In Wrestling for My Life, WWE superstar Shawn Michaels shares from his heart about the highs and lows of his life inside the WWE. Included are some never-before-shared stories and an intimate look into his career as well as stories of hunting, family, and faith.
With millions of fans, Michaels had adulation and all the attention he could ask for, but he discovered there was something more. When he became a committed Christian during his years in the WWE it had to affect everything. Michaels reveals what it is like to be a man of faith in this unusual world and shares insights for all of us.
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About the Author
In 2010, Shawn Michaels retired from the WWE after a successful run of over twenty years in the ring. A native of San Antonio, TX, Shawn officially became a part of the WWF (now the WWE) in 1988. An eleven-time winner of Pro Wrestling Illustrated and WWE’s Match of the Year Award, Michaels has been blessed enough to be the WWE World Champion, World Heavyweight Champion, Royal Rumble winner (twice), Intercontinental Champion, World Tag Team Champion along with many other noteworthy accolades. He also has compiled list of memorable nicknames that fans across the world associate with his career in the WWE, including: The Heartbreak Kid, The Showstopper, The Headliner, The Main Event, The Icon and Mr. Wrestlemania.
In addition to his wrestling career, Shawn continues his work in the area of Christian ministry working with various churches, charities and organizations which allow him the opportunity to the spread and advance of the gospel. Since his retirement from the WWE, Shawn has turned his focus toward spending more time with his wife and kids, while hosting Shawn Michaels Mac Millan River Adventures television show on the Outdoor Channel. Shawn currently lives on his ranch in west Texas with his wife Rebecca and their two children, Cameron and Cheyenne.
Read an Excerpt
Wrestling for My Life
By Shawn Michaels
ZONDERVANCopyright © 2014 Shawn Michaels
All rights reserved.
Feeling at Home
"Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble" (Psalm 119:165).
* * *
Tears filled my eyes as I sat on the end of the bed.
The scene was familiar, but the feelings weren't. Another Wrestle-Mania had been completed and, as usual, I had returned to the hotel with my family and taken a couple of minutes to sit alone and reflect on the night before joining the family for a post-match celebration.
But this time was different. This was the last time. Overwhelmed with gratitude for the career now suddenly behind me, I could not help but notice the symbolism of what I was about to do next: get up from where I was sitting and walk away to join my family.
Sure, I'm a wrestler, yet in a business where "never" never means "never" when there's a good storyline to sell, I knew I would never wrestle again. Only a few hours before, I had lost to The Undertaker (Mark Calaway) at WrestleMania 26 in a match with the stipulation that if I lost, I must retire. But, hey, if it would have made for a big-bucks pay-per-view for WWE, we could have found a way for me to un-retire. There also could have been a Shawn Michaels Farewell Tour, and we had discussed one.
But I knew this was the end. I had stepped out of the ring for the last time to step into the life I wanted to live: with my family, back home in Texas.
I had retired once before, twelve years earlier, in 1998. That time, though, wasn't on the terms I wanted. I was forced to retire. After fourteen years of being subjected to a merciless pounding that I chose to inflict on myself, my body kicked me out of the ring. I hadn't liked how my final match had turned out, either. I had agreed to go out with a loss to "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, but had rejected WWE's idea for how they wanted to send me out of the ring the final time. It happened anyway. That had angered me because it hadn't provided me the respect I thought I deserved after all I had done for WWE.
Worse, my life was a wreck. Only in the ring could I be what I wanted to be. And that wasn't the real me. That was a wrestling character created and altered when needed to put on a good show. And that's what I did.
Somehow, I had found this ability to make fans react. Some loved me. Some hated me. But none, it seemed, didn't experience some kind of strong reaction when hearing before a match, "Making his way to the ring ... from San Antonio, Texas ... The Heartbreak Kid ... Shawn ... Michaels!"
I liked being loved. And I liked being hated. I might even have liked being hated more. But outside of that ring, my life had spiraled so out of control—drinking too much, chasing women, doing drugs, popping pills—that I did not like who I really was. A winner in the business, I had become a loser in life.
