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WWE: Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart(2011)
For more than a decade, Bret Hit Man Hart and Shawn Michaels engaged in perhaps the most storied rivalry in the history of sports entertainment, from their teams (the Hart Foundation and the Rockers), through battles for the Intercontinental Championship and the richest prize in the business, the WWE Championship. Their enmity spilled out of the ring, and led to the most infamous incident in the history of professional wrestling, The Montreal Screwjob. More than a decade later, the two men buried the hatchet as both are now WWE Hall of Famers. Now, for the first time ever, the two sit down together and rehash their intertwined destinies in Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart. These new, never-before-aired, interviews will shed new light and insight on issues and controversies fans have speculated about for years.
For more about WWE: Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart and the WWE: Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart Blu-ray release, see WWE: Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on October 31, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Jim Ross, Marty Jannetty, Stu Hart
» See full cast & crew
WWE: Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart Blu-ray Review
Wrestling's best rivalry explained.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, October 31, 2011
There are great wrestlers, fan favorite wrestlers, talented wrestlers, entertainment-oriented showman wrestlers, big wrestlers, small wrestlers, flashy wrestlers, and movie star wrestlers. Then there are wrestlers, the few legendary combatants who make an immediate impact and leave an indelible mark on the world of professional wrestling, true superstars who embody every aspect of sports entertainment, who have it all -- the raw skill, the look, the attitude, the showmanship, the personal appeal, the longevity -- and become the best of the best, the sport's most widely-recognized and cherished athletes who absolutely define the art of professional wrestling. Names like Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Steve Austin, and John Cena fall into the category as do longtime friends and rivals Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, two A-list superstars who dominated an era and whose off-the-mat squabbles turned a fascinating rivalry into something more, a deeply personal and hurtful feud that would last until the men each met halfway, changed their personal lives, and rocked the landscape of professional wrestling with a reconciliation years after the fact that remains one of wrestling's most incredible moments. Fueled by a passion for the sport, an eagerness to succeed, a drive to reach the top, and a mix of similarities and differences that would bring them together before tearing them apart, it's easy to see why Michaels and Hart dominated the world of professional wrestling before experiencing a legendary falling out that would leave the sport shaken to its core both during their reign at the top and long after they gave way to the next generation of stars. WWE Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart is their story, retrospectively told as they recount their careers, their feud, and their reconciliation in a two-hour program sure to enthrall the most dedicated WWE fan and the greenest newcomer alike.
They were two men, with diverse histories and backgrounds, on a professional collision course that would make them -- their story, their rivalry, their fallout, their reconciliation -- the stuff of professional wrestling legend. Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, once close friends and great admirers of one another's skills in the ring, fell apart when professional success slowly dissolved their personal relationship which served only to intensify their growing wrestling rivalry. WWE: Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart chronicles the pair's rise to stardom, their journey through the world of professional wrestling, and the toll success wrought on a personal relationship. The program briefly explores their varied histories -- Shawn's Texas upbringing and lifelong pursuit of WWE stardom, and Bret's formative years in Calgary under the tutelage of his wrestling hall-of-fame father Stu Hart -- and how their personalities, physical traits, ages, and backstories made them natural friends, instant superstars, budding rivals, hated competitors, and two of the sport's most easily recognized names and faces.
Their story begins with Shawn's tag team success alongside fellow superstar Marty Jannetty in their collaboration known as "The Rockers" and their controversial title match against Bret Hart's "Hart Machine" tandem with fellow star Jim Neidhart, a match that was to give the Rockers the tag team championship belt, a match that was never aired when contract negotiations resulted in Hart's and Neidhart's retaining of the belt (remember, it's all scripted and staged; "winners" and "losers" are determined ahead of time in the name not of competition but of ratings and revenue). Their story continues through the 1990s, including Hart's and Michaels' legendary 60-minute iron man match at WrestleMania XII, which only increased their stature and stardom, only to see it all unravel a year later with the infamous Hart-Michaels-McMahon debacle when the WWE boss reused to give ground in his insistence that Hart be stripped of his title in favor of Michaels, who won the title match despite Hart's objections both in and out of the ring. It was a moment forever frozen in time, a moment that forever altered the careers of two of wrestling's most popular figures and that, indeed, would have a trickle-down effect on the sport for many years after the fact.
