Federation Commissioner Shawn Michaels has been recovering in a hospital in San Antonio, Texas. Earlier this week, it was learned that Michaels suffered a concussion and trauma to his already delicate lower lumbar region.
WWF.COM was informed that Michaels’ condition has been upgraded a notch to "guarded." Loosely, this means Michaels, at the present time, is out of harm’s way but not totally out of the woods.
The severity of Team Corporate’s attack and HBK’s pre-existing back injuries are the main factors in how fast it will take for Michaels to recover. It has been rumored that he may never compete again. We at WWF.COM believe it is premature to predict such things. While it may seem unlikely he will return to the ring, the Heartbreak Kid has always been known for his resiliency and determination. He has the will. All that he will need is a way, and you can bet he will be back.
First he must face the truth. The injuries in his back have re-aggravated the problems with his frayed disks. It has been reported that HBK will undergo back fusion to correct the problem. If he chooses surgery, then he will need at least eight-to-16 weeks to recover. That timeframe would be considered a minimum, considering the type of surgery that is required. In addition, the injuries he sustained at Team Corporate’s hands could only impede the process, making full recovery all the more difficult and time-consuming.
If we hear anything more about Michaels’ condition, we will pass along the information.
Shawn Michaels, that hunk of a professional wrestler known affectionately as "The Heartbreak Kid," was the subject of much e-mail sent my way this past weekend. People wrote to me saying they heard a rumor that Michaels is retiring from the ring.
Well, me not being much of a wrestling fan, I had to go back and read the details in last week's story by Ihosvani Rodriguez that appeared in the paper and on expressnews.com. The story was no longer on our site, so I had to search our internal archives.
What I found is that the rumors aren't rumors ... that rassler is hanging up his tights. Evidentally he has a severe back problem after having had one too many run-ins with the floor and some guy called The Undertaker. The story says Michaels is scheduled for back surgery on Tuesday. Rodriguez says he will be checking on how Michaels is doing after his surgery. For details, read the story. (my note: I posted this already...it's in section 1 of the articles.)
Now, all this attention prompted me to pause and take a good look at pro wrestling. It was around when I was a kid I remember watching Grandma cackle as good guy Johnny Powers beat up someone named Wild Bull (or was it Bill?) Curry on a fuzzy UHF station in Cleveland and the "sport" seems to have gotten even bigger than it was way back then. Now, I put "sport" in quotes because I guess it really isn't one. It's more like entertainment. Or that's what has been decided by newspaper editors. I've sat through a number of news budget meetings at this newspaper and others when the question came up: "So, where do we put this story on rasslin'?" Sports didn't want it, so it ended up in the news, lifestyle or entertainment sections.
Online, rasslin' stories will be located in a Pro Wrestling section within our Entertainment section.San Antonio Express-News Online: Pro Wrestling We've pulled the Michaels story and a feature on Jose Lothario, and we'll add more features as time goes by. We've also added a new forum.Express-News: Chats Now fans have a local place to chat about their favorite good guy or bad guy. The only thing we ask is that you keep the chat room floor clean!
Who is that guy? What does he have to do with Shawn Michaels?
As I perused through the endless black hole of internet rumor sites on Sunday night following HEAT, I saw a common theme among many of the fans who is Jose Lothario? Granted, most of the World Wrestling Federation fans are aware who "Super Sock" is, but then again, the recent boom of the business has captured the attention of a whole new viewing audience. Simply put, there are some people that are unaware of the circumstances surrounding Lothario and Michaels and the relationship they share.
At first, I was going to write a column on their history, but then I remembered an article I did on the subject in the October 1996 issue of World Wrestling Federation. Entitled "The Kid Beneath His Wings," the article recounts when HBK and Jose first met and their long journey to the Federation. So, as a little history lesson to you, the fans, here is that article word for word...
As "Super Sock" Jose lothario looked up from his office desk on a hot summer day back in 1982, he saw two figures standing in his doorway. One of the men, obviously the elder, held his son by his side.
