During the late 1980’s and early 1990’s there was a high flying, risk taking tag team named the Rockers that fans loved. They were Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty. People had high hopes for Michaels and it was often said on commentary that Michaels would go on to win singles gold in the WWF. However, that was never said for his partner Marty Jannetty. At some point, Michaels must have heard the commentary because on December 2nd, 1991, Michaels made a statement by superkicking Jannetty on the Barber Shop talk show and sent him through a glass window.
It was Michaels time to go for singles gold. With Jannetty no longer holding him back, Michaels was free to chase singles gold and he set his sights on the WWF Intercontinental Championship. After winning his first singles match on pay per view at WrestleMania VIII against Tito Santana, Michaels issued a challenge to the winner of Bret Hart vs. Roddy Piper for the WWF Intercontinental Championship. As you may know, Bret Hart would go on to win the championship at the event.
For several months after Mania, Michaels would get several shots at the WWF Intercontinental Championship but wouldn’t be able to dethrone Bret Hart. It was during this time that they had the first ladder match in WWF history on July 21st, 1992 in Portland, ME.
It didn’t take Michaels long to capture the gold, although he wouldn’t beat Bret Hart to win it. Instead, on October 27th in Terre Haunte, IN Michaels would pin the British Bulldog to win his first championship. The match wouldn’t actually air until November 22nd, which was only three days before Survivor Series.
At Survivor Series Shawn Michaels challenged WWF World Champion Bret Hart at Survivor Series. Michaels continued to be unable to beat Bret and failed to capture the WWF World Championship. But that’s not a major part of this. It’s more about what his WWF Intercontinental Championship reign was all about.
Remember the beginning of this column? Michaels had to turn on a longtime friend in order to get a chance as a singles wrestler. Marty Jannetty vanished from WWF television following his split with Shawn Michaels in early 1992, but Jannetty made a surprise return during the October 12th taping of WWF Superstars, which was aired on October 31st. It was clear that Jannetty was back for revenge against Michaels and was coming for the WWF Intercontinental Championship.
There was another part of the feud, though. During Marty’s surprise return he accidentally hit Sherri Martel with a mirror and caused her to miss nearly two months of action. She would return to be in a neutral corner for when Jannetty challenged Michaels for the WWF Intercontinental Championship at the Royal Rumble. Michaels was able to walk out of the event as champion after using Sherri’s shoe on Jannetty and by hitting the superkick. Thankfully for Michaels, Jannetty was out of his hair for the time being. But, next up was a guy who had never tasted defeat in his career.
Michaels found that he couldn’t beat Tatanka either. In fact, Michaels would lose to Tatanka three times on WWF television which would result in Tatanka getting a WWF Intercontinental Championship match at WrestleMania IX. At the event, Sherri Martel was in Tatanka’s corner. The undefeated streak for Tatanka continued but he didn’t walk out with the championship because he won by disqualification.
It was at WrestleMania IX that Michaels would begin his next major feud that would continue for several months. Michaels attacked former WWF Intercontinental Champion Mr. Perfect backstage when Perfect was brawling with Lex Luger.
Perfect and Michaels would brawl on the street in New York City and Michaels was slammed onto the hood of a car. Yeah, the feud was getting intense. Perfect ended up costing Shawn the WWF Intercontinental Championship on May 17th and allowed Marty Jannetty to capture the gold. While the victory for Jannetty was sweet, he would lose it back to Michaels on June 6th, 1993 in Albany, NY. This marked the debut of Shawn Michaels’s bodyguard Diesel.
Shawn would defend the championship at the King of the Ring against Crush in what had very little build to it. You may be wondering why he didn’t defend against Mr. Perfect or Jannetty. Well, Perfect was involved in the KOTR tournament and Jannetty, well, I don’t know why they didn’t do a rematch here.
Following the event, Michaels would continue his feud with Mr. Perfect. It was more of a feud over who was the best WWF Intercontinental Champion. There was a lot of hype going into their match at SummerSlam as people expected it to be one of the best matches in WWF history. Michaels manages to retain the championship thanks to Diesel shoving Perfect into the ring post and gave Shawn a count-out victory.
His title reign would end on a rather negative note. Michaels ended up testing positive for steroids, but it was played off on television that he no showed several title defenses. As a result, Michaels was stripped of the WWF Intercontinental Championship. It would be the last time that Michaels would hold the championship until the summer of 1995.
The WWF at this time wasn’t the greatest time period, but you could almost rely on Shawn Michaels to provide entertainment. When he held the WWF Intercontinental Championship in 1993, he did just that. Aside from the lackluster match with Mr. Perfect at SummerSlam 1993, it was a solid title reign. He was able to maintain a long lasting feud with Marty Jannetty and they had several great RAW matches.
I don’t think Michaels getting suspended changed too much in WWF history. It would seem like Razor Ramon was in line to get a WWF Intercontinental Championship match at WrestleMania X. Perhaps it wouldn’t have been a ladder match, but nothing too much would have changed.
What did you think of Shawn Michaels first reign as WWF Intercontinental Champion? Where there any feuds you wished had happened? Feel free to share your thoughts!
Thanks for reading.
31-year old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Longtime fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Vikings. Avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on the old school wrestling.