The current state of professional wrestling is bad. Really bad.
Wrestlemania came and went and was terrible, but there was a small shining light that was a nod to my favorite era of professional wrestling: the mid to late 90s.
Shawn Michaels was recently inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. The man certainly deserves to be there. His involvement in wrestling for the last 25 years has been influential and inspirational…and controversial.
Back in the mid 90’s, Shawn Michaels was a part of a group called The Kliq. If you stuck to just watching what was on TV, you probably never heard this term, except for a short period of time when Shawn Michaels referred to his fans as the Kliq. The Kliq was something bigger than this. In fact, it may be the only thing that has ever been bigger than the business, so to speak.
Shawn Michaels banded together with Kevin Nash (Diesel), Scott Hall (Razor Ramon), Paul Levesque (who you all know as Triple H), and Sean Waltman (123 kid or Syxx) to create this group. They were basically a bunch of buddies who hung out together and had each others’ backs when it came down to business. They used their power backstage to leverage themselves into getting their ways.
The most famous example of this was a PPV where Shane Douglas was originally booked to win the intercontinental belt from Michaels. The plan somehow (i.e. Michaels and others whining) changed into Michaels forfeiting the belt to Douglas who, later that night, had to lose it to Razor Ramon. Douglas actually left the WWF after and because of this incident.
Their disrespect for the industry culminated at a house show at Madison Square Garden in 1996. Scott Hall and Kevin Nash had signed with WCW and this was set to be their final WWF appearance. Hall (good guy) faced Triple H (bad guy) in a match, and Nash faced Michaels (both good guys) in a cage match. After their match ended, Hall and Triple H came out and all four of the guys had a big Bro-hug in the ring. Looking back, it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but, back then, kayfabe, the appearance that the feuds are real, was a big thing, and the bad guys being friends with the good guys was inconceivable. Being that this was a house show, WWF wasn’t taping, but a fan somehow got a video camera into the arena and posted the video and images all over the internet.
Hall and Nash were leaving for WCW, so there was no administrative action worth taking against them for “the Curtain Call Incident.” Michaels was the WWF champion at the time, and he was actually drawing halfway decent numbers finally, so they didn’t want to ruin that, and he couldn’t be punished. That left Triple H, who, that year, was slated to win the King of the Ring tournament the following month; winning this has served as a starting point for a career push for many stars, the most notable of which is Stone Cold Steve Austin, who won that year in place of Triple H. At this event, Austin coined the term, “Austin 3:16,” and the rest is history.
As far as The Kliq goes, Hall and Nash started the nWo in WCW, and the WWF reacted to this and formed degeneration X with Michaels and Triple H. And so, kayfabe was dead.
I got to watch his induction speech, and I was impressed with the way WWE dealt with the induction of Shawn Michaels into their Hall of Fame this year. He was presented into the Hall of Fame by Triple H, and after he gave his speech, Nash and Waltman were there to celebrate with Michaels and Triple H (Scott Hall was absent, as he is currently having health/alcohol/drug issues). Of course, grainy pictures of this circulated on the internet.
The four guys got a chance to catch up and mingle with fans that weekend, and they posed for this fun image:
Ohh, and you’ve seen me talk about and even throw up a special hand sign:
This is the official hand sign of The Kliq and was made public and popular during the nWo Wolfpack era in WCW. You can see in the above images that these guys even used to use the hand sign.