I was in such a funk this week. I took no comfort in watching wrestling, and I felt uninspired to write my column. I lay awake at night, I polled twitter, and I watched RAW with pen in hand. Plenty of good ideas, but none moved me to write. Then someone knocked a glass of water onto me in such spectacular fashion that I could only laugh…I felt a great sense of relief, and DING went the light bulb. I needed to write about something funny. I asked myself, “What is the funniest thing you have ever seen in wrestling? Quickly, Heather, because your first thought is the right answer!”
Well it is obviously the No-Holds-Barred Match between Shawn Michaels and Mr. McMahon at WrestleMania 22. Even though every WrestleMania match has been recapped here on TJR, I am compelled to shine a light on this masterpiece. This match is a tonic for the soul. I have watched it countless times; it has become tradition to do so whenever my friend Hilary comes home from England. IT NEVER GETS OLD. As you can imagine, there is very little wrestling in this match, but that void is filled by the scrumtrulescence of Misters McMahon and Michaels.
Vince is at the peak of his evil boss persona: firing Heyman and Bischoff, and founding the Kiss My Ass Club. (Jim Ross, a member of said club, is back to call this match; he spares no superlative in expressing his distaste for McMahon). Prior to the match, Shawn Michaels cuts a flawless promo on the Chairman, referring to the five-star clinics he has put on at past ‘Manias. After weeks of being beat up and humiliated by McMahon’s various allies, HBK promises that this night will be violent.
I cannot pretend that this is hard-hitting journalism. This is my chronology of the reasons why this is The Funniest Thing I Have Ever Seen In Wrestling.
1. A very intense HBK enters wearing a bandage on his forehead. Remember this for later!
2. Cue "No Chance In Hell" music. Vince enters wearing a tiny tank top and high-waisted jeans from the Levi's Satanic Grandpa Collection, all the better to showcase his physique. Sixty-one years of hangin' and bangin' on the juice, and UV-curing his skin into jerky. He strikes a bodybuilder's pose at the top of the ramp, mugging like the "handsome, virile, son-of-a bitch" that he is.
3. I don't know how he does it, but Vince somehow manages to exaggerate his signature strut down the ramp. He looks like he has pooped in his Levi’s while navigating land mines. He is having the time of his life.
4. Sign of the night says "SHAWN, PLEASE KICK HERE" with an arrow pointing to a giant photo of Vince's face (held by ringside mainstay Rick the WWE Sign Guy).
5. At ringside, there is a large, framed Muscle and Fitness magazine cover that features Vince in all his leering, veiny glory. He poses beside it, looking smugly up at Shawn, who waits for the perfect beat before jumping out to attack. Vince’s face does the classic “How Ya Like Me N- OH CRAP!”
6. Vince gets chopped to the chest, thrown across the announce table, and choked out with the cord from JR’s headset. He sells every move like it's the last gesture he will ever make in his lifetime. The finest overactor of our generation!
7. You knew that Muscle and Fitness poster would come into play later, as Michaels bashes McMahon over the head with it. Best part: Vince's face comes out exactly where his face was on the poster. Jim Ross is at his biased best here, as he urges Michaels to "Hit him on the head with it, then shove it up his ass!"
8. Michaels mimics the Chairman's cocky pose, but is quickly cut down by The Spirit Squad, whose interference is completely legal in this match. They give Michaels the High Spirits treatment, then start cabbage patching and threading the needle all over the place. My favorite though is Mitch, who scoots his ass across the ring like a dog with a clingy turd. You couldn't learn to do the running man, Mitch? This is your legacy.
9. Michaels gets a hold of their oversized megaphone, and they gamely take turns running into it for him. Each time someone gets bashed with it, the megaphone puffs out a powdery cloud. I have no idea why, but after roughly 27 viewings, you learn to stop questioning anything about this match. “Bring your megaphone with ya, idiots! Give Michaels a weapon!” says Ross. He is so genuinely fired up!
10. A fan in the second row flips an expressionless double-bird to Shawn Michaels. He is wearing a Hitman t-shirt. Grudgy.
