You're not going to see many people that have competed in a WWE, WCW, USWA, OVW and IMPACT ring that are still at it, but Chris Michaels is one of them.

Michaels was a name I'd recognized and watched over the years, since I was a child tuning in to weekend WCW programming. He was wrestling in my soon-to-be hometown of Lexington, Kentucky and I wanted to speak with him.

As I walked in to the Shriner's Temple where that night's show would be held, I greeted Michaels' son, who looks every bit of someone who has been in show business and the son of a wrestler. He himself works on the hit television series The Walking Dead. Today, however, he was watching his father host a seminar with about a half dozen students and wrestlers from Prime Time Wrestling.

"Don't whip them into the ropes like that, that don't make any sense," exclaimed Michaels, who was replacing ECW and WCW legend Tracey Smothers as the host.

Michaels has plenty of experience to draw from, including a recent main event with now-WWE star John Morrison that aired on IMPACT's Twitch channel.

"I felt we had a good match, and Johnny was really good and really respectful. He really is [a nice dude]. I pictured him being more of a jerk. I was very happy with him actually. Nobody said a word about to me about nothing since. I’m good buddies with the Maddox Brothers (UCW Promoters who helped put on the show), so if they’re up to something, they kinda give me a leak before they do anybody else or put it out there. ‘Cause sometimes they ask my opinion or like “Hey, what do you think about this? Shh, don’t tell nobody. But, this is what we’re thinkin’ about doing.” And I’ll be “Ehh, I don’t know if you should do that or not,” or be like “Oh, yeah, that’s great. Do it.” He sent me the picture of the Impact thing and [I said] “Well, I don’t know how you’re doing that, business-wise, as far as the numbers or the gate. But if you’re doing it to get your name out there, yeah, go for it.” And I was really surprised that they put me in the main event against Johnny. I actually feel like “Oh, wow.” Part of me’s like “Well, it’s about damn time.” But then I was like, that’s really cool that y’all thought I could help on that level," Michaels said.

Prime Time Wrestling has a loyal following in Kentucky, but isn't quite IMPACT Wrestling. However, PTW promoter Larry D is a regular on IMPACT Twitch shows, appearing on the recent No Surrender event. The same day I talked to Chris, Larry said that he got nice feedback from higher ups after his performance. Despite those same people being in attendance, Michaels tells me that he heard more from his dance partner than anyone else.

"I saw Scott D’Amore that night," Michaels remembers. "“Hi, hello.” I know Chase Stevens, who was talking to him quite a bit. He probably knows him a lot better than I do. But, nobody from TNA office said anything to me as far as “Hey, that was a good match you had with Johnny.” Which, I talked with Johnny, Johnny was very happy with it, he said, he claimed. Real respectful and all that. We took a picture together, and “Hey, that was great, hope to do it again soon. Hope to see you down the road,” blah, blah, blah."

This wasn't Chris Michaels' first rodeo with Impact Wrestling, at least technically. Michaels seemed like a shoe-in for the NWA: TNA days of the promotion. When the company launched in 2002, Michaels was 29 years old, and fit the profile of the roster. He could easily be mistaken for a third member of The Naturals or America's Most Wanted. It was against the former where he would make some initial appearances.

"That’s a funny story," said Michaels."I had a couple try out matches for TNA, which I thought off the bat, with the connections I had that I’d automatically be asked to join the company. Well, there’s one night. I was supposed to wrestle a guy named Rick Michaels, who was a protégé of Bill Behrens, who was in the office of TNA. Rick came to me that night and he said, “Hey, I know we’re supposed to have a singles, I really don’t wanna do that. Would you mind tagging with me?” I’m like “Man, I just wanna get a job, I wanna be seen. Whatever it takes.” He says “Hang on, I’ll be right back.” So he goes and talks to Bill, Bill fixed it so he and I tagged and we had a match with, they were called, the Kingpins. Two trainees of Curt Hennig. And we had a really good match with them. They did the ol’ spot where we were sit down, crotched down in the buckles and they took their bowling balls and did the thing where they hit us in the nuts. Huge pop. After that, they asked Rick and me back the next week to do the pay-per-view. ‘Cause it was a pay-per-view every Wednesday in Nashville."

