Wrestling 101: Shawn Michaels
It's the second article in our Wrestling 101 series, and this time we focus on Mr. Wrestlemania himself. Shawn Michaels is one of the greatest wrestlers of all time; it's not a debatable point either. His in-ring ability coupled with his stellar mic skills made him a reliable asset to the WWE for nearly twenty years. In that twenty years, Michaels solidified why he is one of the greatest of all time with matches against the likes of the Undertaker, Mic Foley, Chris Jericho, and many other Hall of Famers. While he started as a tag team wrestler with Marty Jannetty as The Rockers, he soon broke out on his own and become the clear heir to the WWE throne. Michaels wrestled until 1998 when he suffered a believed career-ending injury which caused him to retire, for a time, until his full-time return to wrestling in 2002. His time back would yield some of the greatest matches he had.
Wrestlemania 25: Light vs. Dark
This is one of the greatest matches of all time, and it honestly needs no explanation. The match needs to be watched in it's entirety to fully appreciate the true greatness of the match.
Wrestlemania 26: Streak vs. Career
It might seem a tad derivative to post both of the Undertaker and Shawn Michaels' Wrestlemania encounters, but this one is worth watching because of the career ramifications. Michaels had been taunting Undertaker, attempting to goad him into one more match together after Michaels couldn't beat the streak the year before. Undertaker would not settle for just another match with Michaels, he wanted something more from the bout. After Michaels attacked Taker at Elimination Chamber, costing him the title, Taker told Michaels to put his career on the line for another shot at the title. Michaels obliged, and the ensuing match, while not as great as their previous one, was still one of the greatest of all time.
Michaels vs. Cena Wrestlemania 23 Rematch
Michaels and Cena had a fantastic match at Wrestlemania 23, but an even better encounter occurred a few weeks later on Raw. At Mania Cena successfully defended the WWE title against Michaels, but Michaels betrayed Cena the next night on Raw for another shot at the title. While their match on Raw was a non-title match, it was almost an hour long and is considered one of the finest matches Raw has ever had.
Wrestlemania X: First Ladder Match
While ladder matches are commonplace occurrences now, hell the TLC PPV has ladders in the title, Wrestlemania X featured the first mainstream ladder match. Both Razor Ramon and Michaels were Intercontinental Champions at the time due to Michaels not acknowledging having to vacate his title months earlier. Ramon won a battle royal to obtain the IC title, yet Michaels continued to flaunt the IC belt he had. This setup their match for the titles at Mania, both of which were suspended above the ring, and the first to climb the ladder and retrieve the titles won. It's an amazing match, a little slow by today's ladder match standards, but a influential match nonetheless.
Wreslemania 21: Michaels vs. Angle
Kurt Angle is one of the greatest technical wrestlers of all time, most of that coming from the fact that he is an actual Olympic gold medalist. Along with his technical prowess, Angle was a violent heel who was always trying to prove himself as the best. When he and Michaels stepped into the ring together at Wrestlemania 21, it was the best all-around wrestler facing the best technical wrestler. Their match was one of the best on the card, and a true standout for both men's careers.
These five matches are just a taste of what Shawn Michaels has to offer. He was one of the most dynamic wrestlers that the WWE has ever seen, and his legacy lives on through wrestlers such as Seth Rollins, Daniel Bryan, and Dolph Ziggler.