March 7, 2010
WWE – From The Vault: Shawn Michaels
To get you pumped up for the THIRD Shawn Michaels DVD set in almost seven years which will release on March 9, I’m planning on reviewing the first two releases and then hopefully the most recent one starting on Tuesday. Half of this set has already been completed by me and what hasn’t been completed is EXTREMELY awesome (HBK/Taker hell in a cell and HBK/HHH street fight), so here it goes.
Shawn gives us a brief recap of how he was teamed with Marty Jannetty in the AWA. At the time, the WWE didn’t own any of his WCCW footage until the release of the second set. He explains chasing Buddy Rose and Doug Somers all over the country for the AWA tag belts. One of their main star-making encounters included this blood bath.
AWA World Tag Team Champions Buddy Rose & Doug Somers (w/Sherri Martel) vs. The Midnight Rockers (AWA All-Star Wrestling, 9/2/86)
This feud has been boiling over for MONTHS on end and everybody still wants to see the Rockers get their big win over Rose and Somers. Rod Trongard and Lord James Blears are on commentary. Michaels and Rose start us off. Quick Jack Brisco rollup by Shawn gets two and Rose is baffled. Victory roll by Shawn gets another nearfall. Superkick gets a THIRD nearfall. With Michaels on the apron and Rose distracting the ref, Somers runs Shawn’s head into the steel turnbuckle connector. Shawn is wearing a regular CRIMSON MASK as the crowd shrieks in terror. Rose and Somers proceed to stomp and bite on the cut. Hepatitis anyone? Somebody has been watching some Ricky Morton because Michaels does just a phenomenal job of selling here while the champs take turns on him. After getting tossed to the floor, Shawn makes a valiant effort to get back in the ring at the count of 9.5. He swings wildly at Rose and Somers until he staggers into a HOT TAG TO JANNETTY! And that’s what it’s all about. Jannetty returns the favor to Somers for what he did to Shawn by sending Somers into the top of the ringpost to make him bleed. Sherri distracts Jannetty as Rose nails him from behind. Rose tags in and runs Jannetty into an exposed turnbuckle to now bust Jannetty open! Michaels comes in the ring to help, but there’s not much he can do. And now Jannetty gets the same treatment Shawn received earlier as the champs cut the ring in half. Jannetty fires back on Rose, but then Rose punches Marty back into a tag to Shawn. Michaels is in control, but he’s definitely showing fatigue. It turns into a pier six brawl as Jannetty and Rose tumble to the floor. Down goes the ref. On the floor, Rose drops Marty ribs first on a chair to take him out. Another ref comes in and gets punched away by Rose as the bell sounds. (16:09) Brawls are a dime a dozen in wrestling, but brawls where you get the feeling that the two sides genuinely HATE each other is the difference between a good and a bad brawl. This is definitely the former as they didn’t need crazy spots or any dangerous weapons besides an exposed turnbuckle and a ringpost, which should already be there anyways. No “tables from under the ring” or “conveniently placed barbed-wire bats”. All they had to do was beat each other into a bloody oblivion to their story across. Great, great match. ****
WWF Intercontinental Champion Razor Ramon vs. Shawn Michaels (w/Diesel) – Ladder Match (WrestleMania X, 3/20/94)
It’s the battle to determine the undisputed WWF Intercontinental champion. HBK felt he was wrongfully stripped of the IC belt back in September and has since carried a replica belt around and claimed himself to be the real champion, regardless of the fact Razor Ramon was the actual champion. To win the match, one of the two has to grab both belts. Other than the backstory, I don’t think this needs any sort of hyperbole. Every wrestling fan is pretty familiar with this match, I suppose. They do a little bit of wrestling to start. HBK flips out of a hiptoss into a chokeslam. Shawn comes back with a swinging neckbreaker and tosses Razor out to the floor for a clothesline by Diesel. The ref suspects Diesel did something to Razor, which he did, so ref Earl Hebner sends Diesel to the back. Razor takes HBK to the floor and folds the ringside mats over to expose the concrete. Back in they go, Razor looks to give HBK the RAZOR’S EDGE from inside the ring on the concrete down below! HBK backdrops Razor over out to the concrete instead. It’s ladder time! Michaels brings the ladder towards the ring. Razor nails Shawn and grabs the ladder, so HBK baseball slides the ladder into Ramon! Shawn takes the ladder into the ring and jabs it right in Ramon’s gut a couple times. HBK follows up by slamming the ladder down across Razor’s back. Now Michaels makes the first climb. Razor grabs HBK by his tights – exposing a pair of cheeks. Shawn kicks him back and drops an elbow off the ladder! Shawn sets the ladder up in the corner and splashes Razor in a great highlight reel moment. Shawn makes another climb, but Razor turns the ladder over and causes Shawn to hotshot himself on the top rope. With both men up, they collide. Shawn folds the ladder up in the corner. Razor reverses a whip into the ladder and Shawn goes crashing out on the floor! SICK! Razor takes the ladder out to the floor with him and