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Shawn Michaels knew when it was time to retire; discusses WrestleMania matches

Shawn Michaels
(WWE)
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Shawn Michaels is known as “Mr. WrestleMania,” but would it surprise you to learn his WrestleMania record is 6-11? Seventeen times he stepped into the ring at wrestling’s biggest event, and 11 times he walked out without his hand being raised.

We recently talked to Michaels via video to get his comments about some of his most memorable WrestleMania matches.

WrestleMania 5 (Atlantic City), The Twin Towers (Big Bossman and Akeem) d. The Rockers (Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty)

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“I remember the ending of it (the 400-pound+ Akeem splashed him). And again, it being that first WrestleMania moment and I was overjoyed to be just on that show. I think even then Marty and I felt like we were a group before our time. I think we’d probably be more appreciated now in this environment. But I thought we did some really special stuff that flies underneath the radar. But I think there are a lot of people that see this as really good work.”

Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty as The Rockers
(WWE)

WrestleMania 6 (Toronto), Pat Tanaka and Sato d. The Rockers

“We had phenomenal chemistry with them. We had all worked with one another, you know, numerous times in numerous different places. Heck, I think we all sort of almost tagged with one another at different times. There was a lot of crossing one another’s paths early in our careers. We all could have been in that ring blindfolded.”

WrestleMania 7 (Los Angeles), The Rockers d. The Barbarian and Haku

“We really found our groove in that one. I think the guys would say that being in L.A. (event was at the L.A. Sports Arena) made WrestleMania feel big again. WrestleMania really began to feel larger than life, certainly to me at that time.”

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WrestleMania 8 (Indianapolis), Shawn Michaels d. Tito Santana

“The thing I take away from that one was, my first stadium (the event was held at the Hoosier Dome). I’m now a singles competitor and I remember that day having no idea what the future might hold. And being in there there with a consummate pro like Tito, which is reassuring. The enormity of that event was the most challenging part for me. And I had Sherri Martel in my corner. She made me noticeable, gave me credibility right off the bat because of who she was. She was the one that had been with Randy Savage. She’s the one that had been with Ted DiBiase. Sherry was more of a top player than I was. So placing me with her raised me up in a way that that allowed me to skip a number of levels that I would ordinarily have to kind of go through to make your way up that card. So she was huge to my career, and she was such a professional and was an absolute blast to work with because she was just so open and willing to do anything.”

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WrestleMania 9 (Las Vegas), Shawn Michaels d. Tatanka

“I think that’s I think that was the beginning of me getting comfortable. And seeing there being bigger possibilities. Like WrestleMania is going to be a part of who I’m going to be.”

WrestleMania 10 (New York City), Razor Ramon (Scott Hall) d. Shawn Michaels, ladder match for the Intercontinental title

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You can watch the match here

“This is really where the seeds of Mr. Wrestlemania began. A ladder match had never been done. And to have the opportunity to do it with one of my best buddies, Scott Hall. We had been with each other in the ring so many times, I could close my eyes and know where he would be. That’s how much we knew each other, and how comfortable we were with each other. There was kind of a joke about it, it was me wrestling Scott, and there was a ladder with us.”

Wrestlemania 11 (Hartford), Diesel (Kevin Nash) d. Shawn Michaels to retain the WWE title.

“That to me was the beginning of understanding that, oh, my goodness, I could actually main event Wrestlemanias and be someone that they would look at to carry this company. All the WrestleManias led up to this, going from somebody that was in a tag team, then building my singles career, to finding out that I could headline a WrestleMania. When I began the journey I just wanted to be added on the show.

WrestleMania 12 (Anaheim), Shawn Michaels d. Bret Hart in an Ironman match to win the WWE title.

You can watch Michaels’ entrance here

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“Just very proud of it in a lot of ways. And people either love it, or they kind of malign it, I think unfairly. It was such a risk to do that type of match on a pay-per-view. And I’m just so proud of what Bret and I did. Ironman matches have come back in vogue, so to speak. That match is special to me personally.”

Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 14
(WWE)

WrestleMania 14 (Boston), Stone Cold Steve Austin d. Shawn Michaels to win the WWE title.

You can watch the ending of the match here

“I was in a lot of pain in that match because of my back (Michaels left wrestling for several years after this match). I always think to myself, ‘Oh, I wish I’d been in a better place to do a better job for Steve.’ But then I also look at that match and everything in my life changed from that point on. Without that valley, without that despair, well, the sadness was really a turning point. It has a significance, it’s far more positive I think than than a lot of people would would imagine.”

Wrestlemania 24 (Orlando) Shawn Michaels d. Ric Flair, with Flair having to retire because he lost

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Watch the entire match here

“I’m out there with the guy I grew up watching, having his last match in the WWE. A lot of what we do has real emotion on both sides. I tell people it’s my love story to the wrestling business and my love story to Ric Flair. And that, to me is what that match epitomizes for me.

WrestleMania 25 (Houston) The Undertaker d. Shawn Michaels

Watch the entire match here

“Sort of a fairy-tale story here again from the standpoint of two guys have shared that locker room for 20+ years. We had a lot of real disagreements early on, but then had a lot of real closeness. And then we’re able to go out there, even though our styles are so different, and it almost worked perfectly. And the overall respect that we have for one another, and how proud we are of this match and the following year’s, and what we created in that entire story.

Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker at WrestleMania 26
(WWE)
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WrestleMania 26 (Glendale, Ariz.) The Undertaker d. Shawn Michaels, with Michaels having to retire because he lost

Watch the entire match here

“It goes back to the romance of the wrestling business. Two grown men honoring one another. And Taker doing everything he could to make sure I go out on the best possible platform. I always want to honor that effort from him and be able to give myself peace by doing that.

When did Michaels know it was time to retire?

“I guess after the first one against Taker. My wife and I were driving back to the family from Houston and I said to her ‘You know, I think that might be it.’ And she says, ‘What do you mean?’ And I said ‘I don’t know that if it’s gonna get any better than that one.’ She said ‘Like done, done?’ And I replied ‘Yeah.” I just felt that if I walked away at that point, I’d have complete peace with what I did in the WWE, and in the business as a whole. Then the more you talk about it, the more it just became, ‘Let’s go out like this.’ When I came back in 2002, I didn’t want to miss all of our childrens’ lives. And half of that had gone by. And if I wasn’t going to stop, then I probably wasn’t going to and I’d miss the other half. And I didn’t want to do that. So it was after the first one that I started addressing retiring.”

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