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Shawn Michaels Talks WWE Attitude Era, Trailblazing, and More

Shawn Michaels is one of the most influential pioneers in WWE history. Michaels helped bridge the gap from the smaller guys to main-events in the 1990s. Michaels reflected on this achievement and offered other insights in a new interview.

The Heartbreak Kid sat down recently with Muscle and Fitness magazine to promote his new book, “Wrestling For My Life.” Michaels talked about a number of subjects in the April issue. Here is a look at some of the highlights.

Michaels was asked if he felt like a trailblazer as one of the smaller guys who made it to the WWE main-event level.

“When you’re not 6’6″ and you’re not going to be 250 pounds, you have no choice but to make it work however you can. You’re thankful that you’re athletic, and you do your best to use that athletic ability. Bret [Hart] and I both tried to focus on that.”

This is something that people really don’t give Michaels enough credit for. Plenty of others tried before him but most were relegated to the intercontinental title picture. It was Michaels and Bret Hart that made it “acceptable” for WWE champions to be on the smaller side. The upside were better matches for the fans and more opportunities for guys that weren’t over 6’5”. Without those accomplishments it is interesting to think about what the WWE would look like today.

Michaels was asked about his fluctuting physique throughout his career and any pressure to get bigger.

“No, there wasn’t any pressure in that respect from anyone. I was training with guys like Kevin Nash and Triple H, guys who like to get in the gym and train hard to this day. When I came back in 2002, after the back injury- for four years I had been out- I found that a lot of those heavier weights were going to be a thing of the past. It was easier on my body, and I stayed healthier carrying less weight.”

It is interesting to note that Michaels left pro wrestling with a reputation for being injury-prone in 1998. He was noticeably much lighter during his second run and I can’t recall him sustaining many serious injuries during that time.

Michaels was also asked about his “Sexy Boy” theme song and whether he expected to be coming out to that song decades later.

“No, I never thought that. Jimmy Hart is the guy who wrote the song. He first recorded it, and then he came up with the idea for me to do it, and I can remember not being thrilled with it. I said, “Oh, my goodness I can’t sing.” But I tell ya, it’s grown a life of its own. It’s funny because it’s obviously so not me, but it’s a toe tapper and people get a kick out of it. When I look back on all of it- the song, the career- I look back on it with the most pleasant smile a guy could ever have because I’m extremely fortunate. I got to live my dream, and that’s pretty rare.”

Finally Michaels was asked to compare the Attitude Era to the PG Era.

“Don’t get me wrong, the Attitude Era was fantastic, but it was four years, and I guess that’s something people don’t think about. We started doing it back in ’97, and by the time I came back in 2002 it was done. I guess there was a little bit of it, but it wasn’t much. It was four years. It’s been built into mythical proportions. You do the best job you can whether it’s the Attitude Era or the PG Era. Successful people succeed in all situations. Smart people, people of wisdom, will succeed in all situations.”

It’s ironic because Michaels is generally associated with the Attitude Era and he wasn’t even around for most of it. I would credit Michaels with kicking it off with his shtick in 1996 but it didn’t really trickle down throughout the card until Shawn was gone in 1998.

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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