Without question, Shawn Michaels is one of the most influential professional wrestlers in history. Maybe he wasn't the biggest ticket seller or the biggest crossover star, but he was certainly the first main eventer on American wrestling TV to embrace the cruiserweight/high flyer style. Ricky Steamboat, let us remember, never rose above midcard status.
But like most influential and successful people, Shawn Michaels has done all kinds of things to rub people the wrong way. Clearly, he hasn't acted like the nicest person in the world, on at least more than one occasion.
What could the source of his anger and discontentment be? Well, his real last name isn't Michaels, it's Hickenbottom. Thus, we can surmise that he got brutalized in high school and all of his professional wrestling triumphs, his notorious womanizing, and rock star posturing, was just one big drawn-out revenge against the many, many bullies who swung the scrawny teenage Hickenbottom upside down and chuckled heartily whilst dunking his head in a toilet.
Over the years, plenty of wrestlers, and other wrestling-related people. have felt the misplaced wrath of Shawn Hickenbottom, and several have happily shared their tales on the internet. For frequently declining to lose matches and politicking his friends into favorable booking throughout the '90s, is Shawn Michaels the most selfish wrestling star of all time? Probably not even in the top 10. We know Hulk Hogan was worse. For that matter, Hogan and Michaels have both had their share of high-profile, clean loses. Did The Ultimate Warrior ever lose without outside interference of some sort? (Yeah, actually, he did. Once.)
So Shawn Michaels isn't the most selfish wrestler ever. And seeing as how much of the following is based on internet rumors that could've easily been fabricated by anyone, who knows? Maybe Shawn Michaels is actually the most wonderful person in the history of humanity.
Nonetheless, we've arranged this compilation of instances in which Shawn Michaels acted in his own interest, or maybe acted in his own interest, at the expense of other people.
Click the button below to start this article in quick view
13 The Sunny Thing
We’re putting this one at number 13 because, let’s face it, the same accusation could be made against plenty of wrestlers who were active during the ‘90s. However, it was undoubtedly unfair to Chris Candido for HBK to carry on a reportedly substantial and steamy affair with Tammy “Sunny” Sytch during her entirely too longterm relationship with the individual then billed as “Skip.” In hindsight, seeing as how she often found herself the only woman in a traveling troupe otherwise compromised of beefy dudes, we’d be celebrating Sunny for sleeping around, if she only had the good sense to cut poor long-suffering Candido loose beforehand.
12 The Hulk Hogan Fiasco
As has been well-documented, Shawn Michaels hoped for a face vs. face feud between himself and Hulk Hogan in 2005, in which the two icons would trade wins, and top things off with a monumental rubber match. Instead, Hogan pulled rank and decided they were doing a single, conventional face vs. heel PPV match, in which The Hulkster would prevail.
Having been out-politicked for the first time in his life, Michaels didn’t take it well and railed against Hogan’s backstage shenanigans in a barely-kayfabe promo. Some fans figured Michaels’ cartoonish overselling at SummerSlam '05 was a protest against Hogan’s schemes. However, had Michaels and Hogan seen eye-to-eye, their match would’ve looked exactly the same - like a guy who oversells everything wrestling a tan, leathery sack of immobile potatoes.
11 Holding Back Rocky Maivia
For obvious reasons, when The Kliq took their first look at Rocky Maivia back in the mid-’90s, they knew they had to bury him immediately - otherwise he’d become a much bigger star than Triple H.
At one point, Michaels and Triple H supposedly conspired to prematurely end Maivia's Intercontinental title reign. In 1999, Examiner reports that Michaels pulled strings to get Maivia booted off of his predesignated spot on WrestleMania. Ultimately, The Kliq was successful and the man legally known as Dwanye Johnson vanished from popular culture forever. This was a time when Shawn Michaels ate a double selfishness burger with extra selfishness sauce.
10 Making Vader Cry
Vader’s status as an unstoppable monster heel from WCW didn’t exactly carry over to the WWE and Jim Cornette has gone on record putting the blame for the wasted opportunity on HBK. Cornette says Michaels had his qualms about Vader’s stiffer-than average style - at one point threatening to get the larger gentleman fired, which hurt Vader's feeling, over a hair-pull. And let us not forget the moment during their SummerSlam match in which a missed cue prompted Michaels to break character and yell “MOVE” at a prone Leon White.
9 Making The Hurricane Cry...Tears Of Rage
For Shane “Hurricane” Helms, who grew up idolizing Michaels’ overselling approach, working alongside The Heartbreak Kid must’ve been like a child meeting Santa, except Santa turned out to be a bit of a jerk. Helms claims during one program he and Michaels were involved in, he seriously considered pummeling the ever-living snot out of his boyhood hero and only opted against that plan because it would’ve certainly gotten him fired and ruined his push. By Helms' account, it seems religion and fewer drugs didn’t mellow HBK out as much as WWE would have us believe.
8 Not Admitting That He Used Steroids in 1993
A suspension due to steroid use forced Michaels to relinquish the Intercontinental title in 1993. He swears to this day that he didn’t love to do steroids as often as he could and that he never considered steroid needles his best pointy friends. Maybe he won’t admit it because of the steroid-related legal drama WWE was facing at the time, but it’s selfish of him to not let men and women everywhere know that if they want to get in hot sexy shape like HBK, they’re going to have to get on “the gas.”
7 Losing His Smile
Conspiracy theorists who hate Shawn Michaels will always argue that Michaels’ infamous retirement-tease/smiling-losing speech in 1997 was just a bunch of baloney he made up to avoid getting killed by Bret Hart at WrestleMania XIII. From that perspective, losing his smile was a pretty selfish move on Michaels’ part. For that matter, having a smile is a serious adult responsibility - like having a car or paying your electric bill on time. Neglecting to keep tabs on his smile was highly irresponsible and therefore selfish on a whole other level. Shawn Michaels was a selfish man.
5 Refusing to Lose to the British Bulldog in England
As a last minute swerve to the originally-agreed upon booking plans, legend has it that Shawn Michaels decided he should beat Davey Boy Smith for the European title in front of a UK crowd at the One Night Only PPV. Wrestling historians have explained that HBK had observed that David Hart Smith - who had yet to enter his teenage years at the time - failed to possess the athletic prowess and charisma necessary to ever match his father’s success in the wrestling industry. To deter young David from ever entering the business, Michaels decided to humiliate his beloved dad in front of his countrymen, thereby traumatizing the boy and teaching him that wrestling is terrible.
Ironically, it was Michaels’ presumptuous selfishness that inspired David Hart Smith to pursue wrestling, hoping to someday avenge his father’s defeat by pulling HBK apart like a soggy loaf of bread.
4 The Tatanka Fiasco
The greater devastation here is that we should've got a Shawn Michaels/Randy Savage match at WrestleMania IX, which the Macho man himself suggested, but Vince McMahon didn't think it would work. Instead we got a HBK/Tatanka match for the Intercontinental Title to open the show and, in fairness, it wasn't great. On top of that, though he was originally scheduled to lose by pinfall, Michaels forced a last-minute change to a countout finish.
3 Getting Beaten Up A Lot In Real Life
It’s not uncommon for pro wrestlers to prove less-than-sufficient when it comes to unscripted fighting, but it always makes the “business” look bad when they get their rear-ends handed to them in the real world. Granted, it’s one thing to get annihilated by a gang of marines (or one marine, depending on which version of the Syracuse story you believe) in a bar parking lot while Davey Boy Smith and X-Pac are passed out in your rental car. But Michaels also lost fights to Marty Jannetty, Bret Hart, and the Harris Brothers on different occasions. It sounds like he narrowly avoided a clobbering at the hands of Hurricane Helms, as well. Michaels was selfish for not learning how to defend himself against the real punches that constantly flew towards his money-making face.
2 Telling Everyone To Stop Pretend Hitting Him So Hard
We’ve already covered how Michaels felt Vader worked too “stiff.” Rumor has it HBK had a similar complaint about Kurt Angle and we could guess that he was yelling at Chris Jericho over a similar topic in the catering altercation Shane Helms describes. Clearly, regular pretend fighting isn’t pretend enough for Shawn Michaels. This attitude should be considered selfish - as most sports entertainers are just fine working within the parameters of an average degree of pretending to beat each other unconscious.
2. The Curtain Call
Imagine if at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America and Ultron gave each other hearty pats on the back and triumphantly preened together for the audience. And this happened even though in the story, Ultron hated Cap and Captain America uttered, “I hate that Ultron robot, and would never pat him on the back or preen with him by my side.” It would kind of blow the fictional integrity of the movie for you, wouldn’t it?! Thus, the audience was confused and aggravated when Michaels and Kevin “Diesel” Nash joined Scott “Razor Ramon” Hall and Triple H to dance around like happy friends at the conclusion of a Madison Square Garden card, in which Michaels had kicked Diesel in the face. Even in today’s post-kayfabe dystopia, WWE would not tolerate such shenanigans.
1 The Montreal Screwjob
The story has been told a million times, so let's look at it from a different light. Despite having never been to the city of Montreal before, Shawn Michaels declared himself Mayor of Montreal for life and ordered the police to immediately disarm. "Police, if you ever encounter a violent criminal, simply dispatch them with Sweet Chin Music," he said during his inauguration speech. "That always works for me!" Soon, every Montreal police officer had injured their groin muscles from attempting so many superkicks. Worse yet, HBK spent the entire city budget on drugs and body oil. Shawn Michaels should change his name to SelfishPants McGoo for this screwjob.
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