"The Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels, in recent years, has made his way to the top of my favorite pro wrestling character list. That rise is due to a little bias on my part, stemming from my respect of his courageously public profession of his faith. The fact remains, though, that very few people have contributed to and made an impact upon pro wrestling the way Shawn has. Whether you love him, or love to hate him, you know his name. That, plainly and simply, is what matters in the business.
This autobiography didn't crack through the bestseller list like his associates Mick Foley and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, and that's mostly because Foley started the whole wrestler autobiography trend. Then, it was innovative. Today, it seems that every WWE superstar wants to tell his story, and to most fans it's become little more than a gimmick; another way for WWE to generate revenue and the wrestler to score some more royalties. That doesn't seem to be the case here.
Michael Shawn Hickenbottom spins a true-life yarn of his life, and it's wholesome, simple, and easy to read. There's nothing fancy about Shawn's writing style; by no means is he a "master" storyteller like Foley, who has gone on to write children's books. His paragraphs flow along like a lazy stream, but the stream's current increases just when it needs to, capturing readers and taking them on the occasional run down a tumultous rapid. The simple style delivers, and the way Shawn tells his story puts you in his hotel room, locker room, parents' house, bar, or wherever he happens to be at the time.
Everything you ever wanted or felt you needed to know about Michaels is revealed in this book. You'll not only relive some of the key moments in his career, but be privy to detailed events (from his perspective, of course) leading up to and after them as well. This really clues you in on what can happen behind the scenes in the wrestling business, and you'll find out quite a few things you may not have known about other WWE superstars. (Small word of warning here: you may want to brush up a little on wrestling terminology before diving into this book. Shawn did a good job explaining/defining almost every wrestling term he used throughout the book, but there are a few times when it seems he got excited about what he was writing and forgot that the reader may not know what he means when he uses words like "Gorilla Position" and "color". No big deal, but it's best to be prepared...)
The infamous "Montreal Screwjob" is described in detail in here, which is no surprise. Shawn's take, of course, makes Bret Hart out to be the bad guy, but the way he tells it, there are probably more than a few folks involved who would back him up on that. I'll just say it's hard not to take sides after reading that particular story.
As far as the rest of the book, there are the standard bits about being born, growing up, and what he did before going into wrestling. There's nothing particularly heart-stopping there, but there are a few morsels that will make for good trivia. Most of the conclusion focuses on Shawn's spiritual transformation, which is quite entertaining and insightful. In my case, at least, it earned more respect to the man.
The only thing I found a little disturbing about that aspect, though, is the way he describes Bret Hart. Instead of turning the other cheek, he tore Hart a new orifice in print and besmirched his name a little further. Now, I was never really a fan of Bret Hart, but it was rather brutal to say the least. Guess that's one thing that will scar both Hart and Michaels for all time.
Shawn's relationship with Vince McMahon, though, is what I found the most appealing about the read. While some may denounce it as corporate brown-nosing, I simply saw Michaels bringing out a side of McMahon that not many see. You'll read for yourself what I mean in several places throughout.
When all is read and done, Michaels strips himself down to a guy who is completely passionate about wrestling, and was (and still is) willing to do whatever it takes to ensure not only his, but the company's success. From his boyhood dream at age 12 to his current ramblings and rumblings in the WWE, it's a sometimes leisurely, sometimes intense read that maintains a simple, easy-to-follow pace that won't take more than a long weekend to finish. Afterwards, you'll be wiser, and perhaps more appreciative, not only of Michaels, but of the wrestling business as a whole.