‘Good Ol’ J.R’ Jim Ross has opened up about the behaviour of Shawn Michaels from 1997-1998 which is now part of wrestling legend.
In the mid to late nineties, the anarchic behaviour of Shawn Michaels behind the scenes was the stuff of legend. From an ego which got him involved in the Syracuse brawl – he hit on the girlfriend of a Marine stating he was taking her back to his hotel – to getting whatever he wanted from management because of the power of his name, Shawn was unstoppable.
Alongside his D-Generation X pals, Michaels had been said to sabotage the careers of others including former WWF Tag Team Champion Carl ‘Pierre’ Ouellet who, as the tale goes, he tried to starve out of the business.
Now, Jim Ross has opened up on his Grilling J.R Podcast about the antics of Michaels backstage, which include one of the most famous promos in history and the burning rivalry with Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart.
One of the most famous moments in the history of Monday Night Raw was the moment Shawn Michaels lost his smile. We were told that the then WWF Champion was suffering from a knee injury which could potentially end his career. While there was some truth to that, Michaels decided his smile no longer existed after finding out he was due to drop the gold to Bret Hart at WrestleMania 13.
Talking about the promo and the day in question, Ross revealed when he found out Shawn would forfeit the strap instead of losing it to Hart and his reaction to what was clearly a juvenile response from the face of the company:
“I guess [I found out] earlier that day. He was volatile. He was polarizing and volatile so anything you heard about Shawn, it was not going to be a total shock. You kind of got used to it. But, surrendering the title, I don’t know if he lost his smile because he was injured or lost his smile because he couldn’t handle the pressure. He was influenced by outside sources that liked to poke gas on his fire. I don’t know…So once you get the message of what’s going to happen in the production meeting that morning, it was like, geez, that’s pretty extreme. Maybe you give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe something is really wrong. We didn’t know. But I always thought his feelings were hurt more than his knee or his back or whatever, and I don’t know exactly why. He had a hard time handling and accepting the responsibility of being the top guy in the territory.”
The upshot of the act was that WrestleMania plans were forced to be changed, which resulted in the much more historic bout of Bret Hart vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin. The clash which turned Austin babyface and gave us one of the most memorable heel runs in the history of the company.
While Shawn Michaels kneejerk reaction of losing his smile may have been frowned upon by everyone involved, without it, we wouldn’t have been given one of the greatest WrestleMania bouts in memory and the clash which helped to make a legend.
Credit for the interview: Grilling J.R Podcast
h/t for the transcription: WrestlingNews.Co