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Wrestling / Shawn Michaels

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The Heartbreak Kid.
The Show Stopper.
Mr. WrestleMania.

"He is simply the best. He can [make] anyone look great. He creates a story from his bumps and moves. But it's a double edged sword. He can even make someone look foolish with his sheer ability. Hulk Hogan learned that."


The Showstopper, the Main Event, the Headliner, the Icon!

Michael Shawn Hickenbottom (born July 22, 1965), better known by his ring name Shawn Michaels, is an American retired professional wrestler, actor, and television presenter. He is one of the longest tenured performers in WWE history, having worked with the company until his 40s.

Trained in Mexico by José Lothario, Michaels first achieved notoriety in the American Wrestling Association (AWA), where he founded The Midnight Rockers with Marty Jannetty in 1985. After winning the AWA World Tag Team Championship twice, the team continued to the WWE (then WWF) as The Rockers and had a high-profile breakup in January 1992. Within the year, Michaels twice challenged for the WWF Championship and won his first Intercontinental Championship, heralding his arrival as one of the industry's premier singles stars. He would wrestle consistently for WWE until a back injury forced his first retirement in 1998. He performed in non-wrestling roles for the next two years, and returned to the ring with WWE in 2002 and retired ceremoniously in 2010, before being assigned as a trainer in 2016. He returned for a final match in 2018.

In the WWF/WWE, Michaels closed the company's flagship annual event, WrestleMania, five times, and was the co-founder and original leader of the successful Power Stable D-Generation X. He is a four-time world champion, having held the WWF Championship three times and WWE's World Heavyweight Championship once. He is also a two-time Royal Rumble winner (and the first man to win the match as the number one entrant), and as of 2019, Shawn is a twice-inducted member of the WWE Hall of Fame (Having been inducted individually, a year after his retirement, and as part of D-Generation X's group induction) and 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 and helping train the next generation alongside his partner Triple H as the Vice President of Talent Development Creative at the WWE. Following Triple H's accession to command of the company as a whole, Shawn stepped into Hunter's old position as head of NXT.

On a tangential note, Michaels is one of the members of The Kliq — essentially the Rat Pack of pro wrestling — who had the run of WWE for a few years, and ultimately pulled the trigger on the Monday Night Wars, with Michaels and Triple H founding D-Generation X in the WWF and Kevin Nash and Scott Hall founding the nWo in WCW (alongside Hulk Hogan), with remaining Kliq member Sean Waltman appearing on both (as Syxx in WCW as part of the nWo and X-Pac in WWF/E as part of D-X).note 

"My tropes are cute, I think they're sexy...":