Things were looking up. Michaels was local to the area, looked the part, could work, and was having impressive showings in front of the right people. Then he got what he thought could be one of the biggest breaks of an already long career.

"Well, then we had a match against one of the Harris Twins and Sonny Siaki and it was whoever won that match got a number one contender’s match for the NWA World Tag Team Titles. They slipped us over in that. Oh, shit, here we go. Well, we have the match with James Storm and Chris Harris -- which that was a big headache. Going over throughout the day, because Chris and James were battling over who got what in the match. I remember one of the times, Storm got out of the ring and left. I’m like “What’s his problem?” [I told Chris] “Would you inform this guy he’s here next week, he’s getting guaranteed money? And I’m here week to week, that for him to be grateful for what he’s got and the push he’s getting’. Can you tell him to straighten it up?' Anyway, I was told that night we had the best match on the pay-per-view and then we come back the next week, it’s a [six-way] with Storm and Harris; us, me and Rick; Chase [Stevens] and Cassidy [Reilly], the Hotshots. Then they did a blow off or whatever and that’s when they brought in Brian Lee and Wolfie D, the Disciples [of the New Church.]"

As well as things seemed to be going, things went awry. An unfortunate and apparent career-ending injury cut the team off at the legs just days after they got a tag team title shot on pay-per-view. The duo that fit like a glove with America's Most Wanted and The Naturals worked a couple of weekend shows just days later, even facing Dory Funk Jr.

The two would never team up again.

"Well, I’m thinking we’re gonna do a big four-way tag thing here or whatever. Then I’m told Rick Michaels has hurt himself permanently and won’t be able to wrestle anymore. Okay, what do we do now? “We’ll let you know.” Weeks go by. I call up, Bob Ryder, and I said “Hey, what’s going on?” He’s like “I’m sorry, Rick’s hurt, you’re out.” I’m like, “but I’m still here. Still available. You can give me a different tag partner. I can do whatever.”

It didn't much matter. The team was over, and so was Chris' regular spot in the tag team division and NWA:TNA as a whole. The injury to his partner wasn't career ending -- he'd be back in the ring just a few months later. However, it was too little, too late for the Michaels duo. Not so much for Chris' personal TNA hopes, though, even if not much would come of it. He got brief looks by NWA TNA in 2003 and 2014.

"Then they had a Saturday morning show called Xplosion. I had a couple matches on it, “Well, let’s see how you do singles.” He brought me on the Xplosion, I had a match against Abyss, which I helped train that guy up here in Georgetown. He’s like, “I’m sorry, Chris. They told me I can’t bump.” Dude, it’s cool. We did what we could do. And then I worked a couple other guys, and told I did great, [it was a] great match. Not another word," Michaels recalls.

The road has been a long one for Michaels. Those that we spoke with that have worked with him in the past put over his ability to decipher what makes sense in the ring. So much so, that even before the aforementioned NWA TNA run, he made several televised pit stops along the way. WCW against Steve Austin, USWA, and one of his bigger spots -- Ohio Valley Wrestling.

As recently as 2017, Michaels made appearances for OVW in Louisville, Kentucky, but he was a regular during their most instrumental period ever during the early part of the millennium. Though he primarily faced off with and teamed with Sean Casey, he'd help the developmental process of several wrestlers, performing alongside them with regularity. But it was with a different tag team partner that he got a shot, but a contact that he had that got him in the door.