"My son Shawn wants to be a wrestler," the man said. "You are the best we know of a legend, and we would like you to train him."
Jose took one look at the kid standing before him couldn’t have been more than 17 years old. A scrawny, short-haired ball of energy with a big smile on his face. He didn’t know quite what to say, and a silence echoed throughout the room for the next minute.
Pondering this, Lothario thought back a few years to the only other man he had ever trained the late Gino Hernandez, a man who ultimately turned on Lothario and went down the wrong path in life. Could he take another youngster under his wing, only to risk yet another turn on him?
"Mr. Lothario," the kid said, breaking the silence, as he stepped forward to the legend’s desk. "My name is Shawn Michaels and I would like you to teach me how to be a wrestler, sir."
After giving it some thought, Jose took the boy under his wing and trained him working him countless hours in the gym, almost like a drill sergeant. You see, he wasn’t about to go easy on this new kid just because he was doing a favor for his father Michaels was about to go through the ringer with the "Super Sock." Was this wide-eyed hopeful good enough or was he just a weekend warrior playing out a fantasy? The question was soon to be answered. After two months, Super Sock saw something in Shawn Michaels that he hadn’t seen in Hernandez there was a spark in the kid’s eye.
"After that second month, I knew Shawn was going to go all the way," Lothario recalled. "He gave it his all in that gym, no matter if it was against me or another opponent. I thought to myself , ‘This kid is going to make it’! He had the desire in his heart to be someone."
Looking back on those first few months, Shawn Michaels remembers them vividly, as if they happened yesterday. You see, it wasn’t as if the Heartbreak Kid had simply just found someone who knew wrestling Shawn Michaels was given the opportunity to train under the man who he watched wrestle every Saturday morning on his television in the Lone Star state.
"I think every young boy who lived in Texas knew who Jose Lothario was, Michaels said. "I first saw him on TV when I was 12, he was the first superstar to come across my screen. He is a legend in San Antonio, Cuba, Mexico just about everywhere! The first say I met him in that office, I guess he saw something special in me."
Lothario continued to mold the youngster into a fine wrestler. Days turned into weeks, weeks into months and so on. In and out of the ring, Jose was there to guide Shawn in his first few matches after he turned professional. Before each event, the mentor would sit down with Shawn in the locker room, doors closed. There he would go over with his young protégé what to look for from his opponents the strengths and weaknesses or each obstacle he was about to face. After the match, whether win or loss, the same process would take place Shawn sitting in a chair, listening to the man who trained him. But the one thing that Jose drilled into Shawn’s head was that he shouldn’t underestimate any man because, as Lothario put it, "There is always someone out there who can beat you." Michaels discovered from Jose that in EVERY match he was learning something new from his opponents.
Finally, the day came when Jose Lothario decided it was time to set this young kid out in his own. Jose remembered his days as a wrestler, and how he had never gotten a chance to make it "up north" as he would call it the World Wrestling Federation.Shawn and Mary Jannetty were "getting their feet wet" in the AWA (American Wrestling Association) at the time and opportunity started to knock for the tag team. Lothario very much wanted this for his pupil, so he gave Shawn a pat on the back, a hug and sent him to New York to try out for the "Big Time". In every sense of the phrase, Jose Lothario loved Shaw like a son and if you love something, you set it free.
As the months passed, Jose now retired and living in San Antonio would sometimes go into his living room and watch Shawn on television Saturday mornings. Marty Jannetty and Shawn Michaels were lighting up the ring in the World Wrestling Federation while Jose looked on from his home. Even though he was travelling Michaels never forgot the man who treated him like a son all those years.
"He would call me sometimes after a match, Jose said. "I would tell him about the things I saw that he wasn’t doing right, and I would tell him how to correct it. We kept in touch from time to time. I never forgot about him."
