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[1992-11-26-WWF-Survivor Series] Bret Hart vs Shawn Michaels

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I remember how excited I was at the time of this show, eventually getting my parents to order it after Thanksgiving dinner. In the build up there was a clear focus on this being a "techinal" match-up with Bret in his promos specifically mentioning the importance of technical wrestling, speed and skill. This was pretty novel for the WWF at the time coming off years with Warrior and Hogan headlining and this match-up really hooked me on getting the show. I realize Savage/Flair main evented WrestleMania earlier in the year but that was built up more around the issue with Liz than the promise of an excellent match,

 

Anyway, I hope this match doesn't get slept on. I guess it was a pretty standard layout to the match, with Bret outwrestling Shawn early at every turn until Shawn got lucky with a stun-gun maneuver and then with Bret too aggressive ramming his own shoulder into the corner post. I liked how it took two major moves to transition to Shawn's control segment. I guess Shawn in control would then be the only weak spot of the match. Shawn really slowed this down with two chinlocks and two front facelocks and it's not as if he a lot of time to fill either. But Bret picked it up again and they took it home well enough. I should note Hart's offensive execution in this match was awesome just hitting everything so crisply. I particularly loved the flying forearm that sent Shawn into the ropes.

 

In general I thought this might have been an even bigger one-man show than the Bulldog match at Wembley, as everything here is mostly Bret's stock offense and bumps (shoulder to the post, sternum turnbuckle, missed 2nd rope elbow, missed cross body into the ropes, etc.). Shawn really doesn't do anything notable except his excellent bumping and a pretty sweet superkick.

 

In comparing this to other US matches from 1992, I would say only War Games and Sting/Vader at Starrcade are outright better. Bret/Shawn to me is on the next rung down with about 8 other matches (Flair/Savage from WM, Rude/Steamboat Iron Man, Sting/Vader I, Bret/Bulldog, Bret/Flair, Liger/Pillman, Sting/Cactus, and Barry/Arn). Man, '92 was a great year.

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Yeah, this is exactly what Bret's NWA Touring Champion routine would've looked like; albeit 30 rather than 60. I think it dips a bit in the middle (Shawn's heel controls were at their worst during his first run), but I've always liked this a lot.

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I didn't really care for this match at all. I never felt like Bret was in serious danger of losing. He dominated most of the match, and when Shawn was on offense, he spent most of the time working headlocks. Shawn was so not ready for the main event at this point.

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Solid match, but not one I ever have the desire to watch again. I appreciate that they were trying to do something different than the typical WWF main event to show that times had changed, but I wish they had done something a little more fast-paced and high-energy. Kind of a plodding match. Things pick up in the final 7 minutes or so, but before that, there's just not anything worthwhile going on.

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Not a bad match, but it sure dragged. I thought HBK was going to transition to working Bret;s right arm after the ring post bump. He went to it, but not for long. Even Bret was trying to feed him spots, but Shawn didn't take it. At this point in time HBK wasn't ready for a 25 + minute bout. Plus Meltzer giving this 4 1/2 * is pretty crazy.

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I liked that they tried something different as far as main eventing a PPV with two technical guys on the smallish side. Agreed with the comment that it never felt like Bret was really in jeopardy which can kind of hurt a match that went as long as it did. Good match but wouldn't rate it that much higher than their match in June.

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Kim Chee makes a rare speaking appearance in a little Coliseum Video cameo with Wippleman and Kamala. Michaels' interview is stronger than Bret's, which surprises me quite a bit. Not one of Bret's better efforts on the stick.

 

There's nothing technically wrong with this match at all, but man is it dull at points. This is pretty much the American equivalent to the Hansen/Misawa title change. And the main issue is that Shawn just isn't compelling working on top, an issue that would plague him for the rest of his career. So we get a lot of chinlock- and facelockery, none of which is worked all that well. I do give them credit for never losing the crowd--no one was seen filing out of the Coliseum and there were "LET'S GO BRET" chants towards the end. The WWF fans that remained were apparently buying this guy as a Heavyweight champion. And there were some downright excellent transitions and cut-offs, like Shawn cutting Bret off with the superkick and Bret taking a cool-looking bump getting tangled in the ropes. Since a number of these were Bret trademarks like slamming chest-first into the turnbuckle, I attribute most of these to him. This turned into a decent match but it didn't live up to expectations.

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Bret's pre-match promo was pretty boring. Fortunately, that was the low point as I enjoyed this a lot more then I recalled. Solid work early on HBK's arm, which was a clear focus for Hart. Shawn catches Hart and drops him in a stun gun for for a great transition. Hart then posts his shoulder and HBK turns his attention to that. Hart's chest bump into the corner always looks great. I thoroughly enjoyed HBK working the side headlock here, pulling Hart's hair when necessary and using his weight for leverage. Normally that spot is a great time to check the computer but I loved it here. I even liked how HBK jumped into the sharpshooter on an attempted dropkick for the finish. I thought this was great, up there with Warrior/Savage as the best WWF match of the year.

