World Wrestling Entertainment fans think they know "The Heartbreak Kid." He's "The Showstopper" who pushes his high-flying abilities to the limit in the squared circle, on ladders, and in steel cages. 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 in Montreal at Survivor Series on November 9, 1997.
But that's the side "HBK" has allowed you to see...until now. Heartbreak & Triumph: The Shawn Michaels Story 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) on TV one Saturday night, the preteen Hickenbottom realized instantly what he wanted to become, and later would convince his father—a colonel in the U.S. Air Force—to let him pursue his dream.
From there, Hickenbottom fully recounts the events that led to "Shawn Michaels's" tutelage under Mexican wrestler Jose Lothario; working matches at Mid-South Wrestling under the guidance of Terry Taylor and the Rock 'n' Roll Express's Robert Gibson & Ricky Morton; flying high with Marty Jannetty as "The Midnight Rockers" in the American Wrestling Association (AWA); and how a barroom confrontation in Buffalo almost prevented the tandem from ever joining the World Wrestling Federation.
While reliving the crippling back injury that forced him to retire in his prime, 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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