"I had a partner named Sean Casey," said Michaels. "I wrestled with him in the early 90s, did some Kentucky stuff up this way. We used to wrestle in Georgetown, Kentucky every Sunday. That’s when I met Sean and we did a lot of tag stuff and worked with each other there. This is right when OVW started, the end of ’99 into 2000, Sean hit me up. He’s like “Hey, give Jimmy Cornette a call, he’s got this OVW. There’s TV and developmental.” I’ve worked for Jim Cornette in the Smoky Mountain Days. He gave me a slight push. I got to work with Robert Gibson. Ricky Morton was out of the picture. I got to be one half of the Rock’n Roll Express one night against the Heavenly Bodies for the Smoky Mountain tag titles. That was an awesome experience. Anyway, Cornette’s known me forever. So I hit Jimmy up, “Hey, I’m interested in coming to OVW.” Well, my first night in, first TV match in I worked with Sean Casey, and he put me over for the OVW Light Heavyweight title. And so I had a long going angle with Sean Casey, and then he decided to turn heel and team us up. He’s like “I need you guys to work with these guys because they’re the ones that WWE’s looking at the most and wants to bring up. And I need guys like you to help get ‘em there. Therefore they will be looking at you, too.'"

Those guys were Shelton Benjamin, Brock Lesnar, John Cena, Batista and the like.

"They were really green and didn’t know nothing," Michaels said, looking back. "It was like pulling teeth almost. ‘Cause, don’t get me wrong, they’re great athletes. But, they don’t know concept of professional wrestling. Which we had a lot of trouble out of Brock. He didn’t get it then. Shelton was real acceptable of critique. During a match I’d say “I know you like to this move, but how about you do it here.” he’d go “Oh, yeah okay, that’s really good.” And of course Randy [Orton], I got to work with his dad before. Had a great match with him. [Oh my God, this guy’s made, Bob Orton, Jr.] I used to tell him all the time, “I used to work with your dad.” I guess he took a liking to me then. But, of course Randy grew up around the business, he was real respectful. He was acceptable to any ideas me and Sean had. But, the other guys they’re already getting huge six figure salaries right off the bat and hadn’t done anything. And of course, I’m getting my little chump change coming up here and helping you. Least you can do is shut up and accept it. I’m trying to help you to help myself, but you’re getting paid, I’m not. I’m like, “C’mon, dude, have a better attitude.”"

A two year run in Ohio Valley Wrestling equated to about 45 dates for the promotion, which helped him get his TNA appearances. Not everyone could get the call-up, though. Michaels, working without a WWE contract, ended up not being brought to Raw or Smackdown as Rico, The Bashams, Rodney Mack, Orton, Benjamin, Lesnar, Batista, Cena, and the like did.

Admittedly, Michaels wondered why.

"There’d be some weeks where Jim would say, “Hey, take off this Wednesday, come back the next.” Which those guys are there regardless, they’re getting paid regardless. Me and Sean Casey, we’ve had conversations about it. We’re like “What went wrong? Why didn’t get get signed?” Blah, blah, blah. But, our only conclusion is that we were like right there, that close, but then the buy out with WCW, and they sent all those guys they wouldn’t do anything with to OVW and it pushed us non-contract guys out the back door. And we’re like, “Jimmy, how come I haven’t worked in three Wednesdays? What’s going on?” And he’s like “I got all these WCW guys. I don’t know what to do with them.” He said, “I personally don’t want to bring you and Sean up and have you work with all these big jacked up green guys and getting yourself hurt. ‘Cause I know you gotta make a living, you gotta continue workin’. My hands are tied.” And that’s how me and Sean felt we were right there, but then that buy out happened kinda pushed us out and caused us to be left off the [landmark]."

A name who was in OVW at the time told us that Michaels was always professional, showed up, and never complained about the role he was given, and called him "exemplary."

If you've never watched a second of TNA or OVW, but the Chris Michaels name is familiar to you, there's a reason why. Even though he didn't get THE call-up, or THE contract, he did appear fairly regularly on WWF's weekend show, Jakked.

