There’s no disputing that Shawn Michaels is one of the greatest professional wrestlers to ever lace up a pair of boots. Love him or hate him, the Heartbreak Kid’s ability as a performer is unquestionable, with many seeing him as the greatest of all time. So talented was Shawn, even Bret Hart has managed to talk up his longstanding real-life rival over the years.
During his career, Michaels had more than his fair share of ups and downs. And amongst those were the stories of “Shawn being Shawn” during his mid-90s run in the then-WWF, his subsequent retirement through injury in 1998, his return in 2002, and his ultimate retirement in 2010.
The Showstopper certainly has a checkered career to his name, and that’s highlighted by the stories told about HBK by both himself and by many of his former colleagues. In amongst the in-ring and backstage battles were some stories that many a wrestling fan will find surprising.
So, with that said, here’s fifteen shocking Shawn Michaels stories that may surprise even the most well-versed of wrestling fans. Safe to say, the Heartbreak Kid always makes for fascinating reading.
15. Elvis Witnessed His Wedding
How do you do a wedding in style? Why you take a Nitro Girl to Las Vegas and get married with an Elvis Presley impersonator in place as your witness.
That’s exactly what Shawn Michaels did back in 1999 during his initial retirement from the wrestling business.
The Nitro Girl in question was Whisper, also known as Rebecca Curci, and the pair tied the knot in a small, typically-Vegas ceremony. Still married to this day, the couple have overcome the troubles and demons of Shawn’s darker days and have two children, Cameron and Cheyenne. Fans may even remember seeing Michaels’ wife appear on WWE television during his legendary 2008 feud with Chris Jericho, in which Jericho accidentally landed an all-too-real punch to the jaw of HBK’s other half.
Given the flamboyant persona of the Shawn Michaels character, particularly during his mid-late ‘90s run, it makes perfect sense that such a bizarre wedding ceremony would be the option that the Heartbreak Kid would take.
14. Was Scared Of Owen Hart
It seems that anyone who ever met the man is of the opinion that Owen Hart was one of the business’ good guys. A family man, a master in the ring, and a legendary ribber, everyone seemingly adored The King of Harts. Not Shawn Michaels, though.
In the aftermath of the Montreal Screwjob, Owen was kept off WWF television until 1998. Returning to seek revenge on Shawn for what had happened to brother Bret, Owen was set to tangle with HBK in a series of hotly-anticipated bouts. Only Shawn ended up using his stroke backstage to change those plans.
The pair would have a match on an episode of Raw, but that was merely used as a way to get Owen into a feud with Triple H. The reason for this was because Shawn was worried that Owen would work too stiff with him and exact some real-life revenge for what had happened to Bret.
13. Tried To Bury CM Punk
Despite all of the BS that was put in his way, CM Punk managed to get over to the point where he was the hottest superstar the WWE had seen since Steve Austin. That’s quite the statement, but it’s totally true.
For Shawn Michaels, though, he was doing his best to bury the Straight-Edge Superstar before he’d even been signed by the WWE.
According to former WWE creative team member Court Bauer, both Michaels and Triple H mocked Punk during a 2005 tryout match. Due to the Chicago native’s different look and his ring style, the pair did their best to bury CM Punk to Vince McMahon.
Shawn has moved to play down these stories, although there seems to be far more people backing up what Bauer said, and there are also various stories of how genuinely pissed off both Michaels and Hunter were at the ovation Punk got as part of Team DX during the 2006 Survivor Series.
Either way, despite his detractors, CM Punk went on to become one of the greatest superstars of the modern era before walking away from the business in 2014.
12. Mr. Match Of The Year
It’s not much of a shock to know that Shawn Michaels has a few Match of the Year awards under his belt, but he easily has more MOTY nods from Pro Wrestling Illustrated than anyone in the history of the awards dating back to when they began in 1972.
