In the Summer of 2002, somewhere in Rajasthan, India, a 6 year old who had just started viewing wrestling witnessed the return of Shawn Michaels to the WWE. And for all he could figure out, it was a really big deal. Over the next few months, that very wrestler would make an impact on the boy’s life and continue making one till the day he retired.
Today, when someone asks you who is the greatest in-ring performer the business has ever seen, only one name comes to mind. Shawn Michaels. It is said there are two kinds of champions, the ones who are considered to be at the top due to the belt’s prestige and the ones who actually raise it. And Michaels has throughout his career been the sort of person who has raised the prestige of the championship he’s carried. While he has never truly been the face of the company, he has revolutionized the business in his own way. By breaking the glass ceiling, he has made it easier for modern day ‘smaller guys’ to make it big in the business. In addition, he has always been one of the most skilled and technically gifted wrestlers on the roster and a great high-flyer to boot. Nor is he less than awesome on the mic. And why every fan of the business will always remember him is because he is Mr. Wrestlemania. He has the insane ability to go out onto the grandest stage of them all and give the fans a show that they would tell their Grandchildren about.
But all this is not why I wrote my article. All these reasons go way over the head of a 6 year old. What the kid saw was the story told in the ring. The story of the ultimate underdog. Someone who would get hit, keep getting hit and still come back. And boy did he fight back. Every time he came back from a hellacious beating, the boy would jump up and down on his couch (much to the annoyance of the parents).
Shawn Michaels not only had a never-say-die attitude in the ring, but in real life. What cemented his legacy was the fact that after suffering from a career threatening injury, he was able to come back and perform at the same, if not higher, level for almost 9 years. HBK had made a habit out of overcoming the odds. He would end up winning plenty of titles in his illustrious career, have more than a handful of matches that would go on to be dubbed ‘Match of the Year’. He had some great feuds and rivalries, both in the ring and out of it (read Bret Hart). And none of his feuds will be more iconic then him going at it with Triple H over the years. When he returned to the ring after the demise of the NWO, it would be versus Hunter at Summerslam 2002, where Michaels would come out on top, only for him to get savaged by the sledge-hammer. After losing his belt at Wrestlemania 14, he would again challenge for the title after 1,695 days! He would meet his rival Triple-H in an Elimination Chamber with four other superstars – Chris Jericho, Booker T, Kane and RVD.
And this would be the day when Shawn Michaels would finally turn into a Hero for the boy. When he would overcome insurmountable odds to reclaim the World Heavyweight Championship for one last time in his career. When he would get the better of a two-on-one situation and pin both men. When he would hit his most memorable elbow from the top of a pod and drive it into his foe’s heart. When he would celebrate with his belt with blood on his face and confetti in his hair. When he would prove to all the people who had believed his career was over that he will always fightback no matter what you through at him. When he would teach the kid to never, ever surrender.
Kindly leave some feedback, your thoughts or favorite memories of Michaels.