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Shawn Michaels: The Showstopper Unreleased (Part 1)
by Scrooge McSuck
- Following in the foot-steps of Unreleased 1986-1995 and the recent Randy Savage "Unreleased" set, here’s a 3-disc set dedicated to Shawn Michaels. Disclaimer: "Unreleased" is their definition for matches that were never released on DVD before. Yes, the non-Superstar specific Unreleased was literally all dark matches and never-before-seen content but asking that much out for one specific performer is asking a bit too much. Unless it’s reasonably good (or bad), no star ratings, just a point system, which will be decided based on my own unreasonable bias.
- Shawn Michaels "hosts" (being interviewed from one of those talking-head interview sessions), poking fun at how he’s constantly brought back for comments on stuff, joking that there can’t possibly be anything left to say, which opens the door for the UNRELEASED aspect of the set.
Shawn Michaels & Tim Horner vs. Chavo & Hector Guerrero:
From January 5th, 1985 and Mid-South Wrestling. Michaels was a rookie at this point, so I’m expecting a quick squash at the hands of the Guerreros (Brothers of Eddie). Horner is one of the many (many, many) people on Jim Cornette’s permanent crap-list, and this is obviously not Chavo Jr. Jim Ross does ring introductions and botches the weight of Michaels. Horner and Chavo start, trading wrist-locks without either taking control. Horner with a quick roll-up for two. Chavo picks the leg on a roll and tags in Hector to hook the ankle. Horner escapes, taking Hector over with a head-scissors. He grabs a side headlock but gets dumped on his head with a back suplex. Chavo with a snap mare and flying head-scissors. Horner pops up and gives him the same move. Michaels in with another head-scissors, followed by a dropkick. Hector tags in and gets taken over with a pair of arm drags. Chavo with a spinning kick to the midsection and a running high knee. Hector with a snap mare and leg drop. Whip and Chavo with a Northern Lights Suplex. Hector with a snap suplex, and Chavo finishes with a flying senton at 3:06. Energetic and fun. 1 for 1
Shawn Michaels vs. Jake "The Snake" Roberts:
February 1st, 1985 from Mid-South Wrestling. If this goes longer than 90-seconds, I’ll be surprised. Michaels is wearing trunks instead of long tights for this one. Roberts hooks a chin-lock but can’t hang on with it. Lockup and Michaels with an arm-drag. Whip to the ropes, Michaels escapes a slam attempt and rolls him up for two. Roberts with a snap mare into a front face-lock. They trade hammer-locks until Roberts hits Michaels with a jaw breaker. He connects with a double thrust to the throat and drives a pair of knees into the chest. Roberts with a stomach buster and hooks an arm-bar. Whip to the corner and Roberts meets nothing but the turnbuckle on the charge. Michaels goes for the arm, but Roberts counters with a beautiful short-arm clothesline. DDT finishes at 3:58. I was obviously wrong about the time. Standard squash match. 1 for 2
The Midnight Rockers vs. "Pretty Boy" Doug Somers & "Playboy" Buddy Rose (w/ Sherri Martel):
April 1st, 1986 from AWA TV. Michaels and Jannetty are fresh faces to the AWA at this point and are a blatant rip-off of The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express. Michaels and Rose start, with Rose taunting Michaels by doing one-handed push-ups. Michaels does the same AND switches sides to show he’s in better shape. Lockup, Rose with a side headlock and shoulder tackle. Michaels catches him off the ropes with an arm drag, sending him to the corner for words of encouragement from Sherri. Somers in to get his arm worked over, including a double wrist-lock and chop. Crisscross and Somers catches Michaels with a slam. Michaels quickly kicks Somers off and takes him over with an arm drag. Jannetty in with a splash to the arm before hooking another arm-bar. Jannetty fights out of the heel corner and takes Somers over for our 1st pin attempt. Somers hangs Jannetty across the top rope and Rose connects with a diving elbow. Rose with a snap suplex and knee drop across the forehead for two. Jannetty slugs it out with Somers, unsuccessfully thanks to a rake of the eyes. Jannetty blocks a suplex from Rose, taking him over with his own. Michaels with the hot tag, unloading on Somers with rights, followed by a Super-Kick. Whip to the ropes and Michaels with his signature diving elbow (minus some elevation). Jannetty with a sunset flip but Rose saves. All four men brawl in the ring until the Rockers are sent into each other. Michaels shoves Somers off the top rope and Marty connects with a flying body press for three at 7:32. Good TV match. 2 for 3
