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HBK: 'From the Vault'


Guest Nigel Law
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Guest Nigel Law

Shawn Michaels has been one of the most colourful and talked about stars in the wrestling business over the last 10 years. His matches were invariably excellent, he had charisma in abundance and had mic skills to rival the best talkers around. When the cameras stopped rolling though the controversy began with reports of a self-serving attitude in the locker-room which rubbed a lot of the boys up the wrong way. His reluctance to do the job was also well-known and his real-life rivalry with Bret Hart continues to this very day. People either love or hate him. There is no middle ground with Michaels. I personally admire him for his dare-devil, risk taking matches which set the standard for a whole generation of future workers. Criticise his drawing power all you want, call his loyalty into question and even negate his ring work; there is no escaping that HBK was the 'Showstopper' and the one man who was guranteed to have a good match everytime he stepped into a wrestling ring.'From the Vault' is a look back at the career of Michaels from his early days in the AWA right up to his famed come-back match against HHH at last year's Summerslam PPV. Not a full on videography, this is more of a collection of his best matches broken down into small chapters. HBK speaks a little about each match and then it is shown in full, which is a nice touch, but on the negative it would have been nice to get more comments from some of his opponents, giving it more of a balanced feel. Most of the matches shown are taken from 1996 and 1997, which were Michaels peak years as a ring performer, so it makes sense that this would constitute the majority of the footage. Match OneMarty Jannetty and Shawn Michaels vs Doug Summers and Buddy RoseFrom a work-rate standpoint this was the worst match on the show, but what it lacked in terms of great wrestling it made up for with emotion and drama. Rose and Summers were the dominant heel champions and 'The Midnight Rockers' were the valiant babyface team who gave it their all and came so close to winning the titles. The fans were right behind Michaels and Jannetty and the match was well laid out, with the heel team cutting off a babyface and working him over, setting up the hot-tag and the 'cleaning house' spot. They all bled heavily and it had a realistic feeling which only added to the tension and added to the impression that it was a real fight. Not a classic by any stretch of the imagination but a good indicator of how talented HBK was at such an early stage of his career, both as a worker and someone capable of connecting with the fans. His brawling was top notch and he looked competitive against two much bigger guys than him, with his big bumping style making them look awesome in the process. ***Match TwoIntercontinental Title Ladder MatchThe match which put Shawn Michaels on the map. He and Razor assembled a hard-hitting, innovative and legendary battle which is still remembered to this day as one of the greatest of all time. Voted 'Match of the Year' for 1994 this match raised the bar for what was expected of a pro-wrestling match and established the 'ladder' gimmick with the fans. Initially the MSG faithful were skeptical and didn't react at first, however as the match wore on and the two upped the ante, they couldn't get enough of the dare-devil, high risk spectacle which they were witnessing. HBK was the star of the show. He leapt around the ring with gusto, putting his body on the line for the sake of entertainment. Although this has since been surpassed the TLC series, never before has one match had such a profound and long lasting effect on the wrestling business. ****1/2Match ThreeWrestemania 12 Ironman MatchSome call it one of the best matches of the nineties, others consider it to have been a dull sixty minute marathon which never really got going. For me the match was a mixed bag. There was some psychology and the story telling was logical with both men working over the body parts on the mat early on, but they just didn't have the intensity needed to keep it flowing for one hour and the lack of a pinfall within the time (ego's got in the way) didn't help. Towards the end it picked up and the final ten minutes were dramatic (in particular the image of HBK in the Sharpshooter with the clock ticking down) but sadly not enough to save the match which had been hindered by a dull start and a lifeless progression. Because it was the first of it's nature it is fondly remembered by fans of that era, however looking at it objectively, then this wasn't a patch on The Rock vs HHH from 2000. **3/4Match FourNo Holds Barred MatchThis match was more of a testament to Michaels ability than anything else, as he entered a typically flawless performance en route to carrying Diesel to the best match of his career. The 'No Holds Barred' stipulation gave them free reign to brawl around the arena and involve foreign objects and other illegal spots, which undoubtedly added to the interest and aided HBK in his quest to keep it entertaining. Going toe-to-toe with a man who literally dwarfed him, HBK was able to show off his diversity as a performer as he displayed some fantastic brawling skills amidst his typical eccentric, fast paced style. Looking back this was a far from great match but at the time it was made very good both by HBK and the 'No Holds Barred' gimmick, which they used to their advantage. **Match FiveShawn Michaels vs MankindOne of the highlights of 1996 came in the form of this little stunner at 'Mind Games'. Again HBK was in superb form, as was Foley, working a lengthy match which not only told a great story but had plenty of psychology and nice spots. Mankind as a character was fresh at the time and his maniacal, incomprehensible actions set HBK up as the valiant babyface who was out to defend himself and the company. People have voiced their complaints over the finish and how it was a black-eye on an otherwise superb encounter, but for me it made sense, in that the challenger wasn't pinned and so it left the door open for a re-match and kept Mankind strong as a contender. This was brawling and pro-wrestling at it's finest in a match that incorporated sleek transitions, back and forth exchanges and an all-round belter worthy of a ****1/2 rating.Match SixShawn Michaels vs The Undertaker Hell in a CellAnother 'first' involving Michaels, as this time he and 'Taker clashed within a variation of the steel cage match, aptly named 'Hell in a Cell'. Going into this their feud was red hot and it certainly didn't disappoint. Michaels gave and gave in this match, bumping harder and harder to make it look as though 'Taker really was pummelling him into oblivion. They used the cage well and the end result was a well put together brawl that showcased the sheer brilliance of HBK and cemented his spot among the all-time greats of the company. It was a bloody, absorbing and brutal battle which featured many memorable monents -Michaels falling from the side of the cell through the Announce table- and none more so than the finish, as Kane made his debut and destoryed Taker, allowing HBK to crawl over his opponent and pick up the win. Another ground breaking match made so by Shawn Michaels and another of his big-bumping, flamboyant, over-the-top showman like performances. ****1/2Match SevenShawn Michaels vs Triple HAfter four years on the sideline HBK finally made a return to the ring last August and he didn't disappoint. Whilst the 'edge' of years gone by was gone, Michaels was still one hell of a performer and he showed this by tearing the roof off the Nassau Colisseum with HHH. Going into the match fears were running rampant over the seriousness of his back injury and whether or not he was in any condition to wrestle. Like he has done so many times before, HBK stole the show and confirmed his status as one of the best of all time. This match was an emotional roller-coaster ride from start to finish, with the focus being on the rivalry and history between the two men, as well as Michaels' back, with HHH working it over effectively for a large portion of the contest. They worked a table and a ladder spot to great effect with the fans seeing HBK not as a veteran returning for one more moment in the sun, but as a performer who was still capable of turning it on in style. Michaels was back in the WWE and his return could not have been any more magical. ****1/2Overall the piece is a fairly comprehensive look-back at some 'HeartBreak Kid' classics from over the years, although there are some glaring omissions which will surely worm their way into the rumoured HBK: 'From the Vault 2'. It could have been made better by more commentary before and after matches both from Michaels and his opponents (where possible), however this doesn't detract from the enjoyment of a video which is fun to sit down and watch from start to finish. ****Any thoughts or feedback is more than welcome.

