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Shawn Michaels: The Showstopper Unreleased (Part 3)

by Scrooge McSuck

Shawn Michaels

- Last time on the Shawn Michaels Unreleased, we worked our way through the "New Generation" Era and featured a lot of content from his 1st run as WWF Champion. The biggest surprise on the second disc is a competitive match with Shawn Michaels and the Brooklyn Brawler that was done at MSG less than a week after Survivor Series '97. Disc 3 begins with Shawn's comeback in 2002 and takes us through the first decade of the 21st century. Since we're in an era where it's almost all TV matches, I'll switch back to star ratings instead of points.

World Heavyweight Championship Match:
Shawn Michaels (c) vs. Rob Van Dam:

From the November 2002 episode of Monday Night Raw (or RAW ZONE) and Shawn's first title defense since winning the Championship at Survivor Series. This is also Shawn's first match on TV in nearly 5-years (when I say TV, I mean "not PPV", for the record). Shawn is gradually bringing back his traditional ring attire (working SummerSlam in jeans, at Survivor Series in what looked like a half-complete set of gear), but it's still not his usual look. Lockup and Shawn grabs a side headlock. They fight for position with a hammer-lock until RVD lands a pair of elbows. He hits the ropes, only to meet a dropkick from HBK. RVD bridges out of a cover and takes Shawn over with a back-slide for two. Whip is reversed and RVD connects with a jumping heel kick before sending Shawn to the floor with a clothesline. RVD gears up for a dive but Shawn bails. He calls an audible and ends up hitting Michaels with an Asai moonsault. Back inside, RVD with a leg drop across the lower-back. Michaels counters the corner monkey-flip by dropping RVD face-first across the turnbuckle. Shawn ducks an enzuigiri, takes RVD down with a dragon screw leg-whip, and wraps the leg around the post. Shawn continues punishing the knee and applies the Figure-Four in the center of the ring. RVD eventually rolls over to reverse the pressure AND grabs the rope to force a break. LOGIC. Shawn remains in control, targeting the knee. He goes for the hold again, but RVD sends him shoulder-first to the post and cradles him for two. They slug it out until RVD hits his rolling heel kick. Shoulder tackles to the midsection and a twisting body press for two. Whip and Shawn comes back with the diving forearm. He nips up and signals for Sweet Chin Music, but RVD ducks and connects with a heel kick, followed by Rolling Thunder for two. Shawn counters a suplex with a DDT and comes off the top with the big elbow for two. RVD with a back breaker and Five-Star Frog Splash across the back! He covers, but Triple H runs down to pull him off and hit him with the Pedigree on the floor, drawing the Disqualification at 8:55. This was the first time I've seen the match since the original broadcast, and I thought maybe I held it too highly. I'm glad to see the match still holds up 16 years later (minus an awful finish at the height of Hunter's "reign of terror"). ***1/2

Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho:

From the July 21st, 2003 episode of Raw. I honestly have no memory of why this match is taking place here. Even more honestly, I don't know what Jericho's big picture was for the Summer (I vaguely recall him beating Kevin Nash in the lamest hair vs. hair match). Coach bills this as a "WrestleMania Rematch" (J.R. was selling being set on fire by Kane, if you need an explanation for Coach in the booth with Lawler at this time. JR coming back and rudely dismissing him would lead to his heel turn at SummerSlam, but who cares, it's Coach). Lockup to the corner and Jericho gives a clean break. Jericho works the arm and takes Michaels over with a fireman's carry. Michaels counters with a head-scissors as we get a sequence of chain counters. Michaels uses his momentum to escape an arm-bar and throw Jericho out of the ring. Back inside, Jericho regains control with a side headlock. Jericho unloads with chops. Whip to the ropes and he casually nails Shawn with a right-hand. They do a sequence of pinning combinations for two (a spot that was a staple of Torrie Wilson matches), then up the ante with the bridge-up and back-slide. So far, the match is serving as background noise to Kane's "house arrest" and Coach not being as good as J.R. on commentary. Whip and Jericho with an elbow square on the jaw, followed by a back breaker. Jericho with three snap-elbow drops for two. He casually tosses Shawn over the top rope and basks in the jeers of the crowd. He brings Michaels back in with a suplex and tosses him again. This time, Shawn skins the cat. Jericho misses his springboard dropkick, taking a bump to the floor, and Shawn follows with a twisting springboard press. Back inside, Shawn comes off the top with a flying body press for two. They trade rights as Ric Flair makes his way to ringside. Shawn quickly exits the ring to take a shot at him. Jericho blocks a hurricanrana, trapping Shawn in the Walls of Jericho.