AWA Tag Team Championship Match:
"Playboy" Buddy Rose & "Pretty Boy" Doug Somers (c) (w/ Sherri Martel) vs. The Midnight Express:
July 13th, 1986 from the Civic Center in St. Paul, MN. Somers and Rose defeated Scott Hall and Curt Hennig for the titles six weeks earlier. Rose takes exception to being introduced at 271 pounds instead of 217. The referee thoroughly goes over the rules with everyone. Rose wastes little time exiting the ring to trash talk ringside fans. Michaels and Rose lockup, with Michaels grabbing a headlock. Crisscross and Somers with a slam. He mule kicks Somers off and runs wild with arm drags to clear the ring. Rose continues to play to the crowd and gets rolled up by Jannetty for losing focus. Lockup and Rose with a slam. Jannetty slips out of a second attempt and plants Rose with a slam of his own. Jannetty gets caught in the heel corner but counters a double clothesline with a body press for a near-fall on both men. Rose with a waist-lock on Jannetty. Jannetty lands on his feet on a monkey-flip to further fluster Playboy. Somers with a cheap-shot (that the camera misses) and back breaker for two. The Champions double team Michaels in the corner with the referee distracted by Jannetty. Rose snaps Michaels across the top rope and boots him to the arena floor, where Somers greets him with a slam. Michaels spends forever and a day on the floor, teasing a count-out before rolling in at 9.5 (a spot WWE loves using to this day). Rose with a seated chin-lock. Whip to the ropes, Michaels blocks a hip toss and they fight over a back-slide, with Michaels getting the better of it for a near-fall. I won’t lie... that was a good use of the spot. Whip and Rose with a back drop. Somers with a gut-wrench suplex for two. He punishes the back with forearms and Rose sneaks in a cheap-shot from the apron. Rose with a delayed suplex but Jannetty saves Michaels on the pin-attempt. Michaels fights off a super-plex attempt, only to get straddled across the top rope. Somers with a whip to the corner, back drop and elbow drop for two. Michaels blocks a suplex from Rose and counters with his own. Jannetty with the hot tag, running wild on Rose with right hands and dropkicks. Jannetty with an atomic drop for two. Whip and a power-slam for two. Jannetty with a flying body press but Somers makes the save. Rose gets cleared from the ring and the Rockers finish Somers with a tandem suplex/body press at 17:36 (the same spot Jannetty and the 1-2-3 Kid used to win the WWF Tag Titles in 1994). BUT WAIT! Rose was the legal man, so the title-switch was over-turned on TV, leaving a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. The match was decent but dull, and the Dusty Finish tips the scale in favor of not awarding a point. 2 for 4
The Midnight Rockers vs. Dennis Stamp & Brian Knobs:
January 11th, 1987 from AWA TV. 20 years later, and Stamp is still known as the guy "that couldn’t get booked" on "Beyond the Mat." Knobs is of course known for his days alongside Jerry Sags as "The Nasty Boys", forming their team shortly after this. The referee, Earthquake Ferris, is bigger than both Rockers combined. Knobs and Jannetty lockup, with Knobs shoving him to the canvas. Jannetty sends Knobs face-first to the canvas and takes both opponents over with hip throws. Michaels in to even the odds and a pair of dropkicks clears the ring. Stamp tags in WHILE ALREADY STANDING IN THE RING. See, that’s why you didn’t get booked, because you’re stupid. He grabs a side headlock on Michaels. Crisscross and Michaels with an arm drag into the arm-bar. Jannetty back in to work the arm of Knobs. Whip to the corner and Knobs with a wild clothesline. Jannetty rolls away from an elbow drop and they hit Knobs with a unique double leg-sweep/clothesline that took way too long to set up. Knobs rakes the eyes of Michaels and plants him with a slam. Stamp sends Michaels to the corner and clearly calls a spot in his ear before tasting the turnbuckle himself. Jannetty with right hands on Knobs, followed by a diving elbow. Jannetty with a snap mare and Michaels with the flying elbow from the shoulders of Jannetty for three at 5:28. This was fun for what it was. 3 for 5
The Rockers vs. The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers (w/ Jimmy Hart):
