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Thread: The Main Event Vol. 80 - I Didn't Know Who Shawn Michaels Was

  1. #1
    Weed General D.O.N's Avatar
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    The Main Event Vol. 80 - I Didn't Know Who Shawn Michaels Was

    When you are a true wrestling fan there comes a point where certain wrestlers you just have to know. Wrestlers that make up the foundation of whichever wrestling company you are most interested in watching. And not knowing this wrestlers just seem out of place and uncharacteristic of a bonafide wrestling fan. I can't remember when exactly I started watching wrestling but I know for sure it was around mid-2001. Becoming a fan at that time clearly meant that I've missed the Golden Era, the New Generation and the Attitude Era. On top of that, I had no idea LOP even existed; so to say I was out of the loop would be an understatement.

    Then, in the second half of 2002 a certain wrestler showed up. And judging from how the crowd responded to him it was clear to even my untrained self that this guy was supposed to be important for some reason. The way the commentators were swooning over him and the references they made reassured me that he must have been a big deal back in the day; but for the life of me I couldn't find out why. And why did HHH know this guy named Shawn Michaels? That's what they called him and it was made to look like every wrestling fan was automatically supposed to know who the guy was.

    But yet, I didn't know who Shawn Michaels was.

    But man, would I get to know him...

    When HHH turned on Michaels I was flabbergasted. I thought they were such good friends and I couldn't understand why HHH would turn on somebody that he told the world he was happy to see back. And even though HHH explained why he did what he did I still didn't understand; and that was because I had no idea the history these two men shared with each other. What the fuck was a DX? And why were commentators making like Shawn Michaels will be risking his life if he steps into the ring with HHH? I just didn't know what all the hype surrounding this guy was about.

    The HHH feud came and went and Michaels moved on to face different opponents. And it was during this time that they only truly started to realise what the hype was all about. I saw what he was capable of in the ring and I gained an immense appreciation for his craft. And even though I didn't know what a “bump” was I could appreciate that the wrestlers beating him up looked really good doing it, even a guy who I thought sucked when Michaels made Batista look good at Armageddon '03. And when he made his comeback in matches it always got the crowd in a frenzy.

    Is this why his return was such a big deal? Because he was a fantastic wrestler who gave it all in the ring? Because he announced himself as a good guy who openly praised his newfound Christian faith? Why would someone talk so much about his faith? Was he going for a preacher or something? Little did I know why he was so deep into his Christian faith, but I would certainly come to know why in due time. And what I found out was shocking to say the least; mainly because the guy that I first saw return in 2002 couldn't have possibly been THAT guy, could he?

    It was in 2005 when I finally came across Lords of Pain, and to say my wrestling fandom wouldn't be the same again is an understatement. It was on this very website that I read a column about Shawn Michaels' turbulent history. I cannot remember the name of the column, nor can I remember the name of the columnist who wrote it; but that column was the definition of an eye-opener for me. The column showcased his destructive behaviour and what an asshole he was. Reading that column and watching the man that was on my TV screen every week was confusing. I couldn't picture those two completely different people as the same person.

    Nevertheless, I did more research. I found out a great many things. I found out about the theories regarding Shawn Michaels “losing his smile”. I found out about the Montreal Screwjob. I found out about Shawn Michaels' career-ending injury. I basically found out everything about his career from when he started. All of the career-defining moments that he had as well as all of his selfish tendencies. I found about his greatest matches and his real-life feud with Bret Hart and so, so much more. Finally everything started to fall into place. Finally the hype of his return made sense.

    Finally I knew who Shawn Michaels was.

    And finally knowing his tumultuous history in the business and how shitty he treated people really made me have even more appreciation for Shawn Michaels. And, besides appreciation, respect as well. I garnered a massive amount of appreciation for Shawn Micheals the wrestler: the wrestler who was great in the ring during his initial run and came back better than he ever was before. The wrestler who came back and wrestled classic after classic after doctors told him that he would never wrestle again. But more importantly I gained a huge amount of respect for Shawn Michaels the man: the man who turned his entire life around by becoming a born-again Christian. The man who changed everyone's perception of him by showing that he could, in fact, be a good person.