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  • 10-Minute Retirement: Shawn's back injuries would force him out of the ring for four years. After his triumphant return in 2002, Shawn wrestled for years until The Undertaker forced him into retirement for good. That is until after being attacked by both The Undertaker and Kane we would see the Heartbreak Kid back in action once again teaming with his partner Triple H in what would be his first match since 2010.
  • The Ace: Is generally considered one of the greatest wrestlers of all-time, with some even joking that he could get a good match out of a coat rack thanks to his in-ring performance and seemingly endless charisma.
  • Agent Peacock: A preening, flamboyant pretty boy, but can kick ass in and out of the ring, despite his relatively small size.
  • Anti-Villain: Arguably was this in his last two heel runs. In 2005 he turned on Hulk Hogan, for reasons the fans seemed to side with Michaels for. The fans were keenly aware of Hogan's backstage meddling and mostly no-sold Michaels as a heel. In 2013, when he attacked Daniel Bryan, he did get huge crowd heat for it, but his reasons for doing it (protecting his best friend Triple H), seemed honorable and it passed fairly quickly.
  • Arch-Enemy: Aside from his four friends, he tends to make a LOT of enemies.
    • Bret Hart (in the ring and Real Life). Their feud stretched all the way back to the Rockers and the Hart Foundation, the first-ever ladder match in WWE history was fought between the two, and their intense rivalry culminated in the infamous Montreal Screwjob which was a major catalyst for the Attitude Era. 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, and 'Taker is the one who eventually had the honor to retire Shawn for good.
    • In his Midnight Rockers days in the AWA, "Playboy" Buddy Rose and "Pretty Boy" Doug Somers
    • The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers, Power and Glory (Hercules and Paul Roma), Rick Martel, Mr. Perfect and Shane Douglas have also qualified, with the last one not being entirely in Kayfabe.
    • Shawn's tendency to make enemies was made evident when it was revealed that he was made the special guest referee for the New Year's Revolution 2005 Elimination Chamber. No one in the chamber was happy (least of all Triple H) because every single one of them had been in a feud with Shawn in some capacity and kicked in the face by him, barring Edge. Then, in the chamber, Edge ended up antagonizing Shawn, causing him to eat Sweet Chin Music and lose the match, which would kickstart said feud.
    • Not even his True Companions at The Kliq and D-Generation X were safe from Shawn's tendency to make enemies:
      • During the early days of the Heartbreak Kid, his arch-nemesis was Scott Hall (in reality one of his closest friends). The two had a legendary feud over the Intercontinental Title that lasted years.
      • Triple H also deserves a mention under this trope. 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." Being known as the Heartbreak Kid made a lot more sense when he was a ladies man in his 20's. Not so much as a happily married Christian well into middle-age.
  • 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 they came to an understanding regarding his part in the Montreal Screwjob. By WrestleMania 26 it was clear both wrestlers were finally in speaking terms again.
  • Attention Whore: In his younger days, both in and out of kayfabe, he would do anythong to grab the spotlight. In real life, he's toned it down a lot since he found religion and got less of an ego.
  • Audience Surrogate:
    • On the July 21st 2008 edition of Raw, Shawn complained about how belts have no value if guys never defend them, specifically mentioning no one could remember the last time Carlito defended the Intercontinental Championship.
    • Shawn also took potshots at Katie Vick almost immediately after it happened. When Eric Bischoff mockingly asked if it was because he had become a religious man, Michaels idly answered that it didn't offend him as a religious man, but rather as a wrestling fan.
  • Author Appeal:
    • An emphasis on storyline and character work. Shawn stint as NXT 2.0's booker gave the show a lot more focus towards its storyline and the talent's showcase of their character when compared to the "Black and Gold" era of NXT. This continued upon NXT 2.0's rebranding to the "White and Gold" NXT.
    • Romance angles being plenty across the card. Given that this is the "Heartbreak Kid" that we're talking about, it's perhaps not a surprise.
    • Call-Back's to past moments of his career as an in-ring performer. Expect to see NXT's wrestlers to reenact spots and/or segments from Shawn's time as a full-time wrestler every now and then, such as this and this.
  • Badass Boast: "I will give you a show like you have never ever seen before! Why? Because I can."
  • Bad "Bad Acting": Done intentionally to Hulk Hogan at SummerSlam 2005, as seen here. Hogan had screwed Shawn by getting him to agree to lose to him at SummerSlam but then welching on the planned return match where Shawn would get his own win, citing injury. Justifiably pissed off, Shawn oversold every attack Hogan made to the level of pantomime absurdity, tumbling around the ring like a slinky after each hit and making the Hulkster look ridiculous. The highlight (or lowlight) was probably when Hogan hurled him against the turnbuckle and Shawn jumped up and spread himself across it instead- when Hogan came in to deliver a bunch of kicks to his exposed belly, Shawn threw himself into the air with each kick like he was spring-loaded, ending by coming down onto the ropes groin first. At several points in the match, Hogan is visibly fuming at the farce Shawn has made of it, the apex being when Hogan hits him with a big boot and Michaels sells it by falling to the mat, getting up, comically staggering around, then falling down again, at which point Hogan is opening looking at him with a dumbfounded "what the hell do you think you're doing?!" expression on his face (he'd missed seeing Shawn fall down and get up and initially thought Shawn was just No Selling him).
  • Bad Boss: During his brief time leading the nWo, he betrays Booker T and superkicks him out of the faction with the flimsy justification that Booker was trying to steal the spotlight from the group.
  • Bash Brothers:
    • With Triple H.
    • And with Kevin Nash before that.
    • And with Marty Janetty long before that, prior to their breakup. They even won the AWA World Tag Titles together.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For:
    • In the weeks leading to his match with Ric Flair at WrestleMania XXIV, with the stipulation that, if Flair lost, he would retire, Shawn gloated about the idea of having the Nature Boy's last match, even invoking the story of Old Yeller. However, by the time of the climax of the match, it became clear that he really didn't want to retire Flair.
    • Announced he'd be the special guest referee for the Triple H/Undertaker HIAC confrontation and gloated he held the end of an era in his hands. What this actually entailed was watching his best friend and the man he respected more than any other giving each other an utterly brutal beating for half an hour. His expressions of utter misery throughout tell the story.
  • Begin with a Finisher: Michaels started his match at Survivor Series 2009 with a Sweet Chin Music to Triple H, to send a message to their other opponent, John Cena. To make things more interesting, Triple H was Michaels' tag partner at the time
  • Berserk Button:
    • He got very steamed when Triple H made fun of his receding hairline during their 2008 Christmas Promos for The second time, Shawn attacked Hunter for it.
    • Attacking Triple H in the latter half of 2013. Both Daniel Bryan and CM Punk ended up listening to some Sweet Chin Music for doing so on two separate occasions.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Vince McMahon learned this the hard way. Randy Orton, Chris Jericho, and JBL apparently weren't paying attention.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • WrestleMania 14 vs. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, his last match in WWE for four years, when it was believed he'd never wrestle again.
    • Shawn's match with Ric Flair at WrestleMania XXIV. Despite having even invoked the story of Old Yeller in the weeks before the match, in the moment it became clear that he really didn't want to retire Flair.
    • The "Career vs Streak" match against The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXVI. Did he lose? Yes. Did he go down swinging in one of his greatest performances of all time? Yes.
  • 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.
