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Grimmas

Shawn Michaels

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Alongside Jimmy Redman, I might have become the resident HBK fan. One of the greatest American wrestlers and an easy Top 10 contender. A very good early tag run, the high-end mid-90s peak, and an impressive post-return. Screw HHH at Bad Blood and the Kurt Angle matches, watch the Chris Benoit Raw matches from 2004, or the Batista matches from 2008, or the Chris Masters match from 2005, or the Mr. Kennedy feud, or even the DX blood feud tags etc.

He was at his worst when the drama and histrionics were the main emphasis, rather than a complement to the substance (and was maybe at his best in the vice versa scenario). An imaginative and ambitious wrestler who, unlike a lot of his students, possessed the skills , smarts, and grit to pull off his vision of wrestling in the ring.

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I haven't been a huge fan for a long time but I'm coming around to the possibility of him being on my list. Revisiting a lot of his 90s run, he is mostly just a really great wrestler during that period. The match layouts are largely diverse and he is a very underrated brawler. Has a litany of fantastic No DQ matches across his run even in the 2000s. The Edge match from Raw 05 is a massive gem and one of my favorite TV matches. Unfortunately, he has some really terrible matches in the 2000s, some I'd consider among the worst matches I've ever seen. He really settled into a groove stylistically that it was hard to pull him out of. But the thing is whenever he did get pulled out of that template, he was really good.

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On 4/15/2021 at 9:59 PM, Microstatistics said:

Screw HHH at Bad Blood and the Kurt Angle matches, watch the Chris Benoit Raw matches from 2004, or the Batista matches from 2008, or the Chris Masters match from 2005, or the Mr. Kennedy feud, or even the DX blood feud tags etc.

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.

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I love his work. I love The Rockers in AWA and 80s WWE, I LOVE his 90s peak run (specially 96-97), but I think it's his 00s work what puts him near my top 10. I love most of his great matches, he's one of the best gimmick workers I've seen (I mean, you can put him in a Ladder/HIAC/LMS/Elimination Chamber/Royal Rumble/Unsanctioned/whatever and he's gonna deliver in a big way as much as he did in more traditional WWE big matches). I've been watching random tv matches from him in 2007-09 (last three years of his career, remember), and he was great against lesser opponents like Jeff Hardy or fucking Khali. He clearly have some bad tendencies (specially if you put him against Triple H), but damn I still love the energy he brings, how wonderfuly he can work the crowd either as a heel or as a babyface, and how he keeps the value of his maximalist moveset intact.

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I had Michaels - ol' HBK, the ol' Showstopper and Main Event and Mr. Wrestlemania and all that other carry on - at number 55 in 2016, which will either be about 300 spots too high or 54 spots too low depending on who you ask. I like Michaels. I said it, I meant it, I'm here to represent it. I became a wrestling fan in the early 90s and the first proper event I have vivid memories of watching is the 1992 Royal Rumble. Maybe my earliest memory, period, is Shawn launching Marty Jannetty through a window, and from then on out I was a stupid huge dork for Shawn Michaels. I watched the ladder match at Wrestlemania 10 that my grandfather taped for me and I flipped at what I was seeing. I watched the Royal Rumble 1995 the morning after it happened, with no sound because our video recorder was a bucket of shit, and I flipped when he won the whole thing from number 1. I ran home from school to watch Wrestlemania 12 and I flipped when he won the belt. He was my favourite wrestler as a kid and even if I didn't want to be a stripper I absolutely wanted to be the WWF champion. Plus the superkick was just cool as fuck. But then scant few of you give a shit about any of that and that time he kipped up without selling 40 minutes of back work is enough for you to disregard my childhood memories. And as I head towards my mid-30s and impending decrepitude I can't say I blame you. I wouldn't really consider him a favourite anymore. I understood the criticisms of him even as a wide-eyed youngster posting on message boards for the first time, and many of those criticisms I've agreed with for a long time now, even if they don't really bother me. The kip up doesn't really bother me. His insufferable persona throughout the 90s doesn't really bother me. His knife edge chops were kind of crummy but they don't really bother me. Most of the post-comeback run I can sort of do without, to be honest. In fact, one of the things I'd like to do before the next deadline is give that stuff a shot again. But I voted for him the last time because he has a bunch of matches I love - including my favourite match ever, against Mankind at In Your House - and I think for all the sticks you can beat him with, he was an outstanding tag wrestler and a part of my favourite tag team ever. He was a lunatic bumper, even into his 70s or whatever age he was when he did that screwball moonsault into the table at Wrestlemania 24. His terrible (so terrible) acting at least made me laugh a few times. But mostly he had the matches that I love and he was my favourite as a kid. So he gets on the list and stays on the list. Thank you for your time. 

