Total Wrestling Magazine (11 & 12/03)
Shawn Michaels “The Confession Sessions”
Credit to Mel and for this interview.

TWG : For much of your career you were known in the business for being a real party animal. There are many stories about the wild times you had on the road. Now you have ceased that lifestyle and found religion. What made you go from one extreme to the other?

SM : As a Christian I should say it’s not really religion, actually. It’s having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It goes well past any kind of religion. You are not following any law. You are following God’s word, which is the bible. It says in the bible that God calls you and I believe that’s what he did. My personal belief is that he used my wife Rebecca and my son Cameron and brought them into my life to show me that I could be better than I was.

TWG : How did that happen?

SM : Rebecca saw more in me in the two weeks before I ever knew I wanted to marry her than I ever saw in myself, as long as I have been alive. She has a very strong relationship with Jesus Christ. She gave me this book about a year after our son was born. The book was called Straight Talk To Men, by Dr.James Dobson. In the nicest way this man, in so many words, told me that I was falling desperately short as a man, as a husband and as a father.

TWG : How did it give you that kind of message?

SM : Meaning as far as applying those things to the word of God in which it is said that men are to be the spiritual leaders in the family. That means to bring your children up as God fearin, God loving, human beings. I wasn’t leading in that respect. I certainly wasn’t living a life that was glorifying to my creator. On the surface, and from a very worldly point of view, I was very successful. I had all the material things I was supposed to have. I had successes and therefore, in the world today, if you have success you are successful – but that certainly wasn’t the case. Throughout my life I have always wanted more, and I wasn’t aware of what that was. Now I am aware that what I always wanted was peace and joy in my heart, and I have that now. No amount of success, no amount of money or anything, can give you that if you don’t have it from within.

TWG : Did you have any real sense of religion while growing up?

SM : Certainly, it has been instilled in me by my parents since I was a kid. I was raised a Catholic, went to Sunday school and was an alter boy. When people say ‘Oh Shawn Michaels has found religion’ – I found religion the day I was born. What I didn’t have, and what I have now, is the relationship with my creator. All that was in my life before wrestling and it fell away.

TWG : How does your renewed sence of religion affect you in the wrestling business?

SM : They [WWE] know there are certain things I will not do, so they don’t bring it up. There are times my buddies will say ‘we’re about to have a conversation that we know you don’t want to hear’, if they do go into it, I get up and walk out of the room. Kevin Nash still can’t believe I get up and walk out of the room when the girls are on TV. I’m not going to be around it. I’m not judging anybody. This is what is right for me – my own personal spirit. I don’t want that stuff coming into me.

TWG : Isn’t even being a part of it being hypocritical on your part, in that you are around this sort of thing?

SM : You know what. As my pastor says, ‘the church is full of hypocrites, but it’s ok, we’ve got room for one more!’ We all fall short. The one thing that I certainly have tried to do is that this is about God and me. It’s not about me and the guy next door and how he runs his house.

TWG : How does Vince McMahon deal with this? He was around in the Shawn Michaels ‘wild’ days.

SM : Yes he was. Back in 1996 when I won the belt he said ‘Shawn I want you to enjoy this. You have worked really hard and I want you to enjoy this time’. When i came back in 2002 he was talking to me and he said ‘remember back in 1996 I wanted you to enjoy this title reign?’ I said yes. And he said ‘you didn’t did you?’ I told him ‘no I didn’t’. He told me he wanted me to enjoy WWE this time around when I came back, and I told him ’I already do’. I have enjoyed every bit of it since I came back. He is very happy about that.

TWG : What is different this time around – you, the business, or both?

SM : I think the business is different. I don’t know what affect that has on me being back in it. I can’t say if the business is better or worse. With me I think it’s better. There are a lot less stresses and anxieties now than there were when I was here years back. WWE was in a promotional war then, and so much was going on.

TWG : You had a reputation for having an ‘attitude’ back then.

SM : The way I was back then was very angry. I was on top. I had everything I could possibly want but I was angry.

TWG : Why?

SM : I have no idea. I try to think about it and I figure that maybe I was trying to measure up to something that was impossible to measure up to and that bothered me. I would have these matches and have this success and think that it was still not good enough. I think it was my own personal little struggle. People would say to me ‘that was an awesome match’ and I would say ‘it was awesome but next month, just wait!’ I thought I could do better on the match that was coming up next month. It was an endless cycle. I wasn’t competing with anyone around me. I just kept competing with myself. When you do this in a business where there is no off time and you keep trying to be better and better each time you go out there, you’ll just eat yourself alive!

TWG : WWE keeps throwing up the Bret Hart/Shawn Michaels ‘Montreal Screwjob’ on TV over and over again. Don’t you think we have all heard enough already?

