Connect with us

Opinion

8-Match Tag: The Ballad of Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker

Published

on

WWE The Undertaker Shawn Michaels WrestleMania 26

I’m Sean. You’re not. Welcome back to 8-Match Tag, my personal compendium of short-and-sweet personal playlists for new and well-read wrestling fans alike from the archives of WWE Network.

Let’s now journey just barely more than 20 years into the past and observe the eight essential milestones comprising a legendary feud that stands up today as a touchstone defining the finest hours in the careers of two storied icons. This cyclical saga’s sun dawns and sets with a show-stopping, controversial supernova of charisma holding an ultimately relentless rival’s destiny in the palm of his hand. The battles falling between the catalyst and culmination of their conflict brought out nothing less than each man’s best, despite nine years passing without their paths crossing and a combined 15 years separating the trailblazing first salvos and bittersweet punctuation of their story.

If I somehow haven’t made this evident, we now chronicle one of my all-time favorite arcs ever to emanate from any era or company in professional wrestling history. This is the ballad of Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker.


WWF SUMMERSLAM – August 3, 1997
WWF CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
The Undertaker © vs. Bret “The Hitman” Hart, w/ special guest referee Shawn Michaels

As the now-former World Wrestling Federation approached SummerSlam in August 1997, few could have foreseen back-to-back marquee matches altering the path for the company’s ensuing 20 years atop the professional wrestling landscape.

In one, a catastrophically botched Owen Hart piledriver nearly crippled “Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s and set the stage for the Texas Rattlesnake’s pivotal 1999 neck surgery and the eventual onset of spinal stenosis which would combine to bring the curtain down on the career of wrestling history’s single most popular, impactful and profitable star.

In another, WWF Champion the Undertaker’s second reign with the belt met the challenge of Bret “The Hitman” Hart. Since 1996, Hart’s storylines had blurred backstage acrimony and frustration with a bizarre heel turn that saw Bret booed without mercy in the United States and heralded as practically a conquering national hero in his native Canada. Michaels often dove without hesitation into the center of Hart’s all-too-real professional frustrations and offering an increasingly loathsome character foil, but on this night, he would shape all three men’s oncoming paths. After extensive antagonization, the Heartbreak Kid stepped up as special guest referee just as Hart had declared that, should he fail to wrest the WWF Championship from the Deadman, America would see the last of the Excellence of Execution.

There was just one additional catch: HBK called Hart’s bet by announcing that he too would never again wrestle on U.S. soil if he showed blatant favoritism to the champion.

It truly is a crying shame Hart worked so relatively few major matches opposite the Undertaker. Both displayed a consummate commitment to hard-hitting, physically grueling matches executed to closely resemble a believable donnybrook – yes, even the one portraying a wrestling zombie. This was absolutely no exception. The pair demanded minimal suspension of disbelief. Their pacing rarely allowed the tension to waver for a second. Best of all, the match’s entire narrative wove Michaels’ stakes seamlessly into Hart and the Undertaker’s own, advancing several stories concurrently without one ever seeming poised to overshadow the others. In the end, Hart’s animosity toward Michaels boiled over in the form of a single finely aimed loogie landed squarely in HBK’s face. Michaels offered a receipt in the form of a swing-for-the-fences blast with the steel chair he had only just confiscated from the Hitman – a blow which jacked the Undertaker’s skull when Hart deftly slipped out of the way. Bret went for the cover. His arch-enemy reluctantly counted the fall.

The fallout is the stuff of legend, almost enough so to overshadow one of the most timelessly watchable main events in the company’s history. Hart’s fifth and final reign as WWF Champion would come to an ignominious end three months later against Michaels himself at Survivor Series in the sea-changing Montreal Screwjob, after which the Hitman would end his storied career with a WCW tenure lasting from 1997 until a tragic concussion forced him into retirement in 2000.

As for Michaels? Before holding the WWF Championship for a third and final time, he would embark on a collision course that would eventually lead him through Hell and back.


WWF IN YOUR HOUSE: GROUND ZERO – September 7, 1997
Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker

“Shawn Michaels, you’re going to have to look me in the eyes, and you are going to have to pay for your crimes,” the Undertaker prophesied in the wake of SummerSlam.

Unsurprisingly, Michaels wasn’t exactly impressed.

“You’re either with me or against me. Take your pick,” HBK declared. “The Undertaker is going down in a blaze of fire.”

Michaels boldly defined that line in the sand by proudly raining down two thunderous blasts with a steel chair onto the Deadman’s cranium on “Monday Night Raw”, both of which made the assault at SummerSlam look like tee ball batting practice. Naturally, the Undertaker sat bolt-upright and seared a hole in Michaels and HBK’s two newly joined D-Generation X companions Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Chyna with his cold, dark eyes. Appropriately, Michaels and the Undertaker were then tabbed to close In Your House: Ground Zero – a main event somewhat ironically preceded by Bret Hart defending his newly won WWF Championship against The Patriot, match inspired by Michaels previously costing Hart a televised match against the red, white and blue contender.

The Undertaker was a gigantic, heavy-hitting mauler with a relentlessly methodical offensive approach and uncanny agility that seemed fascinatingly misplaced on a man standing 6 feet 10 inches tall and weighing in over 300 pounds. Michaels’ electrifying personality and brash bravado complimented legendary high-flying assaults and no shortage of technical wrestling proficiency – not entirely unlike Hart in many ways except his once-notorious toxic attitude. In hindsight, it should have come as no surprise that these two well-traveled veterans would display instantaneous chemistry far outstripping the theoretical limitations of their differences. Whereas Hart tried to scientifically dissect the Undertaker, Michaels opted to remain abusive and elusive. When he finally had nowhere left to run, HBK proceeded to sell a brutal hammering at the Deadman’s hands.

This was no mindless brawl. It was the prelude to two masters of in-ring psychology diving a level deeper into their bags of tricks. Of the eight milestone matches involving these two men, it baffles me how rarely this first significant confrontation falls under the radar. Before a conclusion marred by interference, Michaels and the Undertaker had made their point: we hadn’t seen anything close to the best of either of them yet. This encounter was violent, wild and more than entertaining enough by a solid margin to top Ground Zero’s bill without a single championship on the line. Still, it left unfinished business neither man could abide. Desperate times called for desperate, unheard-of measures.


WWF IN YOUR HOUSE: BAD BLOOD – October 5, 1997
HELL IN A CELL
Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker

A mere ring could not contain the volcanic animosity between these two. When last they met in a one-on-one confrontation, their fight culminated in the WWF locker room spilling onto the arena floor to separate the Undertaker from Michaels, Helmsley and Chyna after an inconclusive no-contest. For their efforts, the assembled would-be peacemakers were wiped out by the Undertaker leaping cleanly over the top rope and flattening them all like bowling pins decked out in late-1990s street clothes. Finality would call for something unprecedented in the annals of the World Wrestling Federation.

It’s one of those moments wrestling fans of nearly any age in the late 90s will never forget. Some were closely familiar with War Games, a covered chain-link cage covering two rings and entrapping rival teams of four or five men who entered one at a time. This was an evolved beast, a mammoth roofed enclosure lowered over both the ring itself and most of the perimeter outside it. The structure’s objective? Seal two fierce enemies locked at their breaking points inside and leave no means for any third party to enter the fray.

Jim Ross, one of the company’s most esteemed announcers, often referred to it as “the Devil’s Playground” with reverent hyperbole. In the beginning, it was simply known as Hell in a Cell.

Before WWE watered down the gimmick into an annual pay-per-view event that hasn’t always featured feuds suited to its violent legacy, Hell in a Cell was the nuclear option. When disdain outlived wrestling’s most torturous stipulations (cage matches, bullrope matches, street fights, etc.) and left two enemies with no other path for conclusively settling a grudge…Hell would await. That was the bar set by Michaels and the Undertaker in St. Louis that evening. Without Helmsley, Chyna or “Ravishing” Rick Rude by his side and a remorseless reaper in black standing across the ring from him, Michaels struggled to survive while the crowd relished seeing the Deadman finally beat vengeful blood from HBK without realistically expecting an interruption. The Showstopper sold a beating for the ages while the Undertaker himself got over Michaels’ own tide-turning offense and experienced cunning to maintain the war’s unpredictability, especially when Shawn eventually finagled an escape from the titanic torture chamber.

Naturally, if a man can get out…a demon could find its way inside. With the Undertaker poised to impact a dent shaped like Michaels’ cranium in the mat with a Tombstone, the lights went black. Flames erupted. The Deadman’s nemesis and former manager Paul Bearer strode down the aisle with a Goliath clad head-to-toe in red and black behind him. The beast tore the door from its hinges, stood face-to-face with the Undertaker and promptly destroyed him with a Tombstone of his own, leaving Michaels to limply cover him for a three-count. Kane, the Undertaker’s presumed-dead younger brother, had come to settle old accounts.

