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Former pro wrestler Shawn Michaels finds success with outdoors television show

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013 9:52 a.m. CST

(MCT) — KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Shawn Michaels is no stranger to danger.

As one of the world’s best pro wrestlers, he was in the ring with hulking beasts that were bent on crushing him.

But that was nothing compared with what he has run into in his second job — co-host of a national outdoors television show.

“We were filming a show in Zimbabwe and we came across a herd of elephants,” said Michaels, who is co-host of the “MacMillan River Adventures” show on the Outdoors Channel.

“We were going to see if we could shoot an elephant with a crossbow. But things changed when one of the elephants broke off from the pack and came right at us. He looked like he was going to run right over us. But at the last second, our professional hunter got his rifle and shot it at 10 yards.

“That was about the scariest situation I have ever run into.”

And then there was the time an angry bull moose also made a charge.

“This big bull was bugling (during the mating season) and all of a sudden he spots us and decides he doesn’t want us there,” Michaels said. “He charges us and gets close before Keith (Mark, the co-host of the show) releases an arrow and drops him. It fell right in front of us. It was an incredible feat.”

Get the idea? Hunting, much like pro wrestling, is no sport for sissies.

Michaels has always had a flair for the dramatic. He was one of pro wrestling’s heroes, tossing villains around the ring as if they were rag dolls.

Nicknamed the Heartbreak Kid, he ascended to the role of a marquee headliner on the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) circuit, which later became the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment). An injury forced him to retire in 1998, but he returned in 2002 and competed for 10 more years.

By the time he retired, he was a four-time world champion, a staple in the finals of the WrestleMania competition, and eventually a member of Wrestling’s Hall of Fame.

Though he was retained by the WWE as an ambassador to the sport, he struggled with what to do after he left the ring. But a telling moment in a hunting blind changed all of that.

“When I had a bad injury, a doctor told me I would never wrestle again,” Michaels said. “I was down and I was looking for things to do. A friend invited me to go deer hunting with him in Texas.

“Well, I was 33 at the time and I had never hunted before. I had been interested in it, but I just never had time to get out with my wrestling career.

“I decided to try it and I fell in love with it. It was like the Lord tapped me on the shoulder and said, ‘I’m going to take your life in a different direction.’

“A six-point buck walked out in front of me and I got buck fever. I was as nervous as all get-out. But I managed to get off a good shot and I’ve been hunting ever since.”

Now 47, Michaels lives on a ranch with his family several hours from San Antonio. He met Mark, who formerly was host of the “MacMillan River Adventures” show in the past, and the two hit it off. By the time they returned home, plans were under way to resurrect the show.

The new version of the program made its debut in 2012 and has already become an award winner. Michaels and Mark, who lives in the Kansas City area, have hunted everything from elephants to buffaloes to trophy mule deer while the cameras are rolling.

“I miss being in the ring,” Michaels said. “But I enjoy my ‘new’ life, too.

“The way I look at it, I’m making up for lost time when it comes to my hunting. I didn’t get started until relatively late in my life. But I am making up for it.

“Just being out in the beauty of what God has created, to enjoy the camaraderie of other hunters, to try to outwit some of these creatures we’re hunting — that’s what makes it special for me.”

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