Shawn Michaels’ “Awesome” advice for The Miz
The Miz spends an inordinate amount of time telling the WWE Universe just how awesome he is. Fans might debate that point, but right now Miz can honestly claim that he’s No. 1 – though we have a feeling the Superstar isn’t too thrilled by this newfound “glory.” After his Monday night loss to former tag team partner R-Truth, The Awesome One was forced to come to terms with the fact that he’ll be the No. 1 entrant in this Sunday’s Royal Rumble Match. (PHOTOS | WATCH)
But cheer up, Miz. WWE.com is here to help you out. And, really, who better to give advice on the subject than The Heartbreak Kid, WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels – the first-ever No. 1 entrant to outlast everyone else and win the 30-Superstar over-the-top rope contest?
“It never really looked like being No. 1 was not something you wanted to be,” Michaels said. “I recognize that you’ve got longer to go, and you’ve got to face everybody and endure to the end, but I saw that as a badge of honor.”
Royal Rumble 1995 marked the first time ever the match’s first two competitors – HBK and The British Bulldog – were also the final two competitors in the ring, giving hope to every Superstar unlucky enough to draw a low number. As with most things in life, Shawn saw his early entry not as a detriment, but as “a privilege to go in No. 1 and to see if you could endure to the end."
Michaels wore that badge of honor proudly in January 1995, not only overcoming his early entrance, but also coming back from certain defeat to win the match. That match’s finish – in which Bulldog clotheslined HBK over the top rope – has become the stuff of legend. After the clothesline, the beloved Superstar started celebrating in the ring.
Imagine his surprise when, moments later, HBK delivered a double ax-handle, sending Bulldog sailing over the ropes. Confusion set in as the referee raised Michaels’ hand in victory, but as the replay would show, The Showstopper was able to grab onto the ropes and keep his left foot from touching the floor. It’s a moment that will live forever in WWE lore. (WATCH)
“At that point in my career,” he explained, “I was so into wanting to be a ‘WWE Iron Man’– the match a couple years later notwithstanding. I can remember at that time very vividly being a fan of Ric Flair. The protégé of going long distances and working hard for a long period of time ... it’s what I wanted to be.”
The WWE Hall of Famer knew that a positive outlook, although important, wasn’t everything, especially in the grueling environment of the Royal Rumble Match. “I was never going to match guys from a standpoint of size or strength,” Michaels told WWE.com. “But I always felt that the longer I could go, I was going to neutralize whatever strengths they had.”
Displaying a flair for both philosophy and common sense, Michaels opined, “There’s an old saying that ‘fatigue makes cowards of us all.’ And, it may not make a coward of you, but it certainly makes a 300-pound guy a lot easier to maneuver and manipulate when he’s tired and just doing everything he can to keep up.
“I pride myself on the fact that there wasn’t anybody in the locker room that could last longer in the ring than me,” he added.
That was then; but what about this year’s Royal Rumble Match? What advice does The Heartbreak Kid have for its combatants – most specifically, for The Miz?
“In the Rumble, everybody is your potential friend and your potential enemy,” the WWE Hall of Famer said. “You make alliances that you wouldn’t normally make, and you stab anybody in the back that you want to stab in the back.”
Tough words, but also true. According to HBK, “[The Royal Rumble Match is] the epitome of every man for himself and being thrown in the shark tank – which is the thing that’s so phenomenal about it. You see alliances that you never thought you would, and at the same time you see some pretty serious betrayals that you didn’t see coming.”
Michaels acknowledged that, at the end of the night, “only one guy can be standing there .... Pride and all of those things get thrown out the window, and you do whatever you’ve got to do to win. Miz is a sleazy enough dude – that fits him – so I think that’s gonna be his strength.”
Miz’s “sliminess” aside, Michaels also recognizes something inherent in The Awesome One’s makeup that just might give him a built-in advantage over much of the WWE roster this Sunday. “You have to appreciate a guy that causes you to look at yourself and call into question those attributes that you want to pretend you don’t have. In desperate situations, we all have them to some degree.”
Want more HBK? Check out Shawn’s show on Outdoor Channel, Shawn Michaels' MacMillan River Adventures, winner of the 2011 Golden Moose Award for Best Conservation. And be sure to follow The Showstopper on Twitter (@ShawnMichaels), where you can find out how to win two tickets to WrestleManiaXXVIII and a meet-and-greet with The Heartbreak Kid himself!