Date: 1989 – 1991 (exact date unknown)
Location: unknown, possibly Denver, CO
Source: Thewrestlinghub.com, Wrestling Flyer Newsletter
Very little is known about the real-life fight between Shawn Michaels and Marty Janetty. The two had been tag team partners since 1985, first as the Midnight Rockers in regional promotions and the AWA, and later as the Rockers in the WWF from 1988 to 1991.
The two were not enemies, but not close friends outside the ring. Both were good wrestlers, but Michaels was far more serious about his career. And while he was certainly no angel, he was not the hard partier Janetty was. Michaels was also not known to be a tough guy or shooter, despite his superior athleticism.
Janetty described the fight during a shoot interview, but didn’t go into detail. He said Roddy Piper was to blame for stirring it up, but didn’t say why. All that is known is that the fight spilled into the hallway, and rather than break it up, Piper just stood and watched. It’s also believed Janetty got the better of it, which isn’t surprising.
Randy Savage was walking the other way either just after it happened, or right when it was about to end. He asked what was going on, and Janetty told him. The police were somehow there, and when they inquired about what happened, Savage covered up for the Rockers and told them it was all just an angle and nobody was assaulted. The cops said they’d let it go as long as they got some autographs, which Savage granted them (he was a huge star at the time).
The next day, Michaels’ face was in rough shape. Janetty felt horrible, as the two had been partners for years and he likely knew his career would be in big trouble if the two split up. The plane was about to take off for Seattle, and Janetty was packing Shawn’s bags and wanting him to board the plane. Michaels said he was quitting, and that he had already told Vince he quit. Marty begged him not to quit, but Shawn never boarded the plane.
Michales missed the next show, or tapings, because of his facial injuries. Later the two were forced to sit down and talk it out and apologize to each other. Michaels ended up staying, but it planted the seeds for the breakup. When the Rockers broke up in 1991, Michaels got a push with Sherri Martel as his manager. He didn’t become an immediate main eventer, but he eventually rose to that role and became WWF champion, and later, one of the company’s all-time great legends. Janetty floundered, feuding with Michaels in some great matches, and then being fired and re-hired a record number of times.
The Rockers would’ve likely split up anyway, as everyone recognized Shawn’s talent. But this fight was an unfortunate incident that the company, to our knowledge, never acknowledged ever existed (for obvious reasons).
It should be noted that this was just one of several altercations between the two. In the early ’90s, Janetty did an an interview with John Clark for the Wrestling Flyer Newsletter, and was asked about a particular incident (which may have been the one described here). Janetty responded: “When you’re around somebody 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it’s hard to do. We did it well for 5 years, but there is just no way you can’t have differences and sometimes one of us is feeling bad and something comes up, where the only way you want to settle it is to swing at each other, and we did that several times.”
He later said, “I’ll tell you what, I like Shawn, although I don’t like him anything like I used to, but he can’t fight. He’s a good wrestler, but he can’t fight.”
Janetty talks about the fight: