Bill Apter and Ken Resnick on the Early Days of Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty

Jun 19, 2021 - by Steve Gerweck

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On the most recent edition of Wrestling with History, Bill Apter and Ken Resnick told early stories about working with Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty before they hit stardom in the WWE. Here are some highlights:

Bill Apter on first meeting the Rockers: “At the beginning, everyone used to compare them to Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson, the Rock and Roll Express. They used to tell me, ‘we’re going to be better than the Rock and Rolls and maybe we’re going to feud with the Rock and Rolls one day,’ that was their goal back then. When I first met them, they were two wild kids. I didn’t know where they were going to go because they were really very immature.”

Ken Resnick on the immaturity the pair had in the AWA: “They lived to party. I think in those days they view the wrestling as the revenue stream that could pay for their partying. That’s how they looked at it. But in the early days of the Midnight Rockers in the AWA, everyone pretty much thought that Marty Jannetty was going to be the star. His ringwork was better. Neither one of them were overly dedicated, but little by little you could see that Shawn began to embrace wrestling. The partying wouldn’t stop, but he was able to separate it…even today, Marty was never really able to separate the partying from the wrestling.”

Resnick on Shawn Michaels having a better head on his shoulders: “Shawn became more involved in his own wrestling career, whereas Marty couldn’t wait to get out and start partying. As their careers progressed, the both of them had demons to deal with but Shawn was able to conquer a lot of his demons…that’s why Shawn is the Hall of Famer and the big star.”

Apter on the influences in Shawn’s life that helped him: “Jose Lothario was a wonderful taskmaster over his students. He taught Shawn not just how to fine tune his ringwork, but the psychology and how to handle himself as a person. It didn’t kick in immediately, but Shawn always had that respect of Jose Lothario in his brain. Shawn was also very dedicated to his parents. He was a kid that his parents absolutely adored, and he tried to make them happy… I think Shawn kept the values of his trainer and his family and that’s what was a large separation from the party Shawn and the Shawn that we all came to love as an athlete and a performer.”

Resnick on Verne Gagne’s impression of the Rockers: “I don’t think he was enthralled, but by the time Shawn and Marty came to the AWA Verne was already facing (intense competition from McMahon), so I think Verne (had the idea that) they were making money for the company, and given Vince’s assault on his territory, Verne was far more willing to overlook it then (as opposed to the territory days).”

Resnick on the Rockers’ first failed run in WWE: “While Verne was willing to overlook some of that because they were making AWA money and were working on top, Vince had a huge stable. Vince’s stance was against drugs… Even I had to take while I was there – I pass them all – three random urine tests. Vince was just not putting up with (the immaturity)… It wasn’t my place (to help them); I think others did but it just fell in one ear and then out the other. It’s ‘til they make up their own minds, you can talk to them until you’re blue in the face… I remember on interview days, there were a few times (they came in) really hung over.”

Wrestling with History featuring Bill Apter and Ken Resnick drops every Wednesday at noon ET on the VOC Nation Wrestling Network Podcast feed.

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