Heartbreak & Triumph: The Shawn Michaels Story (WWE) Hardcover – Nov 7 2005
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He is one of the most charismatic showmen ever to grace a WWE ring. He was HBK: The Heartbreak Kid - the most resilient champion in WWE. And pound for pound, he may well be the toughest. He was the first Grand Slam champion - the only competitor to hold every title WWE had to offer at the time. Weighing in at 225 pounds, he was WWE Champion on three occasions, defeating men who were close to twice his size. From the very beginning of his spectacular career Michaels gained a reputation for pushing his body to extremes. He was willing to go the limit: to do whatever he had to do to put on a stunning show - and eventually his body paid the price. In his early thirties, an age when most Superstars are hitting their prime, Michaels had to bow out of the spotlight, plagued by recurrent injuries which had ended - or so he thought - his career. But then, sensationally, after four years out of the ring, in June 2002 'The Showstopper' returned to a rapturous reception from which he has never looked back. He is now once again wrestling at his physical peak and it is a measure of the regard in which he is held that in late 2004 no less than 4 million WWE fans voted him the man they most wanted to see take on World Heavyweight Champion, Triple H at Taboo Tuesday. This is the full story of his truly remarkable comeback, and of his glittering twenty-year-plus career.
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Long live HBK
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It's truly a nice pleasant book complete with its candy-coating. I'm proud that Michaels is able to show his Christianity and beliefs and that he has the forwithal to be public about it. However, this story of his life is a little too sweet and nice. It makes you wonder what he would have included had he not been born again and gave the 'dirty' side of his life with all the good. He's careful not to mention what drugs he used and surely there was more to his 'partying' than just getting drunk. He admirably avoids badmouthing too many fellow wrestlers but does give his apparent honest opinion on a few like Shane Douglas, Sid Viscous, and Bret Hart. I'm sure he wrote a story that his kids will be able to look at in a few years and praise him and thusly he may have eliminated the "torrid details" and sexual exploits his life possibly entailed before becoming a family man and man of God.
In all, it's an inspiring story of his life and worth reading to get some sense of where HBK is from and where he's going.
Firstly, I want to point out. Am I a Shawn Michaels fan? No! Do I respect his work? Yes, very much. Its impossible not too. The man goes out and puts on a show every times hes in the ring, heck, the guy wrestled with a broken back just to get Steve Austin over. That demands respect. The book itself, begins telling tales of Shawns youth, and provide some very funny and humours tales, about his mother, his brother, school friends and his temper. While he doesnt go into huge detail like Mick Foley did, he paints a very interesting picture and its enjoyable to read about how he got into wrestling and his training. Again though, he doesnt go into as deep as Mick did in his book which hurts a little because you dont learn about the emotional and physical pain he goes through. More like 'he was great and gifted and he would do well'.
Once he gets through his early years and into his times with Marty and being the Rockers, the book goes down hill a little for me. Instead of offering funny stories, of which there could be many, he spends to much time in the book making himself look like the innocent victum, how he was always in the wrong place at the wrong time, how everyone hated him and no one understood him. Shawn was a piece of work, he admits it, but to many people have said to much of the same thing over the years to allow him a get out of jail free card. He lied his face off for nearly 7 years about the screwing of Bret Hart, even lying to his face and 'swearing to God' that he knew nothing about it, so to read about how he was innocent in so many of the dealings of what went on stretches the imagination a bit.
Especially that when you consider, Shawn was the top dog, the champion and always seemed to be in the main event shuffle, despite all these things happening to poor HBK. He always takes pot shot after pot shot against Bret and buries him on more than one occasion, claming he was the carrier and Bret was just the load. If you've watched Brets DVD, and heard Bret put Shawn over, despite how he feels about him, it just makes Shawn like incredibly petty. A great instance of his disliking for Bret is when he calls Bret 'not a great wrestler'. Now, Bret is a man who made any man he worked with look like a killer. Bret and Shawn hate eachother, theres no doubting this, but its Shawns argument that makes the statement laughable. He claims Bret only wrestled his way and that caused problems for Kevin (Diesel) in their matches. For the record, Kevin Nash has had 5 good matches in his whole career and 3 of those matches were with Bret. Now, this should easily point out that Bret made these matches work, but Shawn refuses to acknowledge this and buries Bret further.
If you can look past the sob stories, of which there are many and the knocks at Bret, at which there are many more, you'll enjoy the book. He does get mixed up and contradicts himself on a few occasions, claming how he didnt mind loseing to Bret, only then saying he DID mind loseing to him. Another funny point is when he says two good wrestlers (himself and Mr Perfect "Curt Hening") just couldnt have a classic match, conveniently forgetting that two good wrestlers (Bret Hart and Mr Perfect "Curt Hening") had two classic wrestling matches. He also conveniently forgets how he 'well knowingly' tried to hold down The Rock (which has lead to heat that exsists to this day between them.)
Its like I said, I am not a Shawn Michaels fan and knowing how he has had drug problems and having watched his shoot interview where he looks out of his mind and completely contradicts everything he says, it makes his sob stories in this book a LOT harder to believe, and will to anyone who has actually seen the shoot interview. He also doesnt go into any detail about the drugs he has been KNOWN to have taken, his backstage temper tantrums, which he has been KNOW to throw, especially when it involved him jobbing, or his holding down of other wrestlers. He seems to be trying much to hard to paint a wonderful picture of himself. This being said however, despites Shawns constant Bret bashing and sob stories, the book is a great read and any HBK fan should not go without it. It is really interesting to see how he met Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Triple H and how he howned his character and adjusted it with the times. It also helps to provide an interesting look on his character and how he has changed since finding God.
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.
Addressing a topic that comes up very often in his career, he dedicates a long chapter to the infamous Montreal screw job that stripped Bret Hart of the championship title; he talks in depth about the set-up, the execution, and the locker room reaction to it. Shawn describes it well; I can just imagine Vince McMahon (the owner of the company) yelling at Bret in the locker room now. Boy would I have loved to have been a fly on the wall during that whole fiasco...
As new as the book is, it even covers his more recent matches with Kurt Angle and the "Rockers Reunion" with Marty Jannetty. As a big Rockers fan growing up, it was cool to see Shawn writing about his experiences with Jannetty, and how they got back together for one night in 2005 to wrestle La Resistance.
I couldn't put this book down. I found myself up until six in the morning from the night before reading chapter after chapter. Though filled with its fair share of wrestling jargon and "insider talk", for the average person, this autobiography is easy to read, well written, and will keep you on the edge of your seat. I highly recommend it to all wrestling fans.