10 Facts We Learned A&E Biography: Shawn Michaels
Since his earliest days in Mid-South and the AWA, it was clear that Shawn Michaels had tremendous ability in the ring. But with The Heartbreak Kid’s ability came a wild and rambunctious and sometimes tortured soul. A&E took a look at the life of one of the top five greatest wrestlers ever in their most recent Biography special.
One of the great aspects of the A&E and WWE partnership is that even for the most ardent fan that thinks they know the whole story about their favorite wrestlers, there’s also plenty of nuggets in each episode that have seldom if ever been told. Shawn knows his life is an open book, but here are a few items you might have never known.
10The Two Lives Of Shawn Michaels
Right from the get-go of the episode, the reoccurring theme of the entire biography was not just the idea but the incontrovertible fact that yes he might be the best ever in a wrestling ring. But the first half of his career, Shawn was a wild man chasing glory and redefining greatness, no matter the cost of his personal life. No matter the amount of booze, pills, and brash braggadocios, Shawn was going to show the world he was the best. The inverse side to that is that everyone from Vince McMahon on down the line was ready to beat the heck out of the guy.
9Shawn In NXT
It’s been long known that Shawn Michaels has been keeping Triple H company down in NXT. But he’s so much more than just a right-hand man. Much of the entire NXT roster was influenced by The Heartbreak Kid at some point in their fandom and their own careers.
But now, a very humble HBK is happy to take a huge step back and simply help groom the talent for the next generation. Terry Taylor put it bluntly – “there’s Shawn’s fingerprints on almost every talent in NXT.”
Michael Shawn Hickenbottom was born into a military family. His dad was a member of the US Air Force. The family moved all over until Shawn was about eight and settled in Texas. His folks described him as a nice boy, and Shawn described all of the sports he enjoyed playing, particularly football. But like a lot of future Superstars, when Shawn first saw wrestling on TV, his dad just assumed it would be a phase that he’d grow out of. Thankfully for wrestling fans, he hasn’t grown out of that phase yet.
7High School Bumps
Shawn didn’t have a lot of fellow wrestling fans growing up until Kenny Kent moved to town during their sophomore year. They instantly became fast friends who put on wrestling matches. Like Mick Foley and many others before him, the future HBK and Kenny put on all sorts of matches everywhere. The two even wrestled a match for their high school talent show, which they lost out to cheerleaders.
Despite his parents wanting him to go to college, Shawn was deadset on becoming a professional wrestler. Through his father, Michaels met the wrestling promoter of San Antonio, as well as Jose Lothario. Not wanting his son to be 35-years-old and resentful that he missed his opportunity, Mr. Hickenbottom paid for Shawn’s entry into wrestling school. Later on, it would be Kent and his happy family life that Shawn admired but wondered if he was able to have both a great family and a great career.
Thanks to Jose Lothario’s training and his help, the legendary Luchador was able to get HBK his first bookings in Mid-South. Terry Taylor was amazed at how good Michaels was in his first match. A little later on, Bill Watts, the head of Mid-South was able to book HBK in Louisiana, where he first met Marty Jannetty. They got thrown together for a match and immediately clicked.
Interestingly enough, it was Marty who first really saw something in Shawn and vowed to bring it out. It wasn’t just wrestling ability that Marty brought out, he also introduced Shawn to partying, and The Midnight Rockers were born. They also developed a reputation for being huge party kids; which everyone in the business instantly knew they got.
5The Rockers’ First WWE Run
After getting their start in late 1987, The Rockers wanted to behave. But Terry Garvin had suggested to them that they need to get down and mingle. Jimmy Jack Funk tried to test the boys and started chewing glass for some reason.
In retaliation, Michaels smashed a wine glass over his head and the team left. But the rumor and innuendo immediately started and The Rockers were fired after just one day. Michaels at 23 thought he was done. Thankfully, Pat Patterson took a liking to the team, recognized the talent of HBK, and helped bring them back to the WWE.
4The Heartbreak Kid
After some backstage egging on by Roddy Piper that he should be a singles wrestler, the seeds were laid for the iconic Barber Shop segment where he became The Heartbreak Kid. The character was something that Shawn had come up with – Elvis meets Freddie Mercury. Shawn actually alluded to the idea that those two rock gods were electric on stage but had something missing in their lives, something that he was able to relate to. But he was determined to crack through the glass ceiling and be the guy.
3Keeping Shawn Alive
The extent to which Triple H needs to be praised for keeping HBK alive is immeasurable. He would make sure HBK was in bed every night with a pillow propped alongside him to make sure that he wouldn’t roll over in his sleep and choke to death. Even Vince tried to step in and get help for his greatest performer. He headed to Texas to meet with Shawn’s dad and clue him into the situation, which unfortunately the colonel didn’t know or want to hear anything about.
It was then that he tweaked his knee and was told he was done. HBK lost his smile and vacated the WWE Title. Shortly after, Triple H and Shawn would start pestering Vince to put them together and thanks to the back injury that happened at Royal Rumble, Shawn was pumped up with more drugs just to get to WrestleMania XIV with Austin.
2Finally Getting Help
While sitting home watching Nitro, Shawn first laid eyes on Nitro Girl, Whisper aka Rebecca. They began talking on the phone and exchanging emails. They would date for several weeks before getting married by an Elvis impersonator. The new Mrs. Michaels learned quickly that Shawn had a huge problem with pills, but she did not give up on him. Hunter did, thanks to Shawn showing up at Raw messed up and belligerent.
The two founders of DX had then stopped speaking for several years. But it was when Shawn’s son, Cameron began to realize what was happening with Shawn, that The Heartbreak Kid decided to stop with all of the drugs and alcohol. Kevin Nash would initiate Shawn apologizing to The Game. Rebecca had given him a bible for Christmas and Shawn then decided to join a bible study and get saved and was on the road to come back to the ring.
1The End For HBK
After wrestling his final matches, including his love letter to the business and Ric Flair at WrestleMania XXIV, Shawn Michaels would retire after WrestleMania XXVI. But before retiring, HBK made sure to make amends with Bret Hart, who admitted that they carried a lot of animosity towards each other. Before that had happened, the instant classic between Shawn and The Undertaker from WrestleMania XXV would happen. Heading home that night, Shawn began to think that he wasn’t ever going to achieve that level of greatness ever again and began to realize that he would wind down his career as one of the greatest of all time.