IGN Wrestling interview (4/07/00)
HBK talks about his last match, internet rumors and his "real life feud" with Steve Austin!

After witnessing the final match in Shawn Michaels' career, both Al Isaacs of IGN Scoops Wrestling and myself, Michael Tavares of IGN Wrestling, sat down with Michaels. We discussed many topics such as his final match, the WWF, the TWA, and his family.

Isaacs: First and foremost, what were your thoughts just before you went out there?

Michaels: Same as they always are. I love hearing the music (his theme song from the WWF) and going out there and having fun. I don't know if it will ever be the same as it used to be... I knew what I did out there wasn't going to be the same as it used to be. It takes on a different feeling now. It's much more sentimental. I guess I tried to liken it to like a Bruce Springsteen, where he just goes "you know I'm just gonna go around and travel the small club circuit and get back to my kind of music." That's what it was. A little more romance involved as opposed to being in a Madison Square Garden, so I thought that was great. I'm thinking "geez I hope I don't screw anything up." It's just been too long.

Tavares: During the match, what was going through your mind?

Michaels: Same thing that always goes through my mind... which is not much! (we laugh)

Tavares: You took some shots to your back. I was really surprised. I was up there (the balcony) with the other guys watching it and we're all, "Oh my God. Oh, geezus." That kind of thing.

Michaels: Well, it's not so much my back getting hit like that (being hit with a crutch). It's compressing it. I don't want to compress my spine. That's what bothers it the most. Plus, I had no idea I was going to take cane shots to my back (Shawn laughs). It was just something Paul (Diamond, "Venom") decided to throw in there.

Tavares: So, that wasn't a part of the plan then?

Michaels: No. We didn't discuss it.

Tavares: Okay, because you said you would pretty much beat him (Paul) up most of the match and you wouldn't take any kind of bumps, especially to your back. Tonight I was out there watching, thinking "That's not what he told me."

Michaels: Now, I didn't take any bumps.

Tavares: Yeah, you didn't, but you were getting hit on your back.

Michaels: I can get hit on my back some. Most of my problem is one I don't want to be like this (Shawn gives a visual example to us) and I can't be compressed. That's what injures me. You can smack the back with a 2X4, but it won't hurt as much. But, it's standing up and just falling straight down on my butt.

Tavares: Oh okay.

Michaels: It's sort of a misconception thinking the back you can't hit it.

Issacs: What was the first spot that you felt it?

Michaels: Well, I was feeling it before I was out there. I mean, I feel it everyday. Putting these boots on, walking around. I shouldn't even have done the piledriver. Again, that was the only time where I landed on my butt. That's like I said, the compressing. It's what hurts. Doing that piledriver was the only thing that bothered me. That's what I am gonna feel tomorrow.

Tavares: Yeah, I remember that. Kind of hard to watch that match tonight. I couldn't tell from up there (the balcony) your facial expressions. It was really hard to see as you were getting hit on your back. So, this is it? That's your final match? There's going to be like maybe in the future "well maybe one more."

Michaels: No. That's it. And, not to disrespect my own company, I wouldn't even call that a match. That's not what I do. I mean, that was just being Shawn Michaels, CEO of the Texas Wrestling Alliance. That wasn't the Heartbreak Kid. I think that was just sort of what we call a "gaga" match. Just stuff, not really my forte.

Isaacs: If there is one match and would like to be remembered, which one would that be?

Michaels: I don't know if I could pick one. I've had a lot of them. We (being Michaels, Freakboy, and myself) sorta covered this last time. I was very proud of the first ladder match.

Tavares: And, the marathon match.

Michaels: Oh yeah and the marathon match. My only Hell in the Cell match. I'm very proud of the match me and Mick (Foley) had. And, if I had a regret, then it would be one of the biggest ones that me and Mick, that we only got to do it one time. So, there are a lot of them that are special to me. I liked the No-Holds Barred match I had with Kevin (Nash, at '96's "Good Friends, Better Enemies"). It's tough for me to pin point. I like the marathon match because that's the one that, you know, when you break into the wrestling business there's all these old-timers that say, "In my day we went an hour...(mumbles)," so I always wanted to be able to say I went an hour. And the thing is I knew there was only one guy I could do that with and that was Bret (Hart). I don't know I can...I can't think of...I suppose like a (Chris) Benoit or a Dean Malenko. At that time, Bret was the only guy I would be confident and comfortable enough to go out there and do one hour with. And, I like that from a traditionalist standpoint. I like the ladder match from a ground breaking standpoint because I think that match changed a lot of things in wrestling. And, I like Hell in the Cell match because one, it was my idea, and two, after that, people started to do them all over the place.

