WWE.com interview (6/05/02)
Conducted by Phil Speer

WWE.com caught up with the "new, improved" Michael Shawn Hickenbottom, aka Shawn Michaels, via telephone on Wednesday, two days after he made his surprising World Wrestling Entertainment return on RAW. The man who once competed as the Heartbreak Kid politely asked if we could call back in one hour, as he was having lunch with his wife, Rebecca, and his son, Cameron. Sixty minutes later, we called back, and "HBK" was more than willing to sacrifice 30 minutes of his day to discuss his return, his family, his new outlook on life and much more.

WWE.com: How are your wife and son doing?

Shawn: Oh, they're spectacular. They're wonderful.

WWE.com: How old is he now?

Shawn: He's 2.

WWE.com: So is he going through the "terrible twos"?

Shawn: Well, no. Not really. We've been told that the terrible twos really happen at three. He's really been great for us first-time parents. He's been a joy to be around. He's really an easy-going guy, which is funny considering who his dad is, or was. (laughs)

WWE.com: Is this going to be hard for you to go back on the road and be away from your family?

Shawn: I don't think anybody expects me to do more than the one show per week at this point. I don't know. But it was difficult just because I was called at the last minute. I was called Sunday afternoon at church and asked if I could leave Monday morning. I explained it to (Cameron) as best I could. For a 2 year old, he gets it. I've been with him day and night for almost 2 years straight. So when daddy doesn't read the story to him at night, and when daddy's not there in the morning when he gets up, it's a little different for him. But I talked to him on the phone. I guess what I'm getting at is that it's probably going to be harder for me to adjust to than him.

WWE.com: How's your back doing?

Shawn: Great. I still know it's there, but I still know my knees are there and my shoulders are there. You don't get out of this line of work and not feel a little soreness. But it's as good as it's been in the four years that I've been out. I feel great.

WWE.com: You looked like you were in good shape just based on the few minutes you were on TV on Monday. Do you feel as good as you look?

Shawn: Yeah. I mean, I'm still a little heavier around the midsection than I would like to be. I was a slave to that diet for years. So (now) every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, my son and I eat cookies like they're going out of style. I'll have to cut back on that. But I wasn't about to make that sacrifice until they were sure that they were going to use me again. I would stay in shape just in case. Now, they're going to have to bring me back to work before I get back into shape.

WWE.com: No cookies on Thursday?

Shawn: No, I'm going to stop, and I'm going to wait until after the show on Monday, and then it's going to be cookie time. That'll be my new cheat night.

WWE.com: A lot of people have said that you look really young compared to the last time we saw you. What's the secret to that?

Shawn: To be perfectly honest, that's bringing the Lord into my life. That is why I look so happy. That is why I look healthier than I've ever looked. I have accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, and it has completely changed my life. It has given me a new life, a new energy, a new perspective on everything, which is what he does. It was the first time ever that I ever walked into that dressing room and never worried about if anybody liked me or not. And it felt the most comfortable since I've ever been in there. I saw Kevin (Nash) and Kid (X-Pac). I had spoken with Kevin about it. I wanted him to know that before I came back -- for him to know that things were not going to be the same exactly for me. There would be no going out or doing this, or doing that. I'm not going to use profanity. Those things just aren't a part of my life anymore.

WWE.com: No profanity? Not at all?

Shawn: No. I mean, if somebody asked me to do it on TV, I'm not going to do it. Because we don't need it. It's not something the show needs. It's ironic. I was thinking about it today. I'm one of the guys that helped change that, to go that new direction. But my personal opinion is that I think that direction has run its course. All wrestling ideas last about five or six years, and then you usually have to go with something new. And I could be wrong, and I probably shouldn't even give my opinion because I don't know enough about the product to really make a wise decision. But just for me, I'm very concerned about the message that I'm going to put out there now. Vince (McMahon) knows about this; he has accepted it. He's very cool with it, as he has been with every decision I've ever made in my life. He's been incredibly supportive, and I'm sure it's much easier for him to be supportive of this one, because this one he likes

WWE.com: You mentioned Kid and Kevin. What's it like being back with them?

