In the ring, Shawn Michaels is widely considered one of the greatest of all-time in the world of professional wrestling with several championships and memorable matches cemented on his resume.
But his biggest accomplishment came outside the ring. Michaels, who earned the nickname “Mr. WrestleMania,” struggled with his own demons and addictions throughout his career. But 15 years ago, feeling the need to change for his son and family, Michaels found himself in the parking lot of Cornerstone Church with a feeling that he was being drawn to it.
Michaels went inside seeking a Bible study and ended up accepting Christ as his savior. He remembers weeping while going through the Sinner’s prayer and never touched a drug since then. The moment helped resurrect his WWE career and gave him a newfound life.
Now after being retired since 2010, Michaels co-stars in the WWE Studios faith-based comedy “The Resurrection of Gavin Stone” and the film hits very close to home for Michaels.
The Resurrection of Gavin Stone
CraveOnline: Your film “The Resurrection of Gavin Stone” is now in theaters, tell us about the film and your character?
Shawn Michaels: It’s a fish out of water story. It’s about a washed-up child star that is sentenced to do community service at a church. To get out of doing the 200 hours of janitorial work, he sees they’re putting on a Christmas play and pretends to be a Christian to get into the play. Through the process of him being in the play and dealing with the church, he changed because of the grace and care these people extend to him. It’s an inspirational romantic comedy.
What drew me to it was I thought it was a really good script and I appreciated the humor with the sort of poking of the church in a lighthearted way. I can identify with the Gavin Stone character. Coming into an evangelical church for the first time was very different for me as well so they had a lot of fun with that.
The role of Doug was a role I could easily identify with. Doug is an ex-con whose life was changed and now he’s mentoring his family and his church. Although I never technically did time [laughs], I could certainly understand the process he went through.
CraveOnline: Was acting something you always wanted to try?
Shawn Michaels: Acting is something I always wanted to try but I wanted to do it when I was done with my wrestling career. I don’t consider myself a great multitasker so I try to do one thing at a time even though there were opportunities when I was wrestling. For me first role, this was in an area that I was comfortable with so I jumped at the opportunity.
“I live in constant state of gratitude”
CraveOnline: Being on set and watching the Gavin Stone character go through a similar transformation as you, did it trigger some memories?
Shawn Michaels: I’ve come to understand that I was pretty darn emotional anyways but most of that emotion came out in a negative way prior to my spiritual experience. There are faith-based movies that some people don’t consider good but every time it comes to the scene where someone’s life is changed, that still affects me. It has been 15 years for me and that has never left me. I live in a constant state of gratitude, thankfulness and appreciation for the second chance I was given so any time in any film, when that is given to someone, I always appreciate it.
Perception of his faith
CraveOnline: How did your peers react during your own process of changing your life and coming to the Lord?
Shawn Michaels: My close friends who know the real me, they were thrilled but they were all unbelievably supportive and never gave me the impression that they would wait and see with me. A lot of the other people that just had to deal with me, that was the case for them and it’s perfectly understandable and from my part, well earned [laughs].
The one good thing about it is, you stop being in denial of everything and you understand any attitude that anyone had toward me, you can’t control that and all you can do is hope to change that impression of yourself. In the cases that were certainly important to me, that has been done.
The Heartbreak Kid is no stunt man
CraveOnline: Take us behind the scenes here. What was one of your favorite moments while working on the film?
Shawn Michaels: It was an unbelievably fun process. There’s three of us that were almost like the “Three Amigos” that were sort of a group and we were playing the role of the disciples and we’re buddies that share a bible study together and stuff like that but it was just so much fun doing the comedy.
There’s one scene where Gavin is being lifted up on the ropes and he’s talking about the ascension and he falls and my character, Doug, catches him. The one thing that was in my wheelhouse physically, I could not do. It had to be done by stunt people because of all of the rules and regulations but everybody found it to be very amusing that the ex-wrestler could not do the physical role [laughs].
His journey back to WWE
CraveOnline: You mentioned in your testimony that after being born again, you returned to WWE as a “one-off” but ended up staying all the way to 2010. Why was it so important for you to go back to further your career?
Shawn Michaels: It wasn’t my intention like you said. It was wonderful but you say ‘what’s next?’ Honestly, without sounding too spiritual, when I talk about it now it affects a lot of people negatively because they think it’s all about my faith but a lot of that was still in me anyways. So I just felt like I could do it but then you really spent a lot of time thinking ‘What is next?’ You ask people for advice and then all of a sudden, it comes to the basic things of what are you good at? In the church, we say ‘What are your gifts?’
For me, regardless of how you look at it, I’ve done one thing since I was 19 years old and before that, I worked at Mr. Gatti’s and Chuck E. Cheese [laughs] so it was between the two. I don’t know if the pizza thing was my gift [laughs] and the one thing I did longer was wrestling. It came natural.
CraveOnline: Was it difficult coming back after all that time?
Shawn Michaels: When I went back, it wasn’t hard. All of the same stuff was still there but through my eyes it didn’t look tough. The hardest thing ever was being away from home. The only reason that was hard was that now I had something I wanted to come home to and that was my wife and my children. You realize that this is what I do. I’m a WWE wrestler and it felt natural to go back.
I didn’t want to go back to a full-time schedule not because I couldn’t handle it but I didn’t want to be gone that much and I asked if that was something we could work out and the WWE was always unbelievable in that process. They were supportive and great in every aspect when it came to scheduling and making me comfortable.
“This is what we do”
CraveOnline: Shawn, what do you want the audience to get out of “The Resurrection of Gavin Stone?”
Shawn Michaels: I want them to enjoy. There’s a line in the movie that comes up a couple of times and it’s ‘This is what we do.’ Honestly, just enjoying the movie as a movie and the message of whether it’s you giving a second chance or you receiving one, take advantage of both.
You don’t have to be a believer in Jesus Christ to be a gracious individual and understand that everybody messes up and that most are looking for a second chance. Don’t let all of the outside noise and all of the shame or guilt or thinking you’re not worthy enough. Get in line [laughs] because neither am I. If I can do it, you can do it.
Joshua Caudill is a writer for CraveOnline, a hockey fanatic, a pro wrestling connoisseur and an expert on all things Patrick Swayze. You can follow him on Twitter @JoshuaCaudill85 or “like” CraveOnline Sports on Facebook.
Photos by WWE
THE RESURRECTION OF GAVIN STONE
Now In Theaters
DIRECTOR | Dallas Jenkins
CAST | Brett Dalton, Anjelah Johnson-Reyes, Shawn Michaels, Neil Flynn, & D.B. Sweeney
SYNOPSIS | Gavin Stone, a washed-up former child star, is forced to do community service at a local megachurch and pretends to be a Christian so he can land the part of Jesus in their annual Passion Play, only to discover that the most important role of his life is far from Hollywood.