One of the most bizarre rumours that came about in the Attitude Era was surrounding former WWE Champion Shawn Michaels. The Heartbreak Kid was the top star in the company in 1996 and beloved by the fans, especially after winning his second consecutive Royal Rumble match that year.
Backstage he was known as being difficult to work with and his drug issues were becoming more and more apparent as each day went on. He politiced his way to the top of card, dashing the main event of dreams of many wrestlers, including The British Bulldog (whom Michaels screwed out of a big win in his hometown in 1997 out of pettiness) and his bad-faith rivalry with Bret Hart caused one of the most significant and controversial moments in WWE history – the Montreal Screwjob.
However, fans saw nothing wrong with Shawn Michaels. He was beloved to the paying crowd, getting the largest cheers of the night of a regular basis. He made up for his backstage presence by his incredible skills in-ring – his fast paced yet psychology-filled style wowed the crowd, who had never seen anything like it before.
He is considered by many – including Ric Flair – to be the greatest wrestler of all time and achieved not one, but two WWE Hall of Fame inductions because of it. However, this could be argued to not been the greatest reward bestowed upon him. Instead that honour can be to a large inheritance left to be him one fan whom the Showstopper had actually never met.
It was reported by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter on Jan 15th, 1996 that Shawn Michaels had been gifted a $2.5 million sum by a WWE fan who had passed away. This seemed like a huge mistake by whoever reported it, especially given the report that Michaels had never even met the fan.
However, it was later confirmed by Dave Meltzer, the head writer at the Wrestling Observer. He confirmed that the details of the report by Jim Shyman were true, and that Michaels had been left the huge sum by an unnamed fan. He also confirmed that HBK did not actually know the fan and was as shocked as anybody else when he got the news about his inheritance.
He had tried to keep the news quiet. However, it begun to be reported in later 1995 and truly broke in 1996. Michaels had been asked about the rumours during a press conference in Fresno, but stormed out of the place after refusing to answer the question. He also warned the press to never ask him that question again – his controversial reaction to the question giving legitimacy to the truth of the rumours
The Jan 15th, 1996 Wrestling Observer Newsletter wrote:
“It was reported a few weeks back on the Jim Shyman 900 line that Shawn Michaels inherited $2.5 million from a wrestling fan that he didn’t know that just passed away. This is a true story. It happened a few months back and word just got out. Michaels had attempted to keep it quiet. At the Michaels press conference in Fresno, he was asked about this and got really mad and said “No comment” and said not to ever bring the subject up again. Michaels still wants to continue wrestling although he’s probably moving into a bigger house.”
Shawn Michaels has yet to further comment on the allegations that he inherited $2.5 million dollars from a fan in 1996.