Byte This interview (8/99)

Kevin Kelly: Joining us on line 4 right now, the Commissioner of the WWF, the Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels, the greatest of all time.

HBK: Well thank you very much Kevin Kelly, you really are the smartest man alive. Am I really the greatest of all time?

Kelly: In my opinion you are.

HBK: Or, are you just saying that because I happen to be on today?

Kelly: Well, you just happen to be on tonight. (Shawn laughs)

Kelly: Let's talk about Triple-H for a bit. Coming off of Summerslam?is this the right time, is he the right person to be sitting on top of things?

HBK: Yeah, I think he is. I think he is somebody who has earned the right to be where he's at, and I think the last guy that did that was me. Um, Steve Austin, the Rock, all those guys, those guys were promotional machines. Those guys have been promoted by the World Wrestling Federation to be on top?they haven't earned it. They were getting put there to have that huge promotional machine behind them, to push them the rest of the way. But Triple-H has stood here, withstood the test of time, went through the punishment, went through the slaps on the wrist from when Vince McMahon and the rest of the WWF suits, um, slapped him on the wrist when we did stuff bad, when we were the Kliq, when we weren't supposed to be doing things. He knew enough to stick by his friends through the hard times. He could have easily bolted, and turned his back on me and the rest of us, and he never did that. He stuck by us, he stuck by his guns and he improved on his game?and right now he's the best worker, the best pure wrestler in the World Wrestling Federation. He's better than Steve Austin and he's better than the Rock. Those guys aren't even in his league.

Kelly: Where do you see yourself fitting in with Triple-H in a storyline perspective now?

HBK: Uh, I've offered my services to Triple-H and Chyna, to be there when and where they want me. This is Triple-H's time to reign on top of the world, and I don't wanna?not to be presumptuous and say that he, that there might be a chance to that he might dwindle under my shadow?because I think he's overcome that now. But if there were somewhere in a WWF storyline or someone in the head office that would think that it might happen, then I don't want that for him. I wanna come in and enhance what he's doing. I want to do what he did for me, and that's play his right hand man. He's the number one guy in the WWF, and he's the number one guy in the wrestling business right now, and he deserves that, and I want him to have that. I want to be there to show him support as his friend, the way he did for me when I was that guy.

Pritchard: So you think you'd be happy just standing in the background now, letting him take most of the glory?

HBK: Yeah, and I know that sounds real hard for everybody to believe coming out of my mouth, but the fact of the matter is, that if it was anybody else, I wouldn't do it. But it's Triple-H, it's Hunter Hearst Helmsley, it's Paul Levesque. A guy that has stood by my side since the day he walked into the WWF. He came up from WCW as some midcard, low-life wrestler, became my friend?became Kevin Nash's friend, became Scott Hall's friend, became Sean Waltman's friend?and through all the unpopularity, or popularity that we endured, in the end we all ended up being right for the World Wrestling Federation?and the WWF went the way that we thought it should go. Other guys jumped off because they were afraid, and they made the wrong move. I mean, we're all still friends, but me and Triple-H stayed here and stood the test of time- through every tough time this company's had, we've been there?and yeah, now it's his time, and I'm happy for him as a friend.

Kelly: Let's talk about Chyna for a minute. How do you see Chyna?what are your thoughts about a women getting in there and being able to physically compete with the guys?

HBK: Well, you know, it's something that's just a once in a lifetime thing, and she's the one that can do it. Me and Triple-H saw her one day, we were in Springfield, Massachusetts?and she was in talking to Jack Lanza, the road agent for the WWF. And we went in there, and we got all her stuff down. Ya know..she had a book with everything about her and we pushed and pushed and pushed and pushed the WWF to let her in the door, because she was something that nobody had ever seen?something special. And it took a long time, and they didn't buy it. Finally, the one guy that jumped on it ended up being Shane McMahon. Shane's the one that finally convinced his old man to let her in the door, and let her and Triple-H be a package?be something that's there's nothing else like that in the world of wrestling. And together, those two are reaping the rewards that I think they deserve.

Kelly: Yeah, those two have really set themselves a part in the WWF?being ambassadors, you see them on all the shows Tom, the way they speak of the business and history and tradition?yet always putting it in their modern perspective.

Tom: Yeah, Shawn, we were just talking about that the other night about how all these younger guys are coming in, and they have to set the bar even higher than it was when you were the champion.

