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WRESTLING COLUMNS

HBK: Caught Between God & A Hard Place
August 4, 2006 by Carol Garafalo


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The Showstoppa. The Icon. The Main Event. The Heartbreak Kid. The guy who screwed Bret Hart in Montreal. Whatever you want to refer to him as, and whether you love him or hate him, Shawn Michaels has been one of the most charismatic and prolific performers in WWE and sports entertainment history. A man who every time out gives 110% in the ring, whether it'd be physically dominating an opponent or verbally chewing him up and spitting him out. A man that has been in this business for over *gasp* 20 years. Doesn't seem that way, but he HAS been here a long time. What's even more amazing is that even after all this time he is still in the WWE's top tier of performers along side current top faces John Cena and Dave Batista. I and a lot of fans remember first seeing Shawn in the AWA as 1/2 of the Midnight Rockers with Marty Jannetty. I remember them entering the ring to the Judas Priest song "Living After Midnight". There was actually more truth to that song than the casual wrestling fan realized.

Like most wrestlers, Shawn gave in to the temptations of the road. Partying very hard until the wee hours of the morning and then trying to put himself together in time for the next show. Then onto the WWE, where after he broke off with Jannetty, he found singles success and later became a founding member of the heel faction Degeneration X. As a singles wrestler, he shook his hips and oozed sexual confidence as Sherri Martel sang his theme song "Sexy Boy", which he later sang himself. Being escorted to the ring by Pamela Anderson once at WrestleMania. With DX, there was no such thing as a taboo topic. Sexual innuendo, drug references, disrespecting authority, disrespecting another nation's flag, etc., were the norm week in and week out for them on national TV. Vince McMahon was happy with the ratings these antics were drawing, and Shawn Michaels was right in the middle of it all, seemingly having a good time.

Fast forward some 6-7 years later. Shawn Michaels is married with two kids. He doesn't party anymore. His current line of T-shirts sport designs that have a "spiritual" and up-lifting feel to them. Other than that brief heel stint with Hulk Hogan before their match last year at Summerslam, Shawn has remained face for a good long while now. During his ring entrance he gets down on his knees and praises the fans..... and God. While he was away from the ring recovering from back injuries, he embraced religion. He became a born-again Christian. This seems to be a trend amongst current and former wrestlers. Greg Valentine, Brutus Beefcake, and Ted DiBiase for example have all become born again Christians, embracing God as a way to heal and redeem themselves for all the years and all the temptations they succumbed to on the road.

In Shawn Michael's case though, he is still working for the WWE. He is still working for Vincent Kennedy McMahon Jr. He is still working for a man whose actions and storyline approvals clearly indicate that he has no respect for religion. He has always had only one God...... money. His Almighty is the Almighty dollar. Whatever Vince has to do in order to make money is what he will do. Even if it means disrespecting religion. Any religion for that matter. All you have to do is think back to the Raw before Backlash when he made that ridiculous match with himself and his son Shane against Shawn and.... God. When Vince showed images of himself with the likes of Buddha and with Jesus during the Last Supper. I would hate to think what was going through Shawn's mind when he saw that.

Then all of a sudden comes the current reformation of Degeneration X. This time around it's just Shawn Michaels and his buddy Triple H. This time around though, whenever the content gets raunchy, Shawn comically gets himself out of the situation. Cases in point, when Trips brought out the scantily clad DX cheerleaders, Shawn covered his eyes. Shawn was nowhere to be found during the "backyard barbecue" segment in which Trips and Candice Michelle were being "serviced" by two women hiding underneath a table. This prompted Shawn to go to Vince to complain. Complain that the content was getting too raunchy for his liking. It was going against his religious beliefs. He apparently also preaches backstage to try and get the "new" generation of wrestlers to follow his example. It must be kind of hard to be taken seriously as a religious man when he is dumping human waste on people on national TV. Even Trips gets in on the religious ribbing by saying "Thanks to Shawn Michaels.... it really is Holy Sh*t!"

