Tag Archives: Shawn Michaels

Favorite Matches #3: Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels

On the evening of April 5, 2009, Michael Hickenbottom and Mark Calaway didn’t put on just another excellent performance. They produced a classic match that a generation of wrestling enthusiasts look to as the capstone of their fandom. I knew Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 25 was going to be something special considering the landscape of WWE at the time.

Taker and Michaels were already legendary performers who had the backstage clout to do whatever they wanted from a creative perspective. With both men being 44 years old at the time, however, some felt this match could never live up to their classic bouts with each other, twelve years earlier.

Oh, the wonders of ring psychology.

Their feud couldn’t have been simpler. Undertaker’s undefeated streak was the holy grail of accomplishment, and Michaels wanted his name etched in history as its conqueror. Michaels had to qualify for the opportunity by beating Vladimir Kozlov who also yearned for a shot at ending the streak.

Michaels was perturbed someone of his stature had to qualify for anything. He bragged about his own streak of never being pinned by The Deadman. This is true regarding televised bouts, which is all that matters in storytelling. In reality, Taker had pinned Michaels several times at house shows in late 97 through early 98.

 

Inspired by his religious faith, Michaels called himself the light that would eclipse the darkness embodied by “The Phenom.” To drive the point home, he even wore a white hat and trench coat in contrast to Undertaker’s distinguished black ensemble.

Sixty one thousand people inside Reliant Stadium were on the edge of their seat for the in-ring poetry exhibited by these two titans of the industry. However, that is not how it started. The first eight minutes of the match was slow and garnered next to no reaction from the crowd. A forgotten fact due to the bout’s high esteem.

I was watching WrestleMania at a friend’s house that year. Early on, no one in Brian Applegate’s living room was impressed with the match. My training as a wrestler, however, taught me that the best wrestling matches start slow and then builds to a crescendo followed by an epic climax.

Things began to pick up as both men exchanged a series of big moves followed by a dramatic escape where Michaels survived the Undertaker’s gogoplata submission. Michaels missed a top rope moonsault to the floor, which was shocking enough to witness, nevermind what followed.

Undertaker went for his signature dive over the top rope, but Michaels moved out of the way. Undertaker crashed into the cameraman, who was Sim Snuka (Jimmy Snuka’s son) working as a plant designated to catch him. Snuka missed timed the catch and Undertaker landed straight down on his head. Luckily, Undertaker miraculously avoided injury by tucking his head at the last possible second.

The tempo of the match heated up even more as both men kicked out of each other’s big moves. This type of work was surprising to see in a WWE setting as their timing and execution was on an entirely new level.

The closing moments of the match saw Michaels come off the top room with a moonsault, only for Undertaker to catch him in mid-air and drilled Michaels with a tombstone piledriver for the 1-2-3.

The adulation in Brian’s living room was at a fever pitch. None of us could believe what we had just witnessed. I looked at my phone and saw a Facebook post by WWE superstar Mike Kanellis, who was working for Ring of Honor at the time. He stated, “That match reminded me of why I love professional wrestling.” It’s a sentiment that thousands of wrestlers and fans echoed on social media as we all reveled in a state of grappling euphoria.

A wrestling match is not about doing big flashy moves. It’s about doing the right moves at the right time to tell a story. Shawn Michaels was the biggest threat to the Undertaker’s undefeated streak. The drama of it all was augmented by every well-chosen and well-timed move, sell and facial reaction. Everything they did in the ring meant something. This outing transformed the streak from famous to infamous because we genuinely didn’t know who was going to win.

 

My Favorite Matches

Bret Hart vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin – Survivor Series 1996

Kurt Agle vs. Chris Benoit – Royal Rumble 2003

Bret Hart vs. Undertaker – One Night Only 1997

Ricky Steamboat vs. Macho Man Randy Savage – WrestleMania 3

Mr. Perfect vs. Bret Hart – Summer Slam 1991 

British Bulldog vs. Owen Hart – Monday Night Raw 3/5/97

Bret Hart vs. British Bulldog – Simmer Slam 1992

 

Top Five Royal Rumble Eliminations

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This past Sunday’s Royal Rumble match treated fans to some fun over the top rope eliminations. One elimination, in particular, saw Braun Strowman hurl the ill-suited James Ellsworth out of the ring with a chokeslam that sent him crashing to the floor, hip first.

