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The Shawn Michaels Story Part Nine - The Present Day HBK

······································································································································································ Date: Thursday, November 06, 2008 —— Comment: Reactions —— Discuss: Forum

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Following Triple H’s quad injury, Shawn Michaels was forced to go it alone. Without his DeGeneration X partner by his side, Shawn focused his attention on trying to capture the WWE World title from John Cena in 2007. This year, Shawn was involved in two of the biggest feuds in the WWE throughout the first ten months of 2008. The Piledriver Report takes a look at these past two years in Shawn Michaels’s career as we conclude “The Shawn Michaels Story.”

With Triple H out of action due to a torn quad, Shawn Michaels was forced to go it alone in the DX/Rated RKO war. In order to even up the sides, the WWE inserted the WWE World Champion John Cena as Shawn Michaels' tag team partner. The new duo went on to beat Randy Orton and Edge for the Tag Team titles on January 29th's episode of RAW. On the same night, Shawn Michaels threw a challenge to John Cena to fight him at WrestleMania for the WWE World title if the Undertaker decides to use his title shot for the World Heavyweight championship instead.

The Undertaker made his decision regarding which title he would go after at WrestleMania. He decided to fight Batista for SmackDown's World Heavyweight championship. Since the "Deadman" decided to stay on SmackDown, John Cena didn't have an opponent for WrestleMania. On February 5th, Shawn Michaels announced that he wanted to be John Cena's WrestleMania opponent. However, he was not alone, as both Edge and Randy Orton threw their hats in the ring for the title shot as well. Vince McMahon decided to have the three challengers fight in a triple threat match on that night's RAW. The winner would earn the WrestleMania title shot against John Cena. Shawn Michaels won the title shot to set up a tag champ vs. tag champ singles match for the WWE World title at WrestleMania 23.

Heading into WrestleMania, both men played faces who had each other's back, but still didn't completely trust one another. On March 27th's RAW, Shawn Michaels and John Cena lost in the main event to the Undertaker and Batista when Batista pinned Cena following Shawn superkicking his partner. At WrestleMania 23, John Cena would gain a measure of revenge against Michaels by forcing him to submit to the STFU. Following their WrestleMania match, Shawn Michaels walked off without shaking John Cena's hand. To further the dissention between Cena and Michaels, on the following night's RAW, Michaels costs himself and Cena the tag team titles after Michaels tossed Cena over the top rope in a tag team championship battle royal. In what can arguably be called the best RAW match in years, Shawn Michaels beat John Cena in a non-title match after 55 minutes of action on April 23rd in London, England. The next week, in a no DQ/no countout match at Backlash, John Cena pinned Randy Orton after Shawn Michaels superkicked Orton in a four man WWE World title match that included Edge.

Shawn's next singles feud was against a man that he went to war against in a tag team situation earlier in the year. On the May 14th RAW, Shawn Michaels pinned the World Heavyweight Champion Edge in a non-title match. After the bout, Edge's former Rated RKO tag team partner, Randy Orton, attacked Michaels by kicking him square in the face. During the match, Michaels suffered a knee injury that would require surgery. Before the surgery, Michaels would make several more appearances to explain his absence from a storyline standpoint. The WWE played off that Shawn Michaels suffered a concussion due to Orton's boot to the head from RAW. Prior to Shawn's match with Orton at Judgement Day, Orton attacked Michaels in the interview area. In their match later that night, Randy Orton defeated an already beaten Shawn Michaels when the referee stopped the match after Michaels collapsed while attempting the superkick. After the bout, just as the referee helped Michaels to his feet, Orton dropped Shawn with the RKO. Michaels would be carried from the ring on a stretcher. This was used to get Michaels off of RAW to take care of his legit knee injury.

On October 8th, Shawn Michaels returned to RAW during a segment where Randy Orton wanted all of the WWE RAW Superstars to shake his hand. When Triple H did not come down to the ring, Randy Orton headed for the backstage area. When he made his way to the top of the entrance ramp, he was met by Shawn Michaels and his "sweet chin music" super kick. Shawn Michaels would finally get more revenge against Randy Orton for "putting him out of action" earlier in the year. Shawn beat Randy Orton by DQ at CyberSunday after getting hit with a low blow. After the match, Shawn nailed Orton with a super kick.

Despite gaining small pieces of revenge against Randy Orton, Shawn wasn't able to really hit Orton where it hurts, and that would be taking the WWE World title from him. At the Survivor Series, Randy Orton pinned Michaels after hitting Shawn with the RKO in a match where Shawn was not allowed to use the super kick, and Orton would lose the title if he got disqualified.

