The label G.O.A.T. seems fitting when looking back at the career of the Heart Break Kid Shawn Michaels. He started off with the company as a mid-card Tag Team wrestler and later captured the imaginations of millions, diving off the top of the ladder at WrestleMania X. This was only a sign of things to come from The Showstopper.
His career continued as such in the ring during the 90s becoming the face of the company. In the ring, Shawn seemed untouchable. Unfortunately, the same could not be said outside of it. HBK was spiraling addicted to the party life and infusing his body with drugs. As Shawn stated, his only happy place was in the ring in front of the audience doing what he did best.
He would return to the WWE as an in-ring performer after a four year hiatus in 2002 and completely altered the impression he left on fans. This Michaels was humble outside of the ring but continued to deliver in it, a perfect blend. He was labelled as Mr. WrestleMania and furthered his label as the greatest of all-time before his retirement in 2010.
In this article, we take a look at both sides of the fence with pictures the WWE doesn’t want you to see of HBK and some moments that they wouldn’t mind you seeing again once more. So without further ado, let us begin and take a look at eight pictures the WWE doesn’t want you to see of Shawn Michaels and seven they do. Enjoy!
15. Don’t: His Angry Days
During the mid 90s, HBK was at the absolute top of the wrestling world. In the ring, he seemed untouchable as the poster boy for the new era of the WWE which catered towards smaller skilled wrestlers. Michaels would also help to transition the company into edgier content with his role in the faction Degeneration-X that finally rivaled WCW’s nWo.
Although no wrestler could have held a candle to HBK, outside the ring his life was crumbling. Alongside his Kliq buddies, Michaels loved the wild life away from the ring and it caused some regrettable situations that included lots and lots of drugs. During that time period, Michaels was not himself and quite arrogant with others, whether it was fellow employees or even fans, as you see in this picture with Shawn looking rather uninterested to say the least. With a nagging back injury and simply being burned out, HBK left the company in 98’ on a quest to find himself once again.
14. Do: The Barber Shop Incident
Whether it be through the WWE Network or on a live WWE show, this moment is often documented as Shawn’s official coming out party as a Superstar in the WWE. His journey with the company began as a member of The Rockers in the Tag Team Division. Michaels, alongside Jannetty, grew popular with their unique style and athleticism. The duo took the AWA by storm and later joined the WWE.
Although The Rockers had some success, the company saw a brighter future with HBK playing the role of a singles star. On December 2nd, 1991, the plan was put in place and Shawn turned on his partner by hitting some Sweet Chin Music and ramming his former partner’s head into the Barber Show glass window. The moment will forever live in WWE history as the day Shawn Michaels officially began his journey to the top of the mountain as a singles star.
13. Don’t: His 1998 Departure
This moment was truly bittersweet for the WWE. On one hand, it was the birth of a new era and new star being thrust into the forefront, as Steve Austin was the new WWE Champion. On the other hand, it was also the end of Shawn Michaels as he would leave the company. At the time, many thought that would be his final match.
The overworked Shawn Michaels began to slow down in 1997 with several nagging injuries. Things went from bad to worse at the 1998 Royal Rumble when Shawn suffered the worst injury of his career. During a casket match against The Undertaker, Shawn’s back accidentally hit the edge of the casket causing him to completely crush a disk in his back. Unable to compete because of the pain, Shawn was held out of action till his match against the Texas Rattlesnake at WrestleMania XIV. Although it was the dawning of a new era, the WWE doesn’t like to mention it happened at the expense of an injured HBK Shawn Michaels. Thankfully, that would not turn out to be our final memory of The Showstopper.
12. Do: The Boyhood Dream Moment
This moment in particular is forever etched in the history of the WWE. The iconic moment saw Shawn Michaels win his first ever WWE Championship by defeating Bret “The Hitman” Hart in an epic 60 minute Iron Man Match at WrestleMania XII. The iconic finish saw Shawn hit a miraculous Sweet Chin Music during the overtime period. Shawn had his hand raised following the match and Vince ushered the iconic line “the boyhood dream has come true for Shawn Michaels”.
There’s a reason why they call him Mr. WrestleMania, and that moment was certainly one of them as the WWE replayed this spectacular moment several times throughout the years. Although, it should be noted this was not HBK’s first iconic Mania moment; that award goes to his epic Crossbody off the top of the ladder at WrestleMania X against Razor Ramon. That very moment captured the imagination of the millions watching at home and cemented the fact that HBK was going to be something special. Two years after that epic splash he was WWE Champion.