Shawn’s whopping eleven wins came for matches against Marty Jannetty in 1993 (Monday Night Raw), Razor Ramon (WrestleMania X) in 1994, against Diesel (WrestleMania XI) in 1995, against Bret Hart (WrestleMania 12) in 1996, against Triple H and Chris Benoit (WrestleMania XX) in 2004, against Kurt Angle (WrestleMania XXI) in 2005, against Vince McMahon (WrestleMania XXII) in 2006, against John Cena (Monday Night Raw) in 2007, against Ric Flair (WrestleMania XXIV) in 2008, and against The Undertaker (WrestleMania XXV and XXVI) in 2009 and 2010.
That’s quite the impressive list, and this is a major indication of just why Shawn Michaels is often referred to as the greatest professional wrestling of all time by many fans, critics, and performers alike.
11. Remember The Rockers’ Tag Title Win?
According to the official record books, The Rockers never managed to capture the then-WWF Tag Team Championships. Given how popular the tandem of Marty Jannetty and Shawn Michaels were at one point, that’s a pretty shocking fact. Only the team did win the straps… kind of.
In a division that was brimming full of talented teams like The Hart Foundation, Demolition, The British Bulldogs and The Brainbusters, The Rockers managed to defeat Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart for the Tag Titles during a Saturday Night’s Main Event taping. The only problem was, that win was soon struck from the record books.
The reason that The Rockers got the gold was down to Neidhart leaving the company after turning down a new contract offer. The match went ahead, The Rockers won the belts, but the bout itself was a stinker due to the top rope having snapped and ruined the high-impact offense of the two pairings.
Before the match aired, Neidhart agreed to a new deal, the rope snapping was used as an excuse to void the win, and The Hart Foundation remained as Tag Team Champions. Interestingly, Marty Jannetty has gone on record to say that he believes that the win was scrapped after Shawn Michaels put feces down someone’s shirt on a flight and caused chaos to break out.
10. His First Singles WWE Finisher Was A Side Suplex
In terms of finishing moves, Sweet Chin Music is one of the most well-known in the history of wrestling. The Showstopper and Sweet Chin Music go hand-in-hand, with HBK having put away opponents of all shapes and sizes with his patented superkick. But that wasn’t always the case.
Having ended The Rockers the day that he threw partner Marty Jannetty through Brutus Beefcake’s Barbershop window, Shawn started using what was known as the Teardrop Suplex to finish opponents off. Essentially a high angle side-suplex, the manoeuvre was used to put away many of the recently-dubbed Heartbreak Kid’s early singles opponents.
The Teardrop Suplex, Sensational Sherri at his side, the Sherri-sung entrance music, and taking a mirror to the ring were some of the trademarks of the early days of the transformation from Rocker to Heartbreak Kid. Despite this, many just presume that Sweet Chin Music has always been Shawn’s way of ending a match.
9. He Wanted To Go To WCW
To many fans, Shawn Michaels is seen as one of the biggest icons in WWE history and as somebody who remained loyal to Vince McMahon through thick and thin.
Whilst Shawn did stay with Vince’s company while many of his buddies were jumping ship to Ted Turner’s cash crazy WCW in the 1990s, that wasn’t entirely down to HBK. In recent years, Michaels has admitted that he actually wanted to make the jump to Turner’s rasslin’ company at several points.
Following the Heartbreak Kid’s very real on-screen and off-screen battles with Bret Hart, Shawn became increasingly frustrated and miserable. Not only was he sick of the heat between he and The Hitman, but so many of his best friends were in WCW, not to mention the contract that Michaels could’ve gotten from Turner would’ve blown any WWF contract out of the water.
HBK even pleaded with Vince to let him out of his contract due to how unhappy he was in the WWF. McMahon being fully aware that Shawn was tied in to a contract flat-out refused this request, although he would do right by Michaels as he even kept him on the payroll following Shawn’s forced retirement in 1998.
8. Vacated More Belts Than Anyone Else
Whilst Shawn is known as Mr. WrestleMania and has more Match of the Year awards to his name than anybody in history, the Showstopper also holds the “honour” of having vacated more titles than anyone in WWE history.
