is so very, very good at that type of warfare."
Lord Alfred Hayes: "He has a very subtle mix of primitive and extremely skillful. I rather like that blend."
Gorilla Monsoon: "He is…sadistic, Al."
Lord Alfred Hayes: "Well, yes, he is that."
Jerry Lawler: "I am the only one in there that is sufficiently articulate enough to brag on Shawn Michaels. I’m gonna tell you right now: this kid is great."
Vince McMahon: "You never can tell whether or not Michaels is playing possum. He’s always thinking out there. There’s no way to really read the Intercontinental Champion."
This match featured the debut of Shawn’s version of Sexy Boy, for those of you keeping score.
Bobby Heenan: "Tatanka’s gonna be upset at WrestleMania IX, and I’ll tell you why: he’s gonna go in there too overconfident. He’s gonna be thinking, ‘Hey, I knocked Michaels off twice: once non-title, and once in a six-man on Raw. He’s easy pickings’, and that’s when Shawn Michaels is going to emerge the winner, ‘cause he’s not only in the greatest shape I’ve ever seen him in — mentally, he’s ready for any Indian!"
This match had a similar finish to the Kevin Krueger match I made a comment about earlier, which means he’s officially phasing out the Teardrop Suplex!
Gorilla Monsoon: "Take a look at the Boy Toy, reigning Intercontinental Champion, Shawn Michaels! A lot of people are saying now, Brain, that this is the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time."
Bobby Heenan: "When push comes to shove, when money’s on the line, he didn’t win that Intercontinental belt just by looking good, and walking around like that with earrings and strutting and talking and blowing bubble gum. He got there because he knows what to do in that ring."
[Camera shot to a female fan]
Vince McMahon: "Well, there’s a […] pretty young lady, perhaps looking on in appreciation of the man who calls himself the Sexiest Man Alive, Shawn Michaels. And it doesn’t matter how sexy he is. All that matters is how good he is when he faces Tatanka – and he is good! He is very, very good! He may be arrogant, but take nothing away from Shawn Michaels’ ability."
Randy Savage: "He is very, very, very good, and he is young, and he is ready, and he is, uh, doing [his thing] in his prime."
Vince McMahon: "Shawn Michaels can turn a match around quicker than anyone else in the World Wrestling Federation. No one can turn the tide as quickly as Michaels. Very, very cagey, notwithstanding his athletic prowess, this man is a tactician par excellence."
Shawn Michaels vs. Tatanka
(WWF Intercontinental Title defense, WrestleMania IX, April 4th, 1992)
Randy Savage: "You gotta expect the unexpected with Shawn Michaels."
[Regarding Shawn’s shoulder injury]
Jim Ross: "The big question is, how much has [his shoulder] healed? How well has Michaels’ therapy and rehabilitation – how well has it worked?"
Bobby Heenan: "[…] It takes a long time for something like that to recuperate. Just shows you what a great champion he is, to gut it out in the ring."
Randy Savage: "Shawn Michaels is a great champion. He’s here at the Roman Coliseum, defending the title even though we KNOW he’s been hurt."
[After a flying clothesline from the apron]
Jim Ross: "What a high-risk move. Big time offense!"
Bobby Heenan: "With a bad shoulder! Imagine that!"
Randy Savage: "Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan, I agree with ya! Shawn Michaels…I know why he’s here! Fantastic high-risk maneuver, and he went for it – no doubt, it’s WrestleMania IX."
Shawn Michaels vs. Crush
(WWF Intercontinental Championship defense, UK Rampage ’93 VHS, April 11th, 1993)
Jim Ross: "We will certainly see just how resourceful the Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels can be, ‘cause there is absolutely no way, in my opinion, Brain, that Michaels can go power for power with Crush."
Jim Ross: "Shawn Michaels is a tremendous competitor. He would love to score a victory live in the Sheffield Arena for the entire UK to see."
Bobby Heenan: "Oh, you’re right about that. He’s got an ego. His ego’s bigger than the world! He’d love to pull off a victory over Crush."
Vince McMahon: "Shawn Michaels is good; some would say he’s even GREAT. However, I don’t believe that he quite measures up to the skills – the all-around skills – of Mr. Perfect."
Randy Savage: "Shawn Michaels is good, but Mr. Perfect is better!"
Vince McMahon: "You know, at one time, Shawn Michaels [was an] extraordinary threat. Not that he’s not now, but I think he’s just not quite the same without Sensational Sherri in his corner."
Shawn Michaels vs. Billy Jones (WWF Superstars, May 15th, 1993)
Vince McMahon: "He’s got time to style."
Randy Savage: "Yes, he does, and he certainly takes his time to do just that."
[After Crush Gorilla Press Slams Michaels]
Vince McMahon: "That could very well be the way that Shawn Michaels’ career is going down – AW YEAH – ALL THE WAY DOWN!"
Bobby Heenan: "Don’t worry, I got faith in this man. This man is one heck of an athlete."
Jim Ross: "He is a great athlete."
Bobby Heenan: "He’s a great technician. A great, great wrestler. He doesn’t need to be jobbed like he is by the World Wrestling Federation. He’ll get the title back. I know what this man is made of. He’s too arrogant; he’s too cocky, he’s too self-centered. He’s gonna make it happen again."
Jim Ross: "Well, he is full of self-confidence, obviously."
Bobby Heenan: "But you notice, he hasn’t lost anything. He’s still crisp. You can tell by his moves. You can tell by his acceleration."
[After using a Perfectplex to win the match]
Bobby Heenan: "He can beat you with his moves, or he can beat you with anybody else’s moves! That’s an athlete!"
Shawn Michaels vs. Ross Greenberg (WWF Raw, June 7th, 1993)
[After performing the Flying Elbow Drop from the second rope]
Bobby Heenan: "Beautiful move!"
Randy Savage: "Where did he get that one?"
Bobby Heenan: "He’s got moves you haven’t even seen yet, Savage."
(WWF Intercontinental Championship defense, King of the Ring, June 13th, 1993)
[Discussing Shawn’s choice not to go for a count-out victory]
Randy Savage: "Shawn Michaels’ mistake was ego, there."
Randy Savage: "Give Shawn Michaels credit: he’s in there, and he’s not going down without a fight!"
Bobby Heenan: "Shawn Michaels has made the biggest mistake of his life, maybe. He could have had him beat, and then he let his ego take over! He keeps taking the fight TO Crush! When he was outside the ring, I’d have let him back, I’d have got counted out, I’d have lost the match, but I’d still have the title!"
(WWF Intercontinental Championship defense, WWF Raw, June 28th, 1993)
Bobby Heenan: "Shawn Michaels is a fighting champion, and with Diesel in his corner, he’s gonna beat the Ugandan giant!"
Bobby Heenan: "That’s why he’s the Intercontinental Champ: he takes advantage of everybody’s mistakes. Kamala made a mistake. He’s on his back – Michaels is taking advantage of him."
Randy Savage: "Shawn Michaels is great at what he does."
[After attacking Kamala with Diesel after the match]
Vince McMahon: "This speaks to the kind of un-sportsmanship [sic] conduct the Intercontinental Champion possesses!"
Shawn Michaels vs. Kevin Krueger (WWF Superstars, July 10th, 1993)
Vince McMahon: "As if Shawn Michaels wasn’t arrogant enough before. As if he wasn’t cocky enough, so to speak, before – now that he has Diesel behind, ugh, he’s too much! I mean, you don’t wanna even be around this guy!"
Randy Savage: "He’s got like a license to kill…"
Vince McMahon: "Again, the height of haughtiness…"
Jerry Lawler: "Hey, he’s good, and he knows it. Ain’t nothing wrong with that."
[Upon Vince randomly talking about Lex Luger slamming Yokozuna and hyping the latter’s match against Crush]
Jerry Lawler: "Did you not even wanna mention the fact that Shawn Michaels stood flat-footed and jumped into the air and dropkicked that man right in the face? Let’s give credit where credit’s due. This guy’s great!"
Vince McMahon: "He is – a sensational athlete…"
[After winning the match]
Vince McMahon: "There’s no question – Shawn Michaels is an extraordinary athlete. And now, in his corner, Diesel – that makes him a double threat! Just who will dethrone Shawn Michaels and become the next Intercontinental Champion? Who knows? Then again, Shawn Michaels can very easily have a very long and illustrious reign as Intercontinental Champion!"
Bobby Heenan: "Shawn Michaels is not afraid of anything. The reason he has Big Diesel as his bodyguard is [to have] an insurance policy because he doesn’t wanna get jobbed by the Marty Jannettys in this world, or the Jack Tunneys."
Shawn Michaels vs. Marty Jannetty
(WWF Intercontinental Championship defense, WWF Raw, July 19th, 1993)
Bobby Heenan: "You don’t want to turn your back too many times to Shawn Michaels."
Bobby Heenan: "[…] I would suggest that Marty Jannetty knows Shawn Michaels than Michaels knows Jannetty. […] I would say that Marty Jannetty was the superior of the two when they were a tag team years ago."
Bobby Heenan: "Diesel’s there just mainly to keep the women off Shawn Michaels."
Vince McMahon: "Ha, please."
Bobby Heenan: "…tearing at his clothes, they’ve been screaming, it’s worse than Elvis, it’s worse than The Beatles, the attention this man’s getting!"
Randy Savage: "All the women I know don’t like Shawn Michaels…"
Shawn Michaels vs. Glen Ruth (WWF Wrestling Challenge, August 8th, 1993)
Bobby Heenan: "Probably the greatest athlete in the WWF today. Hey, if you don’t believe me, just ask him!"
Jim Ross: "[…] the Intercontinental Champion, who obviously has his admirers, quite frankly, but he has no shortage of confidence."
Jim Ross: "Very, very quick, and very, very proficient, and he makes very few mistakes."
Jerry Lawler: "There’s a great champion for you there: Shawn Michaels! Look at this guy; I gotta love him. He’s so conceited; he thinks he’s as good as I am. He’s great!"
Vince McMahon: "Well, there’s no question that Shawn Michaels has extraordinary wrestling skill, a highly technical skilled wrestler."
Randy Savage: "I hope he wrestles quicker than he gets undressed…"
Vince McMahon: "Mr. Confidence, Mr. Arrogance on the top rope now!"
Vince McMahon: "No question about the extraordinary timing of Shawn Michaels."
Randy Savage: "Last time I seen somebody, uh, arrogant was ‘Million Dollar Man’ Ted DiBiase getting pinned by the 1-2-3 Kid."
Shawn starts phasing out the Piledriver as a finish and just goes straight for the pin after his ‘thrust kick.’ The Piledriver’s not gone yet, though.
Shawn Michaels vs. Bob Backlund
(WWF Intercontinental Championship defense, SummerSlam Spectacular, August 22nd, 1993)
Jim Ross: "Shawn Michaels may be the hottest competitor right now in the World Wrestling Federation."
Jim Ross: "Michaels is very, very cocky, very self-assured of himself and, of course, of his athletic abilities."
Jim Ross: "You know, this is the kind of guy that you’d like to see someone make a little bit humble – slap his face. He needs a standing kick; I guess you could say."
Jim Ross: "It almost seems as if he seems insulted that he’s wrestling Bob Backlund for the Intercontinental Title this close to SummerSlam. It doesn’t seem like he’s taking it seriously!"
[After grabbing Backlund’s tights to get the rollup victory]
Jim Ross: "The resourceful Intercontinental Champion takes the easy way out!"
(Intercontinental Championship defense, SummerSlam, August 30th, 1993)
Bobby Heenan: "If anybody [can get a threepeat with the IC title], it’d be Mr. Perfect. But he’s not wrestling an average man. He’s wrestling the best. And with Diesel, he’ll have a chance."
Vince McMahon: "In some respects, Bobby Heenan, I think you would have to agree that Mr. Perfect has been the mentor, and indeed Shawn Michaels has tried to follow in the footsteps of Mr. Perfect. It’s safe to say that Shawn Michaels perhaps knows everything that Mr. Perfect taught him."
Bobby Heenan: "Well, Michaels will never give up. The man’s not a quitter. You’re gonna have to pin him, or some kind of a fluke is gonna have to work for Mr. Perfect."
Bobby Henan: "Look at the arrogance. Is that great? Is he confident? Is he conceited? Does he have it all?"
Vince McMahon: "Is he gonna lose the Intercontinental Title?"
Bobby Heenan: "Oh, you bet – wait, no, he’s not."
[After a near fall from Mr. Perfect]
Bobby Heenan: "No, no. He’s still got that fight left in him! Now that’s a champion!"
Vince McMahon: "No denying the skills or the tenacity of one Shawn Michaels."
Shawn Michaels vs. Dan Dubiel (WWF Superstars, September 18th, 1993)
Vince McMahon: "Most athletes in the WWF would admire themselves if they had this man’s gifts. And indeed, he is a gifted athlete, despite all of his histrionics."
Vince McMahon: "Michaels, with so much athletic skill. So much psychology as well. And a scoop slam!"
Randy Savage: "Does it with style, does it with grace."
Vince McMahon: "And does it with arrogance. Yup, that’s Shawn Michaels, alright. If you’re as good as Michaels, I guess you can be a bit arrogant."
[After a power slam]
Vince McMahon: "See how quickly Michaels can reverse something? The man has unbelievable technical skill."
Jerry Lawler: "And you’re talking about it like it’s a surprise to you. Everybody knows this guy’s the greatest!"
Vince McMahon: "I’m not saying he’s the greatest. He certainly thinks he’s the greatest."
This was Shawn’s last televised match for a few months, as he would be fired, apparently for not having honored his contractual obligation to defend his title within a 30-day period.
Shawn Michaels vs. Dan Dubiel (WWF Superstars, November 27th, 1993)
Vince McMahon: "Shawn Michaels, one of the more clever individuals in the history of the WWF […]"
Stan Lane: "Well, there’s an expression, ‘Once a champion always a champion,’ and obviously Shawn Michaels keeps himself in tip-top condition."
Vince McMahon: "Now he gets to take a look at himself – his favorite thing to do, folks."
They have finally called the ‘reverse crescent kick’ a Superkick. It’s still not his finisher, however.
Jim Ross: "Shawn Michaels – certainly popular with many of the young ladies here in attendance!"
Gorilla Monsoon: "If we looked like that, Jim Ross, we would be too!"
Gorilla Monsoon: "He is a quick, […] a superb technical athlete, is this young man, from San Antonio, Texas."
Jim Ross: "Just got a bit of an attitude problem."
Jim Ross: "I believe, Gorilla Monsoon, that since Michaels has returned from his suspension, that he is even more aggressive than he ever was!"
Shawn Michaels vs. Phil Apollo (WWF Superstars, December 25th, 1993)
Vince McMahon: "You know this guy is so arrogant. He’s a great wrestler, you have to give him credit where it’s due, but he’s just so arrogant about it."
