The 'Shawn Michaels effect' Then and Now
by, 07-02-2011 at 07:18 PM (4008 Views)
With The Miz and A-Ri falling out after Over the Edge Pay Per View, wrestling hot sheets anticipating the eventual and planned back stabbing of Ted DiBiase Jr. to Cody Rhodes, after just reuniting after the draft, and a new manager for Tyson Kidd every week, my thoughts on these events keep causing me to think back to the early 90s and the now famous break-up of The Rockers. Since I am new to this site, I'll try to keep this piece to point of my thought process.
To start, I would like to say that I am big fan of the TVTropes.org page. For those unfamiliar with it, a short and perhaps poor answer is that it lists trends, characters, story ideas, themes, and various other...ideas for a lack of a better word on a web page in something akin to a database. One of the articles on the site is categorized, should you search for it by name, as "Break-up Break-Out." Basically is lists real people, fictional characters such TV and Literature based characters who may have been a duo or team, that after disbanding or parting on good or bad terms, one member goes on to great things while the other(s) have about the same to virtually no career once they go solo.
Among the examples given, there is a sub-group labeled "Professional Wrestling" and the default example for that group and the whole page, with picture included, is Shawn Michaels. There are other wrestling groups tag teams listed as well: The Steiner Bros. The Original Hart Foundation, MNM, The Hart Dynasty, John Morrison and The Miz, and Harlem Heat to name a small number, I could go on longer, for the record. Some groups are fairly recent in wrestling's long history while others will require research for newer fans who were not watching or born before or during the break up.
While some may argue it or praise it, Shawn Michael's is considered the 'golden boy' on the page of the idea that, if a break up occurs in group or tag team of fair success or popularity, one member will be able to catapult to the main event in a quick rise from bottom-mid-top card or mid-top card at a short amount of time. And that's what happened to Shawn Michaels, he went from being in a tag team that never held the title and rose to holding the Intercontinental and World Heavyweight titles in a span of about four years (1991-1995) as a singles competitor, while his partner, Marty Jannetty had similar success until leaving the company and eventually becoming eclipsed by Shawn, he only made it to the Intercontinental title for the record.
Anyway, since Shawn had such great success and Bret Hart followed a similar path, both becoming main eventers in that period of the WWF. Of course the idea that came to management was that if it could happen to twice, why not more than that? While at least two teams were actually part of WCW in their break-up process, the WWF, now WWE, has clearly kept this idea in mind over the last two decades when they have a talented or popular tag team on their roster.
The most recent example I think of off the top of my head is The Hart Dynasty, made up of proteges or children of the famous Hart wrestling family. Debuting in the WWE as heels in 2009 like their predecessors, the Original Hart Foundation, they had a heel/face turn at Wrestlemania helping out Bret Hart in his feud with Vince McMahon. They then once the unified tag team championship belts once, before having a falling out and subsequent break-up, in 2010. Yeah, and what has either member done since then? From what I can tell, not much. Tyson Kidd had been appearing on the B Show Superstars for the past couple of weeks until recently when he was on Smackdown, while the last time I can personally recall David Hart Smith on camera was The Rock's birthday party on Raw months ago.
Despite the failure of the H.D. (Hart Dynasty) spilt, another aforementioned group, MNM, had better luck. While like the H.D. they were not a team for long, MNM captured the WWE Tag Team belts (before the unification) 3 times as a group, before eventually breaking up after having problems with winning matches and keeping the belts, the usual problem of a tag team break-up, it happened to H.D. The 'N' of MNM, Johnny Nitro, would eventual change his name to John Morrison, become a part of another successful tag team, the previously mentions team of Morrison and The Miz, and win numerous single belts and was just in a main event match as of this writing before being side-lined with an injury he has yet to return from. Just to wrap this up, MNM was together from 2004 to 2007 and Morrison had two years with The Miz until now. Miz and John currently hate each other as well.
Well, with that said, what happened to other members of MNM? The two 'Ms" in the group, Melina the manager and Joey Mercury, are pretty different from each other. Mercury would join a different group with CM Punk down the road and get a hair cut, and that's pretty much it. Melina on the other hand has been the Women's Champion and now Diva's Champion with the retirement of the former 5 times total. And for the record, both Hart tag teams had three members each. The Foundation's manager Jimmy Hart is thought of being one of the best managers in the business and has had numerous wrestlers under his wing. The other member, Jim Neidhart, has only worn gold as a partner to Bret and has had similar luck to Mercury, though I think he is the better off the two as of this writing and Jim considered a legend in the business. The Hart Dynasty's manager is Jim's daughter Natalie who has been a champion once and not much else as of late.
Whew! That was a mouthful! So, what does that all have to do Shawn Michaels and my original point? It's that the WWE, especially them, has let themselves be convinced that any tag team that comes together can eventually be broken up and one of the guys in, be a it a wrestler or even a manager, have a great solo career that will equal huge profits for the company. Shawn is currently a Hall of Fame member in the WWE and I have not even mentioned his position in DX or the Kliq, (which I won't go into simply since that would take too long and go off topic). Morrison is a face right now and has been a huge draw from the company and may be the 'Michaels' of his generation. Just this year he astounded us by remaining in the Royal Rumble after being knocked from the ring by catching the guard rail and hoping back over on the stairs, a show stealer.
However, with Morrison and Michaels success, the H.D. split has been an epic fail and some feel the WWE had no right to break them up. They have certainly tried recreating the formula though. Tyson Kidd was the heel at first, like Michaels. He hired a 7 footer like Michaels hiring Diesel as his body guard. Now WWE trying to find the right manager to compliment Kidd, though the results have gone nowhere (Shawn had the late, great Sherri Martel as a manager early in his career).
Realized I went off topic there. Back to my point, the WWE has pretty much poisoned itself with the idea that splitting a team will mean big bucks. While it has worked more than twice as I have written, I also didn't mention the Steiners or Harlem Heat who each had a member become a main eventer, it clearly doesn't work every time, as with The Hart Dynasty, which has been a pretty epic failure and considered part of the argument why the WWE does not care about tag teams right now.
As I begin to wrap up, I would like to make the point of why we even have the 'Shawn Michaels effect' in the first place. Shawn was in his tag team, The Rockers, from about 1985 to 1991 or '92. The reason they broke up? Shawn and his partner, Marty Jannetty, could no longer function together as team. Their eventual dislike for one another had led to backstage problems and the decision was made for them to break up on TV after problems with winning matches. Shawn became a heel after a cheap shot and Marty became a face as a result. To be fair, both men have a history of drug use and excessive partying, though Shawn either had better luck or could simply manage it all better than Marty, as both would either be suspended or leave, with Shawn returning and achieving great heights while Marty's name is only know if you look up Michael's early career at this point.
Now, MNM had their own share of problems. Mercury has admitted to being a drug user since age 15 and Melina's behavioral problems and her influence on real life boyfriend John is a long and ongoing story. To sum it up, like the Rockers before them, MNM's backstage problems and issues amongst the group led to the break up. Mercury would eventually be suspended for violating the drug policy and has only been seen sporadically over the years, join CM Punk's group and get a hair cut. John stole the show at the Royal Rumble this year and is currently a huge face on the injured list, due back in the fall as of this writing. Melina seems to be in limbo in the WWE and thought of as crazy, but still has a job.
After all that said, I hope you can see why A-Ri is having such a big push following The Miz disowning and the people already talking about Rhodes and Dibiase's break-up despite being together for a few months. It's not just legitimate tag teams who are getting broken up and the WWE looking for the diamond in the rock pile, its any group. And it's a disgrace. Thankfully, from 1991-92 when the first break-up happened to 2011, it has only really been the last two or so years that the tag team division in general is in the crapper and the belts themselves have not been defended on TV a month or so of this writing.
I hope I am not the only one thinking this way and that hopefully the WWE will try to correct it's mistake before this problem goes on longer otherwise, their devotion to the 'effect' paying off will eventually lead the liquidation of the entire division of tag teams.
All feedback welcome!