Ladies and Gentlemen, on April 2, 1989 at Wrestlemania V, The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels entered the building.
Only he wasn’t HBK, the Showstopper, the Main Event, or Mr. Wrestlemania yet. Once upon a time, Shawn Michaels was a tag team specialist with Marty Jannetty and the two comprised the tag team of The Rockers. The Rockers were a very different team than The Midnight Express, or Demolition. They were known more as babyface high-flyers that were popular with the female and child demographic due to their look, style and previous work in the AWA. Shawn Michaels entered the Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, New Jersey with Jannetty for Wrestlemania V in their pink shirts, yellow trunks and according to Michaels’ autobiography, massive hangovers. But Shawn Michaels made his Wrestlemania debut that night as a member of The Rockers. As they took on the tag team of The Big Bossman (RIP) and Akeem who were known as The Twin Towers.
The match began with The Rockers using their speed against the powerful Twin Towers. What made The Rockers work as a team was that speed and near flawless synchronicity with each other in the ring. The two were either explosive off the top rope, or performing high offense tag team wrestling. During this match with The Twin Towers, Jannetty and Michaels would make consistent tags with one another and focused on the arm of Akeem until eventually Jannetty performed a leap frog over Akeem and landed right into the arms of The Bossman and he then found himself into a Twin Towers sandwich as the momentum of the match shifted. The Towers would use their huge bodies and weight against Jannetty to keep him grounded until Jannetty could finally duck a running body slam by Akeem. He crawled to make the hot tag to Shawn Michaels.
Michaels comes out exploding with a springboard dropkick onto Akeem as the tempo has picked back up for The Rockers. The pair would perform a series of combination irish whips into the corner and finish with a double shoulder block to put the big man down. Michaels would get caught with a huge clothesline, The Bossman would come in to miss a big splash off the top rope. The Rockers answered back with combination dropkicks from the top rope before Akeem would take care of Jannetty, The Bossman would deliver a devastating powerbomb to Michaels and Akeem would hit Air Africa for the three count. The Twin Towers would take the victory, Michaels would take his first defeat, but Shawn Michaels had his first taste of the grandest stage of them all.
Unfortunately, this particular match is rather difficult to find online for some reason. I wouldn’t worry about it. It isn’t going to be a problem later on that I can promise. Regardless, the debut of Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania is lackluster after all these years. The action in the ring wasn’t bad, it was solid actually for it’s time. I’d actually compare The Rockers then to what the Usos are now. It was a decent match early in the card, but its strange and a little surreal to go back to the very beginning to see where it all started. It wasn’t flashy, or glorified. For Shawn Michaels it started at Wrestlemania V where he was in an exciting tag team and had a solid tag team match in the second match of the night. I just find it surreal to see Shawn Michaels not steal the show. This night belonged to Hogan and Randy Savage. But it is clear that in the case of HBK, the agility, quickness and showmanship was always there no matter how hungover he was that day. It is really interesting to see what Michaels was like this early in his career and especially at Mania V before he goes on to define the event’s history. Because if I was actually in the Trump Plaza with you that night and we saw Akeem hit that big splash called Air Africa on Shawn Michaels for the three count. If I turned to you and said that you just watched the greatest performer in Wrestlemania history’s debut match. You would have thought I was crazy. This is why I like this column as much as I do. If you can manage to find the full match, watch it and tell yourself where he is going to end up in twenty years with The Undertaker. It is going to be a lot of fun to watch this tag team specialist become Mr. Wrestlemania over the next sixteen matches.