Isaacs: Any of your friends in the business call you between the time when you were announcing you were going to do one more (match)? Either Kevin or Scott or anyone else?

Michaels: Nope. Not any of them. Obviously Hunter (Triple H) and Kid (Sean Waltman), some of the guys from the WWF. Kevin, Scott, and I talk once every two to three months. They obviously have their own agendas and we'll always be friends. We drift apart a little bit and spend time away from each other, but real friends can just pick up (Shawn snaps his fingers) and not see each other for a year and pick up right where you left off. I think anybody who really knows me, knows me. Like Hunter commented, "So, you're wrestling another match?" I said, "Yeah, yeah." "Going out there and doing the "gaga" match?" I said, "Yip." So, they know I'm not...I wasn't gonna do...it wasn't gonna be the HBK, the WWF's version of HBK. I don't want to take anything away from it. It's apples and oranges. It really is.

Tavares: These questions came from HBK-Heaven, an unofficial website of Shawn Michaels. Number one, do you have any plans for the TWA to go nationwide as far as television programming is concerned?

Michaels: Yeah, of course we're looking for that. I actually got an offer from Yahoo to air our show entirely on the Internet. So, we're thinking about doing that, or at least we may start in May. But right now, contractually, I can only go in the state of Texas. Can't run outside the state of Texas. And really, I gotta be honest with you, I don't want to. It's too much work. I don't want it to get that big. I would like to run Texas, South Texas.

Tavares: Keep it home.

Michaels: Yeah. You know, be a farmboy. Just a decent, successful one.

Tavares: The follow up question to that is, does Vince really feel threatened by the fact the TWA keeps growing and is that why you are only allowed to run in Texas?

Michaels: Huh. I find that very hard to believe that Vince McMahon would be threatened by anybody. (Shawn laughs)

Tavares: You know with ECW, they're already considered by many to be number two now, ahead of WCW (with all the problems they're having). TWA is starting out much like how ECW did. It's getting a following, it's getting bigger. The Internet is giving it so much exposure.

Michaels: Right.

Tavares: That's what happened with ECW. Now it's happening with the TWA.

Michaels: Well, I mean I think I'd be flattered if he was. It's just hard for me to take that seriously. With the Internet, it's sorta inconceivable to think.

Tavares: Oh, right now, but you never know. I mean, you could be up there with an ECW as well.

Michaels: I guess that would be cool, but I don't think he's threatened, lets put it that way. (we all laugh)

Tavares: We all know now about the Sandman coming in, would there be anybody else you'd be bringing in from ECW? Or maybe sending TWA stars there now?

Michaels: Again, we're still trying to work on that. He (Sandman) just offered. So, I thought I'd take him up on it. It really just happened out of the blue. I don't know Jim (Sandman). Never met him in my life. P.J. (Justin Credible) called me and said, "Yeah, Sandman is willing to come down, work with ya, hang out." I said sure. And again, that's something I am still working on...trying to...because especially with when Paul allowed me to use all his guys, at least let me pay him back by doing something for them. Vince just wants me to...well, he doesn't want me to in his mind, his words "drop my name value down." I guess that is where we have a difference of opinion. I appreciate the fact that he wants to put me up here. I would rather be, whether it be the WWF, helping guys move up. As I told Al earlier, main event guys, and again I was the same way, you don't want other people in your stuff. You want to put me in the spotlight and that's the way it should be. You work hard to get up here. You don't want some guy that works 20 times per year and steal your spotlight. And, I'd feel like I would be best served in helping out passing on the knowledge that I have.

Tavares: Since you're no longer working for the WWF, although under contract still, did all of the behind the scenes politics factor in your decision to basically leave the WWF?

Michaels: No, no.

Tavares: There was an incident. I believe it was last August with the main event of Austin and Triple H and you were very vocal about that. Next thing you know you're out there helping and I forget how the storyline went and you were the Commissioner...

Michaels: With the Rock (Smackdown heel turn)?

Tavares: Right and then boom, one day you're gone. Off TV and never heard of again. What was going on with that?

