Whether you know him as the Showstopper, the Main Event or the Heartbreak Kid,
Shawn Michaels is one of the most successful Superstars in WWE history. Throughout a nearly 20-year career
in WWE, HBK has done it all, from winning the Royal Rumble to being a multiple-time WWE Champion. Never one to back down from
a challenge no matter the odds, HBK has shown that he is one of the most dedicated and courageous WWE Superstars to ever grace
the ring; he is unanimously considered one of the greatest wrestlers to ever compete and has become one of the cornerstones
Michaels track record speaks for itself, as he has accumulated enough hardware to make just about any WWE Superstar jealous.
Michaels was the first-ever Grand Slam Champion, capturing the European Championship once, the World Tag Team Championship
three times, the Intercontinental Championship three times and the WWE and World Heavyweight Championships a total of four
However, his success didn’t happen overnight. HBK knew he wanted to be a professional wrestler since he was 12 years
old, when he saw his first match. Michaels athletic career began at age six when he started playing football, and he eventually
became a stand-out linebacker and a captain on his high school team. After graduating, he attended Southwest Texas State University,
but soon realized that college wasn‘t the path he wanted to follow. Michaels thought it was time to begin chasing his
dream of becoming a WWE Superstar.
HBK began his training under the tutelage of Jose Lothario. After a few months of training, Lothario felt that his protégé
was ready for some in-ring action, and two weeks after his 19th birthday, HBK had his first match with Mid-South Wrestling
against Art Cruz. He lost his debut match, but he improved in his second match, wrestling to a time-limit draw, and then won
his third match. After a stop in Kansas City, Michaels was headed back to his home state to Texas All-Star Wrestling.
It was there that he teamed up with Paul Diamond to make up the team of American Force. The combination was a successful
one, as they were able to capture the Texas All-Star Tag Team Championships twice. After about three months, Michaels headed
to the American Wrestling Alliance (AWA) with a friend he had met in Kansas City. That friend was Marty Jannetty, who went
on to become HBK’s tag team partner. The duo was dubbed the Midnight Rockers.
They quickly became one of the hottest teams in the AWA, catching the eye of WWE, who invited the Midnight Rockers to a
live event for a tryout. WWE officials felt they were a bit too immature at that time, so the Midnight Rockers headed back
to the AWA. However, WWE hadn‘t heard the last of Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty.
While back in the AWA, the Midnight Rockers captured the Southern Tag Team Championship twice and won the AWA Tag Team
Championship for a second time. All of the hardware the Midnight Rockers had been sporting again caught the eye of those with
WWE, and this time Michaels and Jannetty made the most of it. They both signed contracts, dropped the “Midnight”
from their name, and The Rockers were born.
Because of their high-flying abilities and boyish good looks, The Rockers became an instant hit with both male and female
fans of all ages. They made their pay-per-view debut at the 1988 Survivor Series, as they successfully teamed with The Powers
of Pain, The Young Stallions, The Hart Foundation and the British Bulldogs. After making their Royal Rumble debut in 1989,
the two had a classic encounter with the Twin Towers (Big Boss Man and “The African Dream” Akeem) at WrestleMania
V. Their mammoth opponents proved to be just too big to handle, but the high-flyers kept the giants off balance almost the
entire match � making all other teams take immediate notice of their potential.
In 1990, the Rockers earned themselves a Tag Team Championship match against the Hart Foundation. The Rockers came out
on top, but during the match, the top rope buckled. Days after the match, it was ruled that since the rope had broken, the
match as invalid, and the titles were returned to the Hart Foundation. This was the only time the Rockers would approach tag
team gold in WWE.
The Rockers were back in Survivor Series in 1991, teaming up with the Bushwhackers against The Nasty Boys and The Beverly
Brothers. After a mistake by Jannetty caused Michaels to be eliminated, HBK walked out on his partner, later explaining his
actions by saying that he had been carrying the team and was fed up. A couple months later, the two met on a segment of Brutus
Beefcake’s “Barber Shop” to try to iron out their differences. Just when it appeared that the Rockers were
back together, Michaels superkicked Jannetty and threw him headfirst through one of the Shop’s glass windows. The Rockers
were no more.