My point is, Shawn Michaels seems very out of place in the current scheme of WWE thinking. The funny thing about this scenario is that he never was out of it before. As I mentioned earlier, Shawn seemingly had no problem with the storylines Vince was approving. He didn't seem to mind posing naked with the WWE title around his waist. But while the WWE hasn't changed much in the last 6-7 years, Shawn did. If Shawn is thinking about heading a wave of sweeping reforms from the inside, he is fighting a losing battle. A battle that may ultimately lead to him either leaving on his own accord or being asked to leave (which I think is highly unlikely).

It really must be hard to be working for a boss who doesn't respect what you believe in. That's what Shawn is doing right now. Shawn is trying to balance his life and his job equally. Here is a guy who is currently carrying the WWE on his shoulders as one of the top performers in the company despite having several spinal surgeries in the past and current knee problems. Yet he still doesn't seem to get anywhere with Vince. Whatever Vince wants, Vince gets. It's his way or no way. Vince will not change..... for anybody. Shawn Michaels is trying please everybody. In particular, he is trying to please two powerful entities, Vince McMahon, and God. His religion calls for him to do certain things and follow certain commandments. Vince calls on him to do certain things as well, things which God might not at all be happy with. All Shawn can do is pray. Pray for himself and to find the strength to continue on the path he is on now. In the end, whatever Shawn does, God will forgive him. Vince on the other hand... well... that's another story.

By Carol Garafalo


Erkka Järvinen wrote:
Give me a fukin break. Human should be taking responsibility for his actions instead of hiding behind a shelter like religion. Shawn is still the same man that he was 6-7 years ago, the fact that he is a normal hypocrite believer doesnt change him. If Shawn is unhappy with the storylines he is in, he should say to vince that "I don't like being in stuff like this because i got a wife and two kids sitting at home and i have my own morals as well" instead of "Omg i cant pose naked at a live RAW show, god doesnt like it"...well let me ask this, why "god" wouldn't like it" I mean, he is suppose to be the figurehead for all good and he can't even accept a human how he is. Oh yeah now i got it, it's because when you go to a church you free yourselves from sins right" Of course with a price i mean we cant forget the fact that one thing in common with god and vince is that they both like money i guess. The point is, religion itself doesnt suck, but what sucks is people who abuse it to make themself seem like better human beings than others. Case in point, Shawn Michaels
Holiday Training Specialist wrote:
HBK is the second greatest wrestler of all time. II agree he is stuck in the middle of GOD and the god of wrestling. But the winners have been us fans because he is still out there doin what he does and that entertain us fans!
Craig Ferguson wrote:
You hit the nail right on the head thier carol! thoughout WWE thier has always been an increadable disrespect towards religion that has recently reached a higher (if possible) pinnicle of blasphemy when Vince McMahon decided to put himself in a match at Backlash with his son Shane agianst Shawn Michaels which is fine untill the .......with god bit came into it he allowed himself to win...WIN just to rub salt in the wound ......(which really hurts by the way). If you dont believe in god then leave it out of your show You stupid $##$3. What i really want to know is what if any religion he believes if any because ethier way hes going somewhere that aint good.
Ritwik Bhuyan wrote:
Shawn Michaels, since returning in the summer of 2002, have been the best performer in the WWE along with Kurt Angle. Kurt Angle have stated in many interviews that Vince and the whole of the WWE considers himself and Shawn Michaels as the top two wrestlers of the industry. Also, Angle have openly stated many times during interviews that Shawn Michaels is the greatest ever. It's difficult for some of the bitter fans(some of Bret Hart's) to accept the truth, but a wrestlers real ability is known by the fellow wrestlers who work with him. And as far as Shawn Michaels goes, even his hated critics who have worked with him like Bret Hart have openly admitted it several times that Shawn Michaels might have been an arrogant and controversial guy, but he's simply an extraordinary and gifted performer inside the ring. The guy is simply amazing, he came back with a broken back, and unbelievably have been performing as if he never missed a day. He was chosen the 'Wrestler of the year' for the year 2003 and 2005. To add to that, he have been producing 'Match of the Year' every year since he have returned. In 2002, his match against HHH at SummerSlam was voted the match of the year, in 2003, his match with Y2J at WM19 was voted the match of the year, in 2004, he was in a triple-threat match against HHH and Benoit at WM20, which was voted the match of the year, in 2005, his match with Kurt Angle at WM21 was voted the match of the year. It almost like a must that he delivers a good match every time he is in the ring. It's simply stunning to see him perform at this years WM. I mean, Vince is not even a wrestler, yet HBK managed to put up an extraordinary match out of Vince, something noone else could have done. Shawn Michaels is the only guy I have known to be able to carry poor workers like Kevin Nash, Psycho Sid, Chris Masters, hulk Hogan, etc and give them the best matches of their careers. No matter what anybody says, inside the ring there is nobody better than that guy. Well, as far as DX goes, it's not a must to bring up sexual preferences everytime. I mean, they can carry on playing those pranks without making any sexual preference. There is should be no problem for Shawn Michaels to play those pranks if they are without sexual preferences.
Jose Aguirre wrote:
I have to agree with you. I'm not saying that what Shawn Michael's is doing is wrong, but he's in a tough spot, and it's a matter of whether he loves God more or if he loves wrestling more. If he's a true Christian he will leave wrestling(it's bound to happen). I do have one problem with your article, it might not be something big but it is something personal....You can not call Christianity a trend, you can't call Islam a trend, you cannot call Hinduism a trend, etc. If he believes that then it's his life, he doesn't have to go out there and entertain us, he can do as he wishes as long as it's confined to the law.
Thomas Bradley wrote:
Love him, hate him. He is Shawn Michaels no matter what. I loved Shawn when he was a Rocker. Now he along with the Undertaker are the most respected men in the WWE locker rooms. That is a big honor. He is a leader, and a born again Christian, trying to destroy his ugly past. But Vince Ol' Mighty put him in a stupid angle, where he an Shane are going to face Shawn and GOD!! For god sakes, do you have to make the Catholic Church mad, to get attention.

