The second season of WWE’s Ruthless Aggression features an episode all about the incredible comeback of WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels that is titled “The Resurrection of Shawn Michaels.”
Here’s the synopsis of this episode on WWE Network:
S2 | E4: The Resurrection of Shawn Michaels
“After a four-year hiatus from the ring due to major back surgery, Shawn Michaels returns to WWE to write a new ending to his legendary career.”
Shawn is my favorite wrestler ever. His comeback in 2002 meant a lot to me, so I look forward to how they tell that story.
The Ruthless Aggression series intro video aired. The narrator for season two is WWE Smackdown announcer Pat McAfee.
They showed a comment from Shawn Michaels from 2003 talking about how he was blessed and everything above and beyond this is extra. Shawn said that coming back to this show in front of all these people was pretty cool.
There were highlights shown of Shawn Michaels rising the ranks of WWE in the mid-1990s from being a tag team wrestler to Intercontinental Champion and then a WWE Champion in 1996. He did it all.
The great “Stone Cold” Steve Austin said that Shawn wasn’t the biggest guy in the world, “but man what a performer when the bell rings.” Rob Van Dam said that Shawn was a guy that changed the business for more athletic guys.
Shawn Michaels said that things were going faster than he was prepared for. Bruce Prichard said that Shawn was one of the greatest wrestlers ever that put on a pair of boots. Bruce talked about Shawn’s attitude and being difficult to work with at times. Bruce thought that Shawn’s talent outweighed his attitude.
They spoke about Degeneration X forming with Shawn and Triple H in 1997. Michael Cole said that was Shawn – he was a “d**k.” And I don’t mean duck. Bruce said it allowed other people’s attitudes to show. Bruce said without Shawn, he doesn’t know if that platform would have been available.
Shawn was at the top of the business, but that all changed in January 1998. They showed Royal Rumble 1998 when The Undertaker gave a charging Michaels (the WWE Champion at the time) a back body drop over the top to the floor. Shawn’s lower back hit the edge of the casket that was on the floor. They showed Shawn also taking a turnbuckle bump on his lower back. Shawn said he crushed several discs in his back, so he had to get his lower back fused. Shawn said that the majority of people that got surgeries like that were older people that began to live a limited quality of life after that. Vince McMahon, after WrestleMania 14, said that Shawn was out of action with a back injury.
Kevin Nash, who is one of Shawn’s best friends, said that it was really hard for him. Nash said that it was his passion, his dream was to be a wrestler and it was snatched away from him.
A clip was shown from September 24, 1998 with Shawn saying his back hurts really bad and he could not return any time soon.
They mentioned Shawn had an addiction to pain medication following his back surgery. It was noted that Shawn had a tough time keeping a regular role on the show. Bruce said that was Shawn was dealing with a lot of issues and it was frustrating to Shawn to not be the wrestler that he was, so that added to his displeasure.
Triple H, who is Shawn’s best friend, said there was a moment where it was Undertaker, Rock, Austin, him and then Shawn came in. Shawn was a mess while saying it was embarrassing and stumbling over himself. That led to Shawn going home from WWE.
Shawn spoke about how he met his wife and started a family leading to a road back to a much happier and healthier life. Shawn talked about how his wife Rebecca got into bible study, so it spoke to him. Shawn said that’s who he wanted to be. Shawn said in one moment, everything made sense.
Bruce said he would go to Texas to see Shawn at his wrestling school. Bruce said he could tell Shawn was back to being himself. Bruce talked about how Shawn doesn’t have to be what he was five years ago and he had a feeling he could find that guy.
They showed Shawn’s WWE return on the June 3, 2002 edition of Raw, which was over a year and a half after he left WWE. Kevin Nash introduced the newest member to the NOW, Shawn Michaels. Shawn said that the wonderful things in his life have taken hold and getting to come back as an on-air character for the better, things began to shift for the better in every aspect of his life.
Sean Waltman aka X-Pac spoke about how Shawn had changed and it was a change for the better. They showed when Shawn superkicked Booker T. Kane said that Shawn was in it for the entire company, not just himself. Johnny Gargano spoke about how you could tell that Shawn was happy to be back. Shawn said that there was even more joy and excitement to come.
Shawn admitted that he had no intention of wrestling, then you’re moving around the ring a bit and being around the ring, he thought he could do in a limited fashion. By the summer of 2002, Shawn was ready for a shot at redemption in the ring. Shawn said it was a chance to make it different this time.
(They did not mention the real story that the plan was to do Triple H vs. Kevin Nash, but then Nash tore his quadriceps and that was out the window, so Shawn stepped in Nash’s place. Shawn was not the original choice for this SummerSlam match. The rest is history.)
It was onto the summer 2002 storyline where a mystery attacker beat up Shawn in a parking lot. Shawn revealed some surveillance footage that showed it was Triple H, who admitted it was him. Hunter said Shawn was weak and vulnerable. Shawn said that he’ll make a full recovery to be about 100% by SummerSlam.
