Michael Shawn Hickenbottom (born July 22, 1965), better known by his ring name Shawn Michaels, is a retired professional wrestler, and an American television host. He is currently signed to WWE, where he has served as an ambassador for the company since December 2010. Hickenbottom consistently wrestled for WWE, formerly the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), from 1988 until his first retirement in 1998, due to injury. He appeared in non-wrestling roles from 1998 to 2000, and resumed his in-ring career in 2002, retiring in 2010. In the WWF/WWE, Hickenbottom headlined pay-per-view events in each decade from the 1980s to the 2010s. In addition to appearances for WWE, he hosts the show MacMillan River Adventures, airing on the Outdoor Channel.
Hickenbottom began his wrestling career with Mid-South Wrestling, now known as Universal Wrestling Federation, and American Wrestling Association (AWA). During his time with AWA, he performed in partnership with Marty Jannetty, as The Midnight Rockers; winning the AWA World Tag Team Championship twice. Hickenbottom and Jannetty briefly signed with World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in 1987, while in contract with AWA. They returned to AWA, only to go back to the WWF in 1988.
Hickenbottom later worked as a singles performer, taking on a new persona of "The Heartbreak Kid" and, first as a villain and later as a fan favorite, became one of the industry's most prominent stars. He wielded considerable influence on booking decisions as the leader of The Kliq, a backstage group, which however fell apart in 1996. The following year, he teamed up with Hunter Hearst Hemsley, who often was referred to as Triple H (HHH), Chyna, and Rick Rude to form D-Generation X (DX). This group of wrestlers was known for their sophomoric crude humor. That same year, Hickenbottom took part in one of the most controversial matches in wrestling history, dubbed as the "Montreal Screwjob." After a back injury forced him to retire following his WWF Championship loss at WrestleMania XIV, Hickenbottom opened a wrestling academy, called The Shawn Michaels Wrestling Academy, in which he trained upcoming wrestlers. He made his in-ring return at SummerSlam in 2002. In 2006, Hickenbottom and Triple H briefly reformed DX, but after an injury that Triple H sustained, Hickenbottom returned to singles wrestling. Although as of 2009, the duo reunited as a tag team once more, with the two capturing the Unified WWE Tag Team Championship. At WrestleMania XXVI, Hickenbottom was forced to retire from in-ring competition when he lost a career-threatening match. In December 2010, he signed a long-term deal with WWE, making his first live appearance at a WWE show since WrestleMania later that month. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2011. Following his induction, WWE said of Michaels, "Ask any Superstar on the WWE roster who the most gifted sports-entertainer of all time is and nearly everyone will have the same answer — Shawn Michaels."
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.