Michael Shawn Hickenbottom (born July 22, 1965), better known by his ring name Shawn Michaels, is an American professional wrestling personality, television presenter and retired professional wrestler. He has been signed to WWE, as an ambassador and occasional non-wrestling performer, since December 2010. Michaels wrestled consistently for WWE, formerly the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), from 1988 until his first retirement in 1998. He held non-wrestling roles from 1998 to 2000 and resumed wrestling in 2002 until retiring ceremoniously in 2010.
In the WWF/WWE, Michaels headlined major pay-per-view events from 1989 to 2010, closing the company’s flagship annual event, WrestleMania, five times. He was the co-founder and original leader of the successful stable, D-Generation X. He also wrestled in the American Wrestling Association (AWA), where he founded The Midnight Rockers with Marty Jannetty in 1985. After winning the AWA Tag Team Championship twice, the team continued to the WWF as The Rockers, and had a high-profile breakup in January 1992. Within the year, Michaels would twice challenge for the WWF Championship and win his first WWF Intercontinental Championship, heralding his arrival as one of the industry’s premier singles stars. He would go on to be widely regarded as its finest performer in both the 1990s and 2000s.
Michaels is a four-time world champion: a three-time WWF Champion and a former World Heavyweight Champion. He is also a two-time Royal Rumble winner and the WWE’s first Grand Slam Champion. In calling him the greatest professional wrestler of all time, media outlet IGN wrote: “Michaels was the most athletic, inspired and daring storyteller in the business; raising the bar for the entire industry with each match.” Michaels was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2011.
Hickenbottom was born on July 22, 1965, in Chandler, Arizona. The last of four children – Randy, Scott, and Shari are his older siblings – he was raised in a military family and spent a brief part of his early years in Reading, Berkshire, England, but grew up in San Antonio, Texas. As a child, Hickenbottom disliked the name Michael, so his family and friends just called him Shawn. Ever since, he has been referred to as Shawn. Additionally, Hickenbottom moved around frequently since his father was in the military.
He knew he wanted to become a professional wrestler at the age of twelve and said he performed a wrestling routine in his high school’s talent show, complete with fake blood. Hickenbottom was already an athlete; his career began at the age of six when he started playing football. He was a stand-out linebacker at Randolph High School on Randolph Air Force Base and eventually became captain of the football team. After graduating, Hickenbottom attended Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, but soon realized that college life was not for him. He then began pursuing a career in professional wrestling.
Hickenbottom’s first marriage, to Theresa Wood, soon ended in an amicably settled divorce. He married former WCW Nitro Girl Rebecca Hickenbottom (née Curci) (previously known as Whisper) on March 31, 1999, at the Graceland Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas, Nevada. Only the couple and an Elvis impersonator were present. Their son, Cameron Kade, was born on January 15, 2000, and a daughter, Cheyenne, born on August 19, 2004 followed. His cousin Matt Bentley is also a professional wrestler, having wrestled in TNA and WWE.
In 1996, Hickenbottom posed for a non-nude layout in Playgirl magazine. Only after he posed did he discover Playgirl has a mostly gay readership, for which some of his fellow wrestlers teased him.
He is ambidextrous, and had trouble differentiating between right and left, which affected his football games as a boy. He uses his right hand to draw and color and his left hand to write. He typically kicks with his right leg in Sweet Chin Music, but uses either arm for his signature elbow drop, depending on position.
Hickenbottom is a born again Christian. He was raised as a Roman Catholic, but became a non-denominational Christian because of his wife. His ring attire often incorporated cross symbols. During ring entrances, he often made a praying gesture on his knees while his pyrotechnics went off. He was in the audience for a televised service of John Hagee’s Cornerstone Church in his hometown, San Antonio, where he is also a Bible teacher. In 2008, he appeared on a Trinity Broadcasting Network program with fellow professional wrestler Sting.