WWE.com interview (3/09/04)
Shawn Michaels Returns to the Main Event
Conducted by Brian Solomon

Of all the Superstars on the WWE roster, none has a WrestleMania legacy that stretches back as far as that of the Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels. He made his WrestleMania debut fifteen years ago at WrestleMania V, taking on Akeem & the Big Boss Man as part of the tag team the Rockers with Marty Jannetty. In the years following, heís faced 2004 Hall of Famer Tito Santana, battled Razor Ramon in a historic Ladder Match, and fought for the WWE Championship with Kevin Nash (aka Diesel), Bret ďHit ManĒ Hart and Stone Cold Steve Austin.

This year, heís back on the big stage, headlining WrestleMania once again in a Triple Threat Match with Chris Benoit and World Heavyweight Champion Triple H. Itís his second WrestleMania in a row after spending five years on the shelf due to a serious back injury. Not only that, but itís in Madison Square Garden, where 10 years ago at WrestleMania X, he had that famous Ladder Match with Razor.

ďItís pretty surreal,Ē he told WWE.com backstage at RAW. ďLast yearís comeback at WrestleMania was very neat. I thought WrestleMania XIV was gonna be my last one, and I was fine with that. And then last year to go out with Chris Jericho and have a really great match was just more than I had hoped for my comeback. And now this year, the 20th anniversary, to be in the Garden, to be in the main event for the World Heavyweight Championship....Itís something I never thought would come close to happening. All the stress and anxiety I used to experience being in this spot is not there. Iím getting the opportunity to enjoy it. That means a lot to me. Iím out there with two guys that are awesome at what they do, and Iím looking forward to it. Itís nothing but positives going in.Ē

Rumors abounded for months that HBK would be commemorating the tenth anniversary of his influential Ladder Match with another one at WrestleMania XX. In fact, many assumed that this yearís Triple Threat encounter would indeed be a Ladder Match. Nevertheless, Michaels is far from disappointed that it will not beóin fact, heís relieved.

ďI like that Ladder Match standing on its own,Ē he said. ďWith Razor, I did the second one [at SummerSlam Ď95], and I didnít wanna do that one. Iím not a big sequel guy. I was very happy with the first one. From a nostalgia standpoint, I guess it was on the minds of a lot of people, but as a performer you say, thatís something I already did, I donít wanna go back and revisit it.Ē

Amazingly, the last time Shawn Michaels found himself challenging for a World title at WrestleMania was eight years ago at WrestleMania XII, when he faced Bret Hart in a grueling 60-Minute WWE Iron Man Match that lasted over an hour. On that night, he was successful in winning his first WWE Championship, but that was a long time ago. Despite the passage of time, the four-time former World Champion insists that he still goes into the ring with the same goal he always did.

ďI donít think about things like that,Ē he said. ďI approach everything from a performance standpoint. My performance is whatís most important to me. I never really thought about the other aspects of the match. Those types of things never really enter my mind, itís always, ĎWhat can I do to make this stand out as something different?í Obviously it would be wonderful [to win the World Championship], but being in it for me is the height of my comeback. Iím in WrestleMania XX in the main event.Ē

Which raises an interesting question: Hypothetically speaking, if HBK were to come up short this Sunday, who would he rather see emerge as champion, Triple H or Chris Benoit?

ďIíd have to say Chris Benoit. Just because both Hunter and I have had the chance to experience it already, and he hasnít. Itís an awesome feeling, itís everything that you get into this business to do. To have that moment is awesome. Any time a guy gets to experience that, Iím always really happy for him. And heís worked so hard.Ē

Thereís no question that all three men have worked very hard to get to this spot, at the top of the card on the biggest night of the year, and quite possibly the biggest night in WWE history. Will Michaels make it five World titles? Will Triple H experience a third successful WrestleMania title defense? Or will Benoit finally add a World title to 18 years of ring accolades? The answer will come on Sunday.

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