11. Don’t: His Academy Days
After leaving the WWE in 1998, Michaels looked for his next move. Like most wrestlers do, HBK stayed in the business and opened up his very own wrestling school, The Shawn Michaels Wrestling Academy. His lawyer Skip McCormick actually suggested the idea, making the claim that Michaels could have made some big money off of his prestigious name and the fact that he was regarded as one of the greatest in the ring. Shawn would oblige and the academy was good to go in 1999.
Despite the fact that the WWE shrugs this HBK project off, the school was actually quite effective, training the likes of Daniel Bryan, Brian Kendrick, Paul London and Lance Cade. Shawn would end up leaving the school in 2002 when he was contractually obligated back to the WWE. His partners took control of the school and renamed it: The Texas Wrestling Academy, creating a school and promotion.
10. Do: The Comeback Complete In MSG
With Kevin Nash sidelined with an injury (what a shock!), the WWE looked for a replacement to take on Triple H at SummerSlam. Initially, Shawn had returned strictly in a non-in-ring capacity but that soon all changed. Shawn took on The Game at SummerSlam putting on a wrestling clinic. The match had it all, from near falls to tables to ladders.
Following the match, it seemed like there was no way the WWE could top that performance but they somehow managed to do so. For the first ever time, Eric Bischoff made the announcement that the Elimination Chamber would be featured at the Survivor Series in MSG. Both Champion Triple H and heroic comeback figure Shawn Michaels, were featured in the match and rightfully so they were the final two. In one of the loudest pops you’ll ever hear, HBK capped off his comeback hitting one of his greatest superkicks ever while the ref counted to three giving Michaels an improbable reign with the World Heavyweight Title. The scene which was littered with confetti was truly surreal and one that the WWE will keep reminding you of throughout the years.
9. Don’t: His Embarrassing Run As Commissioner
Leaving the company in 1998, HBK was still under contract with the company despite his in-ring exit. Many people tend to forget, but Shawn actually returned briefly in the summer of 1998 for a cameo alongside Vince McMahon on commentary. He would leave again, only to return in the fall, taking the place of Sgt. Slaughter as the new Commissioner of the WWE.
His time as an authority figure rarely gets mentioned in the WWE archives and that’s mostly because nothing impactful occurred during his stint in power. His role was extremely inconsistent, as Michaels played both a heel and face. He would finally hand his Commissioner rights over to Mick Foley, who thrived in the position unlike Shawn. Following HBK’s resignation as Commissioner, he left the WWE to find himself and wouldn’t be seen on television till 2002 when he came back as a member of the nWo.
8. Do: Winning The Tag Titles With Tripe H
Anything D-X related was absolute money for the WWE, which is why they decided to bring the faction back multiple times in the 2000s. Although the duo wasn’t the same and kind of corny, they still drew great numbers and sold tonnes of merchandise at live events. Who can forget the DX glow sticks that littered crowds on almost every Raw telecast? No doubt, the faction was over no matter what the time period it was.
Despite their immense popularity, it was odd that the team never won the Tag Titles together. Before his run with Triple H, Michaels was a four-time Tag Champion winning the straps with Steve Austin, John Cena and Kevin Nash (twice). The duo was supposed to win the titles in early 2007, but the plan was derailed when Triple H fell to another quad injury. Shawn would go on to win the titles alongside John Cena instead.
Before his final match against The Undertaker, Michaels and Hunter finally enjoyed a title run side-by-side. The team won the belts against JeriShow at the TLC PPV. Although the title run was short-lived, the WWE was glad it finally happened.
7. Don’t: Mocking The Canadian Flag
The WWE was an entirely different animal during the second half of the 90s. The company used edgy content to get over with the crowds and it led to a spike in the ratings war. WCW had their hands tied because of their Time Warner contract which was more PG, while the WWE was simply no holds barred.
Most of the storylines from the late 90s wouldn’t make WWE TV nowadays, as the company has professionalism at an all time high while catering to a PG audience. As you see in the picture above, wrestlers went through dramatic lengths to receive heel heat, and this was yet another example of that with Shawn sticking the Canadian flag up his nose. In such a sensitive time period today, this would certainly not fly. Interestingly enough, the idea was Bret’s in order for Shawn to receive even greater heat in their feud against one another. This wasn’t the worst thing Shawn did though, he took things a step further at the Survivor Series by humping the Canadian flag. Surely, the WWE wants you to forget about these two controversial moments which were pretty distasteful looking back.
6. Do: His Involvement With The Kliq
May 19th, 1996 was a night that is going to live forever in the WWE history books. On that night, four wrestlers pulled down the curtain and created a memory that had a lasting impact on the business. With Nash and Hall headed to WCW, the bitter rivals hugged it out in the middle of the ring exposing the wrestling business, something that hadn’t been done before. The immediate response was absolute backlash; the Superstars were furious and it led to Triple H being reprimanded for several months. Looking back however, the WWE couldn’t be happier that it all unfolded the way it did.