Of course, this is a performer who at one point in time would have an allergic reaction at the mere mention of “doing the job” for someone. After all, the Heartbreak Kid lies down for absolutely nobody.
First up, Shawn’s second Intercontinental Title reign came to an end when he was stripped of the gold for testing positive for steroids in 1993. After that, Shawn and Diesel vacated the Tag Team Titles after their team disbanded, with rumours suggesting both talents had no intention of dropping the belts to an actual tag team.
Next was another forfeiting of the Intercontinental Title when Shawn was left unable to compete after being famously assaulted outside a bar by a bunch of marines following HBK running his mouth a little too much.
Then came the biggest of the lot, with Shawn “losing his smile” and giving up the WWF Championship. Shawn cited a career-threatening injury for the reason, whilst the general assumption is he just didn’t want to lose the belt to Bret Hart at WrestleMania XIII.
The final vacating of a belt came when he and Steve Austin were stripped of the Tag Team Titles after Shawn was sent home following a real-life backstage fight with Hart.
7. The First Ever WWE Ladder Match Was HBK Against Bret Hart
Whilst the WWE and many fans may talk about how Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon at WrestleMania X was the first ever ladder match for the company, don’t let yourself be fooled.
Shawn was indeed involved in the first-ever ladder match in the then-WWF, but it was Michaels against longtime rival Bret Hart rather than against The Bad Guy. Hart defended his Intercontinental Title against the Heartbreak Kid on July 21st, 1992 – pre-dating ‘Mania X by nearly 2 years!
The match saw Michaels accompanied to the ring by Sensational Sherri, but the Boy Toy would come up short in one of his very first singles matches against The Hitman. Bret would knock Shawn off the ladder, crotching HBK on the top rope and sending him tumbling to the floor below, as Hart successfully retained the gold as part of his second run as Intercontinental Champion.
Bret would drop the IC Title to Davey Boy Smith at SummerSlam ’92, with The Hitman shortly moving on to capture the WWF World Title, although this wasn’t the last we’d see of Hart vs. Michaels by a long stretch.
6. Poor Davey Boy Smith
At one point in time, Davey Boy Smith was one of the then-WWF’s hottest superstars, and the powerhouse was never any more popular than when he defeated Bret Hart for the Intercontinental Title in one of the greatest matches of all time at SummerSlam ’92. For poor Davey, though, he quickly lost the belt to Shawn Michaels. Then did the same with another belt. And another.
No matter when he fought HBK, the British Bulldog always came up short, but shockingly he lost three separate titles to Michaels, not to mention the 1995 Royal Rumble match.
In fairness, the IC Title loss was Smith’s own fault as he was revealed to have been taking Human Growth Hormone and so was released from his contract. 1997 would then see Bulldog and Owen Hart lose the Tag Team Titles to Michaels and Steve Austin, but it was the European Title that caused the most uproar.
With Davey Boy as the first ever European Champion, he was booked to retain the belt against Michaels at the UK-held One Night Only PPV. So set-in-stone was that decision, Smith told his terminally ill sister that the upcoming victory was to be dedicated to her, with her being sat ringside. Then Shawn decided to be Shawn.
Using his backstage stroke, Michaels pointlessly got the booking reversed and had him beat Bulldog in front of his family. To make an even bigger mockery of the situation, he then dropped the belt to pal Triple H in a joke of a match.
5. Had Longstanding Heat With The Rock
Dwayne Johnson went on to become one of the most famous, if not the most famous, professional wrestlers of all time, transcending the business to a degree that nobody before him had ever managed. Back in the day, though, The Rock was simply a young upstart named Dwayne.
According to many reports, the People’s Champ and the Heartbreak Kid had beef going back decades to before Rocky was even in the business. This supposedly stems from Shawn acting like a total asshat during a show put on in Hawaii by The Rock’s grandmother. Added to this, a rookie Johnson later took umbrage with how Shawn conducted himself during the Montreal Screwjob, and then there came a time when Michaels tried to dissuade management from pushing The Rock in 1998, instead suggesting that they should push Shawn’s Kliq buddy, Triple H, rather than Johnson. In subsequent years, The Rock openly discussed how he had no interest in working with Shawn if the chance ever arose.
