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Gregor

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  1. Gregor

    Hulk Hogan

    All of those drew pretty well, even the one from 1999. I was trying to get at the resulting impact of the (poor) quality of the matches. I can't think of another case in which it mattered as much that a wrestler was having bad matches. Piper was rapidly declining at that point, but he'd already had two PPV main events with Hogan shortly before that, and those had gone pretty well. Havoc '97 was the first one that seemed to expose him.
  2. Gregor

    Hulk Hogan

    One thing that's interesting to me about Hogan, specifically Hogan from mid-1997 through early 1999, is that I'm not sure if any other wrestler's bad matches have had as big a negative impact as Hogan's did in that period. - Age in the Cage vs. Piper was the first time that the WWF-levied criticisms of WCW's aging stars really seemed to take hold. Even though Piper won, it felt like he lost something with this match and was never as over again. - The main event of Starrcade '97 is infamous in wrestling lore (and the SuperBrawl follow-up isn't much better), but, even had those matches been booked better, they were still worked in a way that took something away from Sting. Hogan ate him alive and really hurt the idea that the character was something special. - The cage match vs. Savage didn't have any long-reaching effects, but it really was interesting how dead the crowd was for it. That might have been the first sign that WCW fans were getting sick of Hogan again. - The match with Warrior was so bad that it killed Warrior's WCW run right then and there. - The booking bears most of the blame for the disaster at and after Uncensored '99, but the work in that match wasn't exactly at the level of Hart-Austin as far as monumental double-turns go. WCW was extremely successful during this time, so it's not like these matches were killing them. Still, that's five matches with fairly clear harmful effects, and four opponents (Savage the exception) who were less over after their matches with Hogan, even though Warrior was the only one who lost. For matches with positive impacts on the company in that time frame, you have his loss to Goldberg and not much else.
  3. Gregor

    Shawn Michaels

    Wow, someone else liked the Kennedy feud. I just assumed that I had overrated those matches. I need it explained to me why that was a good matchup. Earlier this year I watched most of the big matches from Michaels' comeback. I'd always felt bad about mostly glossing over it when we did this last time. I didn't think that it was a hopeless disaster, but it didn't really enhance his standing to me either. The biggest positive takeaway for me was that Michaels was capable of working a strong match with the goal of making the other guy look good. That wasn't something he showed a whole lot of in the '90s. Michaels vs. Shelton Benjamin from 2005 had a hot stretch of convincing near-falls for Benjamin before he took the loss in the most spectacular fashion possible. Michaels vs. Jeff Hardy had the guy who was breaking into the top level overcome a lot of punishment to get a huge win. The former was probably more impressive, as you could almost feel Benjamin's stature grow in the eyes of the crowd as it happened, and they did it without even giving him the win. The latter was more complete and felt like the kind of match that Michaels could have envisioned himself in years before as a high-flyer on the rise.
  4. Gregor

    Bret Hart

    The most impressive thing about Bret's career is how his matches shaped the story of the WWF. Whenever the Bulldog challenged for the world title, the announcers would remind us of that night at Wembley that he beat Bret. Owen Hart went into WrestleMania X as an undercarder and left it as a world title contender. The iron man match with Shawn has lost its status as a classic, but up until Bret's exit from the company it was treated as a monumental event, one of the biggest matches in history, and rightly so. It was the beginning of Bret's downfall, and I don't think Shawn ever really escaped it either. Of course the submission match with Stone Cold is one of the moments that set Austin's rise to the top in motion. Those are just the big ones. There are also the Backlund and Diesel heel turns, both the result of frustration over getting outwrestled. For Bret-centric moments, you have SummerSlam '91 and WM VIII. Bret has great matches that didn't mean much at all (Perfect '93, One Night Only), but to me his case as an all-timer comes down to the weight of his performances rather than just how many there were or how good they were. That's not all his doing, as the WWF was organized and stable enough to use those matches as part of its lore, but at the same time they were never as good at making one match seem like it could define someone's career as they were in the '90s. I think that comes down to the fact that Bret really was the best at blending his matches with the company's vision, so that they weren't just part of a satisfying show but integral, memorable parts of the WWF timeline. The goal in something like Bret-Austin wasn't just to entertain the crowd for 20 minutes. At the same time a shift in a wrestler's character is a lot more profound when it comes after or during an enthralling match. That's what really sets Bret apart for me, that his great matches were almost necessary to the WWF's goals, so instead of just trying to have a great match he'd have to craft a classic around this one plot point that they needed to get across.
  5. Gregor