Michaels: That was me being vocal. That was me doing the Byte This show. It was me sitting around, f'n around on the phone here with my wife. Just playing around. Steve (Austin) knows that. The office took offense to it I guess probably. Steve didn't care. I talked to him. He was all, "What do I care?" That was me...see, I guess I should pay attention...be more serious. But, I was just sitting there with my feet up on my desk sitting at home with my wife. I was just jokingly saying, "No. He should have did what I did. Went out there and gutted it out." What I did was stupid. All I did was go out there and end my career. Steve did the smart thing by having somebody else in there. When you read it in ink, it's "awww he said this?" You don't understand the (intent).

Tavares: Yeah, you really don't know what happened.

Michaels: I don't take any of that stuff seriously because I've learned that people in wrestling, and all the Internet folks, and all the SCOOPS folks (looks at Al), and all the insiders (looks at me), they take it seriously enough for all of us. I took it serious when I was in there, but when I got out of the ring I was a complete jackoff all the time. I answered questions saying just about anything, just to make them go "ah... (jaw drops)" and write it down. I figured if it keeps your name out there and keeps you controversial then it worked. People would write and I'd feed the fire. Me, my boss, and my friends know the truth. And, that's really that all that matters. If I were all that much trouble I wouldn't have a job. I wouldn't just sit at home and make the money I do.

Tavares: So, this weekend when you were at WrestleMania, did you have any talks at all with Vince about plans?

Michaels: Not a lot. You know, they're busy. I called him I think a couple of days after our last show and I said I'd like to start talking about bringing in WWF guys that they're not using. I wanted to make sure it was okay to use the ECW guys. And, see if we could...we used to do it for a little while, but maybe like on Live Wire or Jakked, in one of your towns...they can do that regionally, just down here...plug our towns. What he said to me was, "Write down whatever you want on a piece of paper." He's always told me, "Wave your magic wand Shawn. What would you want? Write down all the things for us to do and we'll talk it over. See what will and won't work."

Tavares: Another question is, are you disappointed that pro wrestling has become like big time entertainment, with little focus on wrestling?

Michaels: The old-timer in me is a little bit. But I can't say much because I was one of the guys that made it go that way.

Tavares: Do you feel the WWF is going too far with their storylines now?

Michaels: You know what, I don't watch it enough anymore to know. How can you argue with success? Again, this is the traditionalist in me. The ring entrance and all that was just dressing on the side. The meaty part should have been the work. People right now want to see something different. You gotta cater to that, and it's working, so how can you not?

Tavares: Like the old saying, if it ain't broke don't fix it.

Michaels: You tell those people at HBK Heaven who ever that John Gross is, trying to say he talked to my wife, he's a damn liar.

Tavares: John Gross? Who's that?

Michaels: He writes a column called Sweet Chin Music.

Tavares: I have no idea who that is. The only person I know is Cindy, the webmaster. She wrote me and read the interviews on TWA. She wanted to ask you questions and I said sure why not. But, I don't know who John is. But, I'll find out about that.

Michaels: Well, he was all "oh yeah I talked to Rebecca." Something about she was worried about me wrestling my last match. I've got news for ya. My wife is 5'10". And believe me, she is as tough as nails. If she didn't want me to wrestle in that last match, she would have beat the s*** out of me. (we all laugh)

Tavares: My ex was taller than me and what ever she said goes.

Michaels: But, I'm taller than my wife. (we begin to BS here a little and enjoy a few laughs)

Tavares: Now, you have a son. Would you see him following in your foot steps in the wrestling business?

Michaels: God, I hope not. (we laugh). I hope not. I say that jokingly, but I think that it's nice to have something I never had, something to fall back on. His daddy...his old man will always be a former wrestler that can train him and knows people in the wrestling business. But, like any parent I want him to...

Tavares: Stay away and do something different?

Michaels: ...and concentrate on other things. And, you know I'm sure there is gonna come a time where he looks at me and goes, "You don't understand. You're not cool." Then I'll put out my doll and go, "Oh really? They made a doll out of you?" I want to let him develop, sorta of see what he is interested at first before... wrestling doesn't really... aside from doing this, it takes a lot of time, and wrestling isn't my life. I don't watch wrestling on Mondays. It's a business now. I help train the kids.

Tavares: But, if he is growing up he around it, he can pick up an interest.