    No longer was Shawn Michaels selfish. He didn't care if he was in the main event or carrying any titles. All he was there to do was to put other wrestlers over by making them look good. All he cared about was enhancing his legacy as arguably the best wrestler of all time. It's hard to argue against Shawn Michael's bouts when you pit his resume of classic matches against any others. In fact, I would almost dare someone to show me a wrestler who has had more classics than Shawn Michaels. HBK was not called “Mr. Wrestlemania” for nothing.

    This column serves as an ode to the career of Shawn Michaels. But moreso, it's to celebrate the inspiration that is Michael Hickenbottom. To turn ones life around so profoundly is no easy task my friends. But yet, a man as hated (for good reason) as he was, was able to do so. Perhaps Shawn Michaels will “tune up the band” at Wrestlemania one day. But for now you can just fire up the WWE network and enjoy some “Sweet Chin Music”.

  2. #2
    The Brain
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    Ah, there's nothing quite like being a fresh faced, newly minted wrestling fans. I invested so heavily in the first batch of guys I saw when watching wrestling in 2003. It was amazing to me when Brock Lesnar turned on Kurt Angle and joined with Vince, though a seasoned fan could probably see it coming a mile away (though that story was put together pretty well, even looking back). Everything seemed so significant, even Jamie Noble and Billy Gunn feuding over the services of Torrie Wilson. I didn't like guys like Kurt Angle and Chris Jericho because, like you, I didn't even really know what they were. It took me ages to forgive Eddie Guerrero for putting Tajiri through a lowrider windshield, a moment hardly remembered by most that didn't even succeed in turning the man heel because he was so popular. It's really amazing what context can do, isn't it?

    Liked this one too Don, another quick off-the-cuff column that I think will resonate with a lot of people, thinking way back on their early impressions of certain wrestlers or storylines.

  3. #3
    Junior Member 205 Clive's Avatar
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    This was a good read. Almost like an alcoholic finally speaking for the first time at a meeting! There is no shame in not knowing who he was at the time. If you don't know something or someone, you don't know it - simple as that! It reminds me of when people say "GASP, you haven't seen *insert famous most popular film in the universe here* ???".

    I knew who HBK was but I wasn't an avid viewer of the product until 1999, so missed his first run entirely. I would of course come across his earlier work over the years, but by gum was I impressed with what I got in 2002 onwards. His gruelling encounters with HHH, his first feud with Jericho in 2003 (underrated feud and amazing match). I could go on and on, but you get the gist. If asked point blank who is in my top 5 of all time he would be on that list no problem.

    @Mizfan - I used to DESPISE Kurt Angle. Who did this guy think he was???!!! Milk drinking goody two-shoes beating the Mount Rushmore of the Attitude Era in a fucking Hell in a Cell match? All at the same time? I was sickened. However once I took my kayfabe glasses off and learned more about the booking etc, he very quickly became a firm favourite.

  4. #4
    Junior Member Heartbreak Chick's Avatar
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    Shawn Michaels IMHO is GOAT! I followed his career since he was part of the Rockers. I remember watching as it aired live when he turned on his partner Marty Jannety. I remember the first time he walked out to the ring with his signature theme music, Sherri version and his own. I remember seeing him at a house show in 1997 and me grabbing his arm as he walked by. I didn’t release his arm as he passed and he almost fell down lol. He’s my all time favorite! The reason why I go by Heartbreak Chick!

  5. #5
    Well, this column hits close to him with me. Shawn Michaels is my absolute favorite wrestler of all time. I wrote a column about him on these very pages and how his turnaround was so amazing. As a Christian myself, I can't help but be enamored with the transformation his life took when he found God. Regardless of anyone's opinions of Christianity, you have no choice but to take his heart change very serious. This was a guy who should be dead like many wrestlers before him. Thank God for HB-shizzle!

    Thank you for writing, nice read!

  6. #6
    Senior Member SirSam's Avatar
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    At the risk of turning Lords of Pain into a Bible Study I would also like to comment on his faith.