    2026 Ideas

    It was just a gateway, same as seeing Liger in WCW was. Maybe it leads to people checking out what those guys did in their home promotions, and maybe it doesn't. Maybe the people who want to see what Juvi was like in Mexico stick around and try to learn everything they can about it, or maybe it's so different that it turns them off. I know that I first tried to get into lucha via Rey and Juvi, and my reaction was basically, "Never mind. I think I'll just watch them have great matches in a context that I can understand." It's hard to blame Tenay for not explaining classic trios psychology or how Mexican promotions treated championships when none of that applied to the cruisers in WCW. Mexico really is a bit of an island in how it does pro wrestling. Even beyond the in-ring aspects, I can understand someone learning that there's no world champion who's basically the king of the mountain, and wondering what the whole point is. I guess classic British wrestling is even more different, but at least that has Walton explaining it all in English. With lucha, I remember someone here posting an old Steve Sims tidbit that tecnicos aren't allowed to use closed fists but rudos are. It's not true (it would be akin to watching U.S. tags and concluding that heels are allowed to make tags behind the ref's back, but faces aren't), but it's an example of how easily the style can seem hopelessly foreign to someone who isn't yet into it.
  6. Gregor

    2026 Ideas

    Is the goal for people to leave happy, or is it for them to leave with the desired reactions? A match that's always fascinated me in that regard is Michaels-Sid from Survivor Series. In one way that match was an objective failure, as what was supposed to be the tragic fall of the heroic babyface was met with roars of approval from the crowd. At the same time the fans didn't go home feeling ripped off or angry. A lot of them probably remember it as a highlight of their time as a wrestling fan. The workers could have changed up the spots when they realized that the audience was going to erupt for stuff like Sid clotheslining Michaels after the nip-up, but if they'd tried to have Sid revert to his cowardly 1995 persona, for instance, they'd probably have killed much of the crowd and hurt his character for the sake of one arena. The end result was a match that the fans loved, more than they were really supposed to. You could credit the wrestlers, but every decision that popped the crowd did so inadvertently to some extent. The WWF viewed it as such a failure that they immediately began revamping Michaels' image. At the same time it wasn't something like Goldberg-Lesnar or that Cena-Orton match that had the crowd turning on the match as a whole. Almost everything positive or negative that you could say about it comes with a qualifier.
  7. Gregor

    2002-2010 Shawn Michaels

    These were my favorites, ranked approximately by how much I liked them. vs. Masters vs. HHH '03 vs. Hardy vs. Benjamin '05 vs. Benoit 5/04 vs. Kennedy (Armageddon) Survivor Series '03
  8. Gregor

