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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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#21 NintendoLogic


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Posted 02 August 2012 - 10:34 PM

Finally saw this. This has been one of my admitted blind spots for a while, and I'm glad I've checked this off my bucket list. I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would. Most of the first half is spent on the mat. A few of Shawn's attempts to work the mat are pretty ugly, particularly his headlock takedowns. Overall, though, they do a good job of working basic holds and periodically picking up the pace to keep from losing the crowd. The second half is worked more like a typical WWF match. What surprised me was how one-sided it was, with Bret in almost complete control. That wasn't a problem, though, since he did a good job of keeping things interesting while on top. And Shawn held up his end with some impressive bumps. Overtime was what it was. I'd be fine never seeing this match again, but it was a pleasant enough way to spend an hour. With all that said, put me in the camp that thinks that 60 minute matches are almost never good, even the All Japan ones. Hell, especially the All Japan ones. 60 minutes is just way too long for that style.

#22 DaveyCakes83

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Posted 11 August 2012 - 11:13 AM

After watching this match at least three or four times over the years, I keep changing my mind about whether or not I like it or not. I'm also in the "60 minute matches are almost never good" camp, but for a while I enjoyed this one - I think reading in Bret's autobiography about Shawn's whole attitude after it had finished made me hate it. Should probably give it another watch to see if I like it again or not!

#23 Frankensteiner

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 09:18 AM

Decided to re-watch this yesterday and ended up liking it quite a bit. Thought it held up better than I expected. The arm work not going anywhere didn’t bother me at all because it felt like Shawn had tried everything in his arsenal to get a submission out of it. He wasn’t really in a position to go after the arm again until gaining control for the last 5 minutes of the match. At that point you could say Bret had recovered with his arm (the arm work occurred roughly 30 min earlier) and it made more sense for Shawn to go with his familiar/signature offense with the clock winding down. I liked that they wrestled this to correspond to the build-up, with Bret pounding down and punishing Shawn and Michaels using his speed and quickness to gain the advantage (Vince and King also set this out on commentary to start the match). The surprise was that Michaels was good enough technically to hang with, and even get the better of, a “skilled technician” like Hart on the mat. Thought it was a decent story and a nice way to put over Shawn as more than just a high flyer for his run as champ. As far as the work, for the most part they always had something interesting going on, and they would intersperse enough highspots to keep things exciting. I loved the piledriver spot, for example. Overall, this was a really good, and possibly even great match. Don’t really feel like I’ll want to watch it again for the foreseeable future but I would say that about any match going an hour.

#24 Zenjo


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Posted 02 December 2013 - 01:13 AM

It had been many years since I last viewed this and going in I wasn't filled with optimism. I'm not a big fan of broadways. There's never been a singles bout that's needed over 45m if you ask me. Plus I feel much the same way about Michaels as Bret Hart did, albeit a lot less passionately. So it was pleasing to see that it was Bret's style of match all the way. Despite being face vs face there was never any Mr Nice Guy or mutual respect. The dislike was tangible. In the early going they certainly paced themselves. That was necessary as they were quite rightly spent afterwards. At times it got turgid with the chinlocks. Still, it was pleasing how they maintained a technical focus and kept it inside the ring. Having falls would've brought advantages as people have discussed. Yet having none at all was a crucial part of it's future aura so I wouldn't change that. I liked the closing stages a lot with the Sharpshooter at the end of normal time. They got that just right. The overtime period worked well and even a non-fan of HBK like myself got a bit emotional at the finish. His entrance and postmatch celebration are burned in all our memories I think through years of highlight reels. It's a very hard one to rate with the long duration, highs and lows. I enjoyed it a lot more than I was expecting so I'll say VG range. For better or for worse it was one of the defining matches of the era.

#25 PeteF3

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Posted 16 January 2015 - 11:03 PM

Oh, answering my own question, I guess the narrator is Josh Matthews or someone. Presumably it was originally Pettingill and there was music they had to remove and his voice went with it.


