The Way Too Long Review of From the Vault: Shawn Michaels

Yea, yea.  I know.  I was supposed to do the Hulk Hogan set.  And I am, but until then, I figured since Shawn’s career might end on Sunday (ha) why not repost my review for his original set.  Pulse hasn’t had this one before, so why not?  Many of the matches that defined Shawn Michaels are here, including the Iron Man Match, which I’ve gotten tons of requests for.  I’ve done it once, I’ll never do it again, so don’t ask me for my new thoughts.  I’ve watched it three times in my life and that is certainly enough.  This is one of my oldest reviews, long before I was any good.

Right about now, my haters are going “as if you’re good now.”  Smug fuckwits.  Oh well, you can’t win everyone over.  Truth be told, I would rather not.  You know what happens if you do win over everyone on the internet?  That’s right, you go nuts and murder your whole family.  No thanks, I’ll just stick splitting the readership with hatred and love.

Oh, and I’m on Twitter now, which I’ll be using to make random jokes on wrestling’s current events.

http://twitter.com/CharlieReneke

Let’s hit it.

Disc One

Match #1: AWA Tag Team Championship
(c) Buddy Rose & Doug Somers vs. The Midnight Rockers
9/2/86 AWA

Funny enough, the chapter list sheet has it listed as “Doug Summers.” It just takes 10 seconds of research, people. Michaels and Rose lockup to start. Michaels quickly gets a sunset flip for two. Tie-up and Shawn ends up smacking Rose in the face. Rose looks a bit out of it during this match. Rose shoots Michaels off and they almost blow a leapfrog, but Shawn covers nicely and gets a victory roll for two. Sweet Chin Music… for two. It’s 1986 people! That move is seven years away from being his finisher. Michaels gets dumped through the ropes to the floor. He might have hit the stairs too. Doug tosses Shawn into the ring and bounces his head around. Shawn is bleeding pretty good. Somers smacks him around and bites at the open wound. More punching and stuff. Rose in for some punching. Doug in for some kicking and punching. Elbow to the head and stomping. Shawn gets a wild swing to the gut of Somers, which doesn’t do much. Somers squeezes at the wound, and then tosses him to Rose for some punching. Shawn tries to slug out but he’s too bloody.

Fans are going nuts as Somers hits backdrop and an elbow for two. Hey, those were wrestling moves. Stomping by Somers. Shawn tries to slug out and punches Somers down. He can’t quite make the tag and Somers punches Shawn out of the ring. Somers walks too close to Jannetty and gets smacked around a bit but the ref breaks it up. Rose tags in while Shawn is out of the ring. Shawn barely breaks the count back into the ring and tries to slug back. He actually does fight off Rose but he walks to the wrong corner. Somers in and Shawn slugs him down too. Jesus guys, how about some wrestling moves? To their knees for another slug-off. Shawn fights him off and makes the hot tag. Slug-out by Marty (grumble) and he gets a backdrop. Marty sends him into the post and smacks him there. Marty smacks Rose around on the outside of the ring. Sherri Martel breaks it up. Punches from Rose in the ring on Marty. Then more punches. Then more punches. Then more punches. I would like to point out the fans are super hot for this whole thing. Some video problems on the master tape screw up our DVD presentation a bit. Tag to Somers who is also bleeding like a stuck pig. And Marty Janetty is too. Shawn is still selling the injury on the ropes, barely holding himself up. Jannetty gets a dropkick for two out of nowhere, and then walks into Rose. Huge haymaker swing by Jannetty misses. Jannetty gets to his feet and slugs it out with Somers. Tag to Rose who… you guessed it!… slugs it out with Marty. Rose gets slugged down and is bleeding. Jannetty gets slugged down and into Shawn Michaels for the tag. He slugs it out with Buddy Rose. He knocks down Rose with some punches, and then punches away. Somers walks in and gets punched down. Marty back in and everyone is slugging it out. Malfunction at the Junction and Michaels/Somers are a bit out of it. Outside the ring, Rose drops Marty Jannetty on a chair. Another ref in and the match is scrubbed. Huge clusterfuck brawl with guys from the locker room to close it out.
** Total wrestling holds: One, and it was the lockup at the start of the match. Why not a DUD? Because the bleeding was fun and the crowd was super hot throughout. Honestly, this was better then a lot of matches that had more holds. By the way, if you count back-body drops the total moves goes up to three. So there you go.

