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[1996-03-25-WWF-Raw] Shawn Michaels vs Leif Cassidy

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Really good TV match. Snow was much better than his push. I wonder if Bret realizes he came across as kind of an ass in the Wrestlemania XII build in the sense that Shawn was very respectful of Bret in the buildup and Bret wasn't so much.

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I wonder if Bret realizes he came across as kind of an ass in the Wrestlemania XII build in the sense that Shawn was very respectful of Bret in the buildup and Bret wasn't so much.

I don't know whether or not he realised it, but he really did come across as a bit of an ass. There's one of the training videos where seems particularly insecure and takes a bunch of little jabs at Shawn. It's probably unintentional (as in, it was probably more of a roundabout way of taking more jabs at Michaels), but he does a fair bit of ripping on Mexican wrestling as well. All that "Mexican wrestlers aren't tough" shit.

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It just occurred to me that Bret's pre-WCW run low opinion of Mexican wrestling could have come from his low opinion of Bruce as a worker, since Bruce was mainly trained by Mexican expat/lucha libre veteran Frank Butcher.

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It just occurred to me that Bret's pre-WCW run low opinion of Mexican wrestling could have come from his low opinion of Bruce as a worker, since Bruce was mainly trained by Mexican expat/lucha libre veteran Frank Butcher.

Hart's book is thorough on everything, especially all the reasons he dislikes certain folks, and it's not in there. I just always got the impression that he thought every style that wasn't "Calgary or Japanese" wasn't good for whatever weird reasons and he just was honest about his brothers.

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I thought that might've been the idea when I watched the feud again a few year ago, but then I read Bret's book and I don't remember him making any reference to that. Given the amount of detail he goes into on pretty much everything, I just assumed that wasn't the plan after all. Shit, the way I recall him describing it in the book makes it seem like was a tad bitter about the whole deal (as in, him being given the belt after Diesel more or less for the purpose of dropping it to Shawn a few months later), and the build-up on screen sort of reflects that.

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On the Bret/Shawn DVD, Bret said the plan for his comeback was to still be a face but purposely take shots at Shawn. He mentioned that all the post-match stuff after the Iron Man (no handshake, leaving the locker room pissed, etc.) was planned ahead to work everyone into thinking the two hated each other. So it's possible the buildup to WrestleMania was done with that purpose in mind as well.

 

Does Bret really dislike Mexican wrestling? He's called Mysterio one of the greatest ever.

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Does Bret really dislike Mexican wrestling? He's called Mysterio one of the greatest ever.

As reflected in the WM12 buildup, he used to have a low opinion of it from the little he had been exposed to, but did a 180 during his WCW run when he was blown away by how good all of the Mexican wrestlers in the company were, especially Rey.

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Guest Nell Santucci

Does Bret really dislike Mexican wrestling? He's called Mysterio one of the greatest ever.

As reflected in the WM12 buildup, he used to have a low opinion of it from the little he had been exposed to, but did a 180 during his WCW run when he was blown away by how good all of the Mexican wrestlers in the company were, especially Rey.

 

There must be something to what he said regarding having never seen Ric Flair work but once or twice prior to Flair's WWF run and Bret's subsequent judgment that Flair wasn't that good of a worker. Hart's reasoning seemed in part ideological and in part empirical. From the ideological end, he felt Flair's stiffness and comedy spots went against the nature of pro-wrestling being a work whilst simultaneously exposing the business respectively. From the empirical standpoint, he just had many matches with Ric Flair that didn't live up to the hype (though the iron man one in Boston was remarkably sweet). Maybe Hart wasn't aware at the time, but Flair's ear infection must have done quite a bit of damage. Flair's ear was infected right around when his program with the Ultimate Warrior begun, and Flair was going around the loop with Hart as well.

 

Many questioned Hart's claim that he never saw Flair work more than twice, but I totally believe him. Stylistically and perceptively, Hart always lived in a bubble that is rosy and anachronistic. For example, he frequently claims to have brought realism to the World Wrestling Federation when, in actuality, his era was far more goofy than the 80s, even if the main event was much more rough and tumble, and to the mat. Sure, that's realism in the sense of not being anything like Hogan, but it wasn't close to the realism of, say, UFC or mainstream puroresu.

 

I think Hart's comments were partly shoot and work. Frankly, Shawn and Bret were both in that shoot/work mode unintentionally due to their backstage rivalry. That organic rivalry was hinted at and drawn out in a masterful way in 1997 such that the Survivor Series buyrate was tremendous relative to Summerslam and Wrestlemania of that year. In many ways, Bret is the perfect director/wrestler who understands the subtleties of heel work. His commentary had to be by design because doing a tweener double-turn like he pulled with Bulldog in 1992 would have been hard to execute in Anaheim when Michaels wasn't crazy over with the whole audience. Hart understands that ever main event match needs heat, and heat is hard to generate in a face-face main event. Michaels was where Vince wanted to go, and Hart begrudgingly accepted that role.

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Good match with some pretty advanced offense for '90s WWF. Snow's throwing advanced, hard-hitting Japanese-style suplexes and holds are a little incongruous with his dorky character, but it's hard to carp too much about that. Bret is even more passive-aggressive this time, talking about how Shawn was beaten up by "nine cheerleaders," which I'm surprised Vince didn't blow up at. That said, I do have to think that this subtle heeling is intentional--make him a little less likely to be missed once he's on sabbatical and galvanize the undecided fans into being behind Shawn.

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Agree that Bret heeling it up was intentional and while he did revert back to some of his broader opinions that I didn't like from a few weeks ago, he was a little more reigned in by talking about the flashiness of the offense Shawn was using. This was a really good tv match and the finish was cool with Marty trying to help Leif and Bret interjecting himself into the match. I am on board with the build of the Mania 12 main event.

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Really good TV segment. Good match with Leif busting out some big moves; great sit-out spinebuster, a sambo suplex and a botched fall away powerbomb thing that I guess was intended drop Michaels on the top rope. Bret does sound like an ass on commentary but I liked it for adding some heat to the Wrestlemania match. These last couple weeks they've really built it up to feel like a big deal.

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