March 12, 2005
REAL NAME: Michael Hickenbottom
Born Michael Hickenbottom on an Air Force base in Phoenix, Arizona, the future Heartbreak Kid grew up as an army brat and moved around a lot as a child. Trained by Jose Lothario, Michaels made his pro debut for Bill Watts' Mid-South territory in 1985, at the age of 19. Six months later, he went to the Central States area, where he met Marty Jannetty.
Later dubbed a "tag team specialist", indeed much of his early career was spent as a tag team wrestler. While wrestling in the Texas All-Star Wrestling territory, Michaels teamed with Paul Diamond. Dubbed "American Force", Michaels and Diamond were awarded the area's tag team titles on September 1st, 1985.
When his time in Texas was done, Michaels headed to the AWA where he teamed with Jannetty as "the Midnight Rockers". Much like the Rock and Roll Express, a team Jannetty and Michaels were often accused of "ripping off", the Midnight Rockers were meant to appeal to a younger and more female audience than normally attended pro wrestling events. Jannetty and Michaels were also quickly pushed up the tag team rankings and took aim at the team of Doug Somers and Buddy Rose.
The Midnight Rockers spent all of 1986 battling Somers and Rose. Things heated between the two teams when, on May 17th, Rose and Somers defeated Curt Hennig and Scott Hall for the AWA World Tag team titles. Two days later, however, the Midnight Rockers traveled to the Central States territory and relieved Brad and Bart Batten of that area's tag belts but soon returned to the AWA. Their goal: the AWA Tag Team Championship.
The chase finally ended on January 27th, 1987 when the Midnight Rockers defeated Somers and Rose to become the AWA World Tag Team Champions. The reign ended, however, on May 25th when Soldat Ustinov and Boris Zhukov beat the Midnight Rockers for the championship.
Michaels and Jannetty departed the AWA shortly thereafter, heading to WWE (then known as the WWF). While it seemed as though the Midnight Rockers and WWE might make a good pairing, the stay was a short one, as Michaels and Jannetty wrestled only one match before getting on the wrong side of Vince McMahon due to their heavy partying.
Soon, the Midnight Rockers were back in the AWA and were soon World Tag team Champions once again, defeating Dennis Condrey and Randy Rose on December 27th, 1987.
When that reign as tag team champions came to an end at the hands of Badd Company (Paul Diamond and Pat Tanaka), the Midnight Rockers were once again en route to WWE. This time, however, their stay was substantially longer. With their team name shortened to simply "the Rockers", Michaels and Jannetty were soon a major part of the WWE's tag team scene.
Their first major feud in the WWE was with Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard, aka the Brainbusters. They battled on several television tapings without getting a decision one way or the other, preferring to battle back to the locker room area. The two teams also eliminated each other at the 1988 Survivor Series, the Rockers' pay-per-view debut. The Rockers clash with the Brainbusters lasted well into 1989, although Michaels and Jannetty would face, and lose to, the Twin Towers at Wrestlemania V. The Rockers would eventually face every top team in WWE, including the Rougeaus and Demolition.
In 1990, after a program with the Orient Express that saw them lose at Wrestlemania VI, the Rockers entered a three-way feud with the Hart Foundation and Demolition over the WWE Tag team titles. Although it was the Hart Foundation that would win the belts at SummerSlam 1990, the Rockers would take the titles in October...or so it seemed.
During a bout taped for Saturday Night's Main Event in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the Rockers seemingly won the WWE Tag team titles, a title change made necessary when Jim "the Anvil" Neidhart was fired from WWE. However, Neidhart was re-hired and thus, after a week of defending the titles as tag team champs, the Rockers found their title reign stricken from the history books.
Michaels and Jannetty were never to officially win the WWE Tag team Championship. The Rockers continued to wrestle, mostly at the mid-card level for the rest of 1990 and 1991. Towards the end of the year, however, cracks began to form between the two men dubbed "tag team specialists". At the 1991 Survivor Series, Michaels walked away from his partner and later blamed Jannetty for a loss to Ric Flair.
