Shawn Michaels’ Wrestlemania Career: Shawn Michaels vs. El Matador – Wrestlemania VIII
We are off and running. The first singles match of Shawn Michael’s Wrestlemania Career. This is where he really needs to step it up because The Rockers are over. He has Sensational Sherri on his side, and he is finally The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels. It is going to be a lot of fun to watch Shawn Michaels make the Intercontinental Championship look like a billion dollars. This is the Shawn Michaels that we are going to fall in love again. For Michaels’ solo career, we start with Wrestlemania VIII in the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis. HBK has his first singles Mania match in the opening bout against El Matador himself, Tito Santana. Unfortunately and fortunately, this bout is just a singles match, but we did get the awesome Bret Hart and Roddy Piper IC Title match on this card. Michaels may not be there yet, but let’s watch him wrestle circles around Santana shall we?
Let’s talk about the character change a little bit. I’m really liking the Sherri “Sexy Boy” theme that Michaels is coming out to here. If I may, it is sensational. Sorry, but I’m just pumped. He finally feels like Shawn Michaels to me. It is the attention to detail that makes this work for me. For example, the “I’m too sexy for this crowd” jacket is great. Overall, I think what works between Shawn and Sherri is her reputation with DiBiase, Macho Man and so on, but there is a difference with the two of them together. Sherri just makes him look good and she makes me care about him because she is so established that her being sweet with him as a lady just makes him look like the kind of douche that Vickie Guerrero wanted Dolph Ziggler to be. It is also really great to watch HBK just be able to play and use his natural charisma to get heel heat. In The Rockers, he was so vanilla. This just fits him as a person better. It really just feels like the cage bars are gone. I don’t think anyone would argue that Shawn Michaels always looked good before he ever got in the ring. With Sherri and the look, all he has to do is perform in the ring. Let’s be honest here, it’s Shawn Michaels carrying the ball. This match is going to be fine.
This match isn’t easy to find. If anyone can help, we’d appreciate it. Regardless, HBK dances around a little bit, taunts before the match and eventually Santana just goes for it. They both just pick up the tempo quick and hit a nice crossbody before continuing the pushing match-up. Santana takes Michaels to the ground and then sends him to the outside with a clothesline. Santana has the momentum as Sherri comes around to take care of Shawn. The announcers are doing a good job of making them a couple and as a partnership. That is important here too. Santana eventually drags HBK back into the ring and gets him into a headlock until Michaels pushes him into the corner and starts going to work on him with strikes. Santana is doing a good job of selling for him as well. After some trickery in the corner, Michaels gets grounded as the pace of the match slows down. It has really been hot and cold thus far. Michaels is just stuck in this headlock. He eventually finds a way to throw Santana over the ropes to the outside.
Sherri is hovering over Santana and her unpredictability is great. Eventually, Santana gets back in the ring and Micheals hits a solid backbreaker on him for a two count. Now its El Matador in the headlock as the match has almost stalled. Santana fights out of it, hits the ropes and gets hit on the chin with HBK’s boot for Sweet Chin Music. Michaels would rather taunt the crowd than go for the pin. However, it wasn’t Sweet Chin Music yet. Michaels was using the side suplex thing at this point. He attempts one on Santana but he fights out of it. Santana picks up the pace and lands a huge flying forearm to send Michaels outside the ring. Santana makes good use of Michael’s head and the ring steps, jerk. Santana lands a springboard shoulder tackle. Santana is on fire as he is hitting Michaels with a ton of stuff. HBK is in trouble here. Santana would knock him out of ring, he would try a scoop slam over the ropes that would fail as Michaels falls on him for a surprising three count and the Shawn Michaels victory. To finish the bout, HBK does the vintage pose with Sensational Sherri to end the contest.
I have two very different arguments about this match. On one hand, it is hard to like for me because it only had about thirty seconds of actually intrigue. It was too many headlocks and strikes to the outside. I understand about using the Sherri angle, but it could have been better. Having said that, I love the fact that super cocky and brass Shawn Michaels went out there to open Wrestlemania VIII with Sensational Sherri to only get a flawed and lucky Wrestlemania victory. His character is supposed to be the cocky heel and if he can’t be miles better than the face, why not be a lucky douche? It does work perfectly to get the character over on the grand stage. This does feel like Shawn Michaels, but it doesn’t feel like the Heartbreak Kid. With The Undertaker, the storyline to the match does a ton of the work. I’m not saying Michael’s doesn’t carry storylines in the ring at Mania eventually. It is just that Michaels was at his absolute best when he just needed to go in the ring and take over the match. He isn’t that guy yet, but you can see it growing. You can see the effort from the booking and from him. The win does make sense and it gets him exposure as a solo act on the Wrestlemania stage. It is only a matter of time until he starts to blow our minds.