Then twelve years later, everything had changed.
Oh, my body still hurt. Still does, even five years after I packed up my wrestling gear for the final time and tossed the bag into the attic. Injuries were not the reason I was leaving this time, however. I retired because of my wife and kids, who had come to Arizona with me to watch my final match.
I had discovered a new life since my first retirement. I was close to failing as a husband and on my way to failing as a father when I found that new life. I never would have imagined that I could feel so at peace with leaving wrestling. I certainly hadn't felt this way the first time I retired.
That is why I felt engulfed by peace as I sat alone on the end of the bed, appreciative for the wrestling career I had been given and grateful for the second chance I had received as a husband and father.
"Thank You, Lord," I prayed through my tears.
* * *
The thought that it was time to leave the ring for good first came a year earlier, after WrestleMania 25 in 2009. In the first of three main events at Houston's Reliant Stadium, I took on The Undertaker. From a pure wrestling standpoint, it was an intriguing matchup: me—Mr. WrestleMania—against the wrestler with a 16 – 0 record in WrestleManias.
When we met to start setting up how the match would play out three days before WrestleMania, Pat Patterson and Michael Hayes—who produced matches for WWE—told us we would not be one of the last two matches on the schedule and would wrestle for fifteen minutes.
"How long you been with this company?" Taker asked me.
"Lord knows how long, but it's been a while," I told him with a laugh.
"I've been with this company longer than some of my marriages combined!" Taker said.
Not being the main event or semi-main event motivated Taker and me to put on a match that would be a tough act to follow for the rest of the night. (We also wound up wrestling for thirty minutes, well past our allotted time.)
To add to the anticipation of the match, because I had been a Christian for seven years at that point and had made sure the changes in my life were evident inside the ring and out, we employed a light versus darkness theme. I entered the ring first, wearing white and descending to a brightly lit stadium floor via a platform enveloped in white smoke. Then The Undertaker, dressed in his customary black, rose from below the stage floor and, in a darkened stadium, defiantly strolled toward the ring to his ominous theme music. WWE puts on good productions, and that one was really cool.
Taker and I turned in what I still consider a near-perfect match, despite one scare. About fifteen minutes into the match, we had planned for Taker to do a "dive." I would be lying outside of the ring, "hurt," and referee Marty Elias—a good friend whom I prayed with before every match we did together—would be checking on me to see if I would be able to return to the ring and continue the match. After I made my way to my feet, Taker would run across the ring and dive at me headfirst over the top rope. But I would see Taker coming, shove Marty out of the way, and pull a "cameraman" into my place. The cameraman would appear to take the hit instead of me, reaching out to catch Taker in the process and breaking Taker's fall.
Of course, with our old-school mentality, we weren't about to practice Taker's dive, or anything else for that matter. Nowadays it's different, but our mindset back then was that if we were going to miss a move or if anything would go wrong, it would happen during the pay-per-view when it was for real. When it came time for Taker's dive, the "cameraman" set up a step too far from the ring. I shoved Marty aside as planned, grabbed the cameraman, and tried to pull him closer to where Taker would land. But I couldn't get him to where I wanted. He dropped his camera and reached out toward Taker, but barely got his hands on Taker, who hit the padded floor headfirst.
When we had set up the match, both of us had instructed Marty that if for any reason neither of us was able to make it back into the ring after the dive, Marty was to go ahead and proceed with the referee's ten count as usual. If Taker or I couldn't make it back into the ring before the ten count, the match would be over right there. So after Marty and I returned to the ring, the referee started his ten count—but slowly and dramatically to play it up—while Taker remained flat on his back on the floor. I didn't know if Taker would get up. I was on the far side of the ring and didn't have a real good view of where he was, but Taker managed to crawl under the bottom rope and back into the ring right before Marty reached ten.
Taker was hurt, but we were able to finish out the match as planned. About fifteen minutes after the failed dive, the planned finish came when I performed my moonsault—a backflip off the top rope—and Taker caught me and dropped me with his Tombstone Piledriver for the pin.
