Michael Shawn Hickenbottom grew up in Chandler, Arizona. Hickenbottom was the last of 4 kids raised in a military family. He didn’t like the Michael name so everyone would call him Shawn. Shawn may have been a huge fan of Tully Blanchard, but he wanted to play pro football before he ever though about becoming a pro wrestler. Shawn was a stand out athlete and captain of his high school football team, but college just wasn’t as good fit for the future WWE Hall of Famer as high school was. Shawn trained under Jose Lothario and made his professional wrestling debut at just 19 years of age, wrestling for Mid- South Wrestling & Texas All- Star Wrestling. Michaels was paired with Paul Diamond in a tag team, with Michaels looks, high flying ability and that Je ne sais quois Chavo Guerrero, Sr. knew he had money, so he put the gold on Michaels & Diamond. Michaels was also teaming with a hot up and coming star in Marty Jannetty in other promotions. When the American Wrestling Association saw The Midnight Rockers they had to sign them, changing the landscape of tag team wrestling. Michaels & Jannetty defeated Dough Somers & Buddy Rose for the AWA World Tag Team Championship. Once Vince McMahon got wind of this hot young tag team doing things no other wrestlers were doing he needed them in New York, he signed them soon after.
When the Midnight Rockers, now the Rockers arrived in the World Wrestling Federation they were small fish in a big pond, Shawn and Marty would quickly realize how reluctant the old guard was to pass the torch, forget about getting in the ring with smaller guys and putting them over, they just wanted to cling to their spot (no bright). But Bret Hart being the visionary man he was saw an opportunity in starting a program with the hot young high flying babyface tag team, after all there’s no better way to get heat than beating up some fan favourite pretty boys, besides with The Rockers the Hart Foundation were promised an excellent series of matches. The Rocker’s backstage exploits and attitude would get them in trouble with WWF management and some of the boys in the back so they were held back for a time and even released briefly. The Rockers had great tag matches with the likes of The Hart Foundation, The Brain Busters, The Rougeau Brothers and others. Marty’s attitude got him released, but not before Shawn would hit a Super Kick and put Jannetty’s head through the Barber Shop window in an iconic scene.
Shawn Michaels would go on to join Sensational Sheri Martel and display his new cocky side proudly, he was no longer a fan favourite, he was Shawn Michaels, The Heartbreak Kid! Sheri would carry around Shawn’s mirror so he could check himself out on the way to and in the ring. Shawn would even have it announced when he left “Shawn Michaels has left the building”, every man hated him, and every woman wanted to be beneath him. On October the 27th of 1992 Michaels defeated The British Bulldog to win his first significant singles Championship in the Intercontinental Title. Shawn would go on to a earn a WWF Title match with Bret Hart a month later at the Survivor Series, they would have a great match, but Bret’s Excellence of Execution was just too much. Shawn would have a feud and classic match with the returning Marty Jannetty at the 1993 Royal Rumble. Shawn would be suspended for testing positive for steroids, which he denies to this day, and he quit out of anger and frustration.
Shawn would return and claim to be the ‘Real’ WWF Intercontinental Champion, because he never lost the Title. Razor Ramon, the acting IC Champion took offence to this and the most legendary Ladder Match in pro wrestling history was set for WrestleMania X with both Titles hanging high above the ring. Long story short Shawn lost, but in reality he won, as he would use that legendary match to propel himself to superstardom. Shawn would eventually go on to feud with his bodyguard Diesel. Shawn would win The Royal Rumble match leading to a match at WrestleMania for the WWF Title against his newly found rival and Champion Diesel. Shawn would fall in his attempt to become Champion due to Sid. The next night Shawn was viciously attacked by his new bodyguard Sid (see what I did there). This would turn Shawn into a fan favourite.
Shawn would go on to win the Intercontinental Championship from Jeff Jarrett. This lead to a rematch between Michaels & Ramon with the IC Title once again on the line in a Ladder Match. This time Michaels won the match and Ramon went on to phone in many performances throughout his career while Michaels continued to deliver every night. Michaels would be attacked by multiple men outside of a bar in real life. He was Kayfabe concussed later causing a possible retirement angle. Michaels mad his shocking return at the 1996 Royal Rumble winning for the second year straight punching his ticket to the main event of WrestleMania XII against Bret Hart. Michaels would achieve his ‘boyhood dream’ of being World Champion at WrestleMania.
I was never really a big fan of Shawn Michaels as a child, he always seemed to be missing that something that takes a great wrestler and makes him one of the greatest wrestlers of all time.