Edited by Nigel Law
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That' a great review, and actually echos many of my own opinions.I too would rate the Rock/Triple-H Iron Man match above the Michaels/Hart epic, purely because it offered me more entertainment. Based around the headlock, the Wrestlemania 12 battle came across as tedious and uninspiring for the majority, before reaching a dramatic and exciting last 10 minutes which was, admittedly, worth the wait.Michaels/Mankind is a match often forgotten by many of today's fans, but fondly remembered by those who see it as one of the highlights of both men's careers. Indeed, it was easily the best match the WWF produced that year.Hell in a Cell from In Your House: Bad Blood is the greatest steel cage match of all time, pure and simple. They managed to make it much more than it potentially would have been, and reached a level of drama rarely seen in the WWF during those mid-90s years. Even the ending didn't spoil it, as it was performed incredibly well and is remebered as one of the great "storyline" angles in the promotion's history. The match left the viewer with the feeling that they had just waqtched something special, and even now the bout stands up to criticism.I would have to disagree that the TLC matches have surpassed the original Michaels/Ramon bouts. Whereas the 4 TLC bouts have all been crackers, they have been chaotic and fast paced, with little time for the viewer to digest what he has just seen before the next crazy spot is carried out. Ramon and Michaels created a spectecle that was about much more than just crazy bumps - they added empotion, drama and psychology to the mix and produced something that resembled more of a titanic struggle than a wild and suicidal stunt match. Indeed, the tension throughout the Wrestlemania X and Summerslm 95 classics has rarely been repeated and keeps fans guessing until the very end. Of course, they still do feature the high-risk ladder spots, but because theylaid the foundation with some sound psycholgoical performing, the spots mean all that much more.Michaels vs. Triple-H from Summerslam 2002 will be debated again and again for years to come. Some see it as nothing more than a tedious hardcore brawl, others see it as one of the greatest matches they have ever seen. I would fall somewhere in the middle: it was a fantastic bout, no doubt, far surpassing my greatest expectations, and was beleivebale in such a way that you almost felt that the 2 combatants REALLY did hate each other. In a way, I don't suppose you could offer any match a greater compliment...For those who have seen Shawn Michaels: From the Vault, would you say that there is enough material on there to justify purchase, if 90% of the featured matches already feature in my collection?