The breakup of the Rockers was the end of a successful tag team career for Michaels, but it also meant the birth of a singles
career that would propel The Showstopper to new heights. Michaels promptly added Sensational Sherri as his manager, and on
Oct. 27, 1992, he dethroned the British Bulldog to become Intercontinental Champion. By the time the Royal Rumble rolled around
in January 1993, Jannetty was fully recovered and had revenge on his mind. The two squared off at the pay-per-view, and during
the match Jannetty was about to smash a mirror over HBK’s head. Instead, Michaels shoved Sherri in front of him, allowing
her to take the full brunt of the mirror’s impact. Even though Michaels retained the title, Sherri left him for Jannetty
based on the incident.
After losing Sherri, Michaels had a void to fill by his side. Instead of going for an attractive and cunning sidekick,
HBK employed the services of Diesel, a man who epitomized brute force. Michaels was forced to give up his Intercontinental
Championship because he had not defended it within 30 days, but at WrestleMania X, Michaels returned and faced Razor Ramon
in the first-ever pay-per-view Ladder Match for the championship, a match that is still talked about today as one of the greatest
WrestleMania matches of all time. After brutalizing each other with innovative moves that had never been seen before, Razor
Ramon came out on top.
Nevertheless, the Showstopper wouldn’t let himself stay down for long. Michaels and Diesel picked off the Headshrinkers
for the World Tag Team Championship, Michaels’ first tag team championship reign. However, HBK abandoned the titles
at Survivor Series that November after an argument with Diesel, and went back to focusing on his singles career.
And what better way to get back into the WWE Championship hunt than make a big splash at the Royal Rumble. In 1995, Michaels
entered the January classic at No. 1. It seemed like he was merely being thrown to the dogs at such a number, as no one had
ever won after being the first participant. HBK was out to make history, but the British Bulldog had the same thoughts on
his mind. Bulldog entered at No. 2, and just as he and Michaels stood alone in the ring at the beginning of the match, it
was the same pair going toe to toe at the end of the match. After gaining the upper hand, the Bulldog clotheslined Michaels
over the top rope, but only one of his feet touched the floor. Thinking that the win was his, Bulldog turned his back on Michaels
and began his victory celebration. Michaels snuck back into the ring and knocked out the unsuspecting Bulldog to win his first
Michaels went on to WrestleMania to compete for the WWE Championship, but his former bodyguard Diesel was able to retain.
After a couple of months at each other�s throats, the pair patched up their differences and moved on. HBK went on to
defeat Jeff Jarrett for his third Intercontinental Championship but was challenged soon after by a familiar foe: Razor Ramon.
After their historic battle at WrestleMania X, there was only one-way to settle the score: with another Ladder Match. So,
the two hooked up for their second Ladder Match at SummerSlam. Learning from his past mistakes, HBK came out on top and retained
his title in another classic match that arguably was even more brutal than the first.
Due to injuries, Michaels was forced to vacate the championship once again after not defending within the mandatory 30
days. He would rebound with a vengeance, however, winning the Royal Rumble for a second straight year. The win earned him
a WWE Championship shot at WrestleMania XII against the “Excellence of Execution” Bret Hart, and the two met in
a 60-minute WWE Iron Man Match that stole the show. The goal was to score the most pinfalls or submissions in the allotted
time, but these two WWE Superstars put forth such gutsy performances that neither competitor had notched a win in the entire
60 minutes. Hart had Michaels in the center of the ring trapped in the Sharpshooter with seconds remaining, but HBK was able
to suck it up until the bell rang. President Gorilla Monsoon made his way down to ringside and informed the referee to restart
the match and continue under sudden death rules. After Hart had worked on HBK’s back, Michaels came from nowhere to
hit Sweet Chin Music. Too tired to capitalize, Michaels got up and cued up the band one more time, which was finally enough
to win his first-ever WWE Championship.
