#P113 – Best Of Intercontinental Championship Matches

James Dixon:

 

WWF Intercontinental Championship
Shawn Michaels (c) vs. Crush
From UK Rampage ’93, a show so bad that it caused Furious to turn to drinking in Volume #2. Crush was hugely over in Sheffield and looked set for a push to the top, but his complete lack of ability in the ring hampered him. As a babyface he became the Intercontinental title division’s equivalent of Lex Luger; unable to get the job done and bring home the title on a number of occasions. What I find strange about Crush is the amount of times he was repacked while keeping the same name. When a gimmick didn’t work or a guy left and returned to the WWF, it was usually with a different name, even if it was really subtle, like Sid Justice becoming Sycho Sid. But it never happened to Crush, he didn’t even get the “cool” treatment and become “Krush”. He just used the same name left over from Demolition, whether he was a Hawaiian surfer (and doesn’t the name Crush just fit that gimmick perfectly…), Japanese sympathiser, pissed off ex-con or gangland biker. Five looks/gimmicks he had in the WWF, and he used the name Crush for all of them (though he just went by his real name for his 5-minute WWF KroniK spell). Pretty wild when you think about it. Furious was hammered by the time he did this match and I think he overrated it a smidge, because it is just standard fare between the two, with Michaels doing all he can to mould wood like it is clay. It isn’t. Crush wins on a count out and celebrates with the title, because he is as dumb as he looks. If you want to know more about the match, go and buy Volume #2!
Final Rating: **

 

WWF Intercontinental Championship
Bret Hart (c) vs. Skinner
This comes from one-off midweek pay-per-view This Tuesday In Texas which is covered as part of the Supertape ’92 review by Arnold Furious in Volume #2. Throughout his career, Bret Hart was a generous opponent in the ring, sometimes too much so. Here he is taking on WWF low-card cartoon act Skinner, who is inexplicably the number one contender to the prestigious IC title. Granted, the man behind the gimmick, Steve Keirn, was for many years an excellent hand, but in the WWF he is presented and treated like a jobber by the majority of the roster and the company, so there is no reason for the contest to take place. But it does, and rather than Bret polishing Skinner off in a few minutes with relative ease, he actually works a highly competitive and decent length match against him. While you can certainly praise Bret for his attempts at getting his opponents over, whoever they were, it does serve to damage his kayfabe reputation when he needs 15-minutes to beat an elevated squash guy, especially when he is IC champion. It was the same during his first WWF title run, with Hart working long back-and-forth contests against everyone from Virgil to Fatu to Papa Shango. Hardly the crème de la crème of top tier guys. Don’t get me wrong, I have no complaints about his in-ring work or the inherent generosity on display, I just think it could have hurt his star aura a little. Luckily he was so popular with his loyal fan base that it didn’t, but it is not an ideal template for success generally speaking. Obviously going too far in the other direction and becoming predictably invincible (take a bow John Cena and Hulk Hogan) has its detriments too. There is a fine balance, something the likes of Steve Austin and The Rock nailed to perfection. They were the best, but they were beatable. They certainly wouldn’t take 15-minutes to beat Skinner.
Final Rating: **

 

WWF Intercontinental Championship
Shawn Michaels (c) vs. Marty Jannetty
This is from Monday Night Raw in July 1993. These two were previously partners of course, in the tremendous Rockers tag team that reinvented tag wrestling in the WWF in the late 80s and early 90s. They had been feuding on and off for the better part of 18-months by this point, with the stopping and starting down to Jannetty’s semi-frequent “personal demons” rearing their ugly head. Jannetty actually got a title run out of the feud, albeit a brief one for twenty days. Ironically enough, a few months after this match it would be Michaels who encountered the same kind of personal issues as Jannetty, failing a drugs test and being stripped of the title and subsequently wrote off TV for a while. The bout these two had in May where Jannetty won the title was voted PWI Match of the Year, and would thus probably have been a better choice for inclusion on a “best of” tape, but never mind. This is at least fairly fresh in the sense that it doesn’t turn up on any other tape. The story in the early going here is Michaels trying various things but being countered or scouted by Jannetty, and his frustration building. It makes sense of course, with them being former partners, so you would expect them to know each other’s styles and movesets. Michaels tries the same with Jannetty’s offence, but Marty is too quick for him and scouts the scouting, and as Michaels misses another move, Jannetty catches him with a DDT and wins the match and the title… only he doesn’t, because Michaels’ foot was on the rope and thus we continue. Things don’t slow down from the fast pace they have cut, and even a Jannetty sleeper hold is pleasingly energetic. They do a chinlock that lasts a little too long, but come right back with more high-octane stuff and some exciting nearfalls. Shawn gets tied in the ropes after a Rockerdropper but a Jannetty crossbody attempt is ducked and he goes sailing to the outside. Diesel, who I should point out is clad in jeans and a sparkly white jacket, throws Jannetty back inside and an out-on-his-feet Michaels covers for the win. This match has divided opinion amongst the more well-known reviewers, with some rating it as highly as ****¾ and others as low as ***½. The usual “too much chinlock” argument is thrown about when it gets rated lower, but as I have said before; that to me is not enough to take away from the rest of the match. You cannot expect them to work with the intensity and pace they were, flat out, for 15-minutes without a brief rest. At the risk of looking like I am sitting on the fence, I rate this somewhere in the middle of those two trains of thought. It was very good, great in fact, but not quite at the very top end of the scale for me. Still, it is a match absolutely worth hunting down, and one that must surely be considered one of the best in the history of Raw. It makes me wonder why this, rather than the May encounter, didn’t win the PWI MOTY award.
Final Rating: ****¼

