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Found 208 results

  1. Shawn Michaels vs Triple H - Summerslam 2002 There may be no two more polarizing wrestlers in WWE than Shawn Michaels and HHH. It is almost entirely due to their "real life" personas (or what we know them to be from second hand accounts). I am not going to pick a dog in the race, but analyzing their matches always evokes a lot of emotion and passion. WWE pushes these two as two of the all-time great pro wrestlers in the ring. They are uttered in the same breath as Flair unlike Austin and Rock, who are usually associated with Hogan as great superstars as the WWE dictates. When HBK/HHH entered the ring for Shawn Michaels' first match in four years, it was a mere formality that this could become a part of WWE canon as one of the all-time classics. They would have had to put on a stinker the caliber of their Hell in a Cell match (I have never seen it, but it sounds atrocious) for this not go down as one of the premiere matches in company history. For hardened wrestling fans, this match is considered to be no good and vastly overrated. Where do I lie? I am closer to the WWE camp and I think this does belong best matches of WWE in 2000s, but in the greater scope of pro wrestling this can not compete. I will say I felt a lot more emotion for Kobashi's comeback match in 2007 than I did for Michaels' comeback here. I watched the Kobashi match last year and to me that was just one of most emotional matches I have ever seen. Maybe it is because I knew Michaels would eventually make a full recovery or that I have seen this before, but it did not hit me as hard this time. The beginning shine was perfectly acceptable. It was not great, but not bad. Michaels was brutally betrayed by his friend so I would have liked to seen more anger, but overall he was pressing the advantage proving to fans that he has his trademark mobility by hitting a dive over the top to the outside. HHH was fine bumping around for him. This felt like a really good standard opening to a character-driven face vs heel match, not a blood feud. It was important to me that Shawn stay on top and suffocate HHH at the very least. Loved the teased Sweet Chin Music into a backbreaker. That was straight money. HBK did a great job selling the back. HHH worked over the back like a champ. This was an incredibly strong heat segment, maybe the greatest HHH's career. The backbreaker on the chair was fucking awesome. I loved the set ups for Michaels' hope spot like using Earl and getting the sledge hammer to give time for HBk to recuperate. The low blow and Sweet Chin Music into the chair was perfect, perfect one-two combo to get Shawn back on top. After taking such a hellacious beating, he needed two quick bombs to make this even remotely credible and those were perfect. Ok, so now onto the controversy. The kip up. Yes after the awesome heat segment, he kipped up. For the rest of the match did not really sell the back (he did after a couple dives). It did not kill the match for me. I can understand the issue. There is no hard and fast rule about this at the end of the day. Sometimes, it is just going to bother certain people more than others. I still think it is a great match just not an excellent, classic one. Mostly because Shawn actually delivers one of his best comebacks of all time. Marty was usually the hot tag in the Rockers and Shawn's greatest weakness in his career was probably credible offense. I thought he was laying in some really great rights here and was really tearing into HHH. HHH tapped a gusher (one of his best qualities) and sold really well. The match did get a bit long in the tooth. For instance, I don't think he needed to dive off turnbuckle onto the table and dive off the ladder. The dive to the table got a huge pop and is a great spot. That was sufficient. Also, it get a little back-y n forth-y towards the end, but not as bad as some of the modern matches. They did a great job with the finish in relation to the rest of the match teasing each finish before HBk got the jackknife win. Yes, the match was wrestled as more of a championship bloodbath than a blood feud match. Yes, Michaels did not sell the back down the stretch. Yes, it was a bit too long. I think the match accomplished more important objectives. if this was truly a one-off, Shawn Michaels would be able to go out on his own terms unlike Wrestlemania XIV where the amount of pain he was in affected his performance. If it was not and was to lead to something more, it proved Shawn Michaels of 2002 was every bit the Shawn Michaels of 1997 and he had not lost a step. He gave one of the best comebacks of his career and I think it was much more important he looked credible on offense in this match. HHH gave him more of the beginning and end because this was Shawn's match. I know they felt the need to put Shawn in gimmick matches to hide any shortcomings he may have had upon comeback, but I think it was the wrong move as coming right out of the gate with a bloodbath is tough. I think for the match they wrestled the jacknife cover was fine because it showed Michaels had just enough to win, but left it open for rematches. It fit the theme of championship bloodbath. HHH attacking the back with the sledgehammer was a perfect post-match beatdown and particularly gruesome. Call me crazy, I liked this one. Currently my WWE 2002 match of the year, but that should change shortly. ****1/4