In early 1992, Michaels and Jannetty appeared on Brutus Beefcake's Barber Shop talk show to talk out their differences. Although it seemed the Rockers were back together, Michaels turned on his long-time partner and threw him through a window on the set.
The split with Jannetty turned Michaels into a full-fledged heel, and an ultra-cocky one at that. He soon paired up with Sensational Sherri who, ironically had managed Somers and Rose as AWA Tag Team Champions so many years before in the AWA.
After a victory over Tito Santana at Wrestlemania 8, Michaels would then feud with Rick Martel (a fellow heel, unheard of at the time) for the love of Sherri, leading to a no contest decision at Summerslam '92. Michaels continued to be pushed very hard towards the top of the card and, on October 27th, 1992, on the very last Saturday Night's Main Event, he defeated Davey Boy Smith to win the Intercontinental Championship, then faced WWE World Champion Bret Hart at the 1992 Survivor Series.
As Michaels' reign as Intercontinental Champion got underway, he got a nasty surprise with the return of former partner Jannetty. After an attack from Jannetty, Michaels sacrificed Sherri. Jannetty had intended to hit Michaels with a mirror but instead Sherri was the one on the receiving end.
Weeks later, the two clashed at the 1993 Royal Rumble where, despite throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Michaels, Jannetty could not wrest the title away from Shawn. The real story, however, was that Sherri came to ringside initially to be in a neutral corner, but soon made her hatred for Shawn known.
Sherri would continue to haunt Shawn, coming to ringside at Wrestlemania IX during the Tatanka/Michaels title match. But Shawn had Luna Vachon in his corner, which didn't take away from another great outing by Michaels, who retained the championship.
But Jannetty would return in May and take the Intercontinental Championship. With a new bodyguard, Diesel, Michaels quickly regained the title and retained it during the summer of 1993. However, in the fall of 1993, Michaels refused to drop the Intercontinental Championship. Instead, a storyline was created where Jack Tunney suspended Michaels and held up the title.
Michaels returned as a last minute substitution as Jerry Lawler who had to sit out the Survivor Series due to some legal problems. Meanwhile, Michaels began to bring another version of the Intercontinental title claiming that he and not Razor Ramon (who had won a battle royale and a match against Rick Martel to claim the recognized version of the title) was the REAL champion.
After almost costing Ramon the I-C title during a Royal Rumble '94 against I.R.S., the issue between Ramon and Michaels was settled when Ramon won a ladder match at Wrestlemania X. Thwarted in his attempt to regain the Intercontinental Championship, Michaels rebounded, teaming with bodyguard Diesel to defeat the Headshrinkers in August 1994 to win the WWE Tag Team titles.
With Diesel's popularity growing, their team would not last until 1995. After an altercation at the 1994 Survivor Series, Michaels abandoned both his former bodyguard and the WWE Tag Team titles. Diesel would have the last laugh, however, winning the WWE World title days later.
Michaels and Diesel would, of course, clash for the WWE World Championship. Michaels would eliminate Davey Boy Smith to win the 1995 Royal Rumble and, with new bodyguard Sycho Sid and TV star Pamela Anderson in his corner, would face Diesel at Wrestlemania XI.
Michaels would not be able to defeat Diesel and his loss at Wrestlemania came in no small part due to misdirected interference from Sid. The next night on Raw, Michaels was quick to blame Sid for the loss, announcing that he was giving his bodyguard the night off during his next title match. Sid did not take the criticism well, attacking Shawn until, of all people, Diesel hit the ring to save Michaels.
Reunited with Diesel and back in the fans' good graces, Michaels took on and defeated Jeff Jarrett for the Intercontinental Championship on July 23rd. After an appearance in Smoky Mountain Wrestling, defeating Buddy Landell, Michaels was victorious in a ladder rematch against Ramon at Summerslam '95.