There was no rest for the weary, however, as Michaels had to start defending his championship right away. HBK proved to
be one of the fightingest champions in history, as he defeated the likes of Diesel, British Bulldog, Vader, Mankind and Goldust.
Michaels’ reign had to end sometime, and it was another of Shawn’s former bodyguards, Sycho Sid, who dethroned
the champ at Survivor Series 1996. With the ref knocked out, Sid commandeered a television camera and hit Michaels over the
head with it, then powerbombed him for the win.
Michaels regrouped, though, and again learned from his mistakes. In a rematch at the 1997 Royal Rumble, HBK used a trick
from Sid’s playbook, using a television camera to knock down his giant foe. The camera wasn’t enough as Sid kicked
out at two, but Michaels laid him out with Sweet Chin Music for the win. The reign only lasted a few weeks, however; just
as Michaels had to forfeit his Intercontinental Championship without defeat, he relinquished the WWE Championship after claiming
to have “lost his smile.”
After months of searching, HBK returned to WWE and formed an unlikely pairing with Stone Cold Steve Austin. Although the
two shared a hatred for each other, they also shared a hatred for the Hart Foundation. They put their differences aside and
went out to fight for their common goal, and it led to the Showstopper’s second World Tag Team Championship reign. After
their relationship deteriorated, Michaels turned to people he thought he could trust, and what happened next revolutionized
Michaels paired up with Triple H and Chyna to form D-Generation X, a group that defied authority and marched to the beat
of their own drum. They employed the use of vulgarity and obscene gestures and spit in the face of those that tried to stop
them. On Sept. 20, 1997, Michaels defeated the British Bulldog for the European Championship, which in turn made him the first-ever
winner of the Grand Slam.
After basically handing the European Championship to Triple H in a farce of a match, Michaels was once again focused on
the WWE Championship. Little did Michaels know, though, that to become the No. 1 Contender for Bret Hart’s WWE Championship,
he would have to travel to hell and back, Hell in a Cell, that is. HBK faced Undertaker at Bad Blood in the first ever Hell
in a Cell Match. Michaels was beaten to a bloody mess, but he tried to stay strong. At one point, he was thrown off the side
of the cage into an announce table, and things were not looking very good. Just then, Undertaker’s brother Kane made
his WWE debut and obliterated the Deadman. Michaels, barely able to pull himself up, was able to take advantage and make the
That gave HBK the right to go on to Survivor Series to face Bret Hart in “The Montreal Incident”, one of the
most controversial matches in WWE history. After another grueling battle with his familiar opponent, Michaels locked in Bret’s
finishing move, the Sharpshooter. Earl Hebner, who was officiating the match, inexplicably called for the bell, even though
it appeared as though Bret had not given up. A confused Michaels took the belt and quickly exited to the back with his third
WWE Championship, while Hart fumed in the ring.
Michaels’ highly successful WWE career was in jeopardy following the 1998 Royal Rumble, where HBK squared off against
Undertaker in a Casket Match. During the match, Michaels landed awkwardly on the casket and severely injured his back. Barely
able to move and again with the help of Kane, Michaels was able to retain his title. Michaels refused to let the injury take
him out, though, and he moved on to WrestleMania XIV where he faced Stone Cold, with “Iron” Mike Tyson as the
special enforcer. Michaels, who was visibly in pain the entire match, put forth a gutsy performance, but in the end it wasn’t
enough to win. The match was thought to have been his last ever, as he required what many thought was career-ending back surgery.
