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[2008-04-27-WWE-Backlash] Shawn Michaels vs Batista


Superstar Sleeze
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Shawn Michaels vs Batista - Backlash 2008 SGR: Chris Jericho

 

I want someone to watch this match and then look me in the eye and tell me that Shawn Michaels is not a GOAT contender. Goddamn he was fucking awesome in this match. Maybe I am mistaken, but I have never heard anyone talk up this match. I figure it gets overlooked for the phenomenal series between Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho that this very feud spawns. Before, I get into the match, I want to point out how great of a job they did here with the storytelling. I am an avid fan of soap operas and I think this one of the few times in the last 15 years that WWE really nailed soap opera storytelling. The Ric Flair retirement is a big deal and is going to affect wrestlers in different ways. It was great to spin a feud off of that event. You have Batista who is pissed, almost in mourning, that his mentor is no longer around and it is all Shawn's fault. Shawn says it would have been a disservice to the Nature Boy to let him win. He won the match fair and square and it was time for Nature Boy to ride off into the sunset. Then you have Chris Jericho with his career renaissance as a shit-stirrer, claiming that Shawn is a gloryhound and revels in the fact that he is the man who retired The Greatest of All Time. Then Jericho goes one step further to claim that Batista isn't grieving Ric Flair's retirement, he is angry that he did not get the honor to do it himself. This is great shit! It continued to be amazing throughout the rest of the year. Kudos to all those involved!

 

There are many facets that make this a great match but I think the one that is the most essential is the grittiness and the amount of struggle in this match. Struggle is something that WWE has lacked throughout its history. WWE matches tend to be every neat. I am in control and then you are in control. Wrestlers don't force their opponents to earn their offense more often than not. I have learned to love other aspects of WWE, but at the end of the day this will be why All Japan or JCP/WCW will always rank ahead of the WWF/E overall. I thought this match had that sense of struggle. That real burning desire to best your opponent in an athletic contest.

 

On top of that, this is nominally face vs face, which I always think is a very unique and implicitly interesting matchup. It can go in so many directions. You don't know who is going to play the heel in the match and how it will evolve. In addition, I think Shawn Michaels does incredible job playing to Batista's strengths. You mix this all together you arrive at what is match of the year contender for WWE in 2008.

 

Shawn does a great job early on establishing the power game of Batista. He is trying to attack Batista head on and makes no headway. Batista is shaking him off and just charging. Shawn chop blocks and then switches gear immediately to attack the left arm of Batista. A lot of reviewers would make a point to let you know Shawn and Batista fucked up the initial attempt at the short arm scissors. People make mistakes. We are human. It is how you react to the mistakes that matter. Shawn drives his knee repeatedly into the tricep of Batista. He forces his will on Batista to apply that short arm scissors. In fact it is better that it happened this way because he had to EARN the short arm scissors. If you have ever watched a Shawn Michaels match against Davey Boy Smith, you know why he uses this spot. This spot ultimately to establish the power game of his opponent. Interesting wrinkle here, Batista deadlifts Shawn, but they tumble over the top rope and there is even more wrenching action on the arm. As Batista is selling really well, Shawn shoves him bad arm into the post. After that, it is Dick Murdoch-like clinic on torturing a man's arm. It is tenacious and gritty. Batista is trying to use his power game to regain control, but due to a bad wing, he cant capitalize and Shawn with pitbull determination continues to attack the arm. I loved his hanging armbar over the ropes. This what I am talking about with struggle. Batista is fighting back, but Shawn is fighting through it all. Batista finally string together some power moves like the Samoan Drop and the Oklahoma Slam, but when he lifts up Shawn for the BatistaBomb, his arm fails him and Shawn comes down with the Crippler Crossface. Excellent! I marked out. It was right there when I realized I was watching a classic unfold. Batista makes the ropes and Jericho forcefully yanks Shawn off of Batista. Staredown. They do a great job making Shawn earn his comeback sequence (even though it is not a comeback in this case). Kip-up-SPEAR! Great spot. Shawn knocks Batista off the top and hits the Elbow Drop. Tune up the band and SPINEBUSTER! Loving these hope spots for Batista. One arm Ultimate Warrior rope shake and One Arm thumbs down. Batista is totally committed to selling the arm. Batistabomb, Shawn wriggles free, but twists his knee or perhaps he loses his smile momentarily. :P

 

Jericho backs Batista off. Michaels gets up and BANG! Sweet Chin Music. Great finish that plays into Jericho's new honest man character that would unveil in the coming weeks. Batista's power game vs Shawn's attack on the arm was a glorious story. Batista sold so well and Shawn was very selfless in establishing Batista's power game that everything melded perfectly. The home stretch was awesome with the big Batista moves stopping Shawn short. Shawn realized even with all his strategizing that Batista's power was too much so he had to dig deep in his bag of tricks and pull out a shady move to get the win. Highly recommended to watch. ****1/2

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  • 5 months later...

I saw this not too long ago and it holds up. Like you said, there's so many turns the story could of taken. Shawn is just insanely good here. The way he works down on Batista is believable and the drama surrounding his ankle plays out well. Shawn's acting ability can be spotty at best, but here he's very convincing.

 

★★★¾

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  • GSR changed the title to [2008-04-27-WWE-Backlash] Shawn Michaels vs Batista

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