Triple H and Shawn Michaels have had many memorable Pay-Per-View singles matches. There was the 3 Stages of Hell match at Armageddon 2002, the Last Man Standing match at Royal Rumble 2004, the Hell in a Cell match at Bad Blood 2004, and their most famous PPV match-up was the Unsanctioned Street Fight at SummerSlam 2002. There were five Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels PPV matches and there is one match out of that five that I didn’t mention yet. That match is the match I am reviewing. I recently purchased The History of the World Heavyweight Championship WWE DVD and this match was included. I watched it because I hadn’t seen it yet and I wasn’t expecting a great match. I thought the only reason this match was on the DVD was because it was a Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels match that hadn’t been released on a WWE DVD other than the PPV DVD. Another reason I had low expectations was because this match is not as famous as the other four Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels matches. I watched the match and I liked it more than I thought I would. It seems to be a forgotten Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels match and it shouldn’t be so that’s why I’m reviewing it.
- This match happened at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The attendance was 3,500 and that’s not a typo. I did some research and having the event on a Tuesday night seems to be the top reason for the low attendance. I’m going to blame Tuesday too because Taboo Tuesday 2005 in San Diego had only 6,000 fans.
- Taboo Tuesday had a fan poll for each match. The poll for this match was the fans got to pick Triple H’s opponent. Shawn Michaels won the poll with 38.72% of the voters picking him. The other wrestlers in the poll were Edge (33.42%) and Chris Benoit (27.86%).
- Triple H’s World Heavyweight Championship was on the line. Triple H became the champion by defeating Randy Orton at Unforgiven on September 12, 2004.
- The night before the Taboo Tuesday, Shawn Michaels faced Edge and Chris Benoit in a Triple Threat match on RAW in Chicago. During the match, Shawn Michaels suffered a torn meniscus. According to WebMD, “A meniscus tear is a common knee injury. A torn meniscus can prevent your knee from working right. A meniscus tear is usually caused by twisting or turning quickly, often with the foot planted while the knee is bent. These tears can occur when you lift something heavy or play sports. As you get older, your meniscus gets worn. This can make it tear more easily.” The mayoclinic.com says, “A torn meniscus causes pain, swelling and stiffness. Your knee might feel unstable, as if it’s going to collapse.”
- This match is on the WWE: The History of the World Heavyweight Championship DVD.
- In 2009, Triple H and Shawn Michaels did a WWE Shop Christmas backstage segment on RAW. One of the products they mentioned was The History of the World Heavyweight Championship DVD and this match was shown on the TV in the room they were in. The segment can be seen on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVl-m00c0_M.
- Jim Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler were the announcers during this match.
- The time length of this match was 14:05.
- This match can be watched at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tERvp5vkh_Q.
The storyline was the torn meniscus that Shawn Michaels suffered the previous night on RAW. According to online reports, that was not a kayfabe injury. Shawn had a legit torn meniscus that required surgery. Information about a torn meniscus is in “The Facts”. Dave Meltzer wrote before the PPV, “At this point the odds are against him working.” I will discuss this story more after I finish writing about the match. Less than two minutes after the match started, Triple H attacked Shawn’s injured knee for the first time. Shawn tried to fight back and Triple H attacked the knee again. On commentary, Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler were having a debate about Shawn’s injury. Lawler was saying that Shawn’s injury was fake and JR was saying Shawn’s injury was real. It was fun to listen to. JR and Lawler had great discussions during matches when they were a full-time announce team. Shawn tried another comeback and again Triple H stopped it by attacking the knee. The referee asked if Shawn wanted to continue and Shawn said, “Do not ring it” referring to the ring bell. At this point in the match, Triple H was focusing completely on the knee. He wasn’t attacking any other body part. Shawn was in so much pain that he looked like he was crying. And right after I wrote that, Lawler said, “I think Shawn’s actually crying.” The referee continued to ask Shawn if he wanted the match to end and Shawn wouldn’t let the referee stop it. Triple H put Shawn in the Figure Four Leg Lock! Lawler said that move causes the most damage to someone’s legs and it’s worse than the Sharpshooter. Shawn would not submit and told the referee to not ring the bell. It reminds me of WrestleMania 28 during the Triple