sandwiches Shawn in between the ladder and the ringpost. Razor tilts the ladder up against the apron and catapults Shawn into the ladder. Back in, Razor knocks Shawn over the top rope with the ladder and starts his first ladder climb. Shawn climbs up on the apron and comes off the top with a double-ax handle to save the match for himself. Now they both climb the ladder from each side. They slug each other until Razor slams HBK from the ladder to the mat below! Uh oh, the ladder turns over and takes Razor with it. Razor climbs again and touches the belts, but HBK dropkicks him off. Shawn hits the Superkick and a Piledriver. Shawn folds up the ladder and splashes the ladder across Razor’s body! Ramon is DONE! Shawn sets up the ladder over Razor’s body and starts to climb. Shawn touches the belts, but Razor gets up and shoulderblocks the ladder over. Shawn falls on the ropes and gets his foot tied up! That makes it easy for Razor to climb up and grab the belts. (18:45) This may not be the original ladder match, but it’s definitely the oldest one that everyone looks to when they think of great ladder matches. The bumps taken by Shawn Michaels in this match were unparalleled by anything ever seen before in the US– making this completely innovative. It may seem mild in comparison to what we’ve seen since then with more flashy moves while this match holds more substance and psychology. It’s a true classic and it always will be. *****
WWF World Champion Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels (w/Jose Lothario) – Iron Man Match (WrestleMania XII, 3/31/96)
Before the match, Howard Finkel announces Gorilla Monsoon as the official WWF President. After that, Shawn Michaels makes his most memorable entrance by zip-lining from the top of the Arrowhead Pond down into the crowd in easily the coolest entrance up until that time. Bret does his usual walk to the ring and gives his shades to his son Blade. Ref Earl Hebner explains the rules to give this more of a big match feel, which I think is pretty cool. You all know the rules. The one with the most falls in 60 minutes wins. Oh, by the way, Jose Lothario was the man who trained Shawn Michaels, which explains why he’s here in Shawn’s corner. Bret outwrestles Shawn to start until Shawn starts escaping from headlocks. Bret sticks with the headlock, but this time keeps Shawn grounded so he can’t escape. Instead of escaping by shoving Bret off, Shawn counters the headlock into an overhead wristlock. Shawn plans to work an armbar. The camera pans over to show Stu Hart and Freddie Blassie watching the match from the front row. Bret drop toeholds Shawn to grab the headlock again, but Shawn slips out and into a hammerlock. Bret backs Shawn into the corner and forearms him just when Shawn thinks he’s getting a clean break. Shawn fires back on Bret and headscissors him out of the corner to send Bret to the floor. Ten minutes gone by now.
Back in, Shawn returns to the armbar. Bret tries throwing Shawn over the top rope to the floor, but Shawn skins-the-cat and drives Bret down into the armbar. Bret shoots Shawn off into the ropes and hits a kitchen sink. He follows up with a headbutt to the groin and hits a legdrop. That weakens Shawn for a chinlock. Shawn hits a jawbreaker and returns to the arm with a Fujiwara armbar. Bret rolls away from the pressure and nips up. Shawn begins to leapfrog Bret as he comes off the ropes, but gets caught one time for a spinebuster into a possible SHARPSHOOTER, but Shawn slips away. With Shawn’s back turned, Bret comes up behind him and clotheslines Shawn to the floor. On the floor, Shawn shoves Bret into the ringpost. Bret sits down on the timekeeper’s lap, but then hops up when Shawn attempts SWEET CHIN MUSIC causing the timekeeper or whoever that was to get wiped out. Oops. Back inside, Bret reapplies the chinlock. Meanwhile, the guy who ate the superkick gets carried out by WWF people. After several minutes of that, Shawn finally escapes. Bret blocks an O’Connor Roll, but then turns around into a dropkick. Shawn starts working the arm again with the usual stuff at the twenty minute mark.
Bret backs Shawn into the corner and elbows him in the face. Shawn then reverses a corner whip with a knee and throws Bret shoulder-first into the ringpost. Shoulderbreaker by Shawn connects, as does a flying double-sledge to the shoulder. Hammerlock slam is followed by a few hammerlock shoves by Shawn into the corner. Bret slugs at Shawn with his good arm, but then telegraphs a backdrop and takes an armbreaker DDT. Nice. Bret stomps Shawn in the face to break up a cross armbreaker. Shawn stops Bret from capitalizing by sticking with the arm. Bret nails Shawn while he’s in an armbar and then hotshots Shawn on the middle rope! He follows up with a catapult as Shawn cracks his head on the top of the ringpost! Bret sells his arm though and takes too long to cover. Shawn fights back with turnbuckle smashes, but then Bret avoids a corner splash. Inverted atomic drop sets up a clothesline for two. Bulldog connects. Bret nearly gets slammed off the top, but pounds on Shawn and attempts Dick Murdoch’s knee drop bulldog. They don’t pull it off too well though as Hebner gets in the way. That’s 30 minutes gone without a fall.
