Michael Shawn Hickenbottom (born July 22, 1965), better known by his ring name Shawn Michaels, is a retired American professional wrestler. He performed for World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), formerly the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), from 1988 until his retirement in 2010. He was considered as one of WWE's senior performers, having performed for over 20 years. Hickenbottom is regarded as one of the finest performers to have ever competed inside a squared circle.
Hickenbottom began his wrestling career with Mid-South Wrestling, now known as Universal Wrestling Federation, and American Wrestling Association (AWA). During his time with AWA, he performed in partnership with Marty Jannetty, as The Midnight Rockers; winning the AWA World Tag Team Championship twice. Hickenbottom and Jannetty then signed with World Wrestling Federation (WWF), while in contract with AWA. They returned to AWA, only to go back to the WWF in 1988.
Hickenbottom later worked as a sole performer, taking on a new persona of "The Heartbreak Kid." He was the leader of a backstage group known as The Kliq, which was known for performing an unscripted act during the Madison Square Garden "Curtain Call" incident in 1996. The following year, he teamed up with Hunter Hearst Hemsley, who often was referred to as Triple H (HHH), and Chyna to form D-Generation X (DX). This group of wrestlers was known for their sophomoric crude humor. That same year, Hickenbottom took part in one of the most controversial matches in wrestling history, dubbed as the "Montreal Screwjob." After a back injury forced him to retire following his WWF Championship loss at WrestleMania XIV, Hickenbottom opened a wrestling academy, called The Shawn Michaels Wrestling Academy, in which he trained upcoming wrestlers. He made his in-ring return at SummerSlam in 2002. In 2006, Hickenbottom and Triple H briefly reformed DX, but after an injury that Triple H sustained, Hickenbottom returned to singles wrestling. Although as of 2009, the duo reunited as a tag team once more, with the two capturing the Unified WWE Tag Team Championship.
Among other accolades, Hickenbottom is a four-time world champion: a three-time WWF Champion and a former World Heavyweight Champion. He was also the winner of the 1995 and 1996 Royal Rumbles and was the company's first Grand Slam Champion. He has also won the Slammy Award a record 10 times. Aside from professional wrestling, Hickenbottom is a born-again Christian, husband, and father of two children.
In December 2008, Michaels accepted an offer to become an employee of John "Bradshaw" Layfield (JBL). The storyline was that Michaels had lost his family's personal savings due to the global recession, forcing him to accept JBL's offer of employment. After failing to secure JBL the World Heavyweight Championship against John Cena at the Royal Rumble, Michaels agreed to take part in an "All or Nothing" match at No Way Out in February. Michaels won the match, letting Michaels out of his one-year contract with JBL immediately while still receiving full payment. Michaels became the first person to successfully defeat Vladimir Kozlov on the March 2 episode of Raw, and as a result earned the right to face The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXV in April. At the event, The Undertaker defeated Michaels to extend his WrestleMania winning streak to 17-0. After WrestleMania, Michaels took a hiatus from WWE.
Return of D-Generation-X and feud with The Undertaker (2009–2010)
Michaels reconsiliates with Bret Hart in January 2010.Michaels returned to WWE programming in a series of segments that aired on the August 10, 2009 episode of Raw, where he had scripted left the WWE. Triple H met with Michaels at an office cafeteria in Texas where he was working as a chef; throughout the segments, Triple H would try to convince Michaels to return to WWE and reform DX. After several incidents during the segments, Michaels agreed to team with Triple H to face The Legacy (Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase) at SummerSlam. At the pay-per-view event, DX defeated Legacy. The two teams would exchange victories, with their feud concluding in October. Two months later, at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs, DX defeated Chris Jericho and The Big Show to win the Unified WWE Tag Team Championship in a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match (TLC). On the January 4, 2010 episode of Raw, Michaels buried the hatchet with long-time rival Bret Hart, as they shook hands and hugged in the ring. In contrast to the storylines featured on the show, this was in fact a real-life reconciliation which laid to rest animosities surrounding the Montreal Screwjob. While some cast doubts on its sincerity, Hart has confirmed that it was indeed genuine. DX lost the Unified Tag Team Championship in a Triple Threat match to the team of The Miz and Big Show on the February 8 episode of Raw, the match also included The Straight Edge Society (CM Punk and Luke Gallo