  2. World Heavyweight Champion Chris Benoit vs Shawn Michaels - RAW 5/3/04 Where the flying fuck did this match come from??? This was absolutely terrific! I think I may need to rewatch again because I cant believed how much I liked it. I am talking like "Best WWE match ever" contention after seeing it for the first time since I originally saw it. Shawn Michaels haters be damned. He fucking brought it in this match. This was his best offensive performance since the AWA. He knew he was going up against Benoit and just laid all his shit in and really brought to Benoit. I thought this was one of Benoit's all-time best selling performances. I really cant think of a better Benoit match in North America, but I have seen only a smattering of his matches since their original airing. For HBK, I think only Wrestlemania 25 or one of the Cena matches (I cant remember, which one I like a lot) can compete with this in terms of his post-comeback. I can't say enough how good I thought this was having just watched it. Stone Cold says you can tell how great a match will be based on they lock it up and it was ferocious lock up. You expect that out of Benoit, but when I saw HBK lock up like that I knew the muthafucka meant business. They established right from the get go how serious Michaels was taking this as he went chop for chop with the heavy-handed Benoit. I liked Michaels keeping Benoit grounded early. It is exactly the perfect strategy against Benoit to sap that energy. Once Benoit got a head of steam, he crushed Michaels. If you let Benoit create movement, he will win and he is pouring it on snap suplex and backbreaker. Michaels actually uses a slugfest to hit his flying Burrito/kip up. Ballsy. Benoit teases the Crippler Crossface. I love the early finish run tease. Coming back from commercial, Benoit takes a hard, hard back bump into the turnbuckle. PITCH PERFECT SELLING! Awesome! Awesome. He takes a back body drop and is now in the ab stretch. Michaels works the back like a champ. I have never seen Michaels work such a great heat segment. He was laying those knees in and another whip into the turnbuckle. I loved Benoit busting a barrage of quick nearfalls for his hope spot. It was ballsy with the more "likeable" and "charismatic" also "weaker on offense"Shawn Michaels playing de facto heel against his polar opposite. It worked great! Michaels hits a wicked clothesline. Who is this man??? Top rope elbow and he is tuning up the band. Rolling Germans counter and when he sees HBK stirring it is a fourth one for good measure, but still misses the diving headbutt. Michaels going for the cover there was the right move, but only gets two. He goes back on top and Benoit unleashes a crazy onslaught of chops that Michaels sells so fucking well. This was just awesome to watch. Suplex to the floor! I am such a mark for that. Michaels nails a moonsault from the top to the floor, probably his best ever! They tease the double countout and when they both get up, Michaels shoves him into the post and busts Benoit open. Blood! Shawn hits a wicked dropkick. This is Shawn working like he is in All Japan. Michaels returns to the back and goes Liontamer, but too close to the ropes. Benoit reverses an Irish Whip (to send his back into the turnbuckles for a 3rd time) and in total desperation goes for his one bomb the Crippler Crossface, but he is too close to the ropes. Now Michaels feeling the desperation that he may be losing his grasp on the match and basically choking goes for Sweet Chin Music, but Benoit catches the foot looks Sharpshooter! If that was the finish, I think I would have gone the full monty, but when Benoit kicks him off there is a ref bump. Michaels hits Sweet Chin Music, but HHH pedigrees him to mar the match. Benoit gets a tainted victory. Tremendous match. I cant praise Shawn's offense enough in this match. He went after this one and worked the best heat segment of his life. The finish stretch starting with the elbow drop was perfectly worked. Benoit was trying to avoid Sweet Chin Music at all costs, but was in too much of a hole to climb out of and then being ran into the post made it seemed insurmountable. I loved that his first move upon regaining the advantage was to apply the Crossface. It was avoid the Superkick and apply a finishing hold down the stretch for Benoit that was perfect strategy. Michaels was looking for finishing hold targetting the back or his bang bang Sweet Chin Music. Benoit's selling was off the charts good. Honestly, besides the finish I cant find much wrong with this match. Best WWE match of the 00s so far. ****3/4
  3. World Heavyweight Champion Triple H vs Shawn Michaels - RAW 12/29/03 Terrific match! I have a lot I want to say about this, but it is getting pretty late. Probably the greatest American 80s match not to happen in the 80s. HHH does one of the best Flair impersonations ever and I mean that with respect and admiration. He was a consummate heel champion in this match. Michaels was an awesome, awesome fired up underdog hometown babyface. Both of them were constantly fighting back at each other. HHH was was getting outwrestled early in a great shine, but Shawn earned it. Awesome transition to the heat. HHH worked a great heat segment. Great transition to Shawn's figure-4. Not the best strike exchanges ever in terms of execution, but I liked the frequency of them and I liked the sense of the effort and struggle. Loved the lighthearted moments with Shawn abusing HHH's testicles. That's what made the 80s so great is having dramatic struggles but incorporating bits of fun to keep you entertained in a totally comprehensive way. Loved the drama with the ref bumps and Bischoff coming in. All this 80s goodness culminates in a Dusty Finish in the babyface's hometown. HUGE BABYFACE POP FOR MICHAELS! That's just cruel. They aren't coming back to San Antonio the next week so they have to blow it off right them and there. Loved this! I really want to analyze this in full because both guys gave awesome performances. ****1/2, easy.