  • Bondage Is Bad: Shawn's win pose of beckoning Sherri over, grabbing the back of her head, and shoving her to the mat...which she responds to with a kittenish smile. Not even the Attitude Era could get away with that. (And indeed, their win pose is Bowdlerised in WWE 2K.)
  • Book Ends: "Ladies and gentlemen, The Heartbreak Kid, Shawn Michaels, has left the building."
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Was this during his prime. Michaels could phone in better matches than most others could do by doing their best. Whenever he wanted time off he would fake an injury. He got away with it because he was that good.
  • Broken Ace: Back in the '90s, before he retired for four years after 1998. Ask anyone about Shawn during that time, and they will straight out tell you that as amazing as a talent he was, he could be a colossal jerk who had no issues throwing his weight around. It's generally subverted after his conversion to Christianity, though, as by that point Shawn had become The Atoner and stayed away from the world title, aside from the occasional title shot and a short reign in 2002.
  • Broken Aesop: With Jericho's and Michaels's feud reaching its climax with the "Unsanctioned Match" at Unforgiven (in which both combatants relieved World Wrestling Entertainment from all legal responsibility for what they would do to each other), WWE attempted to stay true to the moral that some people shouldn't be forgiven while also making both of their popular wrestlers at least a little sympathetic. having Michaels snap and beat Jericho unconscious, and then continue to assault him even after it had become clear Jericho could no longer defend himself, until Michaels finally managed to experience some remorse. Not to mention Jericho's appearance on Raw the night afterward, stripping down to show the still-unhealed welts on his upper torso where Michaels had thrashed him repeatedly with a strap and "questioning" how a born-again Christian like Michaels could do such things.
  • Brutal Honesty: This is what ended up causing the Montreal Screwjob. Bret had a conversation with Shawn where he said he'd be happy to put Shawn over and drop the WWF championship to him. Shawn, in the full selfish prick stage of his career, calmly told Bret that he appreciated it, but he wouldn't be willing to do the same thing for Bret if he was in his place. He could have just lied and all would have been good, but Bret took it as the gravest of insults, and that was what made him decide then and there that if Shawn didn't respect him, then no matter what Vince said he would not put Shawn over, and certainly not in front of his native crowd at Montreal. The rest is history.
  • Bullying a Dragon:
    • The April 3, 1995 Raw ended with Vince McMahon interviewing Shawn and his bodyguard Sycho Sid, with Shawn telling Sid he didn't need to show up for Shawn's rematch with Diesel (Kevin Nash) that was set for the first in Your House PPV on May 14th, and that he had the night off. (The implication being that Shawn felt Sid had screwed up and cost him his last match against Diesel, and didn't trust him not to screw up again and cost him another one if he were at ringside.) Sid responded that "NOBODY" gives him the night off, and proceeded to give Shawn three powerbombs before Diesel made the save. Shawn suffered a legitimate back injury as a result and didn't return to the ring until the Raw after the PPV.
    • The various No Holds Barred Beatdowns he suffered at the hands of the Undertaker in 1997 would qualify as well.
  • Butt-Monkey: Shawn is often the victim of comical physical and verbal abuse during later DX runs, but none more so than the "One Night Only" 2007 reunion, where he was attacked by both the Boogeyman and, saddest of all, Hornswoggle.
  • Camp Straight: Despite his ridiculously flamboyant manner and... risque dress that made him look like a come-to-life Jojo character, there was never any implication that Shawn was anything other than straight and proud of it.
  • Captain Ersatz: You can find "him" in the Game Boy Advance Fire Pro Wrestling.
  • Carpet of Virility: Sported one during the 90's.
  • The Casanova: Back in the day Shawn had quite the entourage, including Sheri (a.k.a. the scariest groupie ever) and Luna (okay, second scariest). He's now Happily Married.
  • Catchphrase: "Shawn Michaels has left the building!" Brought up when he became the Heartbreak Kid, after WrestleMania XXVI it takes a whole new meaning.
  • Cheap Heat:
    • 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:
      Shawn: 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:
      Shawn: 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.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: His Establishing Character Moment. It started in 1992 by flinging Marty Janetty through a barbershop window and just kept happening. As a member of the Kliq, he's a natural for this.
    • His betrayal of DX to the Corporation.
    • Superkicking The Rock on the first episode of Smackdown.
    • Kicking Booker T out of the NWO.
    • Superkicking Hulk Hogan to kick-start their feud into Summerslam.
    • Betraying John Cena while tag team partners.
      • Of course, Cena knew it was coming, and actually stated beforehand that he knew Shawn would betray him "because that's what Shawn Michaels generally does".
    • 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).
    • His latest victim of this was Daniel Bryan. Nobody was amused, much less Bryan himself, who immediately took it out on Shawn the next night on RAW.
    • 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.)
      V1: Um... his name is the Heart Break Kid. It's not gonna end well for ya, Sherri! At all!
      Jay Hunter: Maybe she believes she can change him.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Even as a face, Shawn isn't above some dirty fighting tactics himself every once in a while, including low blows and eye rakes, if it'll give him an advantage over his opponents.
  • 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.
  • Cool Old Guy: From 2002 to his retirement in 2010.
  • The Cover Changes the Gender: Shawn's theme music was originally sung by his then-manager Sherri Martel in third person singing his praises. After he ditched her, he sang it himself, changing the lyrics to first person and singing about just how hot and bothered he makes the ladies.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: During his entrance.
  • Defiant to the End: The way his match at WrestleMania XXVI ended. Shawn was beaten and exhausted, desperately clawing up the feet of the Undertaker as he attempted to stand, while 'Taker, showing respect for Michaels's career and feeling a tinge of mercy, yelled at him to stay down. Knowing full well he was going to lose but unwilling to go down without a fight, Shawn mimicked 'Taker's signature Throat-Slitting Gesture and, when 'Taker didn't respond, slapped him across the face. One tombstone later, the career of one of the greatest performers to ever grace a WWE ring was over.
  • 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.
  • Discontinuity Nod:
    • He and Triple H took shots at the infamous Katie Vick angle in a promo on 2007.
      Shawn Michaels: I don't know who writes this garbage, but this is the worst debacle since that whole Katie Vick thing years ago!
    • Before that, he and Rob Van Dam took a shot at the angle literally months after it happened in 2002, the night after winning the World Heavyweight Title for the first time:
      Shawn Michaels: You see, I'm not gonna represent a place that has a bunch of necrophilia and junk like that on its show!
      Eric Bischoff: Oh, really? Does a little, uh, necrophilia offend you as a Christian, Shawn?
      Shawn Michaels: No! It offends me as a wrestling fan! [crowd cheers] Am I right, RVD?
      Rob Van Dam: [off-mic, nodding] Yeah!
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: To reflect his egomania, Shawn comes down the ramp to himself singing "I'M JUST A SEXY BOY" accompanied by what sounds like an 80's Casio keyboard. The song was originally written by Jimmy Hart and sung by Sherri Martel ("like I'm on Cloud NEEHHH!"). It is simultaneously one of Hart's worst and best productions.
  • Dramatic Sit-Down: Shawn does this in the third encounter at WrestleMania 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.
  • Dramatic Spine Injury: During Royal Rumble 1998, in a "casket match"note  between Michaels and The Undertaker, Michaels was thrown out of the ring and landed on the casket. He suffered two herniated discs in his back and a third that was completely broken, and this injury forced him to retire for a few years until it was surgically repaired.
  • 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.