In September 2000, just three miles away from where our interview was conducted, Michaels had an impressive showing in a dark match with William Regal at Rupp Arena. This helped set the stage for him to get several televised WWF matches on the program, working numerous styles the following year Between September 2000 and May 2001, Michaels worked five separate Jakked tapings, with four of them making TV. Facing Haku, D-Lo Brown, Chaz (Headbanger Mosh), Essa Rios and William Regal, a bevy of styles were covered along the way.

Michaels remembers Essa Rios, who performed as Aguila and Papi Chulo, fondly. Just as the Regal dark match helped set the stage for future appearances, so did the Rios performance. The company had confidence in him with their stars, even ones that didn't speak his language.

"That was my first experience working with a guy who didn’t really speak that fluent of English," said Michaels. "It was the Jakked and Metal show, one show in the morning and one show late at night. But, it was the same show. I always made the joke, “I’m in an angle with Essa Rios but the finish is the same.” ‘Cause Tony Garea was in charge of that. And every time I’d show up as an extra and Tony’d be like, “Oh, yeah, Chris, you work with well with Essa, right? Yeah, you got Essa tonight.” I always had those matches with him. He was super nice and he wanted to let me get some shine in there. He didn’t want to just eat me up. He wanted to have a competitive match and all. I thought we made it work. I did my job, I made him look like a million dollars and put him over."

The feedback was plentiful. Chris remembers participating in OVW shows at the Louisville Gardens with WWF talent on the the events, and walking back to influential names in the company welcoming him along the way.

It even surprised him a little bit.

"Bruce Prichard was sitting there, (saying) “Hey, Chris. Good stuff.” I’m thinkin’ “Oh, thanks. I didn’t know you knew my name or knew who I was.” After one of the matches I had with Essa Rios, I remember Kevin Kelly was like “Hey, Chris. That’s really good stuff with Essa. You’ve gotten a lot bigger and stuff, keep it up.” I would always get told I did good, did great, and encouraged and all that. But, nobody never said “Hey, sign this.”

Michaels had to keep working.

These stories you've heard about WWF, TNA, OVW -- they weren't the end of the line even though things didn't work out. In fact, they were a lot closer to the start of the line for Michaels than the end. At 46 years old, he's still doing it, still main eventing shows, and still looking TV ready. If you saw his tan and conditioning, you'd assume he was already on TV.

Despite the things that didn't work out for him, a lot more has. He's coached, he continues to wrestle, and he's a prominent name on the Kentucky independent wrestling scene. He's watched things change along the way, too.

"I will say this," Michaels started. "What’s been different has been, as far as social media goes, you get clips and you see people putting their shows or clips of matches on there. It is really easy to get your name out there, there’s a lot of guys are getting booked and signed just based on what’s said about ‘em or seen about ‘em on the internet. Back in the day, you did have to send tapes in to certain people or videos with a little resume and say “Hey, here’s me, here’s some of my matches.” That’s how a lot of guys got signed back then. And another thing is just getting out there and traveling, going to different shows. I see there’s so many people are “veterans” or whatever putting their input. You see posts “Hey, wrestlers, if you want to do this, you need to do this, this, and this.” And I’m only thinking like, what if social media was back in Ric Flair and Steamboat were going at it, and you had all these critiques and all that. “Why does Ric Flair talk in a suit, he needs wear a t-shirt and tennis shoes.” Like, oh my gosh. Yes, I’m labeled a veteran, but if someone asks me my opinion, I’ll give it to ‘em. But, I’m not going out [to give it to them.] Because to me, there’s a lot of things in wrestling that are black and white—“Yes, you should do this. No, you shouldn’t do that.” But, I feel there’s a lot of gray areas. And I’m reading some of this advice and stuff, and I’m like all you’re doing is steering people wrong. And I’m like, if somebody wants to know my opinion on it, I’m no expert, but I have been around a while and if you want to know what I know, or what I think is right, then ask me and I’ll tell you."