Shawn gets two off a powerslam while Bret delivers a piledriver for a nearfall. Shawn slams Bret off the top and hits a hurracanrana which leads into some punches. Bret avoids SWEET CHIN MUSIC, but then takes a backbreaker for two. A back elbow stuns Bret, but he still manages to avoid SWEET CHIN MUSIC and rolls to the floor. As Bret walks around ringside, Shawn delivers a HUGE dive on Bret. Back inside, Bret rolls through a flying bodypress for 1-2-NO! Shawn flips out of a backslide into a small package of his own for two. Fisherman suplex by Shawn gets 1-2-NO! Well, we all know Shawn’s not perfect. Shawn grabs a sleeper and nearly puts Bret out. Shawn charges at Bret in the corner and takes a backdrop from inside the ring and backflips CLEAR down to the floor. Holy crap that’s insane. While it seems all Bret needs to do after that is roll Shawn into the ring and pin him, he picks Shawn up and drives his back into the ringpost before tossing Shawn back inside. Bret hammers on the back and whips Shawn hard into the corner. As Shawn tries to get to his feet, Bret drops a flying vertical elbow to Shawn’s lower back as forty minutes have elapsed.
With Shawn slumped down in the corner, Bret puts the boots to him and even delivers a pump splash to Shawn’s lower back. Shawn does his flip up onto the top turnbuckle as Bret follows him up and delivers a back superplex! Excellent. Cover, 1-2-NO! Bret works a rear chinlock for a while. Shawn punches away a superplex and leaps at Bret, but gets caught in the gut. Russian Legsweep gets two. Bret whips Shawn into the corner for a Harley Race corner bump when Shawn flies out and catches Lothario with his feet to take him out. Bret heads to the floor and whips Shawn into the steps where Lothario happens to be also to knock him down AGAIN. Bret says something to Jose and gets back in the ring with Shawn. Belly to belly suplex gets two for Bret. They trade blows, but Bret gains the advantage by nailing Shawn in the lower back. Shawn comes back with an O’Connor roll for 1-2-NO! Bret shoots Shawn out to the floor, setting him up a suicide dive from Bret after 49 MINUTES. Back in, Shawn counters a suplex on the apron, but then Bret *counters* Shawn and hits a bridging German suplex for 1-2-NO! Bret pounds Shawn down again and grabs another rear chinlock as we come to the 50 minute mark without a single fall.
Shawn elbows out into a double-KO spot. Back up to their feet, Bret gives Shawn a superplex. It could be time for the SHARPSHOOTER, but Shawn kicks him off. Bret still has a hold on one of Shawn’s legs and applies a half crab instead. Oh, but Shawn makes the ropes. Backbreaker sets up the Flying Vertical Elbow Drop, which Bret misses as Shawn brings up both feet to block. Shawn dropkicks Bret back and whips him in the corner for the sternum-first bump. Shawn follows up with the Flying Forearm and the nip-up. Jumping back elbow connects right before Shawn hits a flying double sledge. Suplex sets up the Flying Elbow Drop for 1-2-NO! Doctorbomb (!!) connects for 1-2-NO! Moonsault Press by Shawn gets 1-2-NO! Shawn delivers a hurracanrana off the second rope for 1-2-NO! Shawn slams Bret and starts to go to the top rope again when his back nearly gives out on him. That slows him down a bit, but he still makes it to the top rope with only a minute to go. With Bret to his feet, Shawn flies down only to get slammed down and stuck in the SHARPSHOOTER! If you don’t think that is just amazingly dramatic the first time you had seen it, I just don’t know what to say to you. After 59 minutes and 25 seconds of avoiding the Sharpshooter, you get stuck in it with only 35 seconds left in the match is awesome to me. Anyways, Shawn fights it all the way to the end. (60:00) Bret starts to leave with the belt, but WWF President Gorilla Monsoon orders the ref to continue the match until somebody earns a fall. Back to the ring and Bret looks pissed. He works on Shawn’s back some more, but gets caught with SWEET CHIN MUSIC out of nowhere. He didn’t catch Bret good enough though. Shawn slides over to a corner and taps his feet to hit SWEET CHIN MUSIC for real this time for 1-2-3. Shawn Michaels wins his first WWF world title. He tells everybody to get the F out of the ring as he makes love to his newly won prize he worked 14 years to achieve. Despite all the attitude problems at the time, this was such an excellent story told by these two men. ****¾
Bloodbath – From the AWA tag match, Greg Gagne and other babyface wrestlers help the Rockers out of the ring. Gagne reacts to the match and promises there will be HELL TO PAY for Rose and Somers if the Midnight Rockers can’t come back from the injuries they suffered in this match.
Be Ready – They show the Buddy Rose ‘Blow Away’ weight loss commercial spoof. Not sure why this is on here.
Barbershop – Apparently barbershop is ONE word. This is a montage of HBK’s highly charismatic entrances. He can’t dance and he can’t sing, but he did it any way for his entrance. What you hear and what Shawn heard in the recording studio was completely different. Oh, my entire faith of anybody being talented in the music business since 1994 has been shattered! This was not what I thought it was going to be.