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His matches were invariably excellent, he had charisma in abundance and had mic skills to rival the best talkers around

huh? Michaels was never that good on the mic.

there is no escaping that HBK was the 'Showstopper' and the one man who was guranteed to have a good match everytime he stepped into a wrestling ring.

That's just wrong.

There was some psychology and the story telling was logical with both men working over the body parts on the mat early on

Yeah, but the problem was that the body part work went nowhere, and neither guy sold it.

This match was more of a testament to Michaels ability than anything else, as he entered a typically flawless performance en route to carrying Diesel to the best match of his career

Yet you only rated it ** (although that rating isn't too far from the truth). At Survivor Series 95 Bret Hart got a better, smarter match out of Nash than Shawn ever did.

Shawn Michaels vs The Undertaker Hell in a Cell****1/2

That match is not that good. It's basically a squash for 30 minutes. Taker sells nothing, not even Shawn's finisher. Michaels ridiculously oversells every move Taker does to him, and the finish is absurd. It's a fun match, but it wasn't a MOTYC.

Shawn Michaels vs Triple Hwith the focus being on the rivalry and history between the two men, as well as Michaels' back, with HHH working it over effectively for a large portion of the contest.

Yep, and Shawn no-selling it, thus rendering it pointless.

****1/2

No way. It was really dull in spots when it seemed like nothing was happening. Then HHH worked the back which gave the match some direction then Shawn kip-ups, no-sells and it's superman comeback time. It's OK, but it's not great.
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His matches were invariably excellent, he had charisma in abundance and had mic skills to rival the best talkers around

huh? Michaels was never that good on the mic.

there is no escaping that HBK was the 'Showstopper' and the one man who was guranteed to have a good match everytime he stepped into a wrestling ring.

That's just wrong.

There was some psychology and the story telling was logical with both men working over the body parts on the mat early on

Yeah, but the problem was that the body part work went nowhere, and neither guy sold it.

This match was more of a testament to Michaels ability than anything else, as he entered a typically flawless performance en route to carrying Diesel to the best match of his career

Yet you only rated it ** (although that rating isn't too far from the truth). At Survivor Series 95 Bret Hart got a better, smarter match out of Nash than Shawn ever did.

Shawn Michaels vs The Undertaker Hell in a Cell****1/2

That match is not that good. It's basically a squash for 30 minutes. Taker sells nothing, not even Shawn's finisher. Michaels ridiculously oversells every move Taker does to him, and the finish is absurd. It's a fun match, but it wasn't a MOTYC.

Shawn Michaels vs Triple Hwith the focus being on the rivalry and history between the two men, as well as Michaels' back, with HHH working it over effectively for a large portion of the contest.

Yep, and Shawn no-selling it, thus rendering it pointless.

****1/2

No way. It was really dull in spots when it seemed like nothing was happening. Then HHH worked the back which gave the match some direction then Shawn kip-ups, no-sells and it's superman comeback time. It's OK, but it's not great.
And i suppose Vince and Shawn screwd Bret?That is a perfect review and again its honest, the Iron Man match wasn't that hot but the ending was great, it says that in the review. I agree with pretty much everything thats been said in that review but is there really rumours of a second one?
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Shawn Michaels vs The Undertaker Hell in a Cell****1/2

