Written By: Mark Armstrong
Running Time: 540 Minutes
Number Of Discs: 3
Studio: Fremantle Home Entertainment
Released: October 1 2018
(Thanks to Fetch Publicity for arranging this review.)
Following on from the Unreleased collection for Randy Savage, and similar compilations for the likes of Hulk Hogan and Bret Hart in the past, the newest WWE DVD takes a trip into the vaults of the one and only Shawn Michaels.
As any longtime fan knows, Michaels is one of the greatest wrestlers of all-time, making this quite the appealing prospect; the guy struggles to have a bad match! It’s also extremely timely, given the heavy rumours that we might just see The Showstopper come out of retirement in the very near future.
For now, though, let’s take a look at this DVD. We start in Mid-South, as a very young Shawn competes in tag team action, and against a young (but older than Shawn) Jake Roberts. We then see several Midnight Rockers doubles bouts from the AWA, with the combo of Michaels and Marty Jannetty starting to garner real interest within the wrestling business (for both their incredible in-ring ability and their increasingly-wild activities outside the ring). It would have been nice to see footage of their one-off WWF match from 1987 (they were hired, then fired after just one day due to a bar incident that Shawn maintains was blown way out of proportion), but we do get seven Rockers bouts against all of the top WWF tag teams of the era, dating from 1988 to 1991. The final bout is against The Legion Of Doom, which would be one of their final teamings before the famous Barbershop segment where Michaels turned heel on Jannetty in spectacular fashion.
From there, we move onto Shawn as a singles performer. The early days of his solo run are covered by a bout against Jimmy Snuka, a Piper’s Pit cameo, and an Intercontinental Championship bout against Mr. Perfect. We then jump ahead to HBK and Diesel facing The Headshrinkers in 1994, before the public workout segment to promote Diesel vs. Shawn at WrestleMania XI. After WM XI, Michaels went face, a role he plays against King Kong Bundy and in a tag bout alongside Bret Hart, and a six-man alongside Diesel and The Undertaker. As the summer and autumn of 1995 progressed, it became clear that Shawn was being pushed slowly towards the WWF Championship, a title he would finally win at WrestleMania XII.
As WWF Champion, Michaels was known for having excellent matches but being unable to draw high ratings/buy rates or live attendances. As noted, though, his ring work was brilliant, and he demonstrates his talents during this first title reign on this DVD against 123 Kid, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Yokozuna, Vader and Justin Hawk Bradshaw (JBL, or JHB in this case). Because this DVD is rated PG in the States, the only offering from 1997 comes against The Brooklyn Brawler from Madison Square Garden in November of that year, just after the Montreal Double-Cross. Not too long after that, Shawn suffered the back injury that would sideline him for many years, before his historic comeback at SummerSlam 2002, followed by an unexpected World Title win at Survivor Series of that year.
His only title defence on TV is the next match on the DVD against Rob Van Dam. We then see singles bouts against Chris Jericho (which has been released on Raw’s Most Memorable Matches – you can read our review of that DVD here – though as a UK-only release, that supposedly doesn’t count), Christian and Ric Flair, and a tag alongside Batista against Triple H and Edge. After a hidden gem of a Raw bout against Kurt Angle, we see the reformed DX in a Texas Tornado bout (which has also been released on The New And Improved DX, which certainly should count since it was released worldwide), more tags alongside John Cena and Batista, and a final tag bout alongside The Undertaker against JBL and Vladimir Kozlov to close proceedings.
It’s down to opinion as to whether the right selections were made for this DVD. understandably, due to the fact that many bouts are dark matches, the in-ring standard isn’t quite as high as it is for, say, From The Vault or even My Journey. But it is jam-packed with forgotten matches, unseen encounters and some genuinely great bouts that simply hadn’t been released yet. Even a sub-standard Shawn match is better than the majority of bouts from most other wrestlers, meaning that you’ll get a real kick (or a superkick?) out of it. Any fan of Shawn Michaels should pick this DVD up today, and it’s a nice warm-up for what will apparently be Shawn’s first match since 2010 in the next few months.
Overall Rating: 9/10 – Outstanding