Match #2: Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match
(c) Razor Ramon vs. Shawn Michaels
3/20/94 Wrestlemania X

Two belts are hanging, one that was stripped from Shawn Michaels and one that was won by Ramon. Lockup to start. Razor grabs a headlock, shoot off the ropes and Razor blocks a hiptoss and a headscissors and hits a one-armed chokeslam. Shawn fights off with a swinging neckbreaker. Razor blocks a shot in the corner but gets tossed to the outside. Diesel clotheslines Ramon down for good measure. He ends up getting tossed. Meanwhile, Ramon uppercuts Shawn, who goes flying. Hard whip to the corner and Razor dumps Shawn to the outside. They fight there for a little bit, with Razor pulling back the protective pad, but Shawn gets him to the ring. Razor goes for the Razor’s Edge but he gets backdropped to the outside. Shawn takes advantage and goes for the ladder. Razor fights back and knocks Shawn out, grabbing the ladder and putting it in the ring, but Shawn hits a baseball slide into the ladder and into Razor.

Shawn grabs the ladder. Back in, Shawn whacks Razor with the ladder in the gut. He jams the ladder into Razor then hits him in the back with it. He then THROWS the ladder at Ramon. Fans at this point hadn’t seen stuff like this. Shawn opens up the ladder and starts to climb it, but Razor grabs Shawn’s foot. Shawn gets pantsed but he fights off Ramon and sets up the ladder in the corner. Scoopslam and Michaels hits a splash off the top of the ladder. Shawn sets up the ladder and climbs, but Ramon pushes the ladder over, with Shawn flying like a pinball. Both guys collide and it’s a double KO. Shawn sets up the ladder in the corner and tries to whip Razor into it, but it gets reversed and Shawn eats it and flies outside the ring. Razor follows with the ladder and pancakes Shawn into the ring post a couple times. Michaels gets slung into the ladder, which then falls with him on it. Razor starts to climb, but Shawn lunges off the top rope to make the save. Both guys climb for the belts and they slug it off at the top of the ladder. Shawn gets suplexed off the top of the ladder, but Razor falls too. Razor climbs again but Shawn dropkicks the ladder to knock Razor off. Shawn tips it over on Razor, with the top part hitting Ramon right in the head. Sweet Chin Music to Ramon. Shawn feels good and piledrives him. He climbs the top rope and rides the ladder down onto Ramon. Shawn opens up the ladder and puts it between Ramon. He climbs but Razor stops him by hitting a shoulderblock into the ladder. Michaels ends up crotched in the ropes and his foot gets tied up. Razor is now free to climb the ladder and win the match.
***1/2 To say this match has been seriously injured with age is an understatement. Still a good match, but the same match has been done better multiple times since. Sad.

Match #3: WWE Championship 60 Minute Iron Man Match
(c) Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels
3/31/96 Wrestlemania XII

Lockup, with both guys pushing up to the corner. They trade waistlocks, but that goes nowhere. Lockup, Bret grabs a headlock, but Shawn gets a takedown. Bret gets another headlock and Shawn gets another takedown and now Bret is getting pissed. Lockup and Shawn gets a wristlock, which Bret rolls through into a rear-chinlock. Shawn tries to fight off but Bret keeps him grounded. Too their feet, but Bret does a takedown and gets a two count. Shawn keeps trying to fight out but Bret keeps him grounded. Shawn bridges Bret over for a two count, but Bret keeps the headlock. It’s so obvious they’re filling time that it hurts the match greatly. Shawn finally gets out of the headlock but Bret takes advantage and goes down into the mat with a headlock again, now going on over five minutes. I’m sorry, but you mean to tell me that two guys in the prime of their career can’t do better then a five minute headlock to START an Iron Man match?