    2002-2010 Shawn Michaels

    Oh, I didn't mean that Hardy shouldn't have been pushed. It was more that I don't think his look would have worked with a bigger audience. To the shrinking WWE audience of 2008 who knew his backstory and everything, his shot at the top was probably exciting. Outside of the wrestling world, most people in 2008 would have seen him and thought he looked like a creep who was trying to dress the way 20-somethings had a few years before. It wasn't an act that would have drawn in new fans, and if the wrestling audience had been less of a niche crowd there's a good chance a large portion of it would have turned on him. Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker WrestleMania XXV, 4/5/09 I always thought that the four cornerstones of Michaels' comeback were the big return vs. HHH, WM vs. Angle, and the two WM matches against Undertaker. This one felt a lot like the Angle match, with 20 minutes of ideas stretched out to thirty thanks to ten minutes of finishers. Like WM XXI, the wrestling in the first part of the match was good stuff. Michaels' audacious hit-and-run offense fit who he was perfectly. Undertaker getting annoyed and finally making Michaels pay fit him perfectly. The first five minutes were faster than any stretch of the Jericho series. They fumbled a bit at points, but it was still a refreshing attempt after how slowly Michaels wrestled for most of 2008. The story moved a bit too fast. At the actual five-minute mark they'd gone through Michaels' stick-and-move stuff and Undertaker's retaliation and were already on Michaels trying to work the knee. I was impressed by how they sort of made it an old-school match, with the fans hanging on even the early moves as important. They didn't get them to buy into side headlocks but instead built their match with a lot of moves that were just below the finisher tier, like Undertaker's choke, Michaels' crossface, and that weak figure-four variation he started using in 2008. The cameraman spot is one of a few iconic ones, but more than just the crazy dive I liked how it led to Michaels showing how desperate he was to win. It was cheesy Michaels overacting, but like with some of his over-the-top back selling it got across the idea that it needed to. The finishers and two-counts were what I expected. Some of the spots were neat, but the match hit a level and stayed there for ten minutes. The fans were into it, though. The wrestlers were lying around after a nearfall and got a "This is awesome" chant. In 2004 Michaels and HHH tried that and got no reaction at all. Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker WrestleMania XXVI, 3/28/10 Maybe I shouldn't have watched two of these matches back-to-back. This was by far the least I've liked any of the big four Michaels matches, and in a way it made me appreciate the XXV match more. That's never going to be one of my all-time favorites, but it was more the template that I didn't like. The way they executed everything was quite good. Here, the wrestling at the start was sloppy, with simple moves like kicks to the knee looking weak. Undertaker got his leg worked over and made his comeback by simply standing up and chokeslamming Michaels. He got a two-count off that, not even ten minutes into the match, and gave us the first surprised face of the night. He acted like The Undertaker in the first match, but in this one he tried to match Michaels' overselling and overacting. Worst of all, the crowd just did not seem into it at all. They got hot by the end, but the year before the Houston crowd had been with them all match. The finishers might have been the most interesting part. I liked that the table spot for once seemed like a huge deal. That was played as a major part of Michaels' one big two-count. Other than maybe the ankle lock (ugh, stop stealing other guys' moves), I think that was the only time Michaels was close to winning, another twist on things. This was far from an all-inclusive look at things, but here's what I got from it. Michaels definitely needed to re-learn wrestling after coming back, but he eventually found his footing and from late '03 through '05 was kind of a discount version of his '96 self, albeit less exciting from week to week and capable of a big, big miss. His physical ability noticeably began to slip after that, which he countered by trying to become more of a technical wrestler than before. He didn't have the slickness or the skill to consistently make that work, but he pushed through it and had some good matches in that role before really slowing down around the time of the Jericho feud. That's the point at which I didn't want to watch him anymore. I didn't love any of the matches from this run that have become part of his legacy, but there are a few others that I do think belong with his best.
  9. Gregor

    2002-2010 Shawn Michaels

    Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho (unsanctioned) Unforgiven, 9/7/08 I liked this more than either of their previous two matches. Michaels showed more fire in the first few minutes than in the two other contests combined. When Michaels came in with a taped-up arm, I assumed that the whole match was going to be a bunch of arm work or spots in which Michaels' arm conveniently got hurt, but it wasn't. The match wasn't perfect. Michaels' facial expressions were ridiculous. The extended stretch of Cade's interference didn't fit what was supposed to be an extremely personal issue. The whole thing began to feel like a movie, with convoluted spots to get Cade out of the match and a long run of Michaels just torturing Jericho, which felt outside of the face vs. heel norms of professional wrestling. Michael Cole's announcing was a noticeable difference from that of Jim Ross. JR calls wrestling matches. Cole calls storylines. He still had the verbal tic from when he debuted of permanently affixing secondary figures' roles to their names, meaning that Lance Cade was always "Lance Cade, Jericho's protege." There was almost no excitement in the announcers' voices when Michaels was coming back after superkicking Cade. I get that they wanted to make this feel different, but calling it with quiet shock took a lot of the emotion out of what was supposed to be one of the hottest parts of the match. I realize that I've said more negative things here than positive, but I did like this, especially compared to what I expected after the first two matches from this feud that I watched. Even if I haven't liked all of the work, I have liked how you can see the progression of the feud just through the matches. Michaels got his win here, but in a way that was meant to feel unsatisfactory, and at the end of the PPV it was Jericho's night. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho (ladder) No Mercy, 10/5/08 My memory of this match was reading a review that championed it as sheer brilliance, the rebirth of the ladder match as a violent gimmick rather than one that promised acrobatic and intricate spots. When there were two separate pinfall attempts within the first five minutes, I was ready to give up on it, but I ended up thinking it was probably the best match I've watched from this feud. It was still spotty to some degree. That twelve-year-old review did prove at least partially correct, though, as they did hit each other with the ladder and simply throw each other into it quite often. Jericho gave a lot of himself here. Those were some brutal bumps that he was taking, a lot of which he had almost no control over. Best of all, this had none of the acting and emotional moments of the previous two matches. Still, there was something missing. This program hasn't been the kind of wrestling I've wanted to watch, but it felt weird that the climactic match was just a title match that didn't have the emotion of some of the earlier ones. After beating each other into consecutive ref stoppages, they started this out with a standard tie-up. Even if it all made for a better match, it didn't totally work within the context of what they'd done up to that point.
  10. Gregor

