An inside joke amongst friends became an international sign of irreverence.
With the legendary stable D-Generation-X set to reunite for their 25th anniversary at WWE Raw at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Oct. 10, Shawn Michaels spoke to The Post to promote the occasion and take a stroll down memory lane. Topics included Chyna as a dynamic performer, whether Michaels ever got a WCW offer and the origin story of the infamous “suck it” crotch chop.
“The first place I remember seeing it was Sean Waltman, who was then known as 1-2-3 Kid and later X-Pac, doing it over in the UK,” the 57-year-old Michaels said. “Then all of a sudden, we were doing it as a group, to each other, kind of thinking it was funny.”
The group included Michaels, Waltman Triple H (who recently was promoted to head of WWE creative), Scott Hall and Kevin Nash — who were collectively and notoriously known as the Kliq — and their influence both in the ring and behind the scenes is a big part of pro wrestling lore.
“It was sort of a witty way and tell somebody where they could go or they didn’t like your answer to something — a bunch of buddies ribbing each other,” Michaels recalled.
As Michaels said, Waltman was the first to do the crotch chop in the ring. The first time it was done by Michaels was on the October 6, 1997 episode of Raw — this was the same show where Bret Hart called Michaels “nothing more than a degenerate.” It would be the next week where Michaels claimed the DX name for the stable with Triple H and Chyna.
“From a television standpoint, as we started to do DX, it just felt kind of natural. A lot of things that we did on TV as DX were things we were doing as friends behind the scenes long before we ever brought it to TV,” Michaels said of the crotch chop.
Initially, DX were heel characters, antagonizing the audience, the protagonists and even the announcers — there was a time where they gave Michael Cole a wedgie backstage, for no other reason than to bully someone who was weaker than them.
Eventually, however, in what was a motif of the WWE Attitude Era, the counterculture bad guys became popular with the fans.
“At first, they felt like we were doing it to them — and their favorite superstars — and they booed us,” Michaels said. “But after awhile they found it amusing because some of the things we said were true and resonated. Nothing seemed to bother us. We always had a witty comment for someone else.
“It just got to be so sophomoric and juvenile that it tapped into the inherent smart-ass in all of us that thinks a lot of stuff in their head — but never actually says it because they want to be cordial or professional or polite. We just started saying a lot of those things that went through our heads to authority figures and people started to relate to that and found it quite amusing.”
One element of DX that is fascinating to look back on in retrospect is how far ahead of her time Chyna, who died in 2016 at the age of 46, was as a women’s wrestling performer. If she came along in the modern era, she would have outstanding programs with a number of women on WWE’s roster, such as Charlotte Flair, Ronda Rousey, Rhea Ripley, Bayley, Becky Lynch and Bianca Belair.
Michaels, who currently works as a talent development/creative executive at WWE, concurred with this belief, and wondered how it might have changed her legacy.
“From a performer standpoint she would clearly fit in and be phenomenal. I think what makes her the awe-inspiring, innovative and transforming woman that she was was that she did it earlier than all of them,” Michaels said. “It would be a bit more commonplace today. She would certainly have an incredible career — but I don’t know that she’d be the trail blazer today that she is if she were currently doing it today.”
When the WWE vs. WCW Monday night wars get discussed, it frequently comes up that The Undertaker was so loyal to Vince McMahon and WWE that he never would have considered jumping ship. Did Michaels, who was close with Hall and Nash, ever receive interest from the competition?
“I can’t say that I was ever offered a job by Eric Bischoff,” Michaels said. “Obviously, Scott and Kevin would say, ‘Hey buddy, you get out of your contract, you could come here.’ There was never any real serious offers or plans for me to go there. I remember asking Vince once to let me go. He said, ‘No,’ and that was the end of it.”