Dylan ‘Hornswoggle’ Postl’s autobiography is a surprise; where you may expect only laughs, ladders, and leprechauns comes the heartfelt story of a man overcoming innumerable odds to live his childhood dream.
Kofi Kingston and Curt Hawkins provide forewords before we find Postl hidden under a ring, racked with anxiety, getting ready for his WWE debut. His Leprechaun-cum-Tazmanian Devil introduction is one that few fans of the era will forget, no matter their opinions on the gimmick.
Flashing back to his childhood, Postl is born on May 29, 1986. The first in his family to have achondroplasia, the most common form of dwarfism, health issues require him to have agonizing surgery from age six, and to suffer temporary partial paralysis. It’s an eye-opening story about life growing up as a little person. Compounding things are a very difficult relationship with his birth mother, with Postl much closer to his older brother, Clint, who introduces him to wrestling through action figures and weekly screenings of WWF Superstars of Wrestling and WWF Wrestling Challenge, with The Ultimate Warrior making the biggest impression.
Clint hangs himself at age sixteen. It’s a crushing blow that drives Postl’s family further apart. He struggles at schoolwork but finds support from his father and his stepmother, Dorothy. It’s in his teens that he decides to start wrestling, forming a backyard troupe with his friend Binder. Joining kids from elsewhere in the area, they even get on local access TV. The stories of him working his way up the independents are captivating and, like so much else of the book, often very funny.
Ken ‘Kennedy’ Anderson gets Postl a one-shot gig with WWE, but he makes a bad impression, failing at an Irish accent and being accused of harassing talent backstage. Convinced he blew his opportunity, a call from Tommy Dreamer comes out of the blue offering a permanent role with the promotion, and Dylan is now a full-time WWE talent.
The bulk of the book details his time with the big ‘E, and it’s a fascinating look at the 2000s-2010s in the company. There are a ton of backstage stories, including tales of the Great Khali’s dislike of burgers, why you should never steal Booker T’s Red Bull, and what it’s like hiding under a sweltering ring during an Inferno Match. He has a special affection for Finlay, difficult encounters with CM Punk, gets ribbed by The Undertaker, and shares numerous other behind the scenes anecdotes. Some are so good, it’d be a shame to spoil them here, but it’s clear that there was a fun camaraderie despite what the dirt sheets would have you believe.
Other highlights during Postl’s WWE run are the birth of his son, Landon, and his performance in the Muppets Most Wanted movie (although his role in Leprechaun: Origins is remembered less fondly). Apart from a dynamite Wee-LC match, Hornswoggle is used barely or not at all in his later WWE career. The writing is on the wall, and he’s released after ten years with the company.
Postl doesn’t shy away from sharing the cocktail of emotions he feels when he’s let go, and shines a light on how a wrestler sets about rebuilding their career and the ups and downs of promoting his own indie shows. Much of the rest of the book can feel raw, too, from his infidelity to his struggle with his weight, and the problems traveling when you’re a little person. But at the end of the book, he’s in a good place; a family man who overcame the odds to fulfill his childhood dream of appearing at WrestleMania.
Life is Short But So Am I: My Life Inside, Outside, and Under the Wrestling Ring is a solid and entertaining read that documents mid-2000s to 2010s wrestling from a unique perspective. One of the most heart-warming parts of the book is when Postl meets his childhood hero, The Ultimate Warrior. “You’re the reason I wanted to become a professional wrestler and you’re the reason I’m here today.”, says Dylan. Warrior shakes his hand and replies “That means more than anything anyone could say.” Postl takes a photo with Warrior, and then Warrior, in a show of mutual admiration, asks for a photo with Dylan. No matter your opinion on the Hornswoggle character, after reading his story you may find a new appreciation for Dylan Postl too.