Shawn Michaels says he’s happy to use his own controversial past as a ‘cautionary tale’ to WWE starlets as he helps shape the stars of wrestling’s future.
The grappling icon currently works as Senior Vice President of Talent Development Creative for WWE, playing a major part in the production of a new generation of talent.
He oversees the NXT brand – and its imminent expansion into Europe – having previously worked in a coaching capacity having retired as a wrestler himself back in 2010.
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Now 57, the Texan has never been one to shy away from his own colourful past as a performer who gave plenty of sleepless nights to those in similar roles to the one he finds himself in.
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The Heartbreak Kid spoke to Daily Star ahead of NXT’s Halloween Havoc event on Saturday night and touched on the contrast of now having to be the one that guides wrestling’s new sensations.
Asked how a cocky Shawn Michaels that broke through into singles stardom in WWE back in 1992 might fare with the perils and pressure of today’s modern fame, he quipped: “All I know is that I didn’t cope with it great in that day!
“That’s one of the things I certainly try to use here – I am certainly not afraid to be a cautionary tale to the young men and women who come to this place.
“If there’s anything I can do to help them, I absolutely do that.
“One of the most important things to me is for them to not feel like they can’t express what’s going on in their heart and inside their mind.
“Tolerance is a huge thing here and we have to have it for one another.
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“I know the struggles that I had mentally sometimes going on, and I don’t want them to have it – so there’s an open line of communication: nothing is silly, nothing is not important and if it’s a big deal to you, it’s a big deal to us, and let us try to help you.”
Many areas of society have made substantial improvements in mental health awareness and understanding, with Michaels clearly passionate about such a cause.
There has at times been a stigma attached today’s generation of wrestlers of being too physically or mentally ‘soft’ compared to those that came before them – something the multi—time former world champion is very much aware of.
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He’s adamant he won’t stand for such a culture in his working environment, though, adding: “I don’t want to foster that, and I don’t want to feed that.
“I don’t care if we’re a softer generation [today]; I don’t care if that’s how everybody sees them. It’s going to be hard enough going up to the main roster with the pressures and stuff – I’m not doing it here.
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“I want them to be comfortable. We’re going to do everything we can to prepare them and will let them know it may not be the same, but at the same time, I want it to be a fun experience.
“Here, I want you to know it can be fun and we want to be there for you. We have to be part psychiatrist, part parent, that’s fine.
“That is the role here and that is why I stay here. I love that and I’ll be more than happy to be a cautionary tale and help people through whatever they might be struggling with down here.”
WWE NXT’s Halloween Havoc Premium Live Event takes place on Saturday, 22 October, airing in the UK on WWE Network. Visit wwe.com for more.
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