For the time being, the book had been closed on HBK. However, it wouldn’t take long for one consuming feud to entangle itself with another.


WWF ROYAL RUMBLE – January 18, 1998
WWF CHAMPIONSHIP CASKET MATCH
Shawn Michaels © vs. The Undertaker

By the 1998 Royal Rumble, circumstance had upped this seemingly ceaseless rivalry’s ante an additional order of magnitude. In an instant destined to live in infamy amidst the WWF Championship’s hallowed history, Michaels had controversially stolen one last reign atop the mountain from Bret Hart at Survivor Series the previous November. In the meantime, the Undertaker had seemingly made amends with his brother after months of being challenged to a face-off apparently decades in the making. That left the Deadman seemingly free and clear to pursue a third WWF Championship in another specialized encounter he had previously pioneered: a casket match.

In order to win, one man would have to dump the other into an oversized casket situated at ringside and close the lid. No count-out, disqualification, pinfall or submission would otherwise end the match. Keep that in mind. One day, I just might count down my favorite occasions during which that loophole bit the Undertaker squarely on his cold, dead ass.

While a satisfyingly and typically brutal affair between two men seemingly incapable of working a patently unwatchable match together, this main-event spectacle bears unfortunate historical significance beyond being the final clash between Michaels and the Undertaker for nine years. At one point, Michaels took a seemingly routine spill over the top rope and slammed his back against the perpendicular edge where one of the casket’s sides met its lid. On an initial viewing without context, the impact doesn’t appear terribly traumatic – painful, but one wouldn’t think it anything to write home about.

Beneath the surface, that spot herniated two discs in Shawn’s back and completely crushed another. Despite retaining his championship when Kane and Bearer emerged to seal the Undertaker inside the casket and set it ablaze after the match, Shawn Michaels would not wrestle a one-on-one match again until dropping the belt to “Stone Cold” Steve Austin at WrestleMania XIV months later. Putting Austin over would give way to a four-year retirement and the universally accepted belief that HBK would never set foot as an active competitor inside a ring again.


WWE ROYAL RUMBLE – January 28, 2007
THE ROYAL RUMBLE MATCH FINALE

Fate was not yet finished with this tale. Not by a long shot.

I refuse to pretend the closing triad of matches finishing this feud once and for all were already planned three years before the first of them took place. Every so often, things simply fall into order that way. In 2002, Shawn Michaels returned to WWE a drastically changed, redeemed man. Over the course of five intervening years, he rode what was to be a one-off career finale against former friend and DX running mate Triple H at SummerSlam into five years of stellar matches that surpassed even some of his most thrilling matches of the 90s as a standard-bearer for the company, including a brief reign as World Heavyweight Champion and an unforgettable WrestleMania XX main event war with Triple H and Chris Benoit. During that same time, the Undertaker returned to his ominous “Deadman” persona at WrestleMania XX after several years as a no-nonsense biker with a penchant for beating down anyone who dared slide a toe into his yard.

As the field dwindled in the 2007 Royal Rumble match with a punched ticket to a WrestleMania 23 championship match hanging in the balance, time stood still. The bloodied Undertaker sat up. An exhausted, rubber-legged Michaels, appropriately clad once more in the green and black of D-Generation X, kipped up to his feet. For the first time in almost 10 years, they locked eyes across an empty ring – two defiant, battle-hardened Texans renewing their war before a suddenly unglued San Antonio crowd. For seven more minutes of gapless action, both turned back the clock to 1997 and delivered quite possibly the most thrilling Royal Rumble conclusion the match has ever seen. Each narrowly averted elimination over the top rope several times. The Undertaker flattened Michaels with a downright sadistic chokeslam. HBK appeared to turn the tide with pinpoint-perfect Sweet Chin Music. As he found his feet and moved in for one more superkick to seal a record-setting third Royal Rumble victory, the Undertaker ducked under and ousted Michaels for his first.

