Raw Magazine interview (8/97)
McMahon May Have Missed, But I've Got Shawn By The !@#$!!!
By Vic Venom

You know, you can call me a lot of things, but don't EVER call me an unfair journalist!!!

I've taken a lot of CRAP since the last issue of the Raw Magazine came out, from Federation officials who claim that I only told ONE side of the story in my editorial about Shawn Michaels- MY SIDE!!! I've been beaten, battered and bruised for "failing" to go to the source himself- Shawn Michaels- to get his response to my "RIGHT ON THE MONEY" comments!!! Yeah, like Shawn is going to ADMIT to having a nervous breakdown!!!

What I want to know is: why didn't THE BOSS, Vince McMahon, get chastised for waltzing around the issue when he interview Michaels LIVE on RAW IS WAR?! All McMahon did was giggle and coo like that fat Cheshire chat from Alice in Wonderland every time the Heartbreak Kid opened his mouth!!! While we're on the subject, did you ever notice that for the longest time when Vince was interviewing Bret he was Bret's best friend, and when Vince was interviewing Shawn he was Shawn's best friend? Now, Vince baby, I know you're the Boss and all that, BUT GET A BACKBONE!!! CHOOSE A SIDE FOR ONCE IN YOUR LIFE!!! HAVE AN OPINION- IT'S NOT SO BAD!!!

Anyway, back to Shawn. You wanted the face-to-face confrontation- WELL, YOU GOT IT!!! Here's the conversation- as it took place- only days after my editorial came out.

VENOM: First of all, Shawn, what's the latest diagnosis on the knee?

MICHAELS: Well, as of right now, my lateral meniscus is torn. I didn't tear it all the way, but it tore about three-quarters of the way through. Rather than have surgery, my doctor recommended that I rehab it and have it scar tissue over. That way, it won't be as strong as it was before, but they won't have to go in and operate. Unfortunately, if it proceeds to tear the rest of the way, then they'll have to go in and remove it. A lot of this problem developed from an old knee injury. It's just the continuous wear-and-tear on my body due to my style of wrestling.

VENOM: Let's talk about the interview on Thursday Raw, Thursday Live, and you know which one I'm talking about. The one where you handed over the World Wrestling Federation Title. Shawn, I know you read the article. That interview was about much more than just a knee injury. I say you were on the verge of having a nervous breakdown, for reasons which I have already cited in print. Now, here's your time. If I'm wrong, then you tell me what was going on with you, both mentally and emotionally at that time.

MICHAELS: I think the last year here in the World Wrestling Federation really took its toll on me. There has never, ever been a guy who did what I did last year. Because of my ego, and because I enjoy what I do so much, I wanted to do absolutely everything that I could. What I did was take on more than my body could handle. Every now and then you have to understand that you're not human. I'm not invincible. I'm not 21 years old. Yeah, there are guys that go out there and wrestle until they're 40, but they don't do it with my style. So, yeah, there was a lot mentally on my mind. I guess you could say I was suffering from burn-out. Also, a great deal of it was that I had a goal... and I achieved that goal. My goal was the become the World Wrestling Federation Champion. Well, that happened. After that the only other goal I had was to make people come to see me. To fill up a dome, a stadium. I did that. So, I felt very, very complete. What really bothered me was that after all that... there were a lot of people who refused to pat me on the back. I fel I was giving everything of myself to this line of work and not really getting the credit for it. I mean, I don't expect anybody to jump for joy, but Shawn Michaels ran support to everybody here for years. There have been people who have been in positions here in the World Wrestling Federation who didn't deserve to be there. I never said anything and supported them every step of the way. I was always there. There were some guys who gave me support... and some who didn't. Those who didn't were guys who had told me years ago that if it ever happened to me... they would. And I was hurt by the fact that they lied. Those people turned into the same people that THEY didn't like! They didn't like when they were treated like that, and they swore that they would never treat anybody else like that. Well... they treated ME like that.

VENOM: Was there anything else?

MICHAELS: Vic, you have to understand it was extremely difficult trying to have a "regular" life... being the World Wrestling Federation Champion. Especially when you did it the way that I did it. It's even harder when you're single and you have no responsibilities. I had other things I wanted to do. I wanted to go back home, I wanted to meet people... I'd love to have a wife and family some day, and that was not going to happen at the pace I was going. Last year was a big growing experience. I went through a lot of changes and I don't know if I would ever want to go through that again. Yes, it would be nice to be the Champion, but I tell you what, now that I've done it I'd be perfectly happy just coming in every now and then and running support for somebody else... just so I could have a life. I want to grow as a person... behind the Heartbreak Kid... behind Shawn Michaels. I haven't had a chance to do that with this job, but I'm going to make it a point to do that now.