Stan Lane: "Well, he’s also very cagey and crafty."
Vince McMahon: "Michaels with a great sense of timing! He is gifted as far as the skills are concerned in the squared circle. Would you concur, Stan?"
Stan Lane: "I would have to say he is a constant [sic] professional. Not the biggest gentleman in the World Wrestling Federation, but one who has been very, very successful at what he does."
Vince McMahon: "And one who will cheat, given an opportunity, to say the least…"
Shawn performed the Superkick from the corner this time! No tuning up the band, and no, it was not his finisher this time around. It is still the move that sets up a finisher. His search for a finisher continues, and he uses one I’ve never seen before; it can only be described as a Flying Nothing Fist Drop, where he jumps off the top rope, turns in mid-air as though going for a crossbody, and then abruptly ends in a fist drop to the throat.
Shawn Michaels – 1994
Shawn Michaels vs. Tyron Knox (WWF Raw, January 1st, 1994)
Vince McMahon: "Michaels, one of the more aggressive, and certainly one of the more arrogant individuals in all the WWF."
Jim Ross: "He certainly says he’s the ‘Wrestler of the 90s’. I think ‘Mr. Machismo’ (Razor Ramon) has something to say about that!"
Shawn Michaels vs. John Paul (WWF Wrestling Challenge, February 2nd, 1994)
Gorilla Monsoon: "Oh, he doesn’t like being humiliated, does he?"
Stan Lane: "Oh, he cannot stand it. The only thing he hates more than humiliation is no mirrors being around."
Stan Lane: "You know, I’ve known Shawn Michaels for a long time, and his attitude has definitely changed. It all happened when he got that 7 foot Diesel as his bodyguard, you know, it was an attitude adjustment."
Fun Fact: Gorilla Monsoon uses the phrase Suplex City during this match. Funny how that and Attitude Adjustment would become mainstays in our current generation of wrestling.
Shawn Michaels vs. Gary Sabaugh (WWF Superstars, February 5th, 1994)
Vince McMahon: "Shawn Michaels, truly one-of-a-kind, most controversial!"
Vince McMahon: "Shawn Michaels, a thinking man’s type wrestler, if you would. Always thinking of counters […]"
Vince McMahon: "See the way, Michaels – again, in the presence of Diesel, Michaels just getting right in the face, literally, of Gary Sabaugh. He won’t do that if Diesel wasn’t around!"
Vince McMahon: "Another victory for the Master of Chewing Gum…"
Shawn Michaels vs. Mike Moraldo (WWF Superstars, March 12th, 1994)
Johnny Polo: "This guy is great. He’s a rock star, Vince! Shawn Michaels is a rock star! You see that entrance? He’s got the entourage, man; he’s the goods!"
I’m pretty sure I saw Billy Kidman in the crowd. This taping took place in Bethelem, PA, and he would later make his debut that year in Hellertown, PA, only a few miles away.
(WWF Intercontinental Title, WrestleMania IX, March 20th, 1994)
[After being attacked with the ladder]
Jerry Lawler: "Shawn Michaels has got to be superhuman!"
Vince McMahon: "What about Razor Ramon? He’s been on the receiving end of most of the punishment in this matchup!"
Vince McMahon: "You’ve gotta be kidding me! Nobody’s taken more abuse than Shawn Michaels in this match!"
[After quickly recovering from being knocked out of the ring by a ladder shot to stop Razor from climbing]
Jerry Lawler: "He IS Superman! Look at him [climb the top rope]!"
This is the debut of Shawn’s trademark heartbreak-printed tights! Shawn’s figure is also progressively changing into the slightly slimmer, less stocky version of himself that you’d associate with him from 1996 onwards, a transition he started right after he came back from suspension. He may have also gotten tanner since he returned from suspension, but that’s probably my eyes tricking me. As far as characterization goes, Shawn took a lot of punishment in this match. It would be the first sign of Shawn’s resilience being a strong character trait of his, even if he lost.
Diesel vs. Virgil (WWF Raw, April 11th, 1994)
Vince McMahon: "What a matchup at WrestleMania; they’re still talking about the Shawn Michaels-Razor Ramon matchup, a matchup that no doubt took a great deal out of both men. Nonetheless, Shawn Michaels, undaunted, continues to challenge Razor Ramon, but on behalf of Diesel now."
Shawn stopped wrestling for a long time at this point, instead of focusing on managing Diesel. He would return towards the end of the year in a tag team with Diesel. The constant reference to Shawn’s match at WrestleMania being a classic would go on for some time. More importantly, it echoes in the way Vince would always talk about Shawn’s match with Bret at WrestleMania all throughout 1996. Shawn’s penchant for putting on great matches was beginning to become part of his persona, but ever so slowly due to his in-ring hiatus during this year.
[As Razor and Diesel battle for the IC belt]
Vince McMahon: "Shawn Michaels, who lost the ladder match, one, if not the, [sic] all-time great matches in the World Wrestling Federation at WrestleMania, King! He LOST the ladder match to Razor Ramon! He WANTS revenge!"
Diesel vs. Mike Moraldo (WWF Raw, May 16th, 1994)
Vince McMahon: "Conspicuous by his absence, Shawn Michaels, who apparently was partying along with Sly Stallone […] in a housewarming [party] […] in the Miami area earlier this week, along with Demi Moore and Bruce Willis…and Pee Wee Herman was there, by the way!"
Randy Savage: "A friend of mine!"
Vince McMahon: "…Shaquille, Madonna…"
Randy Savage: "I hang out with Pee-Wee Herman sometimes…"
Vince McMahon: "Oh, really? Don Johnson, Whoopi Goldberg, Wesley Snipes – a whole bunch of folks down there joining Shawn Michaels and Sly Stallone!"
Diesel vs. PJ Walker (WWF Superstars, May 28th, 1994)
Vince McMahon: "By the way, where’s Shawn Michaels?"
Jerry Lawler: "Shawn Michaels? He always picks this weekend to open his magnificent swimming pool at home."
Diesel vs. Bret Hart (WWF Championship, King of the Ring, June 19th, 1994)
Art Donovan: "Now Gorilla, who’s the guy leading? What’s that, a second?"
Gorilla Monsoon: "That’s Shawn Michaels!"
Art Donovan: "Well, is he another wrestler?"
Gorilla Monsoon: "Former Intercontinental Champion!"
Randy Savage: "He’s one of the great ones, Art Donovan, believe me. Although I’ll tell you what, that’s why whoever the family member is that Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart has on the outside, he better be a good one, because Shawn Michaels is."
Diesel vs. Dave Thornberg (WWF Superstars, July 30th, 1994)
Jim Ross: "You know, Shawn Michaels can really be the difference-maker when that big man is in the ring. Michaels, very shrewd – and if Diesel has any technical liabilities, Shawn Michaels MORE than makes up for them."
Jim Ross: "And anybody that saw their Ladder Match at WrestleMania X, I’m sure knows the rivalry that exists between Michaels and ‘The Bad Guy.’ They’ll meet Live this Monday Night on Raw!"
Jerry Lawler: "That Ladder Match at WrestleMania X was one of the greatest matches I’ve ever had the privilege to witness! I was sitting right there at ringside, calling the action. It was UNBELIEVABLE!"
Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon (WWF Raw, August 1st, 1994)
Randy Savage: "Who could forget the Ladder Match at WrestleMania X? Possibly and arguably the greatest match of all time!"
Vince McMahon: "Shawn Michaels is gutsy, no question of that. Shawn Michaels, with tremendous agility and lightning-like speed!"
Randy Savage: "Definitely an opportunist, Shawn Michaels – The Heartbreak Kid, The Boy Toy!"
Randy Savage: "What an athlete Shawn Michaels is, don’t take anything away from this guy!"
Vince McMahon: "Michaels, very crafty, very cagey – and this, the first time Michaels has wrestled since that legendary Ladder Match at WrestleMania!"
Randy Savage: "Well, he hasn’t lost a step; he’s gained one!"
Vince McMahon: "You have to wonder since this is the first match Shawn Michaels has had since WrestleMania, you have to wonder whether or not Michaels sustained an injury in that Ladder Match! We see his back is bothering him – is that a result of an injury in that matchup, or is it a result of Razor being just that good tonight?"
Randy Savage: "I’ve figured it out, Vince! Shawn Michaels and Diesel just do what they wanna do!"
The Sweet Chin Music is still not his finisher! He continued to tease the Razor’s Edge and may have teased a Piledriver after the match, but it’s hard to say which it was, as he didn’t follow through. Also worthy of note is the fact that Shawn’s absence from the ring is speculated on for the first time (to my knowledge). This is going to be something of an annual thing, but of all the occasions where this sort of injury would occur, this is the only time where no one seemed to worry about whether or not Shawn would ever be back.
Diesel vs. Razor Ramon
(WWF Intercontinental Championship, SummerSlam, August 29th, 1994)
Jerry Lawler: "Let me talk a little bit about Shawn – you know, I’m the only one in the WWF articulate enough to brag for this guy! Look at him! He is great – you know, he is so scenic, they’re thinking about making him a national park!"
Vince McMahon: "Is that right?"
Jerry Lawler: "Yeah! Look at the women in the audience! Look at the girls swooning…passing out over there lookin’ at Shawn!"
In terms of his physique and his entrance attire, Shawn has almost fully evolved into the version of him we would associate with his "prime" in the 90s (I said something similar after WrestleMania, but bear with me). Furthermore, I think this was the first televised match. He went to the corner and made the stomping motion, albeit quickly, before delivering the as-yet-unchristened Sweet Chin Music (unwittingly to Diesel)!
Shawn Michaels and Diesel vs. Paul Van Dale and Tony Devito (WWF Raw, September 12th, 1994)
Vince McMahon: "Shawn Michaels, showboating as usual. Michaels like to be referred to as one of the more ‘natural-born ladykillers’ if you will…and Shawn Michaels, hogging the spotlight!"
Vince McMahon: "Michaels is smooth, no question about it."
Randy Savage: "Are you talking smooth or cocky?"
Vince McMahon: "Ah, he’s all that and more!"
Randy Savage: "Shawn Michaels is good, and he knows it and, ahhh, I don’t like ‘im."
Vince McMahon: "Not too many people do! And I’m not too sure that down deep, Diesel likes him…but nonetheless, they are Tag Team Champions! That’s the glue that binds this tag team together! And no doubt they are awesome together! The cunning, the speed, the agility of Shawn Michaels, and that RAW DIESEL POWER, HOHO!"
Shawn Michaels and Diesel vs. Rod Bell and Kevin Krueger
(WWF Superstars, September 25th, 1994)
Jerry Lawler: "Can I ask you one question?"
Vince McMahon: "Of course."
Jerry Lawler: "Why would you refer to Shawn Michaels as ‘arrogant’? Just because when he hears thunder, he takes a bow doesn’t mean he’s arrogant."
Vince McMahon: "I think Shawn Michaels would take any occasion to take a bow. Michaels has a high opinion of himself […]"
Vince McMahon: "I mean, sure, Michaels is good. Make no mistake about that. Tremendous athleticism – but what a showboat."
Jerry Lawler: "He’s cool!"
(WWF Raw, September 26th, 1994)
While there were no real comments here, I feel I should note a few interesting things. Shawn looks even more like his "later" self because he’s got stubble, which Vince notes on commentary. He also drops the elbow again (he did so in his previous match, and once or twice in 1993), which Randy notes as being "familiar."
"The incredibly cocky team of Shawn Michaels and Diesel captured the gold approximately five weeks ago. Since then, using the speed, agility, and wrestling knowledge of Shawn Michaels, combined with the size and raw power of Big Daddy Cool, the dynamic duo have made a very formidable and dangerous force to be reckoned with!"
(WWF Superstars, October 15th, 1994)
While nothing much of note happens here, it’s occurred to me that since SummerSlam, they’ve been hailing Shawn’s superkick as ‘the move that cost Diesel the Intercontinental Title.’ I wonder if that’s their way of saying that it’s finisher-worthy because Shawn still does not use it as his finisher. Also of note is the fact that Shawn’s no longer wearing wrist tape and is wearing a different pair of gloves. He wouldn’t wrestle for the rest of 1994, alternating between commentary on WWF RAW and hosting the Heartbreak Hotel on WWF Superstars.
Shawn Michaels Transitions from Arrogant Heel Wrestler to Superhero Role Model
Shawn remained on his hiatus, keeping his participation to the bare minimum during the 1994 edition of Survivor Series, where he would accidentally plant a superkick on the face of his partner, Diesel, souring their friendship for a prolonged period of time, all the way through WrestleMania the following year. However, we are on the precipice of great change for The Wrestler of the 90s. Indeed, we are about to bear witness to his transformation from being arrogant and conceited to a resilient and super-heroic role model. By the same token, we will watch Shawn’s star fall from this heroism into a state of degeneration.
Shawn Michaels – 1995
Royal Rumble Match (WWF Royal Rumble, January 11th, 1995)
Vince McMahon: "And take a look at this, can you believe this? The Heartbreak Kid drew Number 1! Well, you can bet Shawn Michaels won’t be going to WrestleMania as the number one contender! [Earlier on] Michaels acted like he was PROUD of his number. It’s the luck of the draw, and Shawn Michaels, very unlucky here tonight at the Royal Rumble! And Michaels better get all the glory he can right now…"
Vince McMahon: "Oh, please, give me a break…"
Jerry Lawler: "Let me just tell you this McMahon: he loves being the Number 1 draw because of what he’s doing right now! It means that he [gets] all that much longer […] to strut his stuff in front of Pamela Anderson."
[After grabbing the ropes to prevent being eliminated by Sione]
Jerry Lawler: "He’s the smartest. I’m telling you he’s the smartest. You could combine the IQs of every man in the ring, and they wouldn’t equal Shawn Michaels’."
Vince McMahon: "I think the Dumpster could match wits very easily with Mr. Michaels."
Jerry Lawler: "You’ve gotta be kidding me! That mental midget?"
Jerry Lawler: "See, look at Shawn Michaels, he’s smart! Look at him!"
Vince McMahon: "He’s hiding!"
Jerry Lawler: "That’s smart!"
Shawn’s almost there! He’s got his long gloves on, and one of them has a heart on them! I didn’t include any more commentary here because Jerry Lawler called him "The Smartest Wrestler in the WWF" in a million different ways. They didn’t really mention how resilient he was or anything like that but frequently mentioned how he and Bulldog were still in the match so far into it after being the ones to start it off.
Shawn Michaels vs. Gary Sabaugh (WWF Wrestling Challenge, January 29th, 1995)
Jim Ross: "He is the Deion Sanders of the WWF – Shawn Michaels is Primetime!"
Vince McMahon: "No question about that, and he’ll tell you too if you don’t know. Well, he has got a big head."