Shawn fights out and they do a criss-cross sequence, with Shawn throwing a couple armdrags off, then down to the mat for an armbar. Ugh. Shawn then armdrags Bret again, while holding on to the armbar. Freddie Blassie and Stu Hart are both at ringside, trying to avoid falling into a coma from all this inaction. Criss-cross sequence with both guys rolling on the mat. Shawn wins out and grabs a hammerlock, into an abdominal stretch, then back to the hammerlock. Bret fights off Shawn with some shoulderblocks, but Shawn reverses (crowd pops) for some punches. Shawn uses a leverage move to dump Bret to the outside as we’re ten minutes in. The highlights so far are about ten seconds long and feature the move that aired five seconds ago. Really. Shawn goes back to the armbar, but Bret tosses him, but Shawn skins the cat and goes back to the armbar. Bret fights off and knees Shawn in the gut. Headbutt and a leg drop for two. Chinlock by Bret, but Shawn gets a jawbreaker out of it. Leg drop, wristlock which he grounds to the mat and lays down on for leverage. Bret finally gets out and hits a sidewalk slam, but can’t hook in the Sharpshooter. On the outside, Bret gets sent into the ring post, then onto the time keepers lap. Shawn goes for Sweet Chin Music, but misses Bret. He does however, KO the timekeeper full force. Well, that looked awesome. Back in the ring, Bret grabs a headlock. Shawn tries to fight out but Bret grounds him. Eighteen minutes in now and there has hardly been any action. Shawn changes that up by fighting out and clotheslining Bret down. Bret fights back with one of his own then goes back to the chinlock. If any other pair of wrestlers had shown this much non-action, the internet marks would be screaming for their head on a stick. Both guys go for a rollup but can’t get it. Dropkick by Shawn and an armdrag back to the armbar. Twenty minutes in now. Bret gets up and pushes Shawn to the mat, but the ref misses his cue to count. Shawn then grounds Bret again and the ref counts. Grumble. Shawn fights off an attempt at reversing and goes back to a mounted hammerlock. Bret finally breaks and gets Shawn to a corner where he throws some really stiff shots to Shawn. Bret tries to whip Shawn to another corner, but Shawn reverses with a knee to the gut. Shawn then posts Bret and destroys his arm against the ring post. Shoulderbreaker, sledge off the second rope, hammerlock slam, ram into the turnbuckle, ram into the turnbuckle, punch, punch, snore.

Bret fights back but Shawn catches a swinging neck breaker, and then puts on a locking armbar. Bret fights to his feet then viciously stomps Michaels’ face. But, Bret’s still out, so Shawn gets a shoulderblock and a seated keylock. Bret fights out and hotshots Shawn on the middle rope. That looked nasty. Bret slingshots Shawn into the ring post and both guys are out of it. Bret moves in and hooks the leg (!) for a two count. Shawn misses a charge into the corner and gets to show off his “I’m lying on the top rope so now kick me and I’ll bounce” spot. I hate it. FIVE MOVES OF DOOM~!! by Bret, only thirty minutes in, mind you. Atomic drop, clothesline for two. Bulldog for… nothing as Bret doesn’t cover. He climbs the top rope, but Shawn catches him. Bret fights off and does a knee-driver into Shawn, in a move that was almost certainly a blown bulldog spot, but at this point both guys are sandbagging each other. Shawn gets a powerslam for two. Bret gets a NASTY piledriver for two. Leg drop, and Bret climbs again, and again Shawn catches him. This time, Shawn wins out and throws him off the top. Shawn hits a sweet hurricanrana into mounted punches. Backbreaker gets two. Match has picked up, to say the least. Shawn goes for Sweet Chin Music so Bret bails (crowd mostly boos). Shawn’s pissed so he climbs the top rope and hits a crossbody off the top to the outside. Shawn throws Bret back in and hits a crossbody off the top, but Bret rolls through for two. They fight over a backslide, but Shawn flips out and small-packages Bret for two. Fisherman’s suplex for two. Sleeper by Shawn, but Bret fights out, so Shawn sorta slings Bret into the turnbuckle, and then grabs a sleeper again. Shawn misses a charge and gets backdropped over the top rope to the outside. Bret doesn’t wait for the ref to count out Shawn, so he picks up Shawn and smashes him into the ring post. Back in the ring, Bret works the back, sending Shawn into the turnbuckle. Elbow off the second rope onto Shawn’s back, but Bret doesn’t cover. Great psychology there, Hitman. Shawn tries to sandbag a backbreaker, which seems to piss off Bret, so he hits it really stiff. No cover again. Bret hits a pumping ass-splash (what the hell else do you call it?) off the second rope onto Shawn’s back. Bret sends Shawn into the corner, where Shawn does his flip up the turnbuckle bump, but Bret actually capitalizes on this by running up the ropes and hitting a super backdrop suplex for two. Nice spot.

