A Modest Blog on the Next HBK

Apparently, John Morrison is the next Shawn Michaels. Wow, that’s certainly inspiring to know. All time greats are so rarely found this early, that figuring this out now certainly saves us a lot of trouble down the line.

Might we, perhaps, note that this is pure hyperbole for Morrison at this point. Michaels is one of the top 5 wrestlers of the past 25 years and perhaps the top ever in ring, with a unique style, star presence and undeniable flair for the dramatic, but it seems every young star who breaks out from a tag team is dubbed the next HBK and no one has ever really caught up to Michaels in that regard.

The most recent “Next HBK” was Brian Kendrick. Part of the successful London and Kendrick team, the former Spanky was actually trained by Michaels and given a similar gimmick, complete with Diesel light bodyguard, Ezekiel. Of course, being a small guy, the WWE quickly lost confidence and depushed Kendrick to near oblivion.

A tag wrestler with far more success, the “next HBK” for nearly a decade before he began realizing his potential, Jeff Hardy has become a true main eventer. Of course, he’s been a main eventer for around a year and already burned out, performing nowhere near at the level of current HBK, let alone what Michaels was capable of in his prime. This “next HBK” at least became a main eventer though, if not an all time legend.

It’s now forgotten, but another young tag wrestler around the time Jeff broke onto the scene got the “next HBK” status bestowed upon him. That man is Edge. A cocky heel, Edge has lead stables and become the most hated man in the company for years. On his way to likely becoming an all time great if the injuries don’t get in the way, Edge has lost most of his similarities with Shawn, becoming a star in his own right, which is the point, as we’ll see in more detail momentarily.

Two guys who have tags in their background, but were not primarily tag wrestlers have also become superstars. The first of these is Chris Jericho, perhaps the first to don the “next HBK” moniker. Through lots of poor booking and strange eras, Jericho has had an astonishing career, becoming a true all time great, though while falling just short of Michaels, he’s clearly the next best thing to the point where there was even a storyline about it.

The second man mentioned above is Rob Van Damn. RVD had the cocky persona and fan support, but never really measured up as a character with depth to HBK, never being able to pull off the heel role with the same ability, or really stray from his main, high flying, fan friendly role. Due to his importance in ECW and rise in WWE, that still leaves him with an extremely impressive career, but one not near that of Shawn Michaels.

Of course, Shawn himself was merely one of a group once compared to the previous top flashy heel worker in the business, Ric Flair. In a group that once included Curt Hennig, Terry Taylor, Steve Austin, Tommy Rich, Magnum TA, and many, many more.

The “next HBK” will simply not exist. Someone will need to be amazing enough for long enough to become the first of whomever they are, making the designation, “next HBK” meaningless. For Morrison to truly live up to this designation, we’ll need to be spending the next 10 years looking for the “next Morrison.” That’s a lot of pressure. Instead, let’s enjoy one of the best young talents to come up in quite awhile and hope he reaches his prodigious potential as a main eventer, if not an all time superstar.

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