Shawn Michaels. What to say about the man that hasn’t been said before. He’s the Icon, he’s the Showstopper, he’s Mr Wrestlemania, he is the Heart Break Kid, Shawn Michaels!
The man has done it all, all of the accolades and all of the notoriety has been his to claim. I guess I can give you my perspective, readers.
The reason I chose Shawn as the Wrestler to write about first is because the very first Wrestling match that I remember watching, back when I knew in my heart that it was all real, was Triple H vs Shawn Michaels in a Street Fight after Shawn made his return after being sidelined for four years.
Now I know the context of that injury but back then I watched in shock and horror as Triple H came out to celebrate his best friends return then turn on Shawn delivering a thunderous Pedigree. The Pedigree was the first ever finisher that I had ever seen being delivered and the Sweet Chin Music was the second one.
Then the attack on Shawn from behind by Triple H pushing his face through the car window. The story telling of that feud was amazing, some of the best told by WWE. And then the match itself. My god. That was amazing!
The spots and the story telling. That’s the amazing thing about Pro Wrestling is that the Wrestlers tell an entire story during a match without once opening their mouths. It’s all in the body language and facial expressions and it was telling what amazing performers the two men were.
Shawn gained my admiration because he was a man who didn’t look like what a Pro Wrestler should look like. Think of Wrestling and in your mind most the time you imagine a huge hulking man with bulging muscles, huge mountain like traps and biceps the size of your leg!
Essentially Triple H. And yet here was this guy, half the size of his opponent, going toe to toe with this beast of a man and not backing down, not flinching and actually delivering the beat down of a life time. And then actually winning!
It was truly a Herculean effort and that one match cemented Michaels in my eyes as one of the best in the business, which I didn’t know at the time was actually what he was known as.
I think first impressions say a lot and I don’t know where I would be if this match wasn’t my first but I doubt I would be the Pro Wrestling fan I am today of this match hadn’t been the first one I ever watched.
Many people say that this was the start of Michaels best run in WWE despite the fact that, to my knowledge, he had a total of three title reigns. Two as Tag Champ, once with Triple H and the other with Cena, and the third was his World Heavyweight Championship reign.
This is nothing against Michaels because it proves that he was so good that he didn’t need a title to validate it, only one other man comes to mind who is that good. And he’s a Dead Man.
Now going through Michaels career I’m not going to talk about his time outside of the WWE because this is not a biography. The most notable match I remember during his mid card days is from Wrestlemania X, the ladder match between Micheals and Scott Hall known at that time as Razor Ramon.
The match was a classic and it feathered heel Michaels going up against a fellow Cliq buddy. There was rumors that the Macho Man Randy Savage actually tore into them backstage for taking up too much time and not allowing some low card Wrestlers time. Nevertheless the match stole the show and become another milestone for Shawn even though he lost.
The Montreal Screwjob
In his early days Shawn was famous backstage for his ego, and his refusal to lose to people that he didn’t like being pinned by.
Someone at the top of that list, was Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart. Now Bret Hart hated Shawn just as much as Shawn hated Bret, the problem was during the back end of ’97 the hate became combustible.
Hart had his contract up a day after Survivor Series and decided that he didn’t want to lose in his last Pay Per View match and in Canada to boot. And that he definitely wasn’t going to lose to Michaels. So Vince agreed, Hart would win at Survivor Series, then drop the title to Michaels next night on Raw.
What happened in the ring was a completely different story. The two delivered a classic match and amazing performances, Hart put Michaels in the Sharpshooter probably thinking he would tap, as agreed. But Shawn countered into his own Sharpshooter and Vince told referee Earl Hebner to ring the bell. Hebner did and Hart was screwed at his home turf, losing the belt to Michaels in his last WWF Pay Per View Event.
Why would I mention one of my most favorite Wrestlers failings in a post about praising him? Well because I believe it is important for us to acknowledge our failings and what Shawn and Vince did to Bret was wrong. Also I mentioned it because despite the fact that Shawn Screwed Bret he still went on to become one of the best in the business. It wasn’t just Canadians that were booing Shawn after the Screwjob. But he rose above that and proved himself a competent and great Wrestler.
Most people getting the amount of heat that he did at that time would have collapsed under pressure. Remember Bret was one of them (WWE Roster). The guys backstage would have some questions in their minds about Shawn. What if it came down to them against Shawn, would he screw them too?
I guess it was fortunate that what happened a few months ago happened otherwise we wouldn’t know if Shawn would have lasted, but I’m willing to bet that he would have.
Vince knew Michaels was getting a lot of well deserved heat from the fans for his part in screwing Bret, he knew they needed a new man to be the face of WWE and so the push for Austin began.
DX and Austin feuded all the way to Wrestlemania somehow involving ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson in the feud as well. It all culminated in a World Championship match at Wrestlemania XIV with Michaels defending against Austin and Tyson as Ringside Enforcer.
This match was amazing but it what made it one of Shawn’s best, even if he doesn’t think so, was that he did it with a broken back! Michaels had injured his back, two herniated discs, at his Royal Rumble match with the Undertaker and still finished that match, then came in at Wrestlemania and put on a performance for the crowd then lay down for the three count by Tyson crowning Stone Cold! Stone Cold! Stone Cold! As WWF Champion.
It was then that Michaels got sidelined for four years, treating his back, and came back in 2002 to feud with the Game.
You’ll notice that most if not all of the matches I mentioned above involves Shawn losing. It is a credit to the man that his HBK that his most celebrated matches of the ’90s are matches that he lost. Aside from Wrestlemania XIV the most talked about performer in the matches above has always been Shawn.
He might not have been the most well behaved, or the most disciplined or the most humble, that would come later. But what he was, was a performer. He’s known as Mr Wrestlemania but along with Triple H, he holds the most losses that anyone has had during Wrestlemania! But he also holds the most hours clocked in at Wrestlemanias.
The man is a legend and I haven’t even finished talking about his 2002 run.
We will hit back on Shawn Michaels some weeks later but i have to get this post out so I’ll put a lock on this for now.
This has been Wrestling Wednesday, check back in next week for another post and if you’re into crazy theories than come back tomorrow for Theoretical Thursday. Follow me to keep updated on my posts. Til then, I’ll see you.