VENOM: Shawn, time and time again you have made the statement that "whether you love me or hate me, it doesn't matter." Knowing you, I would have to question that. I think it does matter. I think you are personally affected when you don't get the support of not only your peers, but the fans as well. The perfect case in point is when you were pouring your heart out during that infamous speech on Thursday Raw, Thursday Live. It appeared to me that during that interview you lost it- emotionally and mentally- the moment the fans began to chant, "Sid, Sid, Sid". You can't deny that, I was there. At that very moment, YOU LOST IT.

MICHAELS: First of all, that's what fans do. If you get into this line of work thinking that fans are going to cheer you every step of the way... well, they're just not. They're very finicky... that's part of the business. Actually, they started chanting "Sid" because they had no idea what I was doing. They didn't know I was out there giving up the belt. All that they knew is that I was just out there. They were doing their part as wrestling fans. When one guy's out there they start chanting the other guy's name. So, no, you blew that way out of proportion, Vic. That didn't bother me. If you notice, once people started listening to what I had to say, they started to realize, "This isn't just some wrsetling gig! This is Shawn saying something serious." So, that part doesn't bother me, and as far as the fans being on one side or the other- that's what they do. Patrick Ewing can go out there and score 50 points and single-handedly win the game. The next night, if he's a bit cold, he can get booed out of Madison Square Garden. That's the way it is, and as an athlete if you take it too seriously- which EVERYONE thinks I do- you're going to drive yourself insane. Does it bother me that I don't get 100% of their support? I guess in a way, you can say it does, because I can remember being hated by everybody, but I can also remember a time after I won that belt that there wasn't a person in that building who booed me. Everybody had fun. Everybody cheered. I mean you're not going to find a guy alive, Vic, who'll come out here and honestly tell you that that's not neat- THAT'S COOL! Everybody wants to be the most popular guy. But, as far as that having anything to do with what I said that night... no, that was all blown out of proportion. A lot of people know that there's a lot of me- the "real" me- in the Heartbreak Kid; but at the same time I've learned a lot, I've grown a lot and half the things that people think bother me- DON'T!

VENOM: There were a lot of people- including Bret Hart- who said that you bowed out and used the knee as an excuse because you didn't want to get in the ring with the Hit Man. What do you have to say to that?

MICHAELS: I think that- above everything else- is what bothers me the most. I've never had a problem going out there and taking care of business. I've done everything that's ever been asked of me here in the World Wrestling Federation. As far as Bret Hart is concerned? He's been out of line. When he was the champion, and I had to wrestle him, I went out there and conducted myself in a professional business manner every night. It killed him to have to do the same for me. At the same time, he's the guy who looked at me five years ago and said, "I see you as being the guy who takes my place." And then when he came back he said to me, "I just didn't think it would be that soon." Now, that's not my fault that I'm just doing my best to progress. I wouldn't use this injury as an excuse because as much as I thrive on this line of work I've reached an age now where it doesn't control me anymore. It's not going to control me anymore. I will go out there and I will work as hard as I can, but the thing was that with the injury- I COULDN'T GO OUT THERE AND WRESTLE! As far as people saying that I'm making excuses? Well, people have been saying that about me since the day I started wrestling, and part of that is what's made me successful. People always "think" they know what controls me, but only I know! But, the days of Bret Hart, or the fans, or you, or anybody else getting to me... well, that's not going to happen. I know who my friends are, and the people who love me and that's it! Sometimes you have to have things thrown in your face to learn that lesson, but I've learned it! I would never have a problem wrestling anybody! C'mon, Vic, how many times have you seen me get beat up? How many times have you seen me get beat up by a guy who wasn't even in my league? All in all, I would do whatever the World Wrestling Federation wanted me to do. Whatever is best for the World Wrestling Federation. But, at the time I was incapable of doing that, so for the first time in my life I had to go out there and take care of ME, so that's what I did!

VENOM: Between Thursday Raw, Thursday Live and the time we saw you again on RAW IS WAR, we saw a totally different Shawn Michaels. What dramatically happened to you during that time? I mean how did you- quote, end quote- find your smile?

MICHAELS: I got to live a little bit. I got to get away from the "public eye". Again, with the reign I had as the Federation Champion... I didn't think it would be so much. I really admit, it was a lot thrown on me. I suppose I felt a little smothered. It helped me to go back home for awhile. Remember, I've been doing this for 13 years! Some guys... they thrive on it! They thrive on the fact that when they go through the mall people know their name. I used to sleep, eat, and drink this business, and I don't want to give the impression that I don't love it anymore- because I do- but it's not everything. There's more to life than wrestling, and I've finally figured that out. I figured out that I was missing a lot in life, and that's not going to happen anymore! There's just a whole lot more to life than just going out there and having my body tossed around on a mat. So, the rest, the relaxation, the fun and just the pressure being off for awhile helped me "regain my smile" as you'll never let me live down, Vic. Sometimes even too much of a good thing is bad. I learned an awful lot this year, and I'm still learning. What I do know for certain, though, is that I do need to have a little something for me, because I had NOTHING for me before. So, in the future I'm going to make sure that I am happy FIRST. Because when I'm happy... it shows out there!

