US, November 15, 2007 – It’s been a hectic 2007 for Shawn Michaels. When best pal Triple H went down with a torn quadriceps muscle in January, Michaels had to take over on the babyface side and become the top wrestler on the RAW brand. That led to a face vs. face match at WrestleMania, where Michaels main-evented his fourth WrestleMania against John Cena. Two months after losing that match, Michaels was injured by Randy Orton on an episode of RAW, and in his time off, had long-needed knee surgery that put him on the shelf for several months.
Michaels returned on the October 8 RAW, attacking Orton, who he wrestled at Cyber Sunday on October 28, winning by disqualification. On November 18, he wrestles Orton at the WWE’s Survivor Series pay-per-view, in a match where he won’t be allowed to use his now-legendary “Sweet Chin Music” superkick finisher.
In addition, “The Shawn Michaels Story: Heartbreak and Triumph”, a three-disc DVD collection spanning Michaels’ career, hits stores on November 27. IGN recently spoke with Michaels and discussed his career, working with new talent, and both his favorite and least favorite matches.< a video game?
Well, it’s just phenomenal with what they’ve done. It looks so real. Obviously, I’m in nowhere near as good as shape as the guys made me in the game, but it does look pretty cool. With me, it’s when my kids see it. It’s neat when your children see, “Holy cow, my dad’s in a video game”; you get the impression all dads do. It’s amazing with what’s been done with the graphics and the realism; unfortunately, I’m not equipped…I’m not nimble enough in my fingers to do all those things at once!
How’s the knee coming along?
It feels good. I had a couple of weeks there where it got a little dicey on me, last week and the week before, but it feels good.
Have you had to modify the way you’ve worked since you’ve come back to account for it?
Well, you know, I’ve made sure I’ve either wrapped my knees or wore my braces on interviews. I’m not gambling in any respect, but I think it’s holding up fine.
Your DVD comes out on November 27th, and outside of the many WWE matches on there, there’s the famous bloodbath match with you and Marty Jannetty versus Buddy Rose and Doug Somers (from the AWA) on it. Are there any other matches from before your WWE tenure that you’d like to have seen put on the DVD?
Well the one match with Buddy and Doug is the one everyone always comments on, and that was an awesome match, but the next time we came back to Vegas, we did a cage match, and I thought that one was really cool. That one doesn’t get much play because the bloodbath one was the one that put me on the map, but the next month, doing the blowoff in the cage was pretty cool.
After that, the only one I’d want to see on there, for personal reasons really, would be my first feud in Louisiana [for Mid-South Wrestling]. Years ago, I don’t know he got it, but Tommy Dreamer gave me a tape of my first matches out there with Jake [Roberts] and things like that. Something happened in that match I had with Jake where I learned one of my first lessons about the wrestling business. Jake wanted me to reverse a hold, and gave me what we call “the office” and… I wasn’t doing anything (laughs). And the way I look is just funny, seeing myself so young. I looked like I was ten.
Do you feel that now, being on the other side of things in the ring, when you wrestle with guys who are less experienced and younger, and you give them “the office”, do you see them getting confused the same way you did?
I think the only thing with our talent is that they sometimes, so I’m told, that they get intimidated. On one hand, that’s extremely flattering; I tell guys “Don’t be afraid to whomp on me in there, I appreciate you respecting me back here, but when you go out there, you can’t do that.” Even with guys like Batista, he’ll tell me “I don’t want to hurt you!”, but they’ve got to do that.
I enjoy the teaching part, when I get to do that, and when they tell me they’ve learned something, I take it as a huge compliment from them. I enjoyed working with John [Cena] because he was incredibly trusting and understanding. It’s nice to go out there and take somebody through something and have it work out well. I had an attitude [at that point of my career], and would certainly understand if they had one, but they don’t, and it’s nice that they don’t, but it’s OK even if they do. That attitude or that air of confidence is what’s going to eventually separate them from everyone else and they need to find out that they need to have that and it’s OK to be confident.
