If you think of some of the biggest stars in wrestling, two names that have to come to mind are The Rock and Shawn Michaels. Two incredible wrestlers in the ring with buckets of charisma, who have main evented multiple Wrestlemania’s and won countless WWE Championships.
However, you may find it curious to find out that The Rock vs Shawn Michaels never happened in the WWE. According to Cagematch, the pair have never even wrestled in the same match. Be it Royal Rumbles, Survivor Series matches or the occasional battle royal, Shawn Michaels has never stepped into the ring with The Rock.
It’s crazy. They were both two of the biggest stars during the Attitude Era. It was the most popular time in wrestling history and both men became known the world over, yet we never saw The Rock eating the Sweet Chin Music or Michaels laying down for the People’s Eblow.
There are a few reasons why Shawn Michaels vs The Rock never happened. Keep reading this article to find out why.
Why Did The Rock vs Shawn Michaels Never Happen?
The Rock never wrestled Shawn Michaels in the WWE due to a long-held grudge over the way The Rock was treated when he came into the WWE. The Great One debuted in the company at Survivor Series 1996 under the name Rocky Maivia, a tribute to his father (Rocky Johnson) and his Grandfather (“High Chief” Peter Maivia).
At this point, Shawn Michaels was at the top of his game. He won back-to-back Royal Rumble matches (1995 and 1996) and was a multi-time WWE Champion. The Rock was a young prospect who the crowds had come to hate as the Attitude Era changed the face of wrestling.
During this time, it has been alleged that Shawn Michaels tried to stall The Rock’s career and attempted to force WWE to end the push of the young star. With a big star telling the boss you aren’t good enough, The Rock was a marked man. An accusation like that could have tanked his career and sent him out the wrestling business. That is, if he didn’t have the talent of The Rock.
Bret Hart, who was always a big fan of The Rock and a rival to Shawn Michaels, revealed that The Rock was a “marked guy”, and how he and his brother Owen would go to bat for him when he had HBK going against him to Vince McMahon.
“A lot of the wrestlers would give him a hard time in those days, a really hard time, enough to try to break him and get him to quit and they almost succeeded. And I can remember going to bat for Dwayne quite a few times and kind of looking out for him, Owen too. I think Owen and I had a lot to do with sort of looking out for him when he first came down. [The Rock] was kind of a marked guy.” said Bret Hart.
In a segment on WWE Raw early on in The Rock’s career, Michaels landed a superkick on The Rock and caught him in the jaw. When HBK was told backstage that the superkick was too stiff, he responded by telling The Rock, “If you can’t handle it, you shouldn’t be in the business.”
That resulted in Rock pinning Michaels down to the ground, but the two were reportedly separated before things could further escalate. The fight was clearly brewing for a while, with Michaels angling to get the Samoan kicked out of the business in order to keep his spot in the main event of the WWE.
There was also said to be animosity between the two men before that, stemming back to The Rock’s childhood. When he was a young Dwayne Johnson, Shawn Michaels worked for his grandmother in Hawaii where they lived. Lia Maivia was the wife of the late Peter Maivia and took over the running of his promotion following his death.
Michaels came to work in Hawaii at some point in the 1980s. Known for his bad attitude back in the day (which he since apologised for after finding God), it is no great surprise that he rubbed people the wrong way. As the head of the Polynesian Pro Wrestling, Lia Maivia became one of the first female bookers in the country, and she would not take any shit from wrestlers, including Shawn Michaels.
The Rock was a teenager at the time of Shawn Michaels for the PPW. While it is unknown what exactly happened, it has been claimed that the Heart Break Kid said something disparaging towards The Rock’s Grandmother. With family being a big thing in Samoan culture (you can see examples of this in the TV series Young Rock), a young Dwayne Johnson took this to heart and remembered that moment.
While I’m sure the pair could have put their differences aside to work a big money match if they needed to, their paths never crossed really in WWE. While it took The Rock a few years to make his name, by 1998 Shawn Michaels was out of the business. He was forced to retire due to a back injury in 1998 and would not return to the company full-time until 2002.
By then, The Rock was winding down. He had already starred in The Scorpion King and was angling to make a splash in Hollywood. He still had a number of matches left to take, but elected not to face off with Michaels. HBK was locked in a feud with Triple H was the majority of the time in his early comeback, so there was really no chance for them to wrestle (even though The Rock didn’t want to).