With Shawn Michaels being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this weekend, I thought we’d take a trip back in the way back machine and tackle something I’ve been wondering as of late…was I the first person to do a shoot (i.e. out of character) interview with him?
Let me take you back to the turn of the century, March of 2000. You see, long before I was spitting hot fire on politics, I was writing aboot professional wrestling for a site called ScoopsWrestling.com, under the awesomely awesome moniker of “Freakboy.” My first assignment – interviewing the lead singer of Korn at an independent show in Los Angeles run by a porn company – didn’t work out as well as I had hoped, and I needed something big to make up for it.
This was a few years after Shawn Michaels had retired the first time, and had started the Texas Wrestling Alliance. Four of his trainees had just signed deals with the WWF (one of whom wrestles today as Daniel Bryan) and I said to myself, “Self, you have an expense account at a dotcom that is aboot to go public. Why not fly to San Antonio and interview HBK?”
(Point of information: The dotcom in question – let’s call it HamSandwich.com – actually went public while I was in Texas for $18 a share. By December of that year…$.18 a share).
I found the e-mail address of the DJ from the local rock radio station who was handling TWA’s press and made the request. He said yes. I was actually flying to Texas to interview the closest thing I’ve ever had to a “boyhood hero.” Deep down, I was expecting to get screwed again. Getting to my hotel after midnight and having my press kit with a note that said “meet me by the mechanical bull” didn’t help matters.
The date is March 14, 2000. After wasting some time at the mall and finding a liquor store for a bottle of green label Jack Daniels (it wasn’t available in NY), I made my way to the Wild West Nightclub. I watched the show, met by the mechanical bull as instructed, and was let to the bar upstairs where…holy shit, that’s actually Shawn Michaels!
My first bit of nerves were gone…this is actually happening. Then I got to focus on the other nerves. Everything I’ve ever read aboot this guy behind the scenes was that he was, for lack of a better term, an asshole. I didn’t want to be the guy who asked the question that cause Michaels to wild out and ruin it for anyone else who ever tried interviewing him.
Instead, it was the exact opposite. He was the nicest guy to talk to, and to this day was the best interview I’ve ever done. After we all had our turn (there were three of us, but I was first) he even sat around for a little bit shooting the shit with us…which was weird. Here was a guy I’ve been watching in Marathon Matches and Hell in the Cell’s for (at the time) fifteen years and I was having a conversation with him not as a fan, but kind of like a colleague.
So that’s my story, the day I met Shawn Michaels. As for my place in wrestling history…”shoot” interviews weren’t as big back then when neither the WWF or WCW wanted us to talk to so much as the ring crew. Why I think I could be the first was a) it was shortly after his first retirement, and b) the “big reporters” at the time were the one’s who kept reporting aboot what he was like backstage.
March 14, 2000 was the night of the interview, and it was posted on the website the morning after. Does anyone know of one earlier?