The business changing with the advent of new technology, presents more opportunities. Sometimes that actually results in less opportunities for a guy like Chris, who is looking for money over experience at this stage. It impacts him, but he understands the tides of the business constantly change, and eventually crash.

"A lot of the young guys want to get noticed and get experience and exposure, which is knocking a lot of guys like me out of work. They’re going on their own free dime. They’re working these shows and not getting paid. But they’re doing it for the exposure, and I don’t blame them one bit. If you have the money to cover your own travel and hotel and flight and all that to go to a certain show to be seen by a certain promoter, I say go for it. But, that’s how you get seen now is to get out there and travel the roads. Which, me, I get a booking I say “How much can you pay me?” Sad for me, but good for them. Good for the young guys today. They can use social media and all that, it’s an outlet for exposure and get seen today," said Michaels.

You heard (or read) Chris say that he doesn't go out of his way to add his opinion, but that day's seminar is far from the first time he's taught. The half dozen wrestlers that showed up early that day are far outnumbered by the ones Michaels has impacted. Years ago, the Chris Michaels School of Legends trained talent, and before that, he influenced several other names, including one that stands out to him in particular.

"I do have a few people that I’ve personally trained myself that I’m like really proud of. Guy by the name of “Real Deal” Derek Neal. I’m very proud of saying, “Yes, I trained that guy.” And then I don’t, a lot of people think that I say this or whatever, I didn’t train John Cena and Randy Orton. I helped polish ‘em up. My deal with those guys was I would have TV matches with them and then I’d help them lay out their stuff, and then after the match, I would tell them “Hey, you coulda done this here, should have done that there,” blah, blah, blah. Cornette allowed us that freedom. And then we would have him in on the critique after and he would either agree or disagree. That was what I did with those guys. But, he had Sean and I work with those guys on a more recent basis than anybody because he felt we were the best to help them get to where they needed to be," Michaels said.

Neal would go on to make appearances for Ring of Honor, NWA and other promotions. He'd also provide quite the testimonial for Michaels when Fightful reached out to him.

Chris Michaels is by far one of the best wrestling performers I’ve ever seen live or on TV. Most certainly one of the best I’ve ever been in the ring with. Living here in Bowling Green Kentucky I was able to catch him on Saturday morning TV out of Nashville Tennessee as a child. Chris is a man who can go out there and tear the house down till this day. Honestly, I wish I could have accomplished a quarter of what he’s done with his career. One thing people don’t know is how good of a teacher, and wrestling “dad” that he really is. I first met Chris in my hometown when I was 17 years old training to be a professional wrestler in 2002 under someone I will not mention their name.

This particular individual screwed me out of hundreds of dollars of money I saved for a down payment. In the session I trained before I started getting messed over Chris was training his student as well. After the session he pulled me to the side to tell me that he thought I did really good and to stay with it. Weeks after with no ring to train in, and catching on I was being screwed out of money. I happened to run into Chris at a show, and explained to him my situation. He saw something in me, and would only charge me session because of what happened to me with the previous “trainer”. I showed up to the town set the ring up, trained, tear down, and repeat the next week. Unfortunately my parents made me quit my job because my grades were still slipping, and Chris finished me up for free of charge. Chris never gave up on me, and that’s something I’ll never forget to this day.

After getting finished up I went my own way till about 09. We started taping and getting close again. I was in a spot of stagnation doing a character that I no longer wanted to do. Thankfully for him he got me out of this, took me on the road with him going to other places, traveling more than ever before. That’s one thing I can say about him is that he always believed in me, my ability, and never gave up on me. I would not be the performer I am in the ring today without him watching over me, and putting me in the right spots to work with some of the best talents in the world today. That’s why he is my wrestling dad, and one of my closest friends that I’ve ever had.

