Going to go out on a limb here and guess that a lot of you are seeing the title of this induction and thinking of skipping out without reading it. If you fall into that camp, all I can say is your really owe it to yourself to hang out for this one. There is a ton to unpack here and most of it doesn’t even come in a cardboard box.
Let’s set the stage a bit – it’s late 1995. Shawn Michaels was one of the WWF’s biggest stars, getting the rocket strapped to his back and pushed to the moon. Incredible matches were in abundance – 1995 was the year we got the the second Razor-Shawn ladder match at Summer Slam, and there were several other ****+ Michaels bouts scattered on a regular basis. For fans in the stands, it was good times for the Heartbreak Kid.
Behind the scenes it was not quite as glorious. Shawn had formed a group called The Kliq, wherein he supposedly allegedly almost assuredly helped push himself and his pals to the top of the card whilst freezing the progress of countless others he didn’t care for either professionally or personally. It’s all been far better documented elsewhere than I could possibly cover here. Rest assured, however, friction had started backstage….and elsewhere.
In came to a head in October, when Michaels was at a bar in Syracuse, New York. Shawn was hitting on a girl and her boyfriend was having none of it, which led to a parking lot brawl. In the melee, Michaels was pummeled by either one or several US Marines depending on who tells the story, prior to be saved from utter destruction by Davey Boy Smith and Sean Waltman.
Michaels was in pretty bad shape, unable to compete and thus forfeited his Intercontinental title to Shane Douglas…who immediately dropped it to back to Shawn’s Kliq pal Razor. While he was no doubt thrilled to see Razor get the strap and Douglas humiliated, Shawn was anywhere but a good place in life.
All of this leads us to our story today, which involves his appearance on the Canadian Home Shopping Club. You’d think there would be no story here, let alone enough fodder for a WrestleCrap induction. Again, stick with me here. There’s lots to cover.
Now for the uninitiated, shopping clubs or channels are just that – you have a “host” that is given various gadgets and gizmos to sell, and he or she feigns utter amazement at everything in sight.
In the right frame of mind, these people can be mildly amusing.
In the wrong frame of mind, they can be maddeningly annoying.
Care to guess where Shawn’s head was at this night?
Yep, kids, coming up next is SHAUN Michaels!
But hey, don’t worry – it’s going to get a whole lot worse from here!
And so we are introduced to the host, Norm. No idea if Norm is famous or just some random clown, but I can tell you I feel pretty sorry for the guy. Seriously, his job is to convince you, the viewer at home, that you too could look cool wearing that hat, those glasses, and that shirt.
Seriously, how could anyone other than a twelve year old girl look like anything but a total buffoon in that ensemble?
As we go through the show, it is pretty obvious that try as he might, Norm has next to no idea who Shawn is, or Bret Hart to anyone else who’s shirts he’s attempting to sell. As Norm wonders where Shawn could be, we get a sweeping camera cut and…
…yes, Shawn Michaels is in the building! We don’t get Sexy Boy serenading him in, but rather some random bizarre audio track that would even have the folks that have to edit out licensed music on the WWE Network saying “Wow that is all kinds of terrible.”
The best part is if you listen closely at the end, there’s literally ONE person clapping. This despite Shawn being mobbed by “fans.”
So Shawn meets up with Norm, with the host immediately sucking up to him, going so far as to offer to shine his shoes. Michaels declines, and explains there’s no need for that. Instead, he notes, let’s do what we are truly here for: shamelessly promote the World Wrestling Federation and its products!
I’m not being coy – it’s an exact quote from Shawn himself.
And get this – Shawn isn’t here by his lonesome, oh no. He’s brought a special guest as well:
For those of you unfamiliar, Barry was the WWF’s MAYOR OF MERCHANDISE (and inducted here). Much like Norm, Barry would go on TV and cram whatever junk the WWF had too much stock of down viewers’ throats in an attempt to clear out the stock room. Why Vince felt the need to pick up the tab to send Barry north of the border is honestly in question here – I mean really, we’re on a SHOPPING NETWORK.
Do we really need a harder sell than that?
Actually, it turns out we do, as Barry immediately notes the hat on top of Norm’s head. The following exchange occurs:
Barry: “Shawn, does he have the right to wear this hat?”
Shawn: “Sure, why not. I mean, I wouldn’t walk around with it on but whatever.”