  4. AWA World Tag Team Champions Buddy Rose & Doug Somers vs Midnight Rockers - AWA TV 8/30/86 I really don't know how much I can say about the famous Bloodbath match that has not already been said, but I will try my best to explain why this may be the greatest American tag team match ever. Shawn Michaels quick pinfall attempts. Superkick. Rose slams his head into the post and Michaels outside and taps a gusher. Awesome, awesome staggered selling and wild punches. Somers is nasty as fuck gnaw at cut spitting blood. Every hope spot is met with a jab to the cut. Jannetty tries to help, but no avail. The drama is ridiculous for Michaels to get to Jannetty. Jannetty gets in and nails everything that moves. He sends Somers into post twice to bust him open. Sherri distracts and Buddy buries the knee in the back. Buddy busts Marty open with pistons rights. It is a bloodbath. Buddy gnaws. Somers is fucked up. War of attrition. Michaels hanging from ropes on the arpon and just great selling. Somers with a seated dropklick finally gets Jannetty down, but kick out at 2. Jannetty taeks a swing at Buddy. Jannetty tumbles after missing to hit Somers. Somers great selling. Jannetty weird spurts spastic spurts of energy. Jannetty bits Rose. Shawn in and he is incensed from his own blood and Buddy is such a great chickenshit. Shawn fires off and full court press. It is a fracas. The ref is knocked down. Somers and Jannetty knock head.s Rose drops Jannetty onto a chair. OW!!! Two refs throw it out. Rose and Somers look to beat Michaels down, but AWA faces save. Michaels jumps Buddy on the outside in the classic moment. If you have not watched this, you must. Pitch perfect selling from the Rockers especially Michaels and great heel work from Rose & Somers working the cut. The epitome of drama! *****
  5. The second Elimination Chambers match. Again for the WWE title. Again with Trip as the champ going in. Should tell you everything you need to know. On paper, doesn't look as good as the first match. In execution, was much better as a whole until the finish. Shawn vs Jericho as the Wargames workhorse opener. These guy know how to begin. Damn, Shawn was quite back in shape and style there. When Randy Orton gets in, he gets crickets. He's still a young guy with potential pushed to the main event scene because of the name and look. And he's already kinda bland. Kevin Nash gets the Kane spot. Except Nash in 2003 was still better at it than Kane the previous year. There's something badass about Nash demeanor + charisma, even with age and a shot body, he looks imposing. So it works well. Some blood and Jericho or Michaels, whoever gets there first. HHH's cell opens and... Shawn superkicks him. Cool spot. HHH remains hidden until the end. Why not, he's the Game. Nash gets out of the way before Goldy gets in. Good idea. Goldy would have killed him for ending the streak or something. So Nash jobs to the superkick of his best friend instead, although Jericho is getting the pin. The Goldy segment is the best stuff here and puts him over like crazy. Insane spear putting Jericho through the UNBREAKABLE glass (although Goldy has to give an added omphhh to his effort, which actually made it look even more painfull). Goldy clears the space. It's pretty great, really. Then HHH doesn't want to get out. Flair holding the door from the outside was neat. Goldy breaking the UNBREAKABLE GLASS with his feet and hands was kinda goofy really but also quite badass. Better this than a car window. And so he kicks HHH's ass, who's sporting Yoshiaki Yastu's pants. And then... oh man. It's 2003. The sledghammer. Damn. From nowhere. HHH wins, effectively killing the crowd. Totally anticlimatic shit finish to an otherwise excellently booked match. Evolution beating like there are some kind of lame Horsemen. Mmkay. You know, heels never won Wargames, Trip. Shawn & Jericho were clearly the workhorses (again). Goldy's segment was the best. Orton was there, like he always has been and always will, apparently. Yet, better than the first one despite a whole lot of no-heat for a long time because it's 2003. But while the finish of 2002 was terrific, this one sucked the life out of the crowd.
