Shawn Michaels addresses criticism of Iron Man match with Bret Hart from WWE WrestleMania 12

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Michaels discusses his WrestleMania history in California. 

One week away is WWE’s WrestleMania 39 event(s) which is taking place in California. As a part of that weekend, the NXT brand is presenting Stand & Deliver on Saturday, April 1st.

The head of NXT, Shawn Michaels, spoke to GV Wire’s ‘Off the Bottom Rope’ section to promote the forthcoming weekend of shows for WWE. He looked back on his WrestleMania matches in the state of California, one of which being the WrestleMania 12 Iron Man match against Bret Hart. 

Michaels addressed some of the criticism about the match. He feels had it been somebody else doing that match with Bret, they might not get the hard time he gets.

Hindsight is 20/20, especially for the people that didn’t do it, you know what I mean? Understanding the business now and just the the tempo of the business now certainly was different. Do I think (the criticism is) a little unfair? Obviously, I do. I think if it were somebody else other than myself, and Bret was doing it with somebody else, I think they probably might not get quite the hard time.

I always more so appreciated the risk that we were willing to take as performers to go out there and do that hour match at that time. Again, in the business, that was a huge risk from a company standpoint. It’s very challenging from a performance standpoint to do that. For anybody … to knock it, obviously, as somebody who’s never done it. 

At WrestleMania 21, Michaels clashed with Kurt Angle. He feels that him and Angle had ‘unbelievable chemistry’. 

The time limit, what we got to do, the placement on the show, the story we were in, a number of different elements add to that … just the unbelievable chemistry that he and I had. 

Michaels was called out by Grayson Waller for a match at NXT Stand & Deliver. In his response, Michaels introduced Grayson’s opponent and that is Johnny Gargano. 

I think Bret/Shawn is better if you don’t think of it as an Iron Man. It’s really more of a “we want these guys to go an hour, but our fans need to be prepared for it,” which is probably a fair line of thinking for 1996 WWF. Some of the near falls would have worked better if it wasn’t an advertised 60 minute match, but that’s about it.

You can argue whether it should have gone that long, but take a look at the card and the roster. You could split up the six-man tag into multiple matches or do the pre-show match on the main show, but there wasn’t exactly a murderer’s row of talent sitting at home unused.

I loved the match. As a teenager I remember having all my friends over watching on PPV and we were all glued to our seats for the entire hour+.

I think when you take bias out of it, it’s pretty universally loved. It’s no coincidence that the majority that criticize it also just happen to dislike Shawn and just happen to dislike Hunter etc.

You also have to remember that it was 1996. If you were strictly a WWF fan and/or 11 years old like I was, you had never seen anything like it before.

I don’t even know if I had seen a singles match longer than 30 minutes at that point in my fandom.

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Very true. I also was extremely into the story, as Shawn had been one of favourites since his rockers days. So to see him go from tag team guy to world champion was one of the coolest moments in my wrestling life at that point. I used to watch that match over and over again, I loved it as it wasn’t like anything I had ever seen before.

In my all time rankings, I have Shawn #1 and Bret #2, so for me that match was also my favourites two wrestlers ever squaring off. I’d much rather think of that match when it comes to those two then what happened a year later.

If there is any wrestling match that could convince someone who doesn’t know wrestling that wrestling is real, it would be that Iron Match.
I love it.

This is why I think Ironman matches are ridiculously stupid. Bret/Shawn is one the greatest matches of all time. But as a fan, I already know this is going 60+,so it’s easy to tune out. On the other hand, if done properly, Okada/Omega was awesome!!

It’s all relative, and depends on how engaged you are. For me, I loved Bret vs Shawn. I was in grade school at the time and I had never seen an iron match before. Still goes down as my greatest match of all time. Plus, the finish was just amazing IMO and for me the conclusion in a story that I had been following for years.

Omega vs Okada……I assume you’re talking the draw. I was bored, for me, one of the most overrated matches I’ve ever seen. I saw this as an adult after seeing many other matches, and to be fair I really wasn’t following the storyline going in. Then to not even get a real finish, I felt like I wasted an hour.

Now, I’m not saying I’m right and you’re wrong or vice versa. I’m saying it’s all relative.

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