 

****

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Before we talk about Bret and Shawn, I loved Kamala having a seizure in the coffin as Bruno rants and raves above him and Kim Chee (was it still Lombardi?) screams in his face. Nice ersatz Swahilli by Kim Chee as well.

 

As for the bout, it was the best of the three we've seen on this set. Both men brought their A games; Shawn's was less than Bret's, but that was to be expected, considering that Shawn hadn't been a single for nearly as long. Shawn certainly acquitted Vince's decision to make him a singles star well, as he took it to Bret from start to finish.

 

The one glaring mistake he made was not working over Bret's arm after Bret's shoulder hit the post early on; I don't know if he hadn't figured out how to do believable body part work yet or if Vince wanted a bout with more striking and fewer holds (which he didn't get anyway), but he should have destroyed that arm over the next ten or fifteen minutes. Still, most of his offense looked good, better than I expected. His bumps were a bit theatrical, but since it was his first pay-per-view main event, I'll forgive him for that. Sweet Chin Music would have finished the match if it had been his finisher at the time, but he used the teardrop suplex instead, which Bret was able to counter. I also loved the way he fed Bret the Sharpshooter; the only other submission hold I've seen a guy jump into off the ropes is the bearhug.

 

Bret spent most of this match on the defensive, but he looked good while he was on offense, though not "excellent". I enjoyed the amateur-style sequence which opened things; it was a deliberate attempt to show the world that the era of five-minute matches followed by twenty minutes of posing was over. Bret's main job once that was over was to take whatever Shawn could throw at him and be resilient, which he was. He took major bumps on his shoulder, back, and chest in the same match, which I don't think a champion had done since Backlund, and was still spry twenty-five minutes into the match. It seems like they were experimenting with giving him his own "Hulk-Up", the sudden spring to his feet from the downed position, but much like pulling his singlet straps down Lawler-style, he didn't do it for long.

 

I thought Bret's prematch promo was more from the heart (no pun intended) than Shawn's; it didn't have any snappy or memorable lines, but most of Bret's promos didn't. Both men had made the same talking points a thousand times going into the match (Shawn beating Davey, who'd beaten Bret; Bret being a wrestler and a fighting champion), so it all came down to delivery, and I liked Bret's better. By the way, Okerlund looked ill here; his liver must have been acting up.

 

The commentary was barely passable. Heenan tried with strategy talk from time to time, but he got caught up in rooting for Shawn, which he really shouldn't have, considering that that meant no shots at Bret for his guys Flair and Hall. I liked his talking point about Bret "burning the belt at both ends", which he even converted Vince to by the end, and he was good at explaining how Bret should let Shawn come to him, since he didn't have to beat Shawn to retain the belt. But his attempts at humor fell flat, because Vince simply wouldn't play along with him, even for a moment. Had he never heard the "I'll have to ask you to leave" bit when Bobby used to do it with Gino? Here's a hint, Vinnie-Poo: He doesn't mean it, not in kayfabe and not in real life. Laugh it off and move on. Don't answer with an indignant "I have a job to do!" That kills the bit dead.

 

Another example was the standard Heenan line for a wrestler who's on his last legs, "He's looking for the Answer Man." It didn't require a response, but Vince tried to make it sound like Bobby had some kind of gasoline fetish, then rambled on about turkey and stuffing. It's about time that Vince the clueless idiot who can't even tell when the referee counts to three retires to the turnip truck. You've been outed as the owner of the whole shebang, pal, and while I realize that you don't want to make a big deal of it on camera, you might at least act like someone who knows what the hell they're watching and has a sense of humor that's more than that of a six-year old. In other words, listen to how you used to call matches fifteen or so years ago and do your best to copy that. Sure, it's nothing more than a bad Howard Cosell imitation, but at least Cosell had a brain or two under his toupee when he was sober. You don't.

 

If I had to lay money on who played Santa, I'd guess it was Percy (Paul Bearer) from the eyes, but I don't think the outfit was big enough for him. I liked the snow effect, and Heenan's closing line to Vince was a classic.

 

I would think Bret's put Shawn away definitively for the moment, with three wins that have made tape over him this year. I can't wait to see what's next for these two guys.

 

Line of the night goes to Heenan's closer which I mentioned above: "If you can ho, I can whoo!"

 

Honorable mention goes to Heenan as well after Vince complains about a slow count by referee Earl Hebner: "Talk about someone (Vince) who wants to do it all!" Vince, of course, completely no-sells the fact that Bobby's talking about him and turns the subject to Bret.

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Considering how good both Michaels and Hart were during 1992, this was a massive disappointment. This was technically fine yet deathly dull. Michaels wasn't yet equipped with the skills to work a 25+ minute singles match just yet, as evident by his boring control segment where had Hart in a front facelock that felt like an eternity.  I never felt like Shawn had a chance of winning this.  There's a few cool moments in finishing stretch, but not enough to recommend this.

★★¾

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