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Bret Hart vs Shawn Michaels (WWF Wrestlemania XII 03/31/96, 60-Minute Iron Man Match)

WWF WWE Wrestlemania March 31 1996 Iron Man Match Anaheim Bret Hart Shawn Michaels Hart vs Michaels Title Changes 3.75*

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#1 Loss

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Posted 02 December 2010 - 09:34 PM

Talk about it here.



#2 Loss

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Posted 21 December 2010 - 04:19 PM

Lots worth saying about this one, both good and bad. Without the iron man stip, this would be far more fondly remembered if it happened to be a match that just happened to go 60 minutes, but I think they wanted to use the length of the main event as a selling point for the show. Also, had it taken place in front of a more wrestling-friendly crowd in the Southeast, it would have had more heat. Still, this is a really good wrestling match, and Michaels' entrance and post-match celebration are images that will forever be entrenched in WWF folklore. Bret does have a strong storyline point about the way he lost his title. Since when are world title matches that go to a draw restarted?

#3 Ditch

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Posted 24 January 2011 - 01:45 PM

I think this was wildly overrated at the time and doesn't hold up. The matwork really doesn't compare favorably with other old-school-style technical matches, it lacks the compelling "babyface struggling to overcome a deficit" story that most ironman matches have, lots of the work goes nowhere, and they rarely seem to be going for the win as opposed to killing time. It's still ultimately a good match, but there are lots of flaws. If it wasn't a Wrestlemania main event title change...

#4 Resident Evil

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Posted 24 January 2011 - 02:56 PM

One of my favourite parts of this match\was the ending of the match right before the overtime period. Bret Hart was all like "I've seen Michaels in this spot before come up short. He does X (forget exactly what it was) and than he makes a mistake. Than you capatalize on it" That's exactly what happenes when Michaels goes up to the top rope, screws up and than Bret catches him in the sharpshooter. However, Michaels is now too determined and survives his mistake.

#5 El-P

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Posted 24 January 2011 - 03:28 PM

Average match, really, one I have no desire to watch again. They really don't much much in term of build, waste a vast amount of time doing boring stuff, the matwork is pretty laughable coming from a guy who's supposed to be a "technician". And most of all, they really have zero clue how to work the last 15 minutes. It's obvious they weren't on the same page. Of course with these two you get a few really good moments, but it's few and far between. The booking I thought was cheap. The fact that HHH and The Rock had a much better match, granted, with the help of very creative booking, tells a lot about the failure these two had here at working a super long match. And the fact that Nash and Taker had a better match just before tells a lot too. I may be a bit severe, but this match doesn't hold a candle to what was done in other promotions in the same timeframe in term of super long matches, and gets worse with each viewing.

#6 MJH

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Posted 24 January 2011 - 04:59 PM

But Shawn showed growth in not succumbing to the same finish of their Survivors '92 match! Kidding aside, yeah, this is... painfully average. I like the 92 title match as the best example of what Bret's matches would've been as NWA Touring Champ... but you can distill everything you need to see in this match in, I don't know, five minutes worth of highlights including the entrance and celebration.

#7 ohtani's jacket

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Posted 25 January 2011 - 08:14 AM

The last time I watched this I thought it was better than people make out, but that was a long time ago. It doesn't really matter how good it was, however, since it was supposed to be the match of the 90s and they fucked up the whole approach. I've got to call bollocks on there being better one hour matches, though. All of the one hour matches from around this time are wretched. One hour matches are just a bad idea in general.

#8 Ditch

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Posted 25 January 2011 - 09:55 AM

I've got to call bollocks on there being better one hour matches, though. All of the one hour matches from around this time are wretched. One hour matches are just a bad idea in general.

Um, except for the fact that Misawa/Kobashi vs Kawada/Taue went an hour twice in '95 and both ruled, and there were a bunch of great broadways in the '80s, and a couple really good ones in the '00s, soooo...

#9 Kronos

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Posted 25 January 2011 - 10:43 AM

I've got to call bollocks on there being better one hour matches, though. All of the one hour matches from around this time are wretched. One hour matches are just a bad idea in general.

Um, except for the fact that Misawa/Kobashi vs Kawada/Taue went an hour twice in '95 and both ruled, and there were a bunch of great broadways in the '80s, and a couple really good ones in the '00s, soooo...


Contrarian today, aren't ya? Kidding. There's a Flair/Jumbo match from one of the PWO dvd's (#3, I think) that's pretty fantastic -- and of course, Bock/Curt.

I wonder how the Angle/Lesnar iron man holds up?

#10 Dylan Waco

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Posted 25 January 2011 - 12:04 PM

Angle/Brock wasn't good at the time and holds up even worse now

#11 El-P

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Posted 25 January 2011 - 12:16 PM

Toyota and Inoue had the infamous ├╝berworkrate 60 minutes match in 1995. Amazing stuff. The Rock and HHH of all people had an excellent 60 minutes matches. Time doesn't matter. The way it's worked does. I have never seen Angle/brock going 60, but I don't want to see Angle going anywhere near 60 minutes.

