The unkindest cut of all
Friendships are tantamount to glass -- both are solid, reflective and, depending on inherent strength, as hard or brittle as one forges them. And in most instances, when a crack appears in either … well, it's almost certain that they're going to break.
What, then, does that say about the events of July 29, 2002? When, as Raw unfolded inside North Carolina's Greensboro Coliseum Complex, Shawn Michaels' face was smashed into a car windshield by a mysterious assailant? When HBK's enigmatic parking lot attacker was revealed to be his closest friend, Triple H? At the very least, it breaks through the glass ceiling as No. 1 in WWE.com's List This!: Hardest Hitting Betrayals.
Perhaps Michaels should have seen it coming, and more than just in the literal sense; inside a Raw ring only seven days prior, The Game had Pedigreed HBK -- along with any possibility of a proposed D-Generation X reunion. His reason, as he explained the following week, was to provide "a cold, hard slap on the face of reality" to the friend who had just returned from a broken back that forced him out of DX leadership and into a four-year retirement. "The Game," as Triple H told Michaels, "has passed you by."
Michaels' response to set pride aside and follow Triple H's lead would not be forthcoming that evening; instead, visibly shaken Superstars -- The Cerebral Assassin among them -- watched helplessly as HBK, his face crimsoned by particles of broken windshield, was carted off in an ambulance. An incensed Triple H swore that he would weed out the party responsible for the heinous ambush. And our fans, perhaps wanting too much to believe him, took The Game at his word.
On August 5, Triple H's investigation was well underway as Raw headed into Maryland, and the suspects were many -- most notably, Chris Jericho and Big Show. But after numerous threats of sledgehammered retribution, a satellite feed enabled a bruised and battered Shawn Michaels to address The Cerebral Assassin and our fans from the TitanTron. And that's when the truth, like glass, became transparent.
"It was you," a solemn Michaels told The Game, citing his evidence from enhanced parking lot surveillance footage. His head bowed down, Triple H remained quiet for a seeming eternity until, with a malevolent smile, he looked up and answered, "You're damn right it was me, Shawn."
The Cerebral Assassin's reasoning -- again, like glass -- was flawed. He wanted to prove to HBK that after years out of the ring, he was now "weak and vulnerable," and that he could have crippled him in the parking lot if he so desired. What The Game hadn't planned on was that his betrayal would ultimately rekindle the broken heart of the "Heartbreak Kid," who would challenge -- and ultimately defeat -- his DX co-founder to a Street Fight at SummerSlam.
Nearly four years would pass since HBK's face impacted against that windshield. And during that time, these once-closest of friends would take their shattered camaraderie to unprecedented levels of competitive ring aggression. Though each Superstar would lay claim to victory in their multiple encounters, in many ways the biggest losers of these epic confrontations were those in the WWE Universe, who longed greatly for a return to D-Generation X glory.
Thankfully, Shawn Michaels and Triple H would agree; since picking up the shards of their broken friendship in the summer of 2006, the DX duo has electrified our fans, both in solo ring action and in tandem efforts. As for The Game's act of betrayal in 2002, one could certainly question whether it could ever truly be forgotten by either man. However, it could also be argued that it eventually forged an alliance far stronger than glass … or friendship.