A perfect match isn't possible, but that one came close. At one point, the more than 70,000 fans had started chanting, "This is awesome! This is awesome!" I already sensed inside the ropes that we were putting on a good show, and the fans' spontaneous chants confirmed my feelings.
Marty and I left the ring before Taker. When we walked through the curtain into the backstage area, the other wrestlers and crew members were standing and applauding. When Taker came through the curtain, he hobbled directly into the trainer's room and fell to the floor. I went in there with Marty while the trainers looked at Taker. Other wrestlers started coming in and out, checking on Taker and raving about our match.
"How am I going to go out and top that match?" asked Triple H, my best friend, who would be wrestling in the final match of the night.
Michael Hayes came into the room. "Oh my!" he exclaimed. "What did I just witness?"
The answer, as wrestling fans still say, was one of the best matches in the history of professional wrestling.
* * *
Because that WrestleMania was in Houston, I was able to ride back home to San Antonio with my family the next day. Usually after a WrestleMania, it was off to the airport for the next night's Raw live television broadcast. "WrestleMania was great," Vince liked to tell us, "but that was yesterday and we have Raw tonight." Even after our biggest event of the year, it was right back to work to start building toward the next year's biggest event.
But that year, I had arranged to take a few months off following WrestleMania. At age forty-four, I wasn't wrestling full-time anyway. With a nine-year-old son and a daughter nearing five, I already was cutting back on my time away from home, and I was taking a break to think about how much longer I wanted to wrestle.
Rebecca and I had discussed how soon I would quit the sport, and that day, while she was driving the four of us home, I still managed to surprise her.
"You know," I told her, "that may have been the one to end it on."
"Really?" she asked.
"Yeah! I just don't know if it can get any better than that."
"Well," she told me, "that is a decision you're going to have to make pretty quick."
"I know," I answered. "We'll see."
I felt the satisfaction of a job well done after a great many of my matches. After the Taker match in Houston, though, I felt something different: a complete peace.
In some respects, wrestling can be like a drug addiction. Putting on a good match gives you a high, and you keep chasing that high. Or as my good friend Mark Calaway likes to say, "chasing the dragon." But I think for the first time, in the break I took after WrestleMania 26, I realized that I no longer was pursuing that high.
The contentment, the peace, and the completion that remained with me after we returned home were unlike anything I had felt in the business.
As I contemplated the possibility of never gearing up for another match, I was fine with it. And although it had been my public identity since I was nineteen, even the idea of not being identified as Shawn Michaels the wrestler didn't bother me.
Being okay with not feeling that high in the ring anymore, with not being that Shawn Michaels anymore, signaled to me that I was ready to retire. My four months off gave me the opportunity to practice being retired, if you will, and none of my feelings changed during that period.
Confirmation came when the time neared for me to return to WWE. Michael Hayes, the former wrestler who helped produce matches, called with an angle for the next WrestleMania. (An "angle" in wrestling is essentially a storyline or gimmick.)
"We have never done this before, but what do you think about this?" Michael began. "That match that you had with The Undertaker was amazing. I don't know how we can top it, but what if we do a rematch, and we put your career on the line?"
He even brought up the idea that it wouldn't be a true retirement, that we could bill the match as I would have to retire if I lost, yet come up with some creative way of getting around it if that's the route we wanted to take.
I told Michael I would think about it.
There was a lot to consider.
The Taker match would be a difficult one to follow, but the jock in me responded positively, not only to the possibility of that challenge, but also to being part of a storyline that WWE had not done. Having my career on the line would move what I had been thinking about, praying about, and believing that I was ready to do into a place where, publicly, there would be no turning back in my mind. If we were to say I would leave if I lost, I would leave if I lost.