Jim Ross: "This guy, he is so full of himself right now, you can’t even carry a conversation with him."
???: "Yeah, but you know what? He has every right to be boastful now. He was so awesome last Sunday night in Tampa!"
Jim Ross: "He’s a great athlete, maybe the greatest pure athlete in the WWF. That’s an artful point."
FINALLY! It only took the better part of two years, but the "straight thrust kick" was now properly set up and used as Shawn’s finisher.
Vince McMahon: "Shawn Michaels, ladies, and gentleman, fooling everyone by winning the WWF Royal Rumble, taking nothing away from his athleticism, nothing away from his wrestling skill […]"
[After the match, regarding Shawn’s finisher]
Vince McMahon: "If that boot connects, somebody’s going down."
Fun Fact: This match was Shawn’s first taped match of 1995, but it aired after the Rumble and after the match with Sabaugh. This would chronologically be the first ‘taped’ occasion where Shawn uses the as-yet-unnamed Sweet Chin Music. It’s interesting that they note Shawn’s strategy and logic for taking up this match – he is preparing for his match against Diesel and felt that a match with Adam Bomb would help him prepare because of their similar powerhouse styles and similar size.
Shawn Michaels vs. The British Bulldog (WWF Raw, March 6th, 1995)
[Discussing Shawn’s claim that he needed a bodyguard after winning the 1995 Royal Rumble]
Jim Cornette: "Well, of course, everybody’s after him! Look at him! He’s got everything that a young man could want! He’s got a body! He’s got a brain! He’s got looks! He’s got the money! And most of all, he has got every woman in the world after him, and every man wanting to kick his butt!"
Vince McMahon: "Shawn Michaels, unquestionably [one of] the greatest athletes in the history of [the WWF]."
Vince McMahon: "This is the first real test of Michaels in terms of his athleticism."
Vince McMahon: "Michaels will wear you down. The longer the match goes, the more likely Shawn Michaels is to win the thing."
Vince McMahon: "What a competitor Michaels is, give credit where credit’s due!"
[After the match]
Vince McMahon: "That same kick, that has knocked even ‘Big Daddy Cool’ Diesel out, unfortunately enough to get The British Bulldog […]"
It is noted on commentary that Shawn is again facing a power-style wrestler in the lead-up to his match with Diesel. On a separate note, Shawn’s finisher seemingly didn’t become a threat until he accidentally started using it on Diesel. During the famous Kliq tag team match on the second episode of WWF Action Zone, Diesel was out for what seemed like forever when he sold the kick, and it has been hailed as a dangerous move ever since. It has been echoed in modern times with Daniel Bryan’s "Knee that beat John Cena." Also, seeing as I’ve been keeping score on Shawn’s appearance since he won the Rumble, he’s started gelling his usually spiky fringe back now. He’s had that mullet front since 1992/93, so I’m rather happy to see it go. Finally, on a rather humorous note, Jim Cornette said Shawn weighs 240lbs.
[On Sid being Shawn’s bodyguard, and how it could affect a match]
Jim Ross: "Well, physically or psychologically [Sid’s] gonna make an impact, no doubt about it. I don’t think that Shawn Michaels really NEEDS any assistance as far as athletic ability is concerned. He may be the finest pure athlete in the entire WWF, and if you don’t believe it, just ask him!"
Jim Ross: "Michaels is lean, he is quick, he is ready to go the distance, and that may be a big, big factor when he meets Diesel two weeks from now at WrestleMania 11."
Todd Pettengill: "Shawn Michaels is like a different guy when he’s with Psycho Sid, too – it’s unbelievable!"
Jim Ross: "He is full of confidence, and I’ve gotta believe that Diesel, at 317 pounds–"
[Shawn delivers the Superkick to Hunter]
Jim Ross: "– the longer the match goes, the advantage would go to Michaels, and Diesel CANNOT let this happen to him. The Superkick will put anybody away, INCLUDING the WWF Champion!"
Todd Pettengill: "’Big Daddy Cool’ Diesel is very familiar with that kick. It’s the kick that broke up a friendship and a WWF Tag Team Championship team."
[After the Match]
Jim Ross: "These two men are like they’ve been unleashed, they’re unchained, they are ready to step atop the WWF World!"
Shawn set up the Superkick while waiting in the corner again, so we’re just about to approach the "definitive" Shawn Michaels from the first part of his career. What’s interesting about what Todd said about the Superkick "breaking up a friendship and a WWF Tag Team Championship team" is how it’s equally applicable to Marty Jannetty and The Rockers.
Shawn Michaels vs. Adam Bomb (WWF Action Zone, March 19th, 1995)
Jim Ross: "[…] this man, Shawn Michaels, who could very easily be the next WWF Champion."
[Adam Bomb has Shawn in a Bear Hug]
Jim Ross: "Referee is in a great position to see if Shawn Michaels wants to give it up and submit. It might not be the worst idea he could have to give it up and […] prevent perhaps, Todd, even further injury to that lower back and those ribs."
Todd Pettengill: "I’ll tell ya, Shawn Michaels is no quitter. Let’s see if he can draw a little bit on that strength. "
Jim Ross: "Well, he’s a competitor, great competitive spirit […]"
Jim Ross: "You don’t give Shawn Michaels two chances. […] I tell you what, this guy’s on a roll! Nobody’s hotter in the WWF right now than Shawn Michaels!"
[After the Match]
Todd Pettengill: "Shawn Michaels, as you said Jim, is on an awesome roll with Psycho Sid! And he — as a team — who knows how far he could go? He is a HOT superstar in the present time!"
Jim Ross: "I wanna tell you something – and Diesel knows this full well, I’ve talked to him: The WWF Championship is a Superkick away for Shawn Michaels […]. That is a devastating maneuver!"
Vince McMahon: "A tremendous athlete, give him credit."
Jerry Lawler: "And look at that physique! I mean, he has waited for this. He has waited for this, McMahon. He has dreamed for this [sic]; he has sacrificed for this. I talked to him earlier – he promised me, he told me to tell everybody to expect the performance of a lifetime out of him tonight."
Vince McMahon: "Yes, indeed, the Superkick, ladies and gentlemen, what he’s noted for, as well as his speed, his athleticism, all-around agility, and he is the favorite, not only because of Shawn Michaels’ athleticism, but because of that man right there: Sid, or should we say ‘Psycho’ Sid."
[After the Match]
Jerry Lawler: "Shawn Michaels has gotta be devastated. He did exactly what he promised: it was the performance of a lifetime. It was the match of a lifetime."
Shawn performed the diving elbow drop from the top rope during this match for the first time since 1991. Furthermore, during the post-match interview, he repeatedly said that he gave Diesel some "chin music" in reference to his finisher – I believe this is the first reference Shawn made to that name. Onwards we go! Or not. The next night, Shawn would be powerbombed three times in a row by Sid and would not appear on television for the next few months. Remember that trend I mentioned back in 1994?
Shawn Michaels vs. King Kong Bundy (WWF Raw, May 22nd, 1995)
Vince McMahon: "Yes, indeed, how about this, King? A standing ovation for the charismatic, controversial Shawn Michaels!"
Jerry Lawler: "Yeah, and look at him. He’s loving it! He’s eating it up with a spoon! I can’t believe it!"
Vince McMahon: "A standing ovation, yes indeed, for truly one of the great athletes in the history of the WWF: Shawn Michaels!"
Jerry Lawler: "Shawn Michaels is a great athlete, McMahon. But all great athletes come to the end of the line!"
Vince McMahon: "And you have to wonder whether or not Michaels let his ego get in the way, once again. You wonder whether or not Michaels should have waited a little longer to make his comeback, 7 weeks maybe not long enough to recover if anyone really does recover [from an attack like Sid’s]."
Shawn’s experiment with growing out his beard in late 1994 comes to fruition here. Also, for anyone who loves that spot Shawn did with Melina where he baseball slides outside and does the confused ‘arm over the shoulder,’ he debuts that here with Ted DiBiase.
Vince McMahon: "Listen to this! Look at this! A standing ovation for Shawn Michaels!"
Dok Hendrix: "Women love him! He’s cocky, but he can back it up!"
Vince McMahon: "Michaels is full of himself, no doubt about that! Shawn Michaels: a pit bull, he knows how to entertain you, that’s for sure, but he knows how to get down to the nitty-gritty as well!"
Vince McMahon: "There are only two kinds of individuals who perform like Michaels: those who can get away with it, and those who just don’t care about the consequences. Not so sure where Michaels falls in, maybe a little bit of both."
[Tom Prichard has Shawn in a sleeper]
Vince McMahon: "This one is history for Shawn Michaels. A gallant effort on the part of Shawn Michaels. A tremendous competitor, Michaels, however, against these overwhelming odds, unable, just unable, that’s it… "
Dok Hendrix: "Bye-bye, good night…"
[Shawn starts fighting back]
Vince McMahon: "No, no, Michaels is still in it! This pitbull is still in the match!"
[After the match, talking about Shawn’s finisher]
Dok Hendrix: "And that’s what Shawn Michaels calls ‘Sweet Chin Music,’ and obviously Dr. Tom Prichard would call it a heartbreaking song!"
Vince McMahon: "Yes, indeed, Shawn Michaels – what’d you say? Chin Music?"
Dok Hendrix: "That’s right! Sweet Chin Music! […] And how sweet it is!"
We’re here! It took Shawn Michaels turning face to finally complete his character. Of course, he’s still using taped wrists and fists (white tape rather than black on this occasion), but that slight attire change is bound to come sooner rather than later. Shawn got all of his famous spots in, with the final moves being his classic flying forearm (sans nip-up), the elbow drop from the top rope, and then after an attempted distraction from Jim Cornette and Jimmy Del Ray, a Sweet Chin Music! However, we’re still missing a key ingredient: he hasn’t tuned up the band yet.
Jim Ross: "Here comes the Boy Toy, Shawn Michaels. It’s a great ovation, no doubt, for one of the most charismatic, most athletic competitors to ever compete in the World Wrestling Federation."
Todd Pettengill: "Now normally, when the fans of the World Wrestling Federation scream, it’s equal men and women. When Shawn Michaels comes out, it’s more of a high-pitched scream because of all the women going crazy for the Heartbreak Kid!"
Jim Ross: "As we all know, Shawn Michaels will elevate his level of performance at a pay per view event. He always does. He tells he’s gonna do it, and he does do it."
Todd Pettengill: "Well, how about going from first to last and winning the Royal Rumble? First guy in the ring and then the last man there. That certainly is a demonstration of exactly what you’re talking about."
[During a punching battle]
Jim Ross: "Rad Radford is again brawling here, and now Michaels is fighting back…"
Todd Pettengill: "Here’s a guy who’ll brawl with you too: Shawn Michaels."
Jim Ross: "Radford puts on the breaks and went for a rather lethargic crossbody press that Michaels saw coming, and was able to avoid. Radford should stay on the ground, Todd. That’s where he has been most successful."
Todd Pettengill: "Well, you’re not gonna beat a guy like Shawn Michaels, telegraphing a move like that – he’s too smart. Even in his physical condition right now — he’s gotta be drained, the pain in the lower back — [he] still has the awareness to recognize that maneuver."
Jim Ross: "You’re not gonna beat Michaels at his own game, that is high risk. You’ve gotta stay on the ground. You’ve gotta slow him down."
[After the match]
Todd Pettengill: "If the Million Dollar Man and Kama are watching this matchup, which you know they are, they gotta be worried. How do you contain Shawn Michaels? He’s extremely dangerous!"
Jim Ross: "Very resilient is the Boy Toy, Shawn Michaels."
This is the one, fellas. Shawn does the Flying Forearm, the Diving Elbow, and tunes up the band for the first time ever. Shawn’s attire in this match would later be seen as his Player 1 costume in WWF Attitude. This partially confirms, to me, at least, that when Shawn retired the first time, this period was when he was viewed at his kayfabe "best."
Vince McMahon: "Michaels, so quick, so much agility, just an athletic prowess second to none in the WWF […]"
Jerry Lawler: "So full of himself. He thinks he’s the center of the universe. Look at him!"
[Shawn gives Gus some Sweet Chin Music on the outside, but instead of taking the countout victory, drags him back into the ring, after which the crowd chants for him to do it ‘one more time’]
Vince McMahon: "This capacity crowd, very much appreciating the flamboyance the skill of Shawn Michaels!"
Shawn’s wearing the zebra pattern gloves now to match his kneepads. Told you it wouldn’t take long.
Vince McMahon: "HE IS THE MOST FLAMBOYANT, HE IS ONE OF THE MOST CHARISMATIC SUPERSTARS IN ALL THE WORLD WRESTLING FEDERATION, AND HE IS SHAWN MICHAELS, AND HERE HE COMES!"
Dok Hendrix: "He’s been hitting people with more velocity on that Superkick than ever."
Shawn Michaels vs. Kama (WWF King of the Ring, June 25th, 1995) (Part 1 / Part 2)
Dok Hendrix: "Let’s not forget Shawn’s had a lot of success. In 1993, at the King of the Ring event, he successfully defended the Intercontinental Championship."
Vince McMahon: "Oh yeah, Michaels is no stranger to competition. He has come up the hard way, ladies and gentlemen, and he has earned every bit of it."
Dok Hendrix: "Shawn Michaels is quick. Let’s not forget it was his stamina and this ability of his that made him and took him to win the Royal Rumble earlier this year. First man ever to start the Royal Rumble and win the Royal Rumble."
Vince McMahon: "Kama needs to be focused, needs to stay a bit more patient, and Shawn Michaels will do everything he can — and he’s a master at this in terms of psychology — he will aggravate an opponent into making a maneuver. Yes, he’s flamboyant. He’ll get in your face and then back out of it."
[Kama has been on the offensive for a while, but Shawn continues to kick out]
Dok Hendrix: "He’s got a lot of courage, the Heartbreak Kid."
Vince McMahon: "Yes, indeed, he does. That courage right now is the reason why, to a certain extent, he’s on the defensive."
[Shawn nips up]
Vince McMahon: "That’s called resiliency! That’s called heart!"
I’m not sure what the deal is, but there were many weird things leading up to the match beginning. Shawn was cutting his promo, then Ted DiBiase’s music played so loudly that I couldn’t hear Shawn end his promo. Then Shawn came out, but his music started at the guitar solo portion of his song. He showed up wearing his metallic tiled hat to match his entrance gear, the camera cut away, and when it cut back to him, he was inexplicably wearing a blue cap, backward. What gives?
Vince McMahon: "Shawn Michaels, a man who will take a risk every now and then, so to speak. Unbelievable athleticism possessed by Shawn Michaels!"
Vince McMahon: "Unbelievable resilience from Shawn Michaels. He’s been pummeled by the best, and he keeps coming right back, IN. YOUR. FACE."
