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After wowing WWE fans for more than two decades, Shawn Michaels decided to keep the train rolling with his new autobiography Wrestling for My Life. In an our interview with him (featured in our April issue), he spoke about his faith and takes us behind the scenes of his legendary career.
M&F: So much of the book is about how you found your faith later in life. Do you think you would you have been able to even come up with a character like The Heartbreak Kid, this lady killer, if you had found God earlier in your life?
Shawn Michaels: I don’t have any idea. I would likely say not. But at the same time, in any job, you grow with the job. The same thing with one’s faith—you grow with that. I know when I first found my faith; I was hyper sensitive to absolutely anything that might not be good. Then, over time you begin to recognize you’re playing a part. The guy that plays Satan or Judas in the church play—nobody comes up to him after the play, and says “Hey, I noticed you were pretty rough on Jesus out there.”
M&F: As your career went on, you leaned out and got ripped, but you were bigger in the late 80s. In the beginning, was there pressure on you to get big?
SM: No, there wasn’t any pressure in that respect from anyone. I was training with guys like Nash and Triple H, guys who like to get in the gym and train hard to this day. When I came back in 2002, after the back injury, for four years I had been out, and when I got back to training, I found that a lot of those heavier weights were be going to be a thing of the past. It was easier on my body and I stayed healthier carrying less weight. Being lighter was better for me; it was better for my knees, better for my back, better for my shoulders. So that was honestly the main reason why I leaned up.
M&F: Did you feel like a bit of a trailblazer? You weren’t Hulk-sized or Andre-sized at a time when those guys were king, yet you went over huge with the fans.
SM: When you’re not 6’6” and you’re not going to be 250 pounds, you have no choice but to make it work however you can. A lot of the times I’m amused how people pat me and Bret Hart on the back, like “You guys were so great with your athletic ability and weren’t worried about being big.” Well, at six foot, you can only be six foot, and you can only be so big. You’re thankful that you’re athletic, and you do your best to use that athletic ability in your matches. Bret and I both tried to focus on that, and we shared a large part in changing that perception of the business. We’re both very proud of that, but I don’t think either one of us would’ve complained if we were 6’6”, 265 pounds, either. But we weren’t. You play with the cards you’re dealt to the best of your ability.
M&F: You actually sang your own theme song, with unforgettable lyrics: “I’m not your boy toy. I’m just a sexy boy.” Did you ever imagine back when you went into the studio to make that song, that a couple of decades later you’d still be coming out to it?
SM: No, I never thought that. It’s funny, Jimmy Hart is the guy that wrote the song. He first recorded it, and then he came up with the idea for me to do it, and I can remember not being thrilled with it. I said, “Oh my goodness I can’t sing,” but I tell ya, it’s grown a life of its own. It’s funny because it’s obviously so not me, but it’s a toe tapper and people get a kick out of it. When I look back on all of it — the song, the career — I look back on it with the most pleasant smile a guy could ever have because I’m extremely fortunate. I got to live my dream, and that’s pretty rare.
M&F: What are you thoughts about the PG nature of WWE now versus the Attitude Era?
SM: Don’t get me wrong, the Attitude Era was fantastic, but it was four years, and I guess that’s something people don’t think about. We started doing it in ’97, and by the time I cam back in 2002 it was done. I guess there was a liggle bit of it, but it wasn’t much. It was four years. It’s been built into mythical proportions. You do the best job you can whether it’s the Attitude Era or the PG Era. Successful people succeed in all situations. Talented people succeed in all situations. Smart people, people of wisdom, wil succeed in all situations.