That DVD will serve as part of your legacy as a wrestler, but another part of that is the guys you’ve helped train who have become fantastic talents in their own right, notably Brian Kendrick, Lance Cade, and Bryan Danielson. Do you feel a sense of pride when they have a good match, or are they out on their own now that they’re on the big stage?
All of them were good when they came in. I knew they’d be good, and they would make it if they wanted to. As much as I would love to lay claim to them and say, “Yeah, I did it”, those young boys worked hard, so hard. All those guys were my first class, and my first class was so incredibly special.
But yeah, I still do talk to them about things; Lance even rode to me with TV this last week, and I had a talk with Brian. At the same time, I don’t want them getting labeled as Shawn’s boy, either. I’ve tried to make sure that I’m off them enough to avoid getting them heat and let them do it on their own, but also to let them know that I’m there if they need me. I don’t believe in the whole “I’m the mentor, they need to come sit underneath the learning tree” kinda thing. They’re all individuals and they’ve all gotta find their niche and find what works for them, when they have problems or a situation, I’m always there to help them through it and give them audience, but they never have to take it. I respect them all enough to let them decide. I just don’t have the ability to discount the way I looked at things when I was that age. Sometimes I took the advice, and sometimes I said “Old man, you don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Is there anyone you haven’t worked with yet who you’d like to have a match with before you retire, or anyone you haven’t done a program with who you’d like to work across from?
I’d love to get out there with Jeff Hardy, if we had time. I’d like to get out there with Brian or Lance too, again, if we had time. There are a number of guys I’d like to work with, but the biggest issue with me is getting time with them. The time constraints from a production standpoint don’t always work with me, but hey, it’s not my company, so I have no say in that. I think those time constraints keep us from seeing the talent in some guys who I know have more ability.
This Sunday, of course, you’re up against Randy Orton at Survivor Series in a match where you’re not allowed to use the superkick. Does that mean that we’re going to see the return of the Teardrop Suplex?
Is that what it’s called? The one I first used?
Yep, the one you used in the 90’s.
OK, then yes, definitely, if that’s what it’s called. I can do all the moves, but I have no idea what it’s called. I may have to pull out some new stuff and wrestle like I did years ago. I think it’ll make it interesting. I enjoy the stipulations that we’ve put into this. It’s sparked the creative flow, and that’s the one part of the industry I’ll never get tired of, thinking of new ways to do something different and interesting.
There was that one match you had with Shelton Benjamin where you did the superkick out of nowhere, and it came off so well that they’ve tried to use it nine or ten times again because it was magic the first time it happened.
Exactly, and unfortunately…you can’t do that. You can say that to somebody, but most of the really cool things just sort of happen, and everytime you try and go back and make it happen, it’s not the same, but again, it’s not my game. That being said, if I say no to anything, I might get labeled with the same attitude that I had years ago, so I say yes to everything now.
You look back, it’s been a pretty amazing career with regards to your match quality. I know this is difficult, but if there was one match you wanted to show to people as the best example of your craft, what would it be?
It’s a hard question, a really hard one. I mean, I love the Hell in the Cell match, love the Ironman match at WrestleMania, like the hour-long match with John [Cena] from TV, like the Mind Games match with Mick, like my match with Angle, I like my WrestleMania 19 match with Jericho, I mean, I like my In Your House with Jeff Jarrett. There are ones that are special to me just because of one thing in the match where I think “Wow, I really liked that”.
OK, well, on the other side, is there a match you just wish you could bury it and hope you never see it again?
That’s pretty easy, actually. The one in San Antonio versus Sid. I was feeling horrible, had the flu, didn’t feel or look good, and there was not a lot of effort put into it on both sides, but it was a main event for the World Championship, with a sold-out house, 60,000 people. I wish it had been better. On the other hand, I’d have to say Montreal, too. I would’ve liked to just be absent that day.
Well, indirectly, Montreal probably made the most money in the long run.
Well, yeah, it started a whole new trend in the industry, but for different reasons, creative ones. I’ve probably got a ton of house show matches I’d want to take away, too, but I can’t remember them all.
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