WWE Personified: A 4-Way Tribute to the Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels
Like all true fans of professional wrestling, it's hard to focus on just one wrestler if you are attempting to explain it to a friend or colleague.
It's often a battle of names and historic events that help you solidify your point as a fan of the sport. In this case, only one name can summarize everything about World Wrestling Entertainment. That name is..
Welcome to part two of my tribute series. The first portion was on the Rated-R Superstar Edge. Just like the last piece, my attempt is to pull you towards my sense of logic on remembering what it was like to watch such an important model of the sport.
Just like the last article, it will be a four-part slideshow that will contain the man behind the character, his impact on the business, what made him an icon and a "thank you" for the commitment he showed.
In the words of one Cosmo Kramer..."giddy up."
Heartbreak Kid: The Man That Is Michael Hickenbottom
Behind every character, is just man or woman like you and I. It's the true power that brings us into Shawn Michael's world, which is why he was so great.
The picture doesn't lie, Hickenbottom is a born-again Christian. The true emotion that he showed in the ring, is the passion that he portrays in his normal lifestyle. With a silver cross hanging from his neck and the peaceful demeanor, Michaels was as real as it gets.
His in-ring attire also displays religious aspiration, as most of his pants are aligned with crosses with sparkled glitter surrounding the outlines.
It seems as if Michaels keeps his personal life and wrestling adventures fairly separate. Albeit his feud with Y2J that ended the aggression-era with his wife getting into the mix and when he "lost his smile," not many instances besides that involve his personal life.
The key to professional wrestling is telling a story. Disregarding present-day, it was all about characters telling a story. That's one of the reason we watched it growing up in our youth.
Unlike many wrestlers in the past, HBK was different and unique in a way that is not easy to define.
HBK would not be the same today if it wasn't for a couple of friends. Kevin Nash and Paul Levesque (Triple H) were all there for him when times were rough. This image tells the story without any words necessary.
As fans, all we could do was sit, observe and hope everything would come out peacefully. HBK was one of my favorite wrestlers. It was tough to see him struggle the way he did.
Michaels hit the TV screen, as he started his own hunting program called MacMillan River Adventures as he goes on a quest in order to find that perfect trophy animal.
The man behind the gimmick makes the character on television. Even in today's WWE, whomever the person is in real life, dictates his or her actions (most of the time).
Mr. Wrestlemania did it in his own way and on his own terms. That's why we, as fans, hold him so close to our hearts. He went out there and did what a professional wrestler lives and dies for—entertaining the fans.
For that sole reason is why Michaels' impact on the professional wrestling...
Paved a Way for the Next Generation of Wrestlers
First, it was Lou Thesz and Gorilla Monsoon, then we saw Dusty Rhodes, Ric Flair and the Horsemen grace the stage. Into the next generation came the man that changed it all.
Shawn Michaels is an innovator, spectacular human being and one of the best professional wrestlers to ever live. Just like Hulk Hogan or the Rock, if you asked a person on the street what the WWE was, HBK would pop into their head.
The picture above greatly summarizes what impact he had on the whole industry.
In one of the most controversial events in wrestling history, Michaels and Bret Hart were involved with the Montreal Screwjob. If one of those men weren't in the image, the story would be different.
Other than that shocking evening, he was involved in more than one impactful memory:
- His Sweet-Chin Music to Marty Jannetty
- The history of Degeneration-X
- At Wrestlemania XII, HBK vs. Bret Hart in an Iron Man Match
- His five-star ladder match at SummerSlam '95 against Razor Ramon
- Both matches against the Undertaker at Wrestlemania XXV and XXVI
What made Shawn so legendary, was because of the role he played coming out of retirement in his last run with the company in 2007, just to help push younger stars to the ranks. Randy Orton was a prime example.
Michaels was not about the championships and accolades to help further his career to superstardom, it was about professional wrestling and putting on a show to remember.
I could elaborate on HBK's character as a person, but it would become a novel, instead of an article.
A legendary entertainer in the eyes of many, personify the man he is today. Shawn Michaels is professional wrestling, and nobody can change that.
All of those and more, indicate why...
Shawn Michaels Is a True Legend and Icon
Is there anymore I can say about the Heartbreak Kid, the Showstopper, Mr. Wrestlemania and the best professional wrestler of our generation?
Involved with my recent artistic series, this is and it correlates to the same result every time.
Michaels was an artist in that ring. Every skill needed to survive and succeed in professional wrestling, he excelled at and set the bar high each and every time he stood on that mat. That was his playground, and he loved every appearance.
It wasn't for the spotlight, but much more for the love of the sport. From his first match to his last match, Michaels wrestled it like it was his last. What was even scarier, is a few times, it certainly could have been.
Just like Edge and Stone Cold, he battled through diversity and came out on top.
I'm not intending this to be a sob story and make everyone feel the emotion through this piece. My purpose for this article is to pay tribute to a man who gave it his all.
Against Undertaker, he made a match look like a dance. It didn't matter who you put in front of Michaels, he brought out the best in that opponent.
Michaels will be talked about for the rest of wrestling's existence, and that's because he cared about his craft more than most. When fans are disputing the best of all time, a few names pop into my head.
Undertaker, Edge, Triple H, The Rock, Bret Hart, Dusty Rhodes, Jimmy "Supafly" Snuka, Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels rounds out my list.
Sure, Randy Orton and John Cena as well as many others have won more championships. One thing that HBK had more than them, was emotion, determination and passion.
Shawn Michaels is the Heartbreak Kid.
Shawn Michaels is the Showstopper.
Shawn Michaels is Mr. Wrestlemania.
I`ll go out there and give you a show like you`ve never seen. Why? .. Because I can!
The Heartbreak Kid: Shawn Michaels Has Just Left the Building
A picture is worth a thousand words
What more can I say than thank you? He had the heart, passion and commitment that it took to be successful in this business. After the blood, sweat, tears and injuries he came up strong and fought until he physically couldn't anymore.
He is a warrior. A man who never tapped out at the face of adversity and it struck his conscience more than once.
Someone who is strong-willed and loved wrestling more than life will always be remembered for the sacrifices that he made. I realize that I am reiterating these facts, but the truth is they can be said over and over again...
...and they will never get old.
HBK put more passion in this business, and I would say Edge is a close second. The miracle run of Shawn's last two years with Undertaker will be remembered as my favorite feud and two of the most memorable matches in history.
Five-star match after 5-star match, Shawn believed he could defeat Undertaker's streak. As did I and I never gave up hope on Mr. Wrestlemania.
Nicknames are given for a reason. You just don't walk in a business and be granted a name, synonymous with wrestling history. Each one has a purpose, and I can't thank Michaels enough for what he has done.
If I could make this last slide 1,000 pages, I would put in the time and do it. I mean, HBK did that for us right?
Why not repay him with the gratitude?
Thank you Shawn.
My Final Conclusion
Thank you all for once again for taking the time to read my tribute to the Showstopper, Shawn Michaels. It was certainly fun to write it, and I can't wait to hear what all of you have to say.
HBK will always be special to me, just for his contributions in the ring and all of his memorable moments. My goal here was to give tribute to one of the best professional wrestlers of all time, and I hope I did justice to a fabulous career.
I appreciate dearly all of the feedback that I receive, and everyone, have a great Saturday.
In the words of Shawn Michaels:
"This is how we started and this is how we're going to end. Ladies and gentlemen, the Heartbreak kid Shawn Michaels....has left the building."