In Detroit at WrestleMania 23, it was Michaels who would close out the Showcase of the Immortals in a fantastic WWE Championship match against John Cena. Earlier in the evening, the Undertaker would take the World Heavyweight Championship from Batista in an astounding match whose quality was purportedly elevated by both men resenting a perceived backseat taken to Cena and Michaels, complete with Batista allegedly screaming “Let’s see them top that!” as he returned backstage. However, Michaels and the Undertaker perhaps had not yet realized what their performance in January had already insinuated: their story wasn’t finished after all.


WRESTLEMANIA 25 – April 5, 2009
Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker

As the road to WrestleMania’s diamond-anniversary celebration drew nearer to its ultimate destination in Houston, HBK walked tall with the backbone of a rejuvenated man with a new-found mission after winning his freedom from a demoralizing period of indentured servitude to John “Bradshaw” Layfield. In the midst of the personal identity crisis that plagued him as the well-heeled Texan held Michaels’ financial soul in the palm of his hand, he was once briefly confronted by his greatest adversary with a succinct, pointed message: “It is sometimes hell trying to get to Heaven.”

With his freedom restored, Michaels trained his gaze toward a WrestleMania homecoming with a single point to prove: he was still the Showstopper…the icon…the headliner…the quintessential main event. As far as he was concerned, there was but one way to leave no doubt. Once more, he would have to do what many declared “impossible” and etch his name upon unbroken ground.
As far he was concerned, he was destined to bury the Undertaker’s unparalleled undefeated WrestleMania record. He would forever be acknowledged as the “1” in “16-1.” A legion of champions, giants and legends had fallen at the Deadman’s feet on the Grandest Stage of Them All. However, the Phenom had never bested Mr. WrestleMania where his unbridled, unrivaled talent had always shone brightest.

In the weeks leading to WrestleMania 25, Michaels reminded the Undertaker time and again that his ever-present psychological warfare had never worn down a fighting spirit or warrior’s will quite like his own. Instead, Michaels repeatedly laid the Deadman flat on his back with his most devastating blow, Sweet Chin Music. If veteran spectators hadn’t known better, we could have sworn HBK had accomplished the unthinkable and planted his own seed of doubt within the Undertaker’s head.

“That might have been the one to end it on,” Michaels would tell a WWE interviewer years later. “If that wasn’t perfect, that’s as close as you can get.”

After over 30 minutes of drama and impeccably paced storytelling by which all headlining WrestleMania bouts henceforth should be measured, Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker had declared they were no longer two proud men vying for one-another’s professional respect. The years had meticulously shaped them into two consummate artists who had risen above and beyond having each earned such respective admiration. Triple H and Randy Orton faced the unenviable mountain that year of having to follow a match for the ages. Both have since conceded, the it was a fool’s errand. Without a single wasted motion, Michaels and the Undertaker imbued every spot and sequence with a deliberate structure. One expression and mannerism after another shaded in each man’s path toward victory and defeat.

This was wrestling artistry. However, it was not how this story was fated to end.


WRESTLEMANIA 26 – March 28, 2010
CAREER VERSUS STREAK
Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker

You know something? Absolutely nothing I could conceivably write here would encompass the ascent from WrestleMania 25’s undeniable masterpiece to this poignant chapter better than this. I tried for hours.

When WWE gives enough of a damn, nobody builds a big-fight feel quite like them.

Two years earlier, Shawn Michaels penned the final in-ring WWE chapter of his idol, mentor and friend, “Nature Boy” Ric Flair. It ended with Flair rising to his feet, dukes up, demanding that HBK hold nothing back and finish him as only the Showstopper could. There is a poetic parallel to Michaels, a weathered and crumpled man, pulling himself up the Undertaker’s body to slap the Deadman across the face and deliver his opponent’s signature throat-slice taunt. That Phoenix evening did not surpass their furor from a year prior, despite being a no-disqualification affair. If these two men were to share a ring this way only one last time, they were nevertheless determined to leave an unforgettable impression.

Oh, by the way? This time, they went on last.

Still…the all-encompassing end of an era would have to wait another two years.


WRESTLEMANIA 28 – April 1, 2012
“END OF AN ERA” HELL IN A CELL MATCH
Triple H vs. The Undertaker
Special Guest Referee – Shawn Michaels

Two years had passed. At the very WrestleMania which celebrated Shawn Michaels’ induction into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2011, his closest friend met his indomitable rival for the second time at the Showcase of the Immortals. Triple H had declared their match a meeting to determine who was truly WWE’s “last outlaw” of a generation rapidly aging out of professional wrestling’s rigors. In some sense, it was obviously also a matter of avenging the fall of his compatriot’s career a year prior. He battered and abused the Deadman to such a horrendous degree that, despite succumbing to a deftly timed Hell’s Gate choke sunk in by the Undertaker out of instinct and desperation, it was only the Cerebral Assassin who walked out under his own power.