(That put an end to Hunter’s boring babyface run. I was happy about that because when Hunter returned as a face in January 2002 as a face, it was fine, but it got tiresome quickly. Going into SummerSlam, Hunter was back to his heel role that he was much better at. Perfect opponent for Shawn’s first match back too.)
Kevin Owens spoke about how Shawn Michaels was the guy that inspired him to wrestle and he thought it was cool that Shawn was coming back. Owens said this might be his only match. At the time, Shawn said he wasn’t sure about the quick movements that he needs to do in a match. Former WWE head writer Brian Gewirtz said it was a huge unknown, so it was an Unsanctioned Street Fight and they thought it might just be one match. Shawn was shown in 2002 saying he thought there might only be one match.
Shawn of the present day said he hadn’t been in the ring in four years. He said you worry about living up to the stature of what you were in the ring.
Hunter told the story about how he saw Shawn’s mom. Hunter said he didn’t recall her saying anything, but she had this look. Hunter said he grabbed her hand, looked her in the eye, said he would never let anything happen to her boy and they hugged. Hunter was emotional speaking about it while Shawn’s mom was emotional. Hunter noted that people were physically worried about him, so he had no idea what was going to happen out there.
They showed the SummerSlam 2002 match with Shawn Michaels wrestling in his first WWE match in March 1998, which was over four years earlier. (Shawn actually had one match in his Texas promotion, but not much of a real match.) Shawn said that it was exciting, they did everything to get him to be comfortable and the biggest comfort was being in there with his best friend.
There were highlights shown of the SummerSlam 2002 match with Hunter working on Shawn’s back for the majority of the match. Hunter did moves to the back along with chairs to the back. Then Shawn made the comeback. Hunter: “How is he still that good, no rust, no anything?” Hunter said it was unbelievable. Shawn jumped off the top with a splash through a table on the floor. Back in the ring, Hunter went for a Pedigree, but Shawn countered into a jackknife pin for the pinfall win.
(It’s one of my favorite matches ever. I remember watching it at my house with a bunch of my closest friends that loved wrestling and especially loved Shawn because he was our favorite. We had no idea if he could get through the match without injury. Every shot to the back was scary to us even though we know pro wrestling is a work. It’s because in this case, you just didn’t know how Shawn was going to react to being in a match again. The fact that it was an outstanding, four star plus level match makes it that much better. Even if it was a shitty match I’d love it because Shawn was my favorite, but the fact that it is an awesome match makes it that much better.)
Shawn spoke about how when he made his way to the back, Vince McMahon said: “I knew you could do it. I never doubted you for a second.” Shawn told Vince to take it easy. Shawn said a few weeks later, Vince mentioned wanted what they wanted to do at Elimination Chamber.
They showed the Elimination Chamber at Survivor Series 2002. Gewirtz spoke about how they didn’t know how many matches he was going to have, but as long as Shawn was healthy and happy, they would use him and take advantage of that. Shawn would end up winning the World Heavyweight Title by beating Triple H in what was Shawn’s second match in four and a half years. Adam Cole spoke about how amazing Shawn was since he was the star of the match. Shawn said that he had to convince himself that he was back and eventually he realized he was back.
There were clips shown of Shawn in action over the next couple of years. Shawn said he was held to a standard that nobody else gets held to. Shawn said every time he got in the ring, it was like “let’s see if you can do it again” repeatedly. JBL spoke about how Shawn was able to recapture that magic.
They skipped ahead to WrestleMania 21 in 2005 with Adam Cole saying it was his favorite WrestleMania match of all time – Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels. Angle said Shawn was special and when he came back, he lit it up. Angle said it was his best match of all time although I know he has said that about a few matches. Gewirtz said that Shawn had never been better and it wasn’t a nostalgia act.
They showed a clip of Shawn in the mid-2000s signing books and talking to fans. There were highlights shown of Shawn competing against guys like Chris Jericho and Triple H.
It was onto the 2005 storyline with Hulk Hogan. Shawn spoke about how he wanted to face Hogan, so it was something he was really looking forward to. Gewirtz said that first time ever matches was one of Vince’s favorite things to do, so Hogan and Michaels was something that they had to do. Shawn said when he realized it was a possibility, he thought he would love to do it. After Hogan and Michaels won a tag team match, Michaels hit Hogan with a superkick.
That led to Michaels doing memorable promos ripping on Hogan and what Hulkamania was all about. Shawn did a Hulk Hogan parody on the “Larry King Show” as well. Gargano said it was one of the best things of all time. Owens laughed about it saying it was pretty great. Cole said that drama, comedy or pissing you off – Shawn could do it all.
They showed the classic Michaels promo in Montreal about how he hated that place and Shawn said it was off the charts magnetic. Shawn mentioned Bret Hart in the promo, then Bret’s music and entrance video played, but it was all a ruse by Shawn to get heat. Cole talked about how he’ll never forget that promo and how he completely bought it, but also admitted that he was so great. Shawn said he’ll survive the next day if everybody thinks he’s a prick. Gewirtz said every now and then you get a piece of the old Shawn to come out.
(That Montreal promo is such a classic. Pure heel heat. It was weird because Shawn was a face during most of his run 2002 to 2010 retirement, but for that month going into SummerSlam 2005 he embraced the heel role again.)
