WrestleMania Diary: Shawn Michaels, Day 1
THE ARRIVAL, 4:43 p.m.
Joined by his family, the WWE Hall of Fame-bound Texan arrives for WrestleMania weekend beside his wife Rebecca, the pair corralling two children following a flight from San Antonio.
The “HB-Clan” waits for its patriarch outside the airport while Shawn rounds up the family’s ride to downtown and stumbles into the “Kliq” resurrected: Droves of HBK supporters in shirts from all eras looking to meet and congratulate Michaels. (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO)
Posters, magazines, zebra striped Heartbreak Kid driving caps from 1995. The usual assortment, one would suppose. A life-size cardboard cut-out of a DX-shirted Showstopper, however, is the most unexpected artifact in the middle of a bustling airport terminal.
“He signed my hand,” one youth excitedly explains to his mom. This small hand is among easily 100 autographed things in a span of just several minutes.
Sharpies exhausted, HBK makes his departure to rejoin his family and head to their hotel.
“This is the most work I’ve done all day. It’s too much,” jokes a quite relaxed Michaels.
HEADS UP, 5:31 p.m.
From The “Boy Toy” to a crotch-chopping D-Generate to one-time tag partner of the “Good Lord” himself, Shawn Michaels has played many roles in his WWE career. One year after retiring from the ring, HBK still wears many hats, but most notably that of husband and father.
When Michaels and his family arrive at their destination, his son Cameron is still carrying both a Batman backpack and a glistening World Heavyweight Championship that traveled across the country in an airplane overhead bin. HBK’s younger child, Cheyenne – in little lady cowgirl boots, white with pink trim – is just as patient as her older brother while their legendary dad coordinates his weekend in a hotel meeting room.
SUCCESS BAGGAGE, 5:48 p.m.
After receiving his official schedule of the events ahead this weekend, Michaels encounters Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco, two ring legends – Patterson especially – who were integral motivators for Michaels in his earliest years. Warm congratulatory praise is received with sheer humility by The Showstopper, who occasionally peeks around to ensure that the younger members of his clan haven’t strayed out of sight.
The longtime mentors turned friends say goodbye for now and Shawn reroutes his attention to wrangling the family and their baggage. Amid a uniform pile of standard black luggage rests one noticeable camo colored knapsack, representative of Michaels’ very passionate outdoor interests. The pushcart is kicked forth and the family motivates toward their weekend domicile.
HEARTBREAK KIDS, 7:16 p.m.
Fifteen years ago today, Shawn Michaels climbed into the ring to live a boyhood dream by capturing the WWE Championship at WrestleMania XII. Flash forward to present day and opposing HBK in the squared circle are two rambunctious youths dying to expend their lingering energies. It’s hard to tell which March 31 match might mean more to The Showstopper.
“Over the last year, I’ve had the opportunity to look back on everything, the whole body,” Shawn reveals. “And what I think about most is being that 19-year old kid who wanted to be a wrestler. Twenty-six years later, I’m playing with my kids in the ring. It’s really gone full circle and then some.”
In an empty ring set up as a spare for the nearby WrestleMania Axxess festivities, a handicap bout pits Michaels against his own children – a joust typically contested in the pool of their San Antonio home. HBK toggles between didactic, move-by-move training and administering tickles to both Cheyenne and Cameron, whose maneuver mimicry is “alarmingly Showstopper.”
After several quick tags by the younger competitors, sunset flips, middle rope clotheslines, Boston crabs and belly flops, the match seems to end indecisively, though it seems the biggest winner might be vigilant mom Rebecca, who watches contentedly at ringside.
DAY TO REMEMBER, 7:39 p.m.
As Shawn explains, the relevance of this date extends past his great accomplishments inside the squared circle. On March 31, 1999, Michaels married his wife in a Las Vegas ceremony seen only by a costumed Elvis. The relevance of the day is not missed by Mr. WrestleMania.
“Today is also my 12th wedding anniversary,” Michaels explains. “Obviously the significance of my wedding anniversary, playing with my kids, going into the WWE Hall of Fame on this day coinciding with my first WWE Championship, it’s pretty neat. That’s how my whole career has gone.”
He poignantly continues, “I oftentimes sit there and wonder if it’s just a storybook to me or a storybook to everybody – and it is.”
Citing a San Antonio location known as “The Junction” as his one-time fantasy setting for competition, HBK describes his humble mission as a teenaged dreamer.
“The place where they wrestled when I was growing up was The Junction, down on Blanco Road. It held 25 people,” he says. “To be going into the Hall of Fame and to have had my last match in front of almost 75,000 people, and in front of [my family] … all the words, all the clichés; nothing seems to do it justice.”
At the end of a surprisingly fast day, Michaels takes a glance into his immediate future when he’ll take a stage during WrestleMania weekend that will, for once, not have four corners. Remarkably, rather than focus on the strange notion that Mr. WrestleMania will not perform at The Show of Shows, HBK offers his genuine perspective, dressed with his signature levity.
“I enjoy the excitement without some of the anxiety and the stress that I used to have,” Michaels divulges. “I’m still wondering what the heck it is that I’m going to say [on Saturday]. But I feel like even if I bomb overwhelmingly, I’ve still got 26 years of work to fall back on.”