Shawn: Tremendous. Tremendous. It's going to be so much better and more fun for us this time around because we're all older. We're all more mature. Like I said, I definitely have a new direction in my life. Their feelings were, "What is it, Shawn? Why do you look good and have so much energy?" And I told them why, and they showed some interest. I just really think it's going to be fun for us this time around. I'm thrilled that the Lord brought me back to do this one more time, so that I could do it differently this time -- for it not to be a struggle for the people who have to work with me. For it not to be difficult. I hope they enjoy it as much as I'm going to enjoy it. I guess only time will tell.

WWE.com: What about the fact that Triple H is on SmackDown!?

Shawn: Well, I'm going to miss seeing him. But technically I have not been drafted by anybody. I personally don't feel I'm bound to any one show. Nobody drafted me, and let's face it, I'm Shawn Michaels. I was part of WWE before everybody started this division, so personally I don't see things as being divided. If it's WWE, I'm allowed to come and go as I please.

WWE.com: What do you want to say about Scott Hall?

Shawn: I pray for him. I miss him. I have made myself available to him, to do anything for him that I can. We all think about him. Me, Sean (Waltman, aka X-Pac) and Kevin were talking about him the other night. It's a shame that he couldn't be a part of this with us. But we're all still friends. I'm thinking about packing up after the next show and going to see him in Florida, if he'll let me in.

WWE.com: Why wouldn't he let you in?

Shawn: Who knows? (laughs)

WWE.com: Are there any matches left in the Heartbreak Kid?

Shawn: I don't know. I'm on a different path now. I let (God) direct me. Right now, that's not something I'm thinking about. I pray about that too. He'll make that clear to me, if that's something I think I can do. If he keeps me safe and keeps me protected like he's promised, I'm sure I can do it. We'll just have to see how things work out. Heck, I've only been in the door one day. We're at the infant stage. I'm excited about it, and I'm really looking to seeing where it goes.

WWE.com: What's your relationship like with Vince McMahon?

Shawn: It's fantastic. He never lost hope in me. The thing about him is that when everybody else was thinking that all the decisions I made were because of me, me, me, me, he knows me and knows that everything I did -- even though it wasn't always positive -- came from my heart. When I was there before, my passion and my heart overrode my sense and my decision-making. Vince was always wise enough to see through that, and see that, "The reason this guy is going crazy is because he just cares so much." There are times he probably wished I didn't care that much, but he always used it and channeled it in the right direction. It's a lot of credit to him for being patient and knowing me well enough -- knowing people well enough -- to see that the things I did, even though they weren't all positive, they didn't come from a deceptive place. And in this business that's very hard to figure out. But that's why he's the one that runs it all. That's why he's been so successful, because he's able to see through that. He never lost hope in me. He always believed that things would change for me when I had a chance. And when I slowed down -- and God bless Rebecca, my wife -- when I met her, she changed everything for me. And then my son on top of that. When I accepted the Lord ... wrestling is great. But my life has so much more to it other than that. I don't identify myself as a wrestler. I identify myself as a Christian man and a husband and a father. And what I happen to be is an independent contractor for World Wrestling Entertainment. I give Jim Ross a lot of credit for me being back too. Every time there was an idea about doing something, he always threw my name out there. He was very instrumental in being in here. If it wasn't for him I probably wouldn't even be in WWE.

WWE.com: I noticed that you introduced yourself as Shawn Hickenbottom when we began this interview. I guess that's no coincidence.

Shawn: Well, that's my name. (laughs)

WWE.com: Well, in the past, if you were talking to somebody from the company, you might have said Shawn Michaels.

Shawn: No, you're right. A lot of that is because I've been off for four years. I've never introduced myself as Shawn Michaels in a non-wrestling situation. But now, that's who I am, and everybody knows. Shawn Michaels is a gimmick and an alter ego -- somebody that I get to do on Monday nights, which is fun.