Now Bret locks in the camel clutch. Eighteen minutes to go. Shawn fights to his feet, but Bret won’t ease up. He hits the small of Shawn’s back, and then sets him up on the top turnbuckle. Shawn tries to fight off with a sledge off the second rope, but Bret catches him with a punch to the gut. Russian leg-sweep gets two. Bret sends Shawn flying into the turnbuckle. Shawn ends up bumping over it to the outside, where he also wipes out Jose Lothario. Yipes. Bret whips him into the stairs, killing poor old Jose again. Bret throws Shawn into the ring, pausing to jaw with Jose. Belly-to-belly suplex gets two. Shawn fights back but Bret cuts him off with a punch to the back. Big uppercuts but Shawn flips out and gets a rollup for two. Bret kicks out and sends Michaels flying out of the ring. Bret then does a no-hands suicida through the ropes and into Michaels! Bret gets back in the ring to wait for Shawn to get counted out, which draws some scattered boos from the crowd. Bret then breaks up the count. What the fuck? Michaels gets back in but walks into a German suplex for two. Bret’s pissed now and starts to punch Shawn square in the face. Headbutt by Bret, and now he’s punched himself out and has no energy. Now Bret hooks on another camel clutch, with only ten minutes to go, mind you. That’ll fire up the crowd for the home stretch. He holds onto this for over three minutes. Shawn FINALLY gets out and into a double clothesline. Now both guys are doing nothing. Bret fights off Shawn and puts him on the top for a superplex. Bret finally decides it’s time to go for the Sharpshooter, but Shawn fights him off. Bret goes for a figure-four, but Shawn fights THAT off. So Bret settles for a half-crab, but Shawn quickly gets to the ropes. Bret won’t let go so the fans boo. Backbreaker and an elbow off the second rope MISSES as Shawn gets his feet up. Dropkick by Shawn and now Bret’s in the corner. Running forearm, hard whip to the turnbuckle. THREE AND A HALF MOVES OF DOOM~! time for Shawn. Flying forearm, nip-up, back-elbow, double axe off the top rope. Suplex and flying elbow off the top with about 2:30 to go, for two. Gut-wrench powerbomb by Shawn (!!) for two. Moonsault for two. Dragon-rana off the top gets two. Scoopslam with about one minute to go. With 34 seconds to go, Shawn gets caught trying for something off the top and Bret locks in the Sharpshooter, but Shawn won’t quit, and the time limit expires. Gorilla Monsoon comes out to announce that there must be a winner, so we go into overtime. The bell rings and Bret goes to work the lower back. Backdrop, backbreaker, crowd seems dead. SWEET CHIN MUSIC out of nowhere and both guys are out. Another one by Michaels and he gets the pin and his first WWE Championship.
*** Twenty minutes of action packed into a sixty+ minute match. It’s never really a good idea to give two guys who hate each other sixty minutes to go out and prove it. About halfway through it was pretty clear that both guys we’re trying to make the other look bad.  It wasn’t as dull as Cena/Orton was, but pretty close.

Disc Two

Match #4: WWE Championship Street Fight
(c) Shawn Michaels vs. Diesel
4/28/96 In Your House: Good Friends, Better Enemies

Yes, I know its “No Holds Barred” and not a “Street Fight.” But really, it’s a street fight. Now a lot of people remember this as a REALLY great match. Myself, I remember *hating* this match. That said, I remembered hating the 2004 Royal Rumble and that was way off base. BTW, this has an alternate commentary on it with Shawn Michaels and Kevin Nash, which is neat-o. I’m going to listen to that one. Slug-out to start. Diesel wins out on that one. Whip to the corner but Shawn flips out of it and dumps Nash. Baseball slide and then Shawn hits a moonsault off the top rope and to the floor. Well, the commentary sucks because it uses a split-screen thing so we can watch them TALK! Fuck that. Back to the normal commentary. Shawn grabs a boot off one of the Spanish announcers and hits Diesel off the top rope with it for two. Hard whip by Nash sends Michaels up and over to the apron, then a double sledge sends him off the apron and into the guardrail. Nash tosses him back into the ring and he smacks Shawn down. Shawn up and Shawn down with a clothesline. Very high angle snake eyes to Shawn, the only time I’ve ever thought the move looked good. To the corner where he smacks Shawn around. Sidewalk slam but no cover. Instead, Nash pulls off his tape and then… chokes the ref with it? What the fudge? He then takes off the ref’s belt and whips Shawn with it. Choke with the belt by Diesel. He then slings Shawn over the ropes and hangs him with the belt. Camera angle is good and makes it look like Shawn isn’t sitting on the apron.

