Shawn Michaels’ Wrestlemania Career: Shawn Michaels vs. Tatanka – Wrestlemania IX

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I’ve been waiting for this since the beginning. There are four guys that define the Intercontinental Championship for me. They are Chris Jericho, Ricky Steamboat, The Rock and Shawn Michaels. I love watching Shawn Michaels wear that title because i think it is the title that made him. Today, we get to see The Heartbreak kid Shawn Michaels defend the IC Title against Tatanka at Wrestlemania IX. Shawn Michaels was in a feud with Sensational Sherri who was out for revenge against her former boy toy. Shawn’s old friend Marty Jannetty had tried hit him with a mirror, but Michaels hilariously used Sherri as a human shield. Sherri turned on Michaels and would be in the corner of Tatanka. Tatanka was in the middle of an solid undefeated streak and had beaten Michaels twice before by pinfall. The Heartbreak Kid’s Championship reign was in trouble as he defended it at Cesars Palace in Vegas.

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We begin with the great and magnificent Finkus Maximus announcing The Heartbreak Kid and Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels. The champ enters the arena as the true colors are starting to come out and we are seeing more and more of the Shawn Michaels we love. He is followed by Luna Vachon who scowls at anyone around her as she waits by Shawn’s corner. The Native American chant echos oer the arena as Tatanka comes racing down the aisle. Sherri walks down coldly and slowly with a look of determination to see Shawn Michaels have the IC Championship away from him. As there is a stalemate between the two ladies on the outside, inside the ring the bell sounds and the match is ready to go.

Shawn Michaels takes his sweet time to take off his attire as Tatanka comes in with a ton of momentum. The two feel each other out as Michaels takes control with an overhand wrist lock. Tatanka uses his great strength to rise out of it and push Michaels away with a clear message that he will not be an easy defeat. Michaels maintains the advantage in the match with a side headlock, but Tatanka uses his power again with a back suplex. In an awesome sequence, Tatanka turns a top rope maneuver from HBK into a big arm drag and then another before he lands another dropkick. Tatanka irish whips Shawn Michaels into the corner and he gets turned inside out in classic Michaels form and he is backhanded to he outside in an amazing sequence between the two men. The tempo has picked up very quickly and this match had my curiosity, but now it has my attention.

The the outside the tension between Luna and Sherri mounts as Shawn Michaels recovers on the outside. Tatanka thwarts HBK’s attempts to get back into the ring with overarm strikes, but Michaels was finally able to get into the ring with a top rope sunset flip for a two count. Michaels and Tatanka try to one up each other in terms of athleticism. Tatanka takes control and goes to work on the arm of Michaels. He goes after the arm with an armbar and overhand chops to the shoulder. Luna paces on the outside as HBK tries a clothesline that hurts his own shoulder. Tatanka does a number on the arm of HBK as Sherri takes pride in the suffering of Michaels. Michaels goes for a spear in the corner on the ringpost, only to realize that it would only do more damage to him. Tatanka goes right back to the arm. Michaels tries to use the corner, but Tatanka just has an answer for all of Shawn’s offense as he lands a shoulder breaker. He goes on to land a big elbow and he goes for a few axe handles before Michawls catches him with a beautiful superkick. The tensions continue to rise quickly on the outside as Luna and Sherri bark over the body of Tatanka on the outside. Michaels takes control and hits a high risk flying elbow from the apron. Michaels continues to pound on Tatanka and makes his way to Sensational Sherri.

Michaels taunts her and the crowd as he enters the ring to retain control of the match. He hits a good swinging neckbreaker for a close two count. Michaels starts to move in for the victory and starts controlling the tempo for the end. A reverse chinlock is applied as the crowd starts to roar for Tatanka. He hears them and begins to build his comeback. Michaels cuts the momentum and gets closer to ending the undefeated streak until Tatanka catches Michaels being fancy and connects with an electric chair. The resourceful champion refuses to let the match end there let Tatanka regain control of the match. However, the fight of the Native American begins to be too much and nothing hurts him. It is as if every blow Michaels performs only makes him stronger. The momentum is built for Tatanka as he begins the warpath. Tatanka takes him down with multiple strikes and hits a huge crossbody for a long two count. Tatanka catches Michaels in a dropkick and catapults him into the corner and a small package for anothe close two count. Michaels answers with a small package of his own for a two count. The two men have entered a stalemate as the match begins to whine down.

HBK goes for a crossbody that Tatanka turns into a powerslam for yet another long two. The crowd chants for Sherri as Michaels misses on the outside apron. Unexpectedly, on his way back into the ring, Michaels pulls out the referee. Back on the inside, Tatanka hits a devastating fallaway slam that may have finished Michaels off, but the referee calls for the bell. Michaels got himself counted out apparently and Tatanka gets the win to keep his streak alive. However, The Heartbreak Kid keeps the championship. Afterward, HBK leaves with his belt as Luna finally snaps on Sherri and bodyslams her on the outside before running backstage. Tatanka takes her to the back as the match ends.

Let’s just get this out of the way, this was the first good match for Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania. It isn’t that his others so far have not been entertaining, it is just that this one actually had something to really talk about. The match started off with a great sequence and the match was very back and forth in a positive way, but the ending left this match sour in my opinion. Pulling out the referee was random and it was intriguing and instead of rolling with it, the match was almost cancelled in a way. Tatanka and HBK had built up a lot of momentum in that match to start of Wrestlemania IX and the crowd was ready for the finish, but they really just didn’t know how to end this match. Tatanka was undefeated and Michaels was the IC Champ. It is obvious they didn’t want to change anything so they went with the count out, but why not have Michaels leave, or get himself disqualified by Sherri on the outside. It would have made the match better than a questionable count out call by the referee pull out. Although, that is a really clever way to try to get out of a ten count that I haven’t seen before.

Otherwise, I like the match a lot. It was quick and had two guys who worked well together. I was surprised by this match a lot, but I really shouldn’t be because this is the point in Michael’s career where things really shift into anther gear. A lot of things are about to change as Michaels is about to up his game by several notches. I’m excited to write tomorrow because we all know what is coming next and it is going to be great match. In my opinion, the match that made The Heartbreak Kid. The match that brought Shawn Michaels up the ladder to a new level.

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  • Chris

    This was a great match. Just watched Wrestlemania IX again for the first time in years and this stands out as a highlight, rivalled only by the great Steiners/Headshrinkers bout that followed.