WWF.com interview (1/01)
HBK Chats About the Rumble, Wrestlemania, & more
Conducted by Phil Speer

He's the man they call the Heartbreak Kid, or HBK for short. He'sthe World Wrestling Federation's Grand Slam Champion- The only man to hold the Federation Title as well as the Intercontinental, European, and Tag Team Championships. He's Shawn Michaels, and he was at WWF New York on Sunday to host the Armageddon Pay-Per-View. With Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania just around the corner, WWF.com had a chance to speak with Shawn about those two events and much more.

WWF.com: Have you been to WWF New York before?
HBK: No, it's my first time.

WWF.com: You've made some comments recently about the internet that I wanted to ask you about. How has the internet affected the wrestling business?
HBK: It certainly hasn't hurt. All in all it's a positive thing. Even if you're not in front of the TV, if (fans) have some form of interaction with the internet, it keeps you out there. And even if (fans) don't they still keep you out there. Even when they make up crazy, wild stuff, it's better than not having your name in the news at all. I was told many, many years ago by Jimmy Snuka that any publicity is good publicity. Whether it's true or not is really irrelevant.

WWF.com: You've mentioned that much of what is said on the internet is not true. What advice do you have for fans that read internet sites?
HBK: Obviously you have to sort of just take it in stride. It's about a 50-50 chance. You read it and you go, "Well that might be true. But then again it might not." It's just another resource of the business that you can enjoy. Just like the wrestling business itself, I wouldn't take it too seriously.

WWF.com: What's the biggest flat-out lie that was ever said about you on the internet?
HBK: There have been a lot of things. There was one that I once inherited a lot of money from somebody. There's been a bunch of them.

WWF.com: Changing the subject, how is your back? Visited any doctors lately?
HBK: It's good. No reason to go (to the doctor).

WWF.com: You mentioned a few months ago that you were training regularly and were in your best condition in three years. Is that still the case?
HBK: Yeah, I'd liek to think so. I feel good. I'm training 4-5 days a week. I feel as good as I've felt in quite some time.

WWF.com: Now for the question on everyone's mind: Any updates on your possible return?
HBK: No. No one has really contacted me. I sort of put it out there that I would like to try one more (match). The rest... I don't really have that control. Vince and the WWF have that control. If I wrestle again, it'll mostly be their decision.

WWF.com: But as far as medically, you have clearance to wrestle?
HBK: I'll never have clearance. Anything I do is gonna be without a doctor's note. No one's gonna clear me. You have to take the risk at this level. If I'm willing to do that, that's the way it's gonna be.

WWF.com: You've been doing some autograph sessions in different parts of the country lately. Can we expect more of those?
HBK: Yes. I haven't had a chance to go out and do these for quite some time. I've been out a little, but not much in the last three years, so I'm just gonna start getting out now and trying to see some of the people through these sessions.

WWF.com: It must feel great to still be recognized, especially because you haven't been on TV quite as much over the past few months.
HBK: It's very nice. There's an old adage in the wrestling business that out of site is out of mind. That used to be the case, and heck it still might be. But I've been very fortunate that the people have forgotten me too much. I'm sure there's a whole generation out there that may not know me, that's starting with the wrestling now. But for the most part, these autograph sessions have been real positive. A lot of people have said it isn't the same and would like to see me back. And that is very nice. You think when you leave that everybody's going to forget, and it would be OK if they did. But it's real nice for whatever reason they've kept me close to them.

WWF.com: Does the fact that people remember you so fondly make you appreciate your legacy and understand the success of your career?
HBK: Most definitely. People have been nice enough to put me in a class with Ric Flair, and that's somebody who I consider to be great. To be remembered as that, and to have people say that you're the reason they started watching wrestling... the idea that you had an impact on people's lives in any way, shape, or form is a tremendous form of flattery. I don't take it lightly anymore. At one time I guess I really didn't give it much though. But now that I'm older and I'm a little more mature, you really do start to appreciate the level of which people think of you.

WWF.com: When you watch the World Wrestling Federaton today, who impresses you? Does anyone remind you of yourself?
HBK: There are a lot of impressive guys. I think obviously the Hardys and Edge and Christian are tremendously talented young guys. I think (Chris) Benoit is an excellent wrestler. There's a great deal of good young talent out there. And it's only going to get better. The wrestling business is like any other sport. there are tremendous athletes, but there's always someone that's gonna come along and replace them. That's a natural progression. I think it's great for the wrestling business because the competition gets better, the matches get better, and the fans are gonna enjoy.

