Shawn Michaels – Mr. Wrestlemania (Cert 15)
2 Discs Blu-ray / 3 Discs DVD (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 440 minutes approx
If you’re rolling your eyes at another release dedicated to old HB-Shizzle Shawn Michaels then this one is a little different as it collates all (well almost all) of his matches at the WWE’s biggest show of the year Wrestlemania, hence the title of this collection.
The sobriquet which inspired this title was something the ever modest Heartbreak Kid awarded himself in the build up to the his match against Kurt Angle at the 21st version of the annual mega event in the wake of his performance at Wrestlemania 10 in the now legendary ladder match against Razor Ramon. Along with “the show stopper” and “the icon” this particular nickname holds the most significance as HBK got older and would – like The Undertaker – deliver his most spectacular performances at the big spring show.
Having hung up the boots (apparently for good which is a rarity in wrestling these days) this is a time for HBK to reflect back on the sixteen of his seventeen Wrestlemania matches (the WM 20 match is understandably omitted). Kicking off with his WM debut as a part of The Rockers with Marty Jannetty we follow Michaels’s career through to the singles ranks to IC Champ to WWF Champ to future Hall Of Famer attempting to end the end The Undertaker’s streak.
It’s interesting to note the development of Michaels the wrestler and performer over the years making a rather rare smooth transaction from tag team wrestler to singles wrestler, aided by Sensational Sherri Martel, with whom he made a great tandem. The cocky Heartbreak Kid character was in full swing when Diesel was brought in as the monster bodyguard, who would late become a Wrestlemania opponent at WM 11, in complete contrast to the God fearing babyface upon his return after his five year hiatus in 2002 from a career threatening back injury.
Each match is preceded by Michaels sharing his personal insight into his feelings and mindset at the time, offering a look behind the scenes at the situations leading up to the match with often frankness. He talks about wanting to climb the ladder of success up the card, how he and Marty Jannetty almost quit the WWF in 1991 which lead to his singles push, not liking having WM 9 be built around Hulk Hogan, his wild lifestyle causing him to not remember the build up to WM 14, arguing with Vince McMahon over a spot during the WM 11 title match, retirement and more. It’s quite revealing stuff with some additional behind the scenes footage, some of which has hitherto been unseen or remained subject to rumour and conjecture among “smart fans”.
As we know the list of opponents for Mr Wrestlemania is an eclectic one, taking in legends, Hall Of Famers and even the owner of the WWE! Starting with curtain jerking affairs against the likes of the Twin Towers and the makeshift team of Haku and The Barbarian (later the Faces Of Fear in WCW), Tito Santana and Tatanka, it wasn’t until the aforementioned Ladder Match that HBK’s stock began to rise and the main events beckoned, starting with old ally Diesel in 1995 then Bret “The Hitman” Hart a year later.
After gutting it out with a severely damaged back in 1998 to put Stone cold Steve Austin over and kick-start the Attitude Era, Wrestlemania was HBK-free until 2003 when he returned to have a return to form blockbuster match against self-confessed Michaels worshipper Chris Jericho. From then on the hits just came one coming, including having to replace Triple H in 2007 against John Cena ending with the emotional trio of retiring Ric Flair and his two mega clashes against the Undertaker.
Quality wise there are little complaints about what is offered here, especially as the set moves closer to the era of Michaels’s career in which he cemented his legacy and rarely failed to have the best match on the big show. There is of course a slight issue regarding the fact that all of these matches are readily available on numerous other WWE home video releases, some appearing ad infinitum, making this collection feel like a gilded lily to make more money out of a bankable name.
However I’m sure the allure of having this impressive run of decent to great to classic Wrestlemania matches in one place is enough to justify this purchase for the diehard HBK fan, possibly doubled by the older ones being on Blu-ray for the first time (the first two sans Jesse Ventura’s commentary meaning lots of awkward blocks of silence).
A fitting tribute to one of the all time greats – even without the fantastic match from WM 20 – that tells the chronological and candid story of his growth as an opening act tag team wrestler to Hall Of Fame legend as much as any other set dedicated to the one and only Mr. Wrestlemania!
German, French Subtitles
WrestleMania V – 2nd April 1989 – The Rockers Talk About The Twin Towers
WrestleMania X – 20th March 1994 – Shawn Michaels Talks with Rhonda Shear
Shawn Michaels with Pamela Anderson
WrestleMania XI – 2nd April 1995 – Shawn Michaels and Sid Talk with Nicholas Turturro
WrestleMania XIX – 30th March 2003 – Shawn Michaels Post-Match Interview
WrestleMania XXVI – 28th March 2010 – Shawn Michaels Says Goodbye Backstage
Friends Leaving the Company
Because You’re A Girl
One Demand for Ric
The “Flair” Watch?
Hell to Pay
At Least the Dude’s Got Balls
End of an Era
Mr. WrestleMania vs. The Streak
The Shawn Michaels Encore Tour
WrestleMania Wish List
Flair – Michaels – Jericho
Rating – *****
Man In Black