He knew he wanted to become a professional wrestler at the age of twelve. Hickenbottom was already an athlete; his career began at the age of six when he started playing football.
Hickenbottom soon realized that college life was not for him. He then began pursuing a career in professional wrestling.
Shawn Michaels began his career in Texas. Trained by the legendary Jose' Lathario, Shawn Michaels wrestled in Kansas, where he met fellow wrestler, Marty Jannetty. A year later, after sending tapes of his matches to the major wrestling companies at the time, he was contacted by the AWA, who proposed that he team up with Marty Jannetty. Together, Michaels and Jannetty became known as the Midnight Rockers. The AWA had just recieved a TV deal with ESPN, which did wonders for his career. The Midnight Rockers had a major feud with "Playboy" Buddy Rose, and "Pretty Boy" Doug Somers. Their matches were considered bloodbathes at the time. Eventually the Midnight Rockers came out the victors and were the AWA World Tag Team Champions. The WWF (now WWE) noticed their efforts and signed them to a deal. Both Michaels and Jannetty were soon fired for a incident in a bar, which Michaels claims never happened. The duo went back to the AWA for a brief time. After a while, they contacted the WWF, who gave them a second chance and they returned in late 1988. They were known simply as The Rockers. The duo had a great influence on many of the present teams in wrestling. Their trademark was being tag team specialists and using great double team moves on their opponents.
They had major feuds with The Brain Busters, The Fabulous Rougeaus, The Hart Foundation, The Orient Express, and Power & Glory. At one point the Rockers won the WWF Tag Team Title by accident. They weren't actually supposed to beat the Hart Foundation, yet it happened. They were stripped of the tag team title which was returned to the Hart Foundation with the explanation that the ring ropes were loose which caused the match to go bad for both teams. Shortly after the Rockers were split apart and Shawn Michaels became a singles wrestler, after turning on his partner Marty Jannetty. In a related story, Michaels actually met with Vince McMahon to discuss his charactor. He told him he worked hard and would like to be pushed as a singles wrestler. He wanted to know what he had to do to convince Vince McMahon to do so. McMahon told him he just did it by coming to him. Michaels defeated Tito Santana in his first Wrestlemania as a singles wrestler. He was managed by Sherri Martel, who supposedly had a crush on him. In a major upset, Michaels defeated The British Bulldog on Saturday Night's Main Event. Michaels won the Intercontinental Title from the Bulldog. At the 1993 Royal Rumble, Michaels wrestled former partner Marty Jannetty with the Intercontinental Title on the line. The match became Pro Wrestling Illustrated's Match of the Year. Michaels won the bout.
The following year, Michaels wrestled Razor Ramon (Scott Hall, who is one of his best friends) in a ladder match. This match was voted by Pro Wrestling Illustrated as the Match of the Year, and became one of the innovating matches of the last decade. In 1995, Michaels was again voted in match of the year by wrestling another great friend, Diesel (Kevin Nash) at Wrestlemania 11. Michaels won both the 1995 and 1996 Royal Rumbles, and again was in match of the year when in 1996 he wrestled Bret Hart at Wrestlemania 12 in a one hour Iron Man Match. Michaels was involved in the big Montreal Screwjob on Bret Hart, that Vince McMahon was behind. The match was stopped and awarded to Shawn Michaels because Vince McMahon was worried that Hart would refuse to lose and take the WWF Title Belt to WCW Nitro. This severed a friendship between Michaels and Hart. Michaels originally denied knowing about it in advance. Later on he admitted he knew but wouldn't refuse to do what Vince McMahon wanted him to, since Vince McMahon made his career. Michaels innovated another match against the Undertaker, when he wrestled him in a Hell in the Cell Match. After Wrestlemania 14, Michaels didn't wrestle for 4 years due to a back injury, but maintained an on air role on occasion. During his time off, Michaels became a father, and also became a Christian. At Summerslam 2002, Michaels returned to the ring to face his friend Triple H. The two had a great feud, and Michaels who didn't think he could wrestle as well as he used to, dazzled the audience. He wasn't sure if he would be able to continue his normal wrestling schedule due to the nagging injuries, but since then, he has been going strong. He won the Raw Heavyweight Title from Triple H, which he held for 2 months. Michaels had a great match at Wrestlemania 19 with Chris Jericho, which he won. Currently, Michaels can be seen on Monday Night Raw.
Among other accolades, Hickenbottom is a four-time world champion: a three-time WWF Champion and a former World Heavyweight Champion. He was also the winner of the 1995 and 1996 Royal Rumbles and was the company's first Grand Slam Champion. He has also won the PWI Match of the Year Award a record eleven times. Hickenbottom currently resides in San Antonio, Texas with his wife, Rebecca, and their two children.