Dylan “Hornswoggle” Postl is adamant that his WWE career should never have happened. But he’s so grateful it did. For a decade, Postl who stands at 4 feet 5 inches tall due to achondroplasia, a type of dwarfism, lived out his own real-life fairy tale in the land of giants.
But of course, we all know that real life is far from any fairy tale and in his first book, Life is Short and So Am I — My Life Inside, Outside and Under the Wrestling Ring, out September 10 from ECW Press, Postl shares his story with heartfelt and sometimes heartbreaking candor.
“It’s something I’ve always thought about,” remarked the 33-year-old Postl in a phone interview with SLAM! Wrestling. “I feel like I have a decent story to tell. There’s a lot of things people wouldn’t know about me and about my growing up and life, period. But I just never got the ambition to do it myself.”
After his release from WWE in 2016, Postl says he was approached by Ian Douglass, one of the book’s co-writers, about finally making a book happen. According to Postl, the two used Skype for interviews for a duration of 26-28 hours. After pitching the resulting manuscript to literary agencies, the duo decided to bring on another co-writer, Ross Owen Williams, to perfect the prose. After another 26 hours of Skype interviews, Postl says he’s “happy with this project and so happy that it’s finally here.”
Postl’s story (no he doesn’t live under a wrestling ring as the WWE would have you believe) begins in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and as most pro wrestling stories go, he was a fan first. He says that since the age of four, he was “literally encapsulated by professional wrestling.” The squared circle also served as a distraction from his dwarfism-related health issues and multiple surgeries.
“My first memories of wrestling are playing with the action figures Clint (his half-brother, who tragically committed suicide at the age of 16) gave me, and watching WWF Superstars of Wrestling and WWF Wrestling Challenge on TV,” he described in the book’s second chapter. “Even though I couldn’t walk (he was also born with scoliosis), I knew that one day I wanted to be a pro-wrestler just like my hero, the Ultimate Warrior. Over the years, I became a fan of high-flyers like the 1-2-3 Kid, character wrestlers like Doink the Clown, and big guys like Diesel, but at the very beginning, it was all about the Warrior for me.”
In the book’s early chapters, Postl relives the painful memories of how his biological mother used his condition as a means of “getting attention for herself.” His parents would go on to divorce and while in the custody of his mother, he says she attempted to “brainwash” him against his father, but to no avail. Postl eventually chose to live with his father, who was granted custody.
“So obviously the stuff with my real mom when I was really young, that was kind of brutal and I go in pretty hard and heavy with the whole situation,” Postl stated. “I even sent it (the book) to my dad and my step mom, who I call my mom. I sent it to them and I said, ‘Is this too much?’ And they said, ‘It’s your story, you need to tell it how you feel. We can’t tell you how to tell it. It’s your story. It’s your emotions and your feelings.’ So, I just went all out. It wasn’t hard, but it was weird to relive that whole situation again. I haven’t seen my real mom in over 20 years. I haven’t talked to her in longer than that and it’s just, I don’t know, it was almost nice to finally get it out there though and finally it was almost like self-counseling as weird as that is.”
Despite his size and doctor’s warnings that he “shouldn’t get involved with any contact sports,” Postl decided to pursue pro wrestling. His early days of filming wrestling with a friend in his bedroom or outside in the backyard morphed to getting their footage shown on a weekly 2 a.m. slot on a local access channel to training and working with All-Star Championship Wrestling (ACW Wisconsin), which in a great example of coming full circle is the same promotion Postl has now owned for over a decade. While training at ACW, he met Ken Anderson (better known as Mr. Kennedy in his WWE days) who after getting himself signed to the WWE, contacted Postl when the corporation was searching for a midget wrestler to use in a segment on RAW. The segment would end up getting cut, but Postl would go on to a memorable albeit sometimes infamous run as Hornswoggle, the leprechaun-clad sidekick of Dave “Fit” Finlay.
Since the “m-word” has come up, although not viewed as “politically correct,” Postl surprisingly is not one to shy away from the term. Instead, he seizes it wholeheartedly.
“I’ve said it all along, the word ‘midget’ makes me money,” he said bluntly. “You put ‘little person wrestling’ or ‘dwarf wrestling’ on a poster, people go, ‘What is that? This is weird!’ I don’t care if you call me a midget anything. I was called Little Bastard (his first ring name in WWE before being called Hornswoggle) on worldwide television. You can’t be so thin-skinned that you let that stuff affect you. It’s just a word. Society at times is just so thin-skinned about stuff and it’s getting worse and worse I feel and it sucks. But the word ‘midget’ doesn’t offend me one bit.”
The book also includes numerous behind the scenes stories about Postl’s time in WWE which will at times have readers laughing, maybe a tad incensed, and yet they will still leave with their faith restored that there are still some nice people in pro wrestling. As a memorable example of the latter, Postl explains that he kept a backpack with him filled with video games, movies and other things to amuse himself while he was waiting under the ring for his cue to appear during various WWE programming/events. When his backpack went missing during a house show, Anderson and Dave Bautista collected donations from the locker room to get it replaced.