 

SHAWN MICHAELS YOU SHOULD WATCH:

w/Marty Jannetty v Buddy Rose & Doug Somers (AWA, 8/30/86)

w/Marty Jannetty v Buddy Rose & Doug Somers (AWA, 12/25/86)

w/Marty Jannetty v Power of Pain (WWF, 1/15/90)

w/Marty Jannetty v The Orient Express (WWF Royal Rumble, 1/19/91)

w/Diesel v Razor Ramon & 123 Kid (WWF Action Zone, 10/30/94)

v Jeff Jarrett (WWF In Your House 2: The Lumberjacks, 7/23/95)

v Diesel (WWF In Your House 7: Good Friends, Better Enemies, 4/28/96)

w/Steve Austin v Owen Hart & The British Bulldog (WWF RAW, 5/26/97)

v Mankind (WWF In Your House 10: Mind Games, 9/22/96)

v Shelton Benjamin (WWE RAW, 5/2/05)

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What HBK's second run lacked in athleticism (which wasn't much, tbh) it more than made up for it with a large injection of old school storytelling. Now, of course he went way, way, way over the top with the "storytelling" aspect at times, a bad trait he's most definitely still working through with NXT talent today. Personally I think his second run was better than the first run, as I really dislike almost everything about face HBK into DX era HBK outside of a couple of matches. 

However, Rockers and early heel HBK eras are routinely the best matches on the card and I'd say he probably has the WWF MOTY in 1992 (the UK match with Randy Savage doing fucking Tiger Mask spots), Bret/HBK at Survivor Series is top 5 that year as well. He's just so unlikable and annoying as a face in 1995-1997. It's all very inauthentic and Vince's commentary is so over the top even for him at how he puts Shawn over that for me it borders on unwatchable. 

 

He's a top 100 for sure, I don't know that I'd put him top 30. There's a real overhype (to me) within the industry when it comes to him that annoys me more than makes me want to agree with them.

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Count me as another "he'll rank for me, I just have no idea where" voter. The Rockers might be my pick for greatest tag team ever and honestly I think Shawn was a better FIP than Morton (blasphemy, I know). I think his 90's run is mostly very good and he was in my picks for the two greatest WWE matches ever (first Hell in a Cell and Mankind Mind Games). It's his comeback period that I really struggle with. I don't even think it was "bad" per se. Apart from stuff like the Taker matches (which are good but not even MOTYC's), his matches are just "eh". My gut says top 50, but there's no guarantee he'll remain there.

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This idea that so many of you apparently think that the Rockers are some how better than the RnR, Fantastics, Fabs, (maybe the Rock'n'Roll RPMs in PR), High Flyers, Ricky Morton/Ken Lucas, etc. is kind of nuts to me.

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7 minutes ago, elliott said:

I agree with Matt. I love the Rockers but not as much as those other teams. 

Yeah, the Rockers were my favorite team as a kid and the first comp I bought as a teenager and there are a few matches I love, but if a brand new match was going to drop from any of those teams against the same opponents, Rockers would probably be the last on the list I'd be excited for.

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I don't think they're better than the RnRs, Fantastics or the Fabs. I certainly don't think it would nuts if someone did, though. 

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10 hours ago, Matt D said:

This idea that so many of you apparently think that the Rockers are some how better than the RnR, Fantastics, Fabs, (maybe the Rock'n'Roll RPMs in PR), High Flyers, Ricky Morton/Ken Lucas, etc. is kind of nuts to me.

I don't see how its remotely outlandish to suggest Shawn & Marty's best matches, specifically vs. Rose & Somers, are better than anything those teams did.

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Honestly, The Rockers in AWA specifically might be my favorite Tag Team run in the US, and it's largely because I thought Shawn in the AWA was basically perfect as a face in peril. I've made the discussion point in the past with friends I thought his face in peril work in the Rose and Somers feud, as well as his matches against Orton/Adonis and the Original Midnights, was basically just about as good as I've ever seen anyone in the role.

