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May 2, 2005 / TJ Hawke

Shawn Michaels vs. Shelton Benjamin from WWE’s Raw 2005

Recap from TJ Hawke:

This was a first round match in a tournament to crown a number one contender for the World Heavyweight Championship. Shelton was the Intercontinental Champion at the time of this match.

Shelton was a step ahead of Shawn a lot early on. Shawn was very frustrated as they went to a commercial. Shelton reversed a super back suplex into a crossbody. Shawn briefly looked to have control, but Shelton made a comeback quickly enough. They did dueling kip ups. Shawn ate the Stinger Splash, but he avoided the exploder. Shelton avoided the superkick and hit the spinning leg lariat. Shawn hit the diving elbow, but Shelton avoided another superkick. Shelton hit a diving shoulder tackle for a nearfall. Shelton went for a springboard, but Shawn hit the superkick: 1…2…3!

I loved this match even more this time than the first half dozen times that I’ve seen it. How many non-gimmick matches did Shawn have that were better than this one? Can you count them on more than two hands?

Shawn did a ton to make Shelton look good, and you would think Shelton was on his way to becoming a main eventer after this match. Shawn’s frustration at getting nothing going made Shelton seem like an all-star caliber wrestler. Just the simple in-ring deal of Shawn needing three attempts at the superkick in such a short match made Shelton seem better than he probably was.

Sadly, this ended up being the peak of Shelton’s in-ring career. Between the 2005 Money in the Bank match and this one, Shelton seemed like a star on the rise. He would never be this good again.

Match Rating: ****1/4


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