HBK: Oh yeah, That's the tough part about this business now. I have a couple kids from my school listening to this right now. A kid named Jason and Lance?and we teach them the basics and they're learning the basics so fast that you have to tell them, you have to be honest with them...the basics just isn't gonna quite cut it anymore. You know, guys are doing so much now, and that's one reason why, hell, you ain't gonna see me come back....because I ain't gonna throw myself off the top of a cage. I fell off one half way, and the only one, the only thing a guy could think of to top that was to jump off the top of it (Mankind). Well, ya know, I'd rather go out there and wrestle for 45 minutes and tell a great story, but that's not what people wanna see anymore, ok, so the wrestlers sort of have to give the fans what they want. As long as the superstars today are willing to do that, I guess the fans are going to be happy. The question is, how long can they keep it up?

Kelly: That kinda leads me into my next question. How are you physically these days? How is your back?

HBK: Well, ya know. It's the same. I went to my doctor the other day. I gotta go back on Friday because he's thinking about taking, we're gonna see if the titanium screws can be taken out. It's something that, because the fusion is done real good and solid, it's something where you have the option of taking them out. It's not something that you can do until a year after the surgery, so I couldn't do it until January anyway...but you know my baby's due?my wife's baby is due actually?

Kelly: That's right?

HBK: I'm gonna have it checked right now just to make sure everything's nice and secure in there...but it feels wonderful now.

Kelly: You're fixing to be a big daddy coming up, the first of the new year?happy baby new year, huh?

HBK: Well, I hope it's not the first one?I can just imagine it huh? The first day (of 2000) will be a crazy time. I hope it's like a week later?

Kelly: The baby of the millenium?how about that?

HBK: Oh jeez?(laughs) I think he's going to have enough pressure on him just being my son for god sake's (laughs again). I just want?quite honestly, it's really true what everyone says, you just want him to be healthy. When he comes it's up to him and his mom?and God?and no time can be too soon for me.

Kelly: Shawn, how has marriage and impending fatherhood changed you?

HBK: Uh, it has?it makes you grow up. It makes you think about things a lot differently. I'm not the crazy son of a ###### I used to be. I don't conduct myself on the road like I used to?you know...if I did, my wife would kill me (laughs). I have a great deal of respect for my wife, I love my wife?and now getting to have something I've always wanted, which is a child, and it's gonna be a boy. You know, you really can't beat that, and it's sort of like a storybook kind of life that I've gotten to live and it keeps on continuing?and by the grace of God, I hope that it does. The more these things come to me, the more I realize I'm a very lucky man. I need to?that's part of the reason for the school and the promotion?and it's time for me to start giving back. I wouldn't take the spotlight from Triple-H. It's not my time anymore, I've had my time and I enjoyed it, I loved every minute of it. Did I make some mistakes in my career? Yeah. Do I regret them? No, not really, because I did them because they needed to be done, and I stand by that. But have I changed? Yeah, I have. I've grown up?and I think that's all you can do it continue to try to change and grow.

Kelly: Well Shawn, the phones are blowing up, we got a tone of people who wanna talk to you. We'll go to line 2. Hello, you're on with the Heartbreak Kid.

Caller: If you're back was better, would you go in the ring again?

HBK: Well, that's just it. Wouldn't it be a great thing if my back was better? But the reality of it is, it's not (100%). And again, the wrestling business has changed quite a bit. I'd love to come back some day, if I could lay on the excuse of Hey, I'm not gonna be the same guy I was...but that's just something, once again, that the fans won't accept. If I come back, I'd have to be the Heartbreak Kid I always was, and that would be too big of a demand to live up to with the shape that my back is in...I set that bar for myself, I think, at a pretty decent level. But I couldn't come back and live up to the demands of the fans, so I'd rather just leave my reputation where I've left it, then come back and disappoint the fans.

Kelly: You're career in moving in other directions now. You were recently on Pacific Blue, with the acting gig, and I wanna pretend to be the anchor here now. We go out to our reporter covering live, and that of course is Shawn Michaels. Shawn, take it away?that's what you're going to be doing right?

HBK: Yeah, I start this Friday?Saturday actually with what we call the Gucchi Bowl here in San Antonio. It's Lee High School and what's the name of the other one?jeez I can't remember, it starts with a C (Clark ??Shawn laughs) I'm horrible at it. It's the two richest schools in San Antonio, so they call it the Gucchi Bowl. And I get to out and cover that, and it'll be fun. It'll be fun because it's new?and the best I can hope for now is doing new and challenging things. I really love this business, and I feel real satisfied and complete with what I've done. I'd like to move into other arenas and just see how I am. If I'm not any good, hell, I'm not gonna continue to do it?I'm not gonna hold anyone responsible for myself. But it's interesting?I love sports. So I'll give it a try, I'd like to see how I do.