    2002-2010 Shawn Michaels

    Shawn Michaels vs. Batista (Chris Jericho as referee) Backlash, 4/27/08 I got the psychology, but the match was slow, Michaels' offense was sloppy, and the match was mostly Michaels on offense working slowly and sloppily. The way Michaels did nothing but attack the arm during the first portion of the match felt really staged, like they'd written it all out ahead of time. Michaels' punches in the Kennedy and Hardy matches were bad, and I overlooked them because the matches had enough positive attributes for me to focus on. This didn't. His punches sucked. Between faking a knee injury, working the arm, and going down hurt to avoid a powerbomb, Michaels did his best Bret Hart impression. There's a reason that Bret was Bret and that Shawn was Shawn. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho Judgment Day, 5/18/08 The execution was better here, but it was still slow and I couldn't really get into the match. They just had a match, with no special story or psychology. The finish was ugly. I try to keep these things short, to avoid rambling and for my own sake, but I'm just not able to come up with much to say about the matches I watched today. I guess I'll say here that there's a noticeable difference between 2008 crowds and the much hotter 2005 crowds, and it's not like 2005 was considered a good time to be a WWE fan. Also, I never liked Lawler as an announcer, but he's been very good for this entire stretch. Human, relatable Lawler was always better than over-the-top Lawler, even as a wrestler. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho The Great American Bash, 7/20/08 Maybe I'm in a mood today or something. I didn't feel this either. The blood and the way Jericho went after the cut was definitely something different, but the way they did it felt strange. Even when all Jericho was doing was punching Michaels in the face they still slowed the match down in the closing stretch with the referee constantly pushing Jericho off. Michaels' selling didn't grab me, and I didn't think that Jericho was as violent as he could have been. So far I've preferred the 2003 version of this feud.
  11. Gregor

    2002-2010 Shawn Michaels

    Shawn Michaels vs. Ken Kennedy RAW, 1/21/08 This existed just to get Michaels his win back and was the least consequential of their three matches, but there were still some spots that evinced the inexplicably good chemistry these two had. For some reason Michaels would do more creative stuff with Kennedy than with anyone else. I was impressed by the fact that Michaels tuned up the band and missed the kick, and the match continued in a middle stage rather than in a finishing stretch. His punches have looked especially bad in these three matches, though. Shawn Michaels vs. Jeff Hardy RAW, 2/11/08 (taped 2/4) Jeff Hardy being WWE's star on the rise at this stage was a sign that the company was far removed from having its finger on the pulse of pop culture. He looked like the kind of 30-year-old dude who would still have been active on MySpace in 2008. I can put that aside, though, because this was a great match. It was like a more complete version of the one Michaels had with Shelton Benjamin. Hardy, at least going on his performance here, was a really good wrestler at this point. His selling was much more natural than Michaels'. He was able to get over the effects of Michaels' work on his back without the tortured gestures, and there was one spot when he was trapped in a half crab and started yanking on Michaels' hair that I thought was a really nice touch. Michaels gave a good performance as the heel, better than what he did in the Cena matches, but what really struck me was how he seemed to get Hardy in the same way that he got Benjamin. That powerslam on the floor was the kind of spot that he'd taken on the way up. He had to be the only person in all of wrestling still doing that goofy spot of jumping off the rope and landing on his opponent's foot, but here they at least put a cool twist on it by having Michaels expect it and counter. Hardy got the big win, and as far as I can tell Michaels never even got it back. The only real criticism I had of the match was that one spot when it looked like Hardy was going for a flapjack and Michaels took it like an atomic drop. I bet I know what happened there. Hardy called for the Heretical Distortion and Michaels was like, "...Inverted atomic?" It wasn't that bad of a guess, actually. Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair WrestleMania XXIV, 3/30/08 I hadn't seen this before. It sounded sad to watch, so I never watched it. Going in, I was thinking that maybe it would be like one of those mask matches involving an older luchador, in which you suck it up and ignore the inevitable flaws in execution so that you can appreciate what they're going for. I did try that, and I did think that this was okay early on. Flair could barely bend his legs, but he still was up for some big bumps like a backdrop to the floor. His offense was actually a lot better than Michaels', with his punches and chops especially putting Michaels' to shame. Flair's charisma, too, smoked Michaels'. The crowd did not care about HBK, and it really showed when he made his comeback to a few scattered boos. He should have worked heel. The match dragged on, Flair started to look worse, and they actually thought that a man of almost 60 could catch a moonsault to the floor. There were moments in which I liked how true Flair was to himself, but other moments just felt like Ric Flair tribute spots. They went with the excruciatingly slow WrestleMania finishing stretch, and eventually Shawn Michaels said that he loved Flair and kicked the guy right in the head. There were actually a lot of spots with talking or over-emotional acting, not just that one. Michaels hadn't done much stuff like that before this, so I guess this is when he finalized his vision of professional wrestling in its truest form.
  12. Gregor

    2002-2010 Shawn Michaels

    Shawn Michaels vs. The Great Khali RAW, 5/7/07 This was a lot better than I thought it would be, but Michaels has always been good at these big vs. small matchups. Interestingly, he didn't do much of the Michaels bumping that people tend to associate with him. His bumps in this match were just him letting Khali throw him a long way. The desperation in his attack right off the bat made it clear that Khali was a force, and I liked how the spot in the ropes showed off the size difference between the two. The ref stoppage finish was weak, but this was the best short match that I'd seen from Michaels in a while. Shawn Michaels vs. Randy Orton Survivor Series, 11/18/07 This was an interesting match. Michaels wasn't allowed to use Sweet Chin Music, and Randy Orton would lose the title on a DQ. The latter stipulation never came into play, but the first one shaped the match for the most part. Michaels trying various front facelocks on Orton was a pretty cool way to start the match, and Orton did an outstanding job selling these. He was really good at all of his reaction spots. They didn't build much heat on Michaels here. On one hand, that was fine. The question of how Michaels could possibly win lay with the superkick ban, so they didn't need to have Orton dominate him to the point that you were wondering how he could ever come back. On the other hand, that's the most dramatic and visceral way to work a match, and there's a reason that building and building to a comeback is the standard format. I didn't like Michaels' later submissions much, once he started using ex-finishers (his Sharpshooter looked awful on Orton's long legs). I did like his fakeouts with the kick, though, as even if it would save Orton's title he still isn't the kind of guy who'd be willing to take a kick to the head to do it. Then Michaels went to the well once too often, or he instinctively set up for the kick before remembering he couldn't do it, and he paid for it. The announcers called it like it was the latter. I'd rather it have been the former. The idea behind this was a lot more ambitious than anything Michaels tried in the '90s. Shawn Michaels vs. Ken Kennedy Armageddon, 12/16/07 I was under the impression that Ken Kennedy was not good. He's definitely a ham. His selling can make Michaels' look restrained and subtle by comparison. There are many ways to react to a single-arm DDT, but yelling, "Omaha!" is not one that I would have been able to think of. He was really good in this match, though. Right away you could see how he'd get under someone's skin, and that led to Michaels doing some nasty work on his arm. With his physical ability on the decline (evident from that sunset flip counter), Michaels seemed to be trying to reinvent himself as a technical wrestler, and this was the best he's looked in that role so far. Kennedy responded by attacking Michaels' back, not the most novel strategy in the world, but you have to give both guys credit for continuing to sell the effects all the way until the end. In fact the body part work ended up playing into the finish. I genuinely didn't see that coming. Maybe that's just me being stupid, but I thought the wrestlers and announcers played it fairly low-key, at least by wrestling standards. Some guy brought a sign that read, "HICKENBOTTOM BALDING KLUB." I'd always thought that "Heart Break Gimp" was the hardest any sign ever went at Michaels, but I think we all know which of the two hurt him more. Shawn Michaels vs. Ken Kennedy RAW, 12/31/07 Another good match. This might be the most chemistry Michaels has had with an opponent during this run. The PPV win seemed pretty decisive, so I don't know why Kennedy got a rematch here, but you could tell there was still some bad blood from the way Michaels went after the knee early on. Again Michaels sold his back during his comeback. This time, though, it got cut off and they went into a series of pinfall reversals that ended with Michaels bridging up and getting the backslide. That kind of undid the point of selling the back during the comeback, but on the other hand it was a pretty slick sequence.
  13. Gregor