It was onto SummerSlam in August 2005 as the main event of that show. Shawn said that Hogan and him got along fine. Cole said he was there and it was an electric atmosphere in Washington, DC. Gargano spoke about how Shawn flew everywhere and did everything he could to make the match entertaining. Shawn said that the match has taken on a life of its own. Hogan kicked out of a superkick near the finish. Hogan did the big boot with Michaels selling it in a ridiculous way and then Hogan hit the leg drop to win. Michaels said that he would still take that bump that way today especially as a heel because people were going nuts and all standing nuts. Shawn shook Hogan’s hand and Shawn said he had no regrets about that.
(The ridiculous bumping by Shawn made the match comical in some ways, but I was still very entertained by it. There were reports that there would be a rematch and then Hogan refused to put Shawn over while complaining about money, so that was their only match.)
It was onto 2006 with Shawn standing on a ladder and doing the DX crotch chops before jumping onto Vince McMahon through a table. Hunter said he saw Shawn do it, so Hunter laughed and did it in the main event. Cole noted that they both did the crotch chop. Shawn knew that they could get the reaction because they were “OG guys” that started Degeneration X. Shawn noted that they teased it sometimes. In June 2006, Hunter and Shawn had an in-ring segment where they reunited.
The 2006 run of Degeneration X was shown with Cole saying he didn’t think it would ever happen. Hunter did a promo at the time saying they were back. Shawn said that at 40, you can’t be as hip and cool as you were at 30, so they had to put a different spin on it. RVD thought it was entertaining. Gargano mentioned how it was funny that they would make it fun when Shawn couldn’t do things due to his Christianity. They showed how fans gave them strong reactions as DX. The reunion worked well.
Going into 2007, DX was firing on all cylinders. It seemed like Triple H was on his way to headline WrestleMania against John Cena, but then Triple hurt his leg after a spinebuster. It was a torn quadriceps for Triple H, so he was out and Shawn Michaels was elevated to that top spot as the challenger to John Cena’s WWE Title.
It was onto WrestleMania 23 in 2007 with Cena defending the WWE Title against Michaels. Cena spoke about how easy it was to work with Michaels. Cena spoke about Shawn’s timing being perfect and how you can perform with him forever. Michaels came close to winning a few times, but Cena found a way to win with the STFU submission. Michaels said that Cena was such a hard worker and a good dude. Michaels admitted that at that point in his life, he understand that he was pretty good at it.
Kevin Nash spoke about how Michaels was like the star maker. Randy Orton spoke about how Shawn Michaels found something special about him back in the day. JBL said that Shawn could explain why matches worked and didn’t work. Shelton Benjamin said Shawn taught him to slow down.
Shawn spoke about the connection from his generation to another generation. Shawn said that was part of the “passing the torch” aspect of somebody’s career and there was fun in that. Shawn spoke about how he had a lot of struggles. Shawn joked that he had an asterisk by his name because he was a prick, then to come back as good and people could live with him. Bruce said it was a Shawn that was a joy to work with.
Nash said that it was like Michael Jordan with the second run. Nash said that there was a gap in time, not performance. Gargano said he thought Shawn’s second run was better. Gargano talked about how Shawn’s match with Ric Flair at WrestleMania brought out emotion.
It was onto WrestleMania 25 in 2009 with Owens saying it was the greatest match he had ever seen. At WrestleMania 25 it was Michaels vs. Undertaker again. Shawn talked about how he spent so much time with Mark Calaway and Paul Levesque, so it was like having a brotherhood.
The Undertaker spoke about how Shawn was one of the greatest performers of all time and then got to leave on is terms. Taker added that Shawn was content and happy.
It was noted that in a period that launched new stars, Shawn was a legend that was having a second chance. Shawn talked about how important it was to have the opportunity to go out on his terms.
Shawn said he looked at every aspect of his career and life saying it was surreal – every bit of it. That was the end.
This episode has a runtime of 42:45.
I enjoyed it a lot. How could I not when it’s about the comeback of my favorite wrestler ever? I was as happy as anybody when Shawn came back in 2002. They did a nice job of telling the story that nobody knew what Shawn was going to be like when he came back because we were all worried that he could get hurt again and instead, he came back looking like he never took any time off, much less four years. It’s one of the greatest comebacks in wrestling history and you could even say sports history too.
I mentioned some of the things that they didn’t cover because frankly, I know his life story so well. I really think they hit on the high points well and touched on some of the negative things too. Overall, I enjoyed this one a lot.
In case you missed any of my previous reviews in the Ruthless Aggression series, the links are below.
Episode 1 – It’s Time to Shake Things Up
Episode 2 – Enter John Cena
Episode 3 – Evolution
Episode 4 – Brock Lesnar
Episode 5 – Raw vs. Smackdown
Episode 1 – Hollywood Rock
Episode 2 – Innovations
Episode 3 – The First Evolution
Episode 4 – The Resurrection of Shawn Michaels
Episode 5 – Securing The Future
Thanks for reading this review. My contact info is below.