Hack-Man Pro-Wrestling Shawn Michaels Interview #3 Page

Last updated 4 December 1999


by Vince Russo

Vince Russo:Shawn, I'd like to begin by your telling us a little bit about your childhood.

Shawn Michaels: Well, my mother and father got married about two or three months after they met each other. I was the youngest of four children. I have two older brothers and an older sister. I was born right outside of Phoenix, Arizona, in Scottsdale, at Williams Air Force Base. My father, who was born in Clinton, Iowa, was a pilot in the Air Force. He was known as a "Fly Boy". He volunteered for two tours of duty in Vietnam. My mom basically stayed back and raised us kids. Two months after I was born, we moved to England. That's when my father went to Vietnam for the first time. After he left, we moved back to my mother's hometown of Storm Lake, Iowa. When he came back, he was stationed at Andrews Air Force Base and worked for the Pentagon in Washington. When I was about 6 years old, we moved to Del Rio, Texas, where my father served at Laughlin Air Force Base and then later at Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio. He retired at Randolph a full-bird colonel after 25 years in the Air Force. Following his retirement, we spent the rest of our lives in Texas.

Vince Russo:What do you remember most about your childhood?

Shawn Michaels: I mostly start remembering the time when my father was stationed in Washington and we were living in Maryland. My family was always very close. I remember playing football with my brothers -- wherever and whenever we could. Then, when we moved to San Antonio, I played football from the time I was 6 years old right up until the time I was 17.

Vince Russo:Seventeen. The high school years. Tell me about that time.

Shawn Michaels: I was the "new kid" at Randolph High School, where I went from seventh to twelfth grade. I fit in rather quickly. Again, I think it was due to football. I always played at the Air Force Base and bragged about being a "big-time" player. I was an outside linebacker who always played both ways. I also played baseball and track, but I concentrated mostly on football. I was a pretty decent student who made A's, B's, and C's without trying that hard. I think, had I applied myself a little bit more, I might have made straight A's, but I was a jock. You know, captain of the football team.

Vince Russo:Are you telling me that this is where you might have developed your reputation as a ladies' man?

Shawn Michaels: I was always a one-woman kind of guy. I almost always had a girlfriend. I never ran around with a bunch of girls. I always dated the most attractive and intelligent girls. I was shy, though. I usually didn't approach girls; they usually apporached me. In time I became more relaxed, but at that time I didn't say much. I guess you could say I was introverted -- that is, of course, before I got into professional wrestling.

Vince Russo:Which leads me to my next question: Your start in professional wrestling. How? When? Where? Who?

Shawn Michaels: It's getting to be a boring story to everybody, but I'll tell you about it anyway. I got to stay up late one time -- when I was 12 years old. At about 12:30, Southwest Championship Wrestling came on. The first time I saw it, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I knew that was what I wanted to do. I think I saw it as a way to somehow get to show my athleticism and also to get to perform in front of people. Again, I was always shy, but when I had a chance, I showed off! I was always under a helmet -- you know, with a football uniform on -- I couldn't do it just as myself, Shawn.

Vince Russo:How did you get started in the business?

Shawn Michaels: On graduation day everybody -- as always -- was asking me what I wanted to do. Everybody was going to college, but I still wanted to be a wrestler. I wrestled for my senior talent show, I went to the wrestling matches all the time, I had every magazine -- I still have a stack of wrestling magazines to this day that is 6 feet high -- so I just continued to bother my parents about it. Then my father, who was doing a lot of golfing at the time, met some people -- one of them being a guy who said he knew the promoter of Southwest Championship Wrestling. After nagging him and nagging him some more, my father finally took me down to meet the gentleman, who was a used car salesman -- you know, your generous and honest type of guy. But, anyway, at 17 years old, I went and talked to him -- well, he and my father did most of the talking. They discussed how I should first go to college and after I was done with college, if I still wanted to be a wrestler, he would introduce me to someone who would train me, and we would go from there.

Vince Russo:So, you went along with that plan?

Shawn Michaels: For the time being. I went to one semester at Southwest Texas State University where I was "supposed" to attend classes. As it turned out, I didn't go much, but I did learn all that partying stuff. That's when Animal House was big, and I was your regular John Belushi, running around with all my buddies. My dad bought me and a high school friend of mine a trailer so we didn't have to live on campus. We just went hog wild and had fun!

Vince Russo:And then what happened next?

Shawn Michaels: Well, one night we were having a party at the trailer, and I went into the bathroom -- I don't know how much of this you can use, but it's the truth. I grabbed my electric razor, purposely gaffed my head with it, started bleeding, then went after my buddies screaming, "I'm a wrestler, I'm a wrestler!" I chased my best friend up the street where he went running up to a store, got on the phone with my mom and said, "You've got to make him a wrestler; he's going insane!" After pummeling my friend for a while, I grabbed the phone, and my mom said, "You've got to come home!" So I finished that semester, and then my dad and I went back to that used car salesman. My dad told him, "You'd better forget the school stuff because he's wasting my money!" So then the guy introduced me to a wrestler named Jose Lothario. I started training when I was about 18. After two months, Jose told me that I was ready. I mean, I had practiced everything before we even started training! I knew what I was doing long before I even got into it. I'd already been watching it for years, and I was obsessed with it! I had practiced on every friend that I had in high school! Jose mostly got me in shape and taught me the finer points of wrestling.