It took weeks on end of assaults on the Game’s pride for the Undertaker to finally receive the rematch he demanded. He could not abide the image of his limp body being carted from the ring to serve as his enduring legacy. Time and again, Triple H turned to his duty as a newly minted WWE executive to justify his refusal to potentially cripple WWE’s most valuable competitor. When at last he conceded, he invoked a stipulation threaded deeply throughout both men’s careers, the only way to bring closure to this journey: Hell in a Cell.

Fittingly, there was a man who had met both the Undertaker and Triple H inside the sadistic cage and lived to fighter another day. His own career had been defined by each competitor. He had been there from the beginning of this acrimony which had united all three indelibly in WWE history.

Shawn Michaels would be there at the end.

“Remember when I told you Shawn was better than you?” the Undertaker said as he stood face-to-face with the King of Kings, adding a pregnant pause. “He is.”

However, the Deadman also issued a warning to Michaels, once perhaps seasoned with memories of how their war had begun: if he compromised the purity of the match’s decision, he would truly end the Heartbreak Kid once and for all.

That isn’t to say Triple H wouldn’t attempt to turn the tables that evening in Miami. He rained down unholy, bone-breaking violence upon the Undertaker and demanded that HBK stop the match. To his credit, Michaels resisted…right up until he seemingly separated the Undertaker from his senses with Sweet Chin Music and scurried into the ropes as Triple H failed to get a decisive three-count. The battle waged on until a spent Triple H leaned into a turnbuckle and defiantly saluted the Undertaker with a classic D-Generation X chop to his crotch, saying without words, “You’ll have to finish me yourself.”

He did. In the end, it was the image Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker, side by side, helping Triple H to the back which will always punctuate this end to an era.


There was no feud like it before. There will be none like it again. Thank you for joining me. If you have any comments or would like to point out some error, feel free to follow @ComerCodex on Twitter and let me know. Until next week, it’s time to tag out. I’m Sean. You’re not. Never dull your colors for someone else’s canvas.


Always Use Your Head and visit the official Pro Wrestling Tees store for The Chairshot All t-shirt proceeds help support the advancement of your favorite hard-hitting wrestling website, The Chairshot!


Advertisement
Comments

Opinion

My Favorite SummerSlam Matches Over the Years

Published

on

SummerSlam

This was inspired by a topic by another wrestling fansite that I saw yesterday. The topic was: What is your all-time favorite SummerSlam match. Anyone who has ever asked me what my all-time favorite anything will tell you, my answers are always a little complicated because it’s hard for me to pin down one single favorite anything because my favorites change depending on the day, my mood, and what pops into my head. However, I do have several SummerSlam matches that I would consider my favorites.

1. Intercontinental Championship Match: Bret vs The British Bulldog – SummerSlam 1992

This is still considered the greatest Intercontinental Championship Match of All Time, and with good reason. This was an amazing match by both men. The story of their conflict affecting their personal relationship (Davey Boy was Bret’s RL brother-in-law at the time) was a little ‘eh’ but pretty interesting at the time. Watching Davey Boy win the Intercontinental Championship in London, with a HUGE home country crowd cheering for him was amazing. The pop must’ve been deafening LIVE because it was loud on video and Wembley Stadium was open air, so it must’ve been loud.

Where I was: I was nine when this match happened, my parents weren’t into wrestling so I never got to watch PPVs live, but I remember a guy my dad worked with loaning me his taped copy of the PPV and I just remembered being enthralled. The storyline didn’t really interest me, but I remember loving the match.

2. Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match: Triple H vs The Rock – SummerSlam 1998

This is an underrated classic, in my opinion. When people think of Triple H and Rock now, they don’t think ‘ladder match’, which is a shame because this was a really good match. Triple H and Rock were just coming into their own as main event players and were leading feuding factions Degeneration X and Nation of Domination. The ladder match was, admittedly, not as good as the TLC matches that would become legendary a couple of years later, but it was still very good and is definitely worth a watch.

Where I was: I was fifteen when this match happened and saw it later on video. It’s crazy to think of a time when Triple H and the Rock weren’t in the main event scene, let alone being in a ladder match together.