 

WWF Intercontinental Championship
Shawn Michaels (c) vs. Mr. Perfect
Ladies and gentlemen, hands down the most underwhelming and disappointing WWF match of the 90s, from SummerSlam ’93. This was a workrate fan’s wet dream going in, because both guys move and sell better than pretty much anyone is history. I have seen other matches between these guys on both Coliseum releases and on TV, and they were excellent, but they just don’t click here. The timing is all off and for me, the heel/face alignment is wrong too in order to get the best out of both. Obviously that was unavoidable in this particular match because that is how they had been positioned, but I am merely digressing. The best possible match for them would have been babyface Shawn from either 1996 or towards the end of his career, and Mr. Perfect in 1989/90 as a heel. Both were untouchable in their respective prime eras. I have heard some blame Michaels being angry with Hennig for the communications breakdown in this match, but I am not convinced this was the case and feel it might be one in a long list of “common wrestling fan misconceptions”. According to Kevin Nash, Curt Hennig was considered “a god” by the Kliq guys because he helped break some of them into the business and helped a lot of them along the way, in Shawn’s case back in the AWA and on his route to singles stardom. Thus it is unlikely that Shawn would disrespect Curt or indeed blemish his own burgeoning reputation by purposely derailing the match. Unfortunately, the more likely reason for it falling apart and both guys being somewhat off, is an overindulgence the night prior. That of course, is entirely subject to conjecture. I think I should point out that this is far from bad, and when you try and watch it without the albatross of disappointment hanging around its neck, it becomes slightly more enjoyable. The lame count out finish is a shame though, especially in hindsight with Perfect retiring again soon after the bout. They should have just put Michaels over cleanly. Keep your non-finishes to TV and CHV, do a goddamn blowoff on pay-per-view.
Final Rating: **¾

 

WWF Intercontinental Championship
Shawn Michaels (c) vs. Hacksaw Jim Duggan
From Monday Night Raw and oh goodie, Duggan! This is singlet-era Duggan, long after he stopped being relevant or taken seriously. What did Michaels do to deserve this? This was the true litmus test for HBK; seeing if he could get a decent match out of Duggan. It doesn’t look promising at first, because Duggan just stalls for an age, running through his usual tired routine. Eventually they lock up and Duggan bumps Michaels a few times, sending him out of the ring. Michaels was often better on the defensive, and he bumps all over for Hacksaw before trying to leave, but Duggan prevents it. Duggan’s selling is not exactly on the same level as his opponent’s. Michaels makes Duggan’s sloppy offence look semi-decent, conversely Duggan makes Michaels’ look weak. Michaels gives up and goes to a chinlock. I don’t blame him. Right on cue, Duggan does another supremely awful sell job, as a drop toehold bizarrely sends him to the outside. Michaels is content to take the count out win, but Duggan is buoyed by the crowd’s support and beats the count. Vince on commentary asks how to keep Duggan down, and Heenan responds: “stun gun”. As in the weapon, not the wrestling move. Vince, brilliantly, says “maybe”. Oh, if only… Duggan makes a comeback and hits his Three Point Stance, but it knocks Michaels to the outside. He tries to leave but Duggan stops him and clotheslines him over the barrier and into the crowd. This being a Coliseum tape, this of course ends on a double count out. Duggan, like a petulant child, stages a sit-down protest at the result. Michaels did a good job there, because that was actually pretty watchable. He had to resort to chinlocks now and again, but hey, it was Duggan!
Final Rating: **

 

Summary: This might as well have been called Shawn Michaels: Intercontinental Champion (featuring Bret Hart). The match choices are curious enough as it is, with four of the five being Michaels, but why also include Bret Hart, who was WWF Champion at the time? The Skinner match was from a previous era, and is not so good that it must be seen. If you must include Bret from that era, surely the title win against Mr. Perfect would have been better? I guess politics got in the way of showing other classic IC title matches, with the majority of the guys who made the title so important no longer being with the company. Still, a tape revolving around Shawn Michaels is never going to be bad, and all of the matches on here are at the very least decent, with one fairly rare absolute belter in the middle to really make this a must-have. Recommended.
Verdict: 74

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