10 April 2015

Book Review: Wrestling for My LIfe, by Shawn Michaels

Wrestling for My Life: The Legend, The Reality, and the Faith of a WWE Superstar, Shawn Michaels with David Thomas

This is a difficult to rate -- is it a 3-star or a 4-star book? -- and a difficult review to write. I am not a fan of professional wrestling and had absolutely no idea who Shawn Michaels is. I selected the book mostly because I have such a low regard for wrestling and wanted to see what one of these actors had to say about how his faith impacted his career.

This is not primarily a book about professional wrestling. There is a lot of the wrestling life, but the purpose of the book is to show the change that Christ made in Michaels' life and in his career.

My take-aways from the book:

  • Professional wrestling is, as I've always known, acting. Victory and defeat are illusions that are determined ahead of any match. It is athletic acting -- the actors are incredibly strong and dedicated to their acting. They are agile and some of their moves are quite gymnastic. There is the very real possibility of injury with these massive bodies colliding with each other, with tables, with floors, and with other objects. But, in the end, it's only a show.
  • I did like the inside look at professional wrestling even though I'm not a fan — decisions about who wins/loses, choreography, rivalries/partnerships, stage–persona vs real life.
  • Shawn seems to have had a very real conversion experience. While some might argue that he tended to compromise his faith in his chosen profession, he did make what seem to be very honest attempts to live out his faith in the context of this very secular and often very non-Christian environment. And, I think he largely succeeded.

I think the writing was pretty flat, stilted. But I think David Thomas (listed as "Contributor", but I suspect his real task was to make the book readable) allowed Michaels' "voice" to come through and I suspect that fans of wrestling will like that -- one isn't hearing someone else telling Michaels' story. That is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a comment on wrestling fans, just an acknowledgement that the book is not sanitized they will hear Michaels tell his story.

There's nothing particularly new in Michaels' telling of his conversion and the change Christ made. However, I think he speaks to an audience that doesn't get many, if any, opportunities to hear this perspective in professional wrestling.

In the end, while this is a 3-star book for me, I expect that wrestling fans and particularly fans of Shawn Michaels will find this book a welcome and interesting explanation of his life and career.

(DISCLAIMER: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher as a review copy as a part of their BookLook Bloggers programme. As a part of this programme, I am free to write the review I think the book deserves and receive no compensation other than continued participation in the programme — I don't even get a kickback if you click on the book title, go to Amazon, and buy the book.)