AOL Chat-4/15/97
Conducted following Shawn's return from his knee injury

This interview was done on April 15, 1997, after Shawn made his return after knee surgery

OnlineHost: Copyright 1997 World Wrestling Federation, Titan Sports Inc.

OnlineHost: Ladies and Gentlemen...tonight's guest will be WWF Superstar Shawn Michaels!!!!

OnlineHost: Ladies and gentlemen....welcome Shawn Michaels!!

OnlineHost: Hello Shawn!:)...How are you tonight?

WWFBBANKS: Shawn: Very good folks! I'm home and doing great!

Question: Shawn, how is your knee?

WWFBBANKS: Shawn: I went to the doctor yesterday and he said I was doing good. I will continue rehab for the next 6 weeks and I will hopefully be back at the King of the Ring. I could come back now, but I would give the knee some rest first.

Question: Shawn...has there been any persuasion by Vince McMahon do get Kevin Nash back in the WWF? If so how is the progress coming along?

WWFBBANKS: Shawn: I just heard about that rumor yesterday, and I've been staying away from that lately. I don't have an info on that yet, but it's probably just some kind of a wrestling rumor.

Question: Shawn, Bret made some fan bashing comments on Raw is War. What are your comments?

WWFBBANKS: Shawn: Bret Hart bashes a lot of people. So do I , don't take it personally from him.

Question: Shawn, in the NEW Raw magazine this month, Vic Venom said you losing your smile is something more than just a little knee problem? Care to comment?

WWFBBANKS: Shawn: First of all, it's not a little knee problem. There a lot of things about my knee people don't understand. I have old injuries I never had fixed. I had re-constructive surgery, and my knee was at the point that if didn't get it done, something worse could have happened to me. I lost my smile because of what I went through in the last year in the WWF. I was worked too hard and I got burned out. I was thrust into the limelight more than any other champion. I think I was sort of taken aback by the reaction of people to me when Bret came back and when Sid won the title. I don't know if I dealt with it correctly but the job just wasn't giving me back what I felt I was putting into it. That had nothing to do with the fans, I was just working so hard. The problems inside the ring were hard too, my matches weren't coming out right and it just wasn't fun for me. I had a hard time going out there and doing my job.

Question: Shawn, Kevin Nash recently said, "Right back at ya HBK," while doing the Kliq Symbol. Did you know about it? and have you seen it?

WWFBBANKS: Shawn: No I didn't see it. But yes I heard about it, and it wasn't planned. Again, that was just a molehill that people turned into a mountain. It was just coincidental that people saw me do it and then him the next night. They know we are buddies and he was returning the hello. It was not pre-meditated.

Question: Shawn, when you will return is there a possibility of you and Austin teaming up?

WWFBBANKS: Shawn: The one thing that I really want to do when I come back is be in matches that are going to be fun to me. One thing about being Champ is that you get matches you know very well aren't going to be fun, and that was one thing I didn't like about it. That's why I really don't care if I have the belt again, because I am more interested in having fun matches and working good. Working with Austin would be fun in my opinion, but there are also other guys I would like to work with. Not all of them are main event caliber guys, but I've been in the main events, and I would easily sacrifice that to work with guys I want to work with and have good matches.

Question: Shawn, rumors have been flying that you were seen at WCW show this past Monday. Is that true?

WWFBBANKS: Shawn: No, I was seeing Dr. Andrews yesterday, so I couldn't have been at Nitro, and I would never go to a WCW show purely out of respect for the WWF. I don't need to swerve. If I ever wanted to leave the WWF I wouldn't leave in a sneaky way like other people did. I would leave the way Kevin Nash did. I would do my business and then leave.

Question: Shawn, if you did leave the WWF, do you feel you would fit in the NWO? Also, is that something you have thought of doing?

WWFBBANKS: Shawn: It's not something I've thought about doing. But I know if I ever left and went to WCW I would be part of the NWO.

Question: Shawn, RAW has been getting killed in the ratings. Why do you think it has? And how would you change things in the WWF to make it better?

WWFBBANKS: Shawn: Since I got blamed not too long ago for the ratings drop, I may not be the one to ask about how to improve it. Although I do have a lot of different ideas and I think some changes need to be made in the company. And since I'm not going to be wrestling a full schedule anymore, I'm gonna work more behind the scenes, because I will have more time to.

Question: Shawn, since you have been at home maybe watching TV...why do you think the NWO has done so well?

WWFBBANKS: Shawn: Well, I think the reason why the NWO has done so well is because of the impact the guys here in the WWF had and then went to WCW. No matter what anyone says people receive that as the guys are leaving and the other place is better. And of course the Hulk Hogan changing heel, and no matter how much people want to credit he is the premier name in the business. Also, at the risk of sounding desperate and like a WWF corporate suit, I think they have more umph than we do right now. Money talks folks.

Question: Shawn, since Hunter is your good friend. Do you feel he needs a better push in the WWF? Or even a new look?

WWFBBANKS: Shawn: Yes, he does. The problem is that nobody can work with him right now. Many of the top guys are caught up in feuds right now. He needs to get in a match with a major player, but no one can right now. Hopefully he will be able to do such a thing.

Question: Shawn, many people feel that you get a bad rap because of your attitude? Does that bother you?