    2002-2010 Shawn Michaels

    The McMahons being in full insanity mode might have been the worst part for me. They bled early on but managed to last like thirty minutes. Non-wrestlers shouldn't get to look that tough. Shawn Michaels vs. John Cena WrestleMania 23, 4/1/07 Michaels was disgustingly orange here, worse than Hogan ever was. This was a disappointment. Most of the spots were good in isolation, but this wasn't a match that was put together very well. Michaels started by slowly schooling Cena for like ten minutes before Cena came back with his finishing sequence. That was exactly what people were saying at the time, that all he had were those same old moves. It was like they were trying to highlight that. Almost everything from that point on was one-move-a-minute wrestling. Some of the reversals were fun but it wasn't a whole lot different from Michaels vs. Angle. They worked multiple spots in which they traded punches ("Yeah! Boo!"), which again just underscored how many people wanted Cena to lose. When it became clear that this was not a pro-Cena crowd, those spots should have been audibled out. Cena did some good underneath work, whereas Michaels mostly just did a nice job establishing himself as the heady veteran who was going to be hard to beat. I didn't think this was a good night for him. His work on Cena's knee lacked any real verve, he bladed for no reason, and he split Cena's head open with that piledriver. Shawn Michaels vs. Randy Orton RAW, 4/9/07 This had some nice technical work to start, but everything between that and the finish rated somewhere from forgettable to boring. Michaels tried working the knee like he was Bret Hart or something. For the finish they re-did the awful finish from HBK-HHH in San Antonio. I love when WWE does that. They'll take this idea that everyone hated the first time around and bring it back years later, because of either laziness or a dogged determination to have someone appreciate their brainchild. The most interesting thing about this was that the video that I watched was uploaded on April 10, 2007. For a long time the way I'd gotten to see wrestling videos was downloading them off Limewire or Megaupload, but that was starting to change around this point. It's also noteworthy because every other video I've watched so far was uploaded well after the match it featured took place, meaning that someone thought it was worth watching years afterward. This was uploaded just because someone wanted to show everyone the match from last night in case they missed it. Shawn Michaels vs. John Cena RAW, 4/23/07 After their last match, I wasn't looking forward to watching these two wrestle for over 40 minutes, but they won me over. Pretty much from the start they had a better match. Michaels locking in a hold and Cena countering, or Cena grabbing a hold and Michaels trying to get out, was so much better than the way they worked that last match that it wasn't funny. Cena looked like he was on Michaels' level here, and that made for exchanges in which I was wondering who would come out on top, and it actually felt like a match that could determine who the best was. Then Cena got to wrestle and dispel the rampant criticism of him at the time. I got a little worried when Michaels made his comeback at the fifteen-minute mark and they were already doing a ten-count spot, but the match picked up from there and felt more free-flowing than any of Michaels' matches since that one on RAW against HHH. It was still fairly slow. There were still multiple finisher kickouts. They incorporated those things into a much fuller match, though, rather than making them the focus for the last ten minutes. It actually fit somewhat naturally into the story of neither man, Cena in particular, knowing how to beat the other. Michaels was definitely slowing physically at this point, but he still managed to take some big bumps from straight out of his prime. Very strong match, just slightly below my favorites from this run.
  14. Gregor

