Shawn Michaels, better known to wrestling fans as The Heartbreak Kid, has been around a long time now and is completely deserving of the three disc treatment that WWE Entertainment has bestowed upon him in this new set, Shawn Michaels - My Journey. This guy has been sweating it out in the ring both solo and as part of two legendary tag teams, The Rockers and DX, for over two decades and so it should come as no surprise to anyone that he's got some interesting stories to tell. He's paid his dues and wholly earned his following and this extensive set is a pretty solid crash course in his career.
While, like a lot of WWE DVDs, it's true that there isn't nearly as much unreleased material here as the hardcore Michaels fans probably would have wanted and it's true that a fair bit of this stuff is available on other discs, but this is more than just a collection of matches. Here Michaels sits down with journalist Michael Cole, who essentially serves as a moderator/interviewee throughout the presentation which takes a chronological look at Michaels' career from the early WCW/AWA days up to his time in the WWE.
So basically what we get here is a mix up of interview clips that let Michaels tell his story in his own words combined with a really solid collection of matches taken from throughout his storied career. If you've read his book or frequent online wrestling communities you may not gleam as much from this release as someone new to Michaels' career, but Michaels does do a really good job of enthusiastically relaying his rise to wrestling prominence as he gets quite honest about his interactions with various different wrestling superstars (a certain bleach blonde orange and yellow guy in particular) and how he essentially climbed the ladder all the way to the top.
The collection of matches that is spread out over the three discs in this set is as follows:
Shawn Michaels Vs. One Man Gang At World Class Championship Wrestling January 11, 1985
Midnight Rockers Vs. Playboy Buddy Rose/Pretty Boy Doug Summers At AWA WrestleRock April 20, 1986
AWA World Tag Team Championship With Midnight Rockers Vs. Nasty Boys At AWA Championship Wrestling March 5, 1988
Rockers Vs. Brain Busters At Boston Garden March 18, 1989
Rockers Vs. Hart Foundation At Madison Square Garden November 25, 1989
Intercontinental Championship Match With Shawn Michaels Vs. Bret Hart In Ottawa, Ontario June 2, 1992
Shawn Michaels Vs. British Bulldog At RAW March 6, 1995
Intercontinental Championship With Shawn Michaels Vs. Sid Vicious At RAW September 11, 1995
Shawn Michaels Vs. 1-2-3 Kid At RAW March 4, 1996
Shawn Michaels Vs. Mankind At RAW August 11, 1997
WWE European Championship With British Bulldog Vs. Shawn Michaels At One Night Only September 20, 1997
Casket Match For The WWE Championship With Shawn Michaels Vs. Undertaker At Royal Rumble January 18, 1998
Shawn Michaels Vs. Chris Jericho At WrestleMania XIX March 30, 2003
Shawn Michaels Vs. Ric Flair At Bad Blood June 15, 2003
Shawn Michaels Vs. Kurt Angle At WrestleMania 21 April 3, 2005
Shawn Michaels Promo In Montreal - Hulk Hogan At RAW August 15, 2005
Boot Camp Match With Shawn Michaels Vs. Triple H At RAW December 19, 2005
Fatal 4-Way Match For The WWE Championship With John Cena Vs. Shawn Michaels Vs. Edge Vs. Randy Orton At Backlash April 29, 2007
WWE Championship Match With Shawn Michaels Vs. Randy Orton At Survivor Series November 18, 2007
Unsanctioned Match With Shawn Michaels Vs. Chris Jericho At Unforgiven September 7, 2008
Undertaker Vs. Shawn Michaels At WrestleMania 25 April 5, 2009
Michaels' enthusiasm shines through in the interview clips as he begins by talking about how he wound up in where we wind up seeing him get his ass handed to him by One Man Gang in the first match in the set. From there we move on to the first of The Midnight Rockers' matches as Shawn starts coming into his own and using his acrobatic prowess in the ring. There are two Midnight Rockers matches in total before the name gets shortened and we see The Rockers square off against The Brainbusters and then The Hart Foundation, the later being one of the best tag team matches in the set and one in which you can really feel how energetic, enthused and divided the crowd is. After the events of the match, Shawn flies solo for a while, working his way through the top of the WWF tier in matches against titans like Bret The Hitman Hart, The British Bulldog, and a few others like Mankind and Chris Jericho before his long running feud with The Undertaker starts. Of course, there's a fair bit of time spent going over the DX team up as well, and overall the matches selected here do a good job of bringing us from the early days to the present.
There are a lot of highlights here, most notably the last match in which he takes on The Undertaker. Given the recent events at Wrestlemania XXVI in which Michaels lost to The Undertaker and was, as agreed upon, forced into retirement, this match takes on some more importance. We'll see if Michaels doesn't make a comeback again at some point, as he did retire after getting a legitimate back injury when The Undertaker slammed him against the casket at the 1998 Royal Rumble (another highlight of this release). He loves it in the ring, however, and it shows. On top of that, his tag team matches with Triple H have been highlights of various WWE broadcasts and PPV events over the last few years
Just as interesting, if not more so, than the matches themselves however are the interview segments. Michaels has a relaxed atmosphere and seems very comfortable in his own skin as he discusses the folly of his early party guy days and how increasing pressure to exceed in his chosen career lead to him slowing it down and taking things considerably more seriously. He also talks about his relationships with other wrestlers like Ric Flair, and some of the more controversial moments of his career, such as the 1997 Survivor Series match against Bret Hart in Montreal. His faith, his family, his role as a parent and his world view are all covered, which adds a nice personable slant to the set. There's roughly nine hours of footage here and it's more than even the most die-hard Michaels fan will want to take in during one sitting, but stretched out over a few days it proves to be pretty solid stuff.
The fullframe presentation, though interlaced, looks pretty decent. Some of the earlier matches are on the soft side and aren't quite as clean and colorful looking as the later day content is but this is generally quite a respectable looking presentation. There are times where the lights over the ring make skin tones look a bit off but this isn't a fault of the transfer or the authoring, it's simply the way the material has always looked. Nothing here really looks worse than when it was broadcast on television, and to some eyes it might even look a little bit better.
The same comments apply to the audio on this release - some of the earlier stuff sounds a bit flat, but most of the newer stuff sounds just fine. Everything comes at you by way of a Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track and aside from one or two instances where some of the archival clips have a small amount of audible distortion, there aren't any issues worth complaining about here.
The set doesn't have a whole lot going for it in terms of supplements features but it does feature a couple of bonus commentaries, the first of which is over the Intercontinental Championship Match With Shawn Michaels Vs. Bret Hart match, the second is for the Shawn Michaels Vs. Ric Flair At Bad Blood match and the third is for the Boot Camp Match With Shawn Michaels Vs. Triple H At RAW match. All three commentaries come from Michaels and Cole and they do a good job of letting Michaels explains his side of the three very different but important bouts and to put them in perspective alongside some of his other accomplishments in the ring.
If you're a Shawn Michaels fan, it's hard to resist this set. The presentation is decent even if it won't wow you, but it's the content here that matters the most. The extras are slim, but with nine hours of material to sift through, it's hard not to recommend Shawn Michael's - My Journey to wrestling fans.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.