Michaels and Diesel would also regain the WWF Tag Team Championship at the In Your House event in September. Owen Hart, one-half of the tag champs, was late in arriving, forcing the British Bulldog to step in to defend the belts with Yokozuna. When Owen did arrive, he was pinned by Diesel but the next day, the title change was voided.
A month later, Michaels reign as Intercontinental Champion ended. He had been attacked outside a bar in Syracuse, New York, and an injury was the official reason why he was forced to give up the title, forfeiting it before his scheduled title defence to Dean (Shane) Douglas.
Those injuries would also play a part in a match against Owen Hart the day after the Survivor Series. Hart nailed Michaels with an enziguri and moments later, Michaels collapsed in the ring. Michaels took several weeks off after the bout, and there were rumours that Michaels' career might be over.
Such rumours did much to hype the return in early 1996 of Michaels to the ring. Michaels repeated his success at the Royal Rumble, winning the bout and a shot at the WWE World Championship at Wrestlemania XII. Owen Hart challenged him to a match at February's In Your House where Michaels put that Wrestlemania title shot on the line, but after a victory, nothing stood in the way of Michaels en route to a bout against Owen's brother, Bret.
WWE telecasts over the next few weeks showed Michaels in intense training with his former mentor, Jose Lothario, who would accompany Michaels to ringside.
The main event at Wrestlemania XII would be an Iron Man match. Michaels and Hart would have to battle for one hour. 60 minutes after the bout started, the two men were tied at one fall apiece. Gorilla Monsoon, WWF President, came to ringside and declared that there would be a sudden death overtime. Michaels used his "Sweet Chin Music" to get a pinfall soon after the bout was restarted. Michaels was the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
One of Michaels' first opponents was his former friend, Diesel, in a No Holds Barred match at the April In Your House. The British Bulldog, Vader and Mankind would also face Michaels in an attempt to win the title. Instead, it would be Sycho Sid who attacked Lothario with a television camera during his title match at the Survivor Series. More concerned with Lothario's health, Michaels was distracted and Sid got the victory and the championship.
Michaels would regain the championship at the 1997 Royal Rumble in front of a home town crowd in San Antonio, Texas. In February, Michaels came out and gave the infamous "Losing His Smile" speech about a knee injury forcing him to forfeit the title. Michaels would return shortly after Wrestlemania and soon teamed with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin to battle the newly reformed Hart Foundation. On June 16th, 1997, Austin and Michaels defeated the British Bulldog and Owen Hart for the WWE Tag team titles.
Meanwhile backstage tensions between Hart and Michaels were coming to a head with the two engaging in a brawl that forced Michaels to leave WWE for some time.
Upon his return at Summerslam '97, Michaels acted as a special referee for Hart's title match against the Undertaker but a misdirected chair shot cost the Undertaker the match and the title. So, in addition to having a feud (off-screen and on) with Hart, Michaels now had to deal with the Undertaker.
Michaels faced the Undertaker at September's Ground Zero pay-per-view with the match ending in a "no contest". About that same time, Michaels began to team with Hunter Hearst Helmsley and, along with Chyna formed DeGeneration X. Helmsley and Chyna helped Michaels defeat Davey Boy Smith for the European Championship at the British pay-per-view One Night Only on September 20th.
Back in North America, Michaels was forced to battle the Undertaker in the first Hell in a Cell match at Badd Blood. It seemed as if no one, not even DeGeneration X could save Michaels from defeat, but he got some unexpected help with the first appearance of Kane. Kane's interference was enough to put the Undertaker away and give Michaels the victory.
If Badd Blood was controversial, it paled in comparison to the 1997 Survivor Series when Michaels faced a WCW-bound Bret Hart for the WWE World Championship in Montreal. The finish, which saw Michaels awarded the victory mere seconds after he placed Hart in the sharpshooter, would be known as the Montreal Screwjob.