    2002-2010 Shawn Michaels

    I think that Mideon and Viscera one started out with Undertaker in it, but before the match he ducked out and had them take his place. Maybe I'm confusing it with some other match, but I'm pretty sure that happened once. I guess Kane inheriting it makes sense. To me his match was the inferno match but that didn't really have any staying power. Shawn Michaels vs. Shelton Benjamin RAW, 1/23/06 Benjamin had regrettably turned heel and taken on a mama's boy gimmick by this point. It says something about WWE that I have no idea if this was punishment/sabotage or if they thought they were elevating him with this character. Michaels and Benjamin tried to recreate the magic of their match from the year before, but the dynamic didn't work with Benjamin as a heel and Michaels in a must-win situation. To their credit they did have some spots that played off the previous match. The problem was that Benjamin would pull these amazing moves out of nowhere, and the crowd couldn't really cheer them now. He did have some nice standard heel offense, but he didn't really seem to have the personality for it. Michaels got in almost nothing and won on a fluke rollup. I think that he actually did want Benjamin to come out of this looking okay. His selling was all over the place, though. He sold the back injury during the comeback even though that hadn't been the match's focus, and then forgot about it when Benjamin hit a backbreaker. Oh, well, at least Benjamin got to keep his awesome entrance music. Shawn Michaels vs. Umaga RAW, 7/31/06 This had some nice big man spots and some moments in which Michaels seemed to just want to do his normal stuff. He just kept chopping away. His clearest contribution to the match was a great bump off a kick. The YouTube video started skipping stuff during Michaels' comeback, so I didn't get the full picture, but the match was about as good as the Benjamin one, decent but underwhelming. Umaga himself seemed like an interesting wrestler, but the evil Cuban manager and the McMahons all surrounding the act didn't let it stand out much. Shawn Michaels and Triple H vs. The Big Show, Vince, and Shane (Hell in a Cell) Unforgiven, 9/17/06 I think I read someone call this a good match once. I really hope I did, because if I watched this for no reason then I'll be pretty mad at myself. It was a match worked around this embarrassing iteration of DX, the McMahons wrestling, and Big Show's bare ass. What did I think was going to happen? I'll say this much. This showed that Michaels wouldn't have been much of a deathmatch worker. Onita would have teetered and tottered on the edge of falling into Big Show's bare ass but just barely escaped, providing some drama and building up the bump for when it finally happened. Foley would have taken multiple unprotected head-first dives into Big Show's bare ass to satisfy the bloodthirsty fans and prove to everyone how hardcore he really was. Michaels never really went near it, which was understandable but didn't do much to get the gimmick over.
  15. Gregor

    2002-2010 Shawn Michaels

    Shawn Michaels vs. Christian RAW, 1/17/05 I've liked 2005 Michaels, and I don't see myself watching a whole lot of 2006 Michaels, so I checked out a few more matches from '05. Michaels and Christian had a good match in 2004, but this one was mediocre. The most interesting thing was the Toronto crowd pulling for Christian. He got treated like a punk again, as even interference from Edge couldn't help him. Somehow he was able to pass as a world title contender a few months later. Shawn Michaels vs. Rob Conway RAW, 3/21/05 This might have been the first match I saw when I got back into wrestling in 2005, Shawn Michaels against some guy I'd never heard of. I remembered it being pretty good. Watching it in 2021, I liked the start with Michaels' somersault plancha and the heel double-teaming, but the match was pretty formulaic after they got back from commercial. This was the first time that I've seen Michaels win with his finishing sequence during this run, so I guess that established that it could conceivably end a match instead of always getting cut off. Shawn Michaels and John Cena vs. Carlito and Chris Masters (tables) RAW, 9/26/05 I'm surprised that the tables match lived on after the Dudleys left. Has there ever been a casket or buried alive match without Undertaker in it? I guess tables became so ubiquitous that everyone forgot about the Dudleys' association with them. I wanted to see if Michaels and Masters had good chemistry together, but the only match I could find had only half uploaded in a watchable format. It was incredibly boring, so I didn't mind missing the ending. Shawn Michaels vs. Rey Mysterio RAW, 11/13/05 Michaels really bumped hard for Mysterio here. Other than that, nothing else stood out about this. Maybe they'd have done something with the size difference if the circumstances had been different. Instead it was just a pretty generic match with Mysterio scoring the surprise pin, and the nature of the show making it feel like it didn't really count.
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