[After the match]
Vince McMahon: "Shawn Michaels, unquestionably the most charismatic individual in all of the WWF, and that’s saying something!"
Shawn Michaels vs. Jeff Jarrett (WWF Intercontinental Title, In Your House: The Lumberjacks, July 23rd, 1995)
[Referencing a line in Shawn’s pre-match promo about not getting any phone calls for his birthday the day before]
Jerry Lawler: "You ever been to Shawn Michaels’ house?"
Vince McMahon: "No, I haven’t."
Jerry Lawler: "His telephone doesn’t ring, it applauds! He’s got such a big head –"
Vince McMahon: "Well, maybe it should!"
Jerry Lawler: "Oh yeah, he thinks he’s the greatest thing going. But I think Double J has shown him tonight that there are other stars in the universe besides Shawn [Michaels]."
I don’t want to transcript this line, but Jerry Lawler basically tries to call Shawn a whiner and makes a straight awful comparison to John McEnroe holding up elevators in his apartment building.
[After taking a back body drop over the turnbuckle to the outside]
Vince McMahon: "What resilience on the part of Michaels, and he’s still walking, and he’s still conscious after that! I don’t believe I’ve quite ever seen an athlete quite like the stature of Shawn Michaels ever in the history of the WWF."
Shawn’s got a history of debuting a white and gold version of whatever his current attire is for important title matches – namely, the ones he’s going to win. In this case, his white and gold attire here signified him becoming a 3-time Intercontinental Champion (tying the then-record for most reigns) and was included as his Player 2 costume in WWF Attitude. We all know what the third occasion was. Perhaps this puts his WrestleMania 25 attire in perspective, beyond the Light vs. Dark narrative. It wasn’t a title match, but it ended up becoming maybe the most important match of Shawn’s second run. Oh yeah, and Shawn nipped up after a Flying Forearm for the first time, if you’re still keeping up with his evolution.
Vince McMahon: "[…] And you talk about a thoroughbred; you’re looking at one now! The most charismatic superstar in the world today and the newly crowned Intercontinental Champion: it’s Shawn Michaels! Listen to this ovation!"
Vince McMahon: "Michaels knows how to turn on this capacity crowd!"
Jerry Lawler: "Aw, he’s full of himself now that he’s Intercontinental Champion."
Vince McMahon: "He was always full of himself."
Vince McMahon: "Shawn Michaels is on a tear here in the World Wrestling Federation. Nothing can stop this extraordinary competitor."
Shawn Michaels vs. Skip (WWF Superstars, August 5th, 1995)
[After trying to pin Shawn with a scoop slam]
Vince McMahon: "You’re not gonna be able to pin Shawn Michaels that way. You’re gonna have to really coil him up in order to get those shoulders down to the canvas."
[During Shawn’s pre-match dance routine]
Dok Hendrix: "Work it, baby, work it! Taught him everything he knows, he makes me proud. Chip off the old block, yes!"
Vince McMahon: "Shawn Michaels, Mr. Flamboyant! There are two individuals who can get away with those kinds of actions: somebody like ‘Big Daddy Cool’ Diesel, who’s a monster 7-footer and 300 pounds, or someone like Shawn Michaels, who doesn’t care about the consequences!"
Dok Hendrix: "Or somebody like Mabel – 568 pounds!"
Vince McMahon: "…alright."
[Regarding the Diving Elbow Drop]
Vince McMahon: "Nobody does this like Michaels!"
Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon (WWF Intercontinental Championship defense, SummerSlam, August 27th, 1995)
Vince McMahon: "Shawn Michaels, unquestionably one of the greatest athletes to step into the ring of the World Wrestling Federation."
Vince McMahon: "Shawn Michaels, unquestionably the most resilient athlete in the World Wrestling Federation."
[After working Shawn’s leg for 9 minutes or so]
Vince McMahon: "No one knows Shawn Michaels any better than Razor Ramon. Razor knows of the tenacity. Razor knows of the perseverance of Shawn Michaels. Razor Ramon is not taking any chances, and I can’t believe Shawn Michaels is on his feet!"
[After leaping off the top rope on a bad leg to prevent Razor from getting to the title] Dok Hendrix: "That’s why they call him the Heartbreak Kid – nobody’s got more heart than Shawn Michaels."
Dok Hendrix: "He’s a pit bull!"
Shawn debuts the Moonsault in this match, off a ladder no less! Not the top of the ladder, but still.
[After getting the pinfall]
Vince McMahon: "You talk about that Superkick, you talk about a super competitor, and you definitely talk about a superstar! Yes indeed, Shawn Michaels is Intercontinental Champion!"
Jerry Lawler: "I gotta make a prediction. Shawn Michaels, he’s resilient, he can take a lickin’ and keep on kickin’, but he’s never taken a beating like he’s gonna take at Raw at the hands of Sid. And I predict that the man that’ll be holding that [Intercontinental] belt high in the air after Monday Night will be none other than…SID."
Stan Lane: "If you looked up ‘resiliency’ in the dictionary, you’d see a picture of this guy right here on your screen. I mean, he’s been beaten, he’s been pounded, he’s been hurt by just about everybody here in the World Wrestling Federation, and he still comes back to fight, day after day. Never met a fight he didn’t like."
Jim Ross: "Bit like an old catfish, he’s been battered and fried on many occasions, but he’s always bouncing back like that proverbial rubber ball."
[When Mabel tags in to face Shawn]
Jim Ross: "Well, Diesel wants a tag, and I don’t think Michaels’ ego and competitiveness is gonna allow that to happen."
Stan Lane: "No, no, Michaels [is] staying there."
Jim Ross: "Well, Michaels is the self-professed ‘pitbull dog’ of the World Wrestling Federation."
Jim Ross: "Michaels will not quit."
Stan Lane: "No."
Jim Ross: "Shawn Michaels will not quit under any circumstance, by far the smallest dog in this fight…"
Stan Lane: "The fact that Shawn Michaels will not quit may just shorten his career here in the World Wrestling Federation, you know that, Ross?"
Jim Ross: "Yeah, you’re right, good point."
Vince McMahon: "Shawn Michaels, who has been on a tear as of late here in the World Wrestling Federation – you might even liken Shawn Michaels to a modern-day Evil Knievel here in the World Wrestling Federation!"
Jerry Lawler: "Evil Knievel?!"
Vince McMahon: "You got it right!"
Jerry Lawler: "You know what Evil Knievel was famous for, don’t you? Having every bone in his body broken at least 4 times."
Vince McMahon: "I can tell you this: Michaels throws caution to the wind. There’s nobody with this kind of flamboyance! There’s nobody with this kind of electricity! There’s nobody with this resilience! He just keeps coming back, back, RIGHT IN YOUR FACE."
Vince McMahon: "You talk about somebody creating a frenzy…UN-BE-LIEVABLE!"
Jim Ross: "Everybody wants to touch Shawn Michaels. All these fans, they just wanna touch this man and feel the electricity!"
Vince McMahon: "Well, there is no showman today that can equal the charisma of Shawn Michaels!"
Jim Ross: "He’s a risk-taker; he’s a great pure athlete."
Vince McMahon: "Yes, and indeed if you [???] when it comes to athleticism, he’s in a class by himself."
[Yokozuna tags in to face Shawn]
Jim Ross: "This mismatch here, size-wise, big mismatch. Shawn should tag in the champ."
Vince McMahon: "Oh no, he shouldn’t. Not if you’re Shawn Michaels. If you’re Shawn Michaels, you say ‘Bring it on, let’s go! Let’s see what happens here!’"
Vince McMahon: "Like I said, he doesn’t care. Michaels has to compete. He has to — it’s just inside him, he has to compete."
Jerry Lawler: "That man just knocked it out of him."
Jim Ross: "Maybe."
Vince McMahon: "He’s got that great burning desire to succeed."
I know these observations are mostly based on kayfabe statements, but the finish of this match is bonkers. Even JR was confused and said he didn’t understand how it was acceptable to pin Owen Hart when Davey Boy Smith was his official replacement. Then Vince basically said, "It’s real simple: you’re looking at your new tag team champs!" as though that could quell any further, logical discussion.
Team Michaels vs. Team Ramon (WWF Survivor Series, November 19th, 1995)
Mr. Perfect: "Hey McMahon, I gotta admit, Shawn Michaels has come a long way in the World Wrestling Federation. Then again, so has Owen Hart."
Jim Ross: "It takes a lot of guts for Shawn Michaels to come back here right now. This huge crowd LOVES this man."
[Ahmed Johnson breaks up a pin attempt by Razor]
Mr. Perfect: "This is what I was talking about earlier. Shawn Michaels with ALL the big guys here in the WWF!"
(This is more a point around how Shawn always has backup in the form of a much bigger man, e.g., Diesel or Sid)
Vince McMahon: "[…] And Michaels is taking, as is his style, a tremendous amount of punishment here at the Survivor Series."
Mr. Perfect: "Shades of Perfection, I’m starting to see here, McMahon."
Vince McMahon: "You think Shawn Michaels trying to follow in your footsteps, Perfect?"
Mr. Perfect: "Exactly. Every time I turn the TV on and watch WWF Wrestling, I see Shawn Michaels stealing something out of the books of Mr. Perfect, OR Razor Ramon."
Vince McMahon: "What a great competitor Michaels is."
Mr. Perfect: "Compared to what?"
Vince McMahon: "You may not necessarily always like his style, but nonetheless, Michaels, give him credit for being resilient and obviously for being flamboyant. He can bring it to ya whenever you see Shawn Michaels in there, but right now, Yokozuna is in control!"
Mr. Perfect: "You think Shawn Michaels has what it takes to be the World Wrestling Federation champion?"
Vince McMahon: "WELL, I DON’T KNOW. WE’RE GONNA WAIT AND FIND OUT."
Jim Ross: "I am just speechless when it comes to describing Shawn Michaels’ heart and his desire to excel each and every time he comes into the ring."
Mr. Perfect: "Yeah, it reminds me of somebody."
Vince McMahon: "Ah, maybe Mr. Perfect."
Shawn Michaels vs. Owen Hart (WWF Raw, November 20th, 1995)
Vince McMahon: "SHAAAAAWN MICHAELS! Mr. Electricity! Mr. Flamboyant! Mr. Resilience!"
Vince McMahon: "Shawn Michaels, just last night at Survivor Series, was the recipient of a Razor’s Edge. Yokozuna dropped that huge leg on him as well, notwithstanding Psycho Sid, his own partner, powerbombed him. But nonetheless, we talk about the resilience of Michaels — that was a testament, Survivor Series was, to that resilience of Shawn Michaels."
Jerry Lawler: "I think a lot of it has to do with that huge ego of his. I understand it’s so big. It’s about to apply for statehood. You know, no matter how much he gets hurt…these fans, he can’t seem to let his FANS down."
Vince McMahon: "Elbow to the front of the jaw, Michaels moving right into Owen Hart. That’s what you have to do, is take it to — you have to be aggressive, you have to fire off offensively, and Michaels [is] one of the best at it."
Video Package at the end Raw (December 4th, 1995) @40:44
Vince McMahon: "[…] Shawn Michaels has been living on the edge and thrilling the crowds for quite some time. Shawn Michaels wiled us into believing he could do just about anything – because we’ve seen him do it. But now we find ourselves in the uncomfortable position of hoping he’ll just be alright, all the while knowing we helped push him over the edge in our unquenchable thirst for excitement. However, like anyone who totally loves what they do, Shawn Michaels can’t wait to get back into the ring."
Right before Vince introduces Shawn Michaels’ "Tell Me a Lie" Music Video (December 18th, 1995)
Vince McMahon: "However, in a moment, a look at one of the greatest athletes of all time here in the WWF, Shawn Michaels, who may no longer be in action."
Jim Ross: "And I hate to even think about that option. I hope that he’s back, hope he’s back very soon."
Shawn Michaels – 1996
Royal Rumble Match (WWF Royal Rumble, January 21st, 1996)
[After Shawn wins the Rumble for the second year in a row]
Mr. Perfect: "I’ll tell you what, McMahon, he is an amazing athlete no matter what anybody says.
Vince McMahon: "[…] Tatanka being taunted a little bit. Shawn Michaels, a great psychologist – everyone knows his athleticism, but give credit where it’s due, his psychology is extraordinary."
Mr. Perfect: "No doubt about it, McMahon, he’s been schooled by the best."
Vince McMahon: "I see."
[Shawn wins a sequence and sends Tatanka to the outside]
Vince McMahon: "Again, the psychology of Shawn Michaels – very apparent. And listen to this capacity crowd!"
Mr. Perfect: "I think he’s getting a little bit too cocky, McMahon."
Vince McMahon: "Michaels got Tatanka out of the Native American’s game plan early, and then Michaels used his speed, quickness to his fullest ability. Michaels can beat you in SO many ways, and now again, he’s playing mind games with Tatanka."
Vince McMahon: "Talk about charisma, talk about resilience, you have to give credit to Shawn Michaels, coming back and doing the impossible: winning the Rumble!"
Vince McMahon: "Shawn Michaels has never backed down from a challenge from anybody."
Jerry Lawler: "His fans worship him, and so does he."
Vince McMahon: "I don’t know about that. I don’t think Shawn Michaels really takes himself seriously."
Vince McMahon: "Shawn Michaels might be counted out, although you can never count this man out, no matter what the odds are. One thing about Shawn Michaels: he just keeps coming right back, getting back right in your face!"
[Pre-match Video Package]
Todd Pettengill: "No one can call Shawn Michaels a quitter. Even after a brutal beating to the head at the hands of nine thugs, even after Interim President Gorilla Monsoon forced Shawn to forfeit his Intercontinental Championship out of concern for his health, Shawn Michaels would not be stopped! Against the advice of friends and family, Shawn’s never-say-die attitude aroused a virtually unstoppable force of will – unstoppable, that is, until Shawn Michaels collapsed, his body incapable of withstanding any more punishment. Shawn’s doctor informed us he was suffering from Post-Concussion Syndrome and advised the Heartbreak Kid to discontinue his career."
Vince McMahon: "There’s only one Mr. Flamboyant: Shawn Michaels!"
Vince McMahon: "This man is definitely over the top, yes! The pride and joy of San Antonio, Texas, Shawn Michaels, electrifying this capacity crowd before the match is even underway! Shawn Michaels, a young man who will get into anybody’s face here in the World Wrestling Federation, and he doesn’t care how big they are or how bad they are – Michaels, with his quickness, Michaels with his athleticism, can rock with the best of them!"
Jerry Lawler: "See what Owen’s doing? He’s telling Shawn Michaels right now: he’s gonna kick him right in the head like he did before. And Shawn Michaels could be… history! I mean, once and for all, we’ll see his entire career over, McMahon!"
