Shawn Michaels recently sat down with Steve Austin on the Steve Austin Show. Here are some highlights from the interview.
Austin and Michaels’ early matches together: “One of the things a lot of people don’t know is that when you first came in, you and I were main eventing a lot. They wouldn’t put us in any of the major towns because we hadn’t done anything on TV, but in every other place, one of things you did for me, and this isn’t blowing smoke, if you remember me commenting on it the first time you said it, which was, “hey man, can I just sort of call it out there and just sort of do whatever?” And if you remember, I was like dude, yes. [laughter] I was probably wearing more hats than I should have at that time trying to be a good guy and the champion and all that stuff and having to general a lot of my own stuff at the time. To be able to go out there and just not do anything except depend on the guy, the old way I guess, for me, especially at that time, it was a huge favor to be able to have a dude call the match.
“I was thinking about it today, if you don’t mind me saying, they were very Flair-Steamboatish, our matches then. Again, as much as I would have liked to bring that to TV, obviously we never got that opportunity. It was a huge, huge thing for me at that time to just have a guy that I could go out there and completely relax with, and not all of it sort of be on my shoulders to call and to try and get through.”
When he first knew he wanted to be a pro wrestler: “In San Antonio. It was right before cable was coming out. I was 12 years old. I was up late for whatever reason on a Saturday, back when wrestling was 12:30 at night on Saturday nights and Southwest Championship Wrestling came on. Just that montage at the beginning just sort of drew me in. That time it was Wahoo McDaniel and Tully Blanchard, they had the big feud going on there. And then when cable came about, that’s when we got TBS then WWF out of Madison Square Garden and then WORTD. It just sort of consumed my life.”
Where Shawn Michaels picked up his ability as one of the best in ring performers ever: “The two guys I would probably give the majority of the credit for that would be Ricky Morton and Terry Taylor. I continued to try and work on it. I tell you what, Marty, Marty was a big part of it when I got to Kansas City. But Ricky Morton and Terry Taylor were the two guys that I watched a lot, spent a lot of time with in Mid South when I very first started. That’s where I really watched and learned about how to really draw sympathy from the crowd and to make it believable, especially when even at that time, it was still more the traditional way of wrestling. But even then it was starting to turn a little bit. They had the big rough, tough baby faces there too. And Doctor Death and Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Jake the Snake. So it was starting to turn into the more tough guy baby faces, but guys like Taylor and Ricky Morton could still that old school sympathy.”
If he thinks the art of selling to the crowd has been lost today: “I don’t know if it’s lost. I think that it’s done less for different reasons. I don’t know how much of it is being concerned with the development or lack thereof of character. A lot of guys, they worry about being vulnerable. If you get to pick a part, Kevin Nash use to always joke with me about it. Like, hey, who doesn’t want to be the guy that flies the helicopter, smoking a cigar with a machine gun in his hand, beating everybody up and getting the chick at the end? Everybody does, but you can’t always be that guy. Everybody’s sort of got to have a role and sometimes you have to be the guy that does get beat up. That’s one of the things that, again even drama with folks in the ego area, which there were plenty of, I was always really comfortable with making Shawn Michaels pretty well rounded. He was going to go ahead and experience every emotion. It didn’t matter if it was funny, sad, laughing, crying, hurt, scared, whatever. You run some risks with that, but that was a choice I went ahead and made. I think, to get to the point of your question, I think guys are less desiring of wanting to play that role.”