A Moment in Time: The Night Shawn Michaels Lost His Smile

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Brian Damage

“Over the last few months, Ive lost a lot of things and one of the things Ive lost is my smile, and I know it doesnt mean a lot to everyone else, but it means a lot to me and I have to go and fix myself and take care of myself and find my smile because somewhere along the lines I lost it and i dont care if its unpopular and people want to make fun of me because Im an emotional guy.”

February 13th, 1997…the then reigning WWF champion “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels is introduced to the ring by Vince McMahon. Shawn then drops a “bombshell” that he is seriously injured and may never wrestler again. He proceeds to hand over his title to then WWF President Gorilla Monsoon and says he lost his smile. He thanks the fans…hugs Vince…hugs Gorilla and walks out. The TV cameras show several of his female fans in the audience visibly shocked and shaken by his announcement. Jim Ross says that in the 25 years of being in the wrestling business…he never felt such a pain in his gut like tonight.

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That was just one side of the story…of course there are always two sides to every one. The other side has this beginning in 1996. The WWF had pumped a lot of money into the Shawn Michaels machine. The problem was he wasn’t the most profitable of world champions. The thought process was to have HBK lose the WWF title at Survivor Series to Sycho Sid and regain it a few months later at the Royal Rumble to be held in Shawn’s hometown of San Antonio, Texas.

The plan went into motion and Sid did indeed defeat HBK at the Survivor Series. The only issue, Sid was getting cheered and loudly. Apparently, Sid was becoming a very popular choice as WWF champion. So much so, he was seemingly outdrawing on house shows as champion more than HBK did.

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The WWF could have easily turned around and kept the belt on Sycho Sid, but Vince McMahon stuck with the plan to have a title switch in their rematch at the Royal Rumble in ’97. Perhaps, out of loyalty to Shawn or perhaps not wanting to deal with a possible meltdown from HBK. Either way, the title switch happened at the Rumble. Vince still had a plan he wanted to implement for Wrestlemania 13…have Shawn Michaels lose his title to Bret Hart. Bret suggested instead of pinning HBK or making him submit…Shawn would have his leg broken by the sharp shooter and have the referee stop the match awarding Bret Hart the title.

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Sounded like a good move, only Shawn Michaels wasn’t having any of it. He wasn’t willing to drop the belt again so quickly…especially to a bitter rival in Bret Hart. Instead, Shawn went to McMahon and complained about his knee. Vince sent him to a doctor who was not as familiar with pro wrestlers and their bodies. The doctor told him to never wrestle again. It was apparently his escape out of dropping the belt to Bret. Those are the two sides of the story…somewhere in between I’m sure is the real truth.

Keep in mind though, this wasn’t the first time Shawn pulled a stunt like this. Back in 1995, when he was the Intercontinental champion…he refused to drop the belt to Shane Douglas. So instead of losing the belt, Michaels surrendered it after apparently being jumped by several Marines at a bar. Shawn then claimed he was in no condition to defend his IC title and simply handed it over to Shane Douglas…who proceeded to immediately lose it to HBK’s good friend…Scott “Razor Ramon” Hall.

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Regardless of who you completely believe…HBK has always been partly remembered for that infamous “Lost His Smile Speech.”

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2 thoughts on “A Moment in Time: The Night Shawn Michaels Lost His Smile

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