Vince McMahon: "I don’t know, you have to ask yourself what kind of a drumming, you know, Shawn Michaels can take. And we know he’s resilient, maybe the most resilient ever in the WWF…"
[Vince laughs because Shawn’s playing to the crowd]
Vince McMahon: "Michaels having some fun in there, that’s what it’s all about! Although Shawn Michaels can get very, very serious when it’s time to get down to business."
[Shawn with a flying crossbody from the top rope to the outside]
Vince McMahon: "DID YOU SEE THAT? AND HE GETS RIGHT BACK UP! HOW DOES THAT MAN DO IT?"
Jerry Lawler: "He’s gotta be nuts; I’ll tell ya that!"
Vince McMahon: "You talk about a high-risk maneuver, Michaels will take it to the limit!"
Jerry Lawler: "I can’t stand the hotdog, McMahon. That’s what Michaels is."
Vince McMahon: "He is that. Unquestionably, he is a hotdog, and he knows it. [He] loves to perform. He loves, indeed, to have his Kliq with him the whole way!"
Shawn’s entrance during this match foreshadows his later entrance against the elder Hart at WrestleMania that year. I’d seen this entrance before but never made the connection.
Shawn Michaels vs. Shinobi (WWF Superstars, February 24th, 1996)
Vince McMahon: "Oh yeah, Mr. Flamboyant, Mr. Resilience – you can knock him down but he – he’s not gonna stay down!"
Vince McMahon: "The most flamboyant, the most resilient superstar, perhaps, of all time, but is he ‘The Best There Is, The Best There Was, and The Best There Ever Will Be’?"
Vince McMahon: "Michaels, pulling himself right back up into the ring, just as Shawn Michaels has always done. You talk about a young man who is game, a young man who lets it all hang out, so to speak. It’s Shawn Michaels in every single match —he gives it his all!"
Jerry Lawler: "He loves to showboat, though, McMahon!"
Vince McMahon: "Yes, he does! And that’s one of the things about Shawn Michaels everybody likes; he is FLAMBOYANT!"
Video Package (WWF Superstars, March 9th, 1996) @14:52
Vince McMahon: "Both men grew up in Western towns: Bret in the cold of Calgary, Alberta, Canada; Shawn in the heat of San Antonio, Texas. Certainly, they’re both a reflection of that environment. Bret – on occasion somewhat aloof, he’s cool or maybe even cold, like the Calgary winter. The strong silent type, if you will. On the other hand, Shawn is what you might expect out of a western boomtown: wild, he’s cocky, flamboyant, and outrageous. And yet they both have a single passion in life: to be the greatest superstar in the history of the World Wrestling Federation."
Vince McMahon: "These two great athletes, armed with raw talent and the wisdom of two legends, left their homes to pursue superstardom in the World Wrestling Federation. Through years of hard work and dedication, they have both succeeded. They are two of the most respected and accomplished athletes in the history of the World Wrestling Federation, and yet, much like their upbringing, they have done it differently. Bret as a technician; Shawn, a high flier. Bret is low-key; Shawn is flamboyant. Both are resilient; both have the heart of a champion."
Training Montage (WWF Raw, March 11th, 1996) @5:53
Bret Hart: "Through the years, if you go back and look at the wrestling where I grew up — the roots that I came from — it was a really hard, hard, tough style of wrestling. I mean, it’s tough. I don’t think it was any tougher than it is right here. Shawn’s roots, you’re talking about, really, a sharp tie-in with Mexican wrestling – jumping and running and a lot of action. But as far as being tough? I don’t know of any really, really tough Mexican wrestlers."
Bret Hart: "All these years of wrestling experience that I have, it doesn’t compare with the limited wrestling he’s got, you know? He reminds me more of a tennis ball, bouncing around the ring because he doesn’t really have any real effective moves. You’ve got one is his big kick [sic], and the other is just the conditioning factor as an overall."
Training Montage (WWF Raw, March 25th, 1996)
Bret Hart: "I knew sooner or later, it was gonna come down to this. I mean, I knew Shawn Michaels…three, four years ago, I said ‘this is gonna be the guy who’s gonna try to take my spot.’ I went through the same kinda thing with Randy Savage. You know, I thought Randy Savage was really good, and all of a sudden, one day, I was knocking on his door, and the next day I passed him. You know, you look back, and you go ‘there’s the guy that’s gonna come back and knock on my door,’ and he’s knocking right now, but unfortunately, I’m not ready to leave yet."
Bret Hart: "He’s been in this situation before, but he’s come up short, and the reason is ‘cause I think he gets a little overconfident, he gets a little irrational when you start putting the pressure on him. You put it on, and you put it on, and you put it on – sooner or later, he makes his mistakes, and then it’s over."
Shawn Michaels vs. Leif Cassidy (WWF Raw, March 25th, 1996)
Vince McMahon: "Michaels, determined – give him that. He is one of the most determined, one of the most resilient athletes in the world today. Again, taking nothing away from The Best There Is, The Best There Was, and The Best, perhaps, There Ever Will Be."
Bret Hart: "I give Shawn credit. I think he’s the greatest athlete in wrestling. It’s not just athleticism. He’s tough. I think that the question [is] is Shawn Michaels as tough as me? That’s what an Iron [Man] Match is gonna be. That’s gonna be the important factor in this match: who will be the toughest? He’s a great athlete. He’s in great condition. He’s a little younger than I am – he’s got a lot of advantages. But he’s not as tough as me."
1996 Slammy Awards (March 30th, 1996) @25:52
[Presenting the Master of Mat Mechanics Award]
Mr. Perfect: "And the winner is — y’know, I coulda told you this man was gonna win this award because I taught him everything he knows about mat mechanics, but I didn’t teach him everything I know — you take that for what it’s worth — Shawn Michaels."
The whole night actually felt like a way to build up Bret and Shawn’s feud even more. Both of them won the majority of the awards on this occasion. It closed out quite poetically with Bret winning the "Future Hall of Famer" award and Shawn winning the "Leader of the New Generation" award…which probably gave away the finish if you think about it.
Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart (WWF Championship, WrestleMania XII, March 31st, 1996)
Vince McMahon: "You can bet, when it comes to strategy, both men came in here — especially Bret, however — both men came in with a great deal of strategy, but Shawn is more of an instinct man, Bret is more of a strategist."
Jerry Lawler: "That’s right, that could be the difference too because Shawn will just…he’ll do something on the spur of the moment. He’ll take a chance. That could cost him."
Vince McMahon: "Yes, but it also could achieve victory for him, that could be the one thing – risk-taking."
[Regarding how Shawn has been using more straight, basic wrestling techniques throughout the match]
Jerry Lawler: "I gotta admit I’m surprised. Never thought I’d see this kinda match outta Shawn Michaels. I thought he’d be jumpin’ around like a Mexican Jumping Bean, flying around everywhere. Just the opposite."
Jerry Lawler: "Bret Hart said earlier on that Shawn Michaels is ‘overconfident.’ I don’t agree, I think he’s just cocky, arrogant, and conceited, but he hasn’t been able to show that in this match. Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart has kept him pretty much grounded."
[Shawn nips up with 3:35 left on the clock and prepares to enter his comeback sequence]
Jerry Lawler: "Where does he get that energy?!"
Vince McMahon: "Just nipped up has Shawn Michaels! Michaels now…!"
Jerry Lawler: "Here comes vintage Shawn Michaels!"
Vince McMahon: "Michaels now, going back up. That’s what brought him to the dance – high-risk maneuvers!"
[After the match is restarted in Sudden Death]
Vince McMahon: "I applaud Roddy Piper for wanting to have a decision. However, I would question that wisdom given the condition of Michaels. […] Michaels will stay in it too long; he won’t give up. The official’s gonna have to stop this thing. Michaels. Will. Not. Give. Up. And Bret Hart knows it."
[Shawn hits a desperation Sweet Chin Music, but while trying to recover, Bret ends up recovering first]
Jerry Lawler: "He hit him with the Superkick, but you’ll never in your life see one of Shawn Michaels’ opponents get hit with the Superkick and then beat Shawn Michaels to his feet! Impossible! But we may see it here!"
Shawn’s gloves have changed to the "Heart" design, as have his kneepads, so in terms of his attire, he’s completed his evolution. Shawn does a Fisherman’s suplex in an interesting bit of continuity, which Vince calls a Perfect-plex. Shawn used this as a finisher to mock Mr. Perfect during their very brief feud in 1993. Still, more relevant to this point is how Mr. Perfect claimed to have taught Shawn everything he knew about wrestling on commentary, even saying so during the Slammy Awards the previous night. Lawler mentioned how Bret kicking out of the Perfect-plex proved that Shawn "wasn’t perfect." Seemed like a neat detail.
Shawn Michaels vs. Jerry Lawler (WWF Raw, April 8th, 1996)
Diesel: "Tell you what, I’m not gonna take too much away from this kid, though. Shawn Michaels is in the best shape of his life right now. He’s gonna need to be [laughs]."
Vince McMahon: "How can you counter that lightning-like quickness of Shawn Michaels? That speed?"
Diesel: "Knock him out."
Shawn was called the Leader of the New Generation here, referencing his winning that award at the Slammy Awards. I think there’s some humor in the fact that King watched Shawn only a week prior (a day prior, when you consider it was taped on April 1st) and is already wrestling him in a match.
Vince McMahon: "Michaels has been accused of having more guts than brains in the past."
[Shawn gets Jackknifed through a table]
Vince McMahon: "Michaels, who has, as far as I’m concerned, already done the impossible. Still, he’s in this match after being driven down right into our very table!"
Shawn’s gear follows the black and blue color scheme of the "Two Dudes With Attitude," which I’m almost certain is intentional. Also interesting is the fact that Shawn does the stomp before the Sweet Chin Music for the first time in this match.
Shawn Michaels vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley (WWF Raw, May 13th, 1996)
Vince McMahon: "Unquestionably, Michaels, the most athletic WWF Champion, perhaps, of all time. And unquestionably Michaels laying that title on the line, challenger after challenger, just as he will against The British Bulldog!"
Jerry Lawler: "What a showboat."
Vince McMahon: "You got that right. He is a showboat. When it comes to showmanship, nobody comes close to Shawn Michaels."
Shawn Michaels vs. The British Bulldog (WWF Championship defense, In Your House: Beware of Dog, May 26th, 1996)
[Regarding Shawn’s denial of allegations that he tried to sleep with Davey Boy’s wife]
Jerry Lawler: "See, you, McMahon, you can’t believe that Shawn Michaels is lying. You wanna believe every word he says. But I can understand that you see because you don’t know how it is with Shawn Michaels. I understand it. Y’know, I’m a good-looking guy, Shawn’s a good-looking guy – women throw themselves at us, McMahon. When a woman sees Shawn Michaels, or me, they wanna be with us! […] You don’t turn them down! It doesn’t make any difference if they’re married or not!"
Vince McMahon: "Michaels will stay with you. He is the most tenacious WWF superstar in the world today. Maybe–"
Jerry Lawler: "Once again, I agree with part of what you said: Michaels will stay with you if you’re a married woman."
Vince McMahon: "Oh please…good thing, Shawn Michaels cannot hear this commentary."
Jerry Lawler: "Marty Jannetty, Shawn’s old partner, said that Shawn used to go for the married women."
Vince McMahon: "Aw, come on, I don’t think we can give much validity to Marty Jannetty…"
Jerry Lawler: "Well, you don’t wanna believe anybody, but Shawn, do you?"
Vince McMahon: "No, I — listen, I just think you wanna question some of these accusations. They don’t make any sense, quite frankly."
Jerry Lawler: "You ever hear the old saying ‘where there’s smoke, there’s fire’? How come so many accusations are coming out of the woodworks? They’re coming from everybody: they’re coming from Diana, they’re coming from Marty Jannetty, the mystery woman!"
Vince McMahon: "Shawn is a target, obviously, here in the World Wrestling Federation. He is the WWF Champion – everybody’s gunning for him."
Jerry Lawler: "Well, yeah, and he’s a smooth talker too, McMahon. That’s what you don’t realize. He could persuade a female fish to come out and take a walk with him."
[Davey Boy has Shawn in a Canadian Backbreaker]
Vince McMahon: "The official is right there listening to Shawn Michaels, asking him every moment [if] he wants to surrender, and Michaels has yet to lose a matchup by surrendering for any reason. Nonetheless, we certainly know tonight that anything CAN happen in the WWF. Who knows, it could occur!"
Shawn decided to pin Bulldog with a backdrop pin for a finisher, which is an excellent finisher but was used for a Dusty finish, as you might expect. During their King of the Ring match, Vince would hail it as the "most controversial ending of a WWF title match, ever." Regardless, I feel like I’ve never seen Davey Boy ever get a win over Shawn. Also amusing is the fact that they mention how Shawn’s never surrendered before – Bret Hart would take issue with that!
Shawn Michaels vs. The British Bulldog (WWF Championship defense, King of the Ring, June 23rd, 1996)
Vince McMahon: "Michaels is quicker than a hiccup with those armdrag takeovers, and is beginning to frustrate the Bulldog!"
Owen Hart: "I am impressed. He is very, very fast. Nobody knows better than me. I’ve been in the ring with Shawn Michaels. Matter of fact, I’m the man who put him out of wrestling – thought I ended his career, live on Raw."
[Vince mentions him winning the Slammy for it]
Owen Hart: "I’m damn proud of it. He’s shown that he is a true WWF Champion, and he has excellent speed, and he may very well be slightly faster than the Bulldog."
Vince McMahon: "Jose, much like Shawn Michaels, [was an] underdog all his life. A man not gifted with extraordinary strength or size, just like Michaels! They have so much in common; no one can advise Michaels quite like Jose Lothario can."
Jim Ross: "Well, this count-out would be to Shawn Michaels’ advantage."
Owen Hart: "Well, that’s the kind of gutless, chicken champion he is."
[After Shawn kicks out of a leg drop]
Vince McMahon: "How does Michaels kick out of that? Explain that to me, Owen."
Owen Hart: "Intestinal fortitude. I’m not saying Shawn Michaels isn’t a great champion. I’m not saying he doesn’t have a lot of heart. I’m just saying he’s not good as The British Bulldog, and when Davey Boy Smith is on top of his game, Shawn Michaels will go down in defeat."
Vince McMahon: "The one thing Shawn Michaels unquestionably has going for him is the relationship he has with The Kliq, so to speak. There’s no doubt, and Michaels’d be the first to tell ya, that when he’s down like this, he can feel that encouragement."
Jim Ross: "Michaels [has] got to kick into another gear here."
Vince McMahon: "Yes, he does."
Jim Ross: "Shawn’s gotta quicken the pace. Shawn has to make Bulldog wrestle a fast match, a reactive match."