Diesel ties the belt to the rope, still attached to Shawn’s head, wipes out Howard Finkel, grabs his chair, and smacks Shawn with it. Shawn is freed from the belt. In the ring, Diesel hits him a few more times with the chair. The old “Swing with a chair, miss and hit the ropes, resulting in you accidentally hitting yourself” spot that I *hate* is used by Nash. Shawn has a chance to fight back and grabs the chair, but Diesel stops that with a low blow. Baaaaaaaaaack body drop by Diesel and now he kicks arrogantly at Shawn then covers for two. Now a head-vise. Slug-out by Shawn, but Diesel clobbers him down. Shawn won’t stay down, so Diesel sort of dumps him through the ropes. To the floor, Nash picks up Shawn and Jackknife Powerbombs him through the announce table. This was shocking stuff for 1996. Diesel grabs the title belt and puts it on, but the ref says it’s not over. Shawn fights to his feet… perhaps a little too quickly… and sprays Diesel in the face with a fire extinguisher. Flying forearm, nip-up, but no flying elbow as Shawn grabs a chair and smashes Nash a couple times with it. Diesel fights back and hits a big boot to Michaels. Diesel calls for the end, but Shawn fights out of the Jackknife with some punches. Flying elbow and Shawn tunes up the band. Sweet Chin Music is caught and Nash hits a Cactus Jack-style clothesline. The announcers (McMahon and Lawler) are now using hand-mics because Nash and Michaels have totaled their table and all of their equipment. Both guys get up and Nash dumps Shawn over the top and to the floor. Diesel follows him out by dropping him across the guardrail. Diesel tosses him back into the ring, then heads out to grab Mad Dog Vachon, rips off his wooden leg, and stalks Shawn with it. Shawn hits a low blow to escape that, grabs the wooden leg, and smashes Diesel with it. Sweet Chin Music finishes.
**** Better then I remember it being, but not as good as most people say it was. I would still give the edge to Bret/Diesel from the 1995 Survivor Series as Kevin Nash’s best match, but this was close.

Match #5: WWE Championship
(c) Shawn Michaels vs. Mankind
9/22/96 In Your House: Mind Games

Match-ups don’t get anymore random then this. The original plan for this show had been for Shawn to face Vader in a return match and for Mankind to face Marc Mero of all people. Thankfully, we got this instead. Shawn grabs a headlock but gets thrown off the ropes and into an elbow. Baaaaaaack body-drop by Mankind and a cactus clothesline. Mankind tries to expose the concrete but Shawn dropkicks him, covering him with the mat, then stomping him. Crossbody off the top to the outside. Big clothesline bounces Mankind’s head off the concrete. Inside, Shawn hits a sledge off the top and avoids Mankind’s spinning clothesline. Scoopslam, elbow off the second rope this early? Shawn goes for Sweet Chin Music, but Mankind bails to the floor, landing on the concrete. Back in, Shawn punches away, but Mankind gets a single-leg takedown. Shawn rolls on top and starts to throw stiff punches. Mankind locks in a rear-naked choke, trying to force the Mandible Claw on. Shawn fights out but gets punched out. Mankind gets pissed and dumps Shawn to the outside. Mankind moves the Spanish table towards the ring, but Shawn jumps over it to attack Mankind. Shawn then suplexes him onto the steel stairs. Sick ass bump. Mankind gets onto the casket that brought him to the ring. Shawn brawls with him onto that, then into the ring where he shoves the ref. Dragon-screw leg-whip and a figure-four as Mankind freaks out. Foley gets out but HBK dropkicks his knee. Michaels works on a knee cruncher, then into a half-crab while some shitty-ass ECW fans in Philly chant “Boring!” What friggin’ morons. Shawn gets a rollup for two. He goes for a rana, but Mankind hotshots him into the ropes. Paul Bearer hands Mankind a pencil to stab his own leg with to get feeling in it. Foley sure played the character with gusto. Cactus smash into the corner.

Now Foley is brawling, pounding Michaels onto the mat. Shawn tries to fight back but Mankind fights him down some more. Shawn fights back by tripping Mankind, but Foley sends him flying into the ropes and into a tree-of-woe. Mankind drops a couple of elbows on Michaels, and then drops a leg. Mankind hits a running big boot which sends Shawn over the top and out to the floor. Mankind misses a charge and runs into the ring stairs. Shawn then drop-toe holds Foley into the stairs. That looks awesome. Shawn tries to suplex Mankind back into the ring, but they reverse it a couple times and Mankind ends up KOing himself on the ring post. Powerslam gets two for Shawn, but he telegraphs a backdrop. Shawn sends Mick into the ropes, which causes Mankind to get caught in a hangman! Shawn goes to attack and walks into the CLAW! Damn, this match rules. On the outside, Mick grabs the claw again, but Shawn fights off by sending him into the guardrail. Shawn fights Mankind down with a chair then smashes Mankind’s FINGERS WITH IT! Psychology! Shawn bites on the fingers, then stomps them, then twists them. SUPER STIFF stomps on the fingers to disable Mankind’s claw. Paul Bearer is crying at ringside, “NOT YOUR HAND!” Shawn misses a charge and gets thrown over the top rope and onto the concrete. Foley hits his big elbow off the apron and on the concrete. Then Mankind hits a swinging neckbreaker on the concrete. Shawn tries to get back in the ring but Mankind drops a leg on him. Double arm DDT gets two. Stump-pulling piledriver gets two and two. Amateur rollup gets two.

