Whether you like him or not, “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels is one of the best performers in wrestling history. In his youth, he was a brash and cocky Superstar who could always back it up in the ring, and in his prime, he was celebrated for being able to get a good match out of any wrestler he faced, no matter who it was. After a back injury robbed him of several years and nearly his entire career, he returned to the ring a changed man, but still one of the absolute best wrestlers in the world. As a wily veteran, he continued to show that he could wrestle with the very best the business had to offer, and even carry the undeserving to the greatest matches of their careers. He even ended his in-ring career in 2010 while still, arguably, at the top of his game, choosing to go out with his head held high. Over a career that spawned more than thirty years, HBK had more than his share of spectacular matches, and limiting it to his ten best was a struggle of epic proportions, but somehow, we managed it.
10. vs Triple H, Unsanctioned Match, SummerSlam 2002
Due to a massive back injury suffered in 1998, Shawn Michaels’ wrestling career came to an end. He underwent spinal fusion surgery and retired to his home in Texas, and in the process, managed to overcome his longtime battle with substance abuse and turned his life around. And then, in 2002, he decided that he could have one more match, probably just to prove that he could. Best friend and D-X co-founder Triple H was hand-picked as his opponent, and an angle was created where Shawn tried to re-form D-X, only to have Triple H attack him. At SummerSlam, HBK’s return match took place, with an “unsanctioned” label because Michaels was technically no longer an active wrestler. What followed was one of the best “street fight”-style matches in the history of WWE, as both men threw everything at each other (likely because Michaels still believed this was his one and only match) in a display of two of the best workers in the business at the height of their game. Michaels emerged victorious, then disappeared again. However, the wrestling bug had gotten its teeth back into HBK, and thanks to an actual miracle that left doctors legitimately scratching their heads, Michaels’ back had apparently fully healed, and he went back on the road, wrestling for another eight incredible years.