Owen Hart: "He doesn’t have it in him; I said it earlier. Don’t you think if Shawn Michaels could, he would kick it into a higher pace? He can’t because he’s too tired out! He’s been outwrestled, out-conditioned – Davey Boy Smith is gonna beat him. He’s fighting Davey Boy Smith’s match."
I want to just point out something here. I watched the post-match brawl where Ahmed Johnson and The Ultimate Warrior come down and save Shawn from the attack from Camp Cornette and broke my rule of trying to stick to Kayfabe by seeking out footage of the Curtain Call incident. I can totally see why it was as big a deal as it was. Without knowing it, I somehow forgot that these guys were all real-life friends. I got used to seeing Razor and Diesel wrestle all the time because they were such a big part of Shawn’s career up until that point, and I realized quite suddenly that they weren’t around anymore. Seeing Shawn celebrate with Ahmed, Warrior, and Jose Lothario felt so weird by comparison.
Ahmed Johnson: "You’ve got the man, who they say is the best professional wrestler in the world, bar none. None before, none after."
The Ultimate Warrior: "The greatest wrestler in the world. BAR NONE! With the credit card to get him into places others will never go."
Shawn Michaels vs. Marty Jannetty (WWF Raw, July 1st, 1996)
[After a double nip-up]
Vince McMahon: "And Jannetty and Michaels, with similar athletic gifts, although Shawn Michaels has done considerably more with his in terms of the psychological, well, let’s just call it ‘brainpower’ if you would."
Vince McMahon: "Marty Jannetty pulling out the stops tonight, because, yes, Marty Jannetty defeating Shawn Michaels would catapult Jannetty right up the ladder […]"
Jerry Lawler: "But more importantly, Jannetty’s getting to take out years of frustration for being held back."
Vince McMahon: "Held back?"
Jerry Lawler: "That’s right. Held back by Shawn Michaels. Jannetty was the workhorse of the team. […] But Shawn Michaels was always out there to grab the spotlight, getting all the glory."
Vince McMahon: "Let’s face it, Jannetty is simply jealous of the success of Shawn Michaels. Plain and simple, that’s what this is all about."
Jerry Lawler: "Jannetty taught Shawn Michaels everything he knows, and then like I said, Shawn Michaels goes out and gets all the credit."
Vince McMahon: "Shawn Michaels, the standard-bearer of the New WWF Generation."
Vince McMahon: "Jose Lothario, Shawn Michaels’ mentor. Indeed, much like a father-son relationship…"
Jerry Lawler: "Grandfather and son."
Vince McMahon: "Shawn Michaels, when you speak with Michaels about Jose Lothario, you see the respect in that young man’s face for Jose Lothario, who taught Shawn Michaels everything he knows."
Shawn Michaels vs. Billy Gunn (WWF Championship defense, WWF Raw, July 15th, 1996)
Vince McMahon: "[…] Shawn Michaels, the most charismatic WWF Champion of all time will grace the squared circle, stay with us!"
Jerry Lawler: "If Shawn Michaels lost the title in this match, I think he’d pull a Kirby Puckett. I think he’d just retire. I don’t think he’d even make it to the International Incident [laughter]."
[After the match]
Vince McMahon: "Against all odds – Michaels, still the World Wrestling Federation champion!"
The People’s Posse vs. Camp Cornette (WWF In Your House: International Incident, July 21st, 1996)
Vince McMahon: "The leader of the New WWF Generation! There is only one with this kind of charisma, with this kind of athleticism, with this kind of resilience – we’re talking about Shawn Michaels!"
[After the rail breaks during his entrance]
Jim Ross: "It’s hard to contain this huge crowd; Shawn Michaels causing almost a near riotous situation from sheer enthusiasm! They love this man! The hottest competitor in the world today! He’s right there! He’s Shawn Michaels, and he’s in the World Wrestling Federation!"
[After Ahmed Johnson tags Shawn in to face Vader]
Vince McMahon: "I’ve gotta tell ya, Michaels is gutsy, everybody knows that."
Jim Ross: "Absolutely."
Jerry Lawler: "I’ve seen more guts on a skeleton. Who’re you trying to kid?"
Jim Ross: "Michaels is fearless. Knows no limitations."
Jerry Lawler: "Maybe too much for his own good, JR."
Jim Ross: "Well, that’s a very good point."
Jim Ross: "Well, the Bulls got Air Jordan, we got Air Michaels."
[After…a LOT of damage being done to Michaels, which he kicks out of]
Vince McMahon: "Michaels will not quit! Michaels will not surrender!"
[After Shawn gets pinned by Vader via shenanigans]
Jerry Lawler: "What about that, McMahon? Can you believe your eyes?!"
Vince McMahon: "All I can say is that was one of the most gallant individual, as well as collective efforts I have ever seen by Shawn Michaels. Nonetheless, give Camp Cornette some degree of credit for the victory."
[Shawn dives over the top rope onto Vader after the match]
Jim Ross: "Look at the heart of Shawn Michaels! Michaels is fighting like a wild animal!"
This was Shawn’s first pinfall loss on TV since WrestleMania 11, if you can believe it! The mood after the match was pretty strange to that effect. Commentary sold the injustice of it all, but the moment itself felt kind of surreal after watching Shawn win so much. Also, Shawn’s hairstyle has slowly phased out the bangs that made him resemble Vega from Street Fighter in favor of sideburns – probably since the Jannetty bout?
Shawn Michaels and Ahmed Johnson vs. The Smoking Gunns (WWF Raw, July 22nd, 1996)
Vince McMahon: "Shawn Michaels, he is a showboat, there’s no question about it."
Vince McMahon: "And Mr. Lawler, you may not like Shawn Michaels’ tactics, but he’s definitely fun to watch in action."
Vince McMahon: "Shawn Michaels will not quit. There’s no quit in him whatsoever."
Faarooq/Ron Simmons made his debut here by attacking Ahmed Johnson on the outside, causing a DQ finish. Also, this was Shawn’s 31st Birthday, so there was cake waiting for him on the outside. I want to note that throughout this year, he’s had repeated ‘humorous’ interactions with Sunny, and it kind of feels uncomfortable because it’s difficult to separate the context of Candido’s story from it. It’s especially off-putting if you actually watch Shawn’s match with Candido from 1995.
Shawn Michaels vs. Owen Hart (WWF Raw, August 12th, 1996)
[On Shawn’s attitude towards Vader being in the arena]
Jerry Lawler: "Shawn Michaels is trying to act cool and collected, and cocky, and keep that little smirk on his face, but I guarantee you McMahon: inside, there are butterflies in his stomach. He’s scared to death right now, knowing that Vader is here."
Vince McMahon: "I would suggest that there is a difference between your view and mine, and that is Michaels isn’t afraid of anything. I wish he were."
Shawn Michaels vs. Vader (WWF Championship defense, SummerSlam, August 18th, 1996)
Vince McMahon: "Shawn Michaels hit Vader with a variety of high-risk maneuvers, tried to control the tempo in the early going, had Vader frustrated and off-balance. Since Vader Vader-Bombed [Shawn Michaels], powerbombed rather, on the outside, Shawn Michaels has not been the same and may not be [sic] the same balance in this match."
Jim Ross: "I wouldn’t count Shawn Michaels out quite that quickly. We have seen him, indeed, possess the heart of a champion. If it comes to an end here tonight, as he said it himself, so be it. But it won’t be because he hasn’t given it everything he has."
Vince McMahon: "Well, I agree with that, but the human body can only absorb so much!"
Vince McMahon: "If it ends here tonight for Shawn Michaels, Michaels nonetheless will have left his mark on the World Wrestling Federation as one of the great champions. Any individual who can accomplish what he accomplished, beginning at WrestleMania, has to go down in the history book, I believe, even though he has had a short reign thus far, as one of the great champions. However, his reign is not really over, at least, not yet."
[Match has restarted twice, and we’re at the final sequence where the crowd is going nuts for Shawn’s finishing sequence]
Vince McMahon: "It’s Michaels and the Kliq together, that’s where he’s getting his power, that’s where he’s getting resilience!"
Shawn finished this match with a Moonsault rather than Sweet Chin Music. Vince makes an interesting comment that indicates what he was trying to do with protecting Vader while keeping the belt on Shawn. He says Vader beat Shawn via count-out and then via DQ, with Shawn barely winning via pinfall after the match had restarted again. He also references how Vader actually pinned Shawn during the People’s Posse vs. Camp Cornette match. All that stuff to make Vader look strong, and yet, Shawn kept the belt. Interesting indeed.
[After knocking down Yokozuna]
Jim Ross: "That is tenacity from the World Wrestling Federation Champion. You talk about a guy who weighed in about 225-230 today, giving up the pounds – but […] you can’t measure […] the size of a man’s heart. Shawn Michaels knows no limits!"
Jim Ross: "Shawn Michaels being mobbed here. It’s like a rock star just walked into the arena. He’s bigger than a rock star – he’s the World Wrestling Federation Champion, and many say the most athletic WWF Champion of all time."
Kevin Kelly: "I know that Shawn Michaels has really enjoyed the celebrity of being champion."
Jim Ross: "Well, he certainly has. He’s made a lot of controversial decisions his whole career, but I don’t think any more controversial than posing for Playgirl magazine. Shawn Michaels on the cover of Playgirl magazine that goes on sale this Monday. And I don’t think that [would] please a lot of WWF officials. […] And that magazine, we should add, is for adults only."
Shawn finished the match with a Moonsault again. I’ve only just remembered that, as a child, I thought the Moonsault was Shawn’s signature move. It’s nice to see that it actually very much was, and was used to finish matches.
Shawn Michaels vs. Mankind (WWF Championship defense, WWF In Your House: Mind Games, September 22nd, 1996)
Vince McMahon: "How would you, Mr. Perfect, counter the extraordinary skills, if you can call them ‘skills,’ of Mankind."
Mr. Perfect: "Well, if you’re Shawn Michaels, with the great athletic ability that he has–"
Vince McMahon: "No, no, no, I know he has great athletic—I’m asking YOU."
Mr. Perfect: "He has to use his wit, his endurance to outlast Mankind. He has to wear him down. I don’t know if Shawn Michaels is thinking that way because he’s the one that’s walking out here, not me. I mean, if I was walking out to the ring, I’d have a different answer for you."
Jim Ross: "The faster the pace, the better it is for the champion! Michaels has got so much quickness and so much speed!"
Vince McMahon: "And Michaels has proven time and time again that he can mix it up in any style match you want. If you wanna brawl, you can brawl, ‘cause he’s quicker than most people. If you want a scientific matchup, you’ll get that one too!"
Jim Ross: "Michaels is so pugnacious, Michaels is…he’s more aggressive than [I2? I, too?] we’ve ever seen him!"
Vince McMahon: "But he has to be. He has no choice."
Mr. Perfect: "I’ve never seen this side of Shawn Michaels before."
Jim Ross: "I’m not criticizing it; I like it!"
Jim Ross: "Shawn Michaels, as you said, Vince, his greatest asset is speed and resiliency. He better be resilient because he’s lost his speed at this point in time in the match.”
Vince McMahon: "Well, you said before, Jim Ross, that Shawn Michaels is one of the most, if not the most, resilient WWF Champion ever. This is really taking him to the limit."
Mr. Perfect: "Yeah, we’re gonna find out if that cliché is really true. Is Shawn Michaels the most resilient superstar ever in the WWF? We’ll find out before we leave here tonight."
[After the match]
Jim Ross: "He is the man, there’s no doubt about it. Shawn Michaels is the man in the World Wrestling Federation."
Vince McMahon: "If ever there was any doubt whatsoever in anyone’s mind about this man’s resilience, about this man’s athleticism, and whether or not this man has more guts than brains, it was proven right here tonight!"
Jim Ross: "You know, Shawn Michaels has proven on many an occasion that he can rise to the occasion, but Michaels took it to another level last Sunday night on pay-per-view against Mankind."
Jim Ross: "His body’s gotta be bruised and battered, but Michaels continues to fight. Nobody’s got a bigger heart than Shawn Michaels!"
Shawn Michaels and Jose Lothario vs. Vader and Jim Cornette (WWF Raw, September 30th, 1996)
Jim Ross: "Absolutely deafening in here. There’s nothing like the presence of Shawn Michaels, who can rock any arena in the world."
Jim Ross: "Can you imagine this man’s schedule? No champion in the history of the World Wrestling Federation has ever had the grueling schedule that Shawn Michaels has been under."
[Shawn misses a crossbody and falls out of the ring]
Jerry Lawler: "Yeah, when the title’s not on the line, Michaels will take all kinds of chances. [If] that belt was at stake, [we’d] see a different Shawn Michaels."
Jim Ross: "I’ll tell you something, King, I disagree with that. Shawn Michaels always rises to the occasion. Shawn Michaels can take it to another level better than any other WWF Champion of all time, and that very well could include Bret Hart."
Jim Ross: "My God, he’s quicker than a hiccup. There’s no one in the WWF that can go faster!"
Shawn got pinned…clean? Interesting. Lots of interesting things to talk about here. Regarding Bret Hart, he had been referred to as the greatest WWF Champion and the fightingest WWF Champion during his matches on the run-up to WrestleMania, so this comparison bears some significance think. On a separate note, one interesting point, and one that was brought up in the match with Bradshaw, is how they’re still referencing Shawn’s susceptibility to concussions. I should also mention that JR’s comment about Shawn’s schedule came into play here, which is impressive continuity because they’ve been showing all the good PR stuff Shawn’s been doing during his entrances, such as the Kuwait tour, going to Macy’s for signings, playing a charity tennis match, and so on – his very grueling matches notwithstanding. They asked the question of whether Shawn’s schedule caught up with him. Did Vader beat him, or did Shawn beat himself?
Jim Ross: "This schedule Shawn Michaels has been under is absolutely horrendous. I don’t know how Michaels puts up with it. I think he may need better representation because his schedule is inhuman. McMahon doesn’t care. MONSOON doesn’t care. Just saddle him — saddle him up and ride that horse right off into the sunset."
JR hailed this match as the biggest one-on-one match in Monday Night Raw history. Considering this match, he’s not wrong would one day main event one of the most important WrestleManias ever. Also, in an angle that never seemed to have a follow-up, "Diesel" and "Razor" watched from the entrance ramp as Vader and Austin surrounded the ring. I’m curious to know where that was going to go.
Jim Ross: "There is nothing like the athleticism and the resiliency of perhaps the most popular WWF Champion of all time – that young man, Shawn Michaels!"
Jim Cornette: "He may be popular, but popularity doesn’t win wrestling matches. Ability does. Shawn Michaels has carried himself this far on a lot of guts and a lot of determination, but he may be facing an uphill fight when he takes on Sycho Sid next Sunday."
Jim Ross: "Shawn Michaels in this non-title matchup is in one heck of a lot of trouble from Salvatore Sincere, and Sincere may be wrestling the match of his life here this morning on the USA Network."