    I think one of the things I love about HBK was how open he was about his faith when he came back. I mean he had Philippians 4:13 on his shirt when he came back in. His change was pretty fundamental as well and really a great example of how you can live out your faith on a big stage. It would be hard for a wrestler to do it publicly and in character because you would be really putting yourself into a corner booking wise if you want to be genuine about your faith and not turn it into a gimmick.

    As good as HBK was in ring before he left I think he matched it and potentially even surpassed it when he got back, he may not have been quite as athletic but he has one of the greatest minds ever for putting together a match and when he came back that mind was clear for the first time so he was able to just tear it up. The way he helped Edge, Orton and Cena build off him and benefit from his name and in ring talent was fantastic and what more can be said about his just unmatchable streak of Mania matches.

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  7. #7
    Nice column.

    Thing is, this issue isn't just related to Shawn Michaels. It's related to any & every surprise return WWE do. The more time goes on, the less value a comeback has because more & more people will be in your situation and won't know who this guy is that we're supposed to be welcoming back.

    For me, the biggest one(s) were when the WCW & subsequent ECW invasion happened. Living in the UK, I hadn't seen any WCW (think it may have been aired, but I never saw it) and I'd never even heard of ECW. I certainly didn't know any of the people who formed the invasions. Same goes for the likes of Chris Jericho & the Radicals when they came across. Not a clue who they were.

    Thing is, WWE relies on us to remember these people (even though it relies on us to conveniently forget past storylines at random). When Diesel made his Rumble comeback, I marked out for it. Trouble is, only about half the crowd seemed to know who he was. Sooner or later, that happens with all WWE's biggest possible names, and it's going to be a big issue because arguably the only star they've made for the past 15 years has been John Cena.

    Who is going to be doing those surprise comebacks for the next 10 years?

    They don't have many options left....

  8. #8
    Weed General D.O.N's Avatar
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    @Mizzie - Yeah man, context is vital to attachment. Just like you, I was also hooked onto the first few guys I saw in WWE. The very first person I actually remember seeing is Steve Austin and I became a huge fan of him, but for the life of me I couldn't find out why. He just drew me into whatever he was doing at the time and I was really disappointed when he took his ball and went home, but I digress.

    I'm glad you enjoyed this Mizzie. It's always funny how your first impressions of wrestling changes over the years.


    @205 Clive - You're right man. But I can't help thinking that if I was a writer back then and I had to say I didn't know who Shawn Michaels was I would have probably be burnt at the stake!

    Shawn Michaels certainly is top 5. It's arguable that his body of work in his original run put him into the top ten. But it's the second half of his career that really propelled him into one of the best ever.


    @HBC - There is definitely a case to be made for Shawn Michaels being GOAT. There are only a certain few wrestlers who people won't argue with when it comes to being GOAT and he's definitely one of them. Also, sounds like you had an awesome moment at that house show.


    @Typo - I'm sure aren't alone in your fandom of Shawn Michaels. But one thing everybody has to admire was how he was able to turn his life around so drastically. That is no easy feat and despite him looking like he handled it well it cannot be argued that there must have been times when he was fighting hard to prevent himself from falling back into that life. Glad you enjoyed, man.


    @Sam - Totally agree with the fact that it must have been difficult to not have his newfound faith (and being open about it) seem like a gimmick. But he laid it all out because he was proud to have overcome his demons and you could see that he found peace with what he did in the past.

    Shawn Michaels knew just how to tell a story in the ring and get the fans totally invested in his matches. That, in my opinion, was probably his biggest assets. But his second run though, even without titles that was the stuff of legends.


    @DB - That is a fantastic point that you make there. It might be deceiving since Goldberg got such a huge pop but think about how many kids really didn't know who the fuck he was. It was mostly older fans that were cheering for him.

    This is going to sound crazy to say, but it might be possible that in 15 years time only a select few would be able to say that they know who John Cena is. Well his becoming a movie star so he'll be famous, but I think you get the point. The only return that would generate a significant amount of buzz would be that of CM Punk, and perhaps an in ring return for Daniel Bryan.


    Thank you to everyone for reading and feeding.

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