Taped on October 6th, 1988 from Toledo, OH and featured on WWF Prime-Time Wrestling on October 25th, 1988 (insert obligatory "that’s from TV!" complaint some people will have in their heads, not understanding the clearly defined concept of "Unreleased" in all but one case in these DVD sets). Jannetty and Raymond start, and immediately Lord Alfred Hayes’ credibility is out the window, claiming the Rougeaus have yet to lose in 1988. Jannetty with a surprise roll-up on Jacques for two. Jacques stalls, offering Jannetty to hit him from behind. Jannetty rolls through a wrist-lock with a counter. Michaels in for the double wrist-lock and chop for two. Jacques misses a charge to the corner and the Rockers take turns working the arm. Whip and a double hip toss followed by a double elbow drop. Raymond scoops the leg of Michaels from the outside to swing momentum in their favor. Jacques with choking across the top rope while the referee is distracted. Michaels fights out of a seated chin-lock, but Raymond keeps him in their corner. Jacques with a whip and diving elbow before going back to the chin-lock. Jacques mocks the crowd with his own "U-S-A" chant. The referee misses the tag to Jannetty. Whip to the ropes and the Rougeaus with a double chop. Michaels drops an elbow across the back of Raymond’s head and finally tags in Jannetty. He runs wild with rights (and over-exaggerated excitement) and a diving elbow on Jacques. The Rockers take turns ramming Jacques into the turnbuckle pad. Jannetty comes off the top with the flying fist drop, but the referee is distracted AGAIN. Jimmy tosses in the mega-phone... and the referee sees it and calls for the DQ at 10:47. Wow, what a dumb finish. Post-match, they bop Michaels with the weapon for the hell of it. Not much to this, unfortunately. 3 for 6
WWF Tag Team Championship Match:
Demolition (c) (w/ Mr. Fuji) vs. The Rockers:
From the October 24th, 1988 card held at Madison Square Garden and featured on the November 1st (HALLOWEEN EDITION!) episode of Prime-Time Wrestling
. Ring entrances are cut for whatever reason (probably the one week of the year where they forgot to renew rights to "Demolition"). Superstar Billy Graham is still atrocious to listen to on color commentary. Michaels and Ax (Bill Eadie) lockup and that goes as well as you’d expect for Michaels. Ax unloads with clubbing rights. Whip to the ropes, Shawn ducks an elbow, but a body press is countered with a slam. Michaels rolls away from an elbow drop and returns fire with right hands of his own. Smash and Jannetty in now, with Smash controlling with axe-handles. Jannetty slips out of a slam and a series of dropkicks gets a two-count. Jannetty peppers Smash with rights, then backs off as they near the corner occupied by Ax. The Rockers take turns working the arm of Smash. Ax tags in, finding himself in the same dilemma. Ax with a headbutt between the eyes of Jannetty to take control. Whip and Demolition with a double elbow. Jannetty surprises Smash with a diving elbow and tags in Michaels. He runs wild until Ax pulls the ropes down, causing him to take a big bump out of the ring. Smash brings him back in with a suplex and turns Michaels over with a Boston Crab. Ax with a hard slam and knee across the throat. Michaels desperately throws rights at Smash but gets taken to the canvas with a drop toe hold. Michaels fights out of a bear-hug and makes the hot tag to Jannetty. He unloads on everyone with right hands. Jannetty with a twisting body press on Smash. They knock Ax and Smash into each other and connect with a pair of double dropkicks. Fuji hops on the apron and takes a shot, too. Jannetty comes off the top with the flying splash on Smash but Ax makes the save. Smash catches Jannetty off the ropes and Ax decks him with a clothesline from the apron for the three-count at 12:27. ***1/4 Much better than I remembered, and so far, the best match on the set. 4 for 7
The Rockers vs. The Brain Busters:
