Eat your heart out, girls. Hands off the merchandise!
I am the Showstopper, the Main Event, the Headliner, the Icon!
Shawn Michaels is one of the longest tenured performers in WWE history, having worked with the company until his 40s; prior to his retirement in 2010, he was capable of pulling out amazing performances from practically anyone.note This is, of course, dependent on his willingness to show up for work that day. As of April 2nd, 2011, Shawn is an official member of the WWE Hall of Fame. Was voted the greatest superstar of all time by the WWE roster. He is currently hosting a hunting show on Outdoor Channel called MacMillan River Adventures.
Tropes associated with Shawn Michaels include:
10-Minute Retirement: Subverted, as Shawn's back injuries would force him out of the ring for four years; after his triumphant return in 2002, Shawn's been going ever since.
Time will tell us if his current retirement will play this trope straight or not. It's already lasted longer than the last two combined. While he has been back in the ring, it's been strictly as a referee or guest, not as a wrestler. Shawn himself is pretty emphatic he's done with in-ring performing.
Although Hart's return to WWE in 2010 coupled with Michaels's conversion to Christianity seems to have buried that hatchet in Real Life.
In Kayfabe, The Undertaker is probably his second most notable example. Some of the most legendary matches in WWE history have been between these two men.
Triple H deserves a mention under this trope as well. They feuded for about three years, a feud which survived several of the classic "feud ending" match types (Last Man Standing, Hell In A Cell, Elimination Chamber, and even a Three Stages of Hell match), before finally being put to rest with an HBK win at a Tribute to the Troops show. All that was really missing was an "I Quit" match, although there WAS a Wrestlemania-headlining Triple Threat in which Triple H submitted (alas, not to Shawn, but to Chris Benoit).
The Artifact: Shawn's persona pre-2002 was very different than the one he had from 2002-2010. However, Shawn still maintained many of the tropes of his "Sexy Boy" rock star gimmick, perhaps most glaringly his nickname of "the Heartbreak Kid" and his theme song. Anyone who wasn't aware of his gimmicks in the 80's and 90's were probably very confused as to why the Bible-thumping laid back Cool Old Guy was coming out to "Sexy Boy."
The Atoner: Ever since his Real Life conversion to Christianity, Shawn became this. He tried to tone down his former juvenile delinquent hellraiser persona in the ring and, behind the scenes, work with the current talent and put over younger wrestlers (which he would never have done in the past). Finally, in 2010, he buried the hatchet with Bret Hart and apologized for his part in the Montreal Screwjob. By Wrestlemania 26 it was clear both wrestlers were finally in speaking terms again.
It should be mentioned that in Kayfabe, he DIDN'T apologise. He admited his part on the Screwjob and buried the hatched with Bret, but he was very clear that Bret "deserved what happened 12 years ago in Montreal". It was much more an understanding of what actually happened than an apology. The video is here.
Hypocrite: It didn't stop he and Triple H from dumping actual shit on the Spirit Squad, though.
Attention Whore: In his younger days. He's toned it down a lot since he found religion and got less of an ego.
Awesome Yet Practical: While wrestling finishers get more and more elaborate, Sweet Chin Music (a kick to the jaw) is still a great finisher. It looks visually painful as all Hell (especially when a guy like Kurt Angle sells it), gives off a nice "thwack" when it hits, can be done anywhere in the ring, to any performer regardless of size, and at any time.
Blood Is The New Black: The first Hell in a Cell match with the Undertaker. Watch the spot with the Snake Eyes to the outside of the cage, and see if you can spot Shawn's amazing mid-air blade job. He's practically all-crimson by the time the match ends.
Breakup Breakout: The most famous example in professional wrestling history. After his split from The Rockers, Shawn would go on to superstardom and achieve "legend" status; Marty Jannetty...yeah.
Although at this point, Janetty, like Millard Fillmore, is more famous for what he's not done, than he is for anything he actually did achieve, with various splitting tag teams accusing each other of 'being the Janetty.' The sad thing is, Marty Janetty could have been a bigger star than he actually was, as he was very talented. His love for partying and getting into trouble became his worst enemy, though.
Shawn practically made this a wrestling trope after his split with Jannetty. The term "going through the barbershop window", is a reference to Shawn having tossed is partner through the window of a barbershop themed set during their infamous break up. When a wrestler goes through the barbershop window it means that when their team split up they went nowhere, while their former partner's career soared.
