HBK SHAWN MICHEALS
Hometown: San Antonio, Texas///
Finishing Move: Sweet Chin Music///
Career Highlights: WWE Champion (3); Intercontinental Champion (3); European Champion; Tag Team Champion (3); 1995 and 1996 Royal Rumble winner///
He's one of the most charismatic showmen ever to grace a WWE ring. He was WWE's most resilient champion. Pound-for-pound, he may have been the company's toughest.
If a back injury hadn't cut Shawn Michaels' in-ring career short, there's no telling what the "Heartbreak Kid" would have accomplished. As it was, he accomplished more than anyone at the time. He was the first Grand Slam Champion -- the only competitor to hold every title WWE had to offer then. At 225 pounds, he somehow managed to win the WWE Championship on three occasions, defeating men close to twice his size along the way. One of the keys to his success was that Michaels would put his body on the line. He participated in the first (and, many say, most exciting) Hell in a Cell match, against the Undertaker. There were Ladder Matches. But even in "regular matches" (if there was ever such a thing with Shawn), HBK was intent on being "the Showstoppa, the main-eventer, the icon." It took its toll on his long-term health. Still in his early 30s, when most superstars are hitting their prime, Michaels had to bow out of the spotlight after losing the title to Stone Cold Steve Austin at WrestleMania XIV in March 1998. Soon he had surgery to take away the pain, but officially end his in-ring career, or so it was thought.
But Michaels doesn't necessarily have to lace up the wrestling boots to be an instrumental part of WWE programming. One of the most natural "talkers" in history, he has the ability to rile up fans and fellow superstars simply by grabbing a microphone. Remember, Michaels was one of the founding members of D-Generation X, perhaps the most notorious faction in sports-entertainment history. They had as many memorable moments outside the ring as they did inside the ring. And Michaels remained one of the most popular superstars when he returned on a regular basis in November 1998, even though it was in a non-wrestling capacity as commissioner off WWE. But for a variety of reasons, Michaels resigned as commissioner in 2000, and has been rarely seen by WWE audiences since.
Perhaps the best indication of the impact that HBK made on the business was the reaction he received on June 3, 2002, live on RAW, when he was introduced as the newest members of another controversial faction, the nWo. Fans at the American Airlines Arena cheered because they were happy to see him, or jeered because they were shocked he was joining the nWo. But they were all on their feet, as they seemingly always are when HBK's "Sexy Boy" theme song hits. Now Michaels is back in WWE, again in a non-wrestling capacity. Or is he? Michaels has indicated in interviews that perhaps he has a few more matches left in him. His back is feeling great, he has obviously kept himself in great shape, and he knows he can do it. That's because, after he ceased being an in-ring competitor for WWE, he opened the Shawn Michaels Wrestling Academy in his hometown of San Antonio. Often he would climb in the ring with his students to demonstrate the moves for them; it made him learn that he could still "get it done."
Will Michaels step back in the ring again? Or will he be content to act as the nWo instigator, with his real-life best friends Kevin Nash and X-Pac as his bodyguards? Only time will tell, but the fans will definitely remain standing either way.