Very few performers in the business today have the ability to single-handedly affect the quality of a pro wrestling show and the quality of a pro wrestling company.
Shawn Michaels is one of them, and he looks to be out of action for the next few months.
Reports have surfaced that Michaels, who has not appeared on WWE television since his Wrestlemania 25 match against The Undertaker three weeks ago, is taking some time off.
The hiatus should allow Michaels to deal with nagging knee ailments that he's worked through for the past few years. It also will provide much-deserved time at home with his wife of 10 years and his two children (ages 4 and 9), and allow him to pursue an expanded role in activities at the church where the born-again Michaels serves as a Bible teacher in his hometown of San Antonio.
Michaels, 43, has been a major factor in WWE business over the past two years. His matches at the last two Wrestlemanias (against Ric Flair in 2008 and The Undertaker in 2009) were the highlights of the annual extravaganza, and his heralded feud with Chris Jericho in 2008 was considered by many to be the year's finest.
Much like Flair was the go-to guy for WCW during the '90s, Michaels has capably filled that same role for WWE during the past decade, never failing to provide that special moment and special match on high-profile shows.
The four-time WWE world champion made nothing short of a miraculous return to the ring in 2003, five years after suffering a back injury so severe that at one point he couldn't even walk. The injury required spinal-fusion surgery that doctors told him would end his career.
Michaels, though, surprised the medical community and his wrestling colleagues when he came back with a vengeance.
"I'm thankful to be doing it. I wouldn't continue to do it if I didn't feel I was good at it," Michaels said in a 2006 interview. "And if it starts to suffer, I will step away. The only reason I decided to continue and take on a full schedule is because I felt I could still be good at my job. But then again, I'm as surprised as the next guy, and I thank the good Lord for that."
- "Queen" Debra Marshall, ex-wife of former Chicago Bears football star Steve "Mongo" McMichael and WWE Hall of Famer Steve Austin, is lobbying for a job with TNA.
Marshall's agent has requested that fans e-mail the company in hopes of reuniting her with Jeff Jarrett.
The former WWE diva recently told her hometown Tuscaloosa News that her three-year marriage to Austin, whom she divorced in 2003, was as violent as the action the ring.
"I had this dream life where I was married to 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin, I'm the top girl in wrestling, I live in this big old, $1.5 million home and it's happening to me," she said. "It was like the third time he hit me and I got really tired of trying to cover up my face on TV and just said, 'You do it one more time, that's it.'"
She said she had been warned by many, including her sister, to get help.
"Debra, why don't you just go ahead and start planning your funeral because I won't be in any shape to plan it," she recalls her sister telling her. "So then I had to take charge of my own life."
She also claimed that steroids played a part in the domestic abuse in her case as well as the murder-suicide of Chris Benoit and his family in 2007.
"Steve would have it, and they could be so normal acting and then this rage would come out, and then you're dealing with this person who, there's no reasoning with this person," she said. "That just broke my heart."
"It's really hard, because people go, 'How can a woman stay with a man and they do that to you?'" she said. "But they break down your self-esteem, you have a fear in you, you have a hope, which sounds crazy, that they'll turn back around and be nice again. It's all this vicious cycle and it happens gradually and people don't even know it's happening to you because of all these factors pulling together."
- Whatever happened to Charlie Minn?
Who, you might ask, is Charlie Minn?
Minn had a cup of coffee in WWE (World Wrestling Federation at the time) back in 1994 as an announcer but didn't make it past his six-month probation period. Now, 15 years later, Minn would like a chance to redeem himself and prove that he could be a valuable addition to the WWE announce team.
"I would love to return to the WWE. I feel that I have a story to tell," he says.
Minn, who hosted the company's Action Zone show and did Live Events News, has worked as a sportscaster for the past 10 years. Among his stops were the New York-based NewSport cable show and TV stations in Cleveland, Hartford, Conn., Portland, Ore., Fresno, Calif. and Providence, R.I.
Nothing, he says, provides the excitement and challenge that working in a high-energy atmosphere such as WWE does.
"Local news is boring. The people who run local news need to lighten up and loosen their neckties," says Minn. "Management doesn't encourage you to be different or creative. Vince (McMahon) does. That's why I'd love to come back."
Minn praises the WWE owner for his willingness to take risks.
"Vince isn't afraid to try something new. He owns the product and isn't afraid to fail. That's admirable."
Minn, 39, who is of Korean descent, feels he could have an impact on an emerging audience and market for WWE.