I came back for the SummerSlam pay-per-view in August for a partial, mini-reunion of D-Generation X with Hunter (Paul Levesque). Hunter (also known as Triple H) and I, along with "Ravishing" Rick Rude and our female bodyguard, Chyna, had formed DX, as we were called for short, in the late 1990s. We and "Stone Cold" were the ones who had ushered in and then fueled the "Attitude Era" of what then was still known as the World Wrestling Federation. That was in my pre-Christian days, and we embraced the role of being the bad boys and girl of WWF.
Our characters were crude and broke all the rules. We didn't care whom we offended. I doubt wrestling has ever had a more controversial group than DX.
Hunter and I had reunited as a two-man DX for a short while in 2006, and we did so again when I came back from my time off after WrestleMania 25. Our storyline then was that after losing to Taker, I had become chef at an office cafeteria in Texas and Triple H came down to convince me to return and reform DX with him.
In December 2010, on a Raw episode taped in Corpus Christi, Texas, I was to receive the WWE's Slammy Award—think Oscar or Grammy for wrestling—for Match of the Year from the WrestleMania match with The Undertaker. As Vince can attest, it's never too early to promote WrestleMania, and with the next one four months away, I started asking around to find out if we were going to go through with the rematch idea at WrestleMania 26. I was told a decision had not been made.
On the night I was to receive the Slammy, just a few minutes before I was to go out into the arena, I followed up with Vince and Michael to find out whether we had an answer yet on the rematch.
"Why?" I was asked.
"Because if we are," I replied, "why don't I go out there and accept this award from that match and then say to Taker, 'Match of the Year is not good enough. I do that all the time. I know I can beat you,' and then lay out a challenge to him."
That sparked a hurried discussion, but the consensus seemed to be that we shouldn't rush into a decision.
Before I became a Christian, I had been difficult to work with, making demands based on how I thought storylines should go and such. I had strong opinions on how we should do things and was no-holds-barred on expressing them. I was the source of a lot of Vince's stress. Jim Ross, the WWE announcer, used to tell me, "It wasn't what you were saying, it was your presentation." Jim was spot on.
So I had a reputation for holding the decision-makers' feet to the fire. I was still going to do that as a Christian, but in a much more respectful and unselfish way.
"Come on," I told them. "What else am I going to say out there? What am I going to do?"
"I don't know," Vince said. "What are you thinking?"
"Well, if I go out there and say it, we have to do it, right?"
"Geez," Vince said, "don't do that."
"Well, we need to make a decision," I announced. "Either we are going to do this thing or we aren't."
"I think we ought to do it," Michael said.
"What about the career and everything else?" Vince asked. "What are we going to do there?"
"I don't know," I said. "I have some ideas."
Having some ideas didn't seem to convince them of anything.
"I don't know," Vince said. "It's your call. I'm just not sure if we go there."
By this point, the announcement for the award was being made.
"We are going there," I said.
"Are you going to do it?" Michael asked.
"I think I am. I will just lay the challenge out there, and we'll see what happens."
"I guess we're going there then," Vince said.
I went out and, after making my acceptance speech, stepped away from the microphone, then went back and issued the challenge for a rematch.
The fans in Corpus Christi ate it up.
Mark Calaway was sitting at home, watching on television.
"What?!" Mark asked his television.
Like many events in my career, the decision to set the retirement plan in motion came down to a feeling.
In the lead-up to WrestleMania 26, we brought in the retirement aspect. The discussions continued to include the possibility that it would not be a true career-ender for me, suggesting I could take a year off and then make another comeback. After all, I had taken four months off after the last WrestleMania, so they figured I could be happy with an entire year off and still be available for them to use here and there on a part-time basis. They seemed to prefer a farewell tour over an abrupt retirement. Michael Hayes knew I was seriously considering walking away, although I don't think anyone in WWE knew how much I was looking forward to a permanent retirement.
But I knew that would be my last match. My career was ending.
