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Shawn Michaels vs Mankind (WWF Mind Games 09/22/96)

WWF In Your House September 22 1996 Shawn Michaels Mankind Mick Foley Philadelphia 4.5*

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#21 Gregor

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Posted 25 March 2015 - 12:04 AM

I've probably watched this match more times than any other, and, yeah, I'd absolutely have it as the WWF's match of the year and one of the best in company history. "Twists and surprises" is a great way to describe how they work this. The match has great spot after great spot, and it never feels like they're changing course or trying to cram stuff in; it all feels totally logical and in the flow of things. Michaels trying to break Mankind's fingers is as nasty as he ever got, nastier than anything he ever did as a heel, and they smoothly go straight from that into putting sympathy on him and making it look like his title is in danger. I think you could argue that this was a career night for both guys.

#22 drew wardlaw

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Posted 10 October 2015 - 12:53 AM

What was the point of the fake botch spot? Just a worked shoot thing for the sake of it? It's very confusing. Anyway, this is probably my favorite wwf match of all time, and I LOVE Foley going to the mat.

#23 soup23

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Posted 19 January 2016 - 10:45 AM

I was very intrigued to watch this again as some of Foley's most heralded matches have slipped over time in my eyes (Backlash 2004 and Rumble 2000) but this was just as majestic as I always remember it being. I think my favorite thing about this match is that it did have limb work and other semblances of it being a worked title match in the traditional sense but also had some insane spots on the floor, with the chair and the table spot with papers and announcers flying that also make it feel like a chaotic hate filled brawl. Even though Tully vs. Magnum was for the belt and a match I like better than this, it doesn't have that sort of traditional sense aspects of this match do. Vader seemed pretty late in his cue as Shawn has to get up and desert the pin. That and a few other ever so minor quibbles have this one at ****3/4 for me but it is possible a top 10 match in the promotion history. 

#24 Microstatistics

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Posted 19 January 2016 - 04:32 PM

I was very intrigued to watch this again as some of Foley's most heralded matches have slipped over time in my eyes (Backlash 2004 and Rumble 2000) but this was just as majestic as I always remember it being. I think my favorite thing about this match is that it did have limb work and other semblances of it being a worked title match in the traditional sense but also had some insane spots on the floor, with the chair and the table spot with papers and announcers flying that also make it feel like a chaotic hate filled brawl. Even though Tully vs. Magnum was for the belt and a match I like better than this, it doesn't have that sort of traditional sense aspects of this match do. Vader seemed pretty late in his cue as Shawn has to get up and desert the pin. That and a few other ever so minor quibbles have this one at ****3/4 for me but it is possible a top 10 match in the promotion history. 


That is a great point, this match does have a little bit of everything. This is combined with fantastic storytelling of the two evolving and adapting as the match went on with Shawn wrestling more aggressively and violently while Foley became more cerebral and calculating. This is my pick for best US match of all time. *****

#25 PhilTLL

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Posted 25 January 2016 - 02:21 PM

I would understand if you want to ding it for the nature and execution of the finish, and I can only imagine the fit Shawn threw at Vader in the back, but the rest of the match is so damn good I would also understand if you didn't. The finish actually turns into a pretty fun moment with the sudden tension of the Claw and the Taker pop-up, and in the context of an IYH it just kind of works.

#26 JKWebb

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Posted 05 March 2017 - 03:00 PM



I believe this to be:
-Mick Foley's best match
-HBK's greatest offensive performance (and second best singles match - only behind HIAC)
-My personal favorite delivery of Sweet Chin Music

I didn't think Shawn's punches looked weak at all and I thought his attack on the claw hand looked prettty damn painful, so I guess I disagree with those comments. This match is brutal as shit. I agree with all the positive things said about this match. MOTYC and WWF MOTD candidate. I thought all the punches and elbows were worked super stiff. Awesome match ****3/4 to *****. DQ finish was not an issue.


I wanted to come back and note that Loss ranked this #2 for WWF in the 90's (only behind Hart/Austin WM XIII).  The HIAC HBK/Taker was #3.  I'd agree with those being in the top three to four, with Macho/Warrior added in for a total of top four.  I'm not sure what order I'd have them in yet, other than Austin/Hart would be my #1 as well. 

#27 Exposer

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Posted 12 May 2017 - 09:44 PM

Incredible match. Totally chaotic feel with Michaels going out of his comfort zone to survive & Mankind portraying his insane character to a tee. Mankind's entrance is awesome. Him sitting up out of the casket is a great visual. The worked shoot spot early on is awesome. Shawn just starts pummeling Foley with punches. They're the best punches of Shawn's career. All of the big spots are amazing & work really effectively as momentum shifts throughout the match. Mankind punching the chair resulting in Shawn realizing it hurt him & attacking is great. HBK doing finger manipulation! I'd never think he'd do something like that. The table bump is legendary & the follow up superkick is awesome. The finish is actually pretty great with tons of heat. Taker coming out of the casket is tremendous. Bearer's reaction to that is golden. Shawn gets kissed multiple times in his post-match celebration & Vince goes nuts putting him & the match over. Certainly a WWF MOTY candidate & probably a top 20 WWE match of all time.

#28 SmartMark15

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Posted 26 May 2017 - 08:52 PM

Rewatched this for the first time in years after listening to the Anatomy of a Match podcast with Edge and Christian where HBK and Foley go over this match. Oh boy does this one get ever better with time. Shawn looks amazing on offense in this match. There's an intense urgency to him because he needs to survive the maniac in the ring with him. Mankind's character work is just absolutely top notch. From the wildness of his offense to him always being outmaneuvered to lead to his demise. I'm even a big sucker for him stabbing his own leg to transition from selling it like death to starting to overcome the pain. Just an absolute belter of a match that never lets up even a little. A lot of creativity and thought clearly went into it and the result is just...fantastic.


****3/4 (pending future 5 star consideration)

#29 JKWebb

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Posted 30 May 2017 - 09:23 AM

For fans of this match, that podcast is a great listen!

#30 Boss Rock

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Posted 03 July 2017 - 02:10 PM

I love this match and I think it's often overlooked when discussing both men's best matches. I think it's Shawn's second best next to Badd Blood '97 and quite possibly Mick's best match. Just a wonderfully violent brawl.

#31 tim

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Posted 12 December 2017 - 03:28 PM

This is such an impressive match. This match is clearly very meticulously laid out, which might be a criticism sometimes, but it's totally not this time. Clearly a lot of thought and creativity went into putting this match together and they pulled it off spectacularly. Cool stuff is happening every single minute and there's a great flow and sense of escalation. Shawn has really never looked better. He looks like a true world beating champion here. Mankind's performance is incredible and he works his character so well, he looks like a guy who is outclassed by Shawn but his ability to withstand punishment and debilitation means he's always in the match and always a threat. The knee work was great and the chair-punching spot, followed by Shawn walloping both the hand and the knee with the chair was so awesome, made Mankind look like a freak who you just couldn't keep down no matter how hurt he was.


This is one match where I think a countout win actually would have been satisfying if Mankind just wasn't able to get back in the ring after that table spot. The superkick off the chair was cool though, and it's not hard to just consider that the end of the match. This enters the class of my very best matches of the year along with Samurai/Otani, Williams/Taue and Williams/Ace vs. Misawa/Akiyama from June. Sumrai/Otani still reigns supreme but I'm really thinking where to rank this relative to the other two.

#32 zep81

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 09:42 AM

Shawn Michaels vs Mankind (WWF Championship) (WWF In Your House: Mind Games)
So, I was going through my In Your House DVDs, deciding on a match to watch. Despite the IYH series getting some derision over the years, the events still produced some good/great matches in between some of the dross. This match is an obvious stand out and is one that I haven't seen in a while and my mind was made up as soon as I came across it, as this was the match I really wanted to watch again.
Can HBK go toe to toe with the maniacal Mankind and retain his WWF Championship? Or will he not be able to compete with the toughness and madness that the deranged one brings? We shall see.
Paul Bearer is out first with some druids, who push along a coffin to ringside. Mankind already playing 'Mind Games'. I have a slight feeling this will come into play later on. :hmm: The casket pops open and Mankind rises up
The WWF Champion out next, with of course Jose Lothario. I sure hope he's ready for this.
Shawn quickly outs Mankind in a side headlock to start this one off. He whips him off the ropes, but Mankind catches him with a vicious elbow, sending HBK right down to the mat. Mankind starts kicking HBK and hits him with a chop to the throat. Mankind in control early as he whips HBK off the ropes and sends him straight into a back body drop. He follows this up with a big running clothesline, which sends them both over the top rope to the outside.
“ECW, ECW, ECW” chants can be heard from the crowd.
Mankind rips the outside mat up and exposes the concrete. Just as he lifts it up though, HBK catches him with a drop-kick and follows this up with two double foot stomps onto Mankind.
Shawn already knowing what he may have to do to win this thing.
HBK gets onto the turn-buckle and hits Mankind with a flying cross-body He runs straight back at Mankind and yanks his head straight onto the exposed concrete. He sends him back into the ring and hits him with a double axe handle off the top rope. HBK starts hitting Mankind with some big right hands before clotheslining him down onto the mat. He picks him up and slams him back down to the mat, before climbing onto the top turn-buckle
He hits him with a Savage like flying elbow. HBK seems to think this is it as he goes into the other corner and gets ready to tune up the band. Mankind quickly gets up and realises this and just runs and flies through the middle rope to the outside to avoid this.
Bearer hands him the infamous urn as it looks like Mankind is going to need some divine guidance here as HBK is really bringing it. Paul is screaming at Mankind with a pep talk and 'it's about the championship'. Back in the ring and Mankind/HBK start exchanging punches in the corner. Mankind sends HBK to the turn-buckle, but Shawn reverses this and seems to try a cross-body, but Mankind is too far away. So HBK goes off on one of his tantrums and start berating Mankind.
He kicks Mankind in the gut, who immediately responds with a slap to the face to HBK. Who in turn starts punching the shit out of Mankind. He tries to take HBK down to the mat, but HBK continues to hit some snarly right hands. THIS IS A GOD DAMN BRAWL.
HBK seems to try and hit Mankind with a bulldog, but it's reversed and Mankind takes him down into a submission hold. He's got HBK on the mat and is effectively choking him out. He's got HBK in a snap-mere takedown, but HBK starts fighting out of it with some punches to the face. Mankind still has both his legs wrapped around HBK's waist though as Shawn tries to hit him with some elbows to try and get out of it. He does finally break out of as he relentlessly punches the shit out of Mankind.
All of a sudden, Mankind turns around and fucking NAILS Shawn with one of his own right hands to the face.
He sends HBK flying out the ring and onto the outside. Mankind grabs the Spanish announce table and starts dragging it into a position, but just as he does, HBK comes flying over it and hits Mankind with a flying elbow.
He wails Mankind's head off the casket. He then suplexes him off the steel steps and it catches Mankind's leg sweet as a nut, which the sound of comes across as loud as hell.
Mankind gets back up and in the ring, but as soon as he does, HBK takes him straight out via that damaged knee and he slides out the ring again and lies on top of the casket. Shawn takes this ample opportunity to slam Mankind's knee hard off the casket. Shawn taking a leaf out of Bret's book here and continues to target the leg of Mankind with some kicks.
HBK realises what he has to do and how far within himself he has to search to take this new found aggressiveness to Mankind.
He stamps on the knee, which doesn;t please Earl Hebner and HBK really tries his luck here and slaps Earl.
Careful now Shawn.
Mankind starts fighting back and hits Shawn with a short flurry of punches. Mankind tries to kick HBK, but gets taken down with a leg drag to the mat. Shawn then goes for the leg again and puts Mankind into a figure four leg-lock
Mankind quickly gets out of this though by nailing HBK with a punch to the face. He whips Shawn off the ropes, but HBK hits a drop-kick straight to the heavily damaged leg of Mankind. HBK now seemingly tying to break his damn leg and is not letting up as he locks Mankind's leg up and stamps hard on it. He then puts him into a sort of one legged sharpshooter to further target the bad leg. Mankind manages to grab the ropes but it takes nearly up until the full count of 5 for HBK to finally release the hold.
HBK really is learning what he has to do and how far down he has to dig to win this thing.
Mankind though catches him with a chop to the throat, He goes towards HBK, but Shawn quickly jumps on his back and flings him over for a pinfall attempt, and gets a close 2 count. The first of the match insidently.
HBK comes off the ropes towards Mankind but gets flung over and dropped face first off the opposite top rope
Some rest bite for Mankind here and his chance for some revenge maybe.
Bearer hands Mankind some kind of instrument as Mankind starts stabbing his own leg multiple times, seemingly to try and get the feeling back and help him to turn this match around, now he knows HBK is hurt. He goes straight after HBK and starts choking him out on the ropes. He whacks Shawn's head off the casket and sends him to the outside.
This has been a war of attrition and is still far from finished.
Back in the ring and Mankind immediately starts hammering away at Shawn with some stiff shots in the corner before running at him and delivering a vicious knee to HBK;s face with all his weight. Mankind now fully in control as he plants HBK face first onto the mat, not once, but twice. BK manages to gets some adrenaline from somewhere though as he hits Mankind with a back suplex. Both men slowly get back to their feet and Shawn lands a couple of punches before being taken down with a boot to the gut and a headbutt by Mankind.