We come back from commercial with Jericho in control with a chin-lock. Coach is blamed for not notifying the fans of them going to the break, and again, he's not J.R. Michaels comes back with mounted rights. He charges into the corner again and takes the big back drop to the floor. Jericho follows, ramming his back into the post. Back inside, Jericho hits a diving elbow from the top rope for a near-fall. Whip and Michaels with a body press for two. Jericho quickly lays him out with a clothesline. He makes another trip to the top rope and gets nailed with a dropkick on the way down. Whip and Michaels catches Jericho with a back breaker. He hits the diving forearm, followed by an inverted atomic drop and clotheslines. Whip to the corner, Michaels blocks a diving body press and slingshot launches Jericho into the corner for two. Jericho with a Northern Lights Suplex for two. Jericho with the bulldog and Lion-Sault for two. Michaels catches Jericho coming out of the corner with a power-slam for two. Shawn gets flipped upside down on a whip to the corner. Jericho climbs up but Shawn fights him down and connects with the elbow. He tunes up the band, but Jericho ducks and kicks him low, inspiring a young (adult) Shinsuke Nakamura. Jericho grabs a chair, only to have it knocked into his face with Sweet Chin Music. Flair hops on the apron for a distraction, then pulls referee Earl Hebner to the floor. Here comes Randy Orton, hitting Shawn with an RKO on the chair, but it only gets a two-count. Jericho with the Walls of Jericho (using the turnbuckle to block Shawn's attempt to power-out), and Shawn eventually taps out at 21:20 (shown). Good TV match, but it could've used a few minutes shaved (and more focus on commentary to not put over other storylines like COACH'S INEVITABLE HEEL TURN). ***1/2

Shawn Michaels vs. Christian (w/ Tyson Tomko):

From the October 4th, 2004 episode of Raw, from MADISON SQUARE GARDEN. Yay, they're building up Shawn as 1 of 3 potential challengers for TABOO TUESDAY. I don't think I've ever watched all the PPV's from beginning to end. How did Vince never get around to dropping Tomko's first name? Seems like something he'd do (see also from the era: Snitsky, Lashley, Finlay). Christian with trash talking, so Michaels slaps him across the face. Crisscross and Shawn with a big chop. He takes Christian over with a side headlock. Christian escapes and sends Michaels to the corner. Whip to the ropes and Michaels comes right back with a Thesz Press and mounted rights. Christian catches Shawn coming off the ropes with an elbow and chokes. Christian yells "I'm Captain Charisma" and gives Shawn a slap. He misses a dive into the corner and Tomko gets knocked off the apron. Shawn tunes up the band but Tomko pulls Christian to safety. Shawn goes for Plan B, hitting Christian with a swinging neck breaker and KO'ing Tomko with Sweet Chin Music. We come back from commercial with Christian in control with a chin-lock. Christian cuts-off a comeback with an inverted DDT for two. Christian with a reverse back breaker for two. He follows up with a traditional back breaker for another two-count. Shawn flips through another attempt and they bop heads in the middle of the ring. Shawn comes off the ropes with the diving forearm and follows with a pair of inverted atomic drops. He backs Christian into the corner and unloads with mounted rights. Whip and a back drop for two. Christian goes for the Unprettier, but Shawn counters with a rolling cradle for two. Christian with the Unprettier on the second try, but it only gets two. Christian goes high-risk and is brought down with a back drop. Michaels comes off the top with the big elbow, and Sweet Chin Music finishes at 10:55 (shown). Good match, and if we were keeping tabs on points, it would be 3 for 3, obviously. ***

Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair:

