By Liam Byrne @tvtimelimit
Shawn Michaels © vs Marty Jannetty
WWF Intercontinental Title Match
It must be sad when your career in wrestling has been boiled down into a punchline. Though tag team wrestling isn’t exactly at the zenith of its powers now, any long term couple tend to get the ‘Who will be the Shawn Michaels/Marty Jannetty after they split?’. With ‘being the Michaels’ you get singles stardom; ‘being the Jannetty’ is shorthand for toiling in the midcard forever, if you are lucky enough to remain with the company at all.
It would be churlish to suggest that Jannetty ever had it in him to usurp Michaels as the main singles star once the Rockers unceremoniously ended on the Barbershop. Michaels always had more charisma than Jannetty did, yet Jannetty’s sink into relative obscurity wasn’t helped by his own self destructive tendencies. Even in the initial falling out from the split, where the iron should have been hottest, Jannetty would be fired twice before this match even took place. Attacking a police officer cost him a shot at the title at Wrestlemania VIII; a poor match at the Royal Rumble and rumours of intoxication did for him a second time.
Still, the WWF were nothing if not willing to persevere with Jannetty as they brought him back a third time. Jumping the barricades at Raw to answer an open challenge by Michaels was quite a way to make his return, and Jannetty would take on his nemesis to close out the show. As a means to bring Michaels’ character down to earth and show that he wouldn’t always have it all his own way, the return of Jannetty was a perfect moment.
On a show where the 1-2-3 Kid defeated Razor Ramon, the idea of upsets was hanging in the air and Jannetty presented a legitimate challenge to the incumbent champion. An avoided charge in the opening minute saw Jannetty get a roll-up for a two count, whilst a sunset flip that followed would give him another near fall. The speed of Jannetty had Michaels off guard and the challenger would land on a hiptoss, duck a clothesline and use one of his own to take Michaels to the outside.
A baseball slide and plancha had Jannetty fired up and Michaels crawling on his knees at ringside. Even after trying to beg off and create some space, a Japanese armdrag and flying mare had Michaels back on the mat. Having escaped the hold, Michaels subsequently missed an elbow drop, leading to an Irish whip that sent the champion into the corner and over the top turnbuckle.
Michaels had had enough. He grabbed his title belt and started walking down the aisle to force a countout. Just as it seemed the champion had taken the easy way out, Mr Perfect blocked his retreat, forcing the champ to head back to the ring and finish the contest. Perfect’s arrival did coincide with Michael’s first piece of offensive luck, as another attempted flying mare saw Jannetty dropped throat first on the top rope. Having had none of the match up until this point, Michaels was finally able to take the fight to his former partner.
After a splash into the rope targeted the neck, Michaels slapped on a rear chinlock in an effort to slow Jannetty down. One dropkick caught Jannetty flush, but a second attempted dropkick was blocked, with Jannetty using a slingshot to send Michaels face first into the ringpost. A teased double countout was broken by Jannetty crawling towards the champion, but Michaels managed to roll the shoulder just a moment before the three.
A flying back elbow and a powerslam earned Jannetty another nearfall, with the crowd audibly responding to every single pinning attempt and subsequent kickout by Michaels. Rolling through a roll-up allowed Michaels to use the tights in order to gain leverage, but Jannetty showed he too was resilient enough to keep going. A pre-Sweet Chin Music superkick did put Jannetty down once more, however, and it looked as if Michaels had victory within his grasp.
Or would have, if he didn’t lose focus and begin to jaw with Perfect. A thrown towel into the face disorientated the champion, spinning him around into a quick Jannetty small package for the three count.
The title victory was ultimately meaningless; Michaels would regain the belt twenty days later, with this defeat merely a way of highlighting the ‘anything can happen’ nature Raw was aiming to cultivate. Yet, for someone who could have been so much more, at least Jannetty can say that won serious singles gold in the WWF – not a lot of people can say the same.