H vs. Undertaker Hell in a Cell match when Undertaker told Shawn who was the referee to not end the match. I could hear the pain in Shawn’s voice when he was talking to the referee. Shawn found a way to get to the ropes and Triple H had to break the hold. Shawn went to the corner to try to pull himself up and Triple H pulled him away from it. Shawn was pulled to another corner and Triple H was outside the ring wrapping Shawn’s leg around the ring post. Before Triple H could attack the leg with the ring post, Shawn pulled himself towards the middle of the ring and Triple H went face first into the ring post because he was holding onto Shawn’s leg. Shawn got to his feet as Triple H entered the ring. Shawn had a short comeback and Triple H attacked Shawn’s knee again. Triple H went for another submission hold on the leg and Shawn used his feet to push Triple H into the ring post. Both men were down and then they got up at the same time. Shawn hit Triple H with three atomic drops and every time he did it, he was doing damage to his own knee. Shawn knocked Triple H down with a clothesline, but Shawn didn’t cover him. Shawn got up and started attacking Triple H. Shawn stayed close to the ropes so he wouldn’t fall down. That’s something I didn’t notice the first time I watched this match. Shawn knocked Triple H down, covered him and got a nearfall. Triple H attacked the knee again. It’s really amazing to see Triple H focus on one body part for an entire match. He was not attacking Shawn’s back, chest or arms. Triple H was only attacking Shawn’s knee. It seemed like the referee wanted Triple H to stop attacking Shawn’s knees so Triple H pushed the referee out of the way. The referee was pushed towards the corner and while the referee’s back was turned, Shawn hit Triple H with a low blow. Shawn hit Triple H with a DDT. Shawn climbed to the top rope and hit Triple H with an elbow drop! Shawn was in pain and he was setting up Sweet Chin Music. Batista came out of nowhere and got on the ring apron. Shawn knocked him down. Shawn hit Triple H with Sweet Chin Music! The referee was busy trying to tell Batista to leave and Edge entered the ring. Edge was one of the three wrestlers in the poll before the match to determine Triple H’s opponent. Edge speared Shawn and Triple H pinned Shawn to win the match.
Winner: Triple H
***1/2 – Dave Meltzer (Wrestling Observer, @davemeltzerWON)
*** – Scott Keith (411mania.com, Insidepulse.com and Rspwfaq.net)
**1/4 – Brett Mix (WrestlingDVDNews.com, BSabres87 on YouTube)
** – J.D. Dunn (411mania)
** – Larry Csonka (411mania)
Despite having a real knee injury, WWE did not remove Shawn Michaels from the Taboo Tuesday fan poll. Shawn’s injury was serious and after this match, he didn’t wrestle again until three months later on January 17, 2005. I did not know about Shawn’s injury when I first watched this match on DVD. I thought he was selling a kayfabe injury. The fact his injury was real makes me like this match even more. I liked this match because it was a good underdog story. Even though I hadn’t seen this match, I knew Shawn wasn’t going to win because the World Heavyweight Championship was on the line. I know enough WWE history to know that there wasn’t going to be a title change. Despite knowing the outcome, I found myself rooting for Shawn and hoping he would pull off the upset even though I knew he wouldn’t. I’m not a huge fan of matches that focuses on storytelling more than entertaining spots, but I really enjoyed the story in this match. Shawn’s selling of the injury was amazing. Great in-ring wrestling ability is not the only reason why Shawn is in the WWE Hall of Fame. Many wrestlers can do a kip up or a moonsault or a superkick. I think John Morrison can do all of that stuff. The difference between Shawn and other wrestlers is matches like this. Shawn’s torn meniscus limited what Shawn and Triple H could do in this match and despite that, Shawn still almost turned it into a classic match. I can’t call it a four star classic, but this match came a lot closer to being a classic than it should have. I think it’s underrated. I like this match just as much as some of the other Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels matches. I am not a big fan of the SummerSlam 2002 match. The reason for that is probably because I saw it ten years after it happened and my expectations were too high. I think people enjoyed that SummerSlam match so much because they didn’t know Shawn could still wrestle at a high level when they watched the match and when I watched it, I already knew Shawn still had it. This Taboo Tuesday match, I had low expectations and I was like, “I’ll watch it just so I can say I saw it.” The match was a lot better than I was expecting and it was one of the best Shawn Michaels performances I have ever seen. After finding out that Shawn was selling a real injury during the match, I am more amazed by his performance. I’m not a big Shawn Michaels fan, but I respect him a lot. This match is one of the reasons why Shawn is one of the greatest wrestlers of all-time.