  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • In his earliest example of his future Heel–Face Revolving Door tendencies, and doubling as one of the more obscure periods of his career, the Midnight Rockers actually had a heel run in Memphis in 1987, even though they had been working face everywhere else they went at the time, complete with a manager, Mark Guleen.
    • "Sweet Chin Music" or the Superkick, has been in Michaels' arsenal of moves for years, but initially it wasn't used as a finisher, and it was just an arbitrary wear down move. His initial finishing move was leghook Saito suplex called the Teardrop Suplex.
    • The original version of "Sexy Boy" (his theme music) was sung by his valet at the time, Sensational Sherri. The current version with him singing it would debut after she left WWE.
  • Easily Forgiven: Subverted in regards to betraying DX for The Corporation. Everything seemed all and well after he rejoined the former, but they ended up setting him up to be assaulted by the latter.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Shawn's blonde ponytail, midriff-baring outfits, and "broken-heart" tights (not to mention the short-shorts, penchant for jewelry, and aversion to shirts) endeared him to many, many females - and no doubt quite a few males, too. He posed (in a non-nude spread) for Playgirl unaware that the readership is mostly gay males rather than girls. Note that "non-nude" is more a technicality than anything; one of the pictures has Shawn wearing just a necklace, with nothing but a strategically-placed Intercontinental Championship belt covering his privates (NSFW), making it, for wrestling a rare male example of Diamonds in the Buff. One of the other shots is just him in a towel. A lot of the other wrestlers found this pretty funny. This was lampshaded later during his second run in DX, which actually showed the second picture mentioned:
    Hunter: What?! How did that get on there?
    Shawn: I was young! I was stupid! You told me girls bought that magazine!
  • Evil Wears Black: Shawn was wearing black at the Barbershop skit. Janetty was wearing red and blue. Talk about Foreshadowing.
  • Exact Words: He promised that he would give Hulk Hogan and the WWE fans "something to remember" at SummerSlam. Oh boy, did he ever.
  • Face–Heel Turn: His turn against Marty Jannetty on the Barber Shop talk show segment began a somewhat average, barely remarkable career into an unforgettable run as the face of the WWF (later WWE) for more than 15 years.
  • Finger Poke of Doom: Quite possibly the original, at least to how the term is used in professional wrestling and definitely the first any national promotion had the audacity to air when he laid down for Triple H and gave up the European Championship. It wasn't as hated as the WCW example because it did not involve the prior destruction of a hot star (Goldberg), it did not lead to a retread of an angle people were getting sick of (the nWo), it wasn't the top title, it wasn't in the main event, and it was fucking hilarious!.
  • Finishing Move
    • Sweet Chin Music, aka the Superkick.
    • He was also one of the very few wrestlers to use Chris Benoit's Crippler Crossface.
    • Early in his career, Shawn also used a leghook saito suplex called the Teardrop as a finisher.
  • Five Moves of Doom: During the latter part of his career. Flying forearm (followed by kip-up), reverse atomic drop, punches to the face, scoop slam, and top rope elbow. This ultimately set up for the Sweet Chin Music.
  • Foe-Tossing Charge: If you are a cameraman, there is a wrestler behind you, and Shawn Michaels is angry and coming toward you, GET OUT OF THE WAY.
  • Genre Blindness: As a referee, he tried to check the wrestlers for concealed an FMW show. He tried to count out wrestlers not wrestling inside of the an FMW show.
  • Gimmick Matches: He participated in many firsts, most notably the first Ladder Match on a PPV in WWF (with Razor Ramon at WrestleMania X),note  the first Hell in a Cell (with The Undertaker at In Your House '97), and the first Elimination Chamber match (at the 2002 Survivor Series), where he won the World Heavyweight Championship four years after originally calling it quits.
  • Gorgeous George: The origin of his "sexy boy" monicker, not that many viewers know it. See, WWE tried to turn Shawn Michaels back into a baby face without turning down his ambiguously gay mannerisms whatsoever and the crowds still hated him, so then they just decided to make him a straight up lady killer...but not before sticking into gay men's magazine Playgirl! Bret Hart went so far as to call him and Triple H "homos" but like any good Gorgeous George he also had Chyna around for his antics.
  • Grumpy Old Man: Came off like this when telling Chris Masters that he was Ignorant Of His Own Ignorance on the August 22, 2005 Raw.
    "The problem with you kids today is you don't even know enough to know that you don't know."
  • Hard Truth Aesop:
    • At one time, John "Bradshaw" Layfield forced Michael to either compromise all his integrity by helping JBL cheat or lose a job he needed to support his family. At one point, none other than The Undertaker confronted Michaels about this, warning that "Sometimes it's hell getting to heaven." Naturally, Michael ends up doing the right thing.
    • In one episode of WWE Raw leading up to Unforgiven (WWE) in September 2008, Michaels asserted that some people are so wicked that they cannot possibly be forgiven, nor ever even want to be. And you can't just ignore them, because then they'll just keep going out to hurt countless more people; sometimes you must seek swift justice, severely punishing or even destroying a menacing human being. This was in response to his opponent brutally beating a man after he was unconscious and then punching the man's wife, which disgusted Michaels.
      "And although it's considered a strength to turn the other cheek, sometimes you've got to look evil right in the the face and spit in its eye. All the pain and all the suffering that you have put me through, is gonna rain down on you at Unforgiven. And it's [going to] rain down on you with absolutely no remorse. I will never apologize for the man that I am, for the life that I've lived. And I'm going to have no regrets about what will happen to you. "Unforgiven", it's an appropriate name, isn't it, Chris? Because I will never forgive you for what you've done to me. My only hope is that, someday, God can forgive me for what I'll do to you."
