The A&E Network series Biography is featuring a number of professional wrestlers on its show. This week, the featured wrestler was two-time WWE Hall of Fame Inductee, “The Heartbreak Kid,” Shawn Michaels. HBK is a four-time former world champion and the first WWE Grand Slam Champion. However, there is much that is not known about HBK. This week, viewers learned a lot more about Shawn Michaels.
Michael Hickenbottom was a military brat
Shawn Michaels’ father was active in the U.S. Air Force at the time of Shawn’s birth. He was born in Arizona. As a child, his family moved from Arizona to Maryland before landing in Texas.
Michael was a quiet child who loved contact sports
During his youth, Shawn Michaels was, according to his parents, a quiet and soft-spoken child. However, Michaels was active in sports, with football being his favorite. He enjoyed the physical contact of football over other sports. At the age of 12, Shawn discovered professional wrestling. He decided at that moment that wrestling would be his career.
HBK’s first public match was in front of a very unique crowd
After a few years of self-training in professional wrestling, Michaels and his childhood friend, Kenny Kent, performed a professional wrestling match on the stage during their high school’s talent show. At one point in the match, Kent threw Michaels off of the stage, with the latter landing in the seats of the auditorium. The fall caused Shawn to suffer a facial cut. The duo finished the match, but the act placed second in the show, behind a group of cheerleaders.
A chance golf game is responsible for Shawn Michaels’ professional wrestling career
One day, when Shawn’s dad happened to be playing golf with a promoter for Southwest Championship Wrestling, the senior Hickenbottom ask how his son could get into the sport. In order to keep Shawn from wondering what if, Shawn’s dad paid $3,000 for him to attend Jose Lothario’s wrestling school in San Antonio.
Meeting Marty Jannetty was both a blessing and a curse
Shawn Michaels’ first match was in Mid-South Wrestling for Bill Watts. Michaels worked for Watts in Louisiana for nearly six months. From there, Watts helped him find work in Kansas City. It was here where Michaels met Marty Jannetty. In addition to teaming with Michaels, Jannetty introduced him to cocaine. Once arriving in the American Wrestling Association, the duo would often party with Curt Hennig and Vader, and developed a reputation for wild behavior such as destroying hotel rooms and bar fighting.
The Rockers’ WWF career initially lasted only one day
The team of Michaels and Jannetty got the call from Vince McMahon to join the World Wrestling Federation, but the duo’s reputation for wild behavior preceding them. This caused the boys to have heat in the locker room. The boys also damaged a bar on their first night with the company. They were fired the same day. The Rockers ventured to Continental Championship Wrestling before Pat Patterson convinced McMahon to give the boys another chance.
Shawn Michaels’ time in CCW was also a blessing and a curse
While working in CCW, The Rockers earned around $100 per night. Many nights, the management offered the boys their pay as half in cash and half in cocaine, which the boys agreed to “9 out of 10 times.”
The Rockers won the WWF Tag Team Titles, but you had to be there
During a taping for an episode of Saturday Night’s Main Event, the Rockers faced The Hart Foundation for the WWF Tag Team Championship. However, during the match, one of the ring ropes broke loose. Vince McMahon ordered the wrestlers to finish the match inside the broken ring. The Rockers won the match and captured the tag titles. McMahon was not happy with the match and, as a result, overturned the title change. The match never aired on SNME.
The public split of the Rockers may have started as a private split
One night, in a hotel in Denver, The Rockers were partying with some ladies when Roddy Piper came into the hotel room. Piper mentioned to Shawn that he had the skills to be a solo star. However, Piper told Jannetty he still needed work. While Jannetty did not wish to have the discussion at that time, Michaels agreed with Piper and pushed his partner over. The conversation erupted into a brawl between the tag partners.
Drugs and an inflated ego led to a legendary match
Prior to WrestleMania X, Shawn Michaels was suspended by the WWF. The suspension was due to him failing a steroid drug test. At the time, Michaels was the WWF Intercontinental Champion. However, Shawn refused to return the belt. The title was vacated, and shortly thereafter, Razor Ramon was awarded the title. When Michaels returned, claiming to be the true champion, the legendary WrestleMania X Ladder Match was booked to settle the dispute.
Diesel had more than one job in the WWF…
When Kevin Nash arrived in the WWF, he was named Diesel and booked as Shawn Michaels’ on-screen bodyguard. However, because Michaels had begun to rub people the wrong way off-screen, Nash kept Michaels safe by acting as his real-life bodyguard.
…But one of Shawn’s lowest moments may have been because Nash was not around
The mythical beating that Shawn Michaels suffered in Syracuse, NY happened because he pursued a Marine’s date in a bar. He was confronted by the Marine and beaten up outside of the bar. Unfortunately, the only backup Michaels had was Davey Boy Smith and Sean Waltman, who were held off by two other Marines. Michaels’ normal backup, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash and Triple H, were on a European tour at the time.
Triple H was the fall guy for the Curtain Call
After the infamous Curtain Call in Madison Square Garden, the WWF could not punish Scott Hall or Kevin Nash because they were leaving the company. The company also chose not to punish Michaels because he was the WWF Champion. As such, Triple H was punished for the actions of The Kliq. Steve Austin replaced Helmsley as the winner of the upcoming King of the Ring and took full advantage of the opportunity.
Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown
The pressure of being WWF Champion during a slow period in wrestling got to be more than Shawn Michaels could handle. His drug use increased, and with Hall, Nash and Waltman gone from the company, Helmsley became Michaels’ primary nursemaid. Helmsley took on the responsibility of getting Michaels into hotel rooms after shows. Helmsley would also check on his friend every couple of hours to make sure that he hadn’t died in his sleep from drug use.
Michaels’ “Lost Smile” was actually due to leg pain
Shortly before Shawn Michaels performed his “lost smile” promo, HBK suffered a torn ACL. The promo was a way to get him off of television so that he could recover from the injury.
Shawn Michaels and others knew about the Montreal Screwjob
Vince McMahon, Triple H and Shawn Michaels were among those who knew that Bret Hart would be screwed out of the WWF Championship at Survivor Series. McMahon told the boys to take the secret to their graves. The burden of having to carry around the secret and to lie about it was almost too much for Michaels.
The more that he worked, the more drugs Shawn used
During a casket match against The Undertaker at the 1998 Royal Rumble event, Shawn Michaels suffered a back injury that almost forced him out of the WrestleMania XIV main event. He was heavily self-medicated so that he could continue to work, and he dropped the title to Austin at the event. Michaels was bitter about having to lose the title.
Shawn found his wife while injured
While at home, rehabbing his back injury, Shawn Michaels saw a beautiful woman while watching WCW Nitro. Shawn contacted Hulk Hogan to find out who the girl on television was. Hogan introduced Shawn to Rebecca, who was working for WCW as Nitro Girl Whisper. After dating for two weeks, Shawn and Rebecca married. She would help him turn his life around.
Shawn and Hunter didn’t speak for over a year
Shawn’s belligerence boiled over, causing him to confront Hunter unnecessarily. The friendship between the two men became strained. They didn’t speak to each other for over one year. Shawn immediately quit taking drugs when his two-year-old son began to understand that something was wrong with his dad. During his recovery, Shawn apologized to Hunter and rekindled the friendship.
Rebecca led her husband from drugs to God
After seeing Shawn give up drugs, Rebecca began giving him bibles to read. This led to Shawn giving his life to Jesus Christ and helped him to become a better husband, father, and person.
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