Following his feud with Orton, Shawn Michaels turned his attention to Ken Kennedy. This mini-feud didn't contain the same passion that Michaels war with Orton had. Instead it was just a small program that was used to pass the time until the WWE focused on the WrestleMania XXIV push.

The WWE started an angle with Ric Flair where the next match he loses, the "Nature Boy" would be forced to retire. This was due to the fact that Ric Flair and the WWE were planning having Flair put an end to his in-ring wrestling career at WrestleMania. Leading up to WrestleMania, there were 2 possible opponents for Ric Flair to face in his final match; Triple H or Shawn Michaels. The WWE decided to have Triple H wrestle for the WWE World title against JohnCena and the WWE World Champion Randy Orton. That left Shawn Michaels with the honor of facing Ric Flair in this historic match.

The build up for the match started on the RAW following the No Way Out pay per view. Shawn Michaels announced that Ric Flair would be the first active WWE wrestler to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. On the February 25th edition of RAW, Ric Flair praised Shawn Michaels and then said he wanted to wrestle him at WrestleMania. Michaels then said he couldn't live with being the man that retired Flair. Ric responded by saying Michaels' compliments meant nothing if he didn't get the chance to earn them by facing Michaels on the biggest stage. Michaels then agreed to the match and the two shook hands to seal the deal.

The next week, Shawn Michaels appeared to have a change of heart. Following their tag team bout against Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch, Michaels told Flair he didn't want to face Ric at WrestleMania because he was too conflicted over being the man that ended Flair's career. Michaels then said if Flair continued to push him for the match, Michaels would win, with Michaels then walking off and leaving Flair alone in the ring.

The March 10th RAW opened up with an in-ring promo by Ric Flair in which he told Michaels that he saw sympathy in Michaels' eyes the previous week and said if he couldn't hang with the top guys then he didn't want to be part of the show. Flair said - on a good day - he could beat Michaels and said he wanted Shawn at his absolute best for their match at WrestleMania. Michaels said they would steal the show at WrestleMania. Shawn finally agreed, and shook Flair's hand.

On March 24th, the WWE presented the go home RAW telecast. Ric Flair delivered one of his best promos ever as a WWE Superstar. Flair told the crowd he lost respect for Michaels for interfering in his match the week before. Michaels then came to the ring and praised Ric before Flair cut him off and pulled out the NWA World Title belt he won in 1981 and said he needed Michaels to bring out the best in him. After Michaels said he would bring his best, Flair shook his hand. Michaels then compared Flair to Old Yeller and said he would put him out of his misery at WrestleMania. Flair unbuttoned his shirt and repeatedly slapped Michaels and dared him to take him out behind the woodshed and put him down, with Michaels repeating his statement and leaving the ring. At WrestleMania, Shawn Michaels stayed true to his promise, and brought his "A" game while his "victory" retired Ric Flair.

The next night on RAW, during Flair's retirement ceremony, the cameras picked up the matching watches that Shawn had made for himself and Flair that commemorated their WrestleMania match-up.

Having defeated Flair, the WWE used that match to set up Shawn's next feuds against Batista and Chris Jericho. Batista was really upset that Shawn ended the career of Flair, and blamed Shawn for refusing to lose. Batista wanted revenge against Shawn for retiring Ric Flair. At the same time, Chris Jericho was also blaming Michaels for forcing Flair to retire.

Out of the two possible opponents, Shawn first set his sights on Batista. The two battled against each other at Backlash. Shawn went on to beat Batista in controversial fashion after the "Animal" believed that Michaels was injured, only to be hit with the super kick and the loss. While most felt that Shawn was injured, Chris Jericho wasn't buying it. The next night on RAW, Jericho awarded Shawn the "Best Actor in Sports Entertainment."

On the May 12th RAW episode, Chris Jericho changed his mind, and believed that Shawn was really injured. However, this time Shawn did a 180 and admitted that he really was never injured in the match against Batista. To show that he wasn't really injured, Shawn hit Jericho with a super kick. The next week, Jericho and Michaels fought against each other in their first match of probably the greatest feud of 2008. Shawn pinned Jericho at their Judgement Day match, but the fun was about to begin.