I know the WWE is on the decline a little bit, but my god do you have to make a gag about he is bigger than our mighty father. I am a catholic myself, I am not the most religious person in the world. But Vince calling himself GOD. That is uncalled for. I hope Shawn is crying in tears because of that.
Chuck Pane wrote:
First of all, its has been very apparent that Shawn has changed over the years from tag team wrestler, to "Sexy Boy", to DX member, to Born Again Christian, and most recently back to DX member. When your working in Vince's World, you really have no say in your character development because Vinny Mac holds all the cards to your future in the WWE. Really you only have but 2 choices: Do what is asked of you, or get released. Take your pick. Besides if he or anyone else is a true Born Again Christian, or a member of any religion, its not about following certain rules, its about the message. If you understand the message and you follow the message, you will be a "good person" through life and elsewhere. From what has been going on WWE TV, it seems like Vince is certainly going to Hell from my point of view. I personally think that if Shawn walks out of the WWE, Vince will come crawling back to Shawn because Shawn fills seats in arenas such as MSG. Anyways, great article.
lakesh1978 wrote:
I totally agree with Carol on this article. Shawn Micheals does not seem to into these sexually charged story lines, which is too bad for degeneration-x. You can tell just by looking at hbk's face that he is miserable at wwe. I am still a fan of the showstopper; but what does Shawn want to do with wrestling when it has changed so much in the last 15 years. He can either change with the times or go home. The whole religion bit does not sell. PS Shawn Micheals is still in my list of top 10 wrestlers of all time.
Andrew Z. wrote:
HBK is still in my eyes one of the top wrestlers out there, he can still lift his leg high enough for the sweet chin music lol, and he can still dive off the top rope and do all the moves he could back in the middle 90's. Vince Mcmahon should just embrace and get over Michaels being a christian such as myself because just Shawn will still draw fans and thats why I think Shawn is still in the WWE.
Kyle Gurrent wrote: PERSONALLY, I have no sympathy for the man,