Speaking of the WWE locker room, Postl talks at length about his bipolar-like relationship with former WWE wrestler, C.M. Punk (Phil Brooks), which Postl shares started out as a close friendship but severely deteriorated after a seemingly innocent encounter. Postl recalled asking Punk for the phone number of a band member that they both knew after Postl got a new cell phone and had to re-enter everyone’s contact information. According to Postl, Punk was pissed and accused him of being a “user.”
“From that point on, our relationship was terrible,” he explained in Chapter 17 of the book. “I wouldn’t say anything to him, figuring if he wanted to be angry over something like that, I couldn’t do anything about it, but he’d go out of his way to be a dick. Sometimes it was physical, where he’d walk over to me and kick me for no reason, other times it was verbal and he’d say things like, ‘I can’t believe you’re still here. You’ll be gone soon, I’m sure — there’s a cut list and you’ve got to be at the top of it.’ If I’d go to sit with any of our mutual friends in catering and he was at the table, he would just get up and leave. It was like being back in high school. I’d heard that Punk was one of the hardest men in wrestling to be friends with, but I’d never seen it before.”
Postl says he knows that including Punk in the book is “going to be the number one topic brought up in every interview,” but he says he didn’t want to “bury anyone” including Punk and he doesn’t think he “said anything bad,” but rather spoke on how their relationship “took a turn at the end.” Regarding a future encounter with Punk, he offered, “I feel like if I saw him today, I would say, ‘hi’ to him and he would say, ‘hi’ and we would be cordial and that would be that.”
Postl’s time in the WWE wasn’t without its accolades. Postl became the Cruiserweight champion, earned the Rookie of the Year honor in the 2007 Pro Wrestling Illustrated magazine awards’ issue, heard his music play at WrestleMania, worked with De-Generation X and got to be Vince McMahon’s illegitimate son for a storyline. But there were also the storylines where he had to wear a cow costume, be birthed by the late Mae Young, and the Little Peoples’ Court sketch. Postl also experienced issues with his weight and was going to be revealed as the anonymous RAW General Manager in a storyline, but he just couldn’t deliver the proposed character of Big Nick with a New Jersey accent like the WWE wanted. Still, he doesn’t consider his time in WWE as exploitative, and other than the outcome of the GM storyline, there isn’t much he’d change about his time there.
“I wouldn’t say (I was) exploited,” Postl reflected with a hint of a sigh. “Obviously when I was gaining some weight, it was noticeable and I should have taken better care of that myself. And that’s when they decided I would be in the cow costume or birthed by Mae Young in just a diaper. It is what it is. But it’s fine. Here’s the thing, you can’t complain too much when you’re on TV to a worldwide audience, living your dream. You can’t! At the end of the day, I could have been working at Target making less than minimum wage. That’s the reality of it all. The reality is, I was still living my dream and maybe it wasn’t my dream to get birthed by Mae Young, but it’s still part of this crazy, crazy career that I got to say I have. I still have!”
Indeed, Postl is still actively wrestling. He says he’s only recently had his first weekend off since January. In addition, he went to Saudi Arabia in April of 2018 for WWE’s Greatest Royal Rumble and came out from under the ring, much to the chagrin of participant Zelina Vega, during the women’s battle royal at this year’s Royal Rumble. During this year’s WrestleMania weekend, he also had the opportunity to wrestle both Scott Steiner for AI Wrestling’s The Slumber Party Massacre show and Nick Gage at Black Label Pro’s Adventures in Wrestling show.
“It’s crazy, between random trips on the road for companies all over and running my own company (ACW Wisconsin) and (pro wrestling) school, I’m busier now than I ever was in WWE,” he exclaimed. “It’s crazy, but it’s fun. I’m still enjoying it so much. It’s just, the indies are fun! I get to be my own boss at times. If I want to be home, I can be home. If I want to be gone, usually I can be gone and it’s just, I’m having fun!”
When he’s not wrestling, Postl embraces his role as a single father to his nine-year-old son, Landon. He joked that the bonus of having his own autobiography is that his son can “do a book report on it every year and get an A-plus on it.”
“That’s all I want to be,” Postl asserted, noting with pride that his son is also a pro wrestling fan. “I wrote in the book that all I want to be in this life is Dad. I don’t want to be Hornswoggle. I don’t want to be a professional wrestler. I don’t want to be a TV guy. I don’t want to be a movie guy. I don’t want to be an author. I want to be dad! And no matter what as long as I’m ok at that, I’m doing all right in life. It’s just that’s what I am to him and that’s what I’m happy about!”
MORE HORNSWOGGLE DYLAN POSTL STORIES
- Oct. 26, 2018: Hornswoggle’s early days about drive and determination
- Mar. 24, 2018: Fun times for Hornswoggle at WrestleManias
- Sep. 11, 2017: The Ultimate moment: When Hornswoggle met Warrior