Following a severe back injury, Shawn Michaels retired from in-ring competition in 1998 following his match with Stone Cold Steve Austin at WrestleMania. This retirement came just one year after he famously vacated the WWE Championship after he “lost his smile,” and real life feud with Bret Hart leading into the Montreal Screwjob is well documented.
Throughout 1999 Michaels served as the WWE Commissioner, and while he made a few appearances after that time (including serving as the special guest referee for an Iron Man Match between Triple H and Dwayne Johnson), he didn’t return to WWE television as a regular character until 2002, when he joined the nWo and later made his in-ring return against Triple H at SummerSlam.
Shawn Michaels Apologized For Past Behavior When He Returned To WWE In 2002
HBK has been open about the fact that he struggled with substance abuse during his early days with WWE, and he’s also made no secret of the fact that he was difficult to work with. Because of his previous reputation, Shawn Michaels revealed on Logan Paul’s ImPAULsive podcast that he apologized to the WWE locker room when he returned in 2002, and he also said that he’d understand if people weren’t quick to forgive him.
“I know that I gave everybody a hard time back when I was younger. When I came back, I made sure I went up to everybody and was at least like, ‘Sorry.’ That’s the best that I could do. When I came back in 2002, and I knew there was going to be, ‘We’ll see.’ It was important to me to go around and make amends and at least tell everyone, ‘Sorry about the way I was. I have no excuse, I’m willing to earn back whatever. If you never talk to me again, I’m cool with that too.”
Shawn Michaels currently serves as Senior Vice President of Talent Development Creative, where he is responsible for running things behind the scenes in NXT. He’s made a handful of on-screen appearances, most recently stripping Solo Sikoa of the NXT North American Championship following a controversial victory the week before.