Once again champion, Michaels defeated Ken Shamrock at the D-Generation X pay-per-view. However, he was forced by WWE Commissioner Sgt. Slaughter to defend the European title against Helmsley. The match was a comical farce and Helmsley won when Michaels laid down in the ring for the pinfall.
For all the rather risque joking by DeGeneration X, the laughter was about to come to an end. During a casket match against the Undertaker at the 1998 Royal Rumble, Michaels injured his back. Michaels retained the title but was soon forced out of action.
At Wrestlemania XIV, Michaels lost the WWE World Championship to Steve Austin. While Jim Ross was announcing that the Stone Cold Era had begun, the Shawn Michaels era had ended and, it was assumed, Michaels' career as well.
Following back surgery, Michaels would return to the WWE in July, albeit in a non-wrestling capacity. Initially doing commentary for Raw and Sunday Night Heat, Michaels was given the role of WWE Commissioner in November. In his first official match, Michaels signed Rocky Maivia to face XII. During the bout, Michaels came to ringside and nailed XII with a chair, aligning himself with Vance McMahon's Corporation.
But Michaels would not remain a corporate stooge for long and soon turned against McMahon, earning the ire of the corporation. Although it seemed as if Michaels had rejoined the good graces of DC, the group left Michaels in the lurch and allowed Michaels to be brutalized in a parking lot attack by the Corporation.
Michaels would take leave of the WWE in early 2000, when he appointed Mick Foley to his own vacated post as WWE Commissioner. It would be midday before the Heartbreak Kid would grace WWE television screens again, and he would return as a member of the New World Order, reunited with his old friend, Kevin Nash. His first order of business, delivering a superkick to Booker T that ended Booker's stint in the NWO.
This WWE version of the NWO would not last, as Nash tore his quad and had to leave WWE. With one friend on the disabled list, Michaels turned his attention to another one: Triple H who was debating which brand he should wrestle for. Triple H pretended to be interested in a DX reunion with Shawn, but instead HBK ended up on the wrong end of a pedigree. A week later, Shawn was attacked in the parking lot. It was revealed to be Triple H, and the two were set to face each other at SummerSlam. Michaels got the victory but was attacked by Helmsley and his sledgehammer.
After two months of Michaels threatening Triple H, Shawn interfered in a casket match between Helmsley and Kane on October 28th. After several more instances of interference, Michaels and Triple H (along with Rob Van Dam, Chris Jericho, Booker T, and Kane) battled in an Elimination Chamber match at the 2002 Survivor Series. In the end, it was Michaels who emerged as the World Champion.
That did little to settle the feud between Michaels and Helmsley, and the two played a game of one-upmanship on Raw until Helmsley regained the title on December 15th at the Armageddon pay-per-view in a three-match series. Triple H won a street fight; Michaels won a cage match and Triple H won a ladder match.
However, Michaels' path and that of Triple H's once again crossed. Michaels would find himself betrayed by tag team partner Ric Flair during a match on Raw in May. Michaels would team with Kevin Nash against Flair, Triple H and Randy Orton, as Evolution began to once again take shape.
At SummerSlam, Michaels would find himself once again in an Elimination Chamber match, but this time would not be able to gain a victory, with Triple H instead walking away the champion. After teasing a feud with Goldberg after some miscommunicationn the two, Michaels instead joined Team Austin at the 2003 Survivor Series, which put him on the wrong side of Eric Bischoff.
Bischoff would remember this slight when, after a double pinfall during a December title match against Triple H, the Raw General Manager declared that Triple H would retain the title. However, with the controversial ending, Michaels and Triple H signed for a "Last Man Standing" match at the 2004 Royal Rumble. That match proved nothing, as the two bitter enemies battled to a draw.
It appeared that Michaels' attempts to regain the World title would have to be put on hold as Chris Benoit came to Raw from Smackdown to challenge Triple H. But Michaels wouldn't step aside, delivering a superkick to Benoit and signing his own name to the contract to face Helmsley.
