After covers starring WWE gym rats like Vince McMahon and Triple H, it's interesting to see that Muscle & Fitness magazine also sat down with Shawn Michaels recently.
While he's not Dusty Rhodes, the Heartbreak Kid also isn't someone who ever looked like he was headed to a Mr. Olympia competition. So it's not surprising that he was asked if there was ever any push from inside WWE for him to get a little bigger:
No, there wasn't any pressure in that respect from anyone. I was training with guys like Kevin Nash and Triple H, guys who like to get in the gym and train hard to this day. When I came back in 2002, after the back injury- for four years I had been out- I found that a lot of those heavier weights were going to be a thing of the past. It was easier on my body, and I stayed healthier carrying less weight.
There are a few factors in play with regards to Michaels position prior to his comeback. One, he clearly states that he was hitting the gym, so it's not like he's saying there was no pressure to work out. And, two, HBK's rise came after Vince McMahon's steroid trials when it was beneficial to the company to not have all of their top guys look like Lex Luger.
And it's not to say that he wasn't aware that guys like he and Bret Hart - while maybe benefitting from the times, also had to account for their more average height and weight:
When you're not 6'6″ and you're not going to be 250 pounds, you have no choice but to make it work however you can. You're thankful that you're athletic, and you do your best to use that athletic ability. Bret and I both tried to focus on that.
It's that focus that undoubtedly allows Shawn to have been helpful to guys like Daniel Bryan, Brian Kendrick and Paul London. His message about getting over regardless of your look or the company's focus also includes not being concerned what "Era" WWE is in:
Don't get me wrong, the Attitude Era was fantastic, but it was four years, and I guess that's something people don't think about. We started doing it back in '97, and by the time I came back in 2002 it was done. I guess there was a little bit of it, but it wasn't much. It was four years. It's been built into mythical proportions. You do the best job you can whether it's the Attitude Era or the PG Era. Successful people succeed in all situations. Smart people, people of wisdom, will succeed in all situations.
Thoughts, Cagesiders? Was Michaels just in a politically unique position to not be pressured? Is WWE more accepting of talented people regardless of their look, or are they still sending mixed messages?