WWFBBANKS: Shawn: It did for a long time, but now I'm getting accustomed to it. And I can remember seeing Hulk Hogan getting a bad rap for a lot of things, some he deserved and some he didn't. But now I take it as sort of flattery, and to be honest, I don't anymore than any other wrestler, it's just that because I've gotten where I've gotten. I am underneath the microscope so much. I was acting just the same three or four years ago and no one cared. And whether anyone likes it or not, I am very hung up on my independence and the individuality and that is also the thing I will also not sacrifice for anything. So I'm willing to take the heat.

Question: Shawn do you think that the WWF should make a deal with the ECW?

WWFBBANKS: Shawn: I haven't seen them enough to make a judgment. But what I have seen is that even though I am a small guy, they have a lot of other guys that seem big, but they look small on TV. I worry that some of the things they do, people may or may not like. Although I freely admit that the WWF does the exact same thing at times. But the WWF and the ECW are two separate organizations. If Vince could get all of their talent under contract, and he had control, and Paul Heyman had no pull in what they did, I think it could work. I think there is always a problem when two organizations try to get together.

Question: Shawn, Bret has always seemed Bitter toward you since he lost the belt to you. Does that bother you? And can two great Superstars work in the same Federation? And can YOU get back in the ring with him?

WWFBBANKS: Shawn: Yes they can! No it does not bother me. And I think if you look at Bret Hart 's past there has never been a WWF champion that he was supportive of. He knocked everything just like Hogan did, even though he didn't want to be like him. He knocked everything Flair did when he was champion. He knocked Kevin Nash when he was champion and he knocked me. I know it bothers Bret when I say these things, but I've got a boss that will say the same thing as me, and that is Bret hart isn't happy unless he has the WWF belt. And the reason for that is, Bret really believes he's the best man for the job. And I do think he is wonderfully talented, and he did a great job as champion, but the fact of the matter is that belt has to go around different people...whoever is hot at the time. And whether Bret likes it or not, he is turning into one of those bitter guys that he and I had always talked about. We talked how we would never turn into one of those.

Question: Shawn, you said that you and Bret don't get along in and out of the ring? Does that have an effect on the other wrestlers? Will WWF Superstars take sides?

WWFBBANKS: And as far as taking sides, I'm not gonna say for people to take them, but what I will say is that while Bret was gone, the locker room was closer than it had ever been since I was part of the WWF. And it was because we were also happy we were doing great shows. We were also doing great business too!

Question: Shawn, were you glad to see someone like the Undertaker get the Title? Do you think he deserved to win it?

WWFBBANKS: Shawn: Undertaker and myself have a very respectful relationship. We hang out every now and then, but I can't say we are close friends. I was however thrilled that he won the title, and I feel he deserved it. And the reason for that is he is the guy that paid his dues and has gotten screwed a dozen times behind the scenes. And even though a lot of fans aren't aware of that kind of stuff, the guys look at it as "Yeah that guy deserves the belt". The same thing happen with me and the same thing happened with Bret.

Question: Shawn, how has Vince McMahon handled this personal battle between you and Bret?

WWFBBANKS: Shawn: Vince and I are very close, and I will admit that he is closer to me than anyone else in my opinion. But I think he knows and the fans know the way Bret and I feel and what we say on TV is reality. And I think he thinks that makes for good business. He would probably prefer it to be another way, but we are two stubborn (and maybe egotistical?) guys of that caliber, it's just going to feed through on TV.

Question: Shawn, have you talked to Syxx lately? And do you feel he is a perfect fit for the NWO?

WWFBBANKS: Shawn: I talked to him about three weeks ago, and what everyone has to understand about the NWO is that it is very easy to fit, because anyone can be a part of it. Being a major part of the NWO is another story.

Question: Shawn, do feel you made a mistake in not leaving the WWF? And will the WWF ever get back on top?

WWFBBANKS: Shawn: No I don't feel like I made a mistake, because Vince is my friend. And I want to be the one guy that makes it through all this with him. I'm not doing this for money, besides Vince and I have a very open relationship and the fact is if I wanted to leave, Vince would allow me to leave. And the reason he would let me leave is because he knows that the reason to go down there would make me happy. And Vince would understand that my happiness in this business is important to me. And he would respect that. Otherwise, if I wasn't happy in the WWF, and continued to stay, I wouldn't be getting my best, and it would really bother me to screw Vince over that way.

Question: Shawn, after all these years and busting your butt in the WWF, do you feel you will ever get the respect you deserve?

WWFBBANKS: Shawn: I'm not worried about that anymore. I am detaching myself from business in a way that I am not going to breathe by what others think.. I have been doing it 13 years and I love doing it. But I'm31 and going to 32 and starting to look at life after wrestling right now, and there are a lot of things that I want to do, and time has a lot to do with it. I need more of my life than just wrestling you could say. I hope this doesn't sound bitter or that I don't like the business anymore because I do, it's just that I am starting to see there is a lot more to my life back home and there are aspects of my life that I have dearly missed. So, sometimes you have to sacrifice a little respect or praise or adulation or something that you feel is greater whether it be physically or emotionally or mentally or spiritually. There is more out there, and since I was 19, I haven't gotten to see any of it. And now I want to see it.

OnlineHost: OK, well, that is all the time we have!!! Thanks for joining us Shawn! Hope to see you in the ring soon! Take care!

WWFBBANKS: Shawn: Thanks for having me folks!...Go check out my photo in my gallery! It will be up in a few minutes!

OnlineHost: Thanks again Shawn!!!!!

OnlineHost: Copyright 1997 World Wrestling Federation, Titan Sports Inc.

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