From the January 13th, 1989 card held at the Boston Garden. Seriously, what are the odds this won’t be good enough for a point? It’s impossible! No Heenan at ringside, likely working the show in Long Island that same day (featuring Andre, Rude, and Haku in action). Michaels and Anderson start. Michaels grabs a headlock and Anderson yanks the hair to escape. Arn takes a shot at Jannetty, bails, and gets a receipt. All four men brawl in and around the ring until the Rockers are left standing tall. Lockup into the ropes and Arn with a slap. Shawn quickly fires back with right hands and returns the favor. Blanchard gets the blind tag, but Michaels quickly flees the Brain Busters’ corner. The Rockers take turns working the arm of Blanchard. Whip to the ropes, Jannetty flips through a hip toss and counters with a slam. Anderson in with a knee to the midsection. Jannetty bridges out of an over-head wrist-lock and hits both Brain Busters with a dropkick to clear the ring. Back inside, Jannetty gets caught in the wrong corner but somehow fights his way free. All four men in the ring again for a slug-fest, won by Michaels and Jannetty. Anderson holds Blanchard back to avoid a dropkick, but he misses a follow-up elbow drop. Anderson with an elbow and right hands in the corner. Michaels flips out of the corner to avoid the charge, sends Arn across the ring with a hip toss, and takes him over with a hurricanrana. Whip to the ropes and the Rockers with a double dropkick. Jannetty counters Blanchard’s sling-shot suplex with a roll-up for two. He goes for the flying head-scissors, but Anderson assists in dropping him across the top rope. Anderson with a snap mare and stomp to the face. Blanchard cuts off a comeback, using the tights to throw him through the ropes. Back inside, Blanchard with an elbow drop for two. Jannetty with a sunset flip but Anderson gets the tag on the follow-through. Jannetty tries to dive over him, but Anderson counters with the inverted atomic drop. Jannetty with a bridge and back-slide on Blanchard for two. Anderson with his signature spine-buster (to a mixed response) for two. Jannetty slams Anderson face-first to the canvas and hot tags Michaels. He runs wild with right hands and dropkicks. Marty saves him from a double suplex and they connect with synchronized Super-Kicks. Jannetty to the top rope with a flying fist to Blanchard but Anderson makes the save. Michaels goes for a suplex, but Anderson sweeps the leg and holds him in place for Blanchard to get the three-count at 15:11. ***1/2 No surprise, this was a good match that followed the standard formula of Arn and Tully (get creamed for about 10-minutes, control a few, steal the fall). 5 for 8
The Rockers vs. The Hart Foundation:
Taped on December 14th, 1989 from the Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, Ontario. Looks like the streak continues. These teams worked together a lot around this time, so thankfully they went beyond MSG for this one. Jannetty and Hart lockup into the ropes for a clean break. Bret pounds the arm and takes Marty over with a headlock. They go through a series of counters, ending with both men in a neutral stance. Jannetty counters a hip toss with his own for a two-count before going to the arm-bar. Michaels in for the double-team arm drag and elbow drop, then Neidhart bulldozes both Rockers with a double clothesline. Michaels counters an Anvil headlock with a head-scissors. Whip to the ropes, Neidhart catches a body press, but Michaels turns it into a small package. Michaels counters a shoulder tackle with a roll-up for two. They take turns working the arm of Neidhart and repeatedly attempt to pin him without making tags. Jannetty escapes a test-of-strength, only to get knocked across the ring with a tackle. He out-smarts Neidhart the second time, sliding between the legs and taking him down into a front face-lock. Bret in, missing an elbow drop. Whip to the ropes, and Bret catches Michaels in the air with an inverted atomic drop. Bret with a clothesline, elbow drop, and stomp across the midsection. Neidhart sends him to the ropes and Bret gets a cheap-shot in for the fun of it. Bret in illegally with a back breaker for two. Michaels counters an uppercut with a back-slide, but the Hart Foundation remain in control. Michaels fights out of a bear-hug but can’t reach his corner. Michaels counters a side suplex with a slam. Neidhart with a snap mare into a chin-lock. Modified Demolition Decapitation for two. Whip is reversed but Michaels charges into a boot. Bret climbs the ropes and misses the elbow drop. Jannetty tags in and unloads with rights. Whip to the ropes and an elbow to Bret, followed by a dropkick on Neidhart. Power-slam and flying fist drop gets two. Flying body press for two. Bret misses a charge and gets taken over with a sunset flip for two. Bret sweeps the legs and stomps the chest. Jannetty counters a slam, but a flying body press misses, and he goes sailing over the top rope. Jannetty somehow makes the tag to Michaels, who gets OBLITERATED with a diving shoulder tackle from the Anvil. Whip to the corner, Michaels with a twisting body press for two. Sunset flip on Hart gets two. Bret blocks a suplex and counters with his own for two. Bret with a fist to the midsection and roll up, but Shawn follows through with a counter for two. They fight over an abdominal stretch, but Neidhart interrupts, and the bell rings at 21:22 for a TIME LIMIT DRAW. **** This was fantastic work for the era (as in the WWF era. You don’t want to know how bad the average match was). 6 for 9