Cheap Heat / Take That: Shawn's infamous "Who's your Daddy, Montreal?" promo in Montreal during his 2005 feud with Hulk Hogan, during which Shawn called out Bret Hart...and Hart's theme music played, leading the entire crowd to believe that Bret was coming out to confront Shawn. But then it was revealed to be Shawn playing the crowd for fools, which earned him a loud chorus of boos:
"Got your hopes up JUST a little bit, didn't I?!"
And just to REALLY stick it to Montreal, he pulls the same stunt again a few minutes later, this time with Hulk Hogan's music:
"The first time, sure, maybe I was cruel. The SECOND time, all you do is show that Montreal is every thing I ever said it was. You Canucks are NOT the sharpest knives in the drawer."
A smaller one occurred at the 2010 Royal Rumble when he eliminated teammate Triple H. He REALLY wanted to face The Undertaker.
He's also done it to Goldberg, and JBL (though he unquestionably deserved it).
It's also been lampshaded in numerous promos. Triple H has done it at least twice, once most notably in 2002 to Kevin Nash, when Nash was being forced to choose who he'd side with - Shawn or Hunter. Triple H reminded Nash of all the times Shawn had screwed over a tag-team partner, including themselves, in the past, and concluded that "you know as well as I do that the best success we ever had in this business was when we walked away from Shawn Michaels".
Shawn has been the victim of this as well. Once by Kevin Nash before his Iron Man Match with Bret Hart and another time by Triple H in a teased DX reunion in 2002. Sherri Martel did him in as well at the 1993 Royal Rumble. (Of course, he had it coming, having made her take a blow from a mirror to save himself a few months before.)
Continuity Nod: Not as fond of this as his best friend, Triple H, but is known to occasionally give a nod to past actions. His three-year-feud with Hunter was full of references to both the Curtain Call and DX, as well as their real-life friendship.
The promo he gave the next night was basically a verbal equivalent of the same thing; it was so overblown and forced ("Catlike"? Hogan? Really?) that it became hilarious especially since it's been known that Shawn is one of the best in-ring performers in the history of the business and Hulk Hogan... well, isn't.
Determinator: In 1998, he was told he might not walk again after back surgery, much less ever compete as a wrestler. In 2002, he returned to the WWE as a performer, got in the ring, won his first match back, and continued to compete full time until 2010. Not to mention kicking his drug habit in the process.
Dramatic Sit Down: Shawn does this in the third encounter at Wrestle Mania between The Undertaker and Triple H in their Hell in a Cell match, where Shawn was the guest referee. During the match, Undertaker told Shawn not to stop the match no matter what. This was after 'Taker had taken a few chair shots to the back and Triple H had just gotten the same in return, both men bleeding and disoriented at this point. Shawn was sitting in the corner of the ring having a nervous breakdown while Undertaker and Triple H were trying to get to their feet after a two count had occurred.
Dude Looks Like a Lady: Some of his wrestling attire and jewelry in the early-to-mid 90's made him pretty femme. Add that to the long, gorgeous blonde hair and well, it got confusing there for a little bit.
Even the Guys Want Him: Shawn's blonde ponytail, midriff-baring outfits, and "broken-heart" tights endeared him to many, many females - and no doubt quite a few males, too.
Not to mention the short-shorts, penchant for jewelry, and aversion to shirts.
He posed (in a non-nude spread) for Playgirl unaware that the readership is mostly gay males. A lot of the other wrestlers found this pretty funny. This was lampshaded later during his second run in DX:
Shawn: I was young! I was stupid! You told me girls bought that magazine!
Note that "non-nude" is more a technicality than anything; one of the pictures has Shawn wearing only a hat and earrings, with nothing but a strategically-placed Intercontinental Championship belt covering his privates.
In the 2010 Royal Rumble, one of the biggest stories going in was Shawn Michaels' desire to face The Undertaker at Wrestlemania in order to try and avenge his loss to him the year prior (in a match that was widely considered to be the best of 2009), an since Taker is the current World Heavyweight Champion, the only way for Michaels to have a guaranteed stab at him was to win the Rumble match itself and challenge him at Mania. So in the Rumble match itself, Shawn Michaels survives a long stretch of the match (eliminating Triple H, his own tag team partner, in the process) and makes the final four, where he... goes out first, at the hands of Batista. The BSOD ensues immediately afterwards, only broken up briefly by Michaels trying to go back into the ring and taking his frustrations out on the referees before returning to a near-catatonic state.
