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Tussle of the Texas Titans plus a Wrestlemania 25 Rumor

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"Taker, know that I'm going to be bringing everything I've got. Everything. The best of Shawn Michaels, which means you'll be getting the best of the best. And I know you're good, particularly when your streak is on the line. But realize that your streak is just a part of you. My career defines me. You've never faced me on the grandest stage of 'em all, but come April 5th, you'll find out why they call me Mr. WrestleMania."

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It's the match everyone wants to see, and now Shawn Michaels wants it too. This week's Thoughts From The Top Rope takes a closer look at the potential of Michaels vs. Taker at 'Mania 25.

It was way back in August when I put together an article pondering what wrestling would be like once Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker retire, and if memory serves I believe the conclusion I came to was along the lines of "it'll be different, but life goes on." Thankfully, as another year draws to a close, neither Shawn Michaels or Undertaker seem likely to retire anytime soon.

I recall Survivor Series 2000, back when wrestling was almost cool and I was relatively new to the whole pro wrestling thing – the commentators made numerous mentions of Taker's "decade of destruction," highlighting his dominance in WWE over the course of his 10-year career. At the time I thought it was an insane accomplishment and wondered how long the guy could keep on doing it. Now I'm a bit more informed about the business and realize that 10 years isn't actually that impressive. But the fact that Taker has been such a big name for so long – eighteen years now - really is, but what puts the accomplishment over the top is that he's showing no signs of slowing down in terms of what he can do in the ring.

To go off on a bit of a tangent, how awesome is WWE Home Video? They're productions are insanely good. But as I was reading Aaron Hubbard's review of The Undertaker 3-disc set, I thought to myself what a shame it was that WWE couldn't create a masterpiece for Taker in the same way they have for Flair, Bret, Michaels etc. But truth be told, that's not really their fault, because for a large part of his career Taker just wasn't a very good worker. But like fine wine, Taker seems to get better with age. I hope that some time in the future WWE puts out another ‘Taker set focusing on the last few years of his career, because his work with the likes of Orton, Batista, Edge et al in recent years has been nothing short of phenomenal. Shawn Michaels' prowess is indeed well documented. The guy is one of the greatest professional wrestlers ever and in my book, only Ric Flair is ahead of him. Unlike Taker, he's not as good today as he once was but there's no denying the fact that he is still one of the best in the business as his rivalry with Chris Jericho this year has proven. And yet for both men, maybe the best is yet to come.

Dave Meltzer reported last week that Shawn Michaels has pitched the idea of a Michaels/Taker match taking place at WrestleMania 25 in Houston, Texas. It's the match that the wrestling world has wanted to see ever since the 2007 Royal Rumble. And now it seems as though Michaels wants it too. Before, I think it's been hope more than likelihood, but now I feel as though there is a very reasonable chance of this match going ahead. And while when people talk dream matches, we think Rock/Michaels, Hogan/Austin, Cena/Rock etc, this is one true dream match that is actually likely to happen.

But I think that it has to be handled delicately. Sure, the atmosphere surrounding the match and the match itself is likely to be off the hook regardless, but a good build is what's going to entice people into placing down their money to see it. And what the hell, it's been a while since I've done any fantasy booking in this article, but this seems like the perfect opportunity to do just that.


A logical place to start is the place where these two men have crossed paths twice in the last two years – the Royal Rumble. In 07, they were the last two men in the ring and had an epic encounter. In 2008, they were the first two men in the ring. Michaels eliminated Taker, and Taker's distraction resulted in Michaels getting tossed out immediately after. In 2009, I'd like to see their interaction occur around the middle of the Rumble. Envision Taker entering at number 13, cleaning house and tossing four or five other participants to clear the ring. Taker stares down the aisle way awaiting his next victim and who've thought it, it's Shawn Michaels.

At this point, you've got your atmosphere, the anticipation. We've seen it for the last two years, and now it's as though the issue is reaching boiling point. It's the same atmosphere one would hope the Texan Mania crowd would deliver as these stood on opposing sides of the ring at WrestleMania, about to engage in one of the most anticipated matches of the decade.

For these two to want to fight at Mania, there needs to be a clear conflict between them here, and not just a "well I wanted to main event Mania"-type thing. Let's say they square off and trade near-eliminations and big moves until the ring begins to fill up. One of Taker's biggest rivals, say Big Show, introduces a weapon in order to gain an unfair advantage over Taker. But, sly veteran that he is, Taker gains possession of the chair and begins to unload on Show. Unfortunately, one wild swing goes awry and Michaels bears the brunt of a Taker chair shot.