I agree whole heartedly with you Erkka J. Shawn Michaels deserves no man, woman, or child's pity. Im not going to sit here and say that I would shot him dead if I ever saw him, but I don't like him, I never have since I first saw him and I still don't to this day. A true born again Christian would have kept that to himself and not have announced it to the whole world. From the moment Shawn Michaels announced that he was born again I laughed out loud! If he really was born again it would have been announced or rumored from backstage personal (aka Eddie g.). Eddie never held a press conference making a ground breaking announcement that he was born again because if he had everyone and their mother would have known he was a phony. And that's exactly what Shawn Michaels is, a phony. My cousin worked backstage for Monday night raw way back in 96', and he told me that one night on a house show in Texas (he was working in the production crew at the time) his ''partner'' in the back went to grab a hot dog from the concession stand right before a match, leaving my cousin in the back to run the entrance fireworks on his own (might I also add that he was an independent wrestler on the east coast). Anyway....

It was match time and his partner was still gone when Shawn's music hit, but as my cous' went to go set the entrance fireworks he realized that Shawn came out too early!

He yelled over his headsets that Shawn should not be out yet, but it was to late, Shawn already came out. John C. (my cousin) went back to his booth to try and fix the auto-set fireworks but by the time he got them to manual control Shawn was already in the ring! Now before I continue let me say that jonny is a very competent guy, he's very nice to me every time I see him and my family was (and still is) proud that he is living his dream to be wrestler. And he by no means deserved to be cursed at, the way he was by bitch ass Shawn.

After the match Shawn walked to backstage irate at who fucked up his entrance. John stood up and apologized telling Shawn that he came out too early and he panicked. Shawn told my cousin that ''he was a jackass and it was he's fucking fault that the entrance was fucked up not his (Shawn's)'' ending it with a threat (later to have him fired). He didn't even give my cousin john a chance, he just yelled at him to save face so ''he'' didn't look bad. To this day john still remembers that incident and he doesn't watch wrestling or wrestle independently anymore, he gave up on it after that and I don't blame him either. If I ever met Shawn Michaels I would love to kick his ass! But that is a long ways away from now and Im still young and I have plenty of years to wait until Im old enough to catch a flight to the heart of Canada and train in stu harts dungeon (after college of course) and finally get in the ring with that self preserving, faggot ass, retro bitch named Shawn Michaels and kick his ass (for real!).

Now about this editorial Carlos E., give me a fucking break. (sarcastic mockery) ''Shawn needs are compassion, he deserves the help of his fellow Christian brothers to stop the evil creative writers from making poor, helpless Shawn participate in these ungodly angles, lets all give each other a hug and declare war on the middle east in the name of god! Amen!" Are you kidding me" IT MUST BE HARD FOR SHAWN" He makes millions of dollars grabbing what little name value the ''heart break kid'' has left and using the same moves, the same pretty boy music, and the same 80's boy toy stripper pants in the ring. He holds more political power than taker and Shane combined and yet you have the nerve to say ''poor Shawn''! Where you high when you wrote this" Better yet, were Holiday Training Specialist, Craig Ferguson, Ritwik Bhuyan,Jose Aguirre, lakesh1978, and Andrew Z. ALL SMOKING THE SAME JOINT when writing the reviews to this naive (yet hilarious) piece of shit"