Michaels seems to be particularly prone to these. He had already experienced one at the 2008 Unforgiven pay-per-view, where he challenged Chris Jericho to an Unsanctioned Match after Jericho punched his wife in the face. He whipped his enemy with a belt, injuring him so grievously that Jericho went into shock. The bell was rung, and an announcer declared Michaels the winner of the fight. By this point, however, Michaels was so consumed with rage that his face had gone completely blank and he was continuing to mindlessly whale away on the unconscious Jericho as if he didn't understand what he was doing. He finally snapped out of his stupor after a referee tried to stop him and he kicked the official in the face; he then had a My God, What Have I Done? moment and finally agreed to leave the ring.
HBK's biggest BSOD came after the 1996 Survivor Series. Not only did the NYC crowd boo him during his WWF Championship defense against Sycho Sid, but Sid resorted to taking out Jose Lothario out with a camera to completely demoralize Shawn. Sid ended up winning the WWF Championship.
During the third encounter at WrestleMania between The Undertaker and Triple H in their Hell in a Cell match, where Shawn was the guest referee, at one point during the match things had gotten to the point of Shawn being told by the Undertaker not to stop the match no matter what happened. This was after 'Taker had suffered a few chair shots to the back and Triple H had just gotten the same in return. Watching his best friend and one of his idols beating the tar out of each other was apparently too much; Shawn was sitting in the corner of the ring looking like he was having a nervous breakdown.
Heterosexual Life Partners: He and Triple H are probably the most famous and well-known example in wrestling history, due to their Real Life friendship being exploited for storyline purposes. From 2006 onwards, whenever one is in the spotlight, you can be sure they're mentioning the other.
In 2011, Hunter inducted Shawn into the Hall of Fame, and there was much love abounding both before and during the ceremony.
Hijacked by Ganon: Had a habit of interrupting other feuds/promos/whatever. Notable examples include:
The buildup to Wrestlemania XX (Chris Benoit had earned a title shot by winning the Royal Rumble, but Michaels wanted one, so he interrupted the contract-signing, kicked Benoit in the face, and signed himself up for WrestleMania),
He did basically the same thing before Mania 23, interrupting a segment with John Cena, Batista, and The Undertaker (who'd just won the Rumble by eliminating Michaels last) and pretty much just declared himself the main event. Nobody complained.
He interrupted Randy Orton's coronation as new champion by beating the crap out of him.
This was his entire schtick during his period as Commissioner, often re-booking the entire show, live, on the air, just to screw with people.
Interrupted the feud between Bret Hart and The Undertaker to such an extent that both men pretty much forgot about each other and just started feuding with Michaels.
Did it hilariously to Kurt Angle on Raw once. Angle had beaten Cena at Unforgiven, and Cena had since become champion. Angle was arguing that, since he won at Unforgiven, he should get a title shot. Michaels interrupted the segment, pointing out that "If that's all it takes: I won at Unforgiven. I want a title shot." Watch the clip if you can find it; Vince McMahon can barely keep a straight face through the segment.
Another Elimination Chamber example came a few years later, with a particularly competitive chamber including Triple H, Chris Jericho, Edge,Chris Benoit, Batista, and Randy Orton. This was considered a rowdy enough group that a special referee needed to be appointed. All the contestants thought this was reasonable until Michaels' music hit. Every single man in the Chamber had previously feuded with (and been repeatedly kicked in the face by) Michaels, except Edge. Edge would join that list by the end of the match.
Jive Turkey: Only in a hilarious DX sketch, wherein he riffs off the famous "I speak jive" bit. In real life, he subverts it: Shawn will be the first to tell you he's painfully un-hip.
Karma Houdini: Good grief, after years of pulling all kinds of backstage bullshit, (forfeiting titles, refusing to job, walking out because he missed his asshole friendsdown in WCW, etc. etc.), he gets inducted into the WWE HOF like none of that ever happened.
At Wrestlemania XXIV, he ended Ric Flair's career by defeating him; and
At Wrestlemania XXVI, he bet his career he could end the Undertaker's streak. He couldn't.
Finally, at ''Wrestlemania XXVIII, he was the guest referee for the Triple H/Undertaker Hell in a Cell match, billed as "the end of an era".