Kelly: Let's go to line 3. You're on the air live with Shawn Michaels.

(At this point a female caller babbles on endlessly about how much she loves Shawn. She has a freak attack on the air, but manages to get out her question)

Caller: Are you going to be doing any movies or more acting on TV?

HBK: I don't know. There's an agent who actually got a hold of the tape?really it was the second half because I didn't do much during the first half. But anyway, he got a hold of the second half and from what I understand he's taking it around to people. You know, it's the same thing I guess in Hollywood?it's a we'll see king of thing. That's about all I can say. If it happens, it'll be great?it'll be something else that will be new, it'll be interesting and I would love to try it. But again, if it's not something that I'm any good at?I mean, I watched the performance (Pac Blue), and to be honest with myself, I saw a lot of things I could certainly do a lot better on. I don't think I was too bad for a guy who's never really done it. I'm certainly interested in doing it, but I don't know if anyone's interested in having me. I guess we'll find that out in the very near future, but it's certainly a possibility.

(Shawn got cut off here due to technical difficulties?so they took a little break and said they'd talk to Shawn about the Spurs, about Kevin Nash, about WCW and other things when they got him back on the phone)

Shawn got back on the phone?they apologized for cutting him off. Apparently the phone system pretty much blew up because of the Smackdown satellite feed going on?it caused a really horrible noise?but anyway?on to the next question.

Kelly: Is the President of the Spurs going to really on you to help his cause as far as the Spurs getting a new arena in San Antonio?

HBK: It's funny, I have heard things. The Vice-President of the Spurs lives in my neighborhood. As you know, I'm a huge fan and supporter of the Spurs. It's my understanding that they also know that I'll be going on and covering the sports here in San Antonio?and it's my understanding that I'll be allowed to give my opinion. They're thinking about having a segment during the sports called In Shawn's Corner or In This Corner?something like that. Bottom line is, I think this team deserves a new arena. What more do they have to prove? They won the NBA Championship. San Antonio, it's a tough town. We do great here when we come to wrestle, you know. A lot of people asked me the other day in the locker room?who's gonna get the team, San Antonio or Houston? San Antonio on one hand, is a big city. On the other hand, as far as covering sports?the Cowboys are sort of like the dominant team here in Texas. It seems like Texas is so big, they can only support one football team. But as far as San Antonio, the Spurs are all we got. I think they deserve a new arena, and I think we should get 'em one quick or we're gonna lose 'em. And I think, aside from wrestling coming here every once in a while, we don't have any major sports here. That's a shame, because this is a great city to live in. The Spurs, you know, are coming off of being World Champions?and down the line, there are a lot of really, really good, respectable men on the Spurs' team?and it's very rare in sports today where you have a team or a sports franchise where the good guys win. This year the Spurs did it, and I think it ( a new arena) would be a great tribute to them and to the city of San Antonio to give them an arena.

Pritchard: Is it that you don't think the AlamoDome is big enough?

Shawn: It is, but the thing is when you configure it for basketball, they size it down to like 35,000 or something like that and they don't sell it out that much. And the thing is, it throws the guys off. We need an arena like we had, if you remember in the old days, we had the Hemisphere Arena that we used to wrestle in. That's where the Spurs first played. They tore that down and they built up the AlamoDome?and we really have nothing to put in there except the Spurs. It's so big, it can hold football, and as you know it can hold 60,000 for wrestling easily?but when configured down to basketball size, the people that?unless you got front row, and I've got great seats?but unless you're in the front row, even the mezzanine section is really quite a ways off. It's not really fair to the ticket holders and it's not really fair to the Spurs. They shoot better on the road because the Dome is so big that it throws off their vision, their alignment of the basket and stuff.

Kelly: Plus when you have big teams within smaller markets, you need the luxury boxes and things?they don't have that in the AlamoDome. Plus I'm sure the owner would like to be able to control that as far as getting the rent and all the bucks from the city and everything.

HBK: Yeah, and again, from a larger standpoint it would be better for the city of San Antonio in the end, to have all that. It sounds like an owner thing, but it's one of the few times when the owner and the team are in the right. They really do need that. It would be better for the city and even for the WWF. It would give us a chance to go somewhere other than the Freeman Coliseum. The Freeman Coliseum holds about 9,000 people. When we come to San Antonio, we can hold more than 18,000 people in another arena.

Kelly: Sure, absolutely. We got a lot of calls here. Line one, you're on next with Shawn Michaels.

