Revered by his fans and his peers in equal measure, Shawn Michaels is one of the most iconic WWE Superstars of all time.
A former four-time world champion, Michaels wowed crowds worldwide with his inimitable style over the course of a 22-year career — earning the nicknames “The Showstopper” and “Mr WrestleMania” — before entering the WWE Hall of Fame in 2011.
Having wrestled on the first episode of WWE Raw, Michaels is uniquely placed to reflect on its past 25 years.
Ahead of Raw 25 (2pm NZDT January 23, The Box), Michaels spoke to NZPWI about where Raw’s been, where it’s headed, and his latest venture into making movies with The Marine 6.
David Dunn: There have been a number of WWE television programmes over the years, but not all of them can make it to 25 years. What is it about WWE Raw, you think, that gives it its longevity?
Shawn Michaels: Well, you know what? I honestly sort of believe it’s the live feel. You still, you know, are always running that risk of it not going the way that one plans or hopes it will. There’s still a question mark there when you’re doing it live and I think that adds something that you just can’t, you can’t duplicate. There’s always the opportunity or the possibility of something going amiss, so to speak, whether it be verbally, physically, whatever, and you just you can’t – you can’t script everything. And you just think about all the things that have happened over the years good, bad and otherwise – and again I’m not, y’know, I don’t want to encourage anything bad ever happening but when it’s live you just don’t know. And we’ve had so many of those type of moments over the years that you just keep that – I think that’s gotta be the one thing, is that you still, you can be 99.9 percent sure that we’ve got everything covered and you still just don’t know because life or something can change in an instant and if it happens during that two- or now three hours it’s going to be caught on camera, and that I think is something you just can’t deny – there’s nothing more real, so to speak, than that. That’s why almost nobody does live television, because of that risk.
Over the years Raw has evolved: started out at one hour in the smaller buildings, now it’s a three-hour live spectacular show not uncommon to see 15,000-people-plus in attendance. If you look to the future, following those trends – hypothetically let’s say Raw 50, another 25 years from now, what do you think the product would look like then? What do you think is in the future for WWE Raw?
Oh my goodness [laughs] that’s a good question as well. Gosh, my goodness, if it continues at this rate it could be a 24 hour [laughs] on Monday it’s a non-stop loop of WWE for all I know. You know what? I don’t know. That’s a great question because you always feel like a natural… I don’t know, your natural instinct is to say there’s gotta be a ceiling, right? That certainly would be what I would say, certainly the natural… but every time I think that, someone comes up with something to make it bigger and more amazing. And I gotta tell ya, that’s something I really probably couldn’t answer for you because there’s so many different people with so much more knowledge about production.
I think a lot of it will have to do with the evolution of television. I think that sometimes guides and steers where Raw goes even though nine times out of 10 WWE is on the cutting-edge of doing that. I think it all depends on what people see as the vision and the future for television as we move forward. But one thing I feel we can be pretty sure of is that it will be the WWE and the folks on Monday Night Raw being the ones to step out there and try it first. Again, you don’t always hit a home-run, but I’ve always been sorta proud of the fact that win, lose or draw we’re almost always the guys that get out there and take the risk. And I think that’s a testament to WWE, and also I think it’s a testament to even our fanbase because I think there’s a part of ‘em that even though they may, ‘Oh my goodness, I can’t believe you did that’ and, ‘That was really a bad move’ or whatever I think they also appreciate the fact and that’s why they stick with us and why they’re so loyal to WWE and our programming is because they see that we are the ones at least getting out of our comfort zone and taking a chance.
Finally from me, I believe you’ve recently finished filming on The Marine 6, and I know you were involved with another film, The Resurrection of Gavin Stone. Are motion pictures something that you’d like to move into more in this stage of your career?
Well, certainly if people give me the opportunity. I have to tell ya I thoroughly enjoyed doing it. It’s been a complete blast learning a new trade, so to speak, and certainly understanding all the different nuances of acting and, and doing the best I can to draw from the comparison that might be similar to our line of work. But there also are a lot of big things that are very different and I very much enjoyed learning that process. So if it’s something that I get the opportunity to do I would certainly jump on the chance because it really is a really fascinating thing to be a part of. But as you know, that line of work, you can want to work all you want but if nobody wants you to work it doesn’t matter [laughs] how much you may wanna do it if people don’t want you it’s sorta their call. So if those opportunities come up I certainly are going to take the opportunity to do it, that’s for sure.
WWE Raw 25 airs live Tuesday, January 23, from 2pm NZDT on The Box.