Mankind whips Shawn off the ropes, but HBK slides under his legs and takes him down via his legs. He then goes straight for Mankind with some more slugfest type right hands. Mankind though sends HBK into the corner and Shawn takes his big flying back bump and is now hanging upside down as Mankind comes flying over and nails him with an elbow.
Mankind follows this up with another flying elbow to Shawn, whilst he's still tied in the corner. HBK is now lying face first on the mat as Mankind hits him with a legdrop right onto the back of his head. He's still on offense as he gives HBK a big boot, sending HBK over he top rope and narrowly avoiding hitting the casket.
Those damn caskets.
He follows Shawn to the outside and runs at him, but HBK moves and it sends Mankind flying into and over the top of the steel steps. Both of them make their way to their feet and HBK quickly goes to Mankind and drop toe hold's him face first back onto the steps. Shawn now back in the ring as is probably thankful of the rest at this stage, however brief it may be.
Mankind gets back on the ring apron and they both take it in turns trying to suplex one another. Mankind wins this battle, but HBK manages to land on his feet. Mankind then runs at him on the apron, but Shawn moves and Mankind goes head first into the ring post.
Steel steps, ring posts; Mankind is taking a fucking battering, here.
Both on their feet again and Mankind gives HBK and elbow before running at him, but Shawn catches him and plants him down with a powerslam and gets a nearfall 2 count.
HBK sends Mankind into the ropes, then throws him over the opposite ropes and Mankind ends up getting stuck in the ropes
Careful now, you don't want to lose another ear, here/
Mankind and the ref try and get his free, but as Shawn comes over, Mankind quickly puts on the
Luckily for HBK, he kicks Mankind free of the ropes and out of the ring. Both men are now down.
Shawn then goes to the outside, but just as he gets near, Mankind again puts on the
But HBK quickly pulls Mankind right into the guardrail, knocking over a Spanish announcer at the same time.
HBK then picks up a chair, as Mankind throws a punch, he instead hits the chair with his hand. Shawn follows this up with a chair strike to the legs and a shot to the hand of Mankind.
HBK. Stop the hand that could claw you to death.
HBK drags Mankind back in the ring and starts 
He takes Mankind down and goes about trying to destroy his hand by slamming it against the mat. He starts stomping on them and twisting them. Shawn jumps off the ropes multiple times straight landing on the fingers of Mankind.
Really excellent psychology and work here by HBK I have to say.
Shawn then runs at Mankind, but instead gets thrown over the top rope and takes a big bump onto the outside. Mankind gets onto the ring apron and flies at Shawn with a flying elbow. Mankind then baseball slides out the ring and hits Shawn with his patented neck-breaker HBK starts to get back into the ring, but just as he has his head through the middle ropes, Mankind plants him back down with a leg drop.
He follows this up with a double arm DDT onto the champion.
He goes for the cover and gets a 1,2......................2.9 HBK KICKS OUT.
Mankind doesn't let up though as he nails HBK with a Piledriver
Remember those?
Again he goes for a cover and gets a close 2 count. He tries again by hooking the leg, but again, HBK kicks out at a close 2.
Mankind is frustrated now and is having a fit in the corner, pulling his own hair out and going ballistic. He goes over to the announcers area and starts grabbing and throwing chairs into the ring. He opens up the casket and tries to put HBK in it for some reason, but Shawn fights his way out. Both back in the ring and HBK hits Mankind with a flying elbow.
by Shawn.
He gets Mankind into the corner and starts wailing at him with stomps. He slams him sown to the mat and climbs up onto the top turn-buckle He hits Mankind with a flying cross-body and goes for a pin, but can only get a close 2 count. HBK again goes up top, but Mankind is back to his feet and hits the ropes, sending HBK onto the turn-buckle via his crown jewels.
Mankind gets up on the apron, grabs HBK and tries to
HBK though seems to reverse it mid air with a cross-body Bearer has the ref distracted on the outside as Mankind gets inside the ring with a steel chair. He gets on the turn-buckle, but as soon as he does, HBK runs at him, off another standing chair that is also in the ring, and kicks the chair straight off his face
Awesome spot.
HBK then goes for the pin, but gets a 2 before he gets up as here comes 
And of course the bell rings. Vader must have been slow to do the run in here, as when Shawn pinned Mankind, Earl had to count very slowly to wait for the run in to happen lol.
Shawn ends up hitting Vader with a flying elbow, sending him over the top rope. Just as HBK is standing in the ring, Paul Bearer comes up behind and nails with with the urn.
J.R - “The referee didn't see it”
Well Jim, doesn't matter now does it as he's already rung the bell for the DQ before this happened :P
Just as Vader is about to get back into the ring
SYCHO SID arrives and goes straight for him. They both start wailing on each other down the isle as multiple referees starts running towards the ring. HBK is dead on the floor as Mankind slowly starts to make his way to his feet. Shawn gets up and is immediately hits with the
He asks Bearer to lift the casket lid up, Just as he does,
And goes straight after Mankind.
He sends him over the top rope and follows and stalks him and Bearer down the isle. Finally, back in the ring, HBK is declared the winner via DQ and retains his WWF Championship.
Well, until I rewatch Bret/Austin from Survivor Series, as of this writing, this is the WWF MOTY and the probable MOTY for the whole of the US. It's a perfect mix of this style as you can get out of a wrestling match, DQ  finish excluded of course. This is also one match that the finish doesn't hurt the match IMO. Vader/HBK/Sid/Taker/Mankind were all involved in storylines with each other, so it was not a surprise.
Both Mankind and HBK came out of this looking like a million dollars each too. Shawn showed a real aggressive side pretty much straight from the off and this match showed how far down he had to delve to not only match Mankind for his physicality, but also how to actually beat him. He does some really great leg work during the first half and then even getter in the second once he starts going after Mankind's fingers so he can't put on the claw. Shawn's main offense was also spot on here, esp his punches, which I thought looked really good. I loved how they both mixed up both traditional wrestling, brawling and well placed, but not overdone, high spots. Foley took his obvious fair share of bumps, but they both worked hard in getting intensity and nastiness of the match over.
This match didn't happen on a Wrestlemania, or a Summerslam.......it happened on a freaking In Your House PPV. It's as good, if not better, than anything else that year. We know HBK had a pretty consistent year in '96 and this match is just the crowning glory of it all.
Don't need to say recommended as OF COURSE IT FUCKING IS
A stunning piece of work and one of the great title matches in the company history.

