Professional wrestler Shawn Michaels has always been an entertainer.
It was about time he made his feature film debut this year with The Resurrection of Gavin Stone.
The role differs widely from his previous on-screen appearances in World Wrestling Entertainment video games and TV series. In Dallas Jenkins' movie Shawn plays Doug, an actor in a mega church's annual "passion play" who befriends fallen former child star Gavin Stone as he pretends to be a Christian to complete his community service.
Shawn is a four-time world champion, winner of the 1995 and 1996 Royal Rumbles, five-time WrestleMania performer and World Wrestling Foundations' first Grand Slam Champion.
He won the Pro Wrestling Illustrated Match of the Year Award a record eleven times and was on the WWE Hall of Fame in 2011.
The Imagine Games Network said he was the "most athletic, inspired and daring storyteller in the business; raising the bar for the entire industry with each match".
But he was known for more than his wrestling. For years Shawn entertained the wrestling world with his notorious disrespect of authorities and his unapologetically cocky ways.
It was neither unusual nor surprising to see Shawn pull down his pants, use the Canadian flag to blow his nose, and perform sexualized dances in skintight biker shorts. He felt it was all in good faith.
"We just wanted to have fun and mess around," Shawn says. "When I was up there, that was my release, and I could do whatever I wanted."
"You make the rules, and we'll break them" was his group's motto.
It came as a shock to everyone when the wrestling champion announced he was a born again Christian.
“Shawn loves Jesus just as hard as he wrestles”"My Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, I thank you, my King, for saving me," Shawn says now in pre-match interviews.
Fellow wrestler Gregory Shane Helms responded to Shawn's conversion by saying he, though an undeniably talented wrestler, was "the biggest hypocrite in the business".
Many echoed these feelings claiming Shawn was merely "working us" when he talked of his Christian journey, to which the wrestling champion replies, "I don't even know if you can work that. Can you?"
It was Shawn's relationship with his son Cameron that first led him to reevaluate his life choices as the latter became old enough to notice his father's drinking and drug use.
At the time, in 1998, severe back injuries had forced Shawn into early retirement, and his personal life was in chaos.
"It became very apparent to me that if I wasn't careful I was going to ruin him," Shawn says emotionally. "And that wasn't anything he asked for.
"I knew what I needed," Shawn says. "I needed to get back to church. I knew whatever it was I was looking for was in one of those buildings."
Shawn went to a Bible study and when he was asked if he would like to have Jesus Christ in his life he knew what to answer.
"And then I got it," Shawn says. "All of a sudden the light went on and it was like nothing really mattered now except [my family] and [God]. As long as we've got that we are good."
Shawn admits he understands the shock and controversy behind the sudden change in his heart – and life.
"I would understand if somebody said, 'He's a Christian, but he's not a very good one'," he says.
"That would be OK. But the whole point of being one is recognizing that you're not the be all and end all and that's really its foundation: recognizing your faults."
Soon Shawn was going out of his way to serve and help other people in any way he could, even leading his own Bible study.
The associate pastor at his church, says Shawn "loves the Lord just as hard as he wrestles."
Shawn has written two books about his career and spiritual journey, Heartbreak & Triumph: The Shawn Michaels Story and Wrestling for My Life.
"[God] just changed my heart," Shawn says. "That's why it has stuck. If I truly believe everything that's in that book, God is in control. He is working for my good. Doesn't mean everything is going to be smooth, but that's all I needed to know.
"I've always wanted to be a rebel," he adds, something his fans can testify to. "I've never wanted to do what everybody else is doing. That's what I'm doing now, and it's the coolest thing ever.
"I got to know the person of Christ. I see him as one of the greatest rebels of all time. That's what really appeals to me."•