Shawn is a man I feel like the highs are too high to leave off my list but the lows probably keep him from my higher tiers. Probably a 50-75 guy. 

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1 hour ago, WingedEagle said:

I don't see how its remotely outlandish to suggest Shawn & Marty's best matches, specifically vs. Rose & Somers, are better than anything those teams did.

Sure, but at some point causality has to come into it. Blood in the Sand is brilliant, but it's brilliant because two journeymen wrestlers, one of them being one of the most instinctually brilliant wrestlers of all time were shaping and molding very game bits of raw material that were still pretty green and that had just been put together. I think there are diminishing returns throughout the year; it peaks in August. I have huge problems with the first cage match (though i know others disagree) which is when Shawn and Marty were getting more experience and seasoning and agency. Blood on the Sand is sort of like how Lawler vs rookie Bam Bam is Bam Bam's best match. With the exception of that one match (because no other team listed would give themselves over to Rose/Somers so thoroughly), I think Rose/Somers could have had as good matches with any of the other teams, and certainly more consistent ones across the horn. You should applaud the raw talent in that match, but don't use that as the basis that the Rockers were the best team ever.

Shawn will make my list and he's going to make the list on the combination of his raw talent and his sheer ambition. He reached farther and wider than anyone else of his time. Part of what makes Blood on the Sand work is that he was so game and ambitious and he wanted the best. That meant he was willing to do anything to achieve it. 100%. I agree there. He'll be in my bottom twenty because I think he failed as much as he succeeded (that's a lot of strike outs for a guy who hits a lot of home runs) and because I think his ambition (combined with some of his physical detriments and self-consciousness) drove him to the wrong goals. He felt he could only succeed by dismantling certain aspects that made pro wrestling work up until then and by working so hard to tear those walls down, he broke wrestling maybe as deeply as the loss of kayfabe did.

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I'm not voting for Shawn, just like in 2016.

Shawn Michaels throwing temper tantrums in the ring when things don't go his way hurts him for me. Shawn being the most unlikeable (but supposed to be likeable) character in wrestling history hurts him for me. His comeback really sucked for me, outside of one Mania match against Taker. He tried to rely on being a great athlete and wasn't. Also tried to rely on selling his injured back, but his selling was so over the top and cartoony.

The Rockers stuff was good in AWA, but I hated about half of their work in the WWF. Most of their matches did the stupid thing, where they reversed the formula and cheated while Arn Anderson worked FIP. Hated it. Once he turned heel, his solo worked kind of sucked and was disappointing until 96. Yes, he ruled in 96-97. 

I do admit, part of him being an asshole in real life, his involvement in the screwjob, and him holding others down might be putting a bias into my views when I try to watch him. I can't control that.

 

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35 minutes ago, Matt D said:

Could you expound on this? I think I know what you mean, but I'm not sure and it's interesting.

edit: I messed up the quoting there but I was referring to the end of what you posted above, about Shawn's destructive impact on wrestling as a whole.

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Not Matt but I'm pretty sure he means the influence of his style of "big match" in combination with him destroying NXT from the inside in the last 5 years. 

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12 hours ago, Matt D said:

This idea that so many of you apparently think that the Rockers are some how better than the RnR, Fantastics, Fabs, (maybe the Rock'n'Roll RPMs in PR), High Flyers, Ricky Morton/Ken Lucas, etc. is kind of nuts to me.

Because I think Rockers vs. Rose and Sommers and Rockers vs. Brainbusters are better than anything the RnR's ever did. I never got the hype behind RnR's-MX. MX's best match isn't even against RnR's.

Edit: I see your point about Rose and Sommers being more responsible for the greatness of those matches. Which I guess is a fair point but I still haven't seen a RnR match that reaches those peaks. Even random tag matches I'm more likely to enjoy a Rockers match.

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Childs, I will expound at some point in the near future.

7 minutes ago, Boss Rock said:

Because I think Rockers vs. Rose and Sommers and Rockers vs. Brainbusters are better than anything the RnR's ever did. I never got the hype behind RnR's-MX. MX's best match isn't even against RnR's.

And it wasn't necessarily the idea that someone could think the Rockers were better than ANY of the teams I listed, so much as the notion that they were better than ALL the teams.