Lovable Traitor: Practically the Trope Codifier for professional wrestling. A good amount of the feuds he's been in over the years, especially, with fellow faces, have been built upon the fact that he can turn on them at any time, usually with his Chronic Backstabbing Disorder being brought up. Yet the crowd loves him for it.
After his final Wrestlemania match and his retirement speech the next night on Raw.
Upon counting Undertaker's Wrestlemania record to 20-0; Taker having beaten Triple H.
Memetic Mutation: Shawn "losing his smile"; achieving the "boyhood dream"; "LAAAAAAAAAAAAAAADDER MATCH"; "I JUST KICKED STAN!"; and if you're not down with that, he's got two words for you . . . see below.
Perhaps the biggest is his contribution to the vocabularies of twelve-year-old boys everywhere - "SUCK IT!".
The Mentor: Shawn mentored many wrestlers during his four-year retirement, including Lance Cade, Paul London, and TNA wrestlers Michael Shane and (The) Brian Kendrick. Bryan Danielson also trained under him before launching onto the indy circuit.
Military Brat: His dad was an Air Force pilot and he grew up on various military bases.
Let's go into a bit of detail about the event. Immediately after the event, and years later, Shawn would vehemently deny being a part of it. He would eventually come round and admit to screwing Bret, particularly in his book Heartbreak & Triumph. As Shawn tells it he, Vince, and Triple H were discussing the Survivor Series main event and how Bret would absolutely refuse to lose the belt to Shawn. After Hunter was encouraged to share his views, he took a stand on Bret needing to do the right thing. This caused Shawn to just come out with the screwjob idea, something he and Hunter thought Vince had planned but wanted them to propose.
Mood Whiplash: At Wrestlemania XXV, Shawn descends stoically, hands upward in prayer, to the ramp on a lift in all white Undertaker-themed clothing to an epic theme of Biblical proportions which sounds like the theme to a fantasy film action sequence... and then "Sexy Boy" hits.
Motor Mouth: Most notably in his DX phase. His real-life big mouth got him into a lot of trouble on numerous occasions.
Jim Cornette: Well, Shawn Michaels is still the single most talented athlete in wrestling today inside the ring, but outside he's an adolescent, obnoxious jerk who takes his tights and goes home if he doesn't get his way.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: At Wrestlemania XV he didn't agree with the scheduled main event, a Triple Threat match involving Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, and Mankind, insisting that the main event at Wrestlemania must be two wrestlers only. But he wanted Stone Cold vs Mankind; instead we got Stone Cold vs The Rock. Not a bad match, but most agree Mick Foley deserved to star in that main event.
Which makes Wrestlemania XX yet again a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: the main event was a triple-threat between Shawn, Triple H, and Chris Benoit, and it's widely regarded as one of the best main-events in the history of the PPV.
No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Shawn's return match in 2002 - a hardcore brawl with Triple H - was one of these. Surprisingly, it wasn't one-sided, with both Shawn and Triple H on the receiving end of said beatdown.
They did it again at the '04 Royal Rumble, in a Last Man Standing match that neither one walked away from. It's a testament to both men's abilities and the severity of the back-and-forth beatdown that they pulled off a double-DQ match in Philadelphia (the birthplace of ECW, whose fans are among the most vicious and rabid) and got a standing ovation from the crowd.
Also: the very first Hell in a Cell match, which Shawn won, though he was on the receiving end of the beatdown.
And his match with Vince McMahon at Wrestlemania 22. In short? Shawn pwned Vince thoroughly.
Arguably he and HHH were on the receiving end of one in a later revenge match with the McMahons and The Big Show (Vince even teasing pins since he didn't want their mauling to end). DX still won however.
Both gave and received one from Chris Jericho at during their feud.
Appeared doomed to one of these during a handicap match against Randy Orton and Edge... but instead he handed them one, culminating in a sledgehammer beatdown homage to his buddy Triple H.
No Sell: When he kips back up after a flying forearm shot, usually signaling an impending Sweet Chin Music.
Also under Real Life Writes the Plot: Shawn's status as a born-again Christian (he found religion during his time away from the ring between 1998 and 2002), which has played into promos and angles since his return, most notably in his feud with The Undertaker leading into WrestleMania 25 and his controversial feud with Vince McMahon leading into Backlash '06.
Doubly so for his rematch against Undertaker. After he lost the Royal Rumble, Shawn went berserk, and descended into a downward spiral that mirrored the real life one he suffered when he had to retire in 98.
