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Jim Ross says Vince McMahon paid Shawn Michaels $750,000 per year to sit at home from 1998-2002


Jim Ross says Vince McMahon paid Shawn Michaels $750,000 per year to sit at home from 1998-2002

This week on “Grilling JR” on, Jim Ross and Conrad Thompson discussed Shawn Michaels’ career from 1997 until 1998. This show covers all of the behind-the-scenes stories that were reported at the time and some new things that only JR would know because he was very influential behind-the-scenes.

Ross talked about the infamous episode of Thursday Raw Thursday where Michaels dropped the WWE Championship because he lost his smile.

Jim Ross was asked, “When did you find out Shawn was going to forfeit the WWF Title  (The famous Shawn Michaels, “I lost my smile” promo)?

Ross said, “I guess earlier that day. He was volatile. He was polarizing and volatile so anything you heard about Shawn, it was not going to be a total shock.  You kind of got used to it. But, surrendering the title, I don’t know if he lost his smile because he was injured or lost his smile because he couldn’t handle the pressure. He was influenced by outside sources that liked to poke gas on his fire. I don’t know…So once you get the message of what’s going to happen in the production meeting that morning, it was like, geez, that’s pretty extreme. Maybe you give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe something is really wrong. We didn’t know. But I always thought his feelings were hurt more than his knee or his back or whatever, and I don’t know exactly why. He had a hard time handling and accepting the responsibility of being the top guy in the territory.

Ross was asked, “Was it because of pressure from within or pressure from Vince?”

Ross answered, “I don’t know if it was pressure from Vince or not. Vince loved him. It’s proven. We paid Shawn $750,000 a year for about four years to do nothing because he was Vince’s guy. Every time we go over budgets and things, where are we at with the Shawn contract?  Nothing, leave it alone.  Ok”

Ross was asked, “When you say four years, are you saying ‘98-“02 that he was still on the payroll at that price?”

Ross responded, “That’s what I’m saying Conrad. That’s just Vince. Vince didn’t have to do that. Here’s the deal. All Shawn wanted to do was go work and go play with Kevin (Nash) and Scott Hall. So that would have been for WCW nice to get a gift of Shawn Michaels, wouldn’t you think? So he took good care of him.”

Ross also talked about Michael’s issues with Bret Hart, the Sunny Days promo, and much more during this episode that is available now on

If you use any portion of the quotes from this article please credit Grilling JR with a h/t to for the transcription