Over the next six years, Jose watched Shawn grow from a challenger into a champion. He was watching when Shawn beat the British Bulldog for his first Intercontinental Championship on Saturday Night’s Main Event in 1992. He was also tuned in for the other Intercontinental Title reigns and on the occasion he won the Federation tag team gold. Throughout every championship match win or loss Super Sock was watching, jumping up and down on the couch with excitement or crying in pain for the Heartbreak Kid.
Then one day in January 1996, Jose’s phone rang. As Jose picked it up and said "Hello’, a few short words came from the other end of the receiver. It was none other than Shawn Michaels.
"I listened on the phone and all I heard him say was, ‘Jose, they’re going to give me a shot at the Federation Championship at WrestleMania XII. Can you train me?’ I thought for a few seconds and then told him, ‘Of course I will, you know I’m here for you."
Federation officials had finally given Shawn Michaels the shot he had long been waiting for. After winning the 1996 Royal Rumble, Shawn was announced as the No. 1 contender for the Federation Title the belt that was around Bret Hart’s waist at the time. Then interim president Roddy Piper declared that this match between the two at the annual extravaganza would be an Iron Man Match 60 minutes of pure action, and there HAD to be a winner.
"I went back to San Antonio and trained with Jose for two months," Shawn said. "I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to go the full 60 minutes that Bret would ultimately get to me. Jose looked me right in the eyes and said, ‘You’re going to beat him and I’ll train you to last two hours if I have to!’"
March 31, 1996 is a day Shawn Michaels will NEVER forget. Shawn put on his ring attire and was getting ready to go to the ring, but butterflies soon started in his stomach and for good reason! Sixteen thousand screaming fans and millions of Pay-Per-View buyers were tuned in to see the main event between Michaels and Hart for the Federation Title. This was the dream that Shawn had lived since the age of 12 and tonight was the night that he would either realize it or fail. Jose took Shawn, grabbed his shaking hands and said to him, "You have to do this for your fans and I’m confident you will."
After those words of encouragement, Shawn went out and outlasted Bret Hart for over 60 minutes to become the new Federation Champion. The dream had been realized and it was something very special to have Jose there to experience it for the new champion.
"He always believed I would win the title that night," Shawn said. "Winning that title was just a little something I did to repay him for all that he did for me. I could never fully pay him for everything for the trust he put in me and for the trust my family put in him. He opened all the doors for HBK."
Surgeons fused the wrestler's fourth and fifth vertebrae, said Clyde McCormick, Michaels' attorney.
"It was very difficult and it took a lot longer than we expected, but he's doing very well," said Dr. Pablo Vasquez, who with Dr. Thomas Kingman operated on Michaels.
The popular wrestler was resting comfortably and will probably leave the hospital this weekend, Vasquez said.
Michaels, 33, known as "The Heartbreak Kid," received a serious back injury last year when The Undertaker tossed him through a table during a match.
He won the WWF's championship in 1996, and lost it a few months later to Sycho Sid after Sid decked him with a TV camera.
To his fans' delight, Michaels regained the championship in January 1997 after a grueling, 17-minute grudge match at the Alamodome.
Last week, the San Antonio native announced his retirement but said he would continue to work as a WWF commissioner and with community groups.
He also says he plans to open a wrestling school in San Antonio with local wrestling legend José "Super Sock" Lothario.
Vasquez said any return to the ring by Michaels "would put too much pressure on the remaining disks."
Tuesday, Jan 12, 1999
Last week, WWF.COM reported an update on World Wrestling Federation Commissioner Shawn Michaels’ condition. As everybody knows, Michaels was brutalized at the hands of Team Corporate two weeks ago. The resultant damage reaggravated the trauma in his lower back, and we learned that he would have to undergo surgery to repair damaged disks.
This past Tuesday, as was reported in the San Antonio Express News, Michaels underwent back fusion surgery to mend the fourth and fifth vertebrae in his back.
Michaels’ surgeon, Dr. Pablo Vasquez, told the Express that the process was "difficult." He also said that the surgery overextended the projected timeframe allotted for normal back fusion. "It took a lot longer than we expected, but he’s doing very well." WWF.COM later learned that his back was a lot worse than originally thought.