Jim Cornette: "Because he knows he’s got the opportunity of his life. Shawn Michaels, trying to act cocky today, trying to show everybody he wasn’t worried. I think that’s because he IS worried. He’s got a lot of pressure on him. He’s going against one of his best friends, supposedly, for the championship in the main event of a pay-per-view. He’s got a Tag Team Title match tomorrow night on Raw, with his opponent as his partner. He doesn’t know which way to turn, and that has caused Shawn Michaels to overlook Sal Sincere."
Jim Ross: "Sycho Sid – 6"9, 313[lbs]. So much bigger than Shawn Michaels. Michaels has beat up a lot of guys. Some former friends of his, they were pretty good size, Michaels ran completely out of the WWF."
Jim Cornette: "[…] Just remember, a good [???] big man will always beat a smart-aleck little jerk. And I think that may be the case, because Shawn Michaels, once again, is trying to hide the fact he’s worried about this thing."
Jim Ross: "If that’s one strength that Shawn Michaels has, he’s a human superball! You can’t keep him down. He keeps bouncing back up. It’s gonna take something heavy to put him down for the count – but Sycho Sid is heavy."
[About Shawn’s diving elbow drop]
Jim Ross: "Boy, nobody has ever delivered an elbow like that ever in the WWF. That is special."
[After the match]
Jim Cornette: "That kick is deadly. If he’s got one weapon that can beat Sycho Sid, it’s the Kick. If he lands the Kick, Sid’s done. If Sid takes his legs out from under him, I think Sid should be the new champion."
Jim Ross: "Shawn Michaels has made a lot of money beating up people that’s bigger than he is [sic]. He’s at the top of his game. No doubt, when you get inside Madison Square Garden on a major event like the Survivor Series, next Sunday on pay-per-view, we’ll see the absolute best of Shawn Michaels."
I wonder why Cornette sounds so objective and analytical here. I mean, aside from the comments about Shawn being scared, I thought he’d be angrier because Vader would no longer be facing Shawn for the title at Survivor Series.
Shawn Michaels vs. Sycho Sid (WWF Championship defense, Survivor Series, November 17th, 1996)
[During the Free for All pre-show]
Todd Pettengill: "Shawn Michaels has reigned with confidence and charisma. He is fearless, flamboyant, and beloved. The challengers have been bigger, stronger, and more vicious. Shawn has always persevered, but this time the enemy is from within. The enemy is trust."
Vince McMahon: "Nobody, I mean nobody, gives it their all like that, man."
Jim Ross: "Nope."
Vince McMahon: "No one that’s ever worn that championship belt has ever given more every single time he goes out to perform. He doesn’t leave anything. He gives it, every bit of it, to you."
Vince McMahon: "Shawn Michaels, Ladies and Gentlemen. This man can electrify a crowd like no individual in World Wrestling Federation history! […] He is a showman par excellence!"
Vince McMahon: "Shawn Michaels can’t get enough of it! He lives and breathes for this kind of adulation, and indeed is deserving of it."
Jim Ross: "Well, this is his life. Shawn’s a single man. You know? This is his life. Everything that Shawn Michaels is about, everything he prepared as a youngster to be, is about being the champion."
[Shawn attempts and loses a strike battle]
Vince McMahon: "And the thing about Shawn is that machismo, and it gets the best of him a lot of times.”
Vince McMahon: "Shawn Michaels, continuing to work with the left leg of Sycho Sid."
Jim Ross: "Shawn, very, very aggressive, and such a consummate tactician. I’d be very surprised to see if Shawn focuses on any other body part […]"
Jim Ross: "Shawn Michaels may not be as big, physically, as Sid, but I wouldn’t bet that his heart wasn’t bigger than anybody’s."
Vince McMahon: "Look at Michaels saying ‘Come on, bring it to me, come on, bring it to me’ – sometimes that’s just an act of bravado."
Jim Ross: "Shawn Michaels is like a pitbull dog: he doesn’t know how big or how little he really is – doesn’t really give a damn. That’s the kind of man he is."
Vince McMahon: "Yeah, that’s what he’s saying: ‘Bring it to me. Bring it to me.’ Michaels, we’ve always said, has more guts than brains."
[Shawn gets a boot for trying a double axe handle while Sid’s lying flat]
Jim Ross: "Shawn Michaels has gotta be on dream street before that [sic]. That move would never happen to Shawn Michaels if he had all of his wits about him."
This promo is something most should watch to know when Shawn switched from being a cookie-cutter babyface to being that controversial tweener-esque face. Shawn admitted that, somewhere along the way, he lost his edge. I guess it was a response to the mixed response he was getting by the time he lost the title to Sid. I feel like this promo may bear a strong connection with Shawn’s feud with Diesel right before he left. Diesel was presented as a champion who struggled with the responsibilities of the role, with that year being called "the worst of his life." He wanted Shawn to be his old self because he felt that Shawn wasn’t staying true to who he was and felt that the only way he could free Shawn was by taking the belt off of him. In a sense, that’s what happened here.
Vince McMahon: "He is charismatic, he is flamboyant, and indeed, does not want to be a role model […], but some people think his honesty is to be applauded."
Jim Ross: "It’s certainly very refreshing […]"
Bret and Shawn both seem to have been "corrupted" due to their experiences losing to Sid. Both have become bitter people, and both argue that neither is the role model they claimed to be or used to be. It’s very interesting to see both Shawn and Bret make that transition together. In the video package, Vince refers to both as "legends," so I assume by this point both had reached that status in WWF canon. The next part of Shawn’s evolution was also hinted in the video package, with Shawn referring to himself as "the World Wrestling Federation’s favorite degenerate."
Shawn Michaels – 1997
Jerry Lawler: "Shawn Michaels’ ego is so big, it needs its own zip code. And when he sees even one of these over 60,000 fans cheering for Sid, that could blow his mind. You could see Shawn Michaels snap!"
[Regarding Shawn Michaels having the flu]
Jerry Lawler: "The longer this match goes, the more it favors Sycho Sid because I don’t care what Shawn Michaels says about the flu, believe me, it drains your energy. He will not have his usual stamina tonight."
Vince McMahon: "I’m inclined to agree with that."
Jim Ross: "Take a good look at the WWF Champion. He’s not in his mid-40s, he’s not bald, and he’s not making promises that he can’t keep! Shawn Michaels is promising you that on Thursday Raw Thursday, live right here on the outstanding USA Network. He’s gonna put it ALL on the line!"
Jim Ross: "What a great young athlete. Shawn Michaels is the man. He is the measuring stick, ladies and gentlemen. Whether you like him or you don’t, he is the man in the World Wrestling Federation. His greatest years are still ahead of him."
Shawn talks about a promo Sid cut earlier about "evil," and Shawn agrees that the title brings out the worst in WWF superstars, including himself. Diesel’s prophetic words live on!
Jerry Lawler: "You know, I gotta say, McMahon. Speaking of Shawn Michaels, I was really looking forward to it. I’ve been looking forward all week to seeing the showoff get shown up here at the showdown with Sycho Sid. But, then, when the news broke about Shawn Michaels, you know, it’s a crushing blow to anybody. Even Shawn Michaels, I mean, I gotta even…maybe feel for the guy."
Vince McMahon: "Here’s someone who, whether you like him or you don’t like him, whether you like long hair or you don’t like long hair, or earrings, or whatever he has in his belly button or doesn’t have in his belly button – one thing you have to give Shawn Michaels is that more than any other WWF superstar, perhaps in history, he gives you his all. Whether you like him or you don’t."
Jim Ross: "Think of the great matches in ’96 he had with Vader, his classic in September against Mankind for the WWF Title. I mean, this kid gave it 110% each and every night no matter where he was around the world."
Vince McMahon: "Well, the match with Bret Hart at last year’s WrestleMania was nothing short of extraordinary. I mean, match after match, whenever you think about some of the best matches in the World Wrestling Federation ever in history, a lot of them, if not most of them, would include Shawn Michaels, whose career could very well come to a crossed halt, as a result of this knee injury. […] If you’re Shawn Michaels and you’ve put your body through what he puts his body through on a given night, that has to take its toll, and unfortunately, apparently, that is what has happened. The toll has just been too much for Shawn Michaels. He is slated for a knee surgery; we just don’t know the extent of the damage done to the knee. He may, God forbid, not return to action."
Jim Ross: "Well, you know, until a doctor opens him, and that’s what’s gonna happen, we’re not gonna know the severity of the situation, and if it’s gotta be completely reconstructed, he may never be back, number one, he may never be the same, number two. We just don’t know. It’s just a heartbreaking situation for a young kid in his prime just realizing his dream, you know, to be debilitated as he has."
Jerry Lawler: "You guys don’t need to soften, I mean, try to soft-pedal him. Tell the people what his doctor said, that is complete reconstructive surgery has to be done on his knee, and most likely, it’s a career-ending injury."
Vince McMahon: "Not necessarily, again, as JR said, no one will really know until they get inside the knee. But, again, Shawn Michaels, ladies, and gentlemen, can’t give you 99%, he has to give you 100% every night he goes to the ring, more than any WWF superstar perhaps."
Jerry Lawler: "Let me ask you and Ross something, McMahon: do you guys, in any way at all, feel responsible for what’s happened to Shawn Michaels? When you guys are off here constantly talk about him being ‘the most resilient, the most flamboyant, the most charismatic,’ naturally, he feels obligated every night to put his body at risk. Hey, he’s not Superman; nobody is. And now, this is what’s happened."
Vince McMahon: "Matter of fact, I certainly feel partially responsible, considering the schedule. No one’s ever been on a schedule like Shawn Michaels’, from a promotional standpoint or from an athletic standpoint."
Jim Ross: "You know, how would you like to be Brett Favre just winning the Super Bowl, at the peak of your career, and somebody tells you in the off-season ‘we have to rebuild your knee, and you may not play again.’ I mean, it’s a heartbreaking situation. That’s exactly the analogy we have here. Shawn Michaels, without a doubt, is the Most Valuable Player in the WWF! […] At least that’s my opinion. I’m sure that could be arguable. He may not be the most popular guy in the locker room, but you know, who cares?"
After what JR said during Shawn’s entrance on ‘Royal Rumble’ Raw, just…wow, he was gyrating on WWF Superstars, not more than 4 days prior to this. To King’s point about JR and Vince feeling responsible, he’s totally right. I haven’t written down every single instance where Vince has used that line for Shawn’s entrance, but I assure you, if you watch any match of Shawn’s from late 1995 through 1996, that’s all you’ll ever hear.
Jim Ross: "Ladies and gentlemen, whether you love him or whether you hate him, you’ve got to admit, he’s one hell of an athlete. He’s a hell of a performer. Shawn Michaels: there’s only one of him. He’s a franchise ball player here in the WWF, and yes, he’s back with us tonight. What a surprise!"
Jim Ross: "I don’t think there’s ever been a rivalry that has been talked about as much worldwide as much as this issue between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels."
Bret Hart: "Shawn Michaels, the Boy Toy…you know there was a time when I just couldn’t stand you. Now when I look at you, I realize that I hate your guts! And the reason that I hate your guts, to list all the reasons why I can’t stand you and you make me sick, the biggest reason is — go ahead, take your jacket off, make yourself at home. It symbolizes something, you taking your jacket off. It’s like you’re hot, you’re cold, you’re hot, you’re cold – that’s the story of your whole career! One minute you’re hot, next, you’re not! You know, what bugs me about you is that — it finally dawned on me — is the way you dance around, you have this attitude, this arrogance, this cockiness. Then it finally hit me: that’s what you Americans all symbolize! You think you’re better than everybody else! You think you can cop this attitude and look down at the rest of the world like you’re better than us!"
Shawn Michaels and Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Owen Hart and The British Bulldog (WWF Tag Team Championship, Raw, May 26th, 1997)
Vince McMahon: "Shawn Michaels, back in action! Unquestionably one of the greatest athletes in WWF history! Will there be ring rust tonight? Can he coexist with Stone Cold Steve Austin?"
[After Bulldog clotheslines him and drops the leg]
Jim Ross: "Whether you love Shawn Michaels or you hate him, it’s really irrelevant. He’s a magnificent athlete with a tremendous fighting spirit. A lesser athlete would have stayed down on the canvas on that one.”
Shawn Michaels and Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. The Legion of Doom (WWF Tag Team Championship defense, Raw, June 2nd, 1997)
Vince McMahon: "We saw last week that this man, amazingly, hasn’t missed a step! We thought perhaps there might be some ring rust – last week; we saw none. HBK is back with a vengeance!"
Shawn Michaels vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin (WWF King of the Ring, June 8th, 1997)
Vince McMahon: "He is beloved by so many, many fans, and unquestionably one of the great treasures here in the World Wrestling Federation; Michaels back in action. You may not like him. You may not like a pierced navel – I’m not too fond of it. Nonetheless, that’s Shawn Michaels. But no one can compare to Michaels when it comes to sheer entertainment in that squared circle. No one can compare to him when it comes to athleticism. He’s in a league all by himself, JR."
Jim Ross: "Well, there’s no doubt about that. He is a phenomenal athlete. Very few have ever competed on Shawn Michaels’ plane."
Vince McMahon: "Michaels is gonna be on his horse, no doubt about that. No one can move as quickly, and perhaps with as much agility, as Michaels."
Jim Ross: "The quickness, the lightning quickness of Shawn Michaels, will play, I think, a huge part in this matchup. And Michaels has so much more big-match experience here in the WWF than does Stone Cold."
[After helping a Special Olympian who had fallen over the rail to the back]
Vince McMahon: "Shawn Michaels showing a side of humanitarianism that not too many people knew he had."
Jim Ross: "If Shawn Michaels wins this matchup […], it’s gonna be because of his quickness and his resourcefulness. If Austin wins it, I think it’s going to be by knockout. Stone Cold Stunner is what Austin is looking for."
Jim Ross: "Well, I’ll tell you something. I’ve had the privilege of seeing a lot of great athletes, as have you, Vince, the last couple of decades. I’ve never seen one more purely athletically gifted — a natural athlete — than Shawn Michaels. But right now, the ‘pure athlete’ is in trouble, ‘cause Mr. Intensity is all about business."
Comments on Shawn between KOTR 1997 and SummerSlam 1997
Shawn was written out for a few weeks with an injury (Bret actually tore some of his hair out in a fight, but this is well-documented), returning in San Antonio on July 14th. He ditched the sports jacket attire that he was wearing in favor of shorts and a t-shirt, which he proceeded to take off before the interview even began. The next week, Shawn took it up a notch, stripping as he got into the ring. Of course, this was in Canada and was no doubt Shawn’s way of antagonizing the crowd. Shawn also backflips off the top rope because why not. Finally, he crotch chops twice, although I’m sure I saw that during the ‘Royal Rumble’ Raw as well. Basically, this would become the standard for Shawn’s persona as the leader of D-Generation X.
The Undertaker vs. Bret Hart (WWF Championship, SummerSlam, August 3rd, 1997)
[On Shawn Michaels’ emotion as the Special Guest Referee]
Jerry Lawler: "Are you kidding me? Shawn Michaels’ ego is so big that it’s got its own zip code, McMahon. All he cares about is what his hair looks like out here tonight. And you know what? Speaking of the Undertaker, Shawn Michaels — I mean, he’s so full of himself when he goes to a funeral, he’s upset because he’s not the corpse. He wants to be the center of attention, and tonight, [in] some kind of way, he will manage to be the center of attention in this match."
Vince McMahon: "Shawn Michaels: many individuals feel as though Shawn Michaels personifies the exuberance in America’s youth today. It’s a little bit, uh, maybe a little bit cocky."
Jerry Lawler: "He personifies America’s youth? In that case, I may move to Canada." Vince McMahon: "He has an edge, no doubt about it."
Vince McMahon: "[…] in terms of his style in the ring, he likes to really let it fly. And I would suggest to you that’s exactly the way he’s gonna officiate this matchup…"
Jerry Lawler: "Now that’s what I like, McMahon!"
Vince McMahon: "…allow the bending, if not out-and-out breaking of the rules. As long as one individual can break it, the other one can too."
Jerry Lawler: "I like a referee that’ll let it fly!"
Jim Ross: "Shawn Michaels may referee like he lives his life – in the fast lane, as he wants."
Vince McMahon: "Shawn Michaels, surprisingly, has been a pretty effective referee."
Jim Ross: "He’s done much better than I thought he would, considering his inexperience."
Jim Ross: "I’ll say this for Shawn Michaels: his count has been very deliberate and very consistent."
Jerry Lawler: "Pretty quick."
Jerry Lawler: "Ordinarily, these Mississippi morons would be going nuts over Shawn Michaels, but they’re not all doing that right now!"
Vince McMahon: "If there was any doubt as to the mental or physical toughness of Shawn Michaels, I don’t think we can doubt it anymore."
Jim Ross: "Absolutely not. Shawn Michaels, not gonna be intimidated, apparently, by The Undertaker, at least with the way Shawn is competing here with Mankind."
Shawn Michaels and Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. Mankind and The Undertaker (WWF Raw, August 18th, 1997)
Vince McMahon: "Shawn Michaels is likely to be very, very reluctant to lock up with The Undertaker."
[After a flying forearm]
Vince McMahon: "And there’s some of that athleticism we alluded to. No question, Shawn Michaels, whether you like him or not, truly one of the great athletes of our era. Maybe any era.”
[Shawn taunts The Undertaker]
Jim Ross: "Michaels is like a banty rooster."
Vince McMahon: "More like a pitbull, JR. This man can do some damage to you. He’s lethal."
Vince McMahon: "Michaels is arrogant, no doubt about that. He is cocky. If you have this kind of athleticism, perhaps you can be."
Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker (WWF In Your House: Ground Zero, September 7th, 1997)
Vince McMahon: "One thing about Michaels: he will get in your face. And no matter what he does, the ladies absolutely adore him."
[After 10+ minutes of getting absolutely wrecked]
Vince McMahon: "Michaels on the outside. Who would blame him if he just walked away? He may have been trying to do just that!"
Jerry Lawler: "I’ve heard you call him the most resilient superstar a million times, and he’s made a believer out of me tonight!"
Undertaker In-ring Interview with Vince McMahon (WWF Raw, September 8th, 1997)
The Undertaker: "Last night, Shawn Michaels and I opened the Gates of Hell! I felt his fire, and he was burned by mine. Michaels, to your credit, you looked Death right in the eye, and you never blinked. But last night was only the beginning, for I will never rest until the flesh is rotting from your bones."
Shawn Michaels vs. The British Bulldog (WWF European Championship, One Night Only, September 18th, 1997)
[As Shawn makes his way through the gorilla position]
Vince McMahon: "The most controversial athlete in the World Wrestling Federation approaching this capacity crowd. Wait til you hear this, when Michaels comes through the curtain — here he comes!"
Vince McMahon: "A young man, ladies love him, he is one of a kind! A great competitor. And he loves every second of this adulation."
[Shawn leaves the ring to waste some time]
Vince McMahon: "He is playing this crowd. Look at this…"
[Shawn crotch chops with his back to The Bulldog]
Jerry Lawler: "[laughter] You gotta admit, he’s pretty cool."
Vince McMahon: "Well, he’s different. He’s cocky, he’s arrogant, and make no mistake about it, he’s good. And he knows it."
Jim Ross: "Bulldog, arguably, one of the most powerful men, pound for pound, to ever compete in the WWF. But Michaels, arguably, is the greatest athlete to ever compete in the WWF."
Vince McMahon: "All around."
[Shawn is knocked out of the ring, and he tries to walk away]
Vince McMahon: "Michaels, barely…he’s wobbling, that’s for sure. The kind of competitor he is, I don’t think he’s waiving this match off. At least not this early!"
Jim Ross: "Submission move by The Bulldog, the abdominal stretch applied to Michaels in the center of the ring. Nowhere for the challenger to go. It is a gut check for the young man from San Antonio, Texas."
Vince McMahon: "And we have seen previous gut checks on many an occasion, and, almost, on every occasion, Shawn Michaels rises to the occasion."
Vince McMahon: "You’ve gotta stay on Michaels every second of the match."
Jerry Lawler: "Michaels is the ultimate opportunist. You can NOT turn your back on him!"
[After the match]
Vince McMahon: "The Grand Slam Winner! Michaels has become the first-ever Grand Slam Winner in the history of the World Wrestling Federation!"
[As Shawn dances in the entrance way]
Vince McMahon: "Look at this! What a dastardly human being! Michaels may be a great athlete, but look at him! Look at him taunt this capacity crowd!"
Vince had kind of leaned away from trying to use too many ‘negative’ words to describe Shawn, but for all intents and purposes, Shawn was already a heel the week after he faced Mankind. Shawn had even directly told him on commentary during a triple threat featuring Hunter Hearst Helmsley that he was ‘a bad guy’ now. When Vince asked him why he attacked The British Bulldog before he could participate in said triple threat, he called Vince a moron and stated he did it because then it wouldn’t be fair. It seems like Vince was in denial until this match happened!
Jim Ross: "Here he comes, the new European Champion. The arrogant Shawn Michaels has done it all in the WWF, including, in my opinion, embarrassing an entire country at One Night Only."
Jerry Lawler: "What do you mean ‘embarrassing an entire country’? Why should the people of the United Kingdom be any different from anybody else? Shawn Michaels is arrogant, he’s full of himself, he’s on a roll like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he’s on a big winning streak, and he don’t care who knows it! He wants the WORLD to know it!"
Vince McMahon: "[…] the wise-ass of the WWF, perhaps the most talented individual in the history of the WWF, as well."
Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker (WWF In Your House: Badd Blood, October 5th, 1997)
Vince McMahon: "It all started at SummerSlam when Michaels was the official, the referee of the matchup with Bret Hart and The Undertaker. And Michaels, with that chair shot, single-handedly changed the course of history in the WWF, and it was downhill from there."
[Breaking out of a chokeslam with punches]
Jim Ross: "Michaels will fight you. He is double tough. There is no doubt about that."
Vince McMahon: "He has no alternative."
Jerry Lawler: "Desperation offense here."
Jim Ross: "Michaels has had great success against big giants here in the WWF. Remember, he beat Diesel, he beat Psycho Sid – but in those matches, Michaels was able to dictate the pace, to be the aggressor. That is not the case here tonight."
[After nipping up]
Vince McMahon: "And Michaels, look at this — showing his arrogance once again, in the face of all of this adversity."
Jim Ross: "Michaels, he’s so cocky, so self-assured."
Jerry Lawler: "And you know why he is? Because he can be."
[After a Diving Elbow Drop]
Jim Ross: "I’ve never seen anybody in the WWF do that as well as Shawn Michaels. Ever."
[After being brought back into the Cell]
Jim Ross: "This is just a matter of time now before the most arrogant superstar in WWF history is out of commission for good!"
Rick Rude: "Ladies and Gentlemen, the winner of this contest: the Showstopper, the Headliner, the Main Event, The PECAN of the World Wrestling Federation — whoops, sorry — the ICON of the World Wrestling Federation — The Heartbreak Kid, Shawn Michaels!"
Was that the first time Shawn had been introduced in that way? I think it might have been.
Jim Ross: "I shudder to think how arrogant and obnoxious, and how much of an ass he’d make of himself if Shawn Michaels wins the Intercontinental title."
Vince McMahon: "Wait a minute, the same can be said for Owen Hart."
Jim Ross: "Well, that’s — I don’t agree, though! I think Shawn’s a bigger ass than Owen!"
Jerry Lawler: "Shawn would go park in Lover’s Lane by himself."
Vince McMahon: "Well, I guess it’s just a matter of degree. The Heartbreak Kid…"
Jim Ross: "Certainly not saying he’s not a great athlete. I think pound-for-pound he may be the greatest athlete in the ring today. I don’t know – it’s certainly an artful point. But he’s a first-class juvenile, sure!"
Vince McMahon: "Well, that he is. But you can’t take away his athleticism […] nor can you take away Owen’s."
Jim Ross: "Michaels may be the more explosive of two [sic], but in my view, Owen Hart is more technically sound."
[As Shawn prepares to drop the elbow]
Vince McMahon: "Michaels, normally an opportunist […] High-risk maneuver coming up. This one may backfire on Michaels; who knows? Michaels will take a chance for sure. One of the more, if not the most exciting wrestlers in – OH!"
Jim Ross: "Michaels is very arrogant, but he is the greatest athlete in the history of the World Wrestling Federation, bar none."
Surprisingly little here, don’t you think?
Shawn Michaels vs. Ken Shamrock (WWF Championship defense, In Your House: D-Generation X, December 7th, 1997)
Jim Ross: "He’s a future Hall of Famer, there’s no doubt about it. As I said, and you may argue this point: I think he’s the greatest athlete I have ever seen in this sport. But his attitude is DEPLORABLE. His conduct is REPREHENSIBLE."
Fun Fact: This match was featured quite extensively in the intro for WWF War Zone. It’s probably no coincidence that Shawn’s attire in this match is his primary costume in the game.
Jim Cornette: "I’m gonna make an observation about Michaels: he’s so fixated on being the ‘showstopper’ and the ‘scene-stealer’ that he gets out there, and the Road Warriors treat him like a human super ball for a couple of minutes. He takes unnecessary punishment just because he wants to try to hot-dog. That’s Michaels’ one failing, and I think he’s only got one – is his ego."
[Regarding Shawn’s upcoming match with The Undertaker at The Royal Rumble]
Jim Cornette: "That’s why I [always love] seeing Shawn Michaels in the ring with The Undertaker, because Michaels’ strong point is his guts, and the fact that you knock him down, he’ll keep getting back up until he outlasts ya, but when he’s in the ring with The Undertaker, The Undertaker don’t slow down!"
[After Owen attacks him quickly from the get-go on the outside]
Jim Ross: "Michaels, a notoriously fast starter, has been taken completely out of his game by the aggressiveness of Owen Hart!"
Shawn Michaels – 1998
Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker (WWF Championship defense, Royal Rumble, January 18th, 1998)
Jim Ross: "Certainly, Shawn Michaels, arguably the greatest athlete in the history of the WWF, and that covers a lot of ground. He may not be in a class by himself, folks, but it doesn’t take too long to call the roll. He is the Grand Slam Winner – the only man to win the WWF title, Intercontinental title, European title, and Tag Team title in WWF history. Nobody can match Michaels’ success in championship matches. Not Hogan, not Savage, not anybody. Michaels is on that page alone. And he always turns it on during these pay-per-views."
Jim Ross: "I’ll tell you what: Shawn Michaels’ record on pay-per-view main events is better than John Wayne’s in movie shootouts. Michaels ALWAYS rises to the occasion. He loves to be the ‘showstopper’ – the ‘scene-stealer’ if you will."
Jerry Lawler: "That’s right if you ain’t talkin’ about him, he ain’t listenin’. I’m sure he’s been a little upset about all of this about Mike Tyson."
Michael Cole: "San Antonio’s Favorite Son took a path befitting the flash and flamboyance of Texas’s number one tourist town. For the Pride of Victoria, it was the no-nonsense, plain-talking, straight-shooting approach you’d expect from a tough guy in a working man’s town."
Michael Cole: "Shawn Michaels was born to be a WWF superstar. He was born to be a WWF Champion. Shawn Michaels is the most decorated superstar in World Wrestling Federation history, and the Heartbreak Kid’s largest stage is WrestleMania, where the brightest of all spotlights has put Shawn’s unbelievable talents on display. Michaels is a reflection of WrestleMania, a mirror image of the glitz, the glamor, the flamboyance, and the Attitude."
Interesting how they chose to parallel this with the WrestleMania 12 package. In that one, they also talked about the similarities and contrasts between the two competitors, and where the two came from, and how it reflected their personalities. However, the tables have turned here, with Shawn now being in the position where his time is coming to a close, although his hiatus would be far longer than Bret’s was.
Shawn Michaels vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin (WWF Championship defense, WrestleMania 14, March 29th, 1998)
[Shawn is backstage]
Jim Ross: "He’s the greatest WWF Champion of all time, folks."
Jim Ross: "Nobody has ever, ever outperformed Shawn Michaels in a big match situation, and folks, it don’t get no bigger than this."
And with that, Shawn Michaels’ story came to an end. Of course, it wasn’t really the end. His run from 2002-2010 is worthy of as much praise, if not more, as his run in the 1990s.
Shawn’s character arc mirrors how storytelling changed from the beginning of the 1990s until the end. The reasons a viewer might have hated him in 1992 were likely not the same reasons they would have hated him in 1997. It is easy to make the simple characterization of him being a male stripper, but Shawn’s character ultimately boiled down to a man whose interpretation of what it meant to be the greatest wrestler of all time defined his behavior. Classified as a narcissist, his early Heartbreak Kid persona represented the color and pageantry of some of the sport’s greatest, such as Gorgeous George and Ric Flair. Perceived as a hero to all, "The Boyhood Dream" run of 1996 represented the heart and soul required to be a true champion. A self-professed degenerate, Shawn’s closing chapter illustrated his belief that his work in the ring would define his legacy and that no matter how bad his behavior was, his legacy in the ring would justify it.
I guess it makes sense that the second half of his story becomes one of redemption. But that’s for another time.
These stories may also interest you:
- Shawn Michaels and Undertaker | The Real Story Behind Their Feud
- Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty – Cancelled Crowning of The Rockers
- Triple H and Shawn Michaels – A Feud Inspired By Real-Life Incidents
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