Michaels: He will definitely be around it. I think it's different when your dad is running it as opposed to doing it, know what I mean? I don't know, I guess he will tell me. Who knows? In a year I can say okay it's a hassle.

Tavares: And, that's when she (Rebecca) will step in and say "no."

Isaacs: The product of a "Boy Toy" and a "Nitro Girl."

Tavares: How can you say no?

Michaels: Right. (laughs) It's funny, I did it for so long and I liked doing it, but it's too hard on me. I'm too old. I'm beat up. I'm sore now. Wait till tomorrow morning.

Tavares: You're going to be feeling it.

Isaacs: Are you glad you did it?

Michaels: Yeah. It was fun and it was a fun kind of match to happen. Not one of those matches where you have to think about and go okay I gotta do this and everything else. No pressure. Once you've been a guy who has done a 62 minute match and remember it all like clockwork, this kind of stuff is like "okay... lets do it." And, I don't mean to sound arrogant, it's just that it doesn't compare.

Tavares: It's like night and day.

Michaels: Right. Because with something like this and your lost, you grab something and hit a guy with it. In a match, a wrestling match, it's different. There's gotta be psychology, gotta know where you've been, where you're going, and how to get there.

Tavares: Build up to it.

Michaels: Right. Nothing like this where you go (Shawn makes a sound of hitting someone with an object) and everyone goes YAY. (we all laugh) I mean, they do. That's the difference. Like the ladder match between the tag teams at WrestleMania, spectacular things. But, how many times did you see them go after the belts through the whole match?

Tavares: I just remember the end.

Michaels: Twice. Not knocking them, just saying because the fans didn't mind. Hell I was there that night. They were going crazy. That's sorta like wrestling, and I sound like an old-timer "in my day," but it's a sorta lost art. Psychology and stuff like that. Maybe it will come back and maybe it won't. But, right now people want to see stuff like that, things that don't make sense. The guys that are in it, it's gotta make it a heck of a lot easier because you don't have to make that much. That's what makes it easier to be out of it, I liked the challenges. How can I swerve the people? How can I make them think I am going one way and then go another? That's all from a creative and artistic standpoint. I mean, what can I say? Gotta keep up with the Jones'. So, just give them what they want to see. You give them Springer Vision.

Tavares: What was your opinion of WrestleMania this year?

Michaels: I didn't see all of it. In fact, the only match I saw was the ladder match.

Tavares: So, you didn't get to see the main event with Triple H?

Michaels: No. My wife and baby...it was getting a little late and getting tired, so we just went back.

Tavares: One thing I totally forgot to ask you was, as you know Mick Foley has a book. The Rock has a book, all these people having books on their lives and careers, would you be interested in doing that? Something you've thought about?

Michaels: I thought about it a long time ago before books became popular. I guess I have this thing about not wanting to do what everybody else does. I would like to, but I want to do it if I can write a real book. What people want to hear. I'm not gonna write some fluff book. I mean I've read the other ones and they're fluff. I mean they're not...you know...man, most people who wrote them aren't guys that know the inside of the inside. They haven't been right there with the biggest names in wrestling.

Tavares: That would be good for you then.

Michaels: Well yeah, but maybe those are things I should, you know...I don't know, because then everybody knows everything. The world is smart enough as it is. They're getting so smart. I mean if they're not, they think they are.

Tavares: That's him. (I point to Al and laugh)

Isaacs: That was my next comment.

Michaels: Oh ha-ha. You know, so if I wrote one I'd want to be able to write it my way and just talk about different...you know, the real things. And, I'm not talking about the backstabbing, the drugs, and the girls. Just about real sh!t that goes on and why it goes on. Stuff like that. I just don't know if that would be as interesting.

Tavares: I think it would with all this inside stuff and what you went through your career and get to the point where you got.

Michaels: Some people might. Like I said, I don't know. I don't know if you could do something like that without making some people upset.

Tavares: Can't make everyone happy.

Michaels: I don't know. I've thought about it, but then again I'd have to think long and hard about it before I did it. It's like how I used to wrestle. I'm really picky about that kind of stuff. I don't want to write a book with a bunch of catch phrases. It's not all hunky dory. It's not. It's a long, hard, brutal line of work. It's not bad, but (the wrestling business is) hard. It's hard as hell. Hardest thing I've ever done. It's probably the hardest thing these guys have ever done.

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