In 1998, The Show Stopper, The Main Event, The Man, The Icon…The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels looked all but done in his pro wrestling career. A serious back injury he received in the beginning of the year had caught up to him and after Wrestlemania 14…Michaels called it a career.
Thinking his career was all but done…a year after his retirement in April of 1999…Shawn Michaels made the decision to open his own wrestling school. Love him or hate him…Shawn was one of the most dynamic in ring performers of his era. It only seemed natural for him to pass his years of experience on to a whole new generation of young wrestling hopefuls. The Shawn Michaels Wrestling Academy opened its doors for business with Shawn leading the way.
He wasn’t alone in his new endeavor…Michaels brought in Rudy Boy Gonzalez and Jose Lothario as partners.
Rudy Boy Gonzalez
Gonzalez wrestled in the territories in the 1980’s as well as Mexico. He was trained by ‘The Raging Bull’ Manny Fernandez. Rudy Boy also competed briefly in the WWF as enhancement talent.
Jose Lothario was another wrestler who competed in the old territories in the 70’s and 80’s. He is also the man who trained Shawn Michaels to become a professional wrestler.
Shoichi Funaki wrestled all over the world..but is best known as a member of Kaientai in the WWE. Funaki who was close friends with Michaels..became one of his head trainers at the academy.
According to trainees, the sessions were rigorous with training ranging from 3 days a week to 6 days a week. It would last from 9 in the morning to 12 in the afternoon. Shawn Michaels kept a close eye on all the trainees development and even participated in some in ring bumps.
Along with his school…Michaels formed the Texas Wrestling Alliance…a small promotion for his students to further hone their craft in front of a live audience. They even had a TV deal with TWA airing on KENS channel 5 in San Antonio, Texas called “Total Impact.” The show was hosted by Kevin Vargas and HBK himself…
Not only were HBK’s students learning their craft…they also had an almost direct pipeline to the WWE. With Michaels in good standing with the company…many of his students got signed to developmental deals. Once graduated from the Academy, wrestlers would receive a certificate that looked like this….
This certificate belongs to a wrestler named Jason Spearry who still wrestles n the independent scene as Jayden Draigo.
Looking back at some of his alumni….the Shawn Michaels wrestling Academy churned out some pretty impressive talent in its brief period of existence. Some made careers in the independents and Japan…while others also went on to the WWE with great success. Guys like Shawn Hernandez (a former TNA tag team champion) also wrestles for Lucha Underground…Matt Bentley (cousin of Shawn Michaels) and a former 2 time TNA X Division champion…Masada (wrestled for various indie groups like CZW and IWA Mid South) he also wrestled for Ring of Honor as well as tryouts with both TNA and the WWE.
Then there are those other students of his that did okay…I guess. 😉
A 3 time co holder of the WWE World tag team titles with Trevor Murdoch (A Harley Race trainee)
Brian “Spanky” Kendrick and Paul London
The two former HBK trainees together won WWE tag team titles twice as well as London winning the tag titles with Billy Kidman and a Cruiserweight title reign. Brian Kendrick briefly “won” the WWE title in a Scramble match…but it is not officially recognized by the company.
Separately, in the independents…both London and Kendrick won several titles and other accomplishments.
As the American Dragon…Bryan Danielson earned a pristine reputation all over the globe. His biggest success was not only making it to the WWE…but becoming a huge star for the promotion…winning both the the WWE World and WWE heavyweight titles and main eventing Wrestlemania 30.
In 2001, after making the decision to return to the WWE…Shawn Michaels relinquished all control of his school and handed it over to Rudy Boy Gonzalez. Gonzalez would rename the school the Texas Wrestling Academy and is still successfully in operation today. We still can’t help to look back at the job HBK did in his brief time as a teacher and marvel at the tremendous success of his former students.