There Are No Rules – From the 2/26/94 Superstars, Shawn Michaels heads to the ring with his own IC title. There’s a ladder in the entrance way to emphasize his upcoming encounter with the REAL Intercontinental champion Razor Ramon at WrestleMania 10. He carries the ladder to the ring to explain the rules for the match. Shawn says there ARE no rules! All you have to do is beat your opponent senseless, climb the ladder, and retrieve the belt. Shawn uses some ladder metaphors to explain how he rose to the top of the WWF. He sits at the top of the ladder and promises to stand tall at WrestleMania as the undisputed Intercontinental champion.
Two Champions – This is a video package that explains why Shawn and Razor both have belts dating back to September 1993 when Shawn was stripped of the gold for not defending the title. Razor Ramon and Rick Martel were the final two competitors in a battle royal to allow them an IC championship match, which Razor won. Shawn then returned to the WWF on the December 4 episode of Superstars with his own IC title. Ramon showed up and got in Shawn’s face. Two days later on Raw, Shawn and Diesel attacked Razor as Shawn proceeded to give him the Razor’s Edge TWICE on the concrete. Skip ahead to the Royal Rumble where Shawn Michaels nearly cost Razor the IC title in a match against IRS by smashing his own title over Ramon’s back. To take us out, The Bad Guy says at WrestleMania he will take ALL the gold.
Piper’s Announcement – From the 2/26/96 Monday Night Raw, Vince McMahon gets the WWF champion Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels together. Shawn puts over Bret for being great, but right now he thinks he is the best there is right now. Bret says he doesn’t have a problem showing Shawn in the ring that he is in fact the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be. Bret assures Shawn that he is in for the biggest dog fight of his life at WrestleMania. Shawn agrees that Bret has had some big obstacles to overcome the past six months, but so has Shawn. He’s been beaten up by people at bars, ya know! Shawn shows off his abs to prove he’s in the best condition of his life. However, Bret is like the Energizer bunny, in case you didn’t know. Here comes the WWF President Roddy Piper. Roddy tells Vince to go have a seat. HA. Piper reprimands the crowd for booing either one of these competitors. Huh? We skip ahead past Piper’s rambling as he announces that Bret-Shawn will be a one hour iron man match where the most falls wins the WWF title. You might as well shake hands, because you are going to hate each other after this one. Oh so true, Roddy.
Training Video – JR does the voice over as they show Shawn Michaels working out with Jose Lothario in a sweat box of a gym in San Antonio where he first learned how to wrestle. They also show Bret Hart working out and doing cardio. He recalls saying several years earlier when he thought Shawn would be the guy to replace him when his time had come, but now he thinks Shawn is way overconfident. Just a great series of videos.
Iron Man TV Spot – Another great hype video for Bret-Shawn at WrestleMania showcasing the steep differences in their characters.
Match of the Year – From the 1997 Slammy Awards, JR presents the ‘Match of the Year’ award and digs on WCW while he’s at it! The nominees were HBK-Mankind at Mind Games, Bret-Austin at Survivor Series, Taker-Mankind at SummerSlam, Austin-Vega strap match from Beware of Dog, and HBK-Bret at WrestleMania 12. Naturally, HBK-Shawn at WrestleMania 12 wins the awards. Both men come up to accept individual awards. Awkwaaaaard. Shawn can’t help but remind everybody that he won that match. Bret says that if Shawn can “find his smile”, maybe we can see who will win the next time around. Yeah, awkward.
Before They Were Superstars – If you have seen the ‘Heartbreak & Triumph’ DVD, you have seen this segment. It shows Shawn growing up as a military brat. The final stop for his family was in San Antonio where he was born. His childhood friend recalls how Shawn used to get all the chicks even though he was a shy guy. Football was his thing as a kid, but his passion was wrestling. He started watching wrestling at age 12 and thoroughly enjoyed it. His parents disapproved, but they let him watch anyways. His friends used to wrestle all the time in high school. Don’t try this at home, folks! You could become one of the greatest workers ever in the business. Shawn needed to get an education before his father would let him become a wrestler, but he sucked terribly at college. Instead of wasting his father’s money, his dad cut him loose and let him go train so his son wouldn’t live with any regrets. From Jose Lothario to Bill Watts Mid South wrestling, he moved along to Kansas City where he started teaming up with Marty Jannetty. He had a choice between being “the guy” in San Antonio and going to AWA to continue teaming with Jannetty, so he made the right move in hindsight and headed to Minneapolis for a big run. Onto the WWF, the first night on the job a guy comes up to the Rockers (Jimmy Jack Funk aka Jesse Barr) and challenges them to a glass bottle eating contest. You know, typical Tuesday night stuff. This escalates into a story where the Rockers tearing a bar down, but none of the boys stood up for them. One of the agents working at the time Chief Jay Strongbow tells them that he doesn’t care for the Rockers and didn’t want them there in the WWF. Well, Vince McMahon tells them to chill out while they’re in the bar. A week later, McMahon fires them but they leave on a good note with Vince so they can return later. After working for the AWA again, they return a year or two later and the rest is history.
Tell Me A Lie – It’s the infamous ‘Tell Me A Lie’ music video that aired when Shawn lost his smile in early 1997.
