There are so many nicknames and superlatives that have been used over the years to describe Shawn Michaels. “The Showstopper”, “The Main Event”, “The Icon”, “Mr Wrestlemania”, the list goes on and on. With HBK rumoured to be returning to the ring after his retirement in 2010, it seems very timely that WWE have released a set of rarities and previously unseen matches from arguably the best performer in company history.
Shawn Michaels - The Showstopper Unreleased features 35 matches over three discs, with HBK’s career divided into three sections; his early career in The Rockers, his 90s run, and his return run from 2002 to 2010. As you would expect the match quality here is fantastic.
Disc one features some nice oddities and titbits from Michaels’ early career. I particularly enjoyed the matches from the AWA run of the Midnight Rockers, which includes an appearance by Dennis Stamp, who is best remembered for his role in the documentary Beyond the Mat (“I’m not booked”). There are also previously unseen bouts with The Hart Foundation (no, not the phantom title switch), The Orient Express, and even The Legion of Doom all of which are well worth a look for fans of The Rockers.
Disc two is a great look back at a period of time where no-one could touch Michaels for athleticism in a wrestling ring. His bout with Superfly Jimmy Snuka is something of dream match (although I was slightly surprised to see it included considering the allegations that dogged Snuka towards the end of his life). Of course, a big facet of this period of Michaels career was his relationship with Kevin “Diesel” Nash, and he features here, including the infamous tag match alongside HBK against The Headshrinkers, a gimmick that looks increasingly insensitive by the year. There is also a fun face-off between Michaels and Diesel before Wrestlemania IX which is probably more interesting than most of the actual show that year. Finally, there is a rare tag match with Michaels teaming with long-time rival Bret “The Hitman” Hart, which was a surprise, as well as a dark match pitting him against Stone Cold Steve Austin which is unsurprisingly excellent.
Disc three, in many respects, is perhaps the strongest offering, but with a caveat. While Shawn Michaels may have the best in the world during his 90s run, his return in 2002 marked a more giving, even better HBK. However, it is slightly disappointing that so many of the matches on disc three are from episodes of Raw, meaning they are readily available on the WWE Network. It’s a small gripe, and his matches with Christian, Chris Jericho, Ric Flair and Kurt Angle are all superb, but I would have liked to see more variety here. That said, given he was mostly working a lighter schedule, perhaps there were fewer non-televised matches to choose from, making this understandable.
Shawn Michaels - The Showstopper Unreleased is a very good DVD set, obviously. Shawn Michaels is one of the best ever, and this collection absolutely serves of a timely reminder just how good he was. There’s a wealth of archive unseen content here and WWE have done a great job of selecting unseen matches that are captivating and exciting in equal measure.