#12 MJH

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Posted 25 January 2011 - 01:05 PM

Bret's Iron Man with Owen is significantly better, too, and at least "very good" once the stalling stops.

#13 Dylan Waco

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Posted 25 January 2011 - 02:59 PM

The last time I watched this I thought it was better than people make out, but that was a long time ago. It doesn't really matter how good it was, however, since it was supposed to be the match of the 90s and they fucked up the whole approach. I've got to call bollocks on there being better one hour matches, though. All of the one hour matches from around this time are wretched. One hour matches are just a bad idea in general.


Don't you think the Valentine/Backlund draw from 79 is the best WWF match of all time?

#14 ohtani's jacket

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Posted 25 January 2011 - 03:43 PM

The last time I watched this I thought it was better than people make out, but that was a long time ago. It doesn't really matter how good it was, however, since it was supposed to be the match of the 90s and they fucked up the whole approach. I've got to call bollocks on there being better one hour matches, though. All of the one hour matches from around this time are wretched. One hour matches are just a bad idea in general.


Don't you think the Valentine/Backlund draw from 79 is the best WWF match of all time?


That doesn't mean they're not a bad idea in general. I think strap matches are a bad idea too, but that didn't stop me from putting Vader/Sting number one on the WCW poll. I really don't think the one hour All Japan and All Japan women matches from this time were good and I don't see how anyone would want to see them go an hour in those styles. In fact, I would argue that they were part of the reason both companies went downhill.

#15 jdw

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Posted 25 January 2011 - 08:08 PM

The biggest problem with this match is that unlike just about every Iron Man match, these two didn't trade falls. Rock-Trip traded a ton of them. Probably too many for Bret and Shawn to have used, but in turn probably the right amount given the work style of 2000 and shorter attention spans. Bret-Owen and Bret-Flair traded them. In a shorter setting, Rude-Steamer traded them. It's part of what makes an Iron Man "work" for fans: they get to see the match broken into shorter segments ending with high points of falls. If Bret-Shawn simply did a 2-2 finish before going to overtime, they could have broken up the match into six sections building to high points: Fall #1: 1-0 Wrestler X Fall #2: 1-1 Fall #3: 2-1 Wrestler X Fall #4: 2-2 Fall #5: furious work towards the time limit Fall #6: overtime with Shawn winning 3-2 60/5 = 12 average segments in the original time limit Not saying that you do all at 12 minutes, but it gives an idea of how you can break up the "laying around". I probably would have avoided doing quick finishes / short falls because it mean you then have to take it down for a longer period. I probably would have had Fall #4 end no later than 55 minutes, and probably closer to 50-52 to allow for developing another movement with some back & forth (which isn't hard to stretch out by selling the length of the match / being tired). You break up the match, have falls, mix in finishers being used as finishers, the pops of the crowd, and the overtime finish... and the match is a lot better. It wouldn't have taken much more effort. That's before we even get to what the storyline of the match would be. It's just not that hard of a match to block out. The problem is that the two already hated each other, and this wasn't going to be a happy title change. If someone like Patterson tried to sit down and block this out, it's not clear either would have given a shit. At the time, in the building, what I morbidly enjoyed about the match is that Bret mostly forced Shawn to work Bret's match "If you're going to beat me, we're working my match even if it doesn't look flashy and shit." It's one of those at the moment reactions to the match that made me enjoy it. Not in a MOTYC way, though. It wouldn't have cracked the top 10 of matches I saw live that year. In hindsight, I don't think it was terribly good. I'm not sure if Bret even cared a ton about have a great match. Blame both ways, and to whoever allowed them to screw with the standard formating of Iron Man matches. I do think that the 10/95 Kawada & Taue vs Misawa & Kobashi match worked to a strong degree. They went with what at a time was an interesting way of breaking up the 60 minutes: different segements of 2-1 while one of the wrestlers was knocked for a loop. As it's going along, and if you didn't know it was going 60, most of those segements looked like they might be the one what someone gets beat. Perhaps by the 4th you pick up the patern, but the match does stay rather heated until very late when the fans get it's going 60, and the workers don't really have a strong near fall in the 58-59 minute range. In a way, it might have been better if it went 58 minutes with a finish, especially having already done three 60 minute draws ealier in the year in configurations of these four. 60 minute draw became tougher in one fall settings. While a 1-1 60 minute time limit has it's own obviousness that it's going long and might be a draw, at least the match is broken up. One fall going long takes a lot of work by the wrestlers to stay connected, and reconnect. I do think Backlund-Valentine was a great match. Inoki-Backlund, Destroyer-Baba... there are some great ones out there on tape. John

#16 Childs

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Posted 26 January 2011 - 07:26 AM

I absolutely agree that they would have been better off using falls to create momentum shifts and plot twists. They spent too much of the time going nowhere in particular. In general, I agree with OJ that 60-minute matches aren't a good idea. It's odd that they've been fetishized over the years. But I did just watch the 10/18/96 draw between Kobashi and Kawada and found it neither tedious nor over-the-top ridiculous with the big moves. Would it have been better as a 40-minute match with a finish? Probably. Was it a top-10 All Japan match for the year? Maybe, maybe not. But Kawada was so good at layered selling and crafting nifty transition spots, and Kobashi brought such a deep well of offense that it never went off the rails.

#17 Resident Evil

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Posted 26 January 2011 - 10:43 AM

As a big fan of Michaels and Bret back in the day and someone who was closely following the product, I KNEW and felt in my heart it was going to be 0 vs 0 and that there would be an overtime period with Michaels probably winning. To me, that was the only way the match could've gone given their personalities, the storyline and the timing of the Ironman stipulation coinciding with their careers. I would not have bought have a match where each got falls on each with perhaps the exception of roll ups (Scratch that, I wouldn't buy roll up pins either). It would contradict what and who they were -- even the heart of the Ironman match itself as once you start having lots of falls in an Ironman match the idea behind the Ironman (Helps show the fans these guys are the toughest wrestlers alive) gets diluted some. We can argue on wether have multiple falls equals more stars in a wrestling match but than the specialness of this match contradicts everything and gets lost.

#18 Frankensteiner

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 10:16 AM

This is from Bret's interview with the Score, via some website called Wrestling Inc.

On the 1-0 final at WrestleMania XII and if there were ever any other plans for his match with Shawn Michaels: "That was what was presented to me. I always liked the idea of two or three falls. I had a different idea. In the end, the one fall had it's appeal, too. That's what they wanted, so that's what they got.

"I have no problem with it now. Looking back on it, I can see it. I can see why it was one fall. It stands out now for that reason, maybe. But, if it had been three or four falls, it might have been a more exciting match. We would have had more rest spots in there, anyway. [Laughs.] That was for sure the hardest match I ever had."



#19 RWOOD

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 01:52 PM

I've seen this match many times but I haven't seen it in a very long time but I just chimed it up on youtube to get a the feeling back. Theres a lot of waistlock to headlock to armbar to wristlock to headlock work in the first ten minutes or so and it feels like it SHOULD have taken about three. Bret hits an ok spinebuster and teases the sharpshooter about fifteen minutes in and it quickly goes back into restholds. The crowd is so dead during most of this except for when Michaels skins the cat or pulls off one of those "fancy Mexican maneuvers that Jose Lithario taught him", as McMahon said during commentary. Theres a finish tease approximately every fifteen minutes or so which usually leads to a delightful Michaels highspot; However, the most entertaining parts of the match are when they potato eachother. Call me cynical, but knowing that these guys genuinely didn't like eachother makes this a little bit more entertaining to watch now than I thought it would. Its no excuse for the sloppy wrestling and all but the inside knowledge (which is pretty much common knowledge now) makes for an interesting watch. There are a series of nearfalls about 30 to 35 minutes in that include Bret reversing a cross body and small package spots that would have been perfect for a few falls to happen. Specifically if Bret had reversed the top rop cross body and gotten the pin with Michaels getting one of the small packages almost immediately after to create some "look at how they know eachothers moves so well" kind of intrigue. It probably would've popped up the crowd a bit. I really like the top rope work from Micahels towards the end of the hour. The moonsault is passable and actually connects perfectly with the pinfall. The jump into the sharpshooter is a good spot. I always wish Bret would've held onto the sharpshooter for a few seconds after the match rather than dropping the hold at the bell but I guess it plays into the exaustion storyline. The ending falls flat for me because Michaels had to repeat the superkick spot to "get all of it" as McMahon points out. Everything about the celebration is comical from Lithario getting into and then out of the ring almost immediately because Michaels wants to celebrate alone to Brets son singing along with Sexy Boy. I didn't watch the whole thing through but the match holds up for me. It was one of my favorites from back then but then again I was a mark for both Bret and Shawn at age 9. I remember telling all of the pissed off kids watching Survivor Series 1992 at my house the the main event match would probably be better than the cancelled appearance by the Warrior would've ever been anyway. Nobody really listened at the time... haha. That being said, I like that match from 1992 and their matches they did for Coloseium (one is a gem of a ladder match) a lot better than this. Their willingness to work together back then makes for better matches, I guess. I'd even rank their Montreal match higher than the Ironman based on crowd heat and the fact that I like a good aisle brawl every now and then. On a side note, where can I get these yearbooks you speak of?

#20 goodhelmet

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 03:46 PM

Shoot me a PM





Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: WWF, WWE, Wrestlemania, March 31, 1996, Iron Man Match, Anaheim, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Hart vs Michaels, Title Changes, 3.75*

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