During his time as the WWE Champion in 1996 and ’97, Shawn Michaels cultivated a negative relationship with talent, many viewing him as difficult to work with and running the show as champion. One of the talents who agrees with that sentiment would be the first-ever Intercontinental Champion, Ahmed Johnson.

As Johnson rose to the top of the WWE card in the mid-90s, many viewed him as a potential challenger to Michaels and someone the company could put the title on. But when the time came to have him fight for the belt against “The Heartbreak Kid,” plans suddenly changed.

“In the beginning, I really thought that he was behind me and going to give me this great push, but as I went on, I found out it wasn’t Vince that didn’t want to give me the world title, it was other wrestlers like Shawn Michaels,” Johnson stated while interviewing with Gregory Iron of Iron-On Wrestling. “They didn’t want to see me pushed that high. I don’t know [why], personal reasons? I was green, I’ll say that. I was still green and learning, but I think I was ready for the world title shot. Because Shawn had the belt and everything, he basically got to pick who he was going against, he was running the show back then and he was basically picking who was going against him.”

Johnson continued to make a very bold claim as to why “HBK” didn’t want him to be the World Champion.

“From my understanding, what I heard, he didn’t think it was time for a black man to be World’s Champion. I didn’t hear him say that when I was Intercontinental Champion and popping the house everywhere we went.”

At the time, Michaels was a member of the legendary wrestling group “The Kliq,” which featured Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, Sean Waltman, and Triple H. The group was rumored to have had a major influence on storylines and creative during that time, and of all the people “The Kliq” messed around with, Ahmed Johnson was not one of them.

“They didn’t mess with me for some reason,” Johnson said. “They probably did behind the scenes, like I told you. I didn’t become world champion because Shawn Michaels didn’t think I was ready for whatever reason, but they never messed with me. They never tried to ‘ha ha’ me, or bully me, or any of the things they did to other guys. They knew their place, and knew who to mess with and who not to mess with.”

If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Iron-On Wrestling with Gregory Iron with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.

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