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[1992-07-21-WWF-Portland, ME] Bret Hart vs Shawn Michaels (Ladder)

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This has its moments. It's sort of a proto-WMX match with a few of the same bumps, but not nearly as many. This was a solid match, but it's not really essential viewing.

 

The highlight is Gorilla saying, about Sherri, "ALFRED, SHE HAS A TATTOO RIGHT ON HER BREASTS!"

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I remember watching this in awe on Superstar. I loved Shawn work at this point, much more solid and less über bumpy than later on. In retrospect it's nowhere as great as WMX, but it's an interesting piece of footage.

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Good add to the year book. They don't do anything too risky and the ladder isn't used as a weapon as much in latter matches of this type. But still a pretty good match to watch. I do prefer the use of just one ladder in single's matches as I like the battle between two guys to get the ladder.

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Some nice early spots working around the ladder, including Hart bumping his shoulder, but this wasn't as good as the earlier Coliseum Video match between the two. Interesting to look at this as a precursor to ladder and other gimmick matches.

 

***1/4

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Not a bad match at all, built more around dramatic climbs up the ladder and bumps off of it, rather than a lot of ladder-as-weapon spots. We do get Shawn taking a slingshot bump into the ladder, though. This was definitely something that needs to be on a Yearbook considering how influential this match type would become. A far, far better version of Kevin Sullivan vs. Norman in that regard.

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I decided to watch this match as if I was one of Vince's lieutenants, charged by him to help decide whether a match like this could co-main event SummerSlam in Landover instead of holding the event at Wembley Stadium with Bret-Davey as the card-topper.

 

My answer is no.

 

Oh, they worked hard enough, and no one can ever accuse Shawn of being afraid to bump, particularly after the whopper he took off the ladder to end the match. But things got off on the wrong foot for me when Mike McGuirk either wasn't given an explanation of the rules or forgot to include it in her introduction. I'm assuming that Finkel would be doing SummerSlam, and no one explains the rules of special stip matches quite like Howard. Srill, this was a terrible mistake for a tryout match, because you're asking at least some of the audience to go in cold, expecting them to react to a match they've never seen before without even telling them what's going to happen. Plus, on pay-per-view, we're going to have Vince and Heenan, neither of whom are going to want to work hard to get over match stipulations and strategy instead of screaming about what a great event SummerSlam is, goddamn it (Vince) or making jokes and talking lewdly about Sherri (Heenan).

 

Next, I can understand why they set up the ladder in the ring or had it underneath the ring for future matches. Asking the guys to sprint halfway back to the locker room to get the ladder may create drama, but it also makes it impossible for part of the audience to see what's going on. Plus, there's always the chance of an unplanned finish if Bret trips over the mat or something running back to the ring while Shawn sets the ladder up, which we saw Shawn do about halfway through the bout.. Then what? Does Shawn stop climbing and look like an idiot, or do we have a title change no one wants?

 

Third, what if the ladder breaks in the middle of the match and is rendered unusable? When they did these matches on pay-per-view, I'm guessing that they reinforced the ladders, particularly since 290-pound Scott Hall was one of the guys doing the climbing. Had they thought of that back in '92? Probably, but why take a chance on an accident when you have a guaranteed feel-good title change in your pocket if you go to Wembley?

 

And that's the bottom line, as Stone Cold would say. The minute someone thought of Davey-Bret at Wembley, I doubt this had much of a chance. The idea of the hometown boy scoring his biggest win as a singles wrestler in front of 80,000 of his countrymen and beating his brother-in-law to do it was a story Vince simply couldn't pass up. I know I would have told him not to. This match was good, maybe great for a Coliseum Home Video release. But it needed more work and the lack of a better idea in its place in order to make the big time.

 

By the way, what got into Gino, saying that Sherri might outweigh Shawn? Michaels was far from fat, but he wasn't that skinny. Gino's starting to get into "I'm set for life, so who cares what I sound like?" mode, and that's a shame. The WWF booth needs an energized and committed JR in one hell of a hurry.

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Ladder matches are total spotfests now, so whilst this is lacking in big ladder spots, this was a refreshing change of pace. Sherri keeps getting involved and she's great. Shawn bumps big for the spots that we do get. The ladder looks super unstable and I worry for the wrestlers. Michaels takes a nasty fall crotch-first onto the ropes from the ladder and Bret wins. This was a fun Coliseum exclusive, but they still need to tweak the ladder match formula before it's ready for it's PPV debut. 

★★★

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