Both Benoit and Michaels got their title shot at Wrestlemania XX, with Benoit coming out victorious. Michaels would turn his attention to the defeated Helmsley in the months to come, culminating in a Hell in a Cell match at June's Badd Blood pay-per-view, which Helmsley won. The next night on Raw, when Triple H and Michaels were called to the ring to shake hands, Kane attacked Michaels and put him out with a crushed larynx.
When Michaels returned, he went right after Kane, defeating him in a No-DQ match at Unforgiven. With Kane taken care of, Michaels would next feud with Edge when HBK won the World Heavyweight title match voting for Taboo Tuesday. Even after Michaels left in October due to injury, the feud continued upon HBK's return as a special referee for the Elimination Chamber match at New Year's Revolution. Edge accidentally speared Michaels during the match and later, received "Sweet Chin Music" from the Heartbreak Kid. Blaming Shawn for the loss, Edge would return and defeat Michaels at the Royal Rumble.
Michaels' night at the Royal Rumble was not over. In the Rumble itself, Michaels eliminated Kurt Angle who returned and eliminated Shawn. Michaels' challenge to Angle for a match at Wrestlemania XXI would be answered at the most inopportune time. With Michaels bloody and battered after defeating Edge in a street fight on Raw, Angle would storm the ring and attack Michaels himself. That led to a match at Wrestlemania which many considered the best of the night.
Michaels lost that night and was attacked by Muhammad Hassan & Khosrow Daivari the next night on Raw. A week later, after Hassan's interference cost him a match against Daivari, Michaels wanted revenge but needed a partner.
He found one in Hulk Hogan and this team of two wrestling icons and legends found victory at Backlash. However, after a subsequent tag match against Kurt Angle and Carlito the Heartbreak Kid turned on Hogan, challenging his fellow legend to a match at SummerSlam.
Hogan defeated Michaels at SummerSlam but it was the Heartbreak Kid who was on Raw the next night, only to be interrupted by Chris Masters. Masters would attack Michaels on several occassions but Michaels got revenge with a win at Unforgiven.
Michaels and Kurt Angle would clash again in an Iron Man match that ended in a draw at WWE Homecoming. Taboo Tuesday would see yet another Angle/Michaels clash in a Triple Threat match featuring John Cena for the WWE Championship.
After another epic battle against Angle, Michaels found himself under attack from WWE head Vince McMahon who vowed to make Michaels' life "a living hell" for not aligning himself with the McMahons.
Vince's son, Shane, got into the act as well, challenging Michaels in the ring on behalf of his father. Shane got a pair of victories over Michaels under his belt, once after sister Stephanie drugged Michaels and another, on Saturday Night's Main Event, when Vince orchestrated a replay of the 1997 "Montreal Screwjob". Michaels and McMahon clashed in an epic no holds barred match at Wrestlemania 22. Shawn walked out the victor with a flying elbowdrop off of a ladder onto a garbage-can covered McMahon.
The feud with McMahon didn’t end there however. McMahon swore that Michaels had been assisted by God to win the match, and booked himself and Shane vs. Michaels and God at April 2006’s Backlash event. God was represented by a white spotlight. The McMahons defeated Michaels when the Spirit Squad interfered and put Michaels through a table.
By this point rumors were flying that the return of Degeneration-X was on the horizon. After several subtle hints, the turn became fact when on May 22nd Triple-H defied McMahon’s orders to hit Michaels with a sledgehammer and instead took out the Spirit Squad. On June 19th DX was officially reborn when Michaels and Triple-H reunited and gave the McMahons a crotch chop.
Degeneration X feuded with the McMahons and The Spirit Squad throughout the summer of 2006. On the July 15th Saturday Night’s Main Event they defeated the entire squad in an Elimination match. DX continued to play games like impersonating the McMahons and using their juvenile humor to anger them. The two sides finally met at Summerslam 2006, with DX taking the win.