SM – My guess is that it will always come up in any interview with me, as well as any with Bret and Vince. I suppose we can say ‘how many times will this come up’, but it was a huge incident. It’s a part of history – not a glamorous part of history, but it was a huge part. So I don’t think people are ever going to stop talking about it. I think the anger should subside evantually. I think it has on all parts. Time does that. It does heal all wounds. The more you talk about things, the more you cleanse it out. I did what I was told to do. I know other people have their opinions on that, and I respect that, but at that time it was the thing I was told to do, and a lot of people think that the differences between me and Bret mad it a lot easier to do. The thing is, it didn’t, because Bret and I, with all that was going on, underneath all that we always had respect for one another. He and I were never buddies, but we always liked each other. We didn’t have to hang out with each other. Years before I won the big belt he said to me ‘I see you being the guy who takes this from me and takes the company to the next level’. I believe he sincerely meant it. Before the match we had a wonderful conversation and we shook hands even though I knew I would be a part of what happened. There are things you do in life that you don’t like. There was no great joy, but there will always be those who will say ‘Oh yes there was. You liked it!’ It wasn’t anything I am real thrilled about. That night also changed the business forever, in that it made Vince McMahon the most evil man in the company. That was the first night that it happened. It did. The next night the ratings went up, and they continued to climb form that day on. It just perpetuated him turning into this villian.

TWG : Several years ago you said that the only way you would return to the ring was if your son asked you when he was growing up. He’s only three years old – so he never said it. So what was it that made you return to the ring?

SM : About six months before I actually came back, after being out four years, I got called to have a meeting with Vince. That was right after the nWo had come in, and he thought about bringing me back to be with them. This is when I felt the Lord tugging at my heart. There was something going on in my life and I wasn’t sure what it was. I told him that something was going on in my life and I couldn’t do it right now, and he told me he understood. I told him if he had to release me from my contract I would understand. I just felt that God was trying to get my attention for something, and I didn’t want to miss it. He told me to give him a call when I found out what God wanted to tell me. Three or four months later I called him back and told him I got the message. It was on 25 April to be exact. That was the day I received Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Saviour. So I called him and, in a nice way, he said that ‘that was your chance, we don’t know where we’re going there now’. I told him it was no problem, but to keep in mind that I was still here. We hung up and time went on, and then Scott Hall left they decided to bring me in. I made it clear that my life had changed. I wasn’t going to curse or do anything like that. So I came back, and when Kevin Nash tore his quad muscle, he probably wasn’t ready to come back from his injury anyway. I called Vince with an idea. It was about how Vince runs guys so hard that he causes a guy to get injured. I said that, of all people, I know how Vince runs people into the ground, and so I could do a little match with him. Vince asked me if I thought I should be wrestling after it looked like my career in the ring was over. To cut a long story short, I began to pray about it and ask a lot of people around me if I should be doing this. I was at church one day and the Pastor was doing a sermon on God making it clear about when he wants you to do something. When God wants you in a certain place, he’ll put you there and there is nothing you can do. Right there and then in the church my phone rang and it was the WWE representative saying they wanted me on TV on Monday. It couldn’t have been clearer.

TWG : You had been out of the business for four years. Were you afraid that there would be people who wouldn’t know who you were?

SM : Yes. I was told that there were a lot of people in the company who were not going to know me. The writers knew of me a little bit, and they probably figured that if they don’t know, the fans probably don’t know. I was very pleased to see that most people really knew who I was. They still remembered and then I was told that, over time, I have gotten over with the new fans. I was concerned about a lot of things, like would I be the same, and where my place was. I knew I wasn’t going to wrestle all the time. I had no desire to wrestle all the time. I had no desire to be a top guy.

TWG : Did you really have no desire to be on top?

SM : Because of the peace I have in my life, none of that is there. I don’t want to have to prove anything. I think that is what caused my life problems before. Bringing Christ into my life took that off me. You don’t have to prove yourself to anybody, and I don’t mean that from an angry point-of-view. Do I want everybody to like me? That would be nice, but it’s not realistic to think that. I know that I am cool with my maker and that is what works for me.

TWG : Who are the guys in the WWE’s holding bin that you feel can take the company to the next level?

SM : Guys like Rob Van Dam, Christian and Chris Jericho are all so talented, but they have been brought to a certain level for so long that they may not go past that point. Therefore I think you need to go underneath that to the unknowns – people like Mark Jindrak, Garrison Cade, Randy Orton. Randy is already on his way there. I think it’s going to be hard to take the guys I mentioned form the middle and move them up to the upper echolen. I mean nothing is impossible in the wrestling business, but no matter how much I like these guys and how great they work, the fans don’t see them going any higher. There is a real need to take the unknowns and build, and that is going to be a very long process.

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