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57 minutes ago, Grimmas said:

I'm not voting for Shawn, just like in 2016.

Shawn Michaels throwing temper tantrums in the ring when things don't go his way hurts him for me. Shawn being the most unlikeable (but supposed to be likeable) character in wrestling history hurts him for me. His comeback really sucked for me, outside of one Mania match against Taker. He tried to rely on being a great athlete and wasn't. Also tried to rely on selling his injured back, but his selling was so over the top and cartoony.

The Rockers stuff was good in AWA, but I hated about half of their work in the WWF. Most of their matches did the stupid thing, where they reversed the formula and cheated while Arn Anderson worked FIP. Hated it. Once he turned heel, his solo worked kind of sucked and was disappointing until 96. Yes, he ruled in 96-97. 

I do admit, part of him being an asshole in real life, his involvement in the screwjob, and him holding others down might be putting a bias into my views when I try to watch him. I can't control that.

 

I'm pretty sure Kenny Omega have a strong chance to be that guy. I feel Shawn's goofiness kinda suits him very well, both as a confident babyface and as an arrogant heel, but Kenny does that while trying to look serious and great, and I think he actually ruined big matches because of It.

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2 minutes ago, Tetsujin said:

I'm pretty sure Kenny Omega have a strong chance to be that guy. I feel Shawn's goofiness kinda suits him very well, both as a confident babyface and as an arrogant heel, but Kenny does that while trying to look serious and great, and I think he actually ruined big matches because of It.

Since I don't watch Omega, I can't comment. 

On a positive note, Omega is likeable IRL, while Shawn isn't.

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Brother Matt's comment got me thinking about possible parallels between the workrate revolution in wrestling and the sabermetric revolution in baseball. The use of analytics in baseball has led to increased emphasis on the three true outcomes (walk, strikeout, home run) and less emphasis on putting the ball in play. As a result, home runs are up, but strikeouts are way up. It's also resulted in games being longer than ever. Those two developments have caused the game to become largely boring to a lot of longtime fans. By the same token, the increased emphasis on big moves and near falls in important matches has led to the death of "small ball" as far as MOTYCs go. A WON MOTY winner only going 20:12, which happened as recently as 2015, would be completely unthinkable today. There's even a parallel between the physical toll of the modern in-ring style and the damage the current emphasis on velocity does to the arms of pitchers.

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I think a lot of what we blame on workrate is really probably just too much awareness of history. It's a post-modernist problem. Michaels really brought the idea of creating matches with the intent of going down in history to the foreground, and now everyone seems to work that way, instead of just trying to make the fans who bought a ticket happy enough that they'll come back next time. WrestleMania isn't just the biggest show of the year, it's now the "showcase of the immortals". I would also say he's one of the wrestlers who brought the idea of everything being played for maximalist impact at all times to the foreground. That's not just about doing big moves, or even doing too many big move kickouts (although that is possibly a symptom). It's this idea that wrestling is a medium that has more power than it really does, so every match needs an elaborate beginning, middle and end. By not working some in-between non-epics, you train fans to think nothing matters until people start kicking out of big moves, where if a match occasionally looked to be going long but finished 3 minutes in, or 5-6 minutes in, or 10-12 minutes in, maybe people would care about the beginning and middle more because they would truly believe that a match could end at any time. I don't know, just spitballing, there's probably a more articulate way to put all of this.

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I think that style of epic, creating history match was pretty firmly established in WWF land by WM 3 when there were 2 matches like that on the card that are still lionized to this day. It was usually kept to IC or World title matches and only on PPVs for years, but it was definitely a thing before Shawn's solo run even started. 

 

Examples to my mind:

Savage/Steamboat WM3

Hogan/Andre WM3

Mega Powers vs Andre/DiBiase Summerslam 88

Hogan vs Savage WM 5

Warrior vs Rude Summerslam 89

Hogan vs Warrior WM 6

Savage vs Warrior WM 7

Warrior vs Rude Summerslam 90

Bret vs Perfect Summerslam 91

Bret vs Piper WM 8

Bret vs Bulldog Summerslam 92

Savage vs Warrior Summerslam 92 tried it again and failed miserably

Rockers vs Orient Express Rumble 91

New Foundation vs Orient Express Rumble 92

I think you could probably make the argument for some Hart Foundation tags in their face run as well.

 

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