#33 brockobama

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Posted 16 April 2018 - 07:04 AM

Watched this again recently for the first time in a long time since I'm reviewing Austin era stuff for my blog. Classic match, best thing in either man's career up to this point, huge highlight in a bad time for the company, huge spots still hold up, etc etc. You've heard it all before.


The thing that stood out to me this time around was how believably you could buy Shawn as an actual heel in this match, depending on your frame of view. After all the shit he pulls at SummerSlam and how Vader is treated in general, Shawn coming into this match hot and applying some notably aggressive knee work (including a figure four that I've worked myself into believing was a dig at Foley by way of Flair) and eventually going as far as just whacking the dude in the knee with a steel chair, it really reads to me like he's supposed to be the bad guy. But at the same time you can see it as a mere human being backed into the corner after weeks of psychological warfare by a pair of real freaks and trying to survive by any means he can. Fun twist in a match that I already thought very highly of.


By the by, where's this "worked botch" talk come from, Foley's book? With the way it segues almost directly into the Mandible Claw tease it's easy to see it as a work, I guess, but I sort of don't buy Shawn as that convincing of an actor.

#34 soup23

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Posted 16 April 2018 - 05:59 PM

Have a Nice Day is what really forwarded the worked botch narrative.

Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: WWF, In Your House, September 22, 1996, Shawn Michaels, Mankind, Mick Foley, Philadelphia, 4.5*

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