At times I wonder if this wouldn't have been better off if they'd worked a straight 60-minute draw, and then gone to overtime. There are various problems with that (with regard to promoting the show with only 6 matches, or starting the match at 8:30pm or so). This match isn't an all-time technical classic, but it's been kicked around so much in retrospect that I don't think it can really qualify as "overrated" anymore either. It's just a good, solid match, that probably comes off better because it's so anomalous in a WWF setting: the Pure Sports Build stuff, right up to Earl Hebner going over the rules, the oddball spots involving the referee and timekeeper, the new offense, Vince skirting the line between '90s Carnival Barker and 1970's broadcaster--it's definitely something different from this company. The opening matwork is only okay and tends to drag, but Bret nicely keeps his focus on Shawn's back even if he blows off the work Shawn did on his arm. And I have to credit Shawn for busting out some new moves here--a good stiff clothesline, a Perfect-Plex, and a Doctor Bomb, among others--in-between some suicidal bumps. He really could have been a better offensive wrestler than he tended to be. This isn't really a match to go back and revisit over and over, but I'd like to see it remembered as a good, strong effort rather than an overrated failed epic.

#26 soup23

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Posted 20 February 2015 - 03:20 PM

I have always been blah overall to this match but it really stepped up when I watched it this time. I thought everything was clinched with an extra bit of effort that saw both guys really working to make a great match in spite of being unhappy with the other person in the ring. The mat work wasn't WOS level but was effective and basic in telling the overall story. The match also had enough high spots with near falls (Superkick to time keeper, piledriver, big crossbody, Flair bump to outside) to keep me engaged without needing the trading of falls. I have become I guess a defender of long matches. Going longer isn't always better but between this, Valentine/Backlund, Flair/Bret, and Curt/Bock, I have watched quite a few hour long draws the past couple of years that I consider great matches overall. This is now included in that list. ****1/4

#27 Superstar Sleeze

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Posted 29 May 2017 - 01:47 PM

WWF World Heavyweight Champion Bret Hart vs Shawn Michaels - WrestleMania XII


Shawn Michaels entrance is very impressive and memorable.


First 20 minutes: You have to think the Ironman match favors Bret. Ironman pretty much neutralizes Shawn's uptempo offense. It really becomes a question can Shawn figure out a way to grind. Bret is the ultimate grinder and is very versatile. The early part of the match is all about establishing Shawn's ability to grind. He is the one taking down Bret and willing to go on the mat. Also note that most of Shawn's offense is generated once he has created some distance. Bret is going to want crowd the Heartbreak Kid and wrestle the match right on top of Shawn. The two big highspots of the first ten minutes are Shawn's rana to the outside (which Bret sells as frustration) and his skin the cat. Every time there is a criss cross Shawn is able to convert that into a armbar. Shawn admittedly had some great armbar takedowns. Bret was working his style the headlocks, working the corner, but he kept letting Shawn loose. Shawn in transition is going to be his biggest problem. Loved the dueling finisher teasers at 15 minute mark. Shawn scrambling out of the Sharpshooter and then Bret sitting in Tony Chimel's lap until the last second and BANG! SWEET CHIN MUSIC! Really great spot. Shawn sells his surprise well allowing Bret to take over with a chinlock. Again Bret grinding and keeping it close. Once Bret loses that control, Shawn is able to take over with the armbar. It will be interesting to see if this story of distance is maintained. Bret works well in close proximity and Shawn needs an uptempo game to maintain control. Better than I remembered thus far.