  • Heel–Face Turn/Heel–Faith Turn: A somewhat unique Real Life version. Shawn was known for his selfish primadonna behavior during his prime, but after becoming a Born Again Christian, he underwent a major personality shift, and has by all accounts become a much nicer person in real life. He spent the majority of his career after returning in 2002 helping to put over younger talent, most noteably Randy Orton, Batista and Kurt Angle.
  • Heroic BSoD:
    • 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), and 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 (WWE) 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 José 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.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: After he all but screwed Daniel Bryan out of the WWE Championship, HBK explained to a silently fuming Bryan that it was an example of his final lesson: Never trust ANYONE in this business, friend, family or spouse, after which he demanded that Bryan shake the hand of a real A-List player in Shawn Michaels; Bryan obliges, but it's a shame for Shawn that Bryan's a real fast learner.
  • How Much More Can He Take?: Shawn's made a career of this, being put through the wringer again and again.
    • His hour-plus Iron Man match against Bret Hart cemented their positions as the company's best talent, leaving it all in the ring.
    • His 40-minute Last Man Standing match against Triple H at the Royal Rumble in 2004 left the ring soaked in his blood.
    • His Hell in a Cell match against Hunter was like this as well, with Shawn taking 3 Pedigrees before finally going down.
      • His original Hell in a Cell match against The Undertaker also counts.
    • His 1995 Royal Rumble win counts, as he was the first man in and last man out, but spent most of the 60-some match getting worked over.
    • His 2003 Survivor Series bout definitely counts too. See the CMoA page for details.
  • I Don't Want to Ruin Our Friendship: Strictly platonic sentiment with Triple H when he begins having financial issues & began working for JBL. Hunter confronted Shawn to ask why he didn't come to him if he needed help. Finally, Shawn admits it changes everything & their friendship would never be the same again. Hunter persists, explaining that friends help each other, but Shawn angrily rejects him & notes that having to come to him for help would be a dark cloud over their friendship and he can't have that.
  • The Immodest Orgasm: C'mon, let's be honest. What the hell else are those female screams at the beginning of "Sexy Boy" supposed to be?
  • It's Personal: Some of Shawn's best feuds were this, particularly with Chris Jericho. To say nothing of his three-year long, on-and-off feud with Triple H.
  • Jack of All Stats: One of the very, very best in the business, Shawn was a high-flyer who could mat wrestle with Kurt Angle and brawl with The Undertaker.
  • Jerkass: Both as a heel and in Real Life, for a bit.
  • 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.
  • Knight Templar: During his feud with The Undertaker in 2009 and 2010. Going to far as to dress himself up as an angelic Jesus.
  • Lightning Bruiser: He was one of the first "small" wrestlers to get over in the WWF and become the "top" champion. He is still larger and stronger than a lot of other wrestlers, such as Rey Mysterio, and wouldn't even be classified as a smaller guy in today's WWE. Kevin Nash mentioned in a shoot interview that when he first met Shawn he was surprised at how much bigger he was in real life than he looked on TV. At the time Shawn was about his bulkiest though, around 240lbs.
  • Living Legend: Shawn is arguably the greatest professional wrestler of all time, and you can bet your ass he knows how good he is. Perhaps best exemplified (other than his entire 90s run) during a promo with Daniel Bryan, in which Bryan refused to accept Michaels' apology for the events of Hell in a Cell 2013. After Michaels ranted about "humbling [him]self" and demanded "the respect [he's] earned," Bryan STILL wouldn't have any of it, and refused to shake Shawn's hand twice, leading to this:
    Michaels: Let me tell you somethin', you self-righteous little puke! For seven months, I've been listening to people call you a B+ player, and the whole time, I have stuck up for you, saying "No, he's an A+ player." You wanna know something? I quite honestly don't know, and what's more, I don't care! What I do know is this: I am an A+ player. I always have been, and I always will be. For the love of God, I am Shawn Michaels! I'm giving you the chance, on worldwide TV, to shake my hand! Now do it!
  • Loser Leaves Town: He was integral in three half-matches of this type:
    • 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.
    • Subverted for quite possibly the first time after Hell in a Cell 2013, where nobody loved how he kicked his former student Daniel Bryan out of finally winning the WWE Championship. Shawn won the Double-Cross of the Year at the Slammy Awards for it. Why is this significant? Because, as he pointed out, this is the first time in his entire career he has won the award, despite the fact that he spent his entire career turning on people. To top it off, Shawn had been retired for three years by that point, and usually retirees are always on the good side of the fans, no matter what they do or what they used to do (see: Edge).
  • Manly Tears:
    • Upon winning his first WWF Championship (and achieving his "boyhood dream").
    • 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.
    • After "losing his smile." Yes, you read that right.
  • The Mentor: Shawn mentored many wrestlers during his four-year retirement, including Lance Cade, Paul London, and TNA wrestlers Michael Shane (his real life cousin) 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. Unfortunately, while he eventually outgrew the military part, the "brat" part stayed for a while.
  • 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.
  • Mr. Fanservice: His run with Sherri Martel was supposed to emphasize his sexiness.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Really closer to "My God, what did I almost do?", but at WrestleMania XXVII, Michaels was the special guest referee for the match between Triple H and The Undertaker, with the latter's undefeated streak at WrestleMania on the line.