(At this point, we heard a bunch of mumbling and something about the caller having two questions. They had more difficulties and put him on hold?and they lost Shawn again)

Bruce Pritchard said Shawn would be hot, since they hung up on him a second time. He said that Shawn might think Kevin Kelly was sending him some kind of message. Kelly said he loved Shawn, and that he was the greatest of all time. Pritchard said Shawn raised the bar for everyone, and his talent was something the WWF had never seen. They talked about his size, and the comparisons with Chris Jericho, saying that HBK proved you didn't have to be 6'7 and 300 pounds to succeed. Shawn got back on the phone again?

HBK: The one thing that is true, is that it was very hard for guys our size, at one time, to ever think that you could be a World Champion in the WWF. It was a sport, and certainly an organization that was dominated by big guys. Now, the one thing I like about the business is that the fans are smart to the fact that, they don't care how big you are, they want a good show.

Pritchard said that he was studying a lot of Shawn's matches recently, and that when he did for the business was just amazing.

HBK: Well, thanks?that's very nice. As everyone will see on Smackdown tonight, even the Rock?he was worried that I hadn't thrown the kick and that the timing would be off. I told him I'd get my kick there. Everyone was worried that Shawn hasn't been in the ring for a while and would he be able to get the timing down? I was talking to Terry Taylor as we were leaving the building (Tuesday), and that's one thing I never understood was ring rust. Ya know, because he said that you have to understand that not everybody has natural ability like you do. And I guess that when you break it down, I was really lucky that, for some reason, I was meant to be a wrestler. I think it didn't matter how long I stayed out of the ring?for me it was like riding a bike. Anytime I went back in?I could be off for 3 months, 4 months, 6 months?I know that if were to come back right now, I could wrestle anybody and still have that same timing. It's just something that became a part of me and became very natural. It wasn't something that I had to search for or had to make an effort to do?and in that instance, I was very lucky to have that.

Kelly and Pritchard agreed that similar to a musician or singer or whatever, that hasn't performed for 6 months or a year?that wrestling came so naturally to Shawn that he could get back in the ring and wrestle with no problem, because he's a natural at it.

Kelly said that as long as they're on this big ass kissing thing with him (Shawn laughed), they wanted him to talk about his views on the business overall, and his feeling on Kevin Nash and WCW.

HBK: I really don't stay connected with that. I haven't talked to Kevin Nash in a while, and when we do talk now, we really shy away from the business. He has a child, and we talk about family stuff. All I can really offer on part of the turmoil (in WCW) is that I remember his saying on time?you know, Kevin went there for the money, and he makes no bones about that. He doesn't have it in his heart when he's there. He had it in his heart here, and that's something the WWF brings out of you, because only in the WWF is it anybody's ball game. Down there, it's decided when you come in the door, where you're going to be at. That's one reason why I never wanted to go (to WCW), even though I knew I could go down there and still get a top spot. That's not fair. That's not competition. That's not competitiveness. The best should get to win, the best should be on top. Someone else is deciding that. I heard Kevin say once, "I'm going to doing the booking down here now," and I made a joke?how long till you get the strap? He said, "Hey, when it's your movie, you get to write the ending anyway you want." And that, I think, is the trouble down there. I can remember a long time ago working for Bill Watts, and I know Doc (Tom Pritchard) can attest to this?Bill Watts would never let his bookers work?because that's the thing that bookers will do is book themselves on top. He's gonna be the Champion and he's gonna beat everybody. You can't have a guy who has an interest in the business, a self-absorbed interest, do the booking for you. You have to have a guy who's sitting back away from it?not a wrestler, unless he's not actively wrestling. That's their (WCW's) biggest problem. You've got too many guys down there, going into their contracts, who are saying, "I want creative control." Creative control is just a fancy word for saying, I want to be able to do this when I wanna do it. You can't have that in this business. If you're not willing to listen to somebody else and take suggestions, you give your boss limitations on what he can do with you. It's like, I'm willing to work for you, but I'm only willing to win. Now that cuts out 50% of what I can do with you.

Kelly: Right?

HBK: I think that's the biggest problem down there. There are too many chiefs and not enough Indians.

Kelly: Exactly. It's like you get into that circle all the time and wind up just chasing your tail instead of advancing.

HBK: Another thing that happens is that you pay way too much attention to what you're doing or what this guy's doing?and not enough to what the whole product is doing. Lately I've come into the WWF and I've heard?you know, for a long time I was away, and I heard about how great the dressing room is and how the locker room scene was and how everybody loved each other. Well, it is a lot better than it used to be. But, there's still guys going around saying that this person won't do this, or that person won't do that. Triple-H, as far as I'm concerned, he was dicked. He should have been the Champion before he was. The fact that he is now, that's great. He deserves it. But, he deserved it at Summerslam, plain and simple. It's the way it should have been.

Kelly: Do you think that was a political move?

HBK: I have no idea. I'm not around enough, or I wasn't around enough to know. I hear different stories from different people. I've been in this business way to long to know when any story I'm getting is not the correct one. I've never been into rumor and gossip?being one who has enough of it said about you, you make sure you don't get into it?so I don't know. I don't have enough information to make a judgement on it. All I know is that Summerslam should have been Triple-H against Steve Austin, and Triple-H should have come out the winner. It's unfortunate. All I know is that Steve was hurt. I guess someone felt is necessary to put another guy in there. Hey, I would've loved to have that luxury at WrestleMania 14.

Kelly: Yeah, it was a different time, a different place. But if memory serves me correctly Tom, Shawn had to gut that one out.

Pritchard: Yeah, and as you know Shawn, sometimes things happen where one day someone will get their way, and the next day they won't get their way.

HBK: Right, I don't have a problem with that. That's where I hope to bring something to Triple-H, and that's because that anybody who knows me in the wrestling business knows that if it was Shawn Michaels in that match at Summerslam, that s--- wouldn't have happened. It would've gone down the way it was supposed to go down.

Kelly: Let's switch gears and talk about Chris Jericho. What are you're thoughts and opinions on Chris Jericho?

HBK: I think he's got a lot of talent. I think he's funny. I think he's amusing. There's one thing I don't get a kick out of and that's the thing they do with Howard Finkel?it's like the Ralphus thing was down in WCW. I mean, I'm sure Howard enjoys it, but we're a smarter company than to have to copy anything, in any way, shape, or form from somebody else. I think he's a kid that should go out there and wrestle and do what he can do. The thing is, when you're in the WWF and you're his size, you still have to work like a big man. Sometimes certain moves will put you in a category of being a little man. But I think he'll learn that. The wonderful thing about being in the WWF is that it's anybody's ball game, and you learn because you have to, or else you'll get left behind. And I think that's the way it should be. That's the part of the wrestling business that's still traditional. And I guess it's funny to hear me say that anything should be traditional. And the one thing I hope the WWF will always be, in the respect of tradition, is that it's anybody's ball game. Whoever gets over?whoever does the best with the fans or has the best matches gets to be number one. It's then that the promotional machine can get behind you, but not until you've proven to all the people that you're number one?until you've proven to everyone in the locker room that there's nobody who can outdo your ######.

Kelly: Let's say hypothetically that you're contract ended today, and you were a free agent. Would you be entertaining offers from WCW?

HBK: No. I've already seen rumors come out on the internet that they tried to renegotiate my contract?and I make no bones about it, it was brought up. But I'm not interested. I'm not interested in the respect of extending it. I've got two more years left on my contract. In two years, I'd just like to see where my life is at. I would like to see how my sports casting is going, how some of the acting is going, how my school is going, how the promotion is going. But I will never go to WCW. I owe the WWF everything that I have in my life. I owe the WWF, Vince McMahon, and Michael Shawn Hickenbottom everything I have in my life?and those are the three people that I stay loyal too. Now with my wife and my baby, those are the only two that are gonna get me. WCW has offered money before, and it's not about money for me. I got enough of that?and if I don't, I can make it one way or the other. I'm not going to sell my reputation for a couple dollars.

Kelly: Of course, and now you have the TWA every Friday night at the Blue Bonnet. Is that right?

HBK: Actually now we have a TV deal. We'll be going to the Far West Rodeo, and running TV tapings every Friday night starting September 14th. (They will air on Tuesday's) And the show will be on KENS-5. We'll be starting with a thirty-minute show and see how that goes. They've offered if we wanna go to an hour, we can go to an hour?but the same folks who have given me the sports casting thing have given me a wrestling show as well. And the school is doing great. In the new class, we have a couple guys who Vince might want to take a look at?one kid Lance is 6'5 and 240, blonde hair?might wanna take a look at him some day. I have a lot of guys with natural ability in there, but I don't want to put a lot of pressure on them?but that's where it starts.

Kelly: And we understand the October class is also sold out?and you're taking applications for the class of 2000? 1-900-32-TRAIN is the number right?

HBK: Yes, sir.

Kelly: Well Shawn, thanks for talking with us and staying on this extra time. We certainly hope to talk to you again before you become a daddy.

HBK: Well, my pleasure, and thanks for all the nice stuff you guys said about me!

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