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The Shawn Michaels Story Part Three : A Boyhood Dream is Realized

······································································································································································ Date: Friday, October 10, 2008 —— Comment: Reactions —— Discuss: Forum

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The moment was finally upon Shawn Michaels. Ever since he could remember, Shawn dreamed of winning a pro wrestling World Championship. In 1996, Shawn’s dream would be realized. Part Three of the Shawn Michaels Story looks at Shawn’s first two WWF World title reigns.

At the 1996 Royal Rumble, the WWF started to tease a slow heel turn with “Big Daddy Cool” Diesel. Bret Hart’s WWF World title defense against, fellow fan favorite, the Undertaker would end in a disqualification following Diesel’s interference. Later in the evening, Diesel and his best friend, Shawn Michaels, were the final two competitors in the main event battle royal. Shawn Michaels would win the match, and a spot in the WrestleMania XII WWF World title main event, after eliminating Diesel. The ex-WWF World champion did not take to kindly to his elimination. He appeared to be upset with the “Heartbreak Kid,” but the two would give each other a high five to show that every thing was cool between each other.

While Diesel was having problems dealing with life without the WWF World title, Shawn was having problems of his own. Owen Hart was taking credit for “taking out” Shawn Michaels. He convinced Michaels to put his #1 contender’s spot at WrestleMania on the line in a match at the February pay per view.

A few weeks before Shawn Michaels was to fight Owen Hart at the pay per view, the WWF held a house show on January 26th at Madison Square Garden. During the main event steel cage match, the Undertaker interfered on Bret’s behalf, thus costing Diesel a shot at recapturing the WWF title. This brought out Shawn Michaels, and the lines were drawn in the sand. The Undertaker and Bret Hart against Diesel and Shawn Michaels would headline the next Garden card.

The February In Your House pay per view took place on the 18th at the Louisville Gardens in Kentucky. Shawn Michaels gained a measure of revenge against Owen Hart, and retained his spot in the WrestleMania XII main event, by pinning the “King of Harts” shoulders to the mat. Later in the show, Diesel’s quest to regain the WWF World title was foiled once again, as the Undertaker busted through the mat, grabbed Diesel, thus allowing Bret Hart to escape the cage.

On St. Patrick’s Day, Diesel was set to get revenge on the Undertaker and Bret Hart. However, when Diesel lost his cool, and struck the Undertaker with a chair, “Big Daddy Cool” and the “Heartbreak Kid” were disqualified. Diesel took the chair, and nailed Bret Hart, as well as Shawn Michaels. The “Dudes with Attitudes” partnership was officially over.

As the drama between Diesel, Bret Hart, the Undertaker, and Shawn Michaels was unfolding, the WWF was in full hype mode for WrestleMania XII. The main focus of the 12th edition of the WWF’s premier supercard was the clash between Shawn Michaels and the WWF World Champion Bret Hart. On the February 26th edition of RAW, the WWF Commissioner Roddy Piper announced that their upcoming title match would be contested as a one-hour marathon match. Throughout the weeks leading up to WrestleMania, the WWF presented special training videos of Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart preparing for their match. The WWF portrayed Shawn’s quest for the gold as a man chasing his boyhood dream. Along for the chase was Shawn’s original trainer Jose Lothario. Jose would be featured predominately in the videos. He would even start to accompany Michaels to the ring during Shawn’s matches.

At WrestleMania XII, Shawn Michaels finally accomplished his “boyhood dream” when he beat Bret Hart for the WWF World title in overtime. Following the match, you could see Shawn mouth, “Get the fuck out of my ring” to Bret Hart. This was yet another sign of the immaturity that Michaels showed during this period of his career.

In Bret Hart’s RF Video shoot interview, he talked about Shawn being anxious to finally get the title at WrestleMania XII. Bret believed that Shawn did not know that Kevin Nash and Scott Hall were heading to World Championship Wrestling. Bret said that Shawn was talking about all of the guys that he could make money with as champion. When Shawn listed every challenger, each guy was a member of Shawn’s “clique.”

When Bret Hart “got the **** out of” Shawn’s ring, and headed for time away from the WWF, it was time for Michaels to go through his list of contenders. His first challenger was former “good friend, and now better enemy,” Diesel. With the memory of Diesel’s chair shot at MSG still fresh in Shawn’s head, Shawn challenged Diesel to come into the ring on the RAW after WrestleMania. Diesel entered the ring, and laid out the new champion with the WWF World title belt.

On April 28th, Shawn fought Diesel in a No Disqualification match at the In Your House pay per view. This was one of the WWF’s first “hardcore ECW” style matches just before the dawn of the WWF’s “Attitude Era.” This match featured chair shots, a table, and even the use of Mad Dog Vachon’s prosthetic leg. Shawn finally evened the score for his WrestleMania XI loss to Diesel after pinning him with “Sweet Chin Music.” Shawn’s first major title defense was a terrific main event brawl. However, their more famous match was yet to take place.

On May 19th, Shawn and Diesel fought in Madison Square Garden inside the confines of a steel cage. This match was the normal run of the mill house show exhibition. However, what happened AFTER the match is what made this match famous. This card featured Diesel and Razor Ramon’s final appearance in the WWF before they left for World Championship Wrestling. At the end of the match, as Diesel was knocked out and Michaels was posing with the title belt, Razor Ramon came to the ring, hugged Shawn and raised his hand. Michaels then revived Diesel and waved for someone else to join them in the ring. Hunter Hearst Helmsley then appeared and hugged Michaels before all four men embraced and held each other’s arm in the air. This will forever be known as the “Clique Goodbye.” It is also the first time that wrestlers in the WWF would break kayfabe at a WWF wrestling show at a time when kayfabe was still taken seriously; despite the WWF admitting wrestling was “staged” nearly a decade earlier.

A week later, Shawn faced Davey Boy Smith in the first of two consecutive pay per view events. In the May In Your House, Shawn fought Davey Boy to a draw when both men’s shoulders where counted on the mat. At the King of the Ring, Shawn Michaels pinned Smith.

With Bret Hart on sabbatical, and Diesel and Razor in WCW, Shawn defended his title against a variety of contenders. At SummerSlam, he defeated former WCW World Champion Vader. At the September “In Your House,” Michaels beat Mankind by disqualification; in a match that Mick Foley calls one of his greatest matches ever. At the October pay per view, Shawn beat Goldust in the main event.

Heading into the Survivor Series, Shawn was faced against his greatest challenge. He would fight his former bodyguard “Pyscho” Sid. Sid was probably the first major name that Michaels defended the title against since Diesel left. A strange occurrence happened during their Survivor Series match. The crowd at Madison Square Garden started to turn on Shawn, and cheered Sid. In the closing moments of their match, Sid hit Jose Lothario with one of the cameras that were filming the pay per view. He then turned the camera on Shawn, knocking the champion out. Following a 1-2-3 later, Sid captured his first WWF World championship.

To begin the new year, it was announced that Sid would defend the WWF World title against Shawn Michaels at the 1997 Royal Rumble. The Royal Rumble was being held in Shawn’s hometown of San Antonio, Texas on January 19th. Shawn got revenge against Sid’s attack on Michaels’ trainer, by repeatedly striking Sid with a video camera, followed by “Sweet Chin Music” to regain the WWF World championship.

Following his second World title win, Shawn Michaels was on top of the world. He was once again the WWF World champion. Nothing could bring him down. However, a bum knee was about to have his entire world come crashing down on him. For most athletes, depression would hit, as they had to think of what life may be like without them being able to compete. For Shawn Michaels, the late winter/early spring months would be spent trying to find his smile once again.

by Ronnie Samecky of

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