From the February 7th, 2005 episode of Raw, taped overseas in Japan (the first time taping in Japan for Raw). I remember those two days of tapings being of decent quality. Lockup to the corner and Flair connects with an elbow after teasing a clean break. Flair with chops and right hands. Michaels turns things around and gives Flair a taste of his own medicine. Whip across the ring and Shawn takes Flair over with a back drop. Michaels with a clothesline, sending Flair to the floor. He quickly follows, unloading with more chops. Flair cuts him off with a rake of the eyes, only to walk into a back-drop on the arena floor. Back inside, Flair goes to the eyes again. Michaels with a flurry of rights and lefts, giving Flair the chance to do his face-first flop. Flair sends Michaels to the corner and clips the knee. Whip to the corner and Flair takes out the leg again before applying his signature Figure-Four. Jim Ross calls it "DEADLY." I never heard of anyone dying from it, but Jim Ross is far more knowledgeable than I on the subject. The crowd rallies behind Shawn as he teases turning the hold over. Shawn counters a suplex and takes Flair over with the O'Connor Roll for two. Flair goes the Figure-Four again but Michaels cradles him for another two-count. Back-slide for two. Michaels with an enzuigiri and Flair flops again. Flair goes to the top and we know where this is going. Whip and Michaels with the diving forearm. He takes Flair over with a back drop, plants him with a slam, and comes off the top with the big elbow. Sweet Chin Music finishes at 8:30. I know it's past-his-prime Flair, but it seemed like most of his matches with Michaels always under-delivered, usually due to a lack of time. Still a fun match. ***

Shawn Michaels & Batista vs. Triple H & Edge:

Dark Match from the March 21st, 2005 episode of Raw. Edge hurries his butt to ringside for his entrance, but Triple H makes sure to time his out like it were meant for TV (including water-spitting spot). I guess you must respect dedication to the craft. Despite being a Dark Match, the production and camera work is as if it were being shown on TV. Batista snatches the World Heavyweight Title and poses to mostly cheers (some jeering is audible), sending Hunter into a frenzy that only EARL HEBNER can hold back. Batista further antagonizes him by snuggling with the belt. Michaels and Hunter start as we get the second ringing of the bell to start the match at 2:42. Loud "Batista" chant as they don't do anything until Shawn tags in Batista to the chagrin of Triple H. He'll have none of that and forces a tag on Edge. "I'm not warmed up, you already had a match, you're nice and warm." OK, that's kind of funny. Shawn gets the crowd to chant "chicken" at him. He gets into another shoving match with Hebner and gets scared away by Batista. Hunter doing the chicken dance with the Harley Race beard is quite the visual. Edge wants a lock-up and gets tossed. The original bell rang over 8-minutes ago, for the record. Edge takes the top turnbuckle 10-times and takes a comical bump. Hunter tags in to pound away on Michaels. It turns into a slugfest, won by Michaels. Whip and Hunter connects with the high knee for two. Shawn fights out of the corner, only to get tossed out of the ring. Back inside, Hunter with a back breaker for two. Hunter with an abdominal stretch, and yes, he gets help from Edge for extra leverage. Hebner sees the blatant cheating, allowing Michaels to escape. Hunter meets a boot coming off the middle rope and dramatically over-sells it, as if he were in a trance. He assures Hebner he's OK and takes the Flair face-first bump. Edge tags in and ends up on the canvas within seconds. We get the inevitable Batista vs. Triple H confrontation, as Batista runs wild on both guys. He plants Batista with a forward power-slam then Hunter with the running variety. Edge gets sent to the floor, leaving Hunter alone. Batista plants him with the spine-buster, Shawn KO's Edge with Sweet Chin Music, and the Batista Bomb finishes Hunter at 18:33 (original bell, 15:51 from start of second bell). This was everyone having fun and shouldn't be taken seriously. As a wrestling exhibition, it wasn't much, but for the sake of entertainment, I can see it being fun for the live audience, but not something I'd want to watch again. NR

Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle (w/ Daivari):

From the January 16th, 2006 episode of Raw. "If Shawn Michaels loses, he's fired." My guess is this was during the Shawn/McMahon rivalry that culminated with the in-ring debut of GOD. Sorry, that should be "advertised no-show" instead of "debut." My bad. Angle is the World Heavyweight Champion, but this is Non-Title, just a Shawn's Career Match. SPOILERS: Shawn isn't fired. I think we've all seen and/or know of WrestleMania XXVI and/or Crown Jewel. Shawn and Vince have words before the match. The match itself began during the commercial, but the "WWE.com Unlimited" portion is left intact (there was a time where all commercial break footage was streaming live on their website). Lockup and Angle works the arm. Snap mare into a chin-lock. Michaels counters with an arm drag and hooks the arm-bar. Whip and Angle with an elbow, sending Michaels to the floor. Daivari gets his shots in with the referee distracted. The match "resumes" for the TV audience with Michaels giving chase to Daivari and unloading on Angle with chops. Whip and a shoulder tackle, then back to the side headlock. Angle forces a break in the corner and works over the midsection. Michaels turns things around, laying in with more chops. Whip across the ring, Angle meets a boot in the corner, but recovers to catch Michaels coming off the ropes with an over-head belly-to-belly suplex. Angle with the rolling Germans for two. Michaels escapes a body scissors, but Angle remains in control. Michaels counters the Angle Slam with a DDT for two. Daivari pulls the ropes down on Michaels, causing him to take the bump to the floor. Michaels recovers and nails him with Sweet Chin Music. As quick as that happens, Angle comes from behind with the Angle Slam on the floor.