On Wednesday morning at approximately 10:30 ET, a high-ranking Federation official spoke to Shawn's mother by phone about his condition. According to her, he "had a very bad night...he was vomiting and not sleeping." HBK is expected to be released sometime over the weekend, although WWF.COM couldn’t confirm the actual day.
Michaels, who joined the Federation in 1987 as a member of the Rockers, was one of the most respected superstars in Federation history. A "Grand Slam Champion," Michaels has done it all in his 12-year Federation career. He’s beaten some of the most-recognized superstars of all time, including Bret "Hit Man" Hart and Kevin Nash.
Vasquez reportedly told the superstar that should he return to the ring, he would be subjected to perilous danger, the results of which could deteriorate his condition. It is unknown whether or not Michaels will heed the doctor’s advice.
Any return to the ring would, "put too much pressure on his remaining disks," Vasquez said.
If and when Michaels returns to television depends on how fast he can recover. Injuries of this magnitude typically require 8-16 weeks of rest, and restrictive travel. It is all for the better. When Michaels finally returns to RAW, you can rest assured he will entertain the world more than he ever has, probably more than he ever did as an athlete. WWF.COM will try to talk to Shawn and get his words on his future with the Federation.
Wrestling champion released from hospital
By Carmina Danini
Express-News Staff Writer
Shawn Michaels, World Wrestling Federation champion and superstar, was discharged from a local hospital Thursday afternoon, just two days after undergoing back surgery.
Dr. Pablo Vazquez said the wrestler had been expected to stay at the Methodist Ambulatory Hospital, where the surgery was performed Tuesday, until Saturday.
"He's in such good shape and so strong and just doing a lot better that it was possible for him to leave earlier," said Vazquez, one of two physicians who operated on Michaels.
The 33-year-old wrestler, a native of San Antonio, will need plenty of bed rest, Vazquez said.
"He'll need a combination of walking and bed rest for months," the physician added, "and no wrestling. His life would be in jeopardy if he returned to the ring."
A week before he went into the hospital, Michaels said he was ready to retire after 14 years of a bruising wrestling career.
Michaels, who played football for the Randolph Ro-Hawks, said he will continue to work for the WWF as commissioner and spokesman.
Toni Castillo, Vazquez's assistant, said Michaels was doing fine late Thursday afternoon.
Get-well cards can be sent to Michaels in care of the WWF/Titan Sports, 1241 East Main, P.O. Box 3857, Stamford, Conn. 06902
Thursday, Jan 14, 1999
Professional wrestler and San Antonio native Shawn Michaels, who recently announced his retirement from wrestling following back surgery, has a message for his fans: thank you.
Michaels, 33, wanted to tell wrestling fans who've followed his career that he appreciates their support and that he's "going to miss performing for them."
Years of back problems, exacerbated by a brutal fall through a table during a match with The Undertaker, forced "The Heartbreak Kid" out of action on to the operating table Jan. 12, where San Antonio orthopedic surgeon Pablo Vasquez removed a herniated disk and performed a bone graft to repair the wrestler's back.
"He's doing very well, it's been a week or so since the surgery, and he's ahead of the game compared to many other patients," said Vasquez. "He's doing terrific, I'm very pleased. He's still recovering, there's no therapy or any other exercise program for at least a few weeks. He still needs to heal, bones need to set. "
Michaels, who appeared a little stiff but was able to walk and sit without obvious discomfort, said he's taking his doctor's advice to relax and let the healing process take place.
He also admitted that he's not always wanted to do that in the past, doing what professional athletes from all sports are prone to do - start execising too soon, pushing the recovery. But seeing the latest set of X-rays and hearing Vasquez describe the operation changed that.
"When you see an X-ray with four bolts in your back, and a titanium plate, and after going through the surgery and how long that took, it makes it easier to listen," Michaels said. "(Vazquez) says 'Sit and lay down', I sit and lay down."