Here’s a story... There was a company that ran just north of Nashville call Showtime All-Star Wrestling. This was in 2010, and they brought in Tracy Smothers for some time. That is another man who I’ve always looked up to, and respected. Especially with him being in my training lineage through Chris. Also at the time I was tagging with Chris, and they were going to go into an angle there in Millersville. The first night he was there we did a run in on him, and we get cleared out. They set the match for next week between him and Chris. Next week comes we get there, and last minute they switched it where I got the singles with Tracy. That was such an awesome experience, and again with out Chris that wouldn’t have happened.

Over the last near 17 years I’ve had many great memories, and stories with Chris that I could take up pages. He’s not only helped me, but he has helped so many guys over the years. Some of those guys have made or are making a lot of money. I’m just glad that he took a chance on a skinny 17 year old high school kid, and not only made a wrestler out of me but made a man out of me as well. To me for the type of wrestler he is he never got the credit that he truly deserved.

"As far as the seminar stuff goes, I never dreamed that I would have—I’ve always been a shy, naïve guy. I never really spoke my opinion. But, I think I finally blossomed and came out of my shell and I’m better at, I can go out there in front of thousands of people, grab the mic as a heel, especially if I’m in my character. I can talk all night long. But, if you tell me, “Hey, you need to give a speech in front of these ten people,” I’m a nervous wreck. But, another way to look at it, I remember WWE hired “Beautiful” Bobby Eaton for Eaton to be a trainer or whatever. But, then Bobby is so good and so natural at what he does, he can’t teach it. Like, “How’d you do that move?” “I dunno, I just did it.” Some people they are just so good they can’t teach it, it’s hard for ‘em," said Michaels.

Though Chris himself is humble about his teaching ability, someone of power saw something in it. Almost 20 years after his last WWE appearance, he got a call from the company in 2019. He was asked to fly down to Orlando to guest coach at the WWE Performance Center.

It went down in April, just a few weeks after WrestleMania. Michaels jumped at the opportunity to share his knowledge.

"I have to give thanks to my son," Michaels admitted. "He does my e-mails for me, like e-mailing people posing as me. He’ll e-mail people. He’s always trying to help dad out. Well, he had e-mailed them down, and it had been months ago and one day he called me up, and I didn’t answer right away. And he messaged me, said “911.” I’m like, oh my gosh, what’s wrong with him or one of the grandkids? Finally I call him back and he’s like “You’re going to Orlando!” I’m like, “what for? Oh! We’re going back to Universal Studios!” He said, “No, no. Going to the Performance Center, they want to bring you down as a guest coach.” I’m like, “Who? What?! Why? That’s how it came about. They wanted me for a certain week and I told them I couldn’t do that, I’m like “But, after that I’m free.” They shot me another week. They brought me down, they flew me down, put me up and went at the Performance Center every day. And had two live performance shows at the Performance Center, where they get in front of all the coaches and everything and all the boys, and put on a show to get practice or whatever. And then Thursday and Friday were live NXT shows and I was in charge of being an agent for a match on there, each one of those."

Michaels has been based in the Kentucky and Tennessee area for decades, so flying down to Florida isn't a trip he makes that often. If he had his way, he might be living in Orlando, because he was over the moon Speaking about his time at the Performance Center. For a guy who said that he doesn't offer up his advice a lot, it was received well.

"It was an awesome experience. I was treated great, and treated like I was one of them and all the guys were receptive of my critiques. Actually asked me questions and stuff. Made me feel really special, I felt really good about it. Of course, Matt Bloom told me, he said “When you get home shoot me an email, let me know how your week went.” I shot him one and I said “Hey, if a spot ever opens up, I’d be glad to move down here,'" Michaels said.

Fightful reached out to several members of the NXT roster who worked with Michaels. As they're usually not encouraged to speak to us on-the-record, one anonymously said "Chris was really nice, you could tell how happy he was to be there and how much he liked his knowledge being passed down. He had a lot of tricks that work out well because a lot of the roster is close to his size."

Michaels competed for light heavyweight titles and was considered a "smaller wrestler," in decades past, but not so much anymore. But still, he was able to provide information that helped the youth at the PC. He said that there was plenty there that he could have benefited from, too.

