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WRESTLING COLUMNS

Shawn and Kurt: Wrestlemania's Hopes Are On Your Shoulders!
April 1, 2005 by Serafin Santiago Jr.


Well, it has been quite a while since I last wrote one of these out. Yet I still find it a pleasure to make my observations on wrestling today public as I have before. Yes, if I were to think back at the last time I wrote an article at full length, I would have to think back to about 1998 when my kid was born, and I was still involved with a small wrestling group based out of NYC. That was then....this is (obviously) now. I can't wait to start putting these bad boys up to let a few or many read my thoughts. Who knows, maybe I will have a few supporters and detractors just like any good columnist does.

So now on to the subject at hand. Wrestlemania 21 is just days away and the card looks good. Everyone has picked their projected winners and losers, and some have made predictions (of which I have made my fair share of in the past) on the outcome of the show. My focus in actuality is in one match that in my opinion is this year's dream match come to life. Shawn Michaels and Kurt Angle tape up their wrist and strap on the boots to get it on in the granddaddy of them all. If you can't by any means understand why anyone should be excited about this, you're a moron! This is something that comes along so very few and far between. Think about it. Give yourself a long time to contemplate the impact that this match really has. Have you realized it yet" Has all the information sunk in to your cranium" No"! Not even a clue, huh" OK, OK.....I'll help you out with this one but don't say I never give you anything!

Shawn Michaels is arguably the most talented wrestler that a generation has seen since the days of Ricky Steamboat and Ric Flair. His ability to work with so many wrestlers who don't have much talent and those that have just as much and more talent than he make him a great joy to watch. If you were to think back throughout his career to try and pick out one defining moment that made him the impact player that he is, you'd have a long list of matches to sort through. In my opinion, too many people look at matches that are put out there as the defining moment of his career. Already I know people are thinking of his Ladder Match vs. Scott Hall. In my estimate, that would be the one that would garner the most votes. Not me though. I picked a match that shows a little more than the usual in-ring antics that Shawn puts out nowadays. Ready for this one.....his Hell in a Cell match vs. Undertaker. Lord, I hear the screams of "WHAT!!!" bellowing throughout the corridors, bouncing off walls and making my opinion sound like blasphemy. But, if you really think about it, it was the first time you saw two of the most popular wrestlers at that time go at it in a completely different atmosphere that many of us are used to now. 'Taker and Shawn put on a great show and even though everyone was rooting for 'Taker, we all knew that as far as the "real" aspect of wrestling goes.....Shawn did his job and then some. He deserves all of the respect and even disrespect that he gets from wrestling fans worldwide.

Shawn also has the distinct pleasure (or displeasure, I'm not quite sure) of being part of the most infamous wrestling disaster to ever be made public. The day kayfabe died, or as many of us know it, The Montreal Screw job. That will always be with this man no matter where he goes. Despite all of the hissing and booing the Canadians do at live events, Shawn has continued to play to the crowd and do so with no issues. Now I'm sure that there are many people this side of the border that can't stand him. I myself am not, I repeat, NOT a big fan of Shawn Michaels. Not because I think he sucks as a wrestler or a performer. I just never jumped on the bandwagon like so many others did in the early days. The same goes for a lot of other wrestlers. As for his opponent at Wrestlemania.....he is another story.

Kurt Angle, without having it seem like I'm in love with the guy, is a GREAT wrestler. Since he arrived in the WWE (or WWF, you choose), he has been the go-to guy to work and put over so many individuals that it would be ridiculous not to mention him as one of the greats to come out of this current day crop of wrestlers. I, just like so many, have enjoyed watching this man perform and wrestle with an uncanny ability to make even the most lack luster individuals look like outstanding wrestlers i.e. Shane McMahon just to name one. Just take a look at King of the Ring 2001 and watch him not only wrestle two top notch wrestlers, but then wrestle a third time against Shane McMahon in a street fight that made Shane look like the most dangerous man on earth (No disrespect to you Ken Shamrock). Kurt has made other guys who were already good look even better. For instance, look at his program with Ray Mysterio. The entire thing was so well done that we can look back at it today; just a few years removed and still be in awe at how both of these men made such a great rivalry so unforgettable. He has a long list of accomplishments that have been made public in his book and throughout his tenure with the WWE. From the Olympics to the multiple titles that he has held in pro wrestling, it is hard for anyone to think of him as a person that won't put 110% of himself into this Wrestlemania.

He has had adversity in his personal life and professional life as well. It has been a bit of a thing with people that he can be a backstage politician. That's only speculation and rumors that I have heard so don't quote me on that or make it truth. Unlike Shawn, he has one thing that I believe will hinder his future.....his neck. Kurt has a constantly nagging neck issue that has followed him his entire Olympic and Pro career. It was apparent once how bad his injured neck was when he had a match with Brock Lesnar. The nerves in his neck were pinched and were steadily getting worse. If you took notice, you could tell that his muscle structure on his right side was not very good. Actually, it looked as if his muscles were atrophying. Anyone that knows what that is can tell you that many wrestlers in the past and even now can say that that is something you don't want. You can become more of a danger to your opponent if it is not taken care of properly. If you want to see what an atrophied muscle looks like, find some old footage of "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff when he was trying to wrestle in WCW before he hung up his tights for good. You can tell the stark contrast from one side of his body to the other.

Nonetheless, both of these professionals can put together a great show with other guys but the question does remain. Can they put each other over to make this a most memorable Wrestlemania" Can we think back to any of the last Wresltemanias that have had such talent in one match" I'm sure people will try and find one but really folks, why put yourself through so much" Are you going to say Lesnar vs. Goldberg, or are you going to be a total moron and say 'Taker vs. Giant Gonzales" Trust me folks, you wont find anything like this one no matter how far back in 'Manias history you go. Shawn Michaels and Kurt Angle....I hope to see the two talented men I have described here show up and steal the show from the glory hounds that exist in the wrestling world. Mainly in the WWE. Hint hint, wink wink.

by Serafin Santiago Jr. --- [View Serafin Santiago Jr's Column Index]..


Jesse L. wrote:
Awesome article! Unlike most, you're not sticking to one side while badmouthing another. Both Shawn and Kurt earn their creds and should be remember as two of the top athletes in WWE(WWF) history. My most memorable HBK moments were his matches against Jericho at Wrestlemania 19 and Mankind at Mind Games. Both for different reasons. As for Kurt Angle, he's been able to get under my skin and make me hate him so much that I can't help but respect the guy. My favorite moments of Angle were during the gay jokes with Triple H and all those promos when he tried sucking up to Vince with Austin.

As far as the in-ring skill, Micheals proved he can go technical when he faced against Bet Hart and he proved time and again that he isn't fond of giving up when in extreme pain. Kurt in return is an Olympic wrestler so that greatly overshadows Bret's abilities. Kurt can also do most of what Shawn can. It's tough to pick a winner because you don't wanna bad mouth the other, this is a matter of pride, a matter to show who is the better wrestler and sport's entertainer of their generation. Of course when you talk about who SHOULD win, neither wrestler has a huge future in front of them. Angle's neck will probably hold him for a few more years depending on his ability and Shawn seems to be staling every now and then. After Wrestlemania, the two should start seeking for ways to push the younger talent up to the top.
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