Jim Ross spoke on the latest episode of the Grilling JR Podcast about Shawn Michaels during the late ’90s and the issues he had during that period. The AEW Commentator said a lot of people backstage in WWE at the time would always make excuses for Michaels given his in-ring ability.
“Shawn was in a tough time,” Ross said. “We all started making excuses for him, ‘well it’s this, he was on too much medication, he was drinking too much, he was influenced by the wrong people.’ Somewhere along the way, we had to stop and look in the mirror. Shawns made great life changes since that time by 180 degrees which is wonderful, but he was not so easy to be around. He was just so freakin good, he was in that Flair conversation when you say ‘Who’s the best two workers you ever saw?’ Shawn at that time was as good as anybody who laced boots and used that cachet to his advantage.”
Ross continued to talk about Michaels and his issues with Vader during their match at SummerSlam 1996. During the match, HBK yelled at Vader to move out of the way during a spot. The problems during the match reportedly led to issues during Vader’s time with WWE because Vince McMahon took Shawn’s side during the argument. JR recalled the reaction backstage on that night.
“Well, nothing good,” Ross said. “You don’t have to use your cool like that, Shawn had the license to lose his cool because of his influence with the office and Shawn knew that Vince was going to back him no matter what he did. Shawn overplayed his hand in my estimation, it was very unprofessional and he’s just lucky Vader didn’t beat the sh** out of him because Leon could have. Leon was hungry, Leon wanted the opportunity, he needed an American base and now he’s in the main event of a major pay-per-view wrestling for the biggest title we have. Leon had traveled a lot of miles, had lost weight and showed a better commitment to what he was doing.
“I just thought it was totally uncalled for, Shawn had the deck stacked cause he had Vince in his back pocket. Vince often told me ‘You know that goddamn Shawn Michaels reminds me of me when I was younger.’ Did you do a lot of super kicks when you were younger Vince? But he was talking about Shawn’s attitude, demeanor, that type thing. It wasn’t good and the damn match got four stars and could’ve been five stars if some of that childish bulls*** didn’t happen.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Grilling JR with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.