This series is aimed at discussing the impact wrestlers have left on the business, regardless of their personal achievements.
This legacy refers to how they have improved the product or careers of other superstars.
Due to my age and when I started to follow the WWE, I am solely focusing this series on individuals whose careers date from 1997 onwards and, more specifically, on less active or retired wrestlers.
For the third installment, I am focusing on Shawn Michaels.
Without a doubt, every moniker bestowed upon him—The Icon, The Showstopper, The Main Event, Mr. WrestleMania and most recently Mr. Hall of Fame—have been hard earned by HBK.
To put his achievements into perspective, one often overlooked aspect is that he returned after a four-year hiatus due to a career threatening back injury.
After such a severe back injury, he overcame a drug addiction and evolved from being one of the most disliked egotistical backstage personalities into one of the most revered and respected.
He wrestled at WM 14 against Stone Cold so as not to disrespect the title and business by simply vacating the championship. Incredible, considering the severity of his injury.
And after his four year hiatus, he continued for an incredible eight years, helping to the carry the WWE through several transitions. He wrestled several classic five-star (not Dave Meltzer approved but regardless) matches against the likes of The Undertaker, Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho and HHH.
The hiatus following his injury would leave any other man walking away from the business.
Shawn Michaels came back, didn't miss a single beat, and proved to the world that HBK truly is The Showstopper and The Main Event. The second era of HBK is unprecedented, because he defied the odds and his return displayed the quality only he could bring to the product.
During a long and successful career, Shawn Michaels has helped to create and establish the careers of many future WWE Hall of Fame candidates. He himself has one of the rare careers like The Undertaker, whose efforts arguably deserve an individual wing, should a building ever be built, to physically house Hall of Fame memorabilia.
His catalog of classic matches is unparalleled in the modern era, and his ability to perform and bring out the best from his opponents is truly unique. Since his retirement, the WWE has missed that star performer who can elevate any match and feud, and it has exposed the company's lack of talent.
Please take the time to enjoy the legacy of the Heart Break Kid, Shawn Michaels.
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