11. McMahon delivers some kicks and blows with a possessed grin on his face, then removes his belt to "smack the hide and tear the flesh" of Michaels. You know, when McMahon clotheslines him down to the mat, it's actually believable. That's how big and energetic Vince is in this match. For Shawn’s part, he has lost the bandage from his forehead and there is no sign of a cut underneath! You have no idea how much amusement we have gotten from Shawn Michaels’ not-cut forehead. It is a WrestleMania miracle, he is healed!
12. Shane McMahon enters, giving us a cameo performance of his Kendo Stick Dance. He is loving this too. He produces a pair of handcuffs, but first Vince produces his ass for Michaels to kiss. The sultry way in which he inches down his pants and thrusts his hips is SO gross. I promise you will involuntarily shudder.
13. “Shane just got his face buried in his Daddy’s crack!”
14. Michaels cuffs Shane to the ropes on the outside. He takes the keys from Shane, kisses them good-bye, and throws them into the crowd. Huge pop. Marvelous detail.
15. HBK performs his own rendition of the Kendo Stick Dance, interspersed with beatings on Shane. He gets the crowd worked into a lather, and his dancing is so endearingly bad!
16. Chair shot to Vince, a tremendous smack delivered right to his head. “McMahon’s on queer street, not that there’s anything wrong with that!” yells Ross.
17. Vince takes a chair shot, a ladder shot, and a trash can shot to the head. Shawn teases Sweet Chin Music several times, and even sets Vince up on a table and climbs a ladder before re-thinking it - not because he is second-guessing whether to strike, but because he is thinking of even better ways to do so. The fans are eating this up, counting along with every tuning up of the band, and cheering with vigor when HBK selects an even taller ladder from underneath the ring. Shane plays his role to perfection; you can see his sense of wonder turn into recognition that this is one bigass ladder.
18. It IS a bigass ladder, and once Michaels has it erected in the ring, he moseys over to Vince, puts a trash can over his head, and lays him back down on the table. Whoever thought this up is a true genius. If I am ever asked about my inspirations and mentors, I must remember to say the Person Who Came Up With The Bigass Ladder And The Trash Can spot.
19. Just before Shawn starts to climb the bigass ladder, he casts an incredulous gaze at the scene before him. I’ve always wondered what he was thinking in that moment, a split-second acknowledgement of the insanity.
20. The ladder is so tall that the referee helps hold it steady under the guise of cautioning Michaels. No trick is left unturned, as he manages a DX crotch chop before dropping an elbow exactly on top of the trash-canned McMahon. At an event that also featured a casket and a flaming table, this spot still receives its due applause, with Jim Ross screaming, “OH MY GAWD! OH MY GAWD!”
21. He finally follows through on the Sweet Chin Music that he’s been teasing for 20 minutes. It is a high, hard, perfect kick that secures his victory over the pulpy heap that is Mr. McMahon. Paramedics load Vince onto a stretcher, and as they’re wheeling him up the ramp, the barely-conscious Chairman delivers his final, virtuoso performance, by flipping the bird. He holds it up the entire way backstage, just to be sure. I imagine he will go to his grave in much the same manner.
I don’t often go for the comedy bits at WrestleMania. They also took a big risk with such a generous time slot (the McMahon clan tends to do that, and here it pays off). Every person in that building wanted to see how Shawn would deliver on his promise of violence, and I count Vince among those people. He was as committed to this match as the Showstopper himself. It was utterly foolish, and thank God.
I feel a lot better having watched this. This match is my escape pod, my comfort food when I’m out of nachos. It begs to be watched with a friend, and is all the more dear to me because of the times I have laughed with my friend Hilary while watching it. I hope that you will excuse my self-indulgence this week, and had a laugh too.
I would love to read your comments below. If you’re on twitter, you can follow my live-event antics over the next week, as I will be attending Monday Night RAW in Toronto, and Night of Champions in Detroit. YES! YES! YES!
And here’s the match: