On January 12, 1992 Shawn Michaels pulled off one of the best executed heel turns in pro wrestling history. Michaels and Marty Jannetty, up to that point known as The Rockers, were one of the most athletic and exciting tag teams of the late 80s and early 90s. They wrestled in the NWA, AWA & eventually the WWF, where they would split up and go their separate ways. That split was solidified on air during Brutus ‘The Barber’ Beefcake’s “Barbershop” segment, where Michaels would throw his former friend and partner through the barbershop window:
Most people know how the story went from there: Shawn Michaels went on to have a hall of fame career, while Marty Jannetty became the symbol of the weakest link in any future tag team breakup storyline. That brings us to last night, where Big Cass officially turned on his friend and partner Enzo Amore:
While this segment wasn’t on par with the Michaels/Jannetty turn, it was still well done and unlike most storylines in WWE, it’s been building up for awhile. Enzo Amore has been mysteriously attacked for weeks, but the story has been playing out for much longer than that. All it takes is one look at Enzo & Cass to see who the star of the team is, especially since they’ve debuted on RAW. They were Full Sail darlings in NXT, but once they debuted on RAW, Enzo was portrayed as the weakest link that could only skate by when Cass was there to help him. Week after week Enzo would get pummeled, and Cass would either make the save, or they would lose their match.
I’ve read a few internet comments on the heel turn that thought it wasn’t the best timing, but once you do a little bit of research, their win/loss record is staggering, and not in a good way. Per profightdb.com, Enzo & Cass have won 4 televised matches this year. Four! I know wins and losses aren’t the only measuring stick in pro wrestling, but this isn’t exactly The Shield breaking up in their prime. Enzo is entertaining on the microphone and they have their catchphrases, but I don’t think that’s enough in WWE. Were they fun? Sometimes, but I need more than the same catchphrase and dance moves out of wrestlers I’m going to root for consistently.
As good as Cass’s promo was, the true test for him is going to be what comes next. Shawn Michaels turned that barbershop window segment into a hall of fame career. Can Cass do the same thing? I hope so.
The go home Raw before Hell in a Cell Sunday was live last night in Dallas, and ‘The Texas Rattlesnake’ himself Stone Cold Steve Austin opened the show. He half promoted his post Raw podcast with Lesnar and Lesnar’s match with the Undertaker inside Hell in a Cell, and started a trend of cameos by WWE Hall of Famers that included HBK and Ric Flair. WWE tends to overuse it’s stars from the past, but I thought all three were used effectively last night. They hyped up whichever match they were supposed to hype and you believed what they said because they have built-in credibility. This was a better Raw than the past few weeks, and it was certainly helped by the presence of Austin, HBK and Flair.
It’s Royal Rumble season, which means it’s almost WrestleMania season. Thanks to the WWE Network, you can go back and watch all the old Royal Rumble pay per views and matches, and in that spirit, I decided to rank the winners. I’ll be ranking the winners every day until the we reach #1, and if you’re interested in checking out who’s already on the list, use the tricky magnifying glass at the top of the screen and search ‘Royal Rumble winners’ or scroll through the blog. Now, onto the rankings!
7. Shawn Michaels – 1995 & 1996 Royal Rumbles
Mid 90’s Shawn Michaels is arguably the greatest performer of all time. He was unmatched in the ring, solid on the microphone and his overall attitude and personality ushered in a new and exciting era for WWE fans. Michaels is the second multi time winner on this list (Batista) and the first wrestler we’ve featured who won back to back Royal Rumbles. In ’95, Michaels entered 1st overall and lasted the entire match, eliminating The British Bulldog, who entered second, to win the match. HBK had a more modest showing in ’96 entering at #18, but he still lasted 26 minutes and eliminated 8 other superstars.
The Good: healthy HBK was the best in the business. During his first run, from 1992 to early 1998, he did it all. He won every major championship in the WWE and participated in the first great ladder match and the first overall Hell in a Cell match. Along with HHH, he created Degeneration X, a major factor in the birth of the Attitude Era. Michaels retired in 1998 and wouldn’t return until to in ring competition until 2002. While four years away from the ring would affect most people, HBK came back better than ever. He would go on to wrestle consistently until his retirement in 2010. During his hall of fame career, Michaels earned the nickname ‘Mr. WrestleMania’, and it’s easy to see why. Razor Ramon at WrestleMania 10, Bret Hart at WrestleMania 12, Jericho at WrestleMania 19, Kurt Angle at WrestleMania 21, Ric Flair at WrestleMania 24, The Undertaker at WrestleMania 25 & 26; pick any Shawn Michaels match from any WrestleMania and I guarantee you it was one of it not the best match of the night.
The Not So Good: chronic back injuries forced Michaels to semi retire in 1998, and he missed four years of his prime. While he might have been a handful to deal with backstage early in his career, Michaels always performed in front of the camera. That he is only at #7 on this list goes to show you how many top tier talents have won the Royal Rumble.