On the inaugural episode of WWE Network's Something Else To Wrestle With Bruce Prichard, long-time WWE producer Bruce Prichard weighed in on WWE Hall Of Famer Shawn Michaels in-and-around WrestleMania 14. Prichard talked about whether people believed Michaels back injury was real, how difficult Michaels was to work with at the time, whether The Undertaker really tried to intimidate Michaels into doing business the right way at WrestleMania 14, Michaels storming the post-WrestleMania press conference, and the relationship between Michaels and WWE Chairman Vince McMahon.
Apparently, there were more skeptics about Michaels' career-threatening back injury than believers behind-the-scenes.
"There were definitely grumblings and I would venture to say that there were far more skeptics than there were sympathetic ears at this point because of the timing and the fact that a year [before], his knee was injured and while talking about dropping the title due to a knee injury, he brings up losing his smile." Prichard continued, "so I guess it was 'suspect at best' as my friend, J.R., would say. People doubted it. People didn't know if it was legitimate, which, by the way, it was a legitimate injury and it was a very bad injury. The timing of it though, didn't help. And it certainly didn't help that, Shawn being Shawn, wasn't talking to a lot of people and I think that he didn't allow anyone to feel sorry for him, really."
During the show, Prichard rated Michaels a 9.5/10 in terms of being difficult to work with at the time of WrestleMania 14. Prichard mentioned that 'HBK' made many demands around WrestleMania 14, including around-the-clock security, which he received.
"At this time, during this whole run, earlier, you could deal with people who were assholes and people who were difficult because you knew what you got and how to deal with them. You can figure all that out. That's not that difficult. Shawn, at this point, going into WrestleMania, and probably from January on, the injury on, he was a good 9.5 to deal with. Yeah, he was there." Prichard recalled, "Shawn had made a lot of demands. Shawn wanted security when he arrived in Boston. And he felt that the unruliness of the fans at the [public] workout [where Michaels was struck by a battery] and in general he had a lot of heat on him in general. Steve [Austin] was so red-hot as a babyface that Shawn wanted protection 24/7, and he got it, and we got it for him. We had the police escort him everywhere that he went leading up to WrestleMania and all the way till WrestleMania and after, so that's the reality and that's something that we did do."
Also during the podcast, Prichard confirmed that The Undertaker wrapped his fists during Michaels' entrance to intimidate 'The Kliq Magnate'.
"Undertaker was seated directly in front of me and he sat there and wrapped his hands as Shawn Michaels made his way to the ring." Prichard admitted, "and there was a subliminal message there, 'I'm going to be right here when you come back to make sure you do business'. That was the message. That was the message the entire locker room took and that did happen. And Undertaker was sitting right in front of gorilla [position]. He didn't say anything to Shawn, nothing. But Undertaker had just finished his match, sat there and just wrapped his hands."
At the post-WrestleMania 14 press conference, there was an attempt by Michaels to interrupt the proceedings, as he thought he should have been at the press conference and should have been the "center of attention".
"Shawn felt that he should have been at the press conference and that he should have been there and that everybody should be talking about him instead of talking about Steve and [Mike] Tyson, which is not the case." Prichard said, "if you go back to things we had done in the past and it was all about Shawn, nobody else was there. And I think it was just a case of Shawn feeling sorry for himself, at that point, and wanting to be the center of attention. 'Hey, don't forget about me.'"
With respect to the relationship between McMahon and Michaels, Prichard claimed that McMahon looked at Michaels as a son and loved him. Prichard went on to note that McMahon would never forget that Michaels had a hand in the Montreal Screwjob.
"Vince has a special place in his heart for Shawn and he does appreciate everything that Shawn did for the company." Prichard added, "I think Vince looked at Shawn kind of like a father-son and he loved Shawn. It was a love-hate relationship early on, but Shawn always stood up to Vince and told him what was on his mind. And this was an opportunity to give back, I guess you could say. But Vince always looked at Shawn kind of like a son and he loved him. Shawn was the guy who did the Montreal Screwjob and Vince always, or will never ever forget that, and he appreciated Shawn's work ethic and he appreciated Shawn Michaels the human being. So there was just a lot of love there. But like any relationship, especially fathers and sons, you want to strangle them, but for the most part there was a lot of respect and a lot of love there."
Doot, doot, doot. If you use any of the quotes from this article, please credit Something Else To Wrestle With Bruce Prichard with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.