Before we begin today, I want to get this off my chest: I think Shawn Michaels is one of the greatest professional wrestlers I’ve ever seen. His matches are always good, sometimes great, and sometimes amongst the best I’ve ever seen. I’ve also enjoyed his antics over the years, be it the old D-X days or his match against Hulk Hogan back in 2005. Seriously, take a look at this and tell me you can’t laugh:
Doing a windmill off of taking a big boot? They’re right: Shawn Michaels is truly an innovator.
So if you are like me, you are sad that the end may be near for HBK’s glorious career. At SummerSlam, Shawn will be giving an interview in which he might, just maybe, retire forever.
Again, I guess.
For the newer Crappers out there, it’s time for a bit of a history lesson. While today Shawn is largely viewed as a legend and a good guy behind the scenes, that’s not always been the case. Actually, until the past couple of years, that’s NEVER been the case. No, Shawn Michaels was the pain in the ass prima donna that the great majority of the locker room wanted to beat the ever livin’ crap out of. Trust me, it wasn’t just Bret Hart who had a problem with the guy.
You see, when things didn’t go Shawn’s way, he would more often than not take his ball and go home, particularly when he was slated to lose a championship. It used to be a running joke in the Observer just how many times this happened. I’d try to quantify it, but I’m no Dave Meltzer, and to be honest, I’d almost bet that our resident walking wrestling encyclopedia would have a hard time keeping it all straight either.
And Dave’s a really smart guy!
Suffice to say, it happened a LOT back in the 90’s. And while he lost more titles outside the ring than in it, none of Shawn’s vanishing acts were more famous than the one leading into WrestleMania XIII. The year before, he had won the WWF title from Bret Hart. This was the year Michaels was to have returned the favor, setting up a rubber match between the two that Bret had agreed to lose, thus propelling Michaels into the stratosphere.
Except, ya see, Michaels didn’t want to lose to Bret.
Suddenly, Michaels was once again on the shelf, so badly injured that it would appear he could never wrestle again (especially not against Bret at the biggest show of the year in a losing effort).
What’s a champion to do? Forfeit the belt, of course!
And so we had Vince in the middle of the ring, pompadour and penguin beak at the ready. Thankfully, this was years before HD became the standard, so we were at least spared his turkey neck flapping in the wind.
He called out our hero, the very brave Shawn Michaels who limped to the ring.
Well, kinda sorta. He basically he just shambled his way down to ringside, with a look on his face that was like he was thinking, “Wait…which leg is hurt again? Damn, I don’t remember! Better just limp on both of them.”
This all sounds well and good (actually, it sounds quite terrible as I recap it, which means I am doing my job), save for one thing: this crowd wasn’t buying what HBK was selling.
See, even twelve years ago, long before the internet had 150,000 different websites reporting on the backstage news (all of which appears to be pulled from reading the Observer…hmmmm), the fans in the audience knew what a total crock this was, and didn’t believe that Michaels was injured at all.
Why? Because this boy had cried wolf one too many times before. Hell, he admitted as much with the very first words to come out of his mouth!
Still, some folks in the audience gave him the benefit of the doubt, primarily the women in attendance.
Seriously – look at him. He’s one downy clown.
Not sure about you, but that sad puppy dog face just makes me want to punch him right square in the mouth.
Still, the ladies? They wanted to cuddle him like a teddy bear. I mean look at this broad.
Save your tears for something that deserves them, Toots.
Like that outfit you’re wearing.
No wonder Mr. Blackwell’s in the hospital.
Back to Shawn, who was giving us this long, rambling, and quite possibly drunken soliloquoy about how he was injured and how a doctor had told him he could never wrestle again.
Not only that, but he had, very tragically, LOST HIS SMILE.
The crowd was so sympathetic at Shawn pouring his heart out that they loudly began to chant “We Want Bret” and “We Want Sid.“
With much remorse, Shawn forfeited the title.
It was remorseful if you consider a guy saying, “Here’s your belt” remorseful.
I don’t, but your mileage may vary.
Heck, even Vince looked downright annoyed by the end of it.
One “last” trip around the ring later, Shawn left us forever.
In the immortal words of Jim Ross, “Goodbye, Shawn…and Godspeed.”
The only thing missing?
The sappiest song ever, Tell Me a Lie, which had previously accompanied another Shawn departure.
Hmm, I wonder if that was a Slammy Award Winner, or just a mere nominee.
Before you weap uncontrollably, please…save those handkerchiefs, kids.
Amazingly, it turned out that Shawn didn’t need knee surgery after all. In fact, mere months after his knee was so damaged he could never wrestle again, within months of losing his smile, he was back having matches better than he’d ever had.
As Bobby Heenan would say, “It’s a miracle!”
So as we head into SummerSlam, obviously there’s one big question on my mind:
Do you think he’ll be able to remember which eye is bad?
– Shawn Michaels: “Well, it seems like we’ve done this before. This time, unfortunately for me, it’s much more serious than it was last time.”
– Shawn (sounding like Barney Gumble): “I don’t know where I’m at right now. I have to have everything checked. I may be beyond reconstructive knee surgery.”
– Shawn (trying to talk over loud “We Want Bret” and “We Want Sid” chants): “Of course, it’s not something that I believe, but the fact is it’s something I have to deal with. Time has taken its toll on my body.”
Vince: “I know you are just as disappointed, moreso, that you are not defending the title against Sycho Sid or whoever may have been stacked up against you.”
Shawn: “Well, there’s one thing about me is that I can’t do anything halfway. And I come here and I hear the people chant Sid’s name or Bret’s name. One thing’s for sure, you’re going to have all of that in the future.”
– Shawn (as insincere as possible): “Here you, go. Here’s your belt.”
– Jim Ross: “Goodbye, Shawn…and Godspeed.”
– Sappy McSapp and the Saptones play the sappiest song that ever sapped.