That match is not that good. It's basically a squash for 30 minutes. Taker sells nothing, not even Shawn's finisher. Michaels ridiculously oversells every move Taker does to him, and the finish is absurd. It's a fun match, but it wasn't a MOTYC.
:omg: I actually thought UT sold for a good portion of that match. Remember UT was wrestling the 200lb HBK (I know Michaels was meant to be percieved as the top guy but when he's going up against a seven footer in a cage there's got to be some compromise) not the 400lb Vader, any more selling on his part would have screwed up the big man/little man dynamic (UT sells a hell of a lot more in their Casket match and it just doesn't look right). I thought it was incredibly brutal and dramatic brawl and would rightfully have been the MOTY if it wern't for Austin/Bret at WM13.
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I haven't actually seen the DVD, but I agree with almost all of the comments on the matches. Only thing I disagreed with was the comment about the Bret/Shawn Iron Man match not being a patch on the Rock/Triple H Iron Man match. I was definitely let down by the Bret/Shawn match after all the build up, but I found the Rock/Trips one to be really dull and to this day is the only PPV main event I've nodded off during (albeit it only for 5-10 minutes). That's just opinion though.

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I haven't actually seen the DVD, but I agree with almost all of the comments on the matches. Only thing I disagreed with was the comment about the Bret/Shawn Iron Man match not being a patch on the Rock/Triple H Iron Man match. I was definitely let down by the Bret/Shawn match after all the build up, but I found the Rock/Trips one to be really dull and to this day is the only PPV main event I've nodded off during (albeit it only for 5-10 minutes). That's just opinion though.

Could that be because of the one hour time limit as apposed to the action though.The Rock/HHH benifited more from the fact that each guy was willing to put the other over. If indeed it was the case that neither Michaels or Bret would not give the other a fall then that is bad on both of their parts. This was probibally the biggest match up until that point and it would probibally be considered the better of the two if indeed there had been a few falls here and there to break it up.
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Fair play for doing the review. I don't like Shawn Michaels, forget finding God, Michaels is and always will be a prize c*nt!Montreal will never be forgotten by the likes of me and not just Bret Hart fans but wrestling fans as a whole, not because the story won't go away but because it was the biggest travesty in the whole of the industry as we know it.On the review, many know I am not a WWE fan as of late, but looking back at matches in the 90's, the NHB match vs. Nash @ IYH 7, that was then and still is now, one of my fave WWF matches, even though it involved Michaels, because, even though I hate the twat, he was a very good worker so I will say only giving that match ** was a bit harsh, for me it was more closer to ****, but this is just my opinion..........the 'Jacknife' through the table, ah... I can't still see it now, great stuff.Stu

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I haven't actually seen the DVD, but I agree with almost all of the comments on the matches.  Only thing I disagreed with was the comment about the Bret/Shawn Iron Man match not being a patch on the Rock/Triple H Iron Man match.  I was definitely let down by the Bret/Shawn match after all the build up, but I found the Rock/Trips one to be really dull and to this day is the only PPV main event I've nodded off during (albeit it only for 5-10 minutes).  That's just opinion though.

Could that be because of the one hour time limit as apposed to the action though.The Rock/HHH benifited more from the fact that each guy was willing to put the other over. If indeed it was the case that neither Michaels or Bret would not give the other a fall then that is bad on both of their parts. This was probibally the biggest match up until that point and it would probibally be considered the better of the two if indeed there had been a few falls here and there to break it up.
Err...it was the Rock/Trips match I fell asleep through and found dull, not the Bret/Shawn one :)
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Montreal will never be forgotten by the likes of me and not just Bret Hart fans but wrestling fans as a whole, not because the story won't go away but because it was the biggest travesty in the whole of the industry as we know it.

I'd say Owen Hart being asked to jump off a 70+ foot ledge held only by a buckle designed for the sail of a yacht was more of a travesty.
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Montreal will never be forgotten by the likes of me and not just Bret Hart fans but wrestling fans as a whole, not because the story won't go away but because it was the biggest travesty in the whole of the industry as we know it.

I'd say Owen Hart being asked to jump off a 70+ foot ledge held only by a buckle designed for the sail of a yacht was more of a travesty.
Yes John, but I am talking in wrestling itself, what happened to Bret was the biggest travesty, what happened to Owen was awful, no words can describe what I feel about Owen's death, nothing to do with wrestling, just the death of a young husband, father of two young children, so wrong for McSatan to of made Owen do that, I totally agree John.Stu
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