On the May 26th edition of RAW, Shawn Michaels fought Chris Jericho to a double count-out after Jericho applied the Walls of Jericho on Michaels outside the ring. After the match, Jericho shoved the referee and attempted to hit Michaels with a steel chair but instead extended his hand and helped Michaels to his feet before walking off.
The WWE presented their next pay per view entitled "One Night Stand" on June 1st in San Diego, CA. Shawn Michaels faced Batista in a stretcher match. Despite being defeated by Batista, this match was more about furthering the Michaels/Jericho angle. During the match, Chris Jericho appeared twice late in the match to encourage Michaels before he was ejected from ringside. On June 9th, Shawn Michaels was the guest on Chris Jericho's "Highlight Reel," in a great angle that helped add plenty of steam to the Jericho/Michaels storyline. In the segment, Chris Jericho pointed out that Michaels is adored no matter what he does while Jericho himself is booed for no apparent reason. After pointing out the things that Michaels has done in the past, Jericho clotheslined Michaels, and the two brawled until Jericho landed a low blow and threw Michaels head-first into the flat screen TV on the "Highlight Reel" set, reminiscent of when Michaels threw Marty Jannety into a plate glass window on the "Barber Shop" over a decade and a half ago. The next week, Chris Jericho cut a promo regarding his attack on Shawn Michaels, where he blamed the fans for his actions. He then challenged Michaels to come out, but he didn't. At that point, Jericho called Michaels a coward until Ric Flair appeared.
On June 23rd, during a special 3 hour RAW, Chris Jericho once again blamed the fans for thinking Shawn Michaels was a decent human being while at the same time treating Jericho so poorly. Chris showed a video package of Michaels throwing Marty Jannety through a plate glass window on January 11th, 1992, turning on Diesel during the 1994 Survivor Series, super kicking Hulk Hogan on 4th of July in 2005, and John Cena on March 26th, 2007, and faking his knee injury against Batista at Backlash as proof that Michaels was a liar. Jericho then said he refused to let the fans continue to cheer for him and introduced Lance Cade, who appeared on the big screen. Jericho spoke to Cade about training at Michaels' wrestling academy, with Cade saying he wasn't going to give Michaels the chance to turn on him. Jericho mentioned that he didn't have an opponent for Night of Champions. Michaels then appeared, with the area around his right eye bandaged. The two brawled out to the floor where Jericho caused Michaels to fall face-first into the Smackdown! commentary table, hurting his eye again.
At the Night of Champions pay per view, Jericho claimed that Michaels wasn't going to be at the show because of the eye injury he sustained at the hands of Jericho. Chris said that if the roles were reversed Jericho would have still shown up. Chris Jericho then faced Kofi Kingston in an unscheduled bout. Despite Jericho's claims, Shawn Michaels was in the arena, and he showed up to distract Jericho long enough to allow Kingston to beat Jericho for the Intercontinental championship. After the match, Shawn and Jericho tried to attack one another, with Jericho able to hit a punch onto the injured eye of Shawn Michaels. Chris Jericho would lose a rematch to Kingston on RAW, the next night, by disqualification. However, after the match, he challenged Shawn Michaels to a match at the Great American Bash.

On July 7th, Shawn Michaels accepted Chris Jericho's challenge for a match at the Great American Bash. Jericho said Michaels was being a martyr to the fans, for wrestling while injured. Michaels replied that he could retire and be remembered forever while Jericho, despite his own accomplishments, wasn't at peace and would never be what Michaels is. At the Great American Bash, the WWE furthered the angle with Shawn Michaels injured eye. Chris Jericho defeated Shawn Michaels via referee's decision when the referee stopped the bout after Jericho repeatedly attacked Michaels injured eye.

On the August 4th edition of RAW, they held an interview via satellite with Michaels from his San Antonio, TX home. Shawn said he would listen to what the doctors had to tell him, even if that meant he shouldn't return to the ring. He would announce his decision at Summer Slam as to what his future would be.

At SummerSlam, Shawn Michaels and his wife Rebecca appeared in the ring with Michaels saying he would heed his doctor's advice and walk away from the sport. Chris Jericho went to the ring and demanded Michaels admit to his family, himself, and to Jericho that Jericho was the reason Michaels was leaving. After Michaels admitted it, he told Jericho to go home and admit to his own family that he would never be Michaels. Rebecca then tugged at Michaels to leave the ring, and Jericho accidentally punched her in the lip. Michaels immediately tended to his wife as Jericho left the ring. Moments later, Rebecca - her lip swollen - was helped backstage by Michaels and officials.

The next night, Chris Jericho cut a promo stating he wouldn't apologize for what happened to Shawn Michaels' wife at Summer Slam because it was Michaels' own fault Rebecca was injured and he had it coming. Footage was later shown from SummerSlam of Shawn Michaels saying that he is going home to take care of his family, but vowed to get revenge for his wife. On August 25, Shawn returned to RAW where he tried to explain Jericho's actions as being an accident until he heard Jericho on Raw the previous week blaming Michaels and the fans for Rebecca's injury. Michaels said he wasn't leaving the WWE, as planned. Jericho appeared on the Titan Tron to respond. Michaels said the reason he wanted the match was because if he did what he wants to do outside of wrestling, he goes to jail. Michaels then said he would sign any document needed to make the match happen. Jericho eventually agreed to a non-sanctioned match at Unforgiven, but then warned Michaels to not let his wife or kids watch the match. Michaels said he couldn't care less about pinning Jericho or "stealing the show" and said he only had one goal - "An eye for an eye."