    At one point, Undertaker, having warned Shawn not to stop the match under any circumstances unless Undertaker was decisively beaten, grabbed HBK in the Hell's Gate submission hold to prevent him from doing exactly that. Michaels would later superkick Undertaker in retaliation, leading to a follow-up Pedigree from Triple H, a combination which Undertaker amazingly survived after a two-count.

    At that moment, having defied his duty as a referee to be impartial, and also coming within an inch of tainting the greatest streak in pro wrestling with biased officiating, Shawn had a minor breakdown and was reduced to shuddering in the corner in shame.

  • 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 (in great part because he felt The Rock had upstaged his best friend, Triple H); instead we got Stone Cold vs The Rock. Not a bad match, but most agree Mick Foley deserved to star in that main event.
    • At SummerSlam 1997, Shawn refereed the world championship match between Bret Hart and The Undertaker. He was doing a good job up until the very end when, suspecting Bret Hart of using a chair when he wasn't looking (and he did), he got spat at by Bret. Incensed he took the chair he was holding and attempted to hit Bret...only to brain The Undertaker (again). His hands tied, he had to count the pinfall against The Undertaker and award Bret the championship as a result of his own actions. To explain it a bit further; Michaels just about begged Vince McMahon (in a promo on Raw) to be allowed to referee the match. McMahon gave it the okay, much to Hart's disapproval - this was before the Montreal Screwjob, but the rivalry was heating up. Michaels declared that if he didn't call the match right down the middle, he'd ban himself from wrestling in the US. Right after Michaels blasts Undertaker with the chair, the look of disgust on his face says it all, as well as the sly look on Hart's face as he goes for the cover.
  • 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.
  • Not in the Face!: Sensational Sherri had this rule put in the contract for Shawn's match with Rick Martel at SummerSlam 92, and it meant that Shawn couldn't hit Rick there either.
  • Oh, Crap!: Can be clearly heard screaming "ooh shit" early in the 1995 Royal Rumble
  • Pet the Dog: Rick Bognar, who played the "fake" Razor Ramon, said in an interview that he was treated like a complete pariah in the locker room, but the one guy who was nice to him was Shawn of all people. He appparently gave him tips on how to act like Razor and put him in connection with Scott Hall to get some of his old gear. Keep in mind this was late 1996, around the peak of Shawn's real life jerkdom.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Not as small as wrestlers like Rey Mysterio Jr. or Evan Bourne, but when five-foot-eleven Shawn is matched against six-foot-ten Undertaker and can bodyslam him? He counts.
  • Pretty Boy: He kept using the "sexy boy" theme into the 2000s, well after any time he could have been considered boyish. Hulk Hogan still talked down to him as if he was a pretty boy too.
  • Popularity Power
    • But not enough to get him cheered anywhere in Canada or after screwing Daniel Bryan out of the WWE Championship. So much to the point that it turned him heel for the first time in eight years.
    • He gains uber-Popularity Power when in DX, enough to get him cheered in Montreal.
  • Power Stable
    • D-Generation X.
    • He was also, for a very short time in 2002, a member of the nWo, and is, in fact, the last person to ever join the group.
  • 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.
  • The Resenter: During his short run with the nWo in WWE, he revealed shades of this when he superkicked Booker T, not just towards Booker but also towards Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock, believing that they were the ones who stole the spotlight from himself and Triple H.
    Shawn: I thought to myself, well, you're the problem! You see, you tried to steal the spotlight from the nWo! Just like Austin tried to steal it from me! Just like The Rock tries to steal it from Hunter! And I've got news for you! From this day forward, absolutely nobody and I mean nobody will ever steal the spotlight from the nWo again!
  • 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".
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge:
    • His feud with Vince McMahon ended with one of these in a match at Wrestlemania after Vince had done everything in his power to destroy Shawn. By the end of the match, Shane was handcuffed to the ring rope and thoroughly pummeled and the Spirit Squad had the holy hell beat out of them. And that's not even going into what he did to Vince himself. After beating the living crap out of him, he shoved him in a trash can, put him on a table, and then gave him an elbow drop from an insanely tall ladder. Then gave him a Sweet Chin Music for good measure before finally pinning him.
    • 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 The 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!
    • After Triple H's second quad tear - which ended both their tag team title match against champions Edge and Randy Orton and second run as DX - Shawn went after Edge and Orton, who were crowing about having taken out Hunter. Shawn picked up Hunter's sledgehammer and unleashed hell.

