WWE.com interview (1/19/03)
Conducted by Phil Speer

BOSTON – Jan. 19, 2003 – Shawn Michaels has actually been here since Friday. The Heartbreak Kid was supposed to speak at Yale University on Friday afternoon, but due to a tragic car accident involving some Yale students, the speech was canceled. So Shawn and his wife, who accompanied him on this trip, headed straight for Boston, where Michaels signed autographs for people in the Navy, competed in the Royal Rumble and chatted with WWE.com.

WWE.com: Being in this arena and in this town, does it conjure up any nostalgia for you?

HBK: Boston’s special anyway. It’s just one of our major towns. I did an autograph session yesterday. One of the great things about these folks is that they take all their sports seriously, including wrestling. They’re very passionate about that kind of stuff. If they like you, they like you. It’s tough being the heel (bad guy) here. The last time I wrestled here, I was the heel against Steve (Austin). So obviously the reception I got yesterday was much different and much more positive. Again, they’re good folks. They’re very passionate about their stuff. It’s like being in New York or Philadelphia --- they’re tough towns, but when they like you, they dig you a lot.

WWE.com: How do you feel personally about wrestling here for the first time since WrestleMania XIV?

HBK: That match … for me, I never looked at that as my last match, even if it was going to be. It was more the start of something else – the whole big movement in wrestling with Steve. For me, I always had a different outlook on that match. I don’t think that stemmed from any kind of denial. But this whole nostalgia idea – “your last match” – that never really sunk in for me. It was more the beginning of something else. Because I always knew I’d be a part of the business, even if it wasn’t wrestling anymore. To me, that was more of a starting point than it was an ending point.

WWE.com: One of the reasons I’m asking is because I know that day was tough for you physically and emotionally. You had your back worked on all day, and then afterwards you said you were mentally exhausted.

HBK: Right. But I have been back here a couple of times since. And in my heart now the business has a different position. At that time in my life, it was everything that I had; it was all that I had. And now that’s just simply not the case; it’s something that now adds to my life. It would have mattered if this was a first time. The business has a different role; it’s still just as special, but now I have a little more perspective than I had then. I remember that time obviously, but it’s like a whole different lifetime.

WWE.com: Can you talk about your travels for these past few days? I know you were supposed to speak at Yale on Friday.

HBK: Yeah, I was supposed to speak at Yale, but apparently there was a pretty bad car wreck, and from what I understand, 12 Yale students were in an SUV. Three of them died (and) one or two of them were supposed to be at this Master’s Tea that I was speaking at. So obviously they canceled it. So (my wife and I) just came up to Boston and went to dinner. We sat around that night; our bags didn’t come in until Saturday evening. So we just sat around. Then the next day I had a personal appearance. I went on the USS Constitution – Old Ironsides – and spoke with some of the active Navy men and women who are part of that. And then there were some other branches of the military that were there. I just talked with them for a while, signed some stuff, took some pictures and then had a little tour of the boat. Then we went back, went to bed, and I did this tonight.

WWE.com: Your son didn’t take the trip with you, did he?

HBK: No. We didn’t bring Cameron. He’s taking Grandma and Grandpa, getting spoiled and living the good life right now.

WWE.com: So you ended up giving up Friday, a day you could have spent at home. But that’s OK with you under the circumstances, right?

HBK: Yeah. Sue Aitchison (from the WWE community relations department) had mentioned, “Boy, you guys are handling it so well, that your bags didn’t come in, you’ve got no clothes to wear and you’re doing nothing on a day off.” We said, “Well, some parents’ kids aren’t going home tonight, or ever again.” It was just really tough for us to complain. We don’t do a lot of complaining in our life anymore, in any aspect. If I’m breathing, my wife’s breathing, my son’s breathing and my folks and my family (are breathing), it’s a good day. I’m sure people get tired of hearing this from me, but I just have a different perspective on everything in my life. I don’t get uptight about much.

WWE.com: Would the old Shawn Michaels have reacted the same on Friday?

HBK: I would like to think so. I think even I would have been sympathetic of people losing their children. Plus, I didn’t have any life then anyway. So I wouldn’t have been missing anything being on the road.

WWE.com: I also wanted to ask you about your schedule. First it was “one more match at WrestleMania.” Then it was “OK, two more matches.” And then, “OK, definitely no more until WrestleMania.” And now you’re No. 1 in the Royal Rumble! What keeps happening?

HBK: I don’t know. Again, it’s one of those situations. I look at “wrestling a match” as going out there for 20 or 30 minutes and going at it with another guy and trying to put on a performance that demands a lot of effort physically, spiritually (and) mentally on my part. The Rumble is a situation where we have the storyline going with Chris (Jericho) and I. How do you keep it going through the Royal Rumble without being in the Rumble at all? I went out No. 1, but I got eliminated right away. To me, that’s not really wrestling. Anything that adds up to maybe four or five minutes work doesn’t really constitute wrestling to me. To me, that still falls under the guidelines of not wrestling. I like to think, if nothing else, I’ve learned in the 18 years in this business how to be a big, influential, spotlighted thing on the show without doing anything. (Laughs) We call that mileage – getting mileage out of the least amount of effort. That’s the key to my career now. The key to my longevity is to get a lot of mileage out of doing very little. I think the fans, in the back of their minds, understand that I’m not going to do stuff (like I used to) all the time. I like to think they’ve accepted that, and everything they’ve gotten now has been a bonus, as it has been for me and for the company. Again, (WWE officials are) being really cool with me. They’re letting me sort of dictate what I can do and what I can’t do. Everybody understands it and everybody’s willing to work with it.

WWE.com: Maybe the same thing can happen at No Way Out, where you can sort of contribute but not really do too much wrestling.

HBK: Yeah. The storyline we’ve come up with gets us through WrestleMania. And actually I just threw them an idea, through WrestleMania, going into the next pay-per-view. I think in their eyes, they think, “That’s one storyline that we don’t have to think about. Now we can concentrate on these other ones.” As you know, when they’re writing on a weekly basis, it takes a lot of pressure off them when they don’t have to worry about your particular storyline. They have enough guys knocking on their door saying, “What about me?”

WWE.com: Being in the Rumble must bring back some memories for you. HBK: Even lasting in (the ring) a long time, it’s easy to me. You just have to make sure you don’t get hurt from guys rolling around and stuff. It’s ups and downs, it’s fun and easy. It’s all the things that are good about the business – you’re out there for a long time taking a few bumps. But you’ve got enough guys in there to take the spotlight off you – on and off, on and off. Basically, battle royales are pretty simple things to have.

WWE.com: Didn’t you compete in the Royal Rumble once, I think it was in San Antonio, with the flu?

HBK: That was at the Rumble, but it was in a singles match with Sid. Yeah, I had the flu. But it’s not like that’s a big major thing. I went out there with my back. The flu’s nothing compared to that. I was just very skinny. I looked very pale and sick, and I was.

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