On the RAW prior to Unforgiven, Jerry Lawler hosted the contract signing for the Michaels vs. Jericho unsanctioned match. After both men signed the contract, Jericho and Michaels agreed to have the security, Lawler, and their attorneys leave ringside. Jericho then said he did what Michaels told him to do - he sat his wife and kids down and told them he would never be self-obsessed like Michaels and then told them not to watch what Jericho does to him at Unforgiven. Chris then said, like Michaels said to Ric Flair before WrestleMania, he would put Michaels out of his misery. Michaels said he took comfort in the fact Jericho's family wouldn't be watching the show and that he would never apologize for the man that he is and the life he has lived and he would have no regrets for what happens to Jericho. Michaels then said he hoped one day that God would forgive him for what he does to Jericho. Michaels jumping an interfering Lance Cade. He then tried to lunge for Jericho but fell awkwardly to the floor. Due to the fall, Michaels sustained a small tear to his left tricep.

At Unforgiven, Shawn Michaels defeated Chris Jericho in an unsanctioned match when the referee stopped the match after Michaels repeatedly jabbed Jericho in the face with his belt buckle. After the bout, Michaels again stabbed Jericho with the weapon and then superkicked the referee when he told Michaels to stop.

On September 15th, Adamle told Jericho he will defend the World Heavyweight champion against Shawn Michaels in a ladder match at the next pay per view. On September 22nd's edition of RAW, the real 800th episode of RAW, Chris Jericho opened the show, sitting at the top of a ladder with the title belt hanging overhead. Jericho stated that he argued he had won more ladder matches than Michaels had ever participated in.
At No Mercy, Chris Jericho defeated Shawn Michaels in a ladder match following a headbutt as both men grabbed hold of the belt at the top of the ladder.

With Shawn Michaels feud with Jericho winding down, it looks like he is heading for a feud against JBL. After that, where the career of Shawn Michaels goes from there is anyone's guess.

Shawn Michaels began his wrestling career training under Jose Lothario in 1984. In his "green" years, he traveled around the independents in the Texas and Kansas City regions. He eventually got his first break as a tag team wrestler, with Marty Jannety, in the American Wrestling Association. Eventually, they made their way to the World Wrestling Federation where Shawn Michaels would go from tag team wrestler to World Champion WWE Superstar.

When Shawn first arrived in the WWF with Marty Jannety, I was not a big fan of his. I hated the "pretty boy, rock and roll wannabe" tag teams. However, around the time that the Rockers started to feud against the Orient Express, a funny thing happened. I started to like the Rockers. As the WWF started to tease a Michaels turn, I became more and more of a Michaels fan. By the time Michaels put Jannety through the plate glass window, I was a full blown Michaels mark. Shawn was turned into an arrogant, pretty boy heel, who was a great technician. My favorite type of wrestler.

I've attended many shows that he wrestled on. I saw his famous ladder match against Razor Ramon at WrestleMania X. Watching that match at Madison Square Garden that night, you knew you were watching something special. The next year, I was at the Hartford Civic Center, watching in disappointment as they kept the belt on Diesel. However, you knew that one day the WWF World title belt would be wrapped around Shawn's waist.

Shawn finally achieved that goal at WrestleMania XII by beating his biggest rival, Bret Hart. It would be that same man that Shawn Michaels will forever be linked with thanks to the 2007 Survivor Series screwjob.

Shawn's backstage antics by this time were out of control. However, his in-ring work was at the top of the industry. Unfortunately for Shawn Michaels, he would suffer his back injury that would keep him out of the ring for over four years. During his four years away from in ring competition, the WWF thrived. As great as the WWF was at this time, I still missed Shawn Michaels.

The night he came back for good, as the newest member of the now, I was away on business, in a hotel that did not carry the USA Network. I remember how ticked off I was that I missed it. However, Shawn Michaels has given me so many more memories over the last six years that I can't complain. I know that eventually, Shawn Michaels will decide to hang up the boots for good. When he does, it truly will be a sad day for the wrestling industry. Sure Ric Flair may be thought of as the greatest wrestling in the history of the business. His treatment upon retiring by the WWE was well deserved. That being said, for me, the day that Michaels retires will truly be the end of an era. Until that day comes, I hope we can see Shawn Michaels continue to be the headliner, showstopper, and main eventer for awhile longer.

by Ronny Sarnecky of

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