WWF.com: Regarding the Hardy Boyz, especially Jeff Hardy, some have sid that they may be forced to retire early, much like you did, because of their daredevil antics. Do you have any advice for them?
HBK: Any advice that I might have would, I think, go in one ear and out the other, as it did mine. He's aware of that. Jeff Hardy's aware of that. And I don't know him well enough. But he's a young man who really likes what he does. He's a tremendous performer who wants to go out there and make a difference. He's an intelligent young man- he knows what he's doing- but he's very passionate about what he does. It's hard to put reigns on that kind of passion. On one hand you don't want to, because of the tremendous stuff he does- and I never did anything like he does, I couldn't. He knows he's gonna get hurt; he's made the decision at least for now that's a risk he's willing to take. And for taht he should, I think, in my opinion, garner even more support and admiration for what he does.

WWF.com: Among others, Jim Ross has said that Triple H is the Federation's MVP for 2000. Do you concur?
HBK: I can't say that I have enough knowledge to say who is or who isn't an MVP. If that's what Jim Ross thinks then I have no doubt that (Triple H) probably is. (Triple H has) always been a good friend and he's always been an extremely hard worker. I look at Triple H differently I think than most everybody else does. He's a buddy of mine, he's not an employee or a wrestler, he's a buddy of mine. So it's hard for me to categorize him.

WWF.com: When you watch Triple H today, do you take any credit for success based on the fact that you two worked together for several months?
HBK: No, I wouldn't take any credit for anything Triple H has done. I would only take credit for being wise enough to pick good friends, and I hope that he would think the same. That's about it.

WWF.com: Are you able to lead a normal life in San Antonio? Do you take your family to the movies?
HBK: We don't go to the movies. It's an option, but anytime you leave the house, people are going to recognize you. San Antonio's my home. If I'm with my family, I'm with my family. People respect that as best they can. And if they don't I try to encourage them to, in a nice way. They've seen me enough. Mostly it's just "Hi Shawn". Waves and handshakes, stuff like that. That's not a problem. We go to the Spurs games on a regular basis. (We're) season ticket holders for the Spurs. We do that together as a family. We just bought a ranch. We go out and do stuff on that. But for the most part, the three of us just hang out together as a family.

WWF.com: Any possibility of a Shawn Michaels autobiography down the road?
HBK: Yeah, I've thought about it, but I don't know if the wrestling business can handle a book (from me). Mine would read more like "North Dallas Forty" (an expose on the NFL) and I don't know if that's something the WWF would like to put out. My career was very different from a lot of other people... nothing I'm ashamed of, but maybe something that somebody else might be ashamed of. I think fans would enjoy it but I don't know if it's something I would write.

WWF.com: You are the only superstar to ever draw No. 1 in the Royal Rumble Match and go on to win that match. That was at the 1995 Royal Rumble. What do you remember about that night?
HBK: Mostly I just remember having every guy that was in the Royal Rumble come at me for the entire length of the time they were in the match. It was a lot of fun because you got to get your hands on just about every guy in the WWF- guys you don't always have an opportunity to wrestle during your career. I always liked being in there from the beginning to the end. It's kind of hard to explain. There are so many different things that can go on- it's moving constantly, nothing is the same, there's really no down time. You're going at a pretty decent clip the entire time. And I always liked working that way. I liked a lot of movement. So I rememebr that, and then I remember Pam Anderson.

WWF.com: You were in the ring for more than an hour that year. You must have been exhausted.
HBK: I never got tired in the ring, becuase I was always so delighted to be out there. It never once really occurred to me that I was out there doing hard work, not until after the match. I've never been one that really got tired in the match. Whatever it was- the energry, something that was going on- always carried me through.

WWF.com: But the next morning must have been rough.
HBK: Oh yeah, definitely the next morning. All the time.

WWF.com: In 1996 you became one of the few superstars to win back-to-back Royal Rumbles. What do you remember about that year?
HBK: That was in Fresno. That one was fun too because (I had) won once and wanted to be one of those guys that (did it again). For me, any Pay-Per-View was a chance to go out there, and especially the Royal Rumble. Everybody's going to come out, almost every WWF Superstar is going to have some interaction with you at one point or another. And that's a real great opportunity to keep the spotlight on you the entire time. That's what I liked most about the Royal Rumble is that you could steal the show almost all by yourself if you had a lot of time in the Royal Rumble. Those were always pretty cool to do.

WWF.com: What was also significant about the '96 Rumble is that you qualified for the Federation Championship Match at Wrestlemania XII, the Iron Man Match which you won. The image of you cradling the title that night, near tears, has been replayed many times. I get the feeling that your emotions that night were very real.
HBK: Oh yeah. Don't ever let annybody tell you that they got into the wrestling business and they didn't want to be the world champ and get to hold that belt. No matter how you try to explain it, it's always exciting. You get a chance to go out there in front of a sold-out place, in front of lots of people and when it's a Pay-Per-Views to millions. And you get to win the very best award you can win in your line of work. Everybody wants to do that no matter what they say. And when youd o, it's as real as real can be. It's authentic because the type of work you're in is acknowledging you- at least for the time being, even if it's for a day- as the guy that's better than anybody else. And that's a great slap on the back to have in a business that you want to be good at. I heard something the other day, somebody was saying, "I was never a guy that walked around wanting to be a celebrity." But if you're a guy that takes his job seriously, that's the kind of stuff that's going to happen. It's very cool when both of those come together- you can work hard at your job, you really like it, and then your line of work gives you the best acknowledgment it can give you. You've done all you can do. If your career ends the next day, I think most guys can handle it.