Seeing this hip-crushing ejection got me thinking of some of the memorable Rumble match eliminations over the years that have stuck with me. Some made for great moments while others served as the kick-off to a bitter feud. Then there are those that are just plain terrible.  Continue reading

The Odds of AJ Styles vs. Shawn Michaels Actually Happening

 

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It’s only fair to start this post by stating that this match is probably not going to happen….but what if?

An image made its voyage around the internet last week hyping a fantasy match up at next year’s Royal Rumble pitting WWE World Champion AJ Styles against Shawn Michaels. Styles himself added more fuel to the speculative fire when he tweeted out the image in question and said “Interesting photo…is it not?”  Continue reading

10 Greatest Intercontinental Title Matches Held at Summer Slam

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Another Summer Slam is in the books and overall, I thought it was a good show. One of the matches featured Ryback defeating The Miz and Big Show to retain the Intercontinental title. However, it was a far cry from the classics of yesteryear.

Just like WrestleMania is known for its world title matches, a hallmark of Summer Slam was once the stellar Intercontinental title encounters. They weren’t just great in-ring spectacles, but they often served as a defining moment for a wrestler’s career.

Bret Hart’s impressive back-to-back performances for the coveted title played a large role in ascension to the main event scene while the power of the Warrior nearly blew the roof off of Madison Garden in his rapid pursuit of the gold.

I long for the days when biggest party of the summer produced some of the great I.C. title matches of all time. So, let’s look at ten best held at Summer Slam.
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Meeting the Excellence of Execution: Bret Hart

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Bret Hart is my all-time favorite wrestler and he was my inspiration for trying my hand at professional wrestling. The “Hitman” appeared at a pop culture convention last weekend and I was offered press credentials to cover the event.

I really wanted to meet him. So for the sake of professionalism, I declined the offer. I didn’t know when I’d have another chance to rub shoulders with the “excellence of execution” so in the words of Mike Pono “Dude, be a fanboy for once.”

The thing is, I know so much about his career, I was concerned that I wouldn’t have anything to say or ask. On the drive to the convention center, my wife assuredly stated “Its Bret Hart, I’m sure you’ll think of something.” Continue reading

WWE Network Recommendations

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I crawled into bed late last night to watch TV. Channel after channel, nothing tickled my fancy until I said “Hey, you have the WWE Network.” I logged onto my iPhone and fell asleep watching WrestleMania Rewind chronicling the iconic confrontation between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant. When I woke up, I realized I’d just experienced something that my ten year old self could only dream of. Continue reading

Ten Greatest WWE Champions of All Time

The WWE championship is the holy grail of professional wrestling. It’s the belt that every aspiring, and current, wrestler dreams of holding. Having this honor bestowed upon you means you are the best  that this business has to offer which in turn produced some of the most memorable feuds. Today, I will rank the top ten WWE champions of all time.

To say this list was hard to compile would be a huge understatement. 42 wrestlers over a 50 year time span made for several list changes. The thing to remember is that all lists of this type are subjective. You do the best you can with a criteria that makes sense to you.

For example, Money is extremely important, but being a big draw doesn’t define a wrestler. Iron Man 3 made over four hundred million at the box office but it’s not going to win Best Picture at the Oscars.

Without further ado, let’s get started.

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It’s time to Ring the Damn Bell with Summer Slam.

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Growing up, Summer Slam used to fall on or near my Birthday so for me, it was the perfect way to close out the summer before heading back to school. I think Summer Slam could benefit from being stadium show like WrestleMania because there are more weather friendly venues in the summer time. Plus, it would truly give the event that “Biggest party of the Summer” feel.

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It’s All About The Luck of The Draw in The Royal Rumble

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The unsung hero of the Royal Rumble event is the golden spinning tumbler that holds the numbers drawn at random to determine the order of entry into the Royal Rumble match. The luck of the draw is so important because the higher the number, the higher a wrestlers chances are of victory. Back in the day, the actual drawing of the numbers was focused on a lot more because it gave fans a clue as to what spot the wrestlers drew without revealing the actual point of entry.

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Ten Greatest WWE Intercontinental Champions Of All Time

 

The WWE Intercontinental championship is one the most revered and perhaps the most respected title belt among professional wrestling fans. For the longest time it was this championship that produced the most anticipated and exciting matches. More times than not, those who wore this coveted title were able to elevate their careers as a result. As a kid I more excited for the IC title matches than I was for the world title matches. Today I’m going to list the Top 10 Intercontinental Champions of all time. This list is based on tenure as champion and their accomplishments beyond.

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