Excerpted from Wrestling for My Life by Shawn Michaels. Copyright © 2014 Shawn Michaels. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Foreword Paul "Triple H" Levesque 9
Foreword "Stone Cold" Steve Austin 11
Chapter 1 Feeling at Home 17
Chapter 2 From Bottom Up 31
Chapter 3 The Gift of Wrestling 47
Chapter 4 Grateful for Scars 59
Chapter 5 Leaving a Legacy 69
Chapter 6 Know Your Identity 79
Chapter 7 Stay True to Your Standards 91
Chapter 8 Aiming to Please 103
Chapter 9 Self-Discipline Brings Rewards 111
Chapter 10 "Be The Man" 119
Chapter 11 Power in Partnership 127
Chapter 12 Mentors Seek to Serve 141
Chapter 13 Freedom in Forgiveness 151
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I really enjoyed this book. It helped me to realize that I can find God too.
This book was amazing! Although I am a big wrestling fan I think anyone struggling with addiction or just how to manage day to day life will enjoy this book
Amazing only put five because there was no ten
Congrats to HBK on his new book, I hope that he has great success with it. I commend him, for opening up about his life and sharing his life experiences, to inspire people of all ages, gender and class. He has battled his own demons and faced his trials and tribulations, only to come out the other side, a stronger better person. May God continue to bless you HBK.
Great wwe champ never read this before but looks AMAZIN' please barnes and noble put this as lend me i want to read this but dont want to buy it LOVE the heart break kid hehe he needs to come out of retirement ASAP .
A Great story about a man who had problems with drugs in his early life but, makes up for it when he marries the girl of his dreams & has 2 kids. He also finds out that God never gave up on him cuz he knows that God loves him no matter what he's done & God will always forgive him & all around him. The thing he learns later in his life that, if he don't change his old ways he will lose his wife & kids, but he promises to his wife Rebecca he will change & she never gives up on him cuz he means alot to her & his kids. To me he's 1 of the nicest guys you could ever meet in person & will be 1 of the greatest wrestlers ever in my honest opinion. He also defines heart & talent, greatness,skill.
And In This Corner... This is the true story of professional wrestler Shawn Michaels changed life and transformation after he became a follower of Christ. Shawn's life is really a story of two parts. The life he had before Christ, and after Christ. In his earlier life, he was a popular wrestling star who was so caught up in a self-destructive lifestyle that his health was almost ruined, he paid very little attention to his family, and only thought of himself in all the decisions he made. Wrestling was the only thing that mattered to him. Despite that, his destructive lifestyle was so out of control that he had to leave wrestling. And no one expected that he would ever return. A different man. Then his entire life changed. He became a follower of Christ, and his whole existence and outlook underwent a transformation. The second part of his life began. He adopted a new set of priorities, and wrestling was no longer the number one thing in his life. Following God became his first priority, followed by his family. He got off drugs, and really enjoyed spending time with his wife and children. And then miraculously he got a second chance at wrestling, and came back. But it was a new man that returned to the wrestling ring, with a different set of priorities. This Shawn thought about what his words and actions meant to others, and he made a concerted effort to make amends with people he had hostile relationships with. He is very thankful for how much wrestling allowed him to express his faith. There were challenges keeping his new set of values but he was determined shine the light of God's love in everything he did. How do you like me now? Shawn Michaels has lived life two different ways, and will be the first to say that his second way of living has been the best. He is very honest when telling his story and earnestly cares about being a man of God. And he is a very happy man. His story of transformation is encouraging and enlightening. This 5-star book will appeal to all wrestling fans, and those who enjoy a true story of a changed life. The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book through Zondervan Publishing and The Thomas Nelson Publishing BookLook Bloggers Program for the purpose of review. I have not been compensated in any other manner. All opinions expressed are my own, and I was not required, or influenced, to give anything but an honest appraisal. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
i think more WWE superstars should venture to write a book about their time and life during the job, dispite what the McMann's say or want. I understand they have worked hard to build an empire and one hell of a company but more of the wrestlers need to tell their side of the story of what goes on behind the scenes, since we all know it isn't all really friendly and the McManns are out for themselves..
Spouses and family you can be sorry sorry sorry but scars dont disappear and some wounds never heal but scab over and then reopen . Gladiators may surrvive to retire in comfort but many born again or not are not and remain damaged and poor