July 24, 2005
Charles Williams

Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon
Monday Night Raw
August 1, 1994

In 1994, Shawn Michaels was already being given the star treatment, as this was his first televised singles match since Wrestlemania X, and a huge deal was made out of it, just as a huge deal was made of Vince McMahon being found not guilty of steroid distribution, as color commentator Randy Savage gloated about it at ringside. These two, for whatever reason, worked exceptionally well together, probably because they were so familiar with each other and they were both on the same page. That's always been an interesting paradox with Michaels, that he can have better matches with Razor Ramon and HHH than with Bret Hart and Steve Austin. The execution is good, but what makes the match is the selling from both, as each goes out of his way to put over every move, big and small. Instead of going the traditional route and starting out with the babyface going strong, followed by the heel controlling, leading to the comeback and the finish, they work the match in five-minute increments, knowing they have 20 minutes to build the match. Another accomplishment this match boasts is that you can't sense early on that they're going long, because the pace never lets up.

The first five minutes is used to establish that pace and give us some nice back-and-forth offense. It's as needless in some ways as the Michaels/Jannetty stuff in their RAW match, but it's more exciting here, just because they're going even faster. Shawn cuts off every attempt at a comeback Razor makes in this stage of the match, which is a little frustrating, but not if it would build to something later. Razor nicely catches Shawn's dropkick attempt and catapults him to the outside where he lands on Diesel, but the bump is a little too exaggerated to really be effective, because it's obvious Michaels is propelling himself.

The second five minutes is about Razor dominating Shawn, with, strangely enough, heel hope spots teased that don't go anywhere. He targets Shawn's back with a bearhug, and Shawn gets out of it and tries to slam Razor, but can't do it because his back is injured. He finally climbs out of the hold and scales down Ramon's back into a sunset flip position, and they work some really quick back-and-forth pinfall attempts that are fun to watch, but sort of defeat whatever purpose Razor being in control might have had.

The third five minutes sees Shawn take charge, with Diesel getting in his shots behind the ref's back and Shawn keeping the pace quick, as that's where he excels. Surprisingly, this is probably the weakest portion of the match, but one can still see dramatic improvement in Michaels in a year's time when he's dominating a match. He's far more aggressive than he had been before, and he's laying the groundwork for a run on top. The tide turns when he gets into a slugfest with Ramon, who's considered the better brawler.

The last five minutes totally make the match, as they go back and forth and work in some exciting nearfalls, and Shawn climbing on Razor's back to do the sleeper is a *great* hold in context, because it rallies the crowd and Razor pumping his fists to fight out of the hold is well done. Their heads crack after Razor breaks the hold, and they work a double TKO spot that the crowd loves. Razor gets in a series of close pins, as he clotheslines Shawn, rolls through after Shawn tries a flying bodypress, and reverses Shawn's Razor's Edge attempt. It's interesting that this was probably the first feud in the WWF of note that would make a huge deal of stealing the other guy's finishing move, a staple that would become a bigger part of the style in 2001.

There were way too many spots called right in vision of the camera, as even when Shawn is supposed to be selling a double TKO, he's talking constantly, and the finish with Diesel interfering behind the ref's back is a little disappointing considering the time invested, but in the end, we're still left with a fun way to fill 20 minutes, even if the overall work was a little transparent.

***1/2

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