Just coming back from a severely sprained ankle and a concussion, Shane "Hurricane" Helms has found himself these last few weeks participating in backstage vignettes with none other than The Rock.
"That was just awesome," Hurricane said of working with the People's Champion. "When I found out ... I was like, 'Oh man, I've got to hit this out of the park.' Opportunities like that don't come often."
If fans' reactions are any indication, Hurricane hit a homerun. Last week, he mocked The Rock, saying that a superhero that Hurricane could easily defeat was the Scorpion King. Moments later in the battle royal, the fans got on Hurricane's side when he went toe to toe with Rock before the "Great One" threw him over the top rope, much to the chagrin of the Toronto crowd.
"My Canadian fans came through for me again," he said.
This week, it was an even longer -- and, many would say, even more entertaining -- segment involving the two, which featured Hurricane accusing Rock of being a coward for avoiding Stone Cold Steve Austin.
"He's just great to work with," Hurricane said, referring to the seven-time WWE Champion. "As far as promos, he's one of the best that there's ever been."
It would have been hard for Hurricane to script a better return.
Hurricane missed three weeks of action after the Jan. 27 episode of RAW in Chicago. That night, wrestling D'Lo Brown, Hurricane landed square on his head when he went for a hurricanrana -- or as he sometimes calls it, "Hurricane-rana." The move is also known as the Frankensteiner, named after Scott Steiner, who was among the first in North America to pull it off.
"I was out on my feet," Hurricane said. "I don't remember anything after the Frankensteiner. I didn't wake up until I was in the back. I wasn't out. I was just goofy.
"You just feel fine. You feel like you're just at home sleeping. Then you wake up and you realize you're not. For a couple of seconds, it's scary."
Hurricane said he snapped back to reality when a doctor he didn't know was examining him in the training room. As he wrote on his Web site, ShaneHelms.com, "Now imagine waking up thinking you are at home, and then you see some doctor hovering over you with his hands on you trying to hold you down. Needless to say, a couple of Hurra-expletives were sounding off!"
These days, most of the competitors who use the hurricanrana are cruiserweights.
At 6 feet, Hurricane is among the tallest in the division, and sometimes it's difficult for him to get all the way around and not land on his head. That night in Chicago was the most painful example.
Not only did he have a concussion, but his teeth clenched together when he landed on his head, and he bit his tongue so badly that he almost needed surgery to decrease the swelling.
Even though he was "goofy" and he doesn't remember anything about it, he was able to finish the match. "It was just one of those things," he said. "I was determined to finish." He even did a dive over the top rope, which is when he suffered a Grade 2 sprain of the right ankle.
But he was so disoriented from the concussion that he didn't realize his ankle was injured until the next day. After RAW, he left the Allstate Arena, went back to his hotel and even headed down to the hotel's restaurant to get food and mingle with some of his Superstar peers. The next morning, he couldn't walk.
"I thought Kurt Angle sneaked in at night and put me in the ankle lock," he said.
Fortunately, Amy "Lita" Dumas happened to be staying at the same hotel, and helped him get to the airport, where he needed a wheelchair to make it from the check-in terminal to the gate. It was four days before he could walk again, and he was on crutches for nine days.
He's been rehabilitating the ankle ever since. Today, he says he's not in pain, but his ankle is "just a little bit loose," and he's wearing an ankle brace for extra protection.
His first match back was against Christopher Nowinski, and he made sure to execute a hurricanrana -- for this one he jumped over the top rope and caught Nowinski, who was standing on the ring apron -- to prove to himself and others that he could still do it.
"I felt (the match) was one of my best in months," he said.
The following week, he participated in the promo with The Rock, which may have been one of the best in his career.