Shawn Michaels is one of the most successful names to ever compete in the WWE, racking up championship accomplishments and renowned WrestleMania main events.
Michaels, who now serves as WWE’s Senior Vice President of Talent Development Creative, has been open about the fact that he was often difficult to work with during his rise in the 1990’s. He was known to be difficult outside of the ring and regularly use his backstage power and sometimes fractious relationship with Vince McMahon to enhance his own career. In fact, former WWE writer Vince Russo said Michaels was the only person he ever saw curse out WWE CEO Vince McMahon to his face.
His involvement in the Montreal Screwjob has become the stuff of legend, and his attitude behind the scenes was well known during that time.
After suffering a back injury during a casket match with The Undertaker at the 1998 Royal Rumble, Shawn Michaels lost his WWE Championship to Steve Austin at WrestleMania the following March. Their WrestleMania bout famously featured Mike Tyson as the special guest enforcer, and despite wearing a DX shirt, he ended up counting the victory for Austin. Enraged, Michaels confronted Tyson after the bout and was knocked out for his trouble. He would not return to in-ring competition until SummerSlam 2002, where he faced longtime friend Triple H.
“Shawn Michaels Had Vince’s Ear” – Jim Ross On Michaels’ Relationship With Vince McMahon
Speaking on the latest episode of Grilling JR, WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross commented on Michaels’ relationship with Vince McMahon and said that the star was often granted far more leeway than other stars in the company. Ross served as Executive Vice President of Talent Relations during that time and had plenty of firsthand dealings with Michaels as well as the rest of the roster.
“Well, Shawn Michaels had Vince’s ear so Shawn had a free ticket to do pretty much anything he wanted because he was such a good salesman for his own stuff that he could convince you that this is a good idea. But, if anybody else in the roster had come to us with something along those same lines it would have never made television. Shawn was a special case in that regard and Vince let him roll with his instincts probably as much as anybody that we know, that we could talk about.”