Vince Russo:Tell us about your first professional match.

Shawn Michaels: Two weeks after my nineteenth birthday, Jose got me booked in a territory called Mid- South Wrestling, which was being run by Bill Watts. Bill was the first guy I ever worked for. I worked for him for six months. I had my first match -- which I lost -- in Lake Charles, Louisiana, against a guy named Art Cruz. I went to a 15-minute time limit draw in my second match, and I finally won my third one. After Mid-South, Bill got me booked in Kansas City with Bob Geigel. It was in Kansas City that I met Marty Jannetty and tag teamed with him once. We got to hang around with each other a bit, and that's when I became a troublemaker. I never talked to anybody before I met Marty. (Laughing) He turned me into a degenerate. He was a crazy man! After wrestling there for three months, Jose and Chavo Guerrero called me and told me that Southwest Championship Wrestling had turned into Texas All-Star Wrestling, and they wanted me to come back home and be the "hometown" boy. So I went back to San Antonio and started wrestling.

Vince Russo:From there, you found your way into the AWA (American Wrestling Alliance), where you worked for Verne Gagne. It was in the AWA that, along with Marty Jannetty, the Midnight Rockers were formed. In the months that followed, the Midnight Rockers became a sensation, thus allowing you and Marty to make your first mark in the wrestling world. Tell me about that time and your relationship with Marty Jannetty outside of the ring.

Shawn Michaels: We were best friends. I don't think you could get any closer than we were. Looking back on it, I don't know, maybe it wasn't the relationship I thought it was, but nonetheless we were close. We were all each other had. We lived in the same area, we travelled together, we were with each other practically 24 hours a day for 6 years -- and we had a blast! We were doing something that we loved to do! We were rocking the house, we were having good matches, we were learning and we were having fun! We weren't making "huge" money, but we were making good money. I was driving a 300ZX, and we were partying and just having a blast!

Vince Russo:Next stop, the World Wrestling Federation. How did that come about, Shawn?

Shawn Michaels: While we were in the AWA, we got a lot of exposure on cable television. In time we got a call from the WWF and were asked to come in for a TV taping. The night of the taping -- our first night in -- we had a little fun at a nightclub, and the second day we got fired. (Laughing) The second day we were gone! So it was back down to the trenches again. We went down to the Continental Wrestling Alliance, where we had to live in Birmingham, Alabama. AGH! I lived in this underground, drak, dreary apartment and was MISERABLE! I felt as if I had blown EVERYTHING! Somehow -- I don't know how -- it all became my fault. It soon became a HUGE story! There were a lot of people jealous of Marty and me back then.

Vince Russo:How long was it before you and Marty were given a second chance by the WWF?

Shawn Michaels: One more year. After Continental we went back to the AWA, where we won the Tag Team Title again. Soon after that we got another call from the WWF asking us if we were ready to be "good boys". I was 23 years old at the time.

Vince Russo:After going through the ranks and paying your dues, how did you adjust to finally making it to the "big leagues"? Was the transition difficult for you?

Shawn Michaels: It was obviously the big leagues! Marty and I were both around people whom we had watched for years! It was like a dream come true! We were among the biggest names in wrestling. We were going to New York City. We were going to Los Angeles. We were going to Chicago, AND we were performing in fron of huge crowds of people! Then, on top of all that, there were still the pay-per-views! It was certainly everything we expected and more! And we were still having a good time! I think the Rockers had a lot of influence on tag team wrestling in general. We were the team, I think, that pioneered the way for a lot of tag teams. We made people look lazy. We made people get off their butts and have to work a lot harder!

Vince Russo:In time came the break-up of the Rockers. Since the bulk of the success in your career came within the tag ranks, was there any doubt in your mind that Shawn Michaels could make it in the WWF as an individual performer? Any insecurities? What was going through your mind at the time?

Shawn Michaels: No. I always knew from the day that I broke in that what I wanted to do was be a singles superstar, be the best and be a world champion -- NO DOUBT! The tag team thing just happened. When I met Marty, we tagged one time, and something was just there. He knew it, and I knew it. We were away from each other for almost a year before we saw each other again and formed the Midnight Rockers. It was just something that... it was the road that had to be travelled. I think it had to happen before everything else happened for me in singles. Again, at that time the wrestling business was dominated by something different, and I don't know what. It was just something different. We just gelled together. We had magic, Marty and I. I enjoyed every second of it, but there was never any doubt in my mind that one day I would eventually go by myself and be successful. That was always my very first primary goal.