Like any iconic moment that kicks off a memorable feud, it'd have to be a good chair shot, the kind that they can replays for years and it'd still have an impact. People remember these moments not just because they're shocking, but because they're executed so well (think Michaels turning on Hogan, Jericho running Michaels' head through a TV set). Blood would be good too. It's not used very much in WWE these days so theoretically, if they do bust it out it'll have more of an impact on the audience and make the moment/match that much more memorable. The chair shot would lead to Michaels' quick elimination.

Knowing that is in fact the third year in a row that Taker has caused Michaels' elimination in the Rumble, he snaps. Once recovered, he grabs a chair of his own, returns to the ring and drills Taker with it, mounting him and pummelling him with right hands until referees flood the ringside area and pull him off and out of the ring. Michaels goes back after Taker though, only to get cut off with a big boot from the Phenom. Sensing Michaels wants more, however, Taker takes another swing at him with the steel chair. Michaels is helped to the back by the officials and Taker continues to compete, though ultimately falling short of another Rumble victory.

The next night on Raw, Michaels is interviewed and asked about the Taker situation. Shawn says he lost his cool last night and paid for it, but he has nothing but the utmost respect for Taker. As far as he's concerned, the matter is over and done with, although perhaps only until next year's Rumble. Michaels says he's concussed following last night's events though, and that'll he'll be taking some time off now so he'll have time to recover before Mania.

Over on SmackDown, Taker remains in the title hunt and earns a one-on-one match with Edge at No Way Out. The pair renews their historic rivalry of the previous year and have a hellacious match. Things go back and forth down the stretch and unfortunately, the referee gets caught in the crossfire and gets knocked out. And while I know what happens next in context is predictable, but hopefully the crowd and many viewers wouldn't really expect it. Shawn Michaels makes his return and lays out Taker with Sweet Chin Music, robbing him of the WWE Championship in the process.

Raw the next night opens with a shot of an ominous steel structure suspended above the ring – the Hell in a Cell. Throughout the night, the announcers speculate as to what its purpose is. In the main event slot, the cell descends on the ring, complete with that eerie music and everything. Once it's in place, "Sexy Boy" kicks in and Shawn Michaels makes his way to the ring.

"I'm 43 years old and I look it. Most days, I feel it too. My body's not as reliable as it once was. And as a result I've had my fair share of injuries over the past few years. Though that may seem like a bad thing, it does give me a chance to spend more quality time with my kids. My son, Cameron, loves to watch tapes of my old matches. When we sit down and watch the old stuff together I think to myself think to myself how good it used to feel being able to go into that ring every night and steal the show. In those days, I felt like I could do anything. I was invincible, I was the best."

"There are times now, though they are very rare, when I come back through the curtain after having a good match and all my peers are waiting for me. They'll pat me on the back and say "great match, Shawn" or "you're still the best." And for the rest of that night, I feel invincible again. But the next morning, I wake up, and my body's in tremendous pain. And the truth dawns on me; I'm not invincible any more. The problem is, I still love what I do. I love putting on a show for you people. And though I may not be the performer I once was, I'd like to think that I still have the ability to make you fans get up and cheer and appreciate what I do."

"And that's why I'm scared. It's well documented that I've contemplated retirement a hell of a lot in the last few years. It's gotten to a point where I think about it every day, yet I always tell myself I've still got something left in me. But my head's telling me one thing while my body's saying something completely different. And I'm scared that one day I'll push myself too hard. I'm scared that I'll suffer some crippling, debilitating injury and I won't be able to look after my kids anymore. But at the same time, I can't walk away because I don't know anything else. I'm not invincible. At least, in theory I'm not."

"Undertaker, in case you hadn't already worked it out, I want you at WrestleMania, and I want you inside Hell in a Cell."

"Last year, I retired Ric Flair at WrestleMania. This year, I intend on doing the unthinkable and ending The Undertaker's streak. And if I can do that, then I guess I am invincible, and I can go on knowing that nothing can stop me doing what I love. And if I lose, I'm done. I'm finished. I walk away. Because the way I see it, that's the only way I'll ever leave this business, putting on a show at WrestleMania in Houston."

"Taker, know that I'm going to be bringing everything I've got. Everything. The best of Shawn Michaels, which means you'll be getting the best of the best. And I know you're good, particularly when your streak is on the line. But realize that your streak is just a part of you. My career defines me. You've never faced me on the grandest stage of 'em all, but come April 5th, you'll find out why they call me Mr. WrestleMania."

by Daniel Wilcox of

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