Inside Wrestling-In the Hot Seat (semi-kayfabe) (4/97)

This interview was done a few weeks after WM13

Q: Shawn, it was just a few months ago it sounded like your retirement speech ...

A: Let me stop you right there for a minute, Dave. I always felt deep down that I'd be back, even when I was making a speech. When I gave up the WWF title, I didn't do it with out thinking about it. That's not the kind of thing you do with out really considering the consequneces, and the consequences was obviously I was no longer champion. But if you listen to what I said that night, it was that I wouldn't return to the ring if I couldn't wrestle up to my usual high standards. In reality I didn't see that happening.

Q: Anyway, there was certainly a bit of uncertainty there, at least among the fans and the media when you made the announcement. Like you said giving up the WWF World title is no small step, especially a month before Wrestlemania. But before I get the that question, let meget back to my original thought: A few months ago let's just say you stepped aside. You vacated the title.

A: Fair enough

Q: Good. And here you are, a few months later, right in the middle of the action, taunting Bret Hart at WM13 and getting his his face the next night at Raw.

A: Now wait a minute, Dave. It was never my intention to taunt Bret at Wrestlemania. I told Vince McMahon that I would be there to provide commentary on the main event between "Psycho" Sid and The Undertaker. They thought and rightfuly so, that as a former champion, and as a man who has given everyone a lot of thrills at Wrestlmania, that I could lend some perspective to the proceedings. And they were right. I had NO intention of saying ONE WORD to Bret Hart that night. He's the one who opened his big trap and started babbling about the best there ever was and all that typical garbage.

Q: But didn't you figure that just by being around, you'd become an object of attention ? I mean, it's not like you're some nobody. You're Shawn Michaels and you attract attention where ever you go.

A: Let me tell you something: That month away from the ring, it was torture in a way. Whenever I'm away from the ring for any length of time, and it's happend a few too many times for my liking over the past two years, it can be be like torture. I worked too long and too hard to get to this point in my career where everybody knows the name Shawn Michaels. I'll tell you this: I couldn't stand being out of the limelight, especially when Wrestlemania time rolled around and I wasn't wrestling what should have been one of the biggest matches of my life. You know, it really hit me a couple of nights earlier at the Slammys, when I was there accepting the award with Bret for our match at Wrestlemania 12. That's the kind of match that's gone down in history. Nobody who saw it will ever forget it. I rememberd the excitement of that night, and it made me sad, because I would not get to relive that excitement at Wrestlemania 13. I needed the time off to recharge my batteries and evaluate some things, and I think I made the right decision by stepping aside, but it was torture.

Q: I guess that leads to an important question, one everybody's been talking about: Did you have to bail out so shortly before Wrestlemania ? Couldn't you have wrestled an abbreviated schedule, maybe held on to your title and bide your time ?

A: It really wasn't entirely my choice. The doctors said my knee was pretty bad and that I could mess it up even worse with one wrong move. You know, when your a challenger, or even way down on the totem pole, people aren't coming after you like they do when you are WWF Champion. If I was a undercard guy, maybe I could have wrestled, but there was no way I could risk wrestling title matches against the likes of Sid, Undertaker, Steve Austin, and Bret Hart. The doctors laid the terms down for me in pretty black and white terms, and there was really no decision to make.

Q: But then at Raw, Bret jumped you and executed that figure four leglock around the ring post. Boy, that did look painful ! What I am saying is, just by being around you are putting yourself at risk.

A: Hey, but there is low-risk stuff and high-risk stuff.Maybe getting in Bret's face was high-risk, but he was babbling on and on, and I couldn't take it anymore. I mean 20 minutes of that stuff ? Five minutes was too much ! You know, Bret is so full of himself these days he has become a complete and total bore. All this "best there was, best there is, and best there ever will be." He's so caught up in that garbage that he can't leave it alone for a second. He's obsessed with what everyone thinks and with being number one. It's sickening. Lighten up.

Q: It's funny to hear you speaking of him like this. You used to admire him.

A: Admire him ? Listen, when a man is so full of himself, there is no sense in piling it on. He loves himself so much there is no room for anyone else to admire him. Admire him ? Forget about it. What's the point ? The man needs to look at himself in the mirror and chill out. Boy, and they said I was conceited for doing that Playgirl pictorial. He makes me seem like a wallflower !

Q: Are you angered or disappointed by Bret's change ?

A: You know what ? I really do not care what Bret hart does as long as he doesn't get in my way. I've heard people say that I'm number one on my list of admirers too. Maybe that's true. But I don't go around saying I am the best there ever was all the time. I've never said I'm perfect. Heck, I know for a fact that I'm not even close. It took a lot of blood, sweat, and, yeah, a lot of losses for me to get in the position to become WWF champion, and then I lost the belt and won it again. So I know what it's all about. Wrestling's a humbling sport. If you think you're invinciable, wrestling will teach you other wise in a real hurry. Let Bret do what ever he wants. He wants to get back with Owen and Davey Boy ? Fine. He wants to run for Prime Minister of Canada ? Fine. But if he gets in my face, he is going to have to pay the price, maybe not today or tommorrow, but soon. Real soon. I'm coming back. i know that, and the "Hitman's" gonna be my first victim. Then I'll get down to the business of regaining the title. But I have a agenda, and Bret's on it. Right at the top.

Q: At this point in your career, DO YOU CARE IF THE FANS CHEER YOU ?

A: For a while, it meant everything to me, but I've learned that there are much more important things in life to worry about than that. I LOVE havin' the people on my side, but if it doesn't happen and they would rather cheer for someone else, hey, that's life in America.

Q: Shawn, thank you for your time, and best of luck on your return to the ring.

A:Thanks, Dave, and let me assure my fans one more time: "The Heartbreak Kid" will return.

Back to the Shawn Michaels archive