Second 20 minutes: Here we can point out once again Bret is in a face vs face match and again he works so well as the subtle heel NWA Touring champ. Unlike Flair, he is so understated. He is not drawing attention to himself. He is really letting Shawn shine. Notice little things like how he rolls up in the arm stretcher only to have it reversed into a hammerlock. Or how about how he gets out of the arm bars, like a pretty cheap, stiff elbow in the corner. He could have let the ref break the hold. Or how he drops back with Shawn throat first on the ropes. All these things allow Shawn to look great as the babyface and just put that little heat on Bret. A very selfless performance. Shawn is not being carried. Really unique offense from him like the shoulderbreaker, single arm DDT (great cutoff by him), powerslam, backbreaker, Fisherman's suplex. I thought the arm work was great especially from someone who doesn't do it often. Bret's piledriver was a great nearfall. It looked amazing and it really felt like a big moment. Even after Bret dropped Shawn throat first across the middle rope, Shawn didn't go away. It became about jockeying for position. One great moment was Shawn sizing Bret up for the superkick, but Bret dropping out of the ring taking a walk to regroup and Shawn diving out on the floor and wiping him out. Really great sequence. Big time highspot that makes Shawn look awesome. Even when Shawn comes out on the losing end, he looks like a million bucks. The tide finally turns in the Hitman's advantage when he back body drops Shawn over the top turnbuckle to the floor in a hellacious bump. Even though Bret gets the better, Shawn looks more impressive because the bump is so impressive. Bret goes out to the outside and slams the back into the post. Again that subtle heeling from Bret, it is not out and out cheating, but did he really need to do that. He could have just collected his countout fall. Bret really goes to work on the back in the waning minutes of this period. I think both wrestlers are wrestling their hearts out. The first 30 minutes were clearly the mat-based portion with only the superkick to Tony Chimel as the big highspot. They started ramping things up at the 30 minute mark. You see Bret is the master of pragmatic wrestling using every inch of the ring. Shawn is wrestling with his heart on his sleeve going full bore into every spot and just diving into the Hitman. Shawn tried to wrestle strategic in the first 30 minutes, but didn't get him anywhere so he just started to hurl his body at Bret. When that started, you see the bigger chances pay off (dive to outside), but also the risky behavior costs him (bump to outside). This is a lot better than I remember.


Final 20 minutes: Basically if Bret and Shawn had a normal length match, I would expect this is what most of it would like. Just a superb Bret heat segment with Shawn selling the back tremendously well, but also timing his hope spots well. I loved how Shawn would try to punch his way out of it, but Bret would comeback with these ferocious punches each time. Bret's reaction was great. The Flair Flip into the super back suplex was a GREAT nearfall. I would say a common knock on this match is that their are no falls in regulation, but I really did not feel that was an issue until here. I thought Bret really pummeled Shawn and earned himself a fall. By not getting a fall, it hurt the match because it became ridiculous that Shawn was absorbing all this punishment but kept kicking out. The dive by Bret out to the floor was great as was all of Shawn's ridiculous bumps to the outside. Fuck West Coast Crowds! This match was great and they were so quiet. Camel clutch was a little long. You can finally feel them stretching it out here. Superplex into Sharpshooter attempt was great. Bret eats a foot on his second rope elbow and here comes the Shawn comeback. But it is a cool one. It features a gutwrench powerbomb and a moonsault! He goes for the top rope elbow, but falls into a Sharpshooter. Crowd is on its feet. 30 seconds to go, Shawn does not tap, but the match ends due to the time limit expiring. It is a 0-0 draw and thus a tie goes to the champion and Bret Hart retains the World Championship, but wait... 


Overtime: Bret works on the back. Shawn avoids him in the corner and BANG! SWEET CHIN MUSIC! They both get to their feet and Sweet Chin Music again! You know the whole restart actually makes this feel anti-climatic.


Awesome match on rewatch that really never drags, which is pretty impressive for a sixty minute match especially when one wrestler has a pretty limited offensive arsenal like Shawn Michaels. The first 40 minutes is great psychological wrestling. Shawn wrestling very strategically but also taking advantage of when the pace quickened. Bret did a beautiful job as the subtle heel Touring World Champion. He made Shawn look great and Shawn was working his ass off. The transition into Bret heat segment was great and it really showed both wrestlers at their best. Shawn all heart heading into the corner with reckless abandon. Bret the ever thinking pragmatic champion letting the overzealous challenger make the mistake. The Bret heat segment is great just awesome offense with great hope spots. It gets a little long and could have used a fall. Shawn's comeback is fiery and dramatic. It is weird the whole match is really well built, but the final finish just comes off as anti-climatic. Way better than I remember and actually very watchable just does not make you pump your fist at the end. ****1/4

#28 Microstatistics

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Posted 14 August 2017 - 09:52 PM

One of those matches that has been called overrated by so many for so long that it has become underrated and people are rediscovering it (myself included). For years I was under the impression that this was merely a good match, nothing more, but I rewatched this recently and it holds up as a great match. I have this #3 for WWF in 1996 behind Shawn/Foley and Bret/Austin.


Shawn was really good here and wrestled with great focus but this featured a truly excellent Bret performance. For someone who was apparently unhappy with the result and the booking and what not, he turned in a really selfless performance. He did a great job getting across the fact that Shawn was actually outwrestling him and he was struggling to get a foothold and was getting more desperate. He worked almost like a subtle heel as a result. In fact he didn't have a real control segment until almost 40 minutes in after a huge Shawn bump gave him an opening. There were great micro details as well like Bret breaking a Shawn sleeper by backing him into a corner but the next time he tried that, Shawn just threw him backwards.  Both nailed some vicious strikes too. Not something I would watch everyday because of the length but a great match nonetheless. Yet another to add to these guys resumes. ****

#29 NickH

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Posted 16 August 2017 - 11:40 PM

I watched this last night for the first time in years and I almost tapped out at 15 minutes. So glad I didn't because the 45 minutes that followed was excellent. I get people saying it's slow and boring, but that's only for the first 15 minutes, that feeling out process to kill time, these guys are wrestling for 1 hour, they are not going to get gassed from the get go.


I forgot how stiff and snug the match was. Everything looked like it connected and the crowd thought so to because they were reacting to every hard hit which made the match better for me.


Not much else I can add that hasn't been said, if I could change one thing it would be the visual of the clock. I don't want to see it for the majority of the match because I constantly look at it and it can make the match slower.


After the match I watched the Greatest Rivalries interview and for them to sit down that day for 5 minutes and plan it out and then go out perform it, it really is a fantastic effort that not many can pull off.


Is it a 5 star classic. No. But it's close. Not every hour match has to be five stars, I think fans think if it isn't it's a disaster which I disagree with. It's a very solid match, it is watchable but it's one of those matches I can only watch every couple of years.

#30 tim

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Posted 17 October 2017 - 07:31 PM

The second half of this match is definitely very good, but man that first half was totally dull. Just very uninteresting hold trading, just sitting in them passing time. The one thing that can be said positively about the first half though, was that it progressed very gradually, so by the middle of the match when it kicked into gear, it did feel like they had already had a grueling contest. But it was still boring. Although the shot of Michaels knocking out the time keeper was really good, and gave them something to replay a couple of times while Bret was sitting in a headlock.


But the second half is really good. Mostly build around Bret working on the back. He busts out all the offense and the threat of the Sharpshooter looms large, and the one time its teased is really well done. Michaels few, brief comeback teases are all really good and well received by the crowd. Towards the end Michaels comesback and dishes out some big offense and nearfalls. The Sharpshooter at the end felt like a big deal since they didn't bust it out until then. Very ending with the double SCM was good too. There was definitely a really good match in here. No doubt it should definitely, definitely not have been an Ironman match, and it should definitely, definitely not have gone 0-0.

#31 flyonthewall2983

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Posted 20 February 2018 - 12:16 AM

Oh, answering my own question, I guess the narrator is Josh Matthews or someone. Presumably it was originally Pettingill and there was music they had to remove and his voice went with it.


It was Pettengill, but I believe the version on the Network has Michael Cole instead.

#32 shodate


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Posted 25 February 2018 - 10:41 PM

vastly overrated  in the extreme  i have seen  60-90-120 minute matches  this was slow   To much build very little to no payoff   i  found  this match  boring  wwe syle has  never fit   good long matches 

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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