"I helped with Robbie Brookside’s class—he deals with all of the beginners and all that. He asked me if I’d been in that ring yet. I’m like “No.” He says “Come over here,” and I got in there and was like “Oh, man, if I had access to this when I was a kid, there ain’t no telling what I’d be doing off the top rope now.” Because back then it’s still real ring, but all you had was the foam egg carton thing you had wrapped up, then you could practice elbow drops and stuff on. But you didn’t have no soft stuff to where if you landed wrong it wouldn’t hurt you. Back then it was a gamble. But, if I had access to that back then I’d probably be doing a lot more stuff off the top rope," Michaels noted, bright eyed.

"I was standing on the side of the ring, watching something going on, standing there next to Scotty 2 Hotty and he goes “I don’t know about you, Chris, but I’m glad I came up the way me and you did. If I had to go through all this just to be a pro wrestler, I don’t know if I’d do it or not.” ‘Cause they’re there from morning to night, I just mean non-stop. It’s a factory to breed wrestlers. They’re constantly training, man. I’m working out with these two guys from India, and they can’t speak English. Then I’m just showing them the basics, “Walk up, reverse this, reverse that,” and they go “Okay, thank you so much, we go to English class now.” Then I’m in this class room and we’re watching everybody’s matches, and they’re stopping, “Okay, what could you have done here?” I’m like “God, I wish I had access to all of this when I was coming up.” It’s just something else, it’s another world," said Michaels.

As Michaels and I sat in a dimly lit Shriner's temple room, he continued about his time at the WWE Performance Center. It was clear the situation in totality brought him pride. From his son making the connection, to WWE wanting him, to his experience being valued. When asked who stood out to him there as having special intangibles, he mentioned a name that might seem unlikely to many -- "The Finest" Kona Reeves.

"[Kona Reeves] I watched him, he did a work out match-- actually Sheamus was there. He did a work out match with Sheamus in the ring, I think Sheamus had been hurt, came there and did some cardio. But, then he got in the ring with him and they were doing some stuff. I’m like “That guy’s good.” ‘Cause he has personality, the look, just his timing in the ring—that guy’s gonna be good. That’s who stuck out to me," Michaels remembered.

I came to know Chris personally earlier this year. A friend of mine passed along a story as old as time -- he had a student who was a wrestling fan, inspired by the emotion and art of the sport. She'd coded a website in his class dedicated to the eventual WrestleMania-headliner Becky Lynch, and had experienced bullying as a result of her fandom. Lynch, deep in character on social media, would step out briefly and send a message to the girl.

Chris' daughter hopes to become a WWE Superstar one day, and through all the positives and negatives that he's experienced himself, would be all for it if the time comes. He even has to scale back the wrestling in the house as things stand.

"Oh my gosh. I thought (my son) and I were obsessed with the business. Every since she laid eyes on Becky Lynch, she has like lives, sleeps, eats and breathes it. We went to a live show at Diddle Arena in Bowling Green and she was hooked. We’ve had to, like “If you don’t straighten up, if you don’t get it together, no more Becky Lynch! No more wrestling! You ain’t watching wrestling no more!” She’s okay now, but there was a point in time we couldn’t watch Monday Night RAW. I’d record it and I’m like “We’ll watch it later on in the week.” Mom and dad have our shows on Monday night, we’re recording it though. But, if we promise you can watch the pay-per-view or during the pay-per-view ‘cause it’s always on a Sunday, you gotta go to school on Monday, if she happened to miss Becky Lynch’s match that night, it was after she had to go to bed, she’d pout. “Straighten it up or no more Becky Lynch.” She’s obsessed. She’s very athletic, she’s very tall. She says to this day that’s what she wants to do, and if that’s what she wants to do, I will back her up and support her. I think she’d be great at it," an excited Michaels said.

