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The Shawn Michaels Story Part Six : Heartbreak Kid’s Return From the Heartbreak

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With his personal problems behind him, Shawn Michaels was about to embark on an all to familiar journey. Shawn returned home to where he belongs; the squared circle. The Piledriver Report examines Shawn Michaels first two years back in the ring.

After getting himself cleaned out, and making amends with Triple H, Shawn Michaels was getting the itch to make a return to the ring. That return would come on June 3rd's edition of Monday Night RAW when Kevin Nash introduced the "Heartbreak Kid" as the newest member of the New World Order. On June 10th, Shawn Michaels helped lead the charge in kicking Booker T out of the group after the future "King" wanted to perform the spinarooni to his own music. The new nWo did not last long. On July 8th's RAW, the main event featured a five on five match-up between Kevin Nash, X-Pac, the Big Show, Chris Benoit, and Eddie Guerrero against Rob Van Dam, Booker T, Goldust, Bubba Ray Dudley, and Spike Dudley. Late in the match, Kevin Nash injured his knee, and was put out of action. This put an end to the New World Order angle.

With the nWo disbanded, Shawn Michaels was talking about getting DeGeneration X back together. Before the end of the New World Order, the group teased that they would get Triple H to join the group. Since the nWo was now dead, Shawn wanted Triple H to have a DX reunion. On the July 22nd RAW, Triple H accepted Shawn's invitation. However, just when the fans thought the controversial duo were reuniting, Triple H turned on Shawn Michaels. Shawn would eventually challenge Triple H to an unsanctioned street fight

After an almost four and a half year absence as an active WWE in-ring performer, Shawn Michaels made his return on August 25th, 2002 at SummerSlam. He wrestled Triple H for over 27 minutes when he beat his former DX partner in their street fight match. Following the match, Triple H attacked Shawn with a sledgehammer. On October 28th, Shawn made his return to RAW. Triple H fought Kane in a non-title Casket Match. During the match, Shawn jumped out of the casket, and attacked Triple H. After trapping Triple H in the casket, Shawn Michaels danced on top of the casket to close the show. Shawn's return helped to set up his second WWE match since his June return.

On November 17th, 2002, Shawn Michaels joined Triple H, Chris Jericho, Booker T, Rob Van Dam, and Kane in the first ever Elimination Chamber steel cage match at the Survivor Series. Shawn captured the World Heavyweight championship after pinning Triple H. On December 15th, Shawn made his first title defense at the Armageddon pay per view against Triple H. The two fought in a Three Stages of Hell match. In the first stage, Triple H beat Shawn in a hardcore match. Shawn evened the score after he pinned Triple H in a steel cage. In the rubber match, Triple H beat Shawn Michaels in a ladder match to regain the title.

Michaels moved on to his next feud with Chris Jericho, as Jericho started to claim he was the "new" Shawn Michaels. Jericho won a battle royal that allowed himself to pick which number he would enter at in the Royal Rumble match. With Shawn Michaels already slotted in at the number one spot, Chris Jericho chose the number two entrance. In the Royal Rumble match, he quickly disposed of Shawn Michaels, with the help of Christian. Later in the match, Shawn Michaels ran back to the ring to attack Chris Jericho, helping to cause his elimination. The two brawled a little until a group of referees broke up their fight. Their feud exploded at WrestleMania XIX. This was Shawn's first true singles match since he returned to the ring. There were no gimmicks added to this match that would help protect him. For the first time since WrestleMania XIV, Shawn would perform in a straight match that would truly test how for his back has come since that fateful bump that he took at the 1998 Royal Rumble. Shawn beat Jericho in a great contest. After the match, the two embraced until Jericho hit him with a low blow. While continuing his feud with Jericho, Shawn teamed with Kevin Nash and Booker T, as Ric Flair and Shawn's old nemesis, Triple H were added to the war.