WWE.com: On a side note, did anybody ever call you "Mike" or "Michael," or was it always "Shawn"?

Shawn: I've always gone by Shawn. The only time I'm Michael is when I'm in trouble with my mother, and then it's "Michael Shawn Hickenbottom: Come here! Get over here! Don't do that!" My mom wanted to call me Shawn, but she didn't like the way Shawn Michael Hickenbottom sounded. So she just switched them around and said, "Well, we'll call him Shawn."

WWE.com: When did you tape the interview that aired on WWE Confidential these past few weekends?

Shawn: A month or two ago. Not too long ago. They had to come down for Lita's surgery, so they thought they'd swing by and do that.

WWE.com: One of the things that a lot of fans are talking about is your comment that "HBK is dead." Can you elaborate on that?

Shawn: That pertains more to backstage and to my personal life as opposed to out in front of the cameras. Because when I'm out in front of the cameras, that's just me having fun. That's me enjoying myself in front of lots of people. It was mostly just to make clear that that person I was on the road, and the person who took the business so seriously, is not there anymore. That's what I meant by it. HBK was angry. Most of what I did was because I had a big chip on my shoulder. Sure, it worked out to my advantage when it came to matches, because I went out there wanting to have a better match than everybody else. But I didn't do that from a real positive place. And that's the biggest difference. I'm not driven by anger. I'm not driven by emotions anymore. And that's why I always say, "Gosh, I don't know if I'd be any good if I wrestled again." Before I used to try to prove something, now I don't really have anything to prove. So I really don't know how it would be. But I'd still be happy with it.

WWE.com: And you mentioned that you heard on Sunday afternoon that you were coming back.

Shawn: Yeah. I got a phone call in church.

WWE.com: I hope you had your phone on vibrate.

Shawn: Sure did! I just went out and told them, "I'll have to call you back."

WWE.com: And what was your reaction when they asked you to come to RAW?

Shawn: As soon as they (the New World Order) came in, Vince and Kevin called and asked if I wanted to be part of it. And at that time I said, "I'm not sure." Because I had been on this road of discovering the Lord, and I just wanted to keep my concentration on that. I didn't know if I had the mental and emotional strength to go back on the road to endure everything. I was still worried about backsliding into something. So I just said, "No, not right now." And then after that, I just continued reading the word and trying to develop my relationship with the Lord. I prayed about it, that whenever he thinks I'm strong enough, that that's when they'll call me. And I was in church, and they called, and I said, "I'll do it." Because I know that was God's message, saying, "You're ready to go back." I came back in and the pastor was preaching on confidence, and having confidence in the Lord that you can do anything, and through him all things are possible -- and they are. So I knew that I could go back and it wouldn't be a problem, and it wasn't. It was spectacular. I'm not going to change the world. I don't anticipate doing that, and it's certainly not my purpose. But it is my job to send the message out there. And when I get a chance, I'll do that. I'm not going to beat anybody over the head with a Bible.

WWE.com: Literally and figuratively.

Shawn: Exactly. Mostly figuratively. But, you know, he wouldn't have sent me back if he didn't want me back there for a reason. I don't know; I don't try to figure it out. That's why when people ask me about the future I say I don't know, because he's guided me this far. As I look back on my whole life, on the path he's taken me, now I'm smart enough -- at least I'd like to think I'm wise enough -- to say, "You know what? I'm going to let you run things, and I'll just go along and do the best for you that I can." Don't get me wrong. I know this is all going to sound strange to everybody -- (people will say) "Oh yeah right. Oh boy. I don't want to listen to this." But it is the way that I feel, and I can't help that. I'm not ashamed of it. I am thrilled about it. But I do understand. I wouldn't blame anybody for skepticism or any other opinions they might have of me, because Lord knows I earned every one of them. I have no qualms with people wondering, or saying, "I don't want to hear this. He's not even a fun interview anymore." (laughs) But, you know what? At the very least, (my comeback) is going to be interesting. I think it's going to be real interesting, and that's what exciting about it for me.

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