3. WWF Tag Team Championship Tables, Ladders, and Chairs Match: Edge and Christian vs the Dudley Boys vs the Hardy Boys – SummerSlam 2000

The match that launched a hundred careers. This is a legendary match for a very good reason, not only was it great on its own, but it launched six careers outright, spawned several sequels, and would eventually get its own PPV. It was one of those matches where no one really remembers who won (Edge and Christian, BTW), they just remember how crazy the match was. All six guys tore the house down and well-deserve the legendary status the match gave them.

Where I was: I was seventeen in 2000 and would see the highlights on RAW later and when I saw the full match, I was amazed and intrigued by TLC. Ladder matches are still some of my favorite kinds of matches, in part because of TLC.

4. WWF Championship Match: The Rock vs Triple H vs Kurt Angle – SummerSlam 2000

This match is one of my favorites because it was not only a really good match on its own, but I was enamored with the Triple H/Stephanie/Kurt Angle storyline going into it. For those who weren’t watching WWF back then, the storyline revolved around Triple H becoming convinced (with good reason) that Kurt Angle was trying to move in on Stephanie McMahon, who was Triple H’s on-screen wife at the time (they would get married in RL a few years later) while they were both being managed by Stephanie and challenging Rock for the WWF Championship. This was one of the more intriguing storylines of the Attitude Era, which had primarily relied on sex and shock for ratings, rather than interesting storylines, or good wrestling. This was one of those matches where the storyline overshadowed the title, which I normally hate as an adult, but teenage!me was enthralled by the love triangle.

Where I was: As stated above, I was seventeen and getting ready to enter my senior year of high school.

5. Hell in a Cell Match: Edge vs The Undertaker – SummerSlam 2008

This was the culmination of the Edge/Undertaker feud that had been going on since 2007. Edge had done everything imaginable to screw Taker out of the World Heavyweight Championship, thank in large part to his onscreen relationship with SmackDown GM, Vicki Guerrero. Unfortunately, Edge made the HUGE mistake of thinking with the brain between his legs instead of the one between his ears. When Vicki found out that Edge had cheated on her with their ‘wedding planner’, Alicia Fox, she was NOT happy and hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. As the ultimate act of vengeance against her faithless husband, Vicki not only brought back Undertaker, who had been ‘fired’ after Extreme Rules, but put his return match inside Hell in a Cell against Edge.

This match was brutal, even for a Hell in a Cell match. Taker and Edge hit each other with everything but the kitchen sink, though that may have been because no one had thought to put one under the ring. Even the commentators weren’t safe as a spot by Taker actually knocked out a section of the Cell and narrowly missed hitting JR and Tazz, who were doing commentary. Taker would emerge victorious, and would give the WWE Universe one of the most memorable moments in SummerSlam history, when Taker chokeslammed Edge through the ring and flames burst out of the hole.

Where was I: I was 25 when this match happened and watched it on DVD later. I cheered when Edge was chokeslammed to Hell and that Taker was back.

6. Lumberjack Match: Dean Ambrose vs Seth Rollins – SummerSlam 2014

I love this match just because it was fun and crazy. Seth Rollins had just turned heel on Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns and Dean was out for revenge. So, after beating Rollins in the Beat the Clock challenge, Dean was allowed to choose the stipulation for their SummerSlam match and he chose a Lumberjack Match, but not just any old Lumberjacks would do. In a display of maniacal brilliance, Dean decided that the Lumberjacks would consist of the people the Shield had attacked during their run, which would ensure that neither he nor Seth would have allies in the match and that they would tear each other apart. The Lumberjacks were hilariously bad at keeping Ambrose and Rollins IN the ring, but it made for some great spots. Seth would emerge the victor, but not without some help and after Dean used Seth’s own finisher, the Curb Stomp, against him.

Where was I: I was just getting back into watching wrestling full time when this match happened and I was livid that Dean lost, but looking back, I really enjoyed the match.

7. RAW Tag Team Championship: The Bar vs Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose – SummerSlam 2017

Did you honestly think this Dean Ambrose/Shield fangirl was going to leave out Rollins and Ambrose reuniting after three years of feuding to take on the Bar? The story of Rollins and Ambrose mending their fences and beating the Bar at SummerSlam was such a big deal last year, The New York Post actually dubbed it the most interesting storyline of the SummerSlam build. It was a slow build but to finally see Ambrose and Rollins united and champions was great storytelling and had me running around my house like a nut when they won.

