Jim Ross has talked about the vast amount of money Vince McMahon paid Shawn Michaels to stay at home for the four year period between 1998-2002.
Though he had his demons in the form of drug use and was a notorious egomaniac behind the scenes, Shawn Michaels’ problems between the ropes began at the 1998 Royal Rumble when The Undertaker connected with a back drop over the top rope.
In any normal circumstance, Michaels would have landed legs first, rolled to the floor and sold the move like any other. However, on this occasion, something went hideously wrong when his lower back audibly connected with the edge of an awaiting casket.
Though Shawn didn’t suffer the broken back many have speculated on over the years, he did manage to herniate two discs which in the weeks and months that proceeded the event, caused his in-ring career to grind to a halt.
Scheduled to drop the WWF Championship to Stone Cold Steve Austin at WrestleMania 14, Michaels still believed that he could continue despite the severe injury and even refused to do the job early in the day. Thankfully he saw sense and looked at the lights for one of wrestling’s biggest ever stars.
After WrestleMania 14, Michaels headed home to rehab the injury and though he did appear on WWF television sporadically as Commissioner and Special Guest Referee, his input was very limited until his eventual return in 2002 after he’d found God and rid himself of his vices.
Now, Jim Ross has sat down on his Grilling J.R Podcast to talk about how much money Vince McMahon paid the star to stay away from the product during his four year absence:
“I don’t know if it was pressure from Vince or not. Vince loved him. It’s proven. We paid Shawn $750,000 a year for about four years to do nothing because he was Vince’s guy. Every time we go over budgets and things, where are we at with the Shawn contract? Nothing, leave it alone. Ok. That’s just Vince. Vince didn’t have to do that. Here’s the deal. All Shawn wanted to do was go work and go play with Kevin (Nash) and Scott Hall. So that would have been for WCW nice to get a gift of Shawn Michaels, wouldn’t you think? So he took good care of him.”
Shawn Michaels’ return to the company in 2002 was heralded as a second coming and culminated in a gripping rivalry with Triple H at SummerSlam and a World Heavyweight Championship victory inside the inaugural Elimination Chamber Match at Survivor Series.