April 3, 2005
Heartbreak Kid gets dose of humility
By TIM BAINES - Ottawa Sun
As Shawn Michaels, Michael Hickenbottom was The Heartbreak Kid, The Showstoppper, The Sexy Boy, The Boy Toy and all that. He was a world champion, one of wrestling's biggest superstars. He had fame and fortune, more than most of us dream about.
But he wasn't happy. His life wasn't complete.
Fast forward to 2005. Michael Hickenbottom is 39. With a wife and two children. He's ready to step into the ring against Kurt Angle. Sure to be a Wrestlemania highlight tonight.
And he's smiling again. Glad to be alive.
"When I was younger, I could find the negativity," he says. "I had anger, a chip on my shoulder. "We're built to mess up.
"But I could feel something going on within me when I took time off ... when my son was born, I thought, 'Gosh, that little guy is 100% dependent on me.'
"They don't just turn out bad or good. It's because of the environment. Glorifying of the Lord was something I needed. Everything changed for the better. It isn't about me now. I'm 100 times better than what I was."
His in-ring style has changed too. And no wonder with knee and back injuries knocking him out of action earlier in his career.
"I'd like to think with age comes a little wisdom," says Michaels. "How many times can you go out there and do it full bore? You've got to be a little more judicious. Maybe you don't want to be doing moonsaults if you're doing a (small show). As opposed to 10 years ago when I thought I was Superman ... going all out every second of the day."
And now, he's getting ready to face Angle.
"Both of us really wanted to make (this match) happen someday," said Michaels. "I'm just as excited as he is. I'm hoping we can do something that folks will remember for a long time."
Michaels says there's a big chunk of him in his in-ring character.
"I'm not an actor. Everything I do comes from within me," he says. "But there's no anger now. My character has matured and I hope it continues to mature. There's always a whole lot of me in the Heartbreak Kid and the Showstopper. But there's a lot more humility because there's a lot more of that in me.
"The idea to turn me into a bad-guy character, I couldn't do that now,"he says. "I don't have that anger, not in my heart."
As for his role as a Christian, Michaels says: "I don't want to beat anybody over the head with it. I want to be a fun-loving joyful Christian. I realize where I came from and I want to honour Him.
And after Angle? Hulk Hogan?
"He's one guy I've never faced," says Michaels. "Maybe it wouldn't be a classic, but he's still Hulk Hogan. He took this business to places it's never been."
And Michaels is taking it to new places, too. Even as a changed man, the Showstopper is still the Showstopper, sweet chin music and all.