Carlos, if I offended you, then well I am sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, damn happy! Shawn Michaels screwed Bret hart, tried to hold back the rock and then tried to get him to help out his own career by asking rock to face him at mania! (Which thank goodness for the rocks sack he turned him down!)" The ''mainstream fans'' that for the most part, ignored him (Shawn) and hunter and praised Rock and Austin as being the figure heads of the attitude era are the same ones who left us 5 years ago when rock/Austin left. Triple h and Shawn wanted what rock and Austin had so bad that to this day they will step on and crush anybody they can get their hands on to get to the Rock's and Austin's level of legacy that they gained from their personality's in the attitude era. Don't believe me" Seen the dx angle on raw lately" You think the spirit squad didn't get any offense in that feud by accident. Hulk Hogan/stone cold/ and the rock will be the only wrestling names that will be remembered 30 years from now, not Shawn Michaels, not triple h, not Goldberg and not cena. Rock and Austin were the only wrestlers to this day, that wrestling fans (for the first time in professional wrestling history) actually got to see common wrestlers actually evolve into icons! Do you understand me now" Do you see now why Shawn Michaels is not what you make him out to be" He is a lich. A lich that rode his looks into the ground with a pretty boy gimmick until he was 33. And you know what" No matter how hard Triple h and Shawn Michaels will try in their attempt to gain the legendary status of what Austin and Rock had and have. No matter how much backstage politicts they use to put themselves In the top programs day in and day out they will fail. And I hope people like you and the 5 or 6 other people I named above will realize what me, and the rock, and Scott Steiner, and Bret hart all see and that is that Shawn Michaels is, was, and will always be one of the most selfish men in professional wrestling.
Ike Eisen wrote:
To make it sound like Michaels has no choice but to keep working for Vince is to assume he has no choice in the matter, which is wrong. Michaels can choose to walk away from WWE. Yes, he will lose a lot, probably even his name since WWE likely has the copyright to "Shawn Michaels". But don't make it like he has no way out; don't make it like he's a martyr.
Brian Bertrand wrote:
First off, I personally want to say that I'm very dissappointed in you people that call him a hypocrit. Shawn Michaels had to be a part of a "religious" storyline before the DX angle for the simple fact that WWE had no other way of using him. If they didn't go with that storyline then HBK would have permanently retired and WWE considers him too big of an assett for him to do that. Yes, Michaels had a problem with the relgious angle and yes, he has been noted on several occasions that he wanted it to end and it did. Calling him a hypocrit is just like calling CM Punk a sellout. When it got too much for him he went on hiatus. He went to the back and told Vince that he's not going to be a part of it and bow out for a while. He has every right to do that. Did he have a choice in the matter of participating in the storyline" Yes! Did WWE have any other choice to take that direction" No, because just like Jake Roberts did in 1996, it was bound to happen and when HBK wanted it gone it was gone with that Backlash crap match that was billed as a main event and it ended up biting WWE in the ass.

Now, do the fans need to give him sympathy" Not really because he chose to whet Vince's whistle and see how far it would go. Not for saying his religious views were in jeopardy, but to show Vince McMahon how the ratings would drop and guess what, people! IT DID!!! That angle grabbed the most heat for two reasons: those male cheerleaders where one of them thinks rubbing his ass on the ground is talent, and the fact that Vince McMahon + TV time = lower ratings. They had to replace God with Triple H because Shawn was probably going to walk. At least with the new DX you still know he's very religious but at the same time it's funny when you see Trips direct him and he goes along with it. It's a matter of chemistry with certain people and Shawn Michaels doesn't have good chemistry with Vince McMahon alone and the only other person he'd work with on the DX angle would be Triple H.

I say praise HBK because he is a locker room general. He is one of those guys that is helping out backstage and still being a presence in that ring. He has enough experience to continue to be on his personal road to salvation while at the same time showing that he still has a sense of humor by acting like Eugene when Triple H tells him that there's a vendor selling garlic fries. It's working and he still knows how to draw a sold out crowd.
mike c. wrote:
People can change, HBK may have been what he was, just like Eddie but everyone can turn his or her life around. We don't need to pity Shawn, he is making a lot of money and he decided to come back, actually b/c he believed God wanted him to. So, Jose for you to say that no Christians should be in wrestling is a wrong assessment. If you're a Christian and there shouldn't be any Christians wrestling, then there shouldn't be any Christians watching either.

Christianity is not a shelter, it is not just a religion. Some people may hide behind it, but Christ is the only thing that brings true freedom, one day each of us realizes that what this life has to offer just doesn't cut it.

