WrestleMania season is officially here and who better to talk about than Mr. WrestleMania himself, Shawn Michaels. The Heartbreak Kid has taken part in some of the most memorable WrestleMania matches of all time, creating a buzz around every performance.
Michaels has participated in the WWE Championship match four times at WrestleMania as well as one time for the World Heavyweight Championship. Surprisingly, he has only emerged victorious in one main event title match but that’s the thing about HBK: it doesn’t matter if he wins or loses, he still manages to steal the show.
The man who made WrestleMania his personal playground was also retired at the big event – encountering his final match on the grandest stage of them all. Michaels always left you wanting more and when his career was ended, the feeling was surreal. There wasn’t going to be any more and that was a hard fact for fans of HBK.
Michaels has done battle at WrestleMania with some of the biggest names in WWE history including: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Undertaker, Chris Jericho, Bret Hart, John Cena, Triple H, and Ric Flair. Michaels has even squared-off against the boss himself, Vince McMahon, at the annual spectacle.
Shawn Michaels would give you 100% no matter where he was performing. It could have been Madison Square Garden or a high school gymnasium in the middle of Nebraska. HBK would never put on a bad show. Entertaining came natural to Michaels and when competing at WrestleMania, he would up the ante – daring anyone to try and out outshine The Show Stopper.
The following article will pay tribute to the best WrestleMania performer of all time. This will not be a compilation of Shawn Michaels’ matches but rather specific moments. Certain spots that will stand the test of time. The things that made HBK a standout entertainer.
These are the top 10 Shawn Michaels WrestleMania moments:
10. Kicked by Chris Jericho
WrestleMania XIX: Shawn Michaels has his first match at the big event since being forced out of action five years prior due to a back injury. His opponent that night was Chris Jericho, who was out to prove that he was better than Shawn Michaels.
HBK and Y2J would put on an epic match in Seattle. The two men were in-sync and impressive. In the end, Jericho could not get one over on Michaels as HBK would claim victory. Following the match, an emotional Chris Jericho would hug Shawn Michaels in what seemed like a sincere gesture.
That was until Jericho took a step back and kicked Michaels in the privates. Michaels then fell forward and back into the arms of Jericho. This time the hug contained no sincerity as Jericho would then grab Michaels by the face and throw him down to the mat – walking away frustrated by his loss.
9. Ladder Crotch Chop
WrestleMania XXII: Shawn Michaels vs. Vince McMahon in a No Holds Barred match. This was not the best “wrestling” match that Shawn Michaels has had, considering his opponent, but he still found ways to get the crowd on their feet.
During this time, there had been rumblings of a D-Generation X reunion. Triple H and Shawn Michaels were apparently going to get back together as the controversial duo that helped form the Attitude Era. Of course, in WWE, rumors are constant and the DX story could have resulted in nothing.
However, when Shawn Michaels placed a trash can over the head of Vince McMahon before laying him on a table and climbing a massive ladder, HBK would give a clear-cut indication that the DX rumors were in fact true, when prior to taking the leap from the ladder, he delivered the classic DX crotch-crop – igniting the crowd before dropping an elbow through McMahon.
8. Tap Out to Kurt Angle
WrestleMania XXI: Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle in a match to settle a feud that began a few months prior at the Royal Rumble Pay-Per-View, when HBK eliminated the Olympic Hero from the match. The bout would be an interpromotional contest which saw Michaels representing the Raw brand while Angle would represent SmackDown.
In the build-up to this match, Angle would do all he could to prove that he was better than Michaels including defeating his former tag team partner Marty Jannetty and having Sensational Sherri sing a new version of “Sexy Boy” (Michaels’ theme music) entitled “Sexy Kurt.”
When it came time for the much anticipated match-up, Shawn Michaels and Kurt Angle delivered, putting on the best match of WrestleMania XXI and one of the best ‘Mania matches of all time. With the back and forth action leaving fans in suspense as to who would emerge victorious, a sudden Ankle Lock would leave Michaels scratching and crawling around the ring in search of the ropes.
Michaels would remain in the hold for a substantial amount of time before finally tapping out to Angle. This would be the first time that Shawn Michaels ever tapped out at WrestleMania.
7. Holy Entrance
WrestleMania XXV: Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker in the first of back-to-back ‘Mania encounters. This first match was not built on personal animosity but pure competition as Michaels believed in his heart that he could be the man that ended The Undertaker’s undefeated streak.
The Undertaker, who has mastered the art of playing mind games with his opponent, would experience some psychological warfare directed towards him when Michaels decided to play a similar role, in an attempt to mess with The Undertaker and his strategy heading into their match.
The concept Michaels was going for was simple: good vs. evil. Prior to their bout, Michaels would literally descend from the heavens; dressed in white and under the shine of a holy light.
6. Crawl, Throat Cut, and Slap
WrestleMania XXVI: Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker for the second consecutive year, except this time the stakes were raised as HBK agreed to place his career on the line against The Deadman’s streak.
This particular year would not place the WWE or World Heavyweight Championship in the main event, as that spot was given to two of the WWE’s most loyal and illustrious superstars and they in no way disappointed the crowd.
The match was emotional and even brought out a slightly human side to The Undertaker, who seemingly felt bad for Shawn Michaels at one point, knowing that he was mere moments away from putting the career of HBK to rest. While ‘Taker was telling Michaels to “stay down,” the resilient HBK would not have it that way.
In a desperate and sad scene, Shawn Michaels would crawl up the legs of The Undertaker – battered and broken – and deliver The Undertaker’s signature throat cut before slapping The Deadman across the face. These would be the final actions in the wrestling career of Shawn Michaels, as a devastating Tombstone would follow, thus putting an end to HBK.
5. Super Kick in the Cell
WrestleMania XXVIII: Triple H vs. The Undertaker in a Hell in a Cell match, appropriately dubbed “The End of an Era” match with special guest referee, Shawn Michaels.
Much like his friend, Triple H was doing battle with The Undertaker for the second consecutive year – third time overall at ‘Mania. In their previous encounter at WrestleMania XXVII, even though The Undertaker won the match, it was Triple H who walked out while ‘Taker was carted out of the arena.
This was motivation enough for The Undertaker to seek out The Game and demand another match with The Cerebral Assassin. While at first reluctant, Triple H would eventually give in to The Undertaker and give him the match as long as it was contested inside Hell in a Cell.
The bout was already a high-profile affair and then HBK was tossed into the mix as the man who would officiate the contest. While Michaels claimed he would be unbiased and call it down the middle, a moment of weakness and perhaps a chance at retribution saw HBK deliver a Sweet Chin Music to The Undertaker – nearly costing him the match and his undefeated streak.
Michaels, looking torn would then sit in the corner of the ring with a distraught look on his face, wrestling with his morals and convictions.
4. Ladder Splash
WrestleMania X: Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon for the Undisputed Intercontinental Championship, contested in a Ladder match.
With both men laying claim to the Intercontinental Championship and both possessing a title belt, this contest was to settle once and for all just who was the real IC Champion. With both title belts suspended high above the ring, Michaels and Ramon would place their bodies on the line in Madison Square Garden.
The highlight of this match, which has been shown in video packages and HBK tributes alike over the years, is the classic and iconic ladder dive performed by Shawn Michaels onto Razor Ramon who was laid out below.
3. Knocked Out by Mike Tyson
WrestleMania XIV: Shawn Michaels vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin for the WWE Championship with Mike Tyson as the special enforcer.
This title match was an all-important part of WWE history as perhaps the two most controversial figures of the Attitude Era would main event the biggest event of the year. On that night in Boston, Steve Austin would win his first ever WWE Championship, officially launching the “Austin Era” in WWE.
Mike Tyson, who was supposed to have been aligned with D-Generation X, would be the man to count the shoulders of HBK to the mat, thus awarding Austin the WWE Championship. Following the match, an irate Shawn Michaels would show his frustrations and attempt to take a swing at Tyson, which was blocked and countered, resulting in the knock out of HBK.
2. “I’m Sorry. I Love You”
WrestleMania XXIV: Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair, with the career of The Nature Boy on the line in an emotional roller coaster of a contest.
Ric Flair had been working under the stipulation that his next loss would also result in the end of his career. The Natch has been successful for a number of months while defending his legendary career and when it came time for the WrestleMania; Ric Flair wanted to face nobody else except for Shawn Michaels – his hand chosen opponent.
The build to their match saw Shawn Michaels once again struggling with his morals as he did not want to be the guy who ended the career of Ric Flair – his idol and his friend. During the match, Flair would pull out all the stops. “The dirtiest player in the game” was not going down without a fight.
Eventually, HBK was too much for The Natch to overcome. Following a Super Kick out of nowhere, Shawn Michaels made his way to the corner to set up for another kick. When Michaels began to tune up the band, he stopped and hung his head waiting for Flair to make it back to his feet. Once standing, an emotional Ric Flair would call for Shawn Michaels to deliver the Sweet Chin Music – which he did – but not before delivering some loving words to The Nature Boy: “I’m sorry. I love you.”
1. Zip-Line Entrance
WrestleMania XII: Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart for the WWE Championship in a 60-Minute Iron Man match – a test of will and an instant wrestling classic – in what was probably the greatest WrestleMania match of all time.
Needless to say, HBK and The Hitman put on one hell of a show in a match that showcased the best of both men. Despite real life animosity between the two, Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart always brought out the best in each other.
Following the hour-long bout, there were no falls counted for either man which would result in a sudden death overtime – which HBK would win and become the new WWE Champion. While the match itself was remarkable, Shawn Michaels would make his way to the ring prior to the bout by way of zip-line in true Show Stopper fashion.
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