If you can still remember SummerSlam 1990 or if you recently watched it on Peacock, you probably noticed that Shawn Michaels was attacked before the bell rang in The Rockers vs. Power and Glory match and didn’t actually wrestle, leaving Marty Jannety to do all of the heavy lifting and take the big L for the team.
What happened? Was this part of a storyline that would pay off later, or was Michaels legit injured and they needed a storyline reason to get him off TV?
What We Know: The reason for Michaels sustaining a kayfabe injury at the hand of Hercules and his chain was because Michaels was actually injured. In today’s wrestling product, if a wrestler is authentically injured, most of the time they’ll come out on Raw and Smackdown and say they are injured and may even show a video package of when the injury occurred. In the 80s and 90s, injuries were only acknowledged if they happened in the ring, and if they happened elsewhere, you generally had to handle the issue in the ring. Basically, if it didn’t happen in front of cameras, it didn’t happen.
Michaels needed surgery and it wasn’t for a quick smile replacement procedure.
At the time of SummerSlam 1990, Michaels had an injured knee and needed time off for surgery. You’ll notice he comes in behind Jannety when they enter, and if you look closely, it does appear he is injured before Hercules and Paul Roma step in. The injury angle was done to give Michaels time off and to have a storyline explanation for it.
What We Don’t Know: We don’t know with certainty how Michaels got injured. In his autobiography, Michaels says he injured his knee just days before SummerSlam in a motorcycle accident. However, Dave Metlzer claims Michaels injured the knee in a match between The Rockers and The Orient Express. Meltzer points to house shows where Jannety worked singles matches instead of both Rockers working as a team.
At any rate, whether it was a motorcycle or a match, Michaels was going to be out of commission and what better way to explain it than to have him sustain a kayfabe injury at the hands of Hercules’ nasty chain during one of the biggest pay per views of the year?