No Holds Barred
WWF World Champion Shawn Michaels (w/Jose Lothario) vs. Diesel – No Holds Barred (IYH: Good Friends Better Enemies, 4/28/96)
Just so you know, they offer alternate commentary with Shawn Michaels and Kevin Nash for this match on this DVD. This is the swan song for Diesel as he’s leaving for WCW along with Ramon, so he’s looking to leave on an absolute high note. Diesel tosses Vince his leather vest as a goodbye present, I’m assuming. Mad Dog Vachon is in the front row. That becomes important later. Shawn has to clear the ring of Diesel in order to take off his chaps. HBK levels Diesel with a baseball slide and follows him out with a moonsault press off the top to the floor! Ha, Shawn takes a boot off one of the SAT guys and comes down on Diesel with it from the top rope for two. Diesel reverses a whip for the Flair Corner Flip and knocks Shawn off the apron onto the guardrail. Back inside, Diesel punishes Shawn with the usual stuff. He hits the Side Slam and unties his wrist tape to CHOKE OUT THE REF! WHAT. With ref Earl Hebner choked down, Diesel loosens Hebner’s belt to whip Shawn. Now that is cool. Diesel goes as far as to wrap the belt around Shawn’s throat and pulls back while he’s got his foot in Shawn’s back. Like you would in a strap match, Diesel flips him over the top rope and ties him to the middle rope to go get a chair. While the ref tries to get Shawn loose, Diesel kills him with a chair shot. In the ring, we see another chair shot to Shawn. He begs off into the ropes and ducks another chair shot as the chair bounces off the top rope back into Diesel’s face! Now Shawn has the chair, but Diesel low-blows him real good. Big backdrop from Diesel gets two. Shawn fights out of a neck wrench, but Diesel knocks him out to the floor. With Shawn out on the floor, Diesel slowly comes down and POWERBOMBS SHAWN THROUGH THE ANNOUNCE TABLE. Not the SAT either – Vince and King’s table. Such an insane bump at the time because a spot like that had never been done before in the WWF quite like that. Diesel has the belt in the ring and puts it around his waist while Shawn regroups. As he crawls over to the ring, Shawn pulls out a fire extinguisher from under the ring and shoots it off in Diesel’s face to push him back! With Diesel blinded, Shawn hits the Flying Forearm. Now Shawn brings the chair back into the ring and KO’s Diesel. Oh, but just when Shawn looks like he’s in control, he ducks low off a whip and takes a Big Boot to the face. Here comes the JACKKNIFE! No! Shawn punches out and hits the Flying Elbow Drop! Diesel catches Shawn’s foot during SWEET CHIN MUSIC and spins Shawn around for a clothesline. Back on the floor, Diesel hotshots Shawn on the guardrail. After he tosses Shawn back in the ring, Diesel goes over and pulls Mad Dog Vachon from the front row and pulls off his prosthetic leg! Back inside, Diesel looks to bash the artificial leg on Shawn’s head, but Shawn answers back with a low-blow. Shawn winds up with Vachon’s leg and blasts Diesel. He tosses the leg back to Mad Dog and finishes off Diesel for good with SWEET CHIN MUSIC. (17:54) You have to love Shawn’s big time emotional celebration afterwards. Not only had he never beaten Diesel, but the win gives him the confidence to know that his title reign is FOR REALZ now in his first big title defense. Well, at least in terms of the ‘boyhood dream’ storyline. Innovative stuff here for the WWF and one of my all-time favorite matches as both guys just absolutely tore the house down. ****¾
WWF World Champion Shawn Michaels vs. Mankind (w/Paul Bearer) – (IYH: Mind Games, 9/22/96)
There’s no way this FREAK Mankind can possibly win the WWF championship! The druids bring out a casket before the match and out comes Mankind just to play “mind games” with the Undertaker. Mankind goes to town on Shawn to start and takes him to the floor with a Cactus Clothesline. Mankind starts to peel back the ringside mats when Shawn dropkicks him over and starts stomping him while he’s stuck under the mat! HBK heads up top and comes down on Mankind right onto the concrete. From there, Shawn leaps off the steps and slams Mankind’s head to the concrete for another nasty bump. Back in, Shawn hits the Flying Double Sledge and follows up with the Flying Elbow Drop. SWEET CHIN MUSIC? No! Mankind sees what’s coming and leaps out of the ring. He starts rocking back and forth as Paul Bearer hands him the urn, which has become sort of a pacifier for him. Back inside the ring, they brawl it out, which leads to Mankind attempting the MANDIBLE CLAW when Shawn goes for a snapmare. Shawn elbows out, but gets thrown out to the floor where the SAT gets turned around. Shawn has had enough and LEAPS over the table and onto Mankind for more punches. They fight over to the steps where HBK gives Mankind a snap suplex into the steps! OUCH, there goes your knee. As Mankind tries to get back inside, Shawn chopblocks the knee and then slams it down across the casket! That’ll teach him to bring out a casket to a match when he’s not even an Undertaker! Mankind sells the knee real well as HBK Japanese leg whips him into a Figure-Four! He reverses out, but Shawn dropkicks the knee and grabs a half crab. Mankind finds the