Whether it be through the WWE Network or merchandise, the company loves to discuss the Kliq because it sells. Fans love to know what goes on backstage and this was the first situation that gave the fans an opportunity to do so. The company continues to celebrate this moment and it’ll likely continue in the future as fans invest more money into one of the greatest real-life wrestling factions of all-time.
5. Don’t: His Match Against Hulk Hogan
Fans tend to forget, but Michaels did in fact have a run as a heel following his 2002 return. That run came in July of 2005 when Michaels Super-kicked Hogan laying the Hulkster down following a Tag Team victory. It paved the way for a once in a lifetime match along with a feud and build up fans were salivating to see. Michaels worked brilliantly as a heel and it seemed like all the stars were lining up to make this match an iconic piece of WWE history. That however, would go south just before the encounter.
The initial plan was for Hogan to go over, while HBK would win the rematch. In Hogan-like fashion, Hulk would turn down a second match and instead, just have the one where he would reign victorious. An infuriated HBK proceeded with the match but sent a deep message over-selling every Hulk move throughout the match. Because of that, the match lost its historical luster and the WWE fails to remind us that it ever happened. What a shame.
4. Do: His WrestleMania Moments
Whether he won or lost simply didn’t matter, Michaels was all about putting on a good show during his return in 2002. His portrayal of that was mostly apparent on the biggest stage of them all, WrestleMania. Soon after, the WWE wisely coined the Hall of Famer as Mr. WrestleMania.
His moments and matches will truly live on forever and the company is going to keep reminding us of that every WrestleMania that passes. From his dive off the top of the ladder during WM X, to his breathtaking moonsault to the outside ten years later at WMXX, Michaels knew how to bring the goods when it truly mattered.
His final two WrestleMania matches will go down in history as some of the best WWE matches ever. Fittingly enough, HBK fought his final match at the prestigious show losing to The Undertaker in a fantastic WrestleMania main event. Shawn fled the scene to a brilliant standing ovation from the Arizona crowd (the place where he was actually born) which featured 72,219 strong.
3. Don’t: Tagging With “God”
The WWE is well aware that we live in a sensitive time period, especially when it comes to topics as delicate as religion. The WWE however, blurred the lines on April 30th of 2006 booking a match between Shane and Vince against HBK and “God”. The angle was meant to torture HBK while later reuniting with Triple H, but it was done in terrible taste. The WWE went as far as to put a spotlight during an entrance for Shawn’s apparent “God” Tag Team partner. For a Born-Again Christian like Shawn Michaels, the entire ordeal must have been a tough one to swallow and go through with, but of course, HBK is a constant pro and went through with it anyways.
Not surprisingly, the company swept the ordeal under a rug and hasn’t mentioned a thing about it. Don’t expect to see anything related in the PG Era with professionalism and quality standards at an all-time high.
2. Do: Getting Past The Montreal Screwjob
November 9th, 1997, is going to live forever in the history books of the WWE. On that night, the WWE “screwed” Bret Hart out of the Championship by ringing the bell and deeming that he tapped out without Hart even knowing. Following the match, Bret was irate and asked Shawn if he knew about the incident, Michaels swore to Hart he had no clue. It was later revealed that Shawn was also in on the act which caused some major heat between Shawn and Bret.
For McMahon, it turned into a nightmare as Michaels became the scapegoat of the situation. Despite his storied legacy, the burden of that night continued to follow Shawn for years and years after the event. Finally, on the January 4th, 2010 episode of Raw, Shawn shook hands with Bret and officially buried the hatchet more than a decade later. For the WWE, this couldn’t have played out any better with Shawn’s final match just a couple of months away. Finally, Shawn and the WWE were able to lay the situation to rest.
1. Don’t: His Involvement With Playgirl
With a PG era in place, the WWE is very sensitive when it comes to their content. Many believe Chyna was blacklisted by the company for several years because of her prior work in the adult industry, something the company doesn’t want their younger generation to know about.
Well, if the younger generation digs deep, they can find some serious dirt on HBK as well. Despite his perfect in-ring career, Shawn made several questionable decisions outside of it, including his involvement with Playgirl magazine. Michaels posed for the magazine in October of 1996, catering to his “sexy boy” gimmick. Obviously, the WWE has never mentioned such an event taking place as the company has no historical evidence of this ever occurring. Even though they’d like you to think it didn’t, it very much took place and was another blemish to add to the career of Shawn Michaels outside of the ring. In Shawn’s defense, he was undergoing some tough times during the era and probably regrets the decision looking back.