When you ask who was the greatest WWE Champion of all time, a litany of wrestlers and fans (including Ric Flair) would say Shawn Michaels.
The Heart Break Kid won multiple WWE Championships and Royal Rumbles in his career and had such a fantastic career that earned him not one, but two, WWE Hall of Fame inductions.
Being christened “Mr Wrestlemania”, Michaels ability to put on a fantastic performance in big matches make him one of the most invaluable assets a booker can have. Even with his horrible attitude and drug issues (which both mellowed after his 2002 return) he was an instant top star and one of the biggest wrestlers on the planet.
He retired in the late 1990s, quitting wrestling to train the next generation including Bryan Danielson, but returned in 2002 to have a run that rivalled his first in terms of moments and match quality.
However, one thing that eluded him in his second run was the WWE Championship. While he was a top star, there was a good reason why Shawn Michaels was not WWE Champion, especially during his feud with John Cena in 2007…
Shawn Michaels WWE Champion
There have been many rumours about why Shawn Michaels, despite being a top star in WWE from his return in WWE to his retirement in 2010, never won the WWE Championship. While the most commonly accepted one is that he simply didn’t want the schedule a WWE Champion is forced to do, the truth is actually different.
All of his WWE Champion runs were before his first retirement and his only Championship wins after his return were a solitary World Heavyweight Championship reign and World Tag Team Championship runs with John Cena and Triple H.
As it turns out, it was former partner and rival John Cena who was the reason why Shawn Michaels was not WWE Champion after his first retirement.
At least that is if you believe former WWE referee Mike Chioda. Mike Chioda told Lucha Libre Online that due to John Cena’s popularity and incredible merchandise sales, Shawn Michaels never beat him to become WWE Champion.
Chioda also noted that Michaels didn’t want to travel as much anymore which could have been a fixture in Vince McMahon’s hesitancy to give him the belt.
“To me, John Cena, and Shawn Michaels is phenomenal, don’t get me wrong, but that time John Cena was on top for quite some time and busted his ass for the company and stuff like that.“
“So, was I surprised they didn’t give it back to Shawn? Shawn’s not going to run around for another year or six months with the title, I don’t think he wanted to travel that much anymore at that time, you know?“
“So it had to stay on John Cena, because he was the number one selling merch, they pushed his merch tremendously. The company was making money. You’ve got to go with… who’s the guy that’s making you money from merch, and stuff like that, down the line. You know what I’m saying? It’s a decision that comes from the top, from Cesar, Vince.”
Shawn Michaels did challenge for the WWE Championship multiple times. He main evented Wrestlemania 23 in a fantastic match against John Cena, although Cena won the match by submission to stay as the WWE Champion.
With the Heart Break Kid already coming out of retirement in a disastrous match in Saudi Arabia, him coming out of retirement for one more run seems as unlikely as anything at the moment.
Would you have liked to see Shawn Michaels as WWE Champion in 2007? Let us know in the comments or click below to read more
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.