The pair are fine these days, but it was good to see that The Rock didn’t forget those days of “Shawn being Shawn” and held him accountable for the times when he was an outright jerk.
4. He Refused Job To Bret Hart
We all know about the heated rivalry between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, two of the greatest performers in the history of the pro wrestling business, but some are still a little in the dark on Shawn’s losing of his smile.
With Bret having lost the WWF Title to Shawn at WrestleMania XII, the plan was for Shawn to repay the favour and put Hart over at the following year’s WrestleMania XIII. The only problem was, Shawn decided that he didn’t actually fancy losing the gold to his real-life and professional rival.
Hart was supposed to win a four-way match against Steve Austin, Vader and The Undertaker to crown the #1 contender for Shawn’s title at ‘Mania XIII but that match was made for the title itself when Michaels forfeited the belt and did his famous “lost my smile” speech.
According to HBK, he was injured to such an extent that he may never wrestle again. Bret would win the vacant WWF Championship, then lose it to Sycho Sid the very next night.
The February speech from Shawn had him basically retiring for good… only he’d return in May, meaning just enough time to miss WrestleMania and doing the job to Hart.
3. Is The Only Member Of The nWo Not To Appear In WCW
When Shawn Michaels returned to the WWE as a new member of the nWo in 2002, HBK became the first (and only) member of the group to have never competed in WCW.
The group at that point was Kevin Nash, Big Show, X-Pac and, randomly, Booker T. Nash’s former buddies had left him; Scott Hall was having “issues” and left the company, whilst Hulk Hogan had turned babyface in the aftermath of WrestleMania XVIII. So, Big Sexy saw fit to bring in his longtime BFF, the Heartbreak Kid, Shawn Michaels.
Michaels never made the jump to WCW during the regular switching of sides from many a talent during the ‘90s, and so the founder of DX’s membership of the New World Order marked him out as being the only ever member of the famed faction to have never wrestled for the WWE’s biggest rival.
2. He Took Part In A Religious Wrestling Show With Sting
What says “found God” better than rescuing an iconic former World Champion from the clutches of Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, Buff Bagwell and some demons?
With Shawn and Sting having both become born again Christians, the two legends of the game came together for a bizarre sermon-cum-wrestling-event back in 2005. Put on by Detroit World Outreach and Power Wrestling Alliance, this show featured superkicks, sing-alongs and shouting the word of the Lord.
This would be the first time that HBK and The Stinger were in a ring together, and that wouldn’t happen again until Shawn laid out Sting with Sweet Chin Music at WrestleMania 31. Whilst ‘Mania saw Sting screwed by Michaels helping out Triple H, the 2005 event actually featured Jesus Christ coming to the aide of Sting when he was confronted by some creepy demons.
Clearly JC was a little busy during WrestleMania weekend last year, otherwise it may have been Triple H left staring at the lights instead of WCW’s Icon.
1. He Nearly Married Sunny
Shawn Michaels and Sunny have quite the history, with the pair famously having a 9-month relationship back in the day. Of course, that was when Sunny was still actually dating Chris Candido, too. Oh, and she got caught getting up to no-good with Davey Boy Smith in the showers, not to mention her infamous “Sunny days” with Bret Hart. Talk about an impressive work rate…
What’s more shocking about Sunny and Shawn (not to be confused with Sonny and Cher) is that Michaels reportedly had plans to propose to one of the locker room’s favourite play things.
Shawn himself has pretty much denied anything of note with Tammy Sytch, whilst Sunny seems to change her story more often than she changes her underwear, but a host of former superstars have openly talked about how HBK at one point in time saw Sunny as his ‘one true’ and wanted to propose to her and head off into the sunset.
The on/off relationship between the two finally came to an end when Tammy quit the WWF following the Montreal Screwjob.