COMMISSIONER – 1998 – 1999
At the 1998 Royal Rumble, Michaels received a legitimate back injury in a Casket match against The Undertaker, a match where the objective is to place the opponent inside a casket. Michaels took a back body drop to the outside of the ring and smashed his lower back on the casket, causing him to herniate two discs and crush one completely. This forced Michaels into retirement after losing the WWF Championship to Steve Austin at WrestleMania XIV.
Michaels returned to the WWF on November 23, 1998, but not as a wrestler; instead, he replaced Sgt. Slaughter as the WWF Commissioner, a portrayed match maker and rules enforcer, joining Vince McMahon’s group of wrestlers called the Corporation as a villain. Throughout late 1998 and early 1999, Michaels made regular television appearances on Raw, in which he scheduled matches, throwing around his authority, and sometimes even deciding the outcome of matches. In early 1999, Michaels re-joined DX as a crowd favorite, but disappeared from WWF television for a few months to have back surgery, and by the time he had returned, DX had broken up.
Michaels made occasional appearances on WWF television as the commissioner during the spring and summer of 1999. Michaels was absent from WWF television until May 21, 2000 when he returned to officiate the Iron Man match between The Rock and Triple H. One month later, Michaels briefly reappeared to hand over the role of commissioner to Mick Foley and afterwards was absent from television for nearly a year. During this time, believing that his wrestling career was over, Michaels was interested in training individuals who wanted to become professional wrestlers. He saw potential in using his name and opening the Shawn Michaels Wrestling Academy, after his lawyer, Skip McCormick, suggested the idea. Michaels eventually left the academy. During this time, Michaels was a sportscaster for San Antonio’s local news for a short time during his retirement.