  6. World Heavyweight Champion Triple H vs Shawn Michaels vs Chris Benoit - Wrestlemania XX I think with triple threat matches you basically have to resign yourself from trying to have a story-based match and just commit to having a balls to the wall, action-packed affair. Instead of fighting against having a third person, you embrace it by just going all out and making sure there is never one dull moment. There really shouldnt be because basically everybody gets a built in breather. I will say HHH was the MVP of this match. After a terrible, terrible 2003 (aside from the last match of the year), he was the total lynchpin of this match. Everything flowed through him and he did an admirable job. As the lone heel in the match, he spent the most time in the match basically having one one on matches with each opponent. I loved the escalation of this match and the feeling of competitive struggle to do all you can to win the match. Benoit and Michaels really brought out the best in each other and even though HHH did a great job I would have liked to seen more of them (definitely check out their RAW 5/3/04 match if you havent). The escalation of the finisher teases from the outset was the perfect way to set the tone that everyone meant business. They had some fun triple threat spots like the HHH ramming Benoit into the apron and then baseball slide into Benoit, HHH whipping HBK bad shoulder into Benoit's tree of woe and the awesome suplex throw of Benoit through the table. Until, I wrote all that I did not notice how much HBK/HHH worked together. I think it was a very subtle nod that this was Benoit's night not Shawn's by making Benoit the ultimate babyface. In New York, which historically never really liked Shawn, Benoit was way more over. Benoit having to earn his diving headbutt was great escalation. Shawn hitting a German was the best heel heat of the match. I think that was one thing the match did lack was stronger heelishness from HHH, who kept up with both guys but could have done more to raise the crowd's ire. I think more hijinx would have been a boon to this match. Shawn is the king of the bladejob. This may be his greatest one ever for speed, secrecy and amount of blood. HHH tapped a nice gusher himself. The pop for the Sharpshooter was awesome and Michaels hit a pitch perfect superkick to break it up. I would have liked to seen Michaels eliminated in more grand fashion than being thrown over the top rope. The Crippler Crossface sequence with HHH was just as fresh in my memory as it was in 2004. I stopped it before the celebration with Eddie. Too damn depressing. Watching this match emotionally cold, there actually was not much emotion in the match to even get you behind Benoit. You had to be invested in the Benoit character beforehand to be invested because the match was so focused on action. They did a great job with the escalation in this match. The suplex of Benoit on the table was a great red herrig to play into the idea he was an afterthought in the HBK/HHH show and that was going to be blown off only for him to return and win. I think this is another early 00s match that is hurt by not having a stronger heel presence even though HHH played ring general well. Would have liked more hijinx. As an action-packed main event spotfest, this is tough to beat. ****1/4
  7. Shawn Michaels vs Chris Jericho - Wrestlemania XIX I feel like I have to be missing something with this match. It is just so underwhelming given the praise heaped on it. It just does not do much for me. I get the fan trying to prove he had surpassed his idol at his craft story and there were a few nods here and there to that. I never felt like Jericho was proving himself to Michaels. Michaels' main motivation in this match seemed to be have a good time at his first Wrestlemania back and prove he have a great non-gimmick match. Besides me, I think that was everybody's conclusion and this was a significant step in his full-time return. I think it would have been better they had a more light-hearted affair like a Midnight/RnRs match where Michaels gets to have his fun early and Jericho clowns and bumps. Jericho gets vicious and violent during his heat on the back. Then they hit the finish. The match they had just lacked any sort of hook. It was seemingly totally bereft of any story or struggle. The early part of the match was the most blase and lame matwork you will ever see. Lawler sucked a big one on commentary. He basically claimed mat wrestling was passe and an anachronism in 2003 to open an match. Jericho and Michaels were doing their best to prove him right. Jericho takes over with a spin kick and then misses a move so Michaels can get the figure-4, but this all abandoned once they go to the outside where Jericho catches HBK into a Boston Crab. Jericho's heat segment was definitely the best part of the match. He worked the back over well and was pretty cocky. Then they do my least favorite transition, the I stand up and hit you with three strikes. Jericho steals HBK's moves (Flying Burriot/Kip Up), who is then like fuck you with Kip Ups galore. They run through a nearfall sequence. Hilariously, a bridge out spot has been their biggest pop of the night so far. Jericho runs through his finish sequence. Literally no transitions. Just Im going to do my shitty version of a bulldog on you now. Being a heel and having a submission finish in the WWE is so silly. Michaels makes it to the ropes twice in this match, some finish. Jericho punctuates his sequence with his own Sweet Chin Music. Shawn says my turn and hits a reverse crossbody. I did like that Shawn had to earn his top rope elbow, which was a nice moment. Sweet Chin Music outta nowhere (Jericho was bitching and moaning that no one submits to the Boston Crab) and that should have been the finish. They go the cradle route to put it over as an OMG CLASSIC~!, because classics end in cradles! Jericho punting Michaels' in the balls after the match was the best part of this by far. I think this is one of the most overrated matches in the 2000s. No flow. No story. Two just guys doing their moves. Their 2008 series smokes this. I am open to arguments on why this is great because I am genuinely curious why this is so well-regarded. I feel like there is something I am just not getting.
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