There was a day when WWE canning "The Heartbreak Kid" would've sent the locker room into gales of jubilation. By 2001, however, Michaels was three years retired, had long since been eradicated as a political threat, and was still struggling with demons. He had been invited to the March 26 episode of Raw in Cleveland (the night of the Nitro simulcast), with apparent plans to involve him in some capacity in the coming weeks or months.
By his admission, Michaels took some pills at the show, and was noticeably wonky backstage. Chris Jericho recalls Michaels confronting him in his addled stupor, engaging in an awkward argument about the fact that Jericho was dressed as Doink (for a surprise run-in on William Regal), a story that would be hilarious if not for Michaels' sad state. "The Showstopper" passed out in Vince McMahon's office that night, and was curtly sent home by the boss the following day.
Michaels has said that best friend Triple H informed McMahon of Michaels' compromised predicament. After a defiant Michaels cursed Helmsley out for turning him in, the two Kliqsters apparently did not speak for more than a year.