In WWE: Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart, the two former superstars recount their professional careers in a calm, informative, and mature dual interview moderated by longtime WWE commentator Jim Ross. The men speak candidly throughout the interview, whether recounting their early days in professional wrestling or the most difficult stretches of their well-publicized personal feud. They both delve deeply and openly into the complicated politics of WWE wrestling, politics that perhaps even the most dedicated fan might not truly understand, politics that drastically shape careers and the entire direction of the world of professional wrestling. The film plays in a rather visually bland point-and-shoot style, but content is king, and the story of Shawn Michaels versus Bret Hart proves infinitely more interesting than any camera tricks, fast-moving action, or cool angular shots. It's a vastly different experience than, say, the recent Randy Orton release, but the nature of the narrative almost demands something more streamlined. The interview is intercut with clips of the two in action at various WWE events, but the bulk of the material is told through monologue and dialogue, with the necessary nudging and direction-setting by Jim Ross, who's as capable an interviewer as he is a wrestling commentator. Michaels and Hart are well-spoken and the dialogue is always amiable and, more importantly, respectful. The level of detail into the history of the WWE is incredible, and though it lacks much in terms of pure wrestling action, the main program may very well be a fine starting point for newcomers who want to absorb as much information as they can about one of wrestling's most pivotal eras and two of its most important figures.
WWE: Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart Blu-ray, Video Quality
WWE: Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart arrives on Blu-ray with a quality 1080i, 1.78:1- and 1.33:1-framed transfer. The image is split into two categories: standard definition archival footage and high definition interview footage. The former is sometimes presented in a 1.78:1 ratio, but never appears unnaturally stretched. Of course, it lacks the detail, color clarity, and stability of the HD footage, but fans might be surprised at how well it translates to larger displays, anyway. It definitely won't be mistaken for HD material, but it's a safe bet that most of this material has never looked better. The HD interview clips -- which comprise the bulk of the program -- do look quite good. Clarity is superb, and detailing is strong, even if all there really is to see are facial and clothing close-ups. Colors are fine, whether Michaels' denim jeans or Ross' black suit and hat. Shadow detail is strong, and the image yields little in the way of blocking and banding. It's not challenging material, and WWE's Blu-ray handles it about as well as can be expected. Note that the standard definition clips do not factor into the final video score.
WWE: Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart Blu-ray, Audio Quality
WWE: Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart features a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. No lossless option is included, and frankly the material doesn't need it (and it probably doesn't need the 5.1 mix, either). This is primarily a back-and-forth interview piece. Dialogue is king, and it's handled expertly by the center channel. General music can be a bit crunchy, and older archival footage sounds front-heavy and shallow. Musical interludes do deliver fair clarity, good spacing, and a fairly heavy low end accompaniment. There's really nothing else to this one. It could have easily gotten by with a two-channel presentation -- only music occasionally makes use of the surrounds -- but at least the 5.1 track adequately conveys all that's required of it with relative ease.
WWE: Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
WWE: Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart contains plenty of extras, chief among them a large number of full length Shawn Michaels/Bret Hart wrestling matches.
Disc two also contains the following Blu-ray exclusive moments.
Disc two also contains the following Blu-ray exclusive features, which are more or less deleted scenes and, in the case of the final feature, outtakes from the primary feature.
WWE: Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
WWE: Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart is a quality release that chronicles the in-the-ring and real-life feud between two of the sport's most famous personalities, Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart. Though the program lacks much in terms of raw wrestling action, the narrative provides an invaluable insight into the world of professional wrestling that delves deeply into its politics and business and the affect both have on its stars both in the ring and out of it. Michaels and Hart are well-spoken, knowledgable, and willing to share all in what is a must-see for any dedicated WWE fan, and it makes a strong starting point for newcomers, too, if only for the breadth of modern wrestling history it conveys. WWE's Blu-ray release of Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart, like most WWE releases, features fair video and audio to go along with hours of full-length matches billed a supplements. Fans will get their money's worth, and then some. Recommended.
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