The Sharp Shooter #1
By: Sean Hurley
As a preface, all views, opinions, thoughts and theories expressed in this column are the product of a man who has 60 minute Iron Man matches with his Beanie Babies on a nightly basis. A man who throws fake punches at his girlfriend in public places (the supermarket, the mall, a gas station) for crowd reactions. A man who practices selling by punching himself in the jaw repeatedly while watching TV. Lastly, these opinions are the product of a man who urinated on his Hulk Hogan wrestling buddy before Wrestlemania VI, in support of The Ultimate Warrior.
Now that we got that out of the way, it's on to business?HBK's Born Again Christianity: A Damn Good Business Decision?
If wrestling is about storytelling, Shawn Michaels is Shakespeare. As a man who went from writing ?DYKE? on a female wrestling fan's jacket to teaching Bible School in San Antonio, Michaels is the personification of drama, comedy, tragedy, epic, sorrow and redemption. Of all the aforementioned qualities, it is redemption which allows us to become emotionally invested in a Shawn Michaels storyline. We know where the man has come from and what he has been through. His new life as a Born Again Christian is well documented and while I have no doubt in my mind that it is a sincere and wholehearted transformation, it's also a damn fine business decision. Anytime Michaels is in a personal storyline that asks him to make difficult moral choices or to use excessive violence, anytime Shawn Michaels has to put God aside and let the ?old HBK? out of the bag for one match, one storyline or one night, the ante is significantly upped. Psychologically, the fans are hooked because it means so much more for a cleansed, redeemed man who has shunned his past life to resuscitate his old, sadistic ways than it does for Average Joe to do commit the same act.
Let's look at a key match during Shawn Michaels? pursuit of the WWE Championship leading to Wrestlemania 23 and his unsanctioned match with Chris Jericho from Unforgiven 2008 for evidence of his Born Again status providing a psychological catalyst to his storylines.
January 22nd, 2007 ? Shawn Michaels Vs. Edge in a street fight on Monday Night Raw. At this point, Triple H had been injured at New Years Revolution at the hands of Rated RKO, Edge and Orton stated that Trips? injury marked the end of DX. Michaels, infuriated that Trips? is out of the picture, claims, (quoting Jerry Lawler exactly) ?The feelings that he (Michaels) had tried to suppress for years have risen again thanks to Edge and thanks to Orton and you know what? The Showstopper is back.? Also, during this match, JR says ?It's almost a metamorphous of Shawn Michaels from head to toe. The way he's carrying himself, the look in Michaels? eyes, the expression on his face.? They continually refer to Michaels? journey to Wrestlemania 23 as a prophecy that he has to fulfill come Hell or high water. It is during this match that we plainly see Shawn Michaels? Born Again Christianity being used as a fulcrum for drama, intensity and interest. The street fight itself is the physical manifestation of Michaels? inner struggle caused by this metamorphous. The fans are invested because they?re wondering ?ok, if Michaels is going to let these suppressed feelings come back and if he's going to ignore the moral input from his faith in order to achieve his goal, there is no telling what he will do.? Do you know what that's called? Good business.
September 7th, 2008 ? Shawn Michaels Vs. Chris Jericho in an unsanctioned match at Unforgiven 2008.
?My only hope is that someday God will forgive me for what I do to you.? Shawn Michaels
Storytelling in one brief sentence.
By this point Jericho had driven Michaels to his wits end by punching Shawn's wife in the face, insulting his children, his dignity, trying to permanently injure Shawn's eye etc? so in this match we have Michaels enraged beyond the likes of anything we may have ever seen from him before. The Shawn Michaels competing in this match isn?t the same guy who teaches Bible study in San Antonio, not the same guy who attends Cornerstone Church regularly. The Shawn Michaels we see in this match answers to nobody; this Shawn Michaels uses religion not for healing and redemption, but for wrath and vengeance. Michael Cole tells us as Michaels makes his entrance ?Shawn Michaels is a religious man, Shawn Michaels said to me ?Go look up Joshua 6:20.? so I did that. Joshua 6:20 says ?I believe the Walls of Jericho. I believe those walls are coming down.? So we see here that not only has Michaels sacrificed his Born Again virtues in light of the vicious, personal nature of his feud, he's also begun to use religion for wrath and not peace. Michaels dumps the Born Again, New Testament God for the vengeful Old Testament God.
Moreover, as in the 2007 street fight, the Unforgiven unsanctioned match is the physical manifestation of the personal turmoil Michaels goes through when he lets the ?old HBK? out of the bag and abandons his Born Again ways. Shawn's look on his face after he literally destroys Jericho is priceless. He's sitting there, examining his work as if he can?t believe what he just allowed himself to do. The question rings through his mind and the minds of the fans: Will God ever forgive Michaels for what he has resorted to? It's storytelling of the highest order and only achievable if Michaels is a Born Again Christian.
Do yourself a favor, watch those two matches and ask yourself two questions:
1 ? What does Michaels? Born Again Christianity and faith add to the storyline?
2 ? Could the same payoff been achieved had Michaels? either not been a Born Again Christian, or they decided to leave religion out of it?
For my money, I say his Born Again Christianity adds an edge to these two stories and a lot of HBK's storylines. In the Jericho storyline and aforementioned Unforgiven contest, we even saw Michaels using the religion as a implement of vengeance. This opens up a whole new range of possibilities as far as where Michaels can take the religious aspect of his persona. As for now, we see Michaels? Born Again Christianity enhancing the very storyline he's in with JBL. On top of that, watch what we get out of his upcoming program with The Undertaker.
So regardless of whether or not Shawn's Born Again Christianity is sincere or not, which detractors can argue all they want, it's a damn fine business decision, as it adds an extraordinary amount of drama, tension, emotion, and a psychological edge to his storylines. Best of all, it puts butts in seats.
Agree, disagree, like what you see, want to debate me? Send me an email: [email protected]