HBK talks acting, WWE’s Performance Center, Cruiserweights, and more
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Shawn Michaels Interview Transcription
Ring Rust Radio: On Friday, Jan 20, the movie “The Resurrection of Gavin Stone” hits theaters. You play the role of Doug, a reborn ex-con turned volunteer mechanic. What made you want to take this role and how did you own journey to God influence how you portrayed the character?
Shawn Michaels: It’s kind the same answer for both questions, it’s the similarity I felt in the role and myself. For my first role in the theater of my mind I saw it as I didn’t want a role to be too much of a stretch, but has some depth to it. I read the script and I enjoyed the entire thing. It was funny, they were having some fun at the expense of the church with all that goes on, and I appreciated the sincerity and honesty about it. It was a nice, feel good story. I guess I’m getting soft in my old age and still enjoy those types of movies. It was one of those things where you think to yourself about your first experience in an area that you never experienced, it would be nice if you could do something where you would be comfortable and that’s exactly what this was. Being a really good script and being in a role where I could easily relate to it, all those things coming together made it an easy choice to make.
Ring Rust Radio: When we spoke to other wrestlers like Goldberg and Trish Stratus about making the jump into acting, they spoke about how their wrestling experience helped make the transition easier. Do you feel your time in WWE helped on the set of Gavin Stone and were there any moments where you felt overwhelmed?
Shawn Michaels: Certainly I think it helps because one of the first things people notice is that wrestlers are more comfortable in front of the camera and things come relatively naturally for us. In the WWE, you are very open to your character and having emotions against your current will, so to speak. It has nothing to do with me in real life, but instead has something to do with this character and what the character is doing. The one thing that is very different for many of us because it’s such a challenge is that discipline of knowing you can start a scene when shooting something and the director says cut. Then if something is wrong you can go back and change it and have other shots at it. Our line of work, nine out of 10 times, it’s live. Even the ones that are sort of taped and shown at a later time, when it’s happening in the ring it’s out there. So you can’t go back and redo something. That’s the big difference between the two for sure. Trying to keep that energy, scene after scene, and not lose that, would be a challenge to wrestlers. We are used to maybe two or three takes for something backstage and then once it’s out there, you have to live or die with it.
Ring Rust Radio: Triple H recently talked about his vision for you at the Performance Center being someone who can put the final polish on talent before they’re called up to the main roster. What interests you most when it comes to working with the NXT talent and what are you hoping to accomplish in your role?
Shawn Michaels: That’s something that right now is in the early stages. I think to your point, I think we will have a better idea as we get it more clearly defined about what it is. Finish and polish, that’s kind of a vague and broad description. What does that mean exactly? At certain times when it’s convenient people talk in the broad sense and then you wait until you can get down into the details to find out what it exactly is. If certain things could be taught, we would teach them and they would just do them. There are some things that can’t be taught. So I am waiting right now for it to get more clearly defined on what the role is. I have enjoyed the times I have gone down there to the training facility. There is nothing more enjoyable then seeing a student in that beginning process and the hunger they have. That’s what they are down there for, to learn and to grow. Once you get to Raw or the main roster, there is a sense that you are done, you made it, and that sense of accomplishment is there. The worst thing is that greatness never feels like it has arrived, that it’s there. The greats like Michael Jordan and LeBron James and other people that reached that status can continue to grow and get better. Working with talents at the performance center level and the NXT level, they know they haven’t arrived so they are very pliable and willing to take direction. I think once you go to that next level; it’s a little more difficult to teach at that point and becomes less fun. That’s what I enjoy about the performance level and NXT level. They are still aspiring to get somewhere so they are very open and receptive to information.
Ring Rust Radio: WWE has found success recently on the WWE Network with the Cruiserweight and UK-specific tournaments. What are your thoughts on these tournaments and is there anything you would like to see WWE do on the Network, whether it’s another tournament or a different type of show?
Shawn Michaels: I enjoy them. Technically I have never been a cruiserweight, but I am thrilled with them because I have always enjoyed that aspect of the WWE and the wrestling business. I have always enjoyed that style and I am glad it’s finally getting that spotlight. For the UK tournament, it’s a little different. We are in a time where it’s hard to come up with anything original and that really is. Stylistically, that show was going to be different so anytime you can add that it’s going to be enjoyable. As far a broadening the network, the only thing I would say is how much wrestling do I have time to watch? How much original programming does it have to help it broaden on top of that to help them grow? I clearly understand that I always have been in the minority, because I didn’t know people could consume that much wrestling. I have been in the business for 30 years, I loved it, enjoyed it, but I have never been consumed by it. Some people out there are just so consumed by it. Not to be cruel, but I can only take in so much of it. I think if you broaden the aspect of the network that might be something people would be interested in. I don’t know much about the behind the scenes stuff, but I think broadening the programming is the way to go.