But nothing can keep the Showstopper down forever. Michaels returned to Raw on June 3, 2002, as the newest member of the
nWo. Soon after joining, though, Vince McMahon disbanded the group and Michaels was back on his own. He convinced Triple H
to join him on Raw, and when the two got back together, Triple H encouraged Michaels to re-form D-X. However, when Michaels
was about to put on an old D-X shirt, Triple H pedigreed his former friend. The following week, an unknown assailant threw
Michaels through a car window. Security footage, however, revealed that it was the work of Triple H, who was afraid that Michaels
was going to steal the spotlight away from him. This kicked off what has been, arguably, the most vicious rivalry WWE fans
have ever seen.
Their first encounter came at SummerSlam in a Street Fight. WWE fans everywhere were wondering if Michaels would be able
to go back to his high-flying and daredevil ways, but he would answer those questions rather quickly. Michaels was flying
around the ring and even used an elbow smash off a ladder and a plancha through a table. In the end, he was able to reverse
a Pedigree attempt for the pin. After the match, Triple H took out Michaels with a sledgehammer, signifying that the battle
had indeed just begun.
At Survivor Series, Michaels and Triple H participated in the first ever Elimination Chamber Match, with HBK coming out
on top to win the World Heavyweight Championship from his sworn enemy.
The rivalry went to another level at Armageddon. The two Superstars went at it in a best two-out-of-three falls match,
but there was a catch. The first match was a Street Fight, the second match was a Steel Cage Match and the third was a Ladder
Latch � the same match that HBK made famous. Triple H took the first fall in the Street Fight; HBK won the Cage Match,
but Triple H was able to beat Michaels at his own game in the Ladder Match to take back the World Heavyweight Championship.
Triple H and Michaels took a break from each other after that, but HBK was brutally attacked by Chris Jericho on an edition
of Raw on March 3. The beating led to a classic match at WrestleMania XIX. The two shared similar styles, and while Jericho
had youth on his side, Michaels was able pull out the victory. After the match, Jericho gave Michaels a hug, but it was a
ploy as he nailed him with a low-blow.
Michaels then turned his trust towards Ric Flair in a Handicap Match against Triple H, but it proved to be a poor judgment.
Flair turned on Michaels as Evolution re-formed and beat down Michaels. Flair and Orton followed the beating up with singles
victories, but Michaels bounced back with wins over Orton and Batista and then went to a draw with Triple H in a Last Man
Standing Match at the Royal Rumble 2004.
Chris Benoit won the Rumble Match that same night, earning him a shot at Triple H�s World Heavyweight Championship.
Michaels, however, wanted Triple H all for himself. During Benoit’s contract signing, Michaels knocked Benoit out and
signed his own name to the contract. To clear up the controversy, a Triple Threat Match was signed for WrestleMania XX. The
match went on to become one of the greatest main events in WrestleMania history, but Benoit came out on top. The three met
up again one month later, but the result was the same. The two matches weren’t enough to put their rivalry to rest,
Triple H again faced Michaels at Bad Blood in a bloody, 45-minute Hell in a Cell Match. Triple H ultimately managed two
Pedigrees in a row for the win. The following night on Raw, Jim Ross tried to get the two to bury the hatchet, but Kane who
brutally attacked Michaels unceremoniously interrupted the meeting. Kane placed Michael’s throat in a folding a chair
and then stomped on it off the ropes, crushing HBK�s larynx in the process.
Michaels returned Sept. 12 at Unforgiven and won a No-Disqualification Match over Kane, gaining his revenge. One month
later, Michaels beat out Edge and Benoit in fan voting at Taboo Tuesday to win a shot at Triple H�s World Heavyweight
Championship one more time. Unfortunately, the night before Taboo Tuesday on Raw, Michaels severely injured his knee. Barely
able to move, Michaels still made it out for his match at Taboo Tuesday and put forth a valiant effort. Just when Michaels
had Triple H lined up for �Sweet Chin Music, � Edge, who was jealous he didn’t receive the opportunity,
appeared and speared The Showstopper. Michaels lost, and went in for knee surgery the next day.