Erkka and Kyle,

It sounds like you each have been jaded by Christianity or the church b/c some person or some minister said the wrong thing to you. I hope each of you finds Christ b/c you both seem very angry (so angry that I couldn't finish Kyle's article b/c it was rambling) and need some true freedom.

and whoever said Vince is going to hell, that's an unnecessary statement. there are many who may end up in hell who do not do such blatant immoral things, and there are those like HBK and Eddie who have lived ugly lives but turned it around. It's not beyond God to do anything.
Kyle Gurrent wrote:
It's funny how this article turned into a religious debate (sorry about this Carol). And after reading your comment mike c. I had to jump to my defense. First of all, Im sorry if I seemed angry, I by all means am a nice guy and was never raped or sexually molested by some preacher. I just get into my writing (as you will find out) and it can translate to aggression if you don't continually read. I have nothing against Christianity. I personally think it is good that so many humans can unite together in the name of peace. BUT, I also see the downside of that power, like how politicians use the family man Christian gimmick to win over voters. And that sickens me, and then I turn and look at Shawn, who basically has done the exact same thing in announcing his faith (but he has no voters) instead, he has customers and discreters. Now, the discreters (like myself) dislike him and what he has done in the past to the rock, Bret hart, and etc. and (listen to me carefully) if Shawn had not publicly announced that he was a born again Christian there would be allot more discreters than there are now. So what does that mean exactly" That means that his Christian discreters turned a blind eye to the past and accepted him for what he claims to be now. NOW, the most obvious person can see the connection between Shawn and the politician right" If not let me spell it out, Shawn has used religion to win over people who normally would have hated him, just like bush, just like Chaney, and just like 79% of today's senators.

Every christain, muslim, taoist, jew, etc, etc has at least had one doubt about religion in their life, but they eventually shake it off and continue with their life. But, people (MOST IMPORTANTLY) people in power, exploit religion and their voters for their own personally goals. And I myself have stopped blindly accepting this Christian dominate society and have spoken out. What ever happened to separation of state and church" Every time I turn on the tele' (that's television to my yankee readers). I see bush talking about how ''god has told him that his decision was just''. Tell me mike, how can you sit their and tell me that I should find a religion that is verbally abused and exploited on a daily bases. ''Why are you so angry"'', NO I THINK THE REAL QUESTION IS WHY AREN'T YOU ANGRY MIKE" Why aren't you angry that your ''so called'' Christian leaders are supporting societies that bomb their own civilians, that kill and murder thousands merely because the color of their skin or what they believe in! You think it is all done in the name of faith. IT'S NOT MIKE, ITS DONE IN THE NAME OF MONEY, and protecting ''their'' best interest.

Im not going to try and sit here and un-convert you like you just tried to convert me because I am an open minded person and I ''respect'' your opinion. My mother is Christian and she knows I am an atheist and she never tries to re-convert me, and I don't try to un-convert her, we even joke about god and religion on a day to day bases. So Alright mike c, so next time you post a comment leave out things like ''I hope you find Christ'' because their one sided. Also Mike, I'd like to say to your ''I hope you change and find god'' comment and say I'll change my mindset when you Christians change your religion.
Kyle G. wrote:
I keeped saying discrete in my rebuttle but in case most people didn't catch that I meant to say discredit not discrete. Just wanted to clarify that in case I confused you.
Diogo Dias wrote:
Kyle G., please, SHUT THE F**K UP. HBK WAS a idiot,arrogant and fiery temper moron,WAS back in the 90īs; iīm really sorry about your cousin, but that was years ago; if you want to wast your time and train on Stu dungeons, ok;but uīll get your a** kicked like Big Show vs Simon Dean.

HBK is my 2nd favourite wrestler, he and Eddie G. had many drugs and alcool problems in the past, but they have passed in ages.
God bless Shawn, because heīs on WWE since 84, for what"!"! For Vince put him in stupid storylines when he and God join in a tag"! So that Vince donīt give him title shots since 2004"! He makes lot of money, but thatīs the only reason that makes him stay on WWE; heīs always travelling and never have time for family and friends, just like Kurt A.
What happend to Kurt" Quit.
Why" Because heīs sick of Vince s**ts, thatīs why he jumped ship.
HBK, Benoit, Taker and HHH are the only wrestlers that still make watch WWE and if wrestlers like HBK never were in WWE, WWE would not be the same it his today. \\\

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