  • Sanity Slippage: In 2010, Shawn Michaels started down this road when he obsessed over getting a rematch with The Undertaker at WrestleMania 26.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Several times. In fact, has a history of being stripped of or losing titles through means other than actually doing the dreaded job in the ring.
    • Went MIA following SummerSlam 93, leading to him being stripped of the WWF Intercontinental Title.
    • Survivor Series 1994 opened with the Bad Guys (who were actually the Faces) note  vs. the Teamstersnote . After Diesel had eliminated the Kid and the Headshrinkers, and Bulldog had been counted out, leaving Razor in the unenviable position of having to fight five guys by himself, all five members of the Teamsters were counted out when Shawn and Diesel started fighting. Shawn headed to the parking lot, dropping off his half of the WWE World Tag Team Title belts, which he had held with Diesel at the time, with interviewer/announcer Todd Pettingill. This also marked the first and only time in Survivor Series history that an entire team had been counted out.
    • Forfeited the IC Title to Dean Douglas (Shane Douglas) at WWF in Your House IV. (though that time due to injury after getting assaulted outside a nightclub.)
    • Forfeited the WWF 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 WWF World Tag Team Titles which he held at the time with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.
  • Self-Deprecation: Maybe. He once said, "There's not a lot upstairs when it comes to the Heartbreak Kid."
  • Shoot the Dog: His both Kayfabe and Real Life stance on the Montreal Screwjob.
  • Shout-Out: His finisher, Sweet Chin Music, was a shout out to when Roger "The Rocket" Clemens would hurl a fastball at a batter who had pissed him off/was crowding the plate to which the commentor would state that Clemens just gave him a "Litte Sweet Chin music."
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: His reply to Hannibal Lectures? Normally a Sweet Chin Music to the face.
  • 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.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad:
    • 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 a rematch as at that same event his match for the WHC ended in a draw, 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.
    • 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.
    • Yet another memorable example: the buildup the first Elimination Chamber match. The buildup had been focused around the feud(s) between Triple H, Chris Jericho, and Rob Van Dam, mostly, with Booker T and Kane thrown in largely for flavor and the sixth spot being pretty much ignored. Michaels, who was supposed to have been crippled by Triple H at the previous SummerSlam, showed up in a wheelchair, claiming that he was recovering. Then he cautioned, to Triple H, "Don't hunt...what you can't kill." Then, after struggling to get out of the wheelchair, he easily jumped out, started dancing and declared himself the sixth competitor in the Elimination Chamber. The buildup immediately shifted to being pretty much: Michaels vs. Triple H, and also four other guys were there.
    • Surprisingly averted when it comes to the World Title scene. Oh sure, Shawn might have title matches, but he hasn't actually held the title since 2002 after the first Elimination Chamber. This is reportedly by his own volition, as he's done with being world champion, seems far more concerned with giving the best show possible for the fans, and is quite happy to give younger talent the spot.
  • Squash Match: Back during his NWA days he was on the wrong end of a beloved in hindsight example against John Nord.
  • Starter Villain: Of the Attitude Era. He was the WWF champion, a co-founder of D Generation X, and one of the biggest Heels in the world, but a back injury forced him to leave the company less than six months in, at the first of the era's four Wrestlemanias.
  • Stealth Insult: He's "The Heartbreak Kid"... and his Arch-Enemy was Bret Hart.
  • Still Got It: The guy was 44 years old when he retired, an age that even the greatest wrestlers (most notably The Undertaker) 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. It was said during his second run in the '00s, Shawn tended to pull out at least a three star match on nothing but pure instinct alone. Even four years out of the ring did nothing to diminish his skills — much like Chris Jericho, Shawn never lost it, not even once.
  • 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. When a clip of the incident was shown on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on an episode about WWE, it immediately elicted female cheers from the studio audience.
    • 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."
  • Tag Team
    • The American Force, with Paul Diamond
    • The Midnight Rockers/The Rockers, with Marty Jannetty, in the American Wrestling Association, the CWA in Memphis, Continental Championship Wrestling in Alabama, and in WWE.
    • "Two Dudes with Attitudes," with Diesel.
  • 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. A part of that is because Hogan's sparse appearances meant that Shawn was (more or less) forced to build the feud up on his own. Hogan's refusal to put him over in a rematch (citing a bad knee) led to the overselling, indicating just how pissed off Shawn was about it.
    • Considering who his greatest rival is, his nickname "The Heartbreak Kid" may be one (as well as a Stealth Pun).
  • Talk Show with Fists:
    • "The Heartbreak Hotel".
    • His career was jumpstarted on one, by turning on his tag team partner Marty Jannetty on Brutus Beefcake's Barber Shop.
  • Team Dad: Backstage Michaels became a mentor to many of the younger talents.
  • Temporarily a Villain: He was basically always a face after his comeback in 2002, but he turned evil for about a month to beat up Hulk Hogan. Literally the night after the match he was back to being a good guy.