At SummerSlam 2003, Shawn Michaels took part in another Elimination Chamber match. Along with Michaels, the match included World Heavyweight Champion Triple H, Bill Goldberg, Kevin Nash, Randy Orton, and Chris Jericho. However, unlike the first Chamber match, this time Shawn Michaels didn't leave the arena with the gold. Throughout the fall, Shawn Michaels was feuding with Triple H's Four Horsemen type stable called Evolution. The main wrestler that felt Shawn's wrath was Randy Orton. Eventually, Shawn would go through the members of the group until there was one member left standing.

At the 2004 Royal Rumble, Shawn Michaels would get another crack at Triple H. The two fought in a Last Man Standing match. The match ended in a draw when neither man can get to their feet after a ten count following a super kick from Shawn Michaels onto Triple H. After winning the 2008 Royal Rumble, SmackDown! Superstar Chris Benoit moved to RAW to challenge Triple H for the World Heavyweight championship. Shawn Michaels felt that he deserved the title shot since he didn't lose his match to Triple H at the Rumble. On February 9th, 2004, after Chris Benoit beat Ric Flair, Triple H signed the WrestleMania World title contract for he and Benoit's match. Benoit was prevented from signing the contract when Shawn Michaels knocked Benoit out with the superkick and signed his name in Benoit's place. The next week, Steve Austin announced that Triple H would defend the World Heavyweight title against BOTH Chris Benoit and Shawn Michaels in a Triple Threat match at WrestleMania XX.

WrestleMania XX took place on Sunday, March 14th, 2004 at Madison Square Garden. In the World title main event, Chris Benoit forced Triple H to submit in one of the greatest Triple Threat matches in professional wrestling history. For Shawn Michaels being in this match was extremely important. After everything he went through, from his back injury, to his drug addiction, to his comeback, main eventing once again at WrestleMania proved to Shawn Michaels that he was back to the same level that he was six years prior.

The next month, on April 18th, the WWE presented a WrestleMania XX rematch. Triple H and Shawn Michaels joined the new World Heavyweight Champion Chris Benoit in a Triple Threat World title match. This time, Shawn Michaels did the job, as Chris Benoit won the match after making Shawn submit after being locked in the sharpshooter.

On the next RAW pay per view in June, Shawn Michaels fought Triple H in his second Hell in a Cell match. It was the longest Hell in a Cell match in the specialty match's history. The two former friends wrestled for over 47 minutes before Triple H finally pinned Shawn Michaels.

On the RAW telecast on June 14th, the WWE held an angle where Kane attacked Shawn Michaels. This "attack" allowed Shawn Michaels to take time off so he can heal injuries. He would return at September's pay per view, Unforgiven, where he beat Kane in a No DQ match.

In the fall, the WWE presented a new pay per view concept called Taboo Tuesday. This was the WWE's first interactive pay per view, where each match would have either the participants or stipulations voted on by the fans. In the World title match, the World Heavyweight Champion, Triple H would have to face one of three challengers; former champion Chris Benoit, Shawn Michaels, or Edge.

The day before the pay per view, Shawn Michaels fought Edge and Chris Benoit in a Triple Threat match during a house show card. Unfortunately, during the match, Shawn Michaels suffered a torn meniscus. Not only was his immediate future in jeopardy, but his participation in the Taboo Tuesday pay per view was also very much in trouble.

The WWE had to be hoping that Shawn Michaels did not win the fan voting. If he lost the voting, he would have participated in a tag match with the other voting loser, where they would be taking on WWE Raw Tag Team Champions Sylvian Grenier and Rob Conway. A tag team match would have given Shawn Michaels the chance to be protected by not having to do much in-ring work.

It was not meant to be, as Shawn Michaels garnered a whopping 39% of the votes. He wrestled a courageous match against Triple H before losing. After the pay per view, Shawn Michaels would take some time off to heal his knee injury.

While the injury wasn't as serious as his back injury that kept him out of action for over four years, the injury did cause a minor setback. The set back would last long, as Michaels would prove, with the help of Kurt Angle, that his reputation as Mr. WrestleMania is alive and well.

by Ronny Sarnecky of

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