ropes and hotshots HBK to take control. To get the feeling back in his leg, Mankind rolls to the apron and starts STABBING HIMSELF IN THE KNEE! WHAT THE F. Mankind starts to pound on Shawn and then drives his knee into his face while he’s down in the corner. He begins to drive Shawn’s face into the mat because of his jealousy for pretty boys. Shawn tries to come back, but Mankind reverses a corner whip as HBK tries the Ray Stevens bump and gets caught in the tree of woe. While he’s stuck, here comes Mankind with the running elbow drop! Down to the floor, Shawn avoids a running knee up against the steps, causing Mankind to crash knees-first into the steel. Mankind takes another bump into the steps as Shawn sends him face-first with a drop toehold. They fight over a suplex on the apron. Mankind charges him down the apron, but Shawn slips back inside as Mankind runs into the ringpost! Back in, HBK hits the Jumping Back Elbow and a powerslam for two. Shawn whips Mankind into the ropes when he gets his head caught in between the top and middle strands! SNAP! Once Mankind breaks free, he jabs Shawn with the MANDIBLE CLAW! Oh, but Shawn tosses Mankind off into the guardrail, as Hugo Savinovich falls out of his chair for no reason. Mankind tries to stab Shawn again with the MANDIBLE CLAW, but he blocks it with a chair. While the ref is with Paul Bearer, Shawn slams the chair down on Mankind’s knee and his Mandible Claw hand! Back in, Mankind tries the MANDIBLE CLAW anyways, but Shawn blocks and tries to break his hand. Off comes the finger glove! Shawn charges and takes a nasty backdrop to the floor, as Mankind follows him out with the Flying Elbow Drop off the apron. He continues to punish Shawn with the swinging neckbreaker on the concrete! Back in, the DOUBLE-ARM DDT gets 1-2-NO! Pull Up Piledriver gets another 1-2-NO! He tries with several pinfall attempts, but Shawn keeps kicking out. Mankind rolls Shawn into the casket, but he gets out of that REAL quick and starts his comeback. Flying Forearm is followed by the Flying Bodypress for 1-2-NO! Shawn gets crotched up top and they both go tumbling backwards down through the SAT! Well that was insane. Back inside, a chair is set up and Shawn jumps off the chair to deliver SWEET CHIN MUSIC to Mankind’s face while he’s up top with a chair in his hands! Steel chair + SWEET CHIN MUSIC = KO! Slow cover gets 1-2-WHAT. Shawn comes off the pin attempt and starts brawling with Vader! That’s a DQ, gentlemen. (26:23) Easily one of the best matches to ever end on a DQ finish. Also, this match should prove to anybody that these two men were the best bumpers in the business at the time. And it wasn’t just bumps here, there was a STORY to go along with the bumps and great selling from both men. In a perfect world where the original ECW was filled with other guys as talented as Mick Foley and Shawn Michaels wrestled there, this is the kind of matches he would be having on a semi-regular basis. They seemed to be building towards a Vader title change in the immediate future before Shawn would win it back to meet Bret at WrestleMania 13 for a rematch, but we all know that wasn’t meant to be. Shawn knocks Vader out of the ring with the Flying Forearm, but then Paul Bearer smashes the urn over his head. Doesn’t matter because the match is over. Sid runs in and beats Vader back to the dressing room to set up their match for the next PPV. Mankind applies the MANDIBLE CLAW on Shawn while he’s down and considers putting him in the casket. As Paul Bearer opens the lid, out comes the Undertaker! He sends Mankind flying out of the ring and walks them back to the dressing room. ****½
Hell in a Cell
Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker – Hell in a Cell (IYH: Badd Blood, 10/5/97)
Once Shawn gets inside the cell, he starts FREAKING OUT. Too bad, bro. Taker begins to stalk and goes for a chokeslam early, but Shawn kicks away. Some mounted punches in the corner do little good as UT is in total control. Old School connects and we go to the floor. Shawn tries to climb the cage wall to get away, but yeah that’s not going to work. UT just pulls him down and whips Shawn into the steel a couple times. Now Taker picks Shawn up and drives him into the ringpost and then into the corner of the cell. HBK shoves off a snake eyes into the cage, but UT NO-SELLS and clotheslines Shawn down. UT misses a charge into the cage and knocks himself silly. UT hotshots Shawn away from him, but then gets knocked off the apron into the cell. With Taker in position, HBK nails him with a suicide dive! Good thing he had the cell to keep him from flying into the front row. Michaels keeps UT grounded as he pulls the ring steps apart and crashes them down upon the Undertaker. With only the bottom steps in place, Shawn gives UT a PILEDRIVER ON THE STEPS! Strange how that sounded like a watermelon bursting. Shawn brings a chair into the ring and may we remind you that this whole feud started with a chairshot to the Undertaker at SummerSlam when Shawn was the special referee in Taker’s WWF title match with Bret Hart. Shawn proceeds to beat UT down with the chair, but still only gets a two-count. UT fights off Shawn’s barrage of punches and backdrops Shawn