Returning From His First Retirement
During the 1998 Royal Rumble, during a Casket Match against The Undertaker, HBK took a back body drop onto the outside of the ring. During the fall, he hit his lower back on the casket, herniating two discs and crushing another.
He went on to win the match but the injury saw him absent from No Way Out: In Your House before retiring after his WrestleMania XIV match with Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Michaels would make returns as an on-screen commissioner before disappearing to have back surgery. His returns would become more sporadic before handing off his role to Mick Foley and then returning as the special guest referee for Triple H vs The Rock at Judgement Day 2000.
Shawn Michaels would return to WWE TV as a member of the WWE’s NWO in 2002. When the group disbanded, he reunited with best friend Triple H on Raw, coming down to the ring in their DX get up and music, before going to perform their trademark “Suck it” and crotch chop taunt in unison.
Instead of performing the move, Triple H turned on HBK and delivered a pedigree, before attacking Michaels backstage and putting him through a car window in the coming weeks. The split saw the first battle lines drawn when HBK challenged Triple H to an unsanctioned match at SummerSlam, which was accepted.
The SummerSlam match was the first match for Michaels since his retirement and he hadn’t missed a step. Going onto Survivor Series to lift the World Heavyweight Championship from his nemesis in the first ever Elimination Chamber match, and putting on a fine performance during a Three Stages Of Hell match where he would drop the title at Armageddon.
Following his feud with Triple H, Michaels would go on to have classic matches with Chris Jericho and Kurt Angle, showing his career a second wind and proving to be a far cry from the damaged Michaels of 1998.
The fact that he had come back from such a career threatening condition and still be one of the better wrestlers on the roster went to show the natural wrestling ability and the heart that Michaels possessed, he retired an icon in 1998, but returned a legend in 2002.