Over the years, the rise of D-Generation X have taken many forms in being chronicled across WWE programming. So what makes the D-Generation X focal point of A&E’s latest episode of “Biography: WWE Legends,” set to premiere on Sunday, August 14 at 8 p.m. ET, any different?
“If I were to give it one word, it would be raw,” Shawn Michaels told Uproxx Sports. “Honestly, not until I saw it did I grasp all the different struggles that each of us, individually, went through at different times. Because from an on-camera standpoint, it was sincerely such a blast. But I think certainly what this will do is show another side to that. It’s going to be different and let you see a very humanistic side of the guys and gals that made up D-X.”
The documentary takes the audience through both iterations of D-X, making quick pit stops to detail each member’s background, their individual and group success inside the ring, and their collective struggles outside of the ring. The pacing of the episode gives each member of the group time to talk about what they experience, how life on the road affected their families, and true feelings about the group’s relatively short run together.
It chronicles many of the stories previously told — such as the infamous curtain call at Madison Square Garden and the fallout that led to Triple H’s demotion. But the documentary takes slight detours to touch on one-off stories, like the first time Triple H got the opportunity to “really unload” on Vince McMahon about his frustrations and what he felt was an unfair punishment.
“(Triple H) had seen me lots of times on and off screen go off on Vince. But this was his first time,” Michaels said. “It’s one thing for Vince to say, ‘Yeah, go ahead, do it, unload.’ And then he just hit him with both barrels and watching that face change. When you are out there, you don’t know if it’s him putting that on as part of what we’re doing or have I gone too far? Those are the things that made it so captivating, because people know real. They can just viscerally tell the difference.”
That moment would be just the tip of the iceberg for Triple H, who would eventually use Michaels’ exit from the WWE spotlight to lead the reformation of the D-X faction. At the time, it was considered his make-or-break moment and an opportunity to firmly take the next step in his career evolution.
“I didn’t know enough to be anything but happy for them,” Michaels said when asked how he dealt with watching the group grow after his exit. “We had already looked at Billy and Road Dogg as joining and we’d started in that direction before I was leaving, They were the next real natural fit. And me, knowing I was going away, Hunter’s going to step up. And then I had heard X-Pac is out of his deal at WCW and he’d be a great addition. And then of course that’s what happened. It was hard for me to be anything other than overjoyed.”
Chyna’s presence isn’t overlooked either, as her role in the development and success of D-X is heavily featured throughout the episode. It follows her trailblazing impact as Triple H’s “muscle” to what she meant to D-X both inside the ring and on the road, and eventually details her exit from the company.
“She was a trailblazer,” Michaels said. “The biggest thing I can remember when bringing her in was (people saying), ‘Oh my goodness, we can’t have guys selling for a woman.’ Look at her. She was such a presence and it was just so different.
“It was a hard hill to climb. But they trusted us. She had a really good understanding of who she was. She didn’t need everything under the sun, she just needed her special moments because she knew that’s what made her unique. That’s what made her different and set her apart, in my opinion, to this day from any other woman. There have been so many talented women that have followed her that are in the business right now, but she will still be the first and one of the most unique of all-time.”
The episode also details Michaels’ eventual return in 2002 and the evolution of his rivalry with his Triple H. Despite exiting his onscreen role in 1998, Michaels admits he wasn’t really intrigued with returning to the ring until he re-emerged.
“I was under contract the whole time and being well taken care of,” Michaels said. “I always get told stuff about my career that never reached my desk, that I was supposed to come back earlier in 2001. But no, there was never a time until 2002 that I thought about coming back and wrestling.”
The timing of the episode couldn’t be better, with the recent power shift within the WWE hierarchy. Early in the documentary, Triple H recalls telling Vince that the “business is changing, we gotta change with it,” in reference to his push for the formation of D-X. To this day, that’s a mindset both founding members of the faction keep top of mind in their respective roles within WWE and the NXT brand.
“We both got a ton of heat by the purists and the traditionalists back then for wanting (change). And now everybody acts like they were all on board and that just wasn’t true. And now again, that the one thing at the very least Hunter and I have never done the bitter old timer, ‘back in my day.’ It’s not supposed to be the same,” Michaels said.
“Every sport does need to change and evolve. It’s not about what we did. It’s about what we’re going to do that’s innovative. It has to be new, it has to be fresh, and it has to be different. We don’t neglect (the past). We honor it, respect it, but again, you still want to try to forge new ground. And that’s something that he and I have always understood, and I think that’s why talent enjoy working with us. We are very collaborative, certainly with one another, but we also try to be with talent. That’s one of the things I love about being here at NXT is having a chance to try stuff. No, it’s not always gonna work, but we’re not gonna know. And again, that’s the only way you can figure out what is that next level? It’s to try different things.”