clear over the top onto a cameraman on the floor. Whoa. Now Shawn pitches a fit and beats up the cameraman! When he’s done, he drags the guy over to where the cage door is at. That becomes important later. Meanwhile, Shawn hits the Flying Forearm and the Flying Elbow Drop. SWEET CHIN MUSIC, but Taker NO-SELLS AND SITS UP! Now the door has been opened as the camera guy gets some help. Shawn decides to quit and exits the door, but UT follows him out. They continue to brawl and Shawn starts dishing out dropkicks, but then UT catches one of them and catapults Shawn into the cage to bust him open! Taker delivers the snake eyes he wanted earlier and delivers it twofold. It looks like he wants another, but Shawn kicks him in his dead balls. Shawn resorts to climbing ONTO THE ROOF OF THE CAGE to get away from the Undertaker. What he doesn’t realize is that Undertaker is following him up the cage! Shawn tries a piledriver, but UT backdrops out. Does anybody remember seeing a wrestling match on top of the roof of a steel cage for the first time? UT press slams Shawn and boy that is an EERIE sight. Shawn nearly gets punched off the cage when as he is climbing down, Taker stomps on HBK’s hands to cause him to fall through the Spanish announce table! Incredible. UT meets Shawn on the floor and beats him back inside the cell. SUPER CHOKESLAM by the Undertaker! Now UT finds his own chair and delivers one nasty shot to Shawn’s head. As Taker calls for the Tombstone, the lights go out and some strange organ music plays as Paul Bearer walks out through hellfire and brimstone with who we know today as Kane. Vince ~ “THAT’S GOTTA BE KANE! THAT’S GOTTA BE KANE!” You think? Kane rips the door off its hinges, throws Earl Hebner REALLY hard into the cage, and then walks right up to Undertaker. UT is in total disbelief that his brother is here. Kane sets (three of) the four ringposts on fire and gives UT a TOMBSTONE PILELDRIVER! Then he gives his brother one last glare and leaves with Paul Bearer. The damage has been done. Now Shawn drapes an arm across the defeated Undertaker as Earl Hebner crawls into the ring and slow counts the 1-2-3. (30:00) Undertaker had too much going on at the time to possibly overcome the odds here. He had his obvious problems with Shawn Michaels, his brother finally pops in on him, and he wants to get the WWF title back from Bret Hart. Talk about some stress. That’s what the teardrop on his cheek is for – he’s unbelievably overwhelmed! Anyways, one of the most memorable matches of the ’90s that completely epitomized what the match promised and there are few matches (Austin-Foley at Over the Edge maybe?) that inspired the Attitude Era quite like the first Hell in a Cell, which I still believe to be the greatest of them all. Sorry, Mick. *****
Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H – Street Fight (SummerSlam, 8/25/02)
Naturally this is Shawn’s first televised match since WrestleMania 14 when he had to quit due to a broken back. This is a ONE NIGHT ONLY return for Shawn Michaels, folks! Shawn beats HHH to the floor to start and follows him out with a pescado. HBK tosses a trash can into the ring and catches HHH with the lid before skinning the cat back inside. Lawler ~ “Vintage Shawn Michaels!” HBK bashes the trash can over Hunter’s head and goes for SWEET CHIN MUSIC, but HHH ducks and hits a backbreaker. HHH hits another one and whips Shawn hard from corner to corner. Once he gets Shawn to his knees, he reminds him of the past with a crotch chop. Out comes the steel chair as HHH nails him across the back. Shawn flips out of a suplex and delivers an O’Connor roll for two. He telegraphs a backdrop though and eats a facebuster. DDT on the chair by HHH to bust Shawn open! Hunter rips off Shawn’s belt and jabs the buckle into HBK’s forehead. HHH finds his trusty sledgehammer and Earl Hebner PLEADS for him not to use it. That stalls HHH long enough for HBK to regroup and punch Hunter away. And just like that, HHH reverses a corner whip and applies a dastardly ab stretch. He’s pulling on Shawn’s hair and everything. Hebner has enough when HHH starts using the ropes for leverage. HHH has enough of his mouth and shoves Hebner, but Earl shoves him back and continues to stand up to Helmsley! Again, the time HHH spends on Hebner gives HBK just enough time to get to his feet. HHH knees Shawn away and attempts a superplex, but Shawn shoves him off. He wants the elbow drop, but HHH shoves Hebner into the ropes to trip up Shawn. With HBK bent down up in the corner, HHH blasts him across the back with the chair. Now HHH gets an idea. He sets up the chair and gives Shawn a BACKBREAKER ON THE CHAIR! Cover, 1-2-NO! HHH decides to fold up the chair and give Shawn a SIDE SLAM ON THE CHAIR! Cover, 1-2-NO! How about a PEDIGREE on the chair? Nope. Shawn low blows Hunter. As HHH comes at Shawn with the chair again, he catches Hunter with SWEET CHIN MUSIC. Chair meets face! That busts HHH open. Shawn hits the Flying Forearm and KIPS UP! He blasts Triple H with a chairshot and we head back outside as Shawn gets his belt back and beats Hunter over by the announce table. From there, Shawn removes the top half of the stairs and runs ALL THE WAY around the ring to