Shawn Michaels Breaks His Back
Shawn Michaels had been a babyface and the most popular wrestler in the WWF for a few years. However, at SummerSlam 1997, he was the guest referee in a match between then World Champion, The Undertaker and Michaels’ hated rival, Bret Hart. During the match, Hart spat in Michaels’ face, and Michaels tried to hit Hart with a chair, but missed and hit The Undertaker in the head. Bret then pinned The Undertaker to win the World Title.
After this incident, Michaels’ popularity quickly faded and he joined with heels Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Chyna to form the faction, Degeneration X, also known as DX. Michaels would defeat Hart at The Survivor Series in an incident known as “The Montreal Screwjob”, which we’ll talk about later in this article.
At the Royal Rumble 1998, Michaels defended the World Title against The Undertaker, in a coffin match. The rules of the match were simple, the first man to put his opponent in the coffin and close the lid would win the match.
During the match, Michaels took a backdrop over the top rope and the small of his back would clip the corner of the coffin, which was at ringside. He finished the match with no problem. However, the next morning he was in so much pain, he said that he couldn’t even get out of bed. He herniated two discs, one of which was crushed completely.
He wrestled one more match at WrestleMania 14 when he lost the World Title to Steve Austin. Michaels ended up getting back surgery and retiring from wrestling. He would return four years later, in 2002 and go on to wrestle for another 8 more years. He’d lose a retirement match at WrestleMania 26 in 2010, ironically against the man he was in the ring with when he got hurt in the coffin match, The Undertaker.