Things were not over as the night after Summerslam DX vandalized Titan Towers and Vince’s limo. At Unforgiven DX faced the McMahons and The Big Show in a Hell in a Cell Match. DX shoved McMahon’s face into Show’s exposed rear end and won the match, ending the feud.
A face from Triple-H’s past was coming up to be a thorn in the side of DX. Hunter’s former Evolution stablemate Randy Orton formed Rated RKO with Edge, and the two painted a target on DX’s back. On October 16th the team turned the tables on DX with a parody of their own, leading to a match at Cyber Sunday, refereed via fans voting by Eric Bischoff. Bischoff stopped counting a pinfall by DX late in the match, turning the favor in Rated RKO’s way and costing them the match.
DX would get payback at The Survivor Series when they teamed with CM Punk and The Hardy Boyz to cleanly sweep through Rated RKO, Johnny Nitro, Snitsky and Gregory Helms in a traditional elimination match. For the rest of 2006 the feud continued leading up to New Years Revolution on January 7th, 2007. The tag team grudge match ended in a no-contest when Triple-H tore his quad.
Now solo, Michaels continued to feud with Orton and Edge as he set his sights on winning the Royal Rumble. He entered at 23 and after eliminating Orton and Edge, Michaels squared off for the first time in nearly a decade with fellow legend The Undertaker. After several minutes of back and fourth action, Michaels found himself over the top to the floor and The Undertaker was headed to Wrestlemania 23.
The next night on RAW, Michaels teamed with WWE champion John Cena and defeated Rated RKO for the tag team titles. A week later Undertaker chose to face Batista at Wrestlemania. Michaels then defeated Edge and Orton in a triple-threat match to start his own road to Wrestlemania.
The following weeks saw Michaels and Cena made an appearance on Smackdown as they headed towards an interpromotional tag match against Undertaker and Batista at No Way Out, beating MVP and Mr. Kennedy. At the pay per view itself Batista turned on Undertaker, setting up a superkick by Michaels and the F-U by Cena on Taker to get the win. All is not well within the land of the tag team champions however. Rated RKO aired a video package of Shawn Michaels turning on former teammates Marty Jannetty, Diesel and X-pac, making Cena paranoid that Michaels would attack him. The last few weeks have seen Cena and Michaels in several instances where they almost accidentally hit each other.
With tensions high between the tag team champions, they will face off for the WWE championship at Wrestlemania 23 in Detroit.
Michaels, whose career was said to be over in 1997, continues to be an active, if sometimes part-time, wrestler on the WWE Raw roster. He can still be counted upon to put in a great performance and still has it in terms of mic skills and flat-out charisma. Instead of being in the WWE Hall of Fame, Michaels is still padding his resume of accomplishments for his future induction.
Cena would submit Michaels at WrestleMania 23, but the two still had their tag titles to defend. At the following Raw, they won a 10-team battle royal to retain their belts, but in the second 10-team battle royal that night, Michaels turned on Cena, throwing him over the top rope and thereby losing the championships to the Hardys.
Michaels would beat Cena by pinfall a couple weeks later in a rare 55-minute match on Raw in London, England, but Cena's belt was not on the line. They met again, this time at Backlash, and in a Fatal Four-way involving Edge and Randy Orton as well. Cena eked out the win, as Michaels superkicked him onto Orton, (who'd already been speared by Edge), giving him the 1-2-3.
Before Michaels could face Cena again one-on-one on the next Raw, he was attacked by the Great Khali. Orton soon inserted himself into the situation, kicking him in the head after a Michaels-Edge match. Michaels arrived at Judgement Day with a legitimate knee injury to face Orton, but the match was short-lived. With Michaels heavily selling a concussion from Orton's kick, the referee soon called an end to the bout, claiming Michaels couldn't continue.