We come back from commercial (God, it feels good not hearing Michael Cole say, "as Monday Night Raw rolls on."), but not without more "WWE.com Unlimited" content, giving us as complete of an experience watching the match. Angle sends Michaels into the steps before depositing him back into the ring for a near-fall. Snap suplex for two. Michaels fights free of a rear chin-lock, only to get caught off the ropes with a knee to the midsection. Angle with a back breaker for two. Michaels escapes another chin-lock with body blows. Angle reverses a whip across the ring, flipping Shawn upside down. Angle positions Michaels across the top turnbuckle and teases a belly-to-belly suplex. Michaels fights him down, twice, but Angle pops up for a 3rd time and brings Shawn down with the Angle Slam for a near-fall. Angle ducks Sweet Chin Music and grabs the Ankle Lock. Michaels rolls through to counter and cradles Angle for two. They exchange blows, with Michaels gaining control. Whip is reversed and Michaels comes off the ropes with the diving forearm. NIP UP, but Angle picks the ankle and hooks the Ankle Lock again. Michaels boots him off, connects with an inverted atomic drop, and follows with a clothesline. Michaels climbs the ropes and misses the elbow. The straps come down and Angle signals for the end. Michaels counters the Angle Slam with a sunset flip, but that's countered with the 3rd Ankle Lock. Angle rolls through on the escape attempt and grapevines the leg. Daivari decides to run in with a chair, upset over being slapped moments earlier, and accidentally whacks Angle with it (after a tug-of-war with the referee), allowing Michaels to roll Angle up for three at 16:24. Post-match, Angle and Daivari end their relationship, but who cares, it has nothing to do with the star of the DVD set. WEAK finish to a great TV match. This was around when I started to lose interest in following every episode, and don't recall seeing it live. ***¾

Shawn Michaels & Triple H vs. Lance Cade & Trevor Murdoch, Charlie Haas & Viscera, and The Highlanders:

From the October 2nd, 2006 episode of Raw and listed as a "Texas Tornado Match." This is as random as things get, but these tag teams were the norm and a sad sign of how lacking the division was for what felt like the longest time. We're officially in DX Reunion territory, and if you think this era of DX was great and must-see TV, you missed the point of the original idea entirely. That's some Meltzer-level snark right there. I honestly can say I've NEVER recapped a match with the Highlanders that wasn't a Battle Royal. The DX spiel is interrupted by Jonathon Coachman, who I'm assuming was in one of those magical GM roles that will never go away. Cade and Murdoch hit the ring and lose a slugfest. The Highlanders try their luck and have equal levels of success (none). Hunter sells for VISCERA of all people. Remember how he and Haas joined forces by being bros instead of fighting over Lilian Garcia? Viscera accidentally crushes Haas in the corner and the ring is quickly cleared. DX double-teams Viscera and lay him out with a double clothesline. Knee to the face of Murdoch, followed by an inverted atomic drop. Viscera gets planted with a double DDT. Haas runs into a spinebuster. Shawn comes off the top with the elbow, hits Sweet Chin Music, and Hunter adds the Pedigree to end this nonsense at 2:55. I HATE Combo Finishers like that, where Haas barely sells the Super-Kick just to set up being hit with the Pedigree. Our first match with no redeeming qualities on the disc. ½*

WWE World Tag Team Championship Match:
Shawn Michaels & John Cena (c) vs. Rated RKO:

Dark Match from the February 19th, 2007 episode of Raw. Randy Orton is already laid out in the ring, so Shawn covers for a near-fall. An RKO connects (out of nowhere, of course) to put the Champions in jeopardy. Edge tags in and covers for two. Shawn and Edge trade blows in the corner, with Michaels gaining the upper hand. Whip and Edge with a punt to the chest. Orton pounds Shawn down in the corner as I hope we get some entertainment from this like the previous dark match. Edge with more right hands for two. Michaels fights out of a chin-lock with elbows to the midsection and comes off the ropes with a swinging neck breaker. Cena gets the hot tag, and I'm so bored I spelled Cena as "Can". He runs wild on Orton and hits a somersault bulldog. I hit rewind to make sure I didn't hallucinate that after calling him John "Can." Sweet Chin Music to Orton, and the F-U finishes at 5:29. That's consecutive meaningless matches. This was as lazy as the "lazily send people home dark matches" formula gets.

WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match:
Chris Jericho (c) vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Batista:

Dark Match from the November 17th, 2008 episode of Raw. Jericho passes a bunch of under-card geeks, including JIM DUGGAN. WE'RE ALMOST INTO THE SECOND DECADE OF THE 21ST CENTURY AND DUGGAN IS A REGULARLY USED EMPLOYEE ON THE ROSTER. Jericho plays to the crowd and mouths off both challengers. Each get a slap in the face, so they quickly join forces in giving Jericho a receipt. They take turns sending Jericho into the corner. He finally bails to the floor. Michaels attempts to cheap-shot Batista, but the latter knows better and avoids a chop. Whip to the corner and Batista drops Shawn with a clothesline. He sends Michaels to the corner and plants him with a slam for two. Batista with a rear naked choke, but Jericho makes the save with a baseball slide to the back of the head. Jericho with mounted rights. Batista teases the Batista Bomb but Jericho counters with the Walls of Jericho. Michaels with Sweet Chin Music, knocking Jericho out of the ring. Whip to the corner and Batista follows in with a clothesline. Michaels escapes a power-slam but runs into a spine-buster. Jericho with the Code Breaker on Batista from out of nowhere to retain at 5:09. Cute start, then just stuff happening.

Shawn Michaels & The Undertaker vs. JBL & Vladimir Kozlov:

From the March 16th, 2009 episode of Raw, and the last match on the set. ANYTHING with Vladimir Kozlov seems like an automatic failure, but we'll give it a chance before condemning it. We get full entrances to eat 7-minutes of run-time. JBL is the reigning Intercontinental Champion, defeating CM Punk last week. I only know this thanks to the commentary, since I went cold-turkey on wrestling at this point. Michaels and Kozlov start. Lockup and Michaels gets sent to the canvas. Michaels tries again but Kozlov shrugs him off. Taker tags in to get his licks in and comes off the ropes with a clothesline. Taker with a second clothesline, knocking Kozlov over the top rope. We come back from commercial with JBL getting worked over. Whip is reversed and Shawn connects with the diving forearm. He hits the inverted atomic drop and plants JBL with a slam. Michaels goes to the top and hits the signature elbow drop. Kozlov with a distraction, allowing JBL to knock Shawn silly with a big boot. Kozlov with shoulders to the midsection. Shawn tries fighting back but Kozlov's brute strength is too much. Power-slam for two. Things slow down with a bear-hug from the Moscow Mauler or whatever goofy nickname Cole tried to get over for Kozlov. Shawn fights free and plants Kozlov with a DDT. Taker gets the hot tag and runs wild on JBL with right hands. Whip to the corner and Taker follows in with an avalanche. He hits it again in the opposite corner and follows with Old School. JBL gets snake eyes and Taker comes off the ropes with the big boot and leg drop. He teases a Choke-Slam, but Shawn tags in and hits Sweet Chin Music for three at 6:28 (shown). Post-match, Taker gives chase and eats Sweet Chin Music in the aisle. Better than it had any right to be with that heel team. **1/2

Final Thoughts: Disc 3 has a solid collection of TV matches from the first few years of Michaels' return to the ring, but things ran out of steam with less ring time as the years went on and a handful of dark matches that were better off being left in the dark. As usual, with a set dedicated entirely to one individual, your mileage will vary. There are a few decent gems on here, but Disc 2 really lacks when it comes to quality entertainment. There are so many Shawn Michaels sets available, so clearly, they had less options to cherry pick since the theme was never-before-released content. I can recommend the set, but if your thing is to see "NEVER BEFORE SEEN" stuff, then there's only 6 or 7 matches that fall under that category.

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