It’s time for Shawn Michaels to drop the hunter gimmick. Yes, it’s a real gimmick that he lives in his real life back in San Antonio, but it still needs to go. This is not the icon we grew up on.
Michaels looks like the real-life version of Zeb Colter, and that’s not a good thing. One of the most controversial superstars in WWE history, there’s no doubting that Michaels is either the best in-ring performer of all-time or the second-best in-ring performer of all-time behind Ric Flair.
Michaels was never the biggest guy or the most physically impressive. That was never his deal. He was the young, fast, fit guy who could sell better than any other wrestler during his era. He spent most of his singles career playing a male stripper character. He even posed in Playgirl (not naked) during his big run in the 1990s.
With a tan physique, a rhinestone vest, a better hairstyle than most of the WWE female wrestlers and enough jewelry and bling to make your average East Coast rapper blush, Michaels was a masterpiece of a man. He was essentially a straight-gay cowboy character who was the No. 1 guy in the business. The only reason he was able to pull off that character was because he was such a sensational wrestler.
And now? My goodness. Michaels retired three years ago, but has experienced a career rebirth of sorts as a professional TV hunter. Michaels, a born-again Christian, hosts his own cable hunting show where he goes after exotic big game. Michaels can hunt all he wants, but letting his cotton-colored beard grow longer than Daniel Bryan‘s while wearing his hunting garb on live TV, as he did during last Sunday’s WWE Summerslam, is too much.
Why on earth Vince McMahon lets HBK get away with essentially shooting his own real-life storyline on WWE television is a mystery. No other wrestler would ever be able to carry their personal life over to WWE television with such wholehearted embrace.
Nothing will ever take away from Michael’s legacy as the consummate in-ring performer, but every time he shows up on WWE television wearing a hunter’s hat and a Zeb Colter beard, it takes away from fans’ collective memory of HBK as the brash, cocky, in-your face superstar who oozed style and flair, and created magic every time he was on camera.