The first time they met, Michaels was laying down flat on his back in an emergency room, days after the match with The Undertaker. Michaels said he woke up one morning and couldn't move. After years of chiropractic adjustments, therapy and pain, Michaels decided it was time to hang up the boots and tights.
It was a decision he was close to making anyway; the back problems had gotten progressively worse, and Michaels a three-time WWF champion who's also held several other titles was satified with his achievements as a wrestler.
"I'm very lucky to have accomplished all the things I wanted to accomplish, there was nothing out there to make me second guess" the decision to retire, Michaels said.
"The circumstances were, if you get back back in the ring you could really do significant damage to yourself and affect the rest of your life, so in that instant it was an easy decision to make."
Michaels' immediate plans include weekly visits to see Vasquez and normal, daily activities usually denied high-profile, frequent-traveling pro wrestlers.
"I plan to watch Spurs games, come back here every week, go the mall, go the movies, go out to eat. Those are the types of things I've missed the past 14 years anyway."
In a forum and via e-mail, fans from around the country and across the globe wrote expressnews.com to offer their support for Michaels and inquire about his future plans.
Michaels and Vasquez sat down with expressnews.com Wednesday at Vasquez's office to talk about Michaels' recent back surgery and recovery, his plans for the future, and the wrestling profession as a whole. As a special treat, we've provided the full audio of the interview in RealAudio format. Click here to listen; if you need the free RealPlayer, click here to download. (My note click the link at the top of this article and that will take you to the page where you an see 3 nice pictures of HBK and this article, and where you can listen to the full interview)
Highlights of the interview:
•Contrary to what some fans have thought, or would like to think, Michaels is indeed fully and completely retired from wrestling. Doctors have told him he may never walk again if he decides to get back in the ring, and his quality of life is more important to him than his desire to compete. So again, Michaels will not bewrestling ever in the future.
•There is no firm timetable for when Michaels will return to TV in his role as commissioner. For at least the next few months, he will be relaxing and recuperating in San Antonio, so don't expect him back on "Monday Night RAW" for quite some time.
•Michaels is hard at work firming up the site and other plans for his local wrestling school, which he will operate with wrestling legend and personal mentor Jose Lothario. He says the school, which will train not only wrestlers but also managers, will open sometime around the beginning of April.
•Though he hasn't spoken to his former "Rockers" tag-team partner Marty Jannety in more than a year, Michaels said the two, despite a somewhat rocky parting, have mended fences and may keep in touch.
•Acting could certainly be in Michaels' future; he received script offers before his surgery and may yet end up in Hollywood.
When asked if he had anything he wanted to say to his fans in San Antonio and around the world, Michaels said:
"It's been very, very nice that so many people have written in, have sent stuff to WWF, have sent stuff to (expressnews.com), have sent stuff to my parents' house. It's nice to know that everything I did in the past 14 years 10 years in the WWF didn't fall on deaf ears or blind eyes as far as the fans were concerned.
"Within the inside of the wrestling business, the insiders can be a little cruel sometimes. But I always was concerned with what the wrestling fan thought. It's been very, very nice knowing that I was able to step out of this business, say goodbye to it, and know that people appreciate what I did and are really honestly going to miss me.
"I think it's important that they know I'm really going to miss performing for them because that's what drove me to get started in this business, that's what drove me to keep going when people told me I couldn't do things or shouldn't do things.
"And when people attacked me within the wrestling business, the wrestling fans were always there to support me, and that's nice. Because as long as I'm understood, and accepted, and cared for and loved and missed by them, that's more than enough for me.
"I just wanted to say say thanks to them, because it's been a wonderful career, I'm very, very happy for everything I've done, I'm very happy that people watched me and didn't care whether I was playing a good guy or a bad guy, or whatever personal decision they heard I made, or that I might not have made or that I made, that they stuck by me and supported me.
"That they're honestly and truly going to miss me, that's nice."
click here for Shawn Articles Part 3