"The fact that WWE is global ... just having an Asian announcer now would be more visible than 15 years ago. I was just a kid, a few years out of college, 15 years ago. I'm still young and feel I could go back and do a good job. People say you're in your prime in your 40s as an on-air person.
"I don't know if they've ever had another Asian announcer. Most of Vince's Asian talents have been managers and performers. Wrestling is popular in Asia. With the Internet, the reach and visibility would be tremendous if he decided to go back in my direction," says Minn.
"If you're Asian and you're on the air, it's a rallying cry for Asian people because they're so underrepresented in the business. I've been very popular with the Asian audience in every city I've worked in."
Minn came on board during a crucial stage in the company's history. McMahon was coming off a highly publicized steroid trial in which he was acquitted, and the company was in transition.
"Vince had just gotten off his steroid trial. He was more open than ever to try something new. It was called the 'New Generation,' and he was trying to repair his image in the media," recalls Minn.
But the announcer was young and relatively inexperienced.
"I didn't handle things as well as I should have ... I know it would be different if I went back there with what I know now. I was very, very young when I first went there. I went in somewhat as a fan. That might have not been the best mindset. But all that's water under the bridge now."
Minn says he thinks things would be different if he had another chance to prove himself.
"I think things would be different a second time around. It would create a lot of attention," he says. "I don't know if Vince has ever brought an announcer back. I always wanted to come back one day only because of Vince's creative vision. I was turned off, bored and disappointed by the local news angle where local news is so stale. But Vince gets it."
Minn says one of his major regrets was not getting the chance to work with McMahon and learn from him.
"I wish I would have worked with him closer. I worked with (executive producer) Kevin Dunn. Vince was very nice and very approachable. I think Vince, as CEO, kind of allocated. But he really is the creative genius behind the whole thing. I've never been around anyone who takes the chances he does. He's the Oliver Stone of sports. He has the attitude of 'let's try it.' He's the ultimate risk-taker. He doesn't even have to find the risk. The risk will find him."
Minn recalls McMahon being high-energy in everything he did.
"I'd work out at the gym in his Stanford office. I used to work out all the time, and sometimes it would be just me and him in the gym. I was just shocked by his energy. One day I walked in, and I didn't think there was anyone else in the gym. And I just heard this scream come from the other side. I walk over, and it's Vince working out."
Minn, a Boston native and BU product, currently freelances in Providence for an ABC affiliate. He also has been working part-time as an actor and filmmaker. He says he now has what it takes to thrive and survive in the wrestling business.
"You've got to have a certain personality. You need a thick skin. You've got to be able to handle being the butt of a joke. You've got to be a man. You've got to be able to dish it out and take it. You've got to be creatively daring. It's almost like you're wrestling, but you're not wrestling. You've got to go with the flow."
All he needs, he says, is a second chance.
"I'm just convinced that Vince would create a storm of attention if he brought me back. If there's an angle Vince will find it. That's why I want to be back. I want to be around that crazy, creative chaos. That's when something will come out that will garner a lot of attention."
Minn has an angle of his own.
"I am flattered by all the attention I still get, especially on the Internet from my days at Titan. A return to Stamford would set up a very intriguing scenario ... a second chance as well as a return to a place that people know where you once worked always gets a lot of attention."
- WWE Hall of Famer Superstar Billy Graham has been cut from the WWE payroll. Graham, who was being paid $500 per month on a consulting contract, had one year remaining on his deal when the company gave him his 90-day notice. The move was characterized as a cost-cutting measure.
- Former WWE diva Torrie Wilson will have a role in new season of the NBC reality series "I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here."
Cast members include Stephen Baldwin, Sanjaya from "American Idol" and former NBA player John Salley.
Wilson retired from wrestling last year due to back issues, but she made an appearance earlier this month in the Miss Wrestlemania Battle Royal in Houston.
- Old School Championship Wrestling will hold one of its biggest shows to date this evening. "Military Appreciation Night" will include a special appearance by WWE Hall of Famer Sgt. Slaughter. Bell time is 6 p.m. at Weekend's Pub, 428 Red Bank Road, Goose Creek.
Admission is $10 adults; $5 kids 12 and under; $5 military (with military ID). A local band will perform 5-6 p.m. For more information, visit www.oscwonline.com or call 743-4800.
- George's Sports Bar, 1300 Savannah Highway, will air WWE's Backlash pay-per-view at 8 p.m. today. Cover charge is $5.
Mike Mooneyham can be reached by phone at (843) 937-5517 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. For wrestling updates during the week, call The Post and Courier Info Line at 937-6000, ext. 3090.