The Icon. The Main Event. The Showstopper. Mr. WrestleMania. The Heartbreak Kid. Whatever moniker you choose to call Shawn Michaels he is one of the greatest WWE Superstars of all-time and one of my four favorite WWE Superstars of all time. Jim Ross once said that no one outperforms Shawn Michaels in a big match environment. That wasn’t hyperbole. It was the truth. So, as we sit just a mere two weeks away from WrestleMania 32 let’s take a look at CM’s Fave Four, Shawn Michaels WrestleMania Matches.
4. WWE Championship Match- John Cena defeats Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania 23) (****) (27:47)
There are so many great Shawn Michaels WrestleMania matches and so many that could have made this list. The top three were actually easy for me to pick. This one wasn’t. After thinking about a few different matches to list at number four I went with this one because of how it made me feel the day of WrestleMania 23. What was that feeling? The feeling of being a fan.
As you get older (at least for me) and you learn the inner workings of pro wrestling you tend to care less about who wins and losses and more concerned with how good the matches and stories are. That changed for me on this night. I was a fan that wanted to see one of his favorite wrestlers of all time win the WWE Championship one more time. I can remember living and dying with this match like I hadn’t done in almost ten years and can only say I’ve done a couple of times since then. When HBK returned to WWE in 2002 he only had a one month run as World Heavyweight Champion. He was always around the title but never won it. I really wanted my old favorite to become the WWE Champion one more time. The match was even better for me because I wasn’t conflicted in who is wanted to win. I didn’t care for John Cena at the time and wanted HBK to beat him clean in the middle of the ring. I rooted hard for HBK as if I was watched my beloved New York Yankees in the MLB Playoffs.
John Cena squashed my hopes on this night but it was still a great match that showed Shawn Michaels was still at the top of the mountain with or with a title belt and that John Cena was more than deserving of being the top guy in WWE.
3. Shawn Michaels pinned Chris Jericho (WrestleMania XIX) (****1/4) (22:30)
This is simply a fantastic wrestling match that probably would be deserving of being on this list had it not been Shawn Michaels’ return to WrestleMania. I’ll be honest though, it’s on this list because it is HBK’s WrestleMania return. Shawn had not wrestled at WrestleMania since losing to Steve Austin back at WrestleMania XIV. Shawn had come back to WWE in August of the previous year and had some really good matches and a World Heavyweight Championship reign but people wondered just how Mr. WrestleMania would fare on the biggest stage of them all.
Shawn Michaels preformed just as you would expect HBK to perform at WrestleMania, like a Hall of Famer. Outside of Triple H, Chris Jericho was the perfect opponent for Shawn Michaels in his return to WrestleMania. Much like how Shawn wanted to be Ric Flair growing up, Chris Jericho wanted to be Shawn Michaels so you had that back story of could Jericho stand toe-to-toe with his idol at WrestleMania of all places. It was just an added layer of emotion to a match that didn’t really need anymore but having it made it just that much better. Shawn looked at home in a WWE ring at WrestleMania and picked up the win with a cradle after each guy kept kicking out of and reversing each other’s signature moves.
From this WrestleMania until his retirement at WrestleMania XXVI, HBK competed in a Match of the Year Contender every year except WrestleMania XXII, which was still a damn entertaining match.
2. The Undertaker beat Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania XXV) (*****) (30:44)
Do I even need to explain why this match is on this list? I remember texting a friend that attended this WrestleMania after this match was over and telling her “this is why we love wrestling” and that can’t be truer. There are few matches that suck you in from the opening bell and keep you totally engrossed until it’s all over. It’s as if nothing else in the world matters but watching these two legends do what they do better than almost anyone in the history of professional wrestling. Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker were a combined 90 years old at the time of this match and yet they preformed as if they back in 1997 when they had their epic Hell in a Cell Match.
I knew Undertaker was winning this match yet when HBK would get those near falls after hitting Sweet Chin Music I was thinking that maybe, just maybe Shawn would pull it off. The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels did an amazing job of creating drama in a match where a lot of people were certain of the outcome. I loved how they showed the exhaustion they were going through during such a grueling match. Tombstones, Last Rides, Chokeslams all hit by the Undertaker and all kicked out of by Michaels. The Undertaker kicked out of two Sweet Chin Musics to further the drama. The ending was so awesome when The Undertaker caught Shawn Michaels trying to hit a moonsault and hit one final Tombstone to pick up the win. The only thing left to do after watching this match is stand up, clap and say “Thank you”. To me, this is the greatest match in the history of WrestleMania.
1. Iron Man Match for the WWE Championship- Shawn Michaels defeated Bret Hart (WrestleMania XII) (****1/4) (61:56)
If I was creating a list of Shawn Michaels’ Top Five best WrestleMania matches it wouldn’t even make that list but it is my favorite Shawn Michaels WrestleMania match. The reason for that is because it takes me back to being a kid when I was starting to fall out of love with wrestling after Hulk Hogan left WWE. I didn’t have a new favorite wrestler to get emotionally invested in. Then I started hanging out with Joe from the down the street. I was 12 at the time and we both liked baseball and liked to play pickup games but so did a lot of other kids. What made this budding friendship different was that he loved wrestling and his favorite wrestler was the flamboyant Shawn Michaels. Joe showed me how much cooler HBK was than Diesel (who I guess was my favorite at the time) and I eventually became a big fan and adopted Shawn Michaels as my new favorite wrestler after he won the 1996 Royal Rumble and earned a WWE Championship Match at WrestleMania XII.
I didn’t get to see WrestleMania XII live because I was punished for doing something stupid. I could’ve duct taped the dog and or poked out the eyes of my sister’s Teddy Ruxpin. I don’t know, I was a kid and kids do stupid stuff that gets them punished. I listened to the broadcast of WrestleMania and tried to watch through the squiggly lines on the PPV channel. I was so excited that Shawn Michaels who was my new favorite wrestler won the championship. I hadn’t been that excited over the outcome of a wrestling match since Hulk Hogan won the WWE Championship back at WrestleMania VII. My love for wrestling was back.
Joe and I watched that match every day after school for almost a month straight. After we’d watch the match we’d reenact it too. I suffered the fate of being Bret Hart all the time since it was Joe’s tape and he had the trampoline at his house. His house, his rules but it didn’t change my love for that match and the fact that it brought me back to being a kid that loved professional wrestling.
I feel bad not mentioning WrestleMania VII (Rockers vs. Barbarian and Haku), WrestleMania X (Ladder Match vs. Razor Ramon), WrestleMania 21 (vs. Kurt Angle) and WrestleMania XXIV (vs. Ric Flair) since all of those matches hold a special place in my fandom of Shawn Michaels but this is only a Fave FOUR column. I guess the point is Shawn Michaels was the man and more than deserving of the moniker “Mr. WrestleMania”.
Be sure to let me know what you thought of my list and let me know your favorite Shawn Michaels WrestleMania matches down in the comments.
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