After the interaction with Lynch happened, I thought about making an attempt to help arrange for the girl to attach herself to a wrestling or grappling school. Little did I realize, she's got that more than covered, with a veteran of over 25+ years in the house. Not only that, a supportive one. If that's the route she wants to go, Chris is all for it.

"Her whole overall attitude," Michaels points out. "She says stuff to me like, “Well dad, that day I main event WrestleMania, when I get that big house and I get that money,” she said, “I know you always wanted to go to Paris and see the Eiffel Tower. I’m gonna take you.” Or, I go, “When you get that big house, save dad a room in the basement.” She talks like that’s her destiny right now at 13 years old. When all the other 13 year old girls are into boys and wanting to date and all that. She’s drawing on a piece of paper what her outfit’s going to look like and what colors she wants, and she’ll say “Hey dad what do you think of that, if I wore that to the ring?” That’s what she’s into. That’s some passion there. That blows me out of the water."

Chris' son Christian is also in the entertainment industry. He's found success working on The Walking Dead, and now for Universal Media Group in Nashville. It surprises Chris a little bit that his son -- the same one who helped get him the NXT coaching spot -- isn't in front of the camera instead of behind it.

"It’s weird, I always thought my son would wanna get in there, but I dunno," Michaels said. "He’s a rock star. But, I think, this me personally talking my opinion, you’d have to ask him—I think he don’t want to, even though I’ve had semi-success or whatever, I think he would feel if he climbed in the ring he would be under a lot of pressure to perform as good as me or whatever. I don’t think he wanted to live through that. But, I dunno, he just has the smarts, he loves the music industry. I used to play drums, I love the music industry, too. I would love to go back to playing drums one day, but he wants to produce, be behind the scenes, behind the camera. He has a real knack for that, he’s always throwing ideas at me for what I do. “Hey dad, you should do this. Hey dad, you should wear that.” He’s good at that, instead of being a performer himself. I dunno, I just think that’s the way he went."

In the days that followed our interview, Chris' daughter got to meet Becky Lynch. The flame that has existed in Chris for decades, the one that has his son continuing success in the music and entertainment industries, and the same one that was shared with an NXT class earlier this year, looks like it's lit for another generation.

Decades, and Chris isn't stopping. 30 years later, he's still doing it, and he knows he's doing it well.We haven't even talked about Chris' appearances from WCW in 1994, and we'll save that for the next time we talk. They amounted to Michaels working with over a half-dozen current or future Hall of Famers, and making them look great in the process,. He's not done making himself look good, though, and strives to do it the same way -- if not better- than the times he caught the eye of influential names in the pro wrestling world.

"You know, I started professional wrestling [when] I was 16 years old and now I’m 46. It’s been 30 years. Never dreamed I’d still be performing today, especially at the level I think that I still perform at. I thought by now I would already have the mansion on a hill and a white picket fence and all that, and be retired by now. But, to be honest and to tell you the truth, if I physically couldn’t perform today I would be pretty sad and upset because I still have the passion that I do since day one. I love hearing my music. I love walking through that curtain. And I love performing in front of all the fans to this day," said Michaels.

We were mere minutes from the doors opening for that night's show, which Chris was on. He told me a story about how he thought a detached retina would end his career. It didn't. So far nothing has. He admitted to me that often he's filled with self doubt, and sometimes questions why he keeps going, and if it'll ever pay off in a more permanent manner. Despite those doubts, he continues. For himself, for his family, for his legacy, and potentially his future. If you see a wrestling show in Kentucky ot Tennessee from Thursday to Saturday, there's a solid chance you might run into the man yourself. We'd spoken for 40 minutes. In just a few more, he'd be slapping hands and taking bumps, just like he was in 30 years before. It doesn't sound like he's planning on slowing down any time soon.

"As of right this second I don’t see an end in sight. So, we’ll just carry on and see what the future holds."

It seems like it's come full circle, as we're told WWE has interest in bringing Michaels in for another guest coaching stint.

You can follow Chris Michaels on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, where you can also contact him for bookings.

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