WWE.com interview (1/07/05)
Michaels Looks Forward to Elimination Chamber
By Ed Williams III with additional reporting by Anthony Cali

UNIONDALE, NY Ė Shawn Michaels will be the special guest referee in one of the most brutal matches in WWE history with the World Heavyweight Championship on the line. A lot of people would find a lot of pressure in a situation like that, but when the bell rings, and the Elimination Chamber match begins, the real pressure will be on the six competitors battling for the title. All of which, coincidentally, have had run-ins with Michaels in the past. WWE.com recently caught up with HBK to get his thoughts on each Superstar involved.

Michaels is just coming back from a knee injury that he suffered just before Taboo Tuesday. It was during his World Championship match against Triple H that Edge speared Michaels, tacking on an extra six weeks of recovery time, according to Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff. This is something that Michaels obviously hasnít forgotten.

ďMost of this is not my issue with Edge, itís his issue with me,Ē said Michaels. ďHe feels that heís been here a few years and has had a couple of injuries so he has the right to be champion. Itís a situation where I just come from a different era. To me, he hasnít earned it.Ē

The Showstopper has also had his differences with Chris Jericho over the years. In fact, the two had a classic match at WrestleMania XIX. After Michaels defeated Jericho, it looked as the two had formed a respect for each other, but Jericho cheapshotted HBK. Michaels said that since then the two have more or less ironed out their issues, though.

ďChris Jericho and I have gone back and forth over the years and have had a lot of classic battles,Ē said Michaels. ďHe and I have been in every one of these chamber matches, and I think Chris will go in there and do what he always does and thatís give his best effort. I respect that about him.Ē

While Elimination Chamber matches are known for their brutality, the addition of Batista into the mix makes things that much more volatile.

ďObviously, Batista is a guy that you donít want to provoke,Ē said Michaels. ďGetting smacked around by Batista is not my lifelong dream, but I will take care of myself in a situation if I have to. I think every guy in here should be more concerned with the World Heavyweight Championship than with me. But especially with Batista, unless Iím really pushed into a corner, Iíll let him do just about whatever he wants.Ē

Then thereís Chris Benoit. Benoit enjoyed a remarkable year in 2004 and it was highlighted by his first World Heavyweight Championship win where he defeated Triple H and HBK in a Triple Threat match, making The Game tap out. He defended the title one month later at Backlash in a rematch and made HBK tap, so Michaels is no stranger to Benoit.

ďI donít have a problem admitting that someone is better than me on a given night,Ē said the Showstopper. ďI respect Chris Benoit. Do I think heís better than me, though? As a whole, no, but thatís irrelevant. Iím sure he doesnít think Iím as good as he is. And thatís how you have to think. We as athletes and competitors have to believe in ourselves. Thatís part of what drives you. Benoit is a guy thatís focused. He is a guy thatís disciplined. Heís sort of what Iíd call a sleeper in this match. Heís all business and heís ready to go all the time. If the other guys in this match arenít focused, heís the one you have to look out for because he will be.Ē

At Unforgiven in 2003, Randy Orton defeated Michaels in a Legend vs. Legend Killer match. Michaels hasnít forgotten about what went down that night, but he also doesnít think that it will affect the way he referees the match this Sunday.

ďHe got one over on me,Ē said HBK. ďI admit, it happens. But I donít think heís better than me at all. When youíre beaten by somebody you donít think is in your league, it doesnít bother you that much. You know itís something you that you did. The reason I got beat in that match was nobodyís fault but mine. Thatís not to take anything away from Randy. I think he has a bright future. I think heís a having a little trouble staying focused. Heís got Triple H on the mind and thatís understandable. Iíve been there and done that. He just needs to learn some discipline. This match will be a good growing process for him. Itís a brutal match and itís a kind of match that can help you mature. It gives you a feeling of what being successful in the WWE will take.Ē

And lastly, the final participant in the Elimination Chamber at New Yearís Revolution will be HBKís arch nemesis, Triple H. These two Superstars have gone through epic wars over the years, and after so many battles and with so much history, you never know what will happen when they are both in the same ring.

ďThe Triple H and Shawn Michaels story or saga or whatever you want to call it is pretty self explanatory,Ē he said. ďEverybodyís seen it. Everybody understands it. And it will never go away. Underneath all of it, there is a certain amount of respect and admiration for one another, but what drives that respect and admiration is that both of us believe weíre the very best in this line of work. They say thereís a fine line between love and hate, and thatís where weíre at all the time. Itís not even an ego thing. Itís beyond that. Itís something that just is, and itís something that will always be, and it will never go away.Ē

Michaels holds the very fate of the World Heavyweight Championship in his own two hands. With Michaels almost fully recovered from knee surgery, it would make sense for him to try and crown a champion that he would soon like to face to try and win the title for himself.

ďWho I want to be champion is whoever is the best,Ē said Michaels. ďThat belt and this company needs to be represented by the best and the best at the complete package. In a match like this, sometimes the toughest guy will win. But being the toughest doesnít mean youíre the best. Being tough is just part of it. I want the best guy to win and I think that will happen this Sunday.Ē

Regardless of who wins, it all comes back to pressure. But just as he said earlier, even though the fate of the World Heavyweight Championship lies in his hands, the Showstopper doesnít feel any.

ďPressure just isnít something that I feel anymore,Ē he said. ďIíve been in enough high-profile matches and situations that it doesnít bother me. The fans give me a pass on a lot of stuff now that they wouldnít allow others. Now other guys are under that pressure. Iíve delivered to them enough that they sometimes give me that pass. Iíve had nights where I felt it was an off night, but the fans sometimes think otherwise. It makes it a lot easier for me. I used to beat myself up over stuff like that. Since Iíve come back a couple years ago, the fans kind of say to themselves that anything heís doing now is extra, fun and cool.Ē

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