Michaels miraculously appeared on the next edition of Raw with a message of appreciation for the WWE fans. Upon his return,
he sought out Edge for retribution. After facing Edge at the Royal Rumble, Michaels was attacked by Kurt Angle, kicking off
the rivalry that continued throughout 2005.
The two former champions met up for the first time ever in a dream match at WrestleMania 21. They performed a clinic that
has become a standout WrestleMania moment, with Angle making the Showstopper tap out to the vicious Ankle Lock. Fans thought
this classic was a once in a lifetime match; Angle was on SmackDown and Michaels was on Raw, so the odds of them meeting up
again were slim to none. However, once Angle was drafted to Raw in the 2005 Draft Lottery, the rematch was inevitable, and
the two went at it again at Vengeance. It was thought to be impossible to live up to their classic at WrestleMania, but they
defied the odds. In another epic clash, HBK was able to even the score at 1-1 when he knocked Angle out with Sweet Chin Music
for the win. With the rivalry tied, a rubber match was sure to be right around the corner.
First, Shawn Michaels wanted to give back to the fans with another dream match. He shocked everyone with the kick heard
�round the world when he turned on tag team partner Hulk Hogan, leveling the Hall of Famer with Sweet Chin Music. The
fans wanted �one more match� from the Hulkster, so HBK gave Hogan the incentive to give the fans just that.
The two met up in an unforgettable showdown at SummerSlam, but no matter what Michaels did, he couldn’t overcome the
Immortal one. In the end, a defeated Michaels buried the hatchet with the Hulkster, shaking his hand in the ring.
Weeks later, when Angle was demanding a second shot at John Cena�s WWE Championship; Shawn Michaels took exception
and said that he wanted a shot at the gold as well. Mr. McMahon, who was on hand at RAW for a special announcement, said that
they could make their cases for a title shot in a 30-Minute WWE Iron Man Match at WWE Homecoming. Once again, the fans were
treated to an instant classic. However, as Michaels had Angle pinned following Sweet Chin Music, the time limit expired with
both combatants having won two falls apiece. HBK offered to go into sudden death, but Angle refused and simply walked away,
leaving the match as a draw.
HBK & Angle would meet again at Taboo Tuesday, as HBK won the fans� vote to face Angle & John Cena in a
Triple Threat Match for the WWE Championship. HBK was unable to walk away with the gold that night, but soon found himself
in an even bigger role: captain of Team Raw at Survivor Series. As for his rivalry with Angle, Michaels would eventually win
the rubber match with in January before Angle departed for SmackDown.
Following Raw�s loss to SmackDown at Survivor Series, Michaels turned his sights back to the WWE Championship, qualifying
for the Elimination Chamber Match at New Year’s Revolution. However, he made what may be the biggest mistake of his
career on the night after Christmas 2005, when he told Mr. McMahon to get over the Montreal Incident.
After that, McMahon promised to screw HBK worse than Bret Hart had ever been screwed. After threatening to take him out
of the Elimination Chamber and even banning Sweet Chin Music during a match, McMahon got his biggest victory at the Royal
Rumble, when Shane McMahon made a shocking return and eliminated HBK from the Royal Rumble Match. That turned out to be only
the first salvo in a war that has gone on throughout 2006.
During a match against the Spirit Squad on the May 22 Raw, Shawn Michaels suffered a knee injury that kept him out of action
for a few weeks. That night, Michaels took on all five members of the Spirit Squad in the main event. It seemed like he might
overcome the odds once again, but as he tried to nail Nicky with Sweet Chin Music, he instead met a chair right to the knee.
The Squad then viciously went after the knee, with Kenny driving the final spike when he dropped a guillotine legdrop on HBK's
leg while it was wedged inside a steel chair. Mr. McMahon even had Triple H on hand that night to finish HBK off with a sledgehammer,
but Michaels was spared; when Kenny stole the weapon from The Game to do it himself, Triple H instead attacked the World Tag
Team Champions. Unfortunately for HBK, the damage had already been done.