When it comes to the WWE, there may not be a wrestler that has left a legacy quite like Michael Shawn Hickenbottom, better known as Shawn Michaels, aka the Heartbreak Kid. Michaels had an incredibly successful career that spanned decades but success came with some incredibly dark times and some personal demons.
For all of the pitfalls that hindered HBK’s career, came with it lessons that he used to help out countless wrestlers along the way.
There was a period of Michaels life where he was battling addictions, and struggling to keep his head afloat in the industry that he loved. On top of the personal demons, Michaels battled incredible physical odds to be able to wrestle for as long as he did. Even a brief retirement was not enough to fully keep Michaels away from the ring.
When Michaels had his last match with the Undertaker in 2010, it was clearly the last that we were going to see of the Heartbreak Kid, at least in wrestling boots. But what he left behind was an undeniable legacy that helps make him one of the most iconic wrestlers in the history of the WWE.
There are no shortage of amazing stories and tales that HBK experienced in his life, but here are 15 facts that you may not already know.
15 He Has Won "Match of the Year" 11 Times
When it comes to accolades in the wrestling world, there may not be a more respected magazine then Pro Wrestling Illustrated. The magazine has been around since 1972, and has awarded out Match of the Year Awards since the start. HBK’s talent is undeniable when you consider that he has taken home the award a record 11 times throughout his career. It may not be shocking for Mr.Wrestlemania, that 9 of those matches came on the biggest stages of them all.
Starting back in 1993, HBK’s Match of the Year was:
1993: vs Marty Jannetty – Monday Night Raw
1994: vs Razor Ramon – Wrestlemania 10
1995: vs Diesel – Wrestlemania 11
1996: vs Bret Hart – Wrestlemania 12
2004: vs Triple H vs Chris Benoit – Wrestlemania 20
2005: vs Kurt Angle – Wrestlemania 21
2006: vs Vince McMahon – Wrestlemania 22
2007: vs John Cena – Monday Night Raw
2008: vs Ric Flair – Wrestlemania 24
2009: vs The Undertaker – Wrestlemania 25
2010: vs The Undertaker – Wrestlemania 26
14 Jimmy Hart Came Up With His Theme Song
HBK just wouldn’t be HBK if not for his iconic theme song. You need to have a certain amount of confidence to be able to sing your own song and still have it be your anthem for over a decade. When asked about the anthem, Michaels mentioned that it was Jimmy Hart who wrote the song. Similarly, it was Hart who thought HBK needed to be the one singing it causing Michaels to retort:
13 His Thoughts After His Last Match
HBK had an outstanding career that spanned decades, but there will always be something special about your last big match. For Michaels, that came in 2010 at WrestleMania against The Undertaker. The match had high expectations, as their previous encounter in 2009 was awarded the match of the year. They didn’t even kind of disappoint, and put on an outstanding spectacle that was well deserving of it’s award of match of the year in 2010. An interview with HBK asked him about his thoughts right after the match,
12 Why He Retired
There are a lot of reasons that helped make the decision to leave the ring an easier one for Michaels. Yet even if you forget the health implications of continuing to wrestle, it was family that helped really cement the decision to walk away. It was before WrestleMania XXV (a year before retirement) when he was talking to someone backstage about his son who had just turned 9.
The employee responded “'Wow, halfway gone.' He said he was halfway to 18 and when he's 18 he's gone. That blew me away... He's halfway gone and I'm not going to miss that. Period.”
11 He Could Keep Wrestling
It can be an incredibly devastating thing when a fan favorite has to leave the WWE because of an injury, such as in the case of Adam Copeland (aka Edge). For Michaels, he thought that was the case for himself when he had to take several years off to recover from back surgery. It may be pleasing for fans to know that at least when he retired in 2010, that he felt he absolutely could have kept wrestling (he just chose not to).
In an interview when asked about if he had one more in him, HBK stated:
10 He Hurt His Back Wrestling The Undertaker
9 Curt Hennig Suggested The Nickname
8 He Smashed A Bottle Over His Head
7 Michaels Got Assaulted And It Cost Him A Title
For all the partying that Michaels allegedly did in his life, it may not be shocking to know that he got assaulted outside of a bar in 1995. Timing could not have been worse for Michaels who had the WWE Pay-Per-View, In Your House coming up that month. Unfortunately, injuries sustained by Michaels forced the wrestler to be unable to compete. As a result, Michaels was forced to forfeit the Intercontinental Championship. Given that his opponent, Dean Douglas, still ended up not leaving the PPV as a champion (he lost to Razor Ramon), it would not be a leap to see that the WWE had no plans of taking the title off of HBK at that PPV.
6 He Has Been Twice Married
5 He Posed in Playgirl
4 He Opened His Own Wrestling Academy
3 His Son Helped Him Get Clean
Michaels has battled several addictions in his life, but it was his son that helped make Michaels realize that he needed to take the steps to improve his life. It was during his time away from the ring, that Michaels states he had a moment with his son that made him finally realize it was time to clean himself up. In an interview with the WWE, Michael describes the final moment:
“My son was 2 years old and I was half-in-the-bag on the couch, and him thinking I was tired. I realized, 'My goodness, he’s starting to notice. This isn’t something you’ll be able to hide from him.' It broke my heart. I just could not bear the thought of this innocent baby being ruined by something he had absolutely nothing to do with. I decided there needed to be a change — and a drastic one.”
2 It Was God That Inspired His Return to the Ring
1 Randy Savage Wanted To Wrestle Him
Randy Savage had a fantastic wrestling career, and is well deserving of his place in the wrestling Hall of Fame. As entertaining as he was in the ring, the Macho Man, was just as captivating with a mic in his hand. That would have made it all the more exciting if he had been given the chance to feud with Michaels like he had wanted to. Savage’s brother, Lanny Poffo, talked extensively about this saying that his brother had “hopes to have a two-year feud that would be kind of his masterpiece, the last thing he wanted to do in his career, culminating in a big blow-off match in which he'd put you over,” but unfortunately this did not come to fruition and Savage left the WWF in 1994. While Michaels stated he did not know about the potential angle, he’s quick to admit how much the feud would have helped him develop as a wrestler.
“Obviously, that would have been a blast. Gosh, I think that would have helped me immensely at that time. I think there's so much I could have learned and would have learned."
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