Surgery and recuperation put Michaels on the shelf for five months, but he made a surprising return on Raw in October when Vince McMahon ordered the wrestlers to line up and shake the hand of freshly minted WWE Champion Orton. Michaels showed up and instead offered Orton some Sweet Chin Music. Michaels would defeat Orton at Cyber Sunday, but only by DQ, (Orton deliberately low blowed Michaels), thus keeping the title around Orton's waist. Although he got his wish for a rematch, Michaels was banned from using his superkick, and at Survivor Series, Orton would hit his RKO finisher and get the duke.
Michaels tried to lure Orton to the ring the next night on Raw, claiming to want to congratulate the "better man." Orton was having none of it, and Mr. Kennedy came down instead. As the mic was lowered for Kennedy, Michaels attacked him. An impromptu match began, but ended in a no contest. Kennedy would interfere in Michaels' match with Orton the following week, (which allowed Orton to win by count-out), and a week later he defeated Marty Jannetty. Michaels would beat Kennedy at Armageddon, and the two would exchange wins against each other on episodes of Raw. Kennedy, however, had the last laugh as he eliminated Michaels at the Royal Rumble.
The next feud would be one for the ages, as Ric Flair chose Michaels as his opponent for WrestleMania 24. At first, Michaels was reluctant because he didn't want to be known as the guy who retired Flair. But Flair was adamant and the two finally agreed to face one another. After three superkicks in their match, Flair's in-ring career was over.
Michaels' victory would lead to a confrontation with Batista, who resented Michaels retiring Flair. The two met at Backlash, where Michaels would sucker Batista into holding back, (as he believed Michaels suffered a knee injury), before superkicking him for the win. Chris Jericho would enter the fray to pour fuel on the feud, claiming Michaels faked his knee injury. Michaels eventually admitted to it and superkicked Jericho, and the two would meet at Judgment Day.
Although Michaels would win the match, Batista, who resented being treated like a patsy, promised he would hurt him the next time they met. Batista would defeat Jericho for the right to face Michaels at One Night Stand, and at the pay-per-view, beat Michaels in a stretcher match.
Jericho, who had tried to come off as Michaels' biggest fan, going as far as calling him his mentor, would turn on Michaels during his Highlight Reel, throwing Michaels head first into the Jeritron 3000. Michaels, who was selling an eye injury, interfered and cost Jericho his Intercontinental title at Night of Champions, and the two agreed to have it out at the Great American Bash. The referee would stop that bout over an apparent injury, awarding the decision to Jericho, who now bragged he'd ended Michaels' career.
Michaels came to SummerSlam with his wife Rebbecca to announce his retirement, but Jericho tried to force Michaels to admit his eye injury was the sole cause of him hanging up his tights. Jericho tried to sucker punch Michaels, but wound up smacking Rebbecca instead, and the next night on Raw blamed Michaels for the accident. Michaels and Jericho signed a contract for an unsanctioned match at Unforgiven, where Michaels this time won by referee stoppage. They'd meet again at No Mercy, this time fighting for Jericho's World Heavyweight title. There, Jericho would come out on top of their ladder match.
The financial downturn of 2008 led to a new storyline for Michaels, as JBL claimed Michaels lost his savings in the stock market and that he was offering him a job to help bail him out. Michaels decision to take JBL's offer would help JBL get a title shot against Cena at Royal Rumble, although Cena would ultimately be victorious despite Michaels' interference. The working relationship was dysfunctional and never sat well with Michaels, who finally set up a match with JBL to get out of his contract. At No Way Out, Michaels beat JBL and won his freedom.
Michaels next set his sights on Undertaker, vowing to end the Dead Man's 16 match winning streak at WrestleMania. He beat JBL again and Vladimir Kozlov to win the right to face 'Taker. He spent a number of weeks getting under 'Taker's skin leading up to the big event, even landing a few sneaky superkicks for good measure. Although Michaels would win the head games portion of the feud, 'Taker would win their amazing match at WrestleMania 25.
- compiled by John Milner, Jason Clevett and Richard Kamchen