Saturday, February 7, 2009

Shawn Michaels: Heartbreak & Triumph- Part I

First an intro: I, like most kids when they started watching wrestling in the 80's started out caring for the obvious, goofy, over the top antics of Hulk Hogan, but once i started becoming an avid fan, absorbing all I could about wrestling, that love quickly faded. Anything I found that was new and undiscovered became my new obsession: World Class on ESPN every day, then AWA, then USWA, then Global, found NWA in late '88, then through that discovered Japan. But, I think a fine and maturing moment in a young fan's life is when he first falls for a heel: and Shawn Michaels was my first true heel love. I'm speaking of course when he turned on Marty at the Barbershop. Since then, he has been a favorite among milllions and millions of not just hardcore fans, but passive fans, children, all ages of fans, and even his peers. His in ring accumen may never be topped, he will go down as one of the best if not the top of the stack, as far as in ring performers. But, as great as he is, his out of the ring behavior and famous fits from early in his career will always be a negative that hampers his star so to speak That's always made Shawn the double sided coin, the lightning rod for contraversy, if you will. Regardless of how you feel about him, and I know people on both sides of the fence and they all feel strongly in their regards, he has acheived a great number of things, impressed a ton of memories into fan's minds and created some wonderful moments in wrestling history. But, we here at NHO examine the work; so I must, as our new president Barack Obama says, "put away childish things," such as my love for HBK and do just that: never hand over on this review.

I won't go into detail on the documentary portion of this DVD because it's much more engaging when you can see one for the first time, instead of reviews where the whole thing is written out, but it's pretty long, 2 hours run time. They spend a few minutes on almost every aspect or major feud of Shawn's career, inside and out of the ring. One thing that really irks me though is the whole Montreal incident, it's handled differently on every DVD WWE produces, depending on who the star of it is and at this point it's almost as if Bret had it coming from their point of view. Michaels even gets vindicated by several people saying "he did business" and "he's tried to mend fences with Bret, so it's out of his hands." Anybody forget how Bret was treated during his last year in the company? If so, re-watch Wrestling with Shadows. I'm not going to get on a soapbox here (like Adam did back in the day over ECW One Night Stand) because the last time that happened (see previous statement in parentheses), the damn thing fell through! Anyways, hope you enjoy the review as much as I did watching this amazing performer.


1) Shawn Michaels v. Billy Jack Haynes (World Class, 01/11/85)- 1

Time of Match: 1:26

There's really nothing to say here. Michaels was sort of heelish, he did a backflip at one point and celebrated but got caught in the full nelson for the finish. The Announcers said he just wanted them to get his name right; but they didn't.

2) The Midnight Rockers v. Doug Somers/ Buddy Rose (AWA Tag Team Titles, 01/27/87)- 5

Time of Match: 20:06

This was one of the hotter tag feuds to happen in AWA, especially in the later parts of the fed's history, hell it was one of the hottest things they had near the end. But, alas, this doesn't hold up compared to some of their other battles, incl. the famous cage match. This was the Rockers last shot at the belts after chasing them for a year. Rockers defined babyface here. Really basic stuff done with a lot of enthusiasm went a long way with this crowd. Let's look at the heels: Rose was really over the top, selling and execution of his ridiculous overly-exaggerated elbows and stomps. Somers was a classic heel, distracting the ref, cheap shots in the throat (when they meant something) and choking with tag rope, etc. Michaels was the one taking the brunt of the abuse, but they kept him outside for long periods of time which kind of simmered the crowd and dulled the heat they could have had had they left him in the ring to be double-teamed and what not. Marty's hot tag was slow and unimpressive but the double team finish left a nice parting image in my head. Aftermatch promo was inspired and this gets a bonus point for historical sake.

3) The Midnight Rockers v. Super Ninja/ Ninja Go (AWA Wrestling, 06/12/87)- 4

Time of Match: 17:21

First we cut to some announcer hijinx: Ron Tronguard showing ridiculous photos of himself at fan signings. No thanks. Rockers have this crowd pumped up pretty well, but they look haggard; like they just came off a 5 day coke binge. Michaels is sweaty and unshaven and Jannetty looks like he could sleep for a day with a minute's notice. Nontheless, despite the goofy gimmicks and bad costumes, the Ninjas were decent heels. They took armdrags really well, flying across the ring but letting themselves be controlled. They can over sell for the faces in the right spots, kept their offense simple, cut the ring in half on the faces and let Michaels distract the ref as they double team Marty. In a strange moment, Shawn comes in to motivate Marty to make the tag by slapping the shit out of him about 6 times in a row, then right after he takes an unintentional shot from Super Ninja and gets pissed and drops character to go after him, not selling the strike at all. The end gets pretty sloppy but Shawn shows real poise in the ring for the comeback and brings some charisma to the role and shows his future ring leadership capabilities. Ninja Go looks like the guy with the giant whip in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Really bad costume.

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