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Heartbreak & Triumph: The Shawn Michaels Story [Paperback]

Shawn Michaels , Aaron Feigenbaum
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 7 2006
Winning and losing. Heels and babyfaces. Kliqs and Curtain Calls. Tearing down house shows and tearing up hotel rooms. Ladders and cages. Vacated titles and unwarranted suspensions. Works and screwjobs. Heartaches and backbreaks. Forced retirements and redemption. Rock 'n' roll and Graceland. There are two sides to every story; for Shawn Michaels, there is Heartbreak & Triumph.

World Wrestling Entertainment fans think they know "The Heartbreak Kid." He's "The Showstopper" who pushes his high-flying abilities to the limit. He's the company's first "Grand Slam" champion. And of course, he's forever the guy who conspired with WWE Chairman Vince McMahon to screw Bret "Hitman" Hart out of the WWE Championship.

Heartbreak & Triumph introduces us to Michael Shawn Hickenbottom, the youngest of four children whose "really conservative upbringing" made him shy and "afraid that people wouldn't like me if I showed who I really was." But upon discovering Southwest Championship Wrestling (SWCW) one night, Hickenbottom realized instantly what he wanted to become. From there, Hickenbottom fully recounts "Shawn Michaels's" tutelage under Mexican wrestler Jose Lothario; working matches at Mid-South Wrestling; flying high with Marty Jannetty as "The Midnight Rockers" in the American Wrestling Association (AWA); and how a barroom confrontation almost prevented the tandem from ever joining the World Wrestling Federation. "The Rockers" would climb to the top of World Wrestling Entertainment's tag-team division in the late 1980s.

Heartbreak & Triumph tells what dissolved Michaels's partnership with Jannetty and started his transformation into "The Heartbreak Kid." You'll learn firsthand of the "unfair" allegation that brought about HBK's classic Ladder match with Razor Ramon at WrestleMania X; the incident in Syracuse that set the stage for Shawn's unbelievable "comeback" victories at Royal Rumble 1996, and in the Iron Man WWE Championship match with Bret Hart at WrestleMania XII; and how his escalating backstage feud with Hart inadvertently built toward the formation of "D-Generation X," as well as the first-ever "Hell in a Cell" contest against Undertaker.

Beyond the squared circle, Michaels clears the air about his days running with "The Kliq" -- Kevin Nash ("Diesel"), Scott Hall ("Razor Ramon"), Paul Levesque ("Triple H"), and Sean Waltman ("The 1-2-3 Kid") -- their contributions to WWE's wildly successful "Attitude" era, and the consequences of their uncharacteristic Madison Square Garden "Curtain Call" in May 1996. And for the first time anywhere, Michaels shoots completely straight about his role in "the biggest scandal in wrestling history," the infamous "Montreal screwjob" at Survivor Series 1997.

While reliving the crippling back injury that forced him to retire in his prime following his WWE Championship loss at WrestleMania XIV, Michaels credits the new loves in his life -- his second wife Rebecca, his children, and his newfound faith -- with giving him the strength to kick his habit, recover physically, and make a jubilant return to the ring at SummerSlam 2002. Now back on top and doing what he enjoys most, the WWE Superstar regards Heartbreak & Triumph as the perfect means "to review my life, and attempt to figure out how I became the person I am."

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed this book May 6 2007
You never truly know the 100% truth behind any story, but it was nice to get Shawn Michaels' career from his point of view, and to see some of the creativity that went into his many successful rivalries, etc.

Long live HBK
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3.0 out of 5 stars alright Aug. 25 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
alright book. Shawn micheals trys to make himself look really good. Ive read a few other wrestling books, and every one has nothing good to say about him. But if your a fan of his, you will really like this book
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Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  117 reviews
39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Complete with a candy coating. Nov. 28 2005
By R. Howell - Published on Amazon.com
Shawn Michaels adds his name to the growing list of wrestling autobiographies. This is an enjoyable book but it is not the 'best one out there'. It does step away from the WWE correctness that saturate other books like Ric Flair's or Edge's but the book certainly could have been better. We get a nice coverage of Shawn's wrestling life/career and he talks about various big matches, inspiring wrestlers, the Kliq, and the infamous "Montreal screw-job" of Bret Hart. He ends with his meeting his wife Rebecca and being born-again. It's good to see that he is able to admit that he was a jerk through his career and has done his best to make ammends.

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.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Poor, poor HBK. April 18 2006
By M. Williams - Published on Amazon.com
I bought this book on the notion that it would be an entertaining read and a great look at a mans career, of which Shawn has had a great one. In all honesty I thought he realised it a little early, especially since he has fought Hogan and Vince since, and I would have loved to have heard his thoughts on this, especially on the backstage issues involving the Hogan work. Since Have a Nice Day is my favourite autobiography, Ive pretty much set it as the template of which a wrestling bio should be set so I'll probably be refering to it a few times in the review.

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.
18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Heart-breaking and heart-soaring. Dec 30 2005
By C.W. Fitch - Published on Amazon.com
"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.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome book; great for any wrestling fan Dec 29 2005
By Wyldephang - Published on Amazon.com
Shawn's story is compelling, and it speaks volumes about the nature of the man behind the "Heartbreak Kid" persona. You'll read about his near-career-ending injuries, and you'll come to appreciate the devotion he showed to the fans, toughing out a knee injury and a shattered back - both of which were supposed to have ended his career as a professional wrestler. He talks about growing up, his school life, his relationship with his family. He also writes in detail about his relationship with the wrestling community, his close friends in the business (and how he went about meeting them). Of course, he recollects his training with Jose Lothario to begin what is arguably one of the most successful professional wrestling careers in history, and he takes you through the cycle of promotions he went through (and the people he met and traveled with along the way) along his rise to the top.

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.
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Sincere Look Into The Demons We All Battle Nov. 12 2005
By Texas Two Stepper - Published on Amazon.com
This book shows that although wrestlers get hit in the head with chairs, thrown through tables, and have countless injuries, they are human. The book is a sincere and passionate look into sports entertainment and the demons that Shawn Michaels has had to defeat to get to the level he is on now. It is definately a must read for any wrestling fan and will clear up any misgivings that anyone has about Michaels and proves that he is by far the best there ever is and will be in sports entertainment.
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