  • 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. He infamously used this to get his revenge on Hogan note  at Summerslam by selling every single hit like he'd been hit like a freight train and flying across the ring like a video game character with the ragdoll physics set to max in a hilariously unrealistic manner, making it impossible to take Hogan's victory seriously as a result.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: When he initially retired in 1998 not a lot of people were too sad to see him go. His return as a changed man did a lot to fix his tarnished reputation. By the time he retired for good in 2010, everyone in the company was genuinely saddened by his leaving and gave him a standing ovation after his match with the Undertaker.
  • Totally Radical: Returned on the January 9, 2017 episode of Monday Night Raw to promote his role in the movie The Resurrection of Gavin Stone. Enzo and Cass soon joined him, as did Jinder Mahal, along with Rusev and Lana. When Enzo started to do his "What do we got ova' here?" bit, Shawn was excited to jump in, sounding as uncool as he possibly could:
    Shawn: You know what, what you kids call them today? ... haters! They're haters! Haters, I tell you!
  • Tragic Mistake: Shawn and Bret Hart 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. To be more precise, Shawn cut a promo where he implied that Bret (who was married at the time) had slept with Tammy Lynn "Sunny" Sytch (who was close to Bret's family, and who was dating Shawn at the time). This led to a fistfight backstage that pretty much destroyed their friendship for almost two decades. Here's the promo in question, at around the 8:30 mark. It's been alleged (albeit by the Bret Hart camp) that Vince deliberately encouraged the backstage feeling, thinking it would make a more convincing in-ring product. It did.
  • The Trope Kid: "The Heartbreak Kid"
  • True Companions: The Kliq, which included real-life friends Triple H, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, and Sean Waltman (X-Pac). Three out of four were at Shawn's WWE Hall of Fame induction. The fourth (Hall) wasn't there, because he didn't want to be put in an environment that could threaten his sobriety. Video here, proving that the love between these guys is off the charts. This would be rectified 2 years later when Hall, now clean and sober, was inducted and all members of the kliq were up on the stage.
  • Turn to Religion: Formerly held something of a party boy reputation. After an injury after his match with The Undertaker at Royal Rumble 1998 forced him to miss the Attitude Era (just barely making it to his match with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin at WrestleMania XIV), he became a born-again Christian, leading him to clean up his act.
  • Ur-Example: He is the first ever Grand Slam Champion in WWE.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: With Triple H, especially in D-Generation X. Also in Real Life. 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.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Shawn has a much deeper voice than you'd expect from a Pretty Boy like him.
  • 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, the Mandible/Socko Claw 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).
  • Women Are Wiser: Much like in kayfabe, Sherri was protective of him and would claw the eyes out of guys who refused to sell for him, put him over, etc. She also was politically savvy because of the time she’d spent with Randy Savage, and could spot subtle things he couldn't. The insults she clued Shawn into pissed him off so much that, when he finally got to be the champ, "I stuffed it in everybody's face."
  • Worthy Opponent: Any of his co-face rivals except Bret Hart. The Undertaker and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin are perhaps the most notable examples.
    • Bret Hart was considered a Worthy Opponent prior to the WrestleMania XII match.
    • Indeed, Hart considered Michaels a worthy opponent; while the two hated each other, they at least had respect for each other's in-ring abilities.
    • In 2012, while stressing he wasn't coming back, he specifically named Triple H, The Undertaker, and Chris Jericho as people he'd wrestle again.
  • Wrestling Family: His cousin Matt Bentley competed in TNA, MLW and other promotions as Michael Shane, Martyr and under his own name. Shawn himself is married to Rebecca Curci, aka former WCW Nitro Girl Whisper . This is what Shawn means when he says, "There's nothing I'd rather do than Whisper all night long."
  • Wrestling Psychology: One of the best in the business when it comes to it.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: Has done it a few times, but one of the best examples was when he returned in 2007 to kick ten kinds of crap out of Randy Orton. Just a tip? Don't attempt to beat up Shawn's best friend, or crow about it if you manage to.
  • Zeroth Law Rebellion: Michaels' infamous match against Hulk Hogan at Summerslam 2005 was a form of this- he was booked to lose to Hogan, even though Hogan had backed out of the return match, so he had no choice but to lose. He could have just refused to sell Hogan's attacks, deliberately making it a bad match to make Hogan look weak, but that would have made him look bad as well and that's not the way he rolls. So instead he got his revenge on Hogan by overselling every attack, deliberately making it a So Bad, It's Good match to make Hogan look silly.

Eat your heart out, troper. Hands off the indices.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): HBK


Shawn Michaels' Playgirl Shoot

During an argument with the rest of DX, Triple H brings up that when Shawn Michaels loses his smile, he does weird things like pose for Playgirl. He excuses it by saying that he was young, stupid and needed the money.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / IWasYoungAndNeededTheMoney

Media sources: