Height: 6 foot 1
Weight: 225 pounds
From: San Antonio, Texas
Signature Move: Sweet Chin Music
Associates: Triple H
Trained By: Jose Lothario
Career Highlights: WWE Champion; World Heavyweight Champion; Royal Rumble winner (1995 & 1996); Intercontinental Champion; World Tag Team Champion; European Champion
Sports-entertainment has seen its share of immortals. There have been icons, some Great Ones, a few Olympians and a whole lot of legends. But there has only been one Showstopper, and he is Shawn Michaels.
In an industry where the hyperbole is the norm, there may not be enough ways to describe HBK. He is truly incomparable. Michaels has made a career of stealing the show – competing in matches that are talked about for years. His rivalries over a career spanning more than 20 years are truly the stuff of legends.
Michaels first started revolutionizing the sport during his partnership with Marty Jannetty as The Rockers. Their wars with "Playboy" Buddy Rose & Doug Sommers in the AWA and then the subsequent rivalries with The Hart Foundation and The Brain Busters in WWE changed the face of tag team wrestling and captured the imagination of our fans. Arguably, Michaels could have gone down as one of the greats if he had chosen to stay primarily in tag team competition. But HBK knew he could become an all-time great. One superkick to Jannetty during Brutus Beefcake's Barbershop closed the door on a popular partnership and opened another to Michaels' legend.
HBK's career can't be just measured in titles, even though his trophy case is spilling over. He was WWE's first-ever Grand slam Champion, holding the European Championship, World Tag Team Championship, the Intercontinental Title and WWE Championship. He, along with Triple H, co-founded one of the greatest factions of all time, D-Generation X, whose popularity and anti-establishment philosophy continue to capture the imagination of our fans today.
Perhaps the greatest measure of Michaels' legacy is his uncanny ability to perform his best on the biggest stages. He has won the Royal Rumble Match twice and has headlined WrestleMania more times than the Immortal Hulk Hogan. HBK didn't compete in the first Ladder Match, but he put them on the map with his WrestleMania X war against Razor Ramon over the Intercontinental Championship. He didn't win the match, but at the end of the night, no one was talking about the loss. They were talking about Michaels and the amazing risks he took during the bout.
That's been a common theme throughout Michaels' life. Even as a little boy growing up in Texas, he wanted to be the star of the show. At age 12, he saw his first wrestling match and knew he wanted to become a professional wrestler. Michaels became a stand-out linebacker and a captain on his high school team. Upon graduating, he attended Southwest Texas State University, but soon realized that college wasn't the path he wanted to follow. He began chasing his dream to become a WWE Superstar.
But success didn't come overnight. Early in his career, Michaels had doubters, skeptics who said he was too small to become a World Champion. But he, along with his bitter rival Bret "Hit Man" Hart, overcame incredible odds and proved that skilled wrestlers did not need to be giants to succeed in sports-entertainment. Even when WWE struggled early in the Monday Night Wars against WCW in the late 1990s and its Superstars jumped ship to the competition, HBK stayed and carried the company on his shoulders as champion. He helped lay the foundation that eventually enabled WWE – and Superstars such as "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H and Mankind – to overcome WCW in the Monday Night Wars.
A serious back injury put HBK on the sidelines for four years between 1998 and 2002. During that time Michaels healed and overcame personal demons to find peace in his life. Amazingly, he returned to the ring better than ever, defeating Triple H in a Street Fight at SummerSlam, and then eventually winning the World Heavyweight Championship.
The Game and HBK have been the worst of enemies, spilling buckets of blood in one of WWE's most memorable rivalries. But their wars have only made them the best of friends; it's difficult to imagine these DX cohorts teaming with anyone else. Triple H, who does not give praise easily, sums up Michaels' legacy like this:
"If you were to ask me who's the greatest I've ever been in the ring with, that's easy. It's Shawn."
Though more than 30 years have passed since he saw his first wrestling match, HBK is still a 12-year-old boy at heart, daring to dream. He's still tuning up the band and delighting audiences with Sweet Chin Music. Even after the show finally ends for good, Michaels will still be the Icon … the Showstopper … the Main Event.