Where was I: I was on my sofa, watching this live and screamed and cried when they won.

So there are the my all time favorite SummerSlam matches…at least right now. I know that there are sometimes gaps of several years between them, but these are the ones that I love to rewatch, sometimes repeatedly. What are your favorites?

 


Always Use Your Head and visit the official Pro Wrestling Tees store for The Chairshot All t-shirt proceeds help support the advancement of your favorite hard-hitting wrestling website, The Chairshot!


Continue Reading

Opinion

Roman Reigns: He Deserves It

Published

on

WWE Roman Reigns SummerSlam 2018

Let me start off by saying that I normally hate the ‘You Deserve It!’ chant, because it’s normally done for people who’s long journey is deemed worthy of praise by a group of gatekeeping fans.  For example, Daniel Bryan’s journey through the indies and Japan and then to WrestleMania 30 gets held in high regard but Jinder Mahal working his way back to the company after getting fired is constantly ignored.  If you’re one the designated cool kids by so called hardcore fans then your struggle is respected but if you aren’t then it’s disregarded.

I’ve said before that the main title in a wrestling company is not a merit badge, it’s an indicator that the company believes you will draw money as champion.  That is all.  Yes there are wrestlers who have done good work for a long time and whose efforts warrant some kind of thank you from they work for.  Instead of tweeting or chanting about that you think they deserve a title, push for them to get a raise, or an opportunity to get in an angle that might help them make more for their company, or to get a nice cushy office or agent gig when they retire.   Don’t spend the next five years complaining about them not getting a world title belt.

OK now that I got that out of the way, I’m going to contradict what I just said and tell you why Roman Reigns deserves to win the Universal Championship at SummerSlam.

First up, the money question has already been answered with him.  He sells a lot of merchandise, his show segments routinely get over a million views on YouTube and with him being their primary main event guy they’ve been successful enough to secure over 2 billion in TV rights fees.  Hell yes that matters, because you know good and well that if all those numbers were at the other end of the spectrum you’d use them to campaign for him to be demoted from his position on the roster.

But that’s not it.  For the last two years they’ve used him to heat up everyone from Finn Balor to Braun Strowman to Bobby Lashley to Seth Rollins (don’t forget Seth pinned him in the gauntlet match earlier this year) to the Revival.  He also lost the US and Intercontinental Titles, respectively, to Chris Jericho and The Miz to help them get the ball rolling on the angles for their next WrestleMania matches.  I haven’t seen anything like that other than when Ric Flair used to do jobs in tag matches back when he was NWA World Champion to give an upcoming opponent some shine and put a little more heat on the title match that would soon follow.

That you can send him out there to that and he still stay popular enough with his supporters to remain a moneymaker for the company is pretty damn remarkable.  And there comes a point where if you have a guy who is the man to beat for that long, that you should go ahead and cement it by putting your top title on him.  No top guy has put this many people over and gone without the top title for this long.  It’s time to end the charade and do what is the tradition in this business.

(Side Note: If you’re that damned intent on Brock keeping the Universal Title to take to his UFC fight then just send Roman over to Smackdown and crown him World Champion).

And for those of you ready to fire off those tweets after reading the last paragraph……..just stop it already.  If you never were a fan, that’s fine.  Just accept that they’re not going to put someone else in his spot as long as the numbers are what they are and either take the show as is or move on.  But for those of you who keep running lame explanation after lame explanation up the flagpole and who keep moving the goalposts every time one of your ‘facts’ is debunked, I got nothing for you and I hope Vince gets that way soon.

Because no matter how they’ve moved Roman around the card you haven’t been satisfied.  When they’ve put him in less significant matches, specifically midcard matches where no title is even involved you still claim that he’s being shoved down your throat. If he’s in a big match where he does the job and puts over someone else like Braun or Finn or Lashley you complain that Vince is trying to make him a more sympathetic figure.  So what’s the point in trying to please you if you’re never going to be satisfied?

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – he’s not getting fired and he’s not going to be relegated to some kind of off camera, curtain jerking on house shows kinda role, so get over yourselves already.  You’re never going to get anything in regards to him that will stop your keyboard driven bellyaching so there’s no point in trying to appease you.  And turning him heel so that you can start cheering him is the most ass backwards, stupid logic out there.  Just because it sounds good when 100 of you type it at the same time doesn’t mean it makes sense.