drop Hunter with a faceslam on the steps! Out comes a ladder as HBK abuses Triple H with it. He sets it up against the ringpost where Shawn catapults him face-first into the ladder. Back inside the ring, HBK gets two. As Shawn retrieves the ladder, HHH baseball slides the ladder into Shawn. Back in, HBK crotches HHH up top and brings him down with a superplex. He lands on his side to avoid any damage to his back. Cover, 1-2-NO! HBK tries to pull a fast one on Triple H, but then charges into a High Knee for two. HHH brings the top half of the stairs into the ring, but HBK makes him regret it with a drop toe hold onto the steps. To the floor, Shawn sets up a table out on the floor and flying splashes HHH through it. Back inside, HBK sets the ladder up and hits the Flying Elbow Drop. SHAWN FEELS GOOOOD! He tunes up the band and attempts SWEET CHIN MUSIC, but HHH catches the foot and spins him around for the PEDIGREE! Oh, but Shawn trips him up and the jackknife rollup gets the 1-2-3! (27:19) What started out as a match where Shawn was clearly the underdog escalated into a situation where as the match progressed, Shawn Michaels realized that he still had everything that it takes to compete in the main event. At least that’s how the story goes. Here we are over seven years later with more classic HBK matches this time around than he had when we thought his career was over the first time. ****½
No Holds Barred:
Diesel Interview – It’s Big Daddy Cool in Germany! Before he goes out to teach another idiot from the WWF a lesson, he lets Shawn know that the No Holds Barred match in Omaha will be the final chapter of his career. He doesn’t want the belt because he didn’t like being the champ since Vince wanted to change and mold him the way he wanted him to be. Sounds like he planned to get a piece of Razor Ramon too?
Big Daddy Cool – Screw an Iron Man match, this is going to be a fight Shawn. In this interview, Diesel seems to want the WWF title. People (the dudes who beat him up in Syracuse?) say fighting isn’t Shawn’s style, but he says his style is whatever he wants it to be.
Good Friends – TV ad for the In Your House PPV.
Better Enemies – Another promo for the PPV. When it’s over, only their hatred will survive!
In Your House – A video package showcasing the three year on-screen history between Shawn Michaels and Diesel leading up to the big match.
Have A Nice Day – 30-second ad to show what mental state Mankind is in. Buy the PPV!
Slam Jam Promo – Shawn says that if it’s crazy Mankind wants, it’s crazy he’s going to get at Mind Games.
Mankind Promo – If I win the WWF title, will that make Mankind a sexy boy? Will the girls want to kiss him, or will they run in fear?
Brain Surgeon – From earlier in the day before the show starts, Shawn Michaels stops Brian Pillman and tells everybody that he and Mankind are going to get a little wacky.
Pre-Match Interview – Everyone’s favorite hermaphrodite Kevin Kelly gets a last word from Shawn Michaels before he goes out to meet Mankind.
Hell in a Cell:
Hell in a Cell TV Spot – Nice TV ad for the main event at Badd Blood .
Building Hell – Remember when they first introduced the Elimination Chamber and showed all the man power put into making it? Well they did the exact same for the first Hell in a Cell.
Blaze of Glory – From the 9/15/97 Raw is War, Shawn plays the victim even though he’s always having the best matches on the card. Everybody says that the Hell in a Cell will be the death of him, but if he goes, he’s going out in a BLAZE OF GLORAAYYYYY. Undertaker appears on the TitanTron with a cage in front of him. Two men enter, only the Undertaker leaves…WITH YOUR SOUL!
Good News, Bad News – Before the Hell in a Cell, Dok Hendrix meets with DX. The good news is the European title isn’t on the line, but the bad news is he’s going to have wrestle this one alone.
Badd Blood – A video package that highlights HBK’s descent into a man of low moral fiber. The Undertaker sure did take a LOT of chairshots during this feud.
Nothing Left – HHH and Shawn Michaels were best buddies in 1997, but no longer. HHH PEDIGREES Shawn and says he used Shawn to get to the top just like HBK used him to stay at the top. From what started as a rivalry became personal once Shawn gets his head smashed through a car door window by a mystery man! While HHH plays innocent, a security cam revealed that TRIPLE H did it! Shawn Michaels challenges Triple H to an unsanctioned match at SummerSlam. Why does HHH always tells veterans that they are finished so he can bring out the best in them only to ultimately lose? He did it to Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair. Is that his way of putting people over?
Hammered – This shows HHH’s post-match sledgehammer beatdown on Shawn Michaels. HHH’s perverse and almost hesitant laughter as he backs through the curtain is pretty awesome.
And there’s a short photo gallery, but who’s going to look at those?
Final Thoughts: This DVD set includes certainly the finest and most memorable moments in the career of Shawn Michaels up to the time of the release in 2003. This gets a definite thumbs up from me and as cliché as this sounds, this is a collection that should be in anybody’s wrestling collection.