Portal to the Pages

A quick glimpse into my thoughts on various fiction

Guest Post: Heartbreak and Triumph – Shawn Michaels

on November 17, 2012

This week, I have another guest post for you to enjoy. Today’s post is by my boyfriend, Gary Hernon, of The View From The Under Card. In contrast to my usual posts, Gary has chosen to write about an autobiography, a genre of book that I rarely read. The author of the book is also a wrestler, which would be an area that I would not exactly be highly involved in. However, I think that if you read the review below, you may find this an intriguing book, regardless of your interest in the subject area. Please share your thoughts in the comments section below though.

Book cover of "Heartbreak and Triumph" by Shawn Michaels

Heartbreak and Triumph

As a kid there was two things I wanted to be when I grew up. The first was a Ghostbuster (something I still harbour ambitions for). The second? I wanted to be Shawn Michaels. Everyone has a childhood hero and he was mine. For those who have never heard of him, he is a professional wrestler. Yep, I wanted to be a pro wrestler. With that it is his autobiography I will be providing a summary of for this fine blog.

Heartbreak & Triumph: The Shawn Michaels Story details the life of Shawn Michaels from his birth in 1965 until 2005. The book details the ups and downs in both a cut throat professional business that was becoming a worldwide brand during his early 20’s and the personal problems that come from working in said business. As such it is not just a book about wrestling, it is a book that details politics, deception, betrayal, drug abuse, injuries and infidelities amongst others. Michaels is very candid and holds no punches in discussing these matters.

As a fan there were certain instances I wanted to read before others but the writing style provides a good flow that it is very easy to read and there was no area that I would have skipped. In a way the early parts of his life story shaped the person he became in later life when the more “juicy” incidents occurred and how he dealt with them. As such I didn’t feel the need skipping to what I would have deemed, before reading the book, the more “interesting” parts.

A good example of this is as he is talking about his childhood, he uses the term respect an awful lot. Growing up in a Military household and as the youngest of four children respect for elders and those in charge was drilled in him from a young age. Fast forward to 1997 and quite possibly the most infamous incident to ever occur in wrestling history. The Montreal Screw Job.

A bit of background for those who have never heard of this. In November 1997 at a pay per view event called WWF Survivor Series Shawn Michaels faced off against World Champion Bret Hart for the title. The event took place in Montreal. It was Bret’s last date of his contract and was moving to WWF’s rival WCW in a multimillion dollar deal. Here is where things get complicated. Bret proposed that he didn’t drop the title to Shawn in Canada as Bret himself is from Canada and thought it would “hurt national pride” should he lose the title. Bret proposed he relinquish the title the following night on the flagship TV show Raw that was to be taped in America. The fear was that Bret wasn’t contracted to appear on Raw or any further WWF programming and as such could take the title to WCW. Shawn felt that Bret was showing a lack of respect to Vince McMahon, owner of WWF, by not dropping the title. He also felt a lack of respect that Bret didn’t think Shawn as “good enough” to beat him in Canada. Long story short Shawn, Vince, Jim Ross (head booker ) and Jim Cornette (booker) decided they needed Shawn to win by hook or by crook. The execution came when Shawn placed Bret in a submission called the Sharpshooter and Vince instructed the referee to call for the bell insinuating Bret gave up. Shawn left with the title and became a figure of hate for Canadians everywhere.

Shawn discusses this very candidly. He talks about how it wasn’t easy to be the bad guy in the aftermath of this incident but he felt it had to be done and it all centred around respect. Many years later Shawn and Bret reconciled.

Other interesting parts in the book centre around his drug abuse. From his early 30’s he experienced some back issues and this resulted in him taking pain pills to numb the pain. However, working a near 300 day schedule it didn’t allow any recuperation and as such led him to use more and more pain pills. It resulted in the breakdown of numerous long-standing friendships he had made.

The strong points of this book are the honesty that is shown when Shawn discusses the harder topics to talk about. It is an interesting book about an interesting, complex, intelligent man who has lived two or three lives worth of interesting moments. It’s an easy book to recommend for wrestling fans because we all know Shawn Michaels. For those not interested in wrestling I still recommend it as an interesting read because all the topics covered are interesting they are just born from the wrestling business.

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