Mankind gets pissed and pulls his hair out. He throws a couple steel chairs into the ring, and then opens the casket. Shawn and Mick brawl in the casket, and now Shawn’s back. THREE AND A HALF MOVES OF DOOM~! Flying forearm, nip-up, scoopslam, sledge off the top rope for two. Mankind catches Shawn climbing and crotches him. Mankind tries to hit a backdrop suplex off the top rope through the table on the outside, but Shawn reverses into a crossbody through the announce table. Both guys quickly recover.Paul Bearer distracts the referee, so Mankind grabs a chair, but Shawn jumps on another chair and hits Sweet Chin Music onto the chair into Mick from the top rope.  Friggin’ awesome with extra awesome sauce. Shawn covers but here comes Vader and the match is a DQ. Shawn takes out Vader, but gets KOed by Paul Bearer. Sycho Sid runs in to make the save. Undertaker magically pops out of the casket to kill Mankind.
***** One of the best matches of all-time, even with the lame ending. Mick Foley’s best match and one of many great five-star matches from Shawn in 1996. Hell, he proved he wasn’t joking by having a five-star match with friggin’ SID two months later. But don’t think Mick was carried. Both guys were at their absolute prime right here.

Match #6: Hell in a Cell
Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker
10/5/97 In Your House: Badd Blood

Before the match, Michaels flips out and begs for mercy, but Sgt. Slaughter is there to tell him to suck it up and take it like a man. Undertaker starts stalking Michaels, this time less like the Terminator and more like Michael Myers. In the ring, the match starts and Michaels tries to get a quick start, but Taker big boots him down. A couple rams on the turnbuckle, followed by a chokeslam attempt, but Michaels fights out and starts to gain the advantage. No use, Taker fights off. Clothesline down and Taker gets a halfhearted cover. Arm ringer and shoulderblocks, followed by the ropewalk. Taker starts to choke Shawn, and the ref can’t break it up. Duh, it’s no DQ. Scoopslam and leg drop gets two. Backdrop and Shawn’s feet hit the roof of the cell. Taker tries to fight out, but Taker dumps him outside and into the cage. Shawn climbs the cage, trying to find any place to escape, but there is no way out. Taker flings Shawn off the cage, then into the cage, and then clotheslines him down. He repeats the cage-clothesline spot. Undertaker tries to powerbomb Michaels into the ring post, but HBK fights out with punches. Taker counters that by slamming Michaels into the cage. Then into the stairs, where Taker lays some punches in. Ram into the post, then into the corner of the cage, then into the post, then in the corner again. Fans loved that spot. Taker tries to use Shawn’s head as a battering ram, but Michaels gets out. Clothesline by Taker stops any comeback. They reverse a quick sequence and Michaels ends up mounting Taker for some punches. Shawn then rolls back into the ring. Undertaker ends up hitting a hangman on the ropes. Undertaker tries to get back in, but Michaels knocks Taker HARD into the cage. Suicida through the ropes onto Undertaker. Shawn climbs the cage and drops an elbow. Flying forearm off the apron, and now Shawn picks of the stairs and starts pounding. Shawn then PILEDRIVES Undertaker on the stairs, and Taker hits with a very audible THUNK! This match is amazing. Shawn starts to stomps away, and then hits a sledge off thetop to the outside. Shawn’s getting cocky, and you know what that means. He grabs a chair, which is how the feud started, first at Summerslam (see Disc #1) then on Raw (see highlights between matches). Shawn wacks the Undertaker in the back a few times, then disposes of the chair. He covers for two, but Taker powers out. Undertaker fights back, but Shawn ties him up in the ropes, and now he’s getting really cocky. Taker fights off a clothesline with a boot to the face, then backdrops him out of the ring onto a cameraman.

