Archive Interview: Getting the Band Back Together

Getting the Band Back Together: D-Generation X Breaks It Down One More Time
by: Brian Solomon
WWE Magazine – July 2006

They were obnoxious. They were lewd. They got millions of fans around the world to yell, “Suck it!” They were D-Generation X — a sports entertainment clique that turned into a grass-roots cultural phenomenon.

And now they’re back.

Most fans, as well as those within the industry, never imagined this day would actually come. But after years of hoping, it’s now a reality — and WWE will never be the same again. Shawn Michaels and Triple H — the two cornerstones of the original DX — are together again. No one — not even the DXers themselves — could have predicted this one.

“I know a lot of people wanted to do it, but Hunter and I had moved on, and we weren’t big on doing sequels,” says Michaels, a founding father of DX. “Hunter’s gone so much farther, so I just didn’t see it happening again.”

So why is it happening? Why now, after years of dormancy, is this bastion of WWE’s “Attitude” era of the late 1990s resurfacing?

“Hunter had been gaining a lot of favour in the eyes of the fans, and that coincided with my situation with Vince, which allowed me to be a little edgier,” says Michaels. “It’s just one of those circumstances where Hunter and I, for the first time in many years, are doing as close to the same thing as we can. We’re on the same page again.”

In a business where things change at a breakneck pace, and where people are often accused of having no long-term memory, the memory of D-Generation X has endured. Even though it’s been years since anyone has seen the super-group in action, DX is just as fresh today as it was in 1997. Very few phenomena of sports-entertainment — or of pop culture in general, for that matter — have that kind of staying power.

“It was so new, so ground-breaking,” says HBK. “There were a lot of imitations, but it was the first time we were saying things that people just didn’t say anywhere but backstage. It was in-your-face, shooting from the hip. We were going out there on live TV and just doing it. That was something that really resonated with people. I was sitting next to a guy on a plane yesterday, and he said, ‘Man, you guys got me and my buddies in a lot of trouble back in the day. The principals were really mad at you guys ‘cause we were just doing the DX thing everywhere.’ At that time, young people just had a little bit of a rebellious attitude. It’s still there, but not like it was. Something about the Clinton era. People were angry. Any chance to buck the system, people just jumped on-board.”

Despite the nostalgia that surrounds a DX reunion, there’s no getting around the fact that the group has been defunct for quite awhile. In fact, Shawn Michaels and Triple H haven’t donned the green and black together since March 1998, when HBK went into retirement following WrestleMania XIV. DX continued for years without him, but this is the first time the original pairing has reunited.

“One thing that’s different [this time] is that we’re both older,” says Michaels. “We’ve certainly matured in our personal lives. That in and of itself is amusing. That may have zero effect on what we do, but the fact is, we are very different people now than we were then.”

HBK himself has gone on the record in the past saying that he has no interest in doing a “rerun.” And he wants fans to understand that as far as he and Triple H are concerned, this latest reboot of D-Generation X is anything but.

“People want this,” he says. “From both Hunter’s and my perspective, this is not something we want to wear out. We are both dead-set on doing it in just a ‘one last dance’ way. We want the original DX to stand on it’s own. It’s like KISS coming back one last time. A reunion tour works, but when you keep doing it, it’s just not the same. We’re aware of that, and we’re not going to do that. But there are so many people that want this to happen. When I first came back four years ago, we hinted at the reunion, and Hunter turned on me. The response to just that little tease was overwhelming. There are some feel-good things that people will get behind, and this is definitely one of them. But we’re very aware of the fact that you can’t overdo it.”

For now, at least, the legions of DX supporters everywhere can rejoice in the fact that the boys are back together, wreaking havoc as only they know how, and making life difficult for anyone who gets in their way. Yet for Michaels in particular, there’s an added wrinkle in rejoining DX. As has been dealt with explicitly on Raw in the past, the Shawn Michaels of the 1990s is a very different man from today’s Shawn Michaels, who has embraced Christianity and abandoned his past self-destructive behaviour. So how does a well-adjusted Christian reconcile his faith with the whole DX thing?

“A lot of people are under the impression that I refuse to do things [in WWE] because of my faith,” he says. “That’s partially true, but it’s also the fact that it just isn’t going to work, because I’m not that guy any more. I’m not able to click into something like I used to be able to do, because I’m just not that angry. With the Hogan thing last year, it was more humour and sarcasm and shooting from the hip at him. And that’s how I intend on doing this. There was a part a DX that was crude. That part I personally will stay away from. But I think the majority of what people loved about DX, the sarcasm and the humour and the outrageousness, will still be there. I don’t think there’s anything that’s out of line with the Bible. There’s nothing that says I can’t be funny! I guess there are people out there who complain about me being a Christian with a sense of humour.”

But what about the infamous DX chop, you may ask?

“There’s a big difference between the crotch chop and the DX chop,” Shawn points out. “The DX version is the one I do. No one will see me pointing to my crotch or anything like that. I’ve given all this a lot of thought, and I’ve certainly been doing my best to walk that line. If I feel conviction about not doing something, I won’t do it. Sin is different for different people. There are some things that I don’t find offensive, but someone else might, and that certainly isn’t my intention. The things that are out of my control are gonna be out of my control. One of the things that I’ve learned since I’ve been back is that public opinion is out of my control. There are people that are going to disagree with me no matter what I do, so the main thing is to try to stay true to my biblical principles. I will certainly do my best to do that.”

Yet despite all the changes in the past eight years, D-Generation X are still the bad boys of sports-entertainment. They always have and always will stand for everything that’s anti-establishment and nonconformist. Vengeance gave us all a big reminder of what DX is all about, and it looks like the summer of 2006 will only add more unforgettable moments to the legacy.

They never took any crap from anybody, and they’re not about to start now. That’s great news for anyone who loved them back in the day — and bad news for any poor souls who might attempt to put them in their place. Like the old song said, “You think you can tell them what to do? You think you’re better? Well, you better get ready to bow to the masters….”

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