Red Baron: The Heartbreak Kid, as well as the aforementioned quote on top of the page.
Religious Bruiser: Became one with his comeback in 2002 and continued as one until his retirement.
Retired Badass: His retirement hasn't stopped him from kicking people in the face. He's dropped Drew McIntyre, Alberto Del Rio, and a few others, in addition to being the special guest referee for HHH/Taker II at Wrestlemania 28. During that match, Shawn manhandled both guys, and doled out a superkick to Taker for getting a bit chair-shot-happy.
Ricky Morton: Especially in DX. Every single match seemed to run along the lines of "heel team beats Shawn Michaels like a bag of puppies, Shawn makes the hot tag to Hunter, Hunter kicks ass, they hit their double finishers, and win the match".
Chris Jericho found out the hard way, do not hurt Shawn Michaels' wife and then brag about it. Shawn not only completely destroyed Jericho's Dragon, he beat Jericho so badly the ref had to end the match. Both had signed contracts saying no lawsuits could be filed on the WWE or one another and there were no rules. Shawn still managed to dish out such a beating that the ref had to end the match!
Forfeited the WWE Championship Title in the infamous "I lost my smile" incident on Raw on February 13, 1997, all because he didn't want to have to drop the belt to Bret at WrestleMania XIII, in return for Bret having done so a year earlier.
Walked out in June 1997, thus forfeiting his half of the WWE World Tag Team Titles which he held at the time with "Stone Cold" Steve Austinnote This was the Ur Example of a shtick Vince Russo loves, "Wacky mismatched tag partners who don't get along.". Shawn missing his friends down in WCW is the most likely explanation here.
Spot Monkey: Shawn is an interesting aversion. While he did employ a lot of high-level spots in his matches (at every point in his career, up until he retired) and is pretty much the standard to which all spot monkeys aspire, he's one of the acknowledged best at using Wrestling Psychology and said spots to tell stories with his matches.
Still Got It: The guy was 44 years old when he retired, an age that even the greatest wrestlers (most notably The Undertaker right now) never really last to in the ring due to the intense physicality of the sport, and Shawn was STILL just as good as he was in his 20s. Some would say even better.
Stripperific: In his early days, he took the trope pretty literally.
Even into his "retirement" years, Shawn would play with this: when Vince tried to fire him as Commissioner, he responded by superkicking the man and then stripping over his unconscious body.
Shawn portrayed a "sexy Jesus" a few weeks before his match with Undertaker at Wrestlemania XXV. Yes, you read that right. An angelic figure in white, stripping to "Sexy Boy."
Take That: His feud with Hulk Hogan in 2005 was one long Take That. He did a segment that parodied Larry King Live dressed as Hogan and told a "caller" that Hogan only worked big cities and wouldn't put in the effort once he had the money "in [my] front pocket, brother", while adding Shawn Michaels would work just as hard in Battle Creek, MI as he would in Madison Square Garden. Despite being the heel, that comment received a huge cheer from the crowd for the validity of it. The overselling of Hogan's attacks at Summerslam goes without saying.
Theatrics Of Pain: He's one of the best wrestlers at selling, especially when it involves his back. He's also admitted that half the time, when it comes to his back, he really isn't faking it.
Tragic Mistake: Shawn and Bret were initially friends whose heat was mostly limited to Kayfabe. When Shawn made the mistake of actually targeting Bret's family in a promo to gain heat, he crossed a line with Bret. If that had never happened, a lot of tragedy could have been averted.
Especially in real life. Hunter's induction speech is full of cracks about Shawn's hair, wardrobe, height, and intelligence . . . but also a ton of love and respect.
What Could Have Been: Perhaps one of the most shocking ones: Back when Michaels and Bret were friends, Bret was offered by Shawn Michaels, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash to form the Kliq. What would have happened if he accepted is anyone's guess.
With Friends Like These: Kayfabe: HHH and Shawn still had a lot of love for each other even though they spent the better part of three years trying to end each other's career.
Wild Card: Face or heel, Michaels was unpredictable. And it helped that he has one of the very few finishers (along with the Stunner, the RKO, and The Rock Bottom) that can be delivered pretty much out of nowhere. Many a supposed ally or mouthy interviewer found himself with a face full of foot. Michaels also had a penchant for interrupting other wrestlers' promos just because he could (especially Kurt Angle).