VENOM: Shawn, I'm going to hit you with a couple of rumors that were floating around while you were away. I know that the Federation woulodn't be thrilled in my asking you these things, but... TOUGH!!! I want to give you the opportunity to answer what some of the critics were speculating. Drug abuse, pain killers, rehab- all these things were kicked around, Shawn, as the reason for your absence. Comments?

MICHAELS: C'mon, Vic, you know me better than that! How can you even ask me that? If anyone's on drugs around here- IT'S YOU! People have been talking about me FOREVER! There aren't many people- and I'm flattered by this- that have gotten to a point in this business where people will jump at any chance to say something negative about them. Again, that's something I've learned. Everybody wanted me to have all this, then when I had it they all started taking shots at me. That's how the world is! I realize that I bring a lot of it on myself because of my personality. People say that stuff about me, and since I say I don't give a damn- they continue to say it! So, I know that no matter what I do, and what my real intentions are, there are going to be a million different people reading a million different things into it. That's just the way it is. That's the tangled web we weave. As you know, Vic, be careful of what you wish for. Everybody in the World Wrestling Federation office knew what I always wanted- including you- and they know what I went through to get there! So, again, BE CAREFUL OF WHAT YOU WISH FOR! That's the cold, harsh, reality. So, when that stuff happens... it happens, but will it bother me? NO! I don't think about it one way or another. I know that I'm the guy who's going to be talked about just because I'm that kind of a guy!

VENOM: Well, Shawn, here's another one. Critics were also saying that you may have been speaking to "old friends" about possible grazing on over to what you may have thought were "greener pastures" at the time.

MICHAELS: Cut to the chase, Vic! Everybody knows you're talking about Kevin Nash and WCW, so just say it! Since when do you try to be so politically correct, anyway? Now, getting back to your question, I get in a lot of trouble because I'm not your "typical" superstar. When a guy leaves the World Wrestling Federation, I don't necessarily resent him. To me a friend... is a friend. If somebody is really my friend, then I want them to be happy in their lives no matter what decisions they may make. Can I got to Ted Turner's organization and get a truckload of money? Sure I can! Did it come up? You betcha it did! Did I talk to my "friends"? Sure I did. All of that stuff is true, but the thing is- I OWE THE WORLD WRESTLING FEDERATION FIRST AND I WOULD RATHER BE HERE! That stuff is going to come up. I'm a huge, huge player in this business. I'm worth a lot of money to a lot of people and that's not bragging, that' just fact! If the World Wrestling Federation ever decided to treat me unfairly after everything I've ever done for them? Sure, I might want to go some place where I think I could be happy. BUT, THAT'S NOT THE CASE! Yes, the competition is there, and yes, it did come up, but I'm up front with my boss. I don't go behind anybody's back. I'm in a position where I can tell the truth, and people have no choice but to take the truth from me. Again, that's now arrogance, that's the truth! It's like Emmitt Smith or Troy Aikman- they could play on any football team and make a lot of money. But I would never! The World Wrestling Federation will always be my first choice. I would never do anything against them unless I felt I had to or I was threatened. And I'd also be very up front about it.

VENOM: Do you think that Vince McMahon understands you?

MICHAELS: You bet!

VENOM: Do you think that Vince McMahon understands that Shawn Michaels is like no other wrestler?

MICHAELS: Yeah! You bet! He has been screwed around so many times and he has had so many people tell him things that just weren't true, but everything that I've ever told him- I'VE DONE! The reason we get along is because we're a lot alike. I mean, along with me, he's one of the most talked about guys in this business. People say so many things about him- and thdy don't even know the man! He has a big heart! He's filled with passion! He and I have fought, we've cried together, we've done a lot. He understand that when I say things to him they come from the heart. If I'm in a bad mood and I'm yelling, it's not because I'm being an !@#$%! It's because I'm hurt inside emotionally. He's that same kind of guy. He was hurt- genuinely hurt- when some of his guys left him and didn't do it properly. After everything he's done for them. For me, that's something that I could never and would never do to him. I think Vince sees a lot of himself in me. We're both emotional and passionate about this job. It took him awhile to understand that Shawn doesn't do things because he's a jerk, he does things because he really, really cares. Vince is one of the few guys who understands that and that's why we have the relationship that we have.

VENOM: Thank you for your honest, Shawn.

MICHAELS: Thanks for asking the questions, Vic.

Back to the Shawn Michaels archive