The Rockers vs. The Orient Express (w/ Mr. Fuji):
From the April 29th, 1990 card taped in London, Ontario. I covered portions of the show in the DWB Archives (WWF April 1990 Flashback
, to be exact), and this happens to be one of the matches missing from that collection. This is the Akio Sato and Pat Tanaka version of the Orient Express, incase there’s any confusion. Holy crap, THE ORIENT EXPRESS THEME ISN’T EDITED OUT. The Express attack before the bell, but the Rockers quickly turn things around and clear the ring with dropkicks. Michaels with a hip toss on Tanaka, followed by the arm drag into an arm-bar. Whip to the corner and Michaels with a clothesline from the apron to a smatter of boos. Sato tags in and gets his arm worked over as well. Michaels avoids a cheap-shot in the corner and fights his way out. Sato with a handful of tights to toss Michaels out, where Fuji greets him with the cane across his back. Back inside, Tanaka with the leap-frog splash across the back for two. Michaels escapes a chin-lock but gets hit by Tanaka’s signature twisting forearm. Sato misses a flying... knee? Who knows. Tanaka keeps Michaels in the ring and levels him with a Super-Kick. A whip to the corner flips Michaels upside down. Crisscross and Michaels turns Tanaka inside-out with a clothesline. Jannetty with the hot tag, running wild with right hands. Fist to the midsection and running knee lift to Tanaka for two. Sato trips Michaels up while running the ropes and pulls him to the floor. The Rockers get the better of a brawl at ringside and beat the count for a cheap victory at 9:31. For some reason, this version of the Orient Express had little chemistry with the Rockers. 6 for 10.
The Rockers vs. Demolition (w/ Ax):
Taped on June 5th, 1990 from Rochester, NY. This is the 1st TV taping with Bryan Adams as "Crush", and what do you know, Demolition’s theme song is NOT edited out. They must’ve pulled the previous match with them from a source that was already edited. Demolition are the Tag Team Champions, but this is Non-Title. Crush and Michaels start. Lockup and a shove into the corner. Crush with clubbing blows across the back. Whip to the ropes, Michaels with a body press and Jannetty assists with a dropkick to knock them over. Crush counters a wrist-lock with a slam and tags in Smash, who gets caught in a front face-lock. Jannetty in to pick up where Shawn left off. Smash carries him into the corner and gives him a shove. Jannetty avoids a charge and knocks Smash into the corner with a dropkick. Michaels with a flying body press and Smash nearly drops him on his head. Ax with a cheap-shot on the floor to let the fans know they’re the bad guys now, and Crush with a sloppy press slam to put Michaels back in the ring. He must’ve learned that from Warrior. Back inside, Crush with a double axe-handle from the top rope. Whip to the ropes and Crush muscles him over for a back-drop. Michaels with a boot up in the corner, followed by a clothesline. Jannetty with the hot tag, laying into Smash with right hands and a diving elbow. Clotheslines to both members of Demolition and a dropkick to Smash gets two. Whip to the corner and Jannetty with a twisting body press for two. Demolition with a double-clothesline to cut him off. Michaels saves him from the Decapitation Elbow, only to get tossed to the floor. They set up again and this time Crush hits the elbow. Michaels in from the top rope with an axe-handle to break the count at two. Crush gets knocked to the floor and a double Super-Kick lays out Smash. Double Flying Fist Drop connects to a HUGE pop, but Crush makes the save. Heck continues to break loose, allowing Ax to clobber Michaels from the apron with a clothesline, allowing Smash to cover for three at 9:02. *** There were a few dull bear-hugs from Crush, but otherwise, this was good for a TV taping dark match. The crowd still popped occasionally for Demolition (minus Crush), too. 7 for 11.
The Rockers vs. The Natural Disasters (w/ Jimmy Hart):
Taped on October 1st from Huntington, WV and featured on the November 3rd episode of Wrestling Challenge. We’re smack in the middle of the Rockers break-up angle. Typhoon and Michaels start. Michaels uses his speed but gets caught in a bear-hug. He escapes by raking the eyes and recruits Jannetty in taking Typhoon off his feet. Lockup to the corner and Jannetty avoids being trapped by, gasp, going through the ropes. He slides in between the legs of Earthquake but misses a dive into the corner. Who is he, Koko B. Ware? Quake plants him with a Power-Slam. Michaels trips him up before he could drop ass. Typhoon with a brutal elbow drop. Marty rolls away from a second and hot tags Shawn. He runs wild on both men, including a double noggin knocker. Earthquake catches Jannetty’s body press, but Michaels is there to add leverage to complete the move for a two-count. Jannetty accidentally dropkicks Typhoon into Michaels, crushing him between the Natural Disasters. Quake and Typhoon finish with the Vertical Splash and Tidal Wave at 4:37 while Jannetty chases Hart from ringside. Post-match, Michaels refuses being taken out on a stretcher. The "David vs. Goliath" formula should’ve worked, but this just didn’t click. 7 for 12
WWF Tag Team Championship Match:
The Legion of Doom (c) vs. The Rockers:
Taped on December 4th, 1991 from Austin, TX, and featured on the December 28th episode of WWF Superstars. Michaels and Animal start. Lockup and Animal throws him into the corner. Michaels blind tags Jannetty, who comes in with a victory roll that doesn’t even get a one-count. Animal with a boot to the chest and a gorilla press slam. Hawk with a snap mare and jumping fist drop. Jannetty rolls away from an elbow and tags Michaels back in. He counters a press slam with a head scissors, but Hawk doesn’t sell it and lays him out with a clothesline. Hawk to the top rope, missing a flying clothesline. Whip and Michaels’ sunset flip attempt fails. Animal with a whip and power-slam. Michaels gets the knees up on a splash attempt. Jannetty with a sunset flip, assisted by Michaels, for two. Double super-kick to Hawk. Jannetty with a body press to Animal. Michaels with a dropkick to try and give him the momentum to fall on top, but accidentally hits an angle that turns it into Animal planting him with a power-slam, and that finishes at 3:30. Post-match, there’s some shoving and slapping between Shawn and Marty. Good TV match, but the LOD were presented as above the Rockers league. This turns out to be the last match with Shawn and Marty as a team until a one-night reunion in 2005 (that was AWESOME... and on another WWE DVD set). 8 for 13
Final Thoughts: If you’re a fan of Rockers era Shawn Michaels, then this is already a great DVD set with a solid selection of matches to highlight the earlier days of his career. You know, with how much we see of the Rockers, I wonder if Marty Jannetty gets any kind of residuals for this? Of the 13 matches featured, only a couple of them were of poor quality (the Disasters match for instance), but in most cases, they were either short or the purpose was to advance an angle rather than put on a wrestling clinic.
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