This is a rare case where someone has both earned a win by what they’ve done in the ring and how they’ve helped the company succeed financially so it’s time to go forward with it.  I’m tired of dealing with you jerks thinking that you own the show because you bought one ticket or signed up for one network subscription.  The rest of our money is just as green as yours so if we either want him to win or just don’t have a problem with it, what we think matters just as much as what you think.  And no we’re not all women and children but even if that was the case it wouldn’t make our stance any less valid.

Got a problem with that?  Well, just remember that there is no pathway to any of your supposed favorites getting a shot at winning the Universal Championship as long as Brock as champion.  Seth is not going to be booked to beat him and neither is Finn.  So you got Roman, Braun, or Bobby Lashley.  Bobby isn’t happening and after their match last year I’m not really trying to see Braun labor for 10 minutes with Brock in mail it in mode again.  And look, Braun (or Kevin Owens if he gets the briefcase in their match) may very well cash in and win it either immediately or soon afterwards.  And furthermore….forget it, I’m done.  Roman should win Sunday because he’s earned it.  Go argue with your grandma.


Always Use Your Head and visit the official Pro Wrestling Tees store for The Chairshot All t-shirt proceeds help support the advancement of your favorite hard-hitting wrestling website, The Chairshot!


Continue Reading

Opinion

Where WWE Can Take The New Dean Ambrose

Published

on

Dean Ambrose WWE Raw Return

RAW needed a big moment to end their go-home show for SummerSlam, and boy did they get it! The Lunatic Fringe, Dean Ambrose, returned from a nearly year long recover from a nasty triceps injury back in December. For months, the Ambrose Asylum had been teased and tormented by rumors of his impending return, only to be disappointed when he didn’t materialize, to the point where most of us stopped listening. Monday, our prayers were answered when Dean was revealed be the man in Seth Rollins’ corner when Rollins takes on Dolph Zigger for the Intercontinental Championship at SummerSlam. That surprise was big enough, but Dean’s new appearence: Shaved head, more muscles, and a seemingly new attitude, was another surprise altogether, but not an entirely unwelcome one.

It’s clear from the audience’s reactions to Rollins’ promo leading up to Ambrose’s return that Ambrose is still as popular with the WWE Universe as he was back in December when he got hurt, which is always a relief to a performer who has lost nearly a year of their career. However, Ambrose showed a more hard-nosed attitude and hard hitting style than he’d shown before his injury, which can lead to all sorts of fun possibilities.

1. Heel Turn on Rollins. Okay, fellow Asylumers, hear me out. I’m not saying he should turn heel right away, but his new look doesn’t lend itself well to the funny, goofy Lunatic of pre-December 18, 2017. The original plan WWE had for Ambrose and Rollins was to have Ambrose turn on Rollins at the Royal Rumble, but with Ambrose getting hurt, that plan was scrapped. However, WWE could revive it now that Ambrose has been cleared.

2. Stay Face, New Attitude. Given the response to Ambrose’s return, WWE might decide to keep him as a face, but make the new look and attitude work in a babyface capacity, maybe have him be more like how Austin’s character was.

3. Heel Turn a la Mojo Rawley. While I get what Rawley’s new gimmick is supposed to be, I don’t think Rawley, who has had a mediocre run at times, is the right person for it. With Ambrose’s track record and popularity, he could probably fill that role better than Rawley. Having him call out guys for being ‘lazy’ o

4. Shield Reunion. I know even a lot of Shield fans have mixed feelings about this since the last Shield reunion was hampered by bad luck with both Reigns and Ambrose getting hit by illness and injury. However, with Survivor Series a few months away, finding a way to reunite the Shield, even if it’s just for Survivor Series, would be nice.

There’s no telling what WWE is going to do with Ambrose now that he’s back. The fact that he’s been brought in as part of a big storyline, and the audience’s reaction to his return shows that the Lunatic Fringe is still as over with the WWE Universe as he was before he got hurt. Given his new look and seeming new attitude, there’s many possibilities for the Lunatic Fringe to semi-reinvent himself.


Always Use Your Head and visit the official Pro Wrestling Tees store for The Chairshot All t-shirt proceeds help support the advancement of your favorite hard-hitting wrestling website, The Chairshot!


Continue Reading

Connect on Facebook

Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending Today