WWF.com: Was that the highlight of your career?
HBK: I would say yes, symbolically. It's definitely the No. 1 thing. There were other matches that I got more satisfaction, more delight from. My Hell in a Cell with Undertaker, my match with Mick (Foley), my Ladder Match with Razor (Ramon). There actually were a lot of them. That was one of the most important (factors) to me, was the body of work. I don't want to say that winning the title wasn't the greatest. (But) the fact that I had to concentrate on an hour of match before that. I was concentrating so much on that at first that you don't get a chance to enjoy (winning the title) until it's over.

WWF.com: Another night that must have been memorable was the 1997 Royal Rumble, when you won the WWF Title in front of more than 60,000 in your hometown of San Antonio.
HBK: It was and I remember have the flu and having to go out and do that with the flu and be sick and under the weather- but having it all go away when you walk out in from of 60,000 people in your hometown. And I remember all my buddies from high school being in the front row, so that was pretty cool.

WWF.com: You last match in the Federation was Wrestlemania XIV. That must have been an emotional night.
HBK: It was. It was emotional because I was physically and emotionally exhausted. The idea of what I was doing meant a lot to me. The only thing that I was a little bit disappointed in was that I couldn't do as well of a job as I would've liked to have done for Steve. But aside from that, it meant a lot to me to be a part of a match that, in my opinion, was the gateway to the biggest success that the wrestling business has ever really known. In that respect, it was a very positive thing to be a part of. It really to me was certainly, at the time, not a bad way to go out. I sort of thought it was neat, thought it was the dignified thing to do. I was hurt, but then I thought, "What the heck. I look like a John Wayne with a limp, getting shot in the leg but still going to the gunfight." I liked it. I thought it was a decent match for a guy that was all banged up. It was definitely a cool thing to be a part of.

WWF.com: Did you know beforehand that that was going to be a your last match?
HBK: Oh yeah. I knew going in that it was going to be tough to do much after that.

WWF.com: What did you feel like afterwards?
HBK: Actually I was very relieved. I was very emotional before I went in, because I was scared physically. Before I went in, I knew that my career was basically done. So you have in the back of your mind, "Look, I'm hurt already. I don't want to get hurt worse." So there's a lot of things at stake when you're going in that last time, not to mention the job that you have to do- your work, what pays your bills. You've got to put that somewhere else totally and not concentrate on the fact that hey, one thing that you do out there, you could not be able to move and then, what? And you're in front of all these people and on TV on Pay-Per-View. So there were a lot of things going on inside me at that time. So when I was done, it all came out. So mostly I just wept. I was just physically, emotionally... I was so drained it wasn't even funny. So it all just came out, and I felt better after that.

WWF.com: Did most people know that it was going to be your last match?
HBK: I think they might have known. No one has ever said, "Write him off." For whatever reason, I think maybe that's why people still remember me. For whatever reason, I left people wanting more. Most people did not want to believe that that was my last match.

WWF.com: What was it like backstage after that match?
HBK: You know what, I can't even remember. There might have been people. I don't remember coming back through the curtain. All I can remember is being back in the locker room.

WWF.com: What was it like watching RAW the next night in your own home?
HBK: I had time to mentally prepare for of that. It all came out after the match after that I was OK. I'm real satisfied with everything I did in the wrestling business. There aren't any regrets or anything like that. I can't remember much that I didn't accomplish on the old accomplishments list. I was pretty satisfied and ready to move on to whatever was next.

WWF.com: What was it like to be at the Wrestlemania fan festival, AXXESS, last April?
HBK: It was fun. It was very fun. I remember when we used to do the old fan fests, and then we stopped for a little while. That stuff has always been fun, especially Wrestlemania because it's always an exciting and electricity-filled weekend. Everybody's there, they're pumped up for the show. So it's a real positive thing. It's fun to do.

WWF.com: This is the first time Wrestlemania has ever been in Texas. How to Texas fans compare to others? It seems like whenever we have a show from there the fans are very enthusiastic.
HBK: They are. They're real passionate about all their sports and the stuff they like. They run a good close second to the fans in New York, who are equally as passionate. That's how Texas people are, they like what they like. They're great people to perform in front of, because if you put on something good for them, they'll show you their appreciation.

WWF.com: Are you going to at this year's AXXESS?
HBK: I'd certainly like to be invited.

WWF.com: Does the same go for Wrestlemania?
HBK: Oh yeah, definitely.

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