The Boyhood Dream for Shawn Michaels began here, when he challenged his former bodyguard and WWF Champion Diesel at WrestleMania XI in Hartford, Connecticut.
Former stage allies, now budding rivals, Diesel would break from Michaels and then go on to defeat Bob Backlund for the WWF Championship. Waiting for him as the champ was his old friend HBK. Michaels would win the 1995 Royal Rumble in the famous number one entry to cash his ticket into WrestleMania XI.
Celebrities galore would be involved with his matchup and, in my opinion, take away from the real story. A young Jonathon Taylor Thomas would act as the timekeeper. Nicholas Turturro took over ring announcing for The Fink. Shawn Micahels made his way to the ring accompanied by Diesel’s replacement, Sid Vicious, and Jenny McCarthy.
HBK was ready to go, but the announcers only wanted to focus on McCarthy and the whereabouts of Pam Anderson. I like beautiful women as much as the person, but this match is a huge feud for the WWF Championship; I’d have liked it to have been treated as such.
The Champ Diesel made his way to the ring and our match was finally underway.
Immediately after the bell, Michaels was on Diesel. He used his speed and athleticism to duck and maneuver over the big man until he was caught with a furious shot with his right hand that sent Michaels flying around the ring. It was the power of Diesel against the speed of Michaels. Michaels would try to work on the arm, but Diesel would throw Michaels around the ring several times before Irish whipping HBK into the corner to spin him out of the ring. A distraction from Sid wouldn’t work and Michaels was caught again.
They worked into the corner where the persistence of Michaels was matched by the power of Diesel. The champion picked Michaels up high for all to see and Michaels tried to reverse it to take control, but a suplex and a running knee sent Michaels outside. Diesel had all the answers to Shawn Michaels questions to this point.
Michaels was able to slide under the ropes and Diesel’s expectations to throw a few punches and attempt a massive sunset flip. Diesel didn’t fall for it and pulled him up and onto the ropes where the sun don’t shine. Diesel used a whip and missed a huge big boot that Michaels used to his advantage as he clothes-lined Diesel over the top rope and onto the outside.
Shawn used his famous skin of the cat to get back into the ring before hitting a great crossbody onto Diesel from the top rope to the floor. Michaels kept the momentum with a baseball slide. He tried a second one, but was caught and paid for it with a mouth full of ring apron. He was able to duck a big elbow from Diesel that hit the ringpost instead of Michaels.
That shot really hurt Diesel and Michaels used it to his advantage. HBK hit a body slam from the ring apron to the floor. The crowd waited in anticipation as the champion had been seriously hurt. Sid argued with the official as Diesel made his way back into the ring. Michaels went straight to work on him. Michaels pounded on Big Daddy Cool and landed a huge bulldog from the second rope to wear the big man down.
The Showstopper was in full control as the crowd chanted for Diesel. Michaels controlled them as well by hitting their favorite with a side elbow from the second rope and continued the ground and pound of Diesel with knees to the ribs. On the grandest stage of them all, Michaels would add to the highlight reel with a great flying elbow to the lower back. Michaels had the gold within reach. He couldn’t just taste it; he felt its weight around his waist.
The persistent champion would kick out and began to fight back with his power again. A pair of back bodydrops slowed Michaels down. Michaels stayed persistent and locked in a sleeper hold onto the champion.
Michaels had Diesel beaten. He was within a few inches of capturing the title before the crowd erupted and Diesel found new life. He fought out of the hold and began to work on Michaels in the corner with elbows and a pair of running clotheslines in the corners were enough to shift the momentum. Diesel was back to good form and sent Michaels to the outside.
Diesel pounded on HBK back into the ring as Michaels asked for a moment of mercy. Diesel beat him back into the ring again. However, simultaneously the referee would fall off the apron trying to keep Sid away from the two men and Michaels hit Sweet Chin Music on Diesel in the center of the ring. Michaels had the match won, but the referee couldn’t count Diesel down in time and it was a long two before Diesel kicked out.
In reaction, Sid Vicious cut the top turnbuckle off the top rope. Michaels looked towards the end before a back body drop by Big Daddy Cool put both men down. Michaels got an arm over Diesel a few moments later for another long two count. Michaels needed one more big move. Michaels ascended to the second rope to dive into Diesel, but he was caught in a great feat of strength by Diesel and dropped with a sidewalk slam.
The two exhausted men both made it to their feet. Diesel swept the leg of Michaels, catapulted him across the ring into the second turnbuckle and Diesel revved up for the end. He hit a few powerful shots onto HBK, hit a running big boot and dropped Michaels with the Jackknife Powerbomb for the three count. Diesel retained the WWF Championship and celebrated with all the celebrities while Shawn Michaels walked away with nothing.
It was a very good match. Both guys really brought a physicality and it was great to watch Michaels slowly take the power away from Diesel and pound on him with his athleticism, until the end where Diesel built himself back up and secured the win. The story of Diesel rising up and defeating Shawn Michaels was a good and appropriate story for this WrestleMania. Although a lot of the focus was on the celebrities, HBK and Diesel put on a very solid title match—match of the night, really.
Michaels came about as close as someone could to capturing the championship and proved himself to be worthy of the championship.
Michaels was ready for the gold; it was clear in this match that he would get it someday. But getting as close as he did put the fire inside of HBK that would burn for a solid year, until he would have to go beyond the distance against the excellence of execution to secure what he believed he had earned.