Shawn’s pissed that the cameraman broke his fall or something like that, so he kicks the crap out of him on the outside, thus giving them an excuse to open the cage and get the injured plant… er… worker… er… cameraman out. Inside the ring, THREE AND A HALF MOVES OF DOOM time as Shawn hits the flying forearm, nips up, and then hits the flying elbow drop. The cage door gets opened while Shawn tunes up the band. Sweet Chin Music completes the sequence, but Undertaker ZOMBIES UP right away, and now he’s really pissed. Shawn’s scared now, and he bails and escapes the cage. He tries to knock out Undertaker on the outside, but gets catapulted into the cage, and now Shawn’s bleeding. Undertaker uses Shawn as a battering ram on the cell, giving him two brutal bumps into the cage, but Shawn fights out of a third one with a low blow. Now Shawn wants to get away from Taker, so he climbs the cage, kicking at the Undertaker. Undertaker keeps coming after him like a horror movie monster. On top of the cage and Shawn gets backdropped. Man, if he was 100lbs heavier, that cage would have broken. Thank god they would never let anyone like that happen. Press-slam on top of the cage, and now Shawn’s trying to climb down, but Undertaker fights him off and Shawn crashes through the table. Undertaker then climbs down and throws HBK into the other table. He then throws Shawn off the top of that table into the broken one. Man, this is just crazy stuff, and more meaningful ultimately then Foley’s bumps during the second Hell in the Cell at King of the Ring.

Shawn’s a bloody mess, and now they’re back inside the ring. Clothesline by Undertaker, while Earl Hebner padlocks the door shut. Undertaker chokeslams Shawn off the top rope and then grabs a chair, just to complete the revenge. Shawn feeds Taker a brutal shot to his head. Undertaker calls for the Tombstone, but the lights go out and Kane makes his WWE debut. They have a stare off, and Undertaker is stunned. Kane sets off his ring pyro, then Tombstones Taker down, knocking him out. Shawn covers for the three.
***** And I’ll tell you why. People think the finish ruined the match. Well sorry, but Shawn was a month away from being WWE Champion again, Undertaker was moving on to the Kane feud, and neither guy really should have jobbed clean. The ending debuted Kane, who’s been in the WWE for over thirteen years now so it’s not like it was some random interference. Everything before the finish was as perfect as you can get in a grudge match where no titles are on the line between two guys who are supposed to HATE each other. This was the match of the year of 1997 and is still the best Hell in a Cell match.

Match #7: Non Sanctioned Street Fight
Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels
8/28/02 Summerslam

I have to confess, I expected NOTHING from this match going into it, and I’m one of the biggest HBK fans out there. At this point, Shawn Michaels was over four years removed from a match and this was billed as being ‘non sanctioned.’ Plus, Triple H at this point was still sort of in the middle of his comeback from the original quad injury and outside of one decent Hell in a Cell match with Chris Jericho, had been stinking up the joint for several months. If you further consider that this was originally planned to be Shawn Michaels vs. Vince McMahon, and knowing what kind of matches McMahon is usually in, who would have ever thought that this would be anything but a brawl? Well, it was a brawl, but it was SO much more.

To the match, as Shawn gets one of the coolest entrances ever, but watching this I still doubted this would be any good. Shawn jumps Trips to start and slugs it out. Trips dumps Shawn but HBK lands on his feet and dives back in for a spear and punching. Shoot-off by Shawn but he walks into a shoulderblock. Shawn, wearing jeans, barely gets up high enough for a leapfrog and Trips gets dumped to the floor. Then Shawn hits a plancha and I’m starting to feel good about this match. Shawn mounts some punches on the ground. Trips walks into a knee but fights off Trips and throws him into the ring post. In the ring, Trips bails so Shawn rolls out and clotheslines him on the floor. Shawn grabs a garbage can and I’m thinking this is going to start to suck at this point. Trips goes low with a knee and then drops Shawn onto the guardrail. Garbage lid to the head by Shawn and then he skins the cat and I’m marking out again. Garbage can to the head and Shawn climbs and hits a sledge. Shawn tunes up the band and goes for the Superkick, but Trips hits a sick looking backbreaker. Another sickening backbreaker and now I’m marking out because I know Shawn is going to have a few more matches and this won’t be a one time only thing. Hard whip to the corner by Trips and Shawn sells it like death, although according to his biography, he was just a little sore after the match. Another hard whip to the corner. Crotch chop by Trips for huge heat and then a punch. Trips fires off a few elbow drops to the back and covers for two. Trips grabs a chair and smashes it on Shawn’s back and now I’m cringing huge. I mean, he hadn’t wrestled in four years because his BACK EXPLODED IN A MATCH! First match back and he’s bumping like a mad man on his back.

Shawn fights off a suplex with a rollup for two. Slug-out but Shawn lowers his head into a facebuster. DDT on a chair by Triple H, and a nasty looking one, for two. Why did he quit working the back? Because it was a good excuse for Shawn to bleed! Duh! Trips grabs a belt off of Shawn and whips him with it, then smacks at the cut on the head with Shawn’s belt buckle. Punch to the head and Shawn should be dead at this point. Trips bails and looks around for a weapon. He takes a while and finds what he wanted, the sledge hammer. Shawn kicks to avoid it, slugs it out, and Trips finally drops the hammer. Hard whip to the corner and Trips grabs an abdominal stretch. And man does he slap it on. Vicious angle to hold it at. Trips grabs the ropes for leverage. The referee can’t stop him for doing it, but damnit, it’s not right! Earl Hebner and Trips jaw at each other. Earl looks like he’s going to have a heart attack. Shawn tries to slug it out but Trips stops him and puts him on the top rope. Shawn fights out of it. Fans get to their feet. Shawn is selling the back injury like death. Trips pushes the ref into the ropes. Shawn is hung up in the ropes, so Trips grabs the chair and hits Shawn across the back with it. Man, this is brutal. He then unfolds the chair and gives Shawn a backbreaker on the chair. It only gets a two, then another two, then another two. The chair is seriously destroyed from the backbreaker, so Trips stomps it down and then gives Shawn a sidewalk slam onto the nasty bent up, jagged metal chair… for two. Then another two, and then another two. Trips is getting mucho pissed now. Triple H goes for the Pedigree on the chair but Shawn manages a low blow. Double KO spot. Trips grabs a chair and stalks at Shawn, only to eat Sweet Chin Music. Another double KO spot. Trips is bleeding a gusher now. Shawn quit bleeding a while ago. Slug-out by Shawn, flying forearm, nip-up… with the biggest ovation that move ever got in his career… then a backdrop on the chair by Shawn. HBK grabs a chair and plasters Triple H with it. Shawn tosses Triple H over the ropes and to the floor. He grabs a trash can lid and smacks Trips with it, then grabs the belt and whips Trips around. Shawn beats Trips to the table with a garbage can lid, then rips off the Spanish Announcer’s boot and smacks Trips with it. I think that move is reserved for Kliq vs. Kliq matches. Bulldog on the steel stairs by Shawn. Next up, he grabs a ladder. HUGE pop for that. Shawn uses it as a battering ram to Trips, and then slams him to the gut with it. Trips tries to whip him into the ladder but Shawn puts the breaks on and ends up catapulting Trips into it for two. Trips gets tossed into the ring, but he manages to baseball slide the ladder into Shawn on the outside. Shawn recovers and hits a superplex on Trips, turning in midair to not land on his back, for two. Rollup by Shawn for two. Shawn’s still selling the back (granted, somewhat off and on). High knee by Trips for two. Trips grabs the stairs and bring them in, but Shawn drop-toe holds him into the stairs. Shawn dumps Trips over the ropes and to the outside, with Trips nearly breaking his ankle landing the ladder. Shawn grabs a table and preps it. Fire extinguisher shot to Trips. Shawn put Trips into the table, then climbs the ropes (noting to the fans that he’s crazy), and splashes Triple H through the table. At this point, watching this live, I was marking out huge. At that point, I knew Shawn Michaels was coming back to wrestling full-time. There was no question. Shawn preps the ladder in the ring and drops an elbow off of it. Shawn decides it’s time to tune up the band. Trips catches the Superkick, KICK WHAM PEDIGREE~!!, but Shawn flips out of that and pins Triple H with a bridge.
***** And anyone who disagrees with me be damned. This was entertaining from start to finish. Not a technical masterpiece. That said, a garbage brawl with every possible high spot mixed in with… gasp… actual psychology? It was a pleasure to watch live, and it still holds up. And really, name one wrestler besides Shawn Michaels who could leave wrestling for over four years and come back with THIS. Not even Ric Flair.

Bottom Line: An easy thumbs up, and if you can snag a free copy of this with the latest Shawn Michaels release, good for you. Granted, four of the seven matches are on other compilation WWE DVDs, but if somehow have managed to miss all of them, this is the set to get.

Yes goddamnit, the Hogan review is coming.

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