Thus begins a very uneasy hour. Almost immediately, we learn two things:
1) Shawn does not like Norm.
2) Norm is kinda scared of Shawn.
Attempting, I guess, to defuse what he is sensing to be a bad situation, Norm tries to start a conversation with Barry regarding just how well Shawn has done in the WWF. “Barry, what belts does Shawn currently have? What is he up to?” asks Norm.
Shawn stares a hole in the guy and asks, “Umm, I am standing right here…why would you ask Barry how I am doing?”
Anyone remember that episode of The Office where Michael and Jan host the world’s most uncomfortable dinner party? This is just like that, except it may be even more awkward.
Next Norm talks about the amazing sunglasses we have for sale tonight for our viewers. Displaying them as best he can, he asks Shawn, “Do you these meet with your approval?”
Barely able to contain his laughter, Shawn says, “Oh yeah, I wear those all the time” before giggling and shaking his head.
This leads to a completely insane cockamamie story where Barry explains that Shawn actually invented these heart-shaped sunglasses while touring Europe. “That was the only place you could get them, they were nearly impossible to get even in the US. And Canada? FUHGEDDABOUTIT!”
Norm transitions to showcasing the shirt (Shawn: “Did I invent that too?”), and notes you can get both the shirt and the sunglasses for the low low price of $39.99. I was about to write “What a ripoff” but a quick eBay search shows someone selling the hat and those exact same sunglasses for nearly $500.
Yep, I’ll save “What a ripoff!” for that guy instead.
Just when it looks like this may possibly get back into line, Norm asks Shawn the following question: “So you say you are feeling under the weather or whatever…what’s the story there?”
Shawn: “I’m not feeling well. It happens.”
Apparently feeling that Norm wasn’t buying what he was selling (oh the irony!), Shawn continues on, giving his version of the Syracuse bar fight wherein he was beaten up by not one, not two, but NINE GUYS. Sensing Shawn is starting to get a bit worked up, Barry jumps in and tells him, “Let’s not talk about that, let’s let someone else tell that story.”
Shawn: “Someone else? You’re the only other guy here!”
Thankfully about this time a blonde named Diane shows up…
…and yeah, that’s a good blonde is ample distraction for Shawn.
Now we go to CALLERS!
The first woman calls in and Norm asks her to say hi to Shawn. “I’m calling in for my kids, I’m not saying hi to him.”
No, really, that’s what she said.
Norm gets her off the phone as fast as humanly possible, then notes Shawn has nice earrings. “Almost as nice as Diane’s!”
Shawn: “Are you making fun of me for wearing earrings? Is that a shot at me?”
Barry immediately chimes in: “So this shirt, this shirt is 100% cotton, right?”
Norm quickly attempts to change the subject himself, asking Barry if these are 100% officially licensed products. Barry of course notes that they are absolutely legitimate, which we are told is one of the reasons why Barry is there. Before you can even ask “how does that make any sense at all?”, Shawn quips, “Yep, that’s the only reason…he’s not here to babysit me or make sure I’m not doing anything wrong!”
Did I mention this show was uncomfortable?
Shawn notices that Norm has a magazine underneath his notes, so he grabs it away to look at it. For the record, Norm notes it is the January 1996 issue of Pro Wrestling Illustrated. “We don’t want to show that cover!” Barry notes of the non-WWF published product.
Picking up on this, Norm switches the subject to one he thinks may be better: “Shawn, we’re going to be talking about one of your friends a bit later on, Bret Hart.”
Shawn: “Oh, he’s no friend of mine.”
With that we immediately cut to a highlight reel of Shawn in action.
When we come back, things aren’t quite as bad as we now just get hard sells on various shirts as well as the stand ups featured in the background.
What a deal – for $34.99, you get ONE THOUSAND WWF POGS!!! “That’s less than three and a half cents each!” gleams Norm. (And seriously, I KNOW one of you reading this is hoarding stacks and stacks of those in the back of your closet.)
So that lasts for a couple minutes until we’re hopping right back off the rails as we get another phone call! This time it is from what sounds to be the world’s most frail little girl:
Norm: “Say hi to Shawn Michaels!”
Little girl: “Umm, hi.”
Shawn: “Hi. How ya doing?”
Little girl: “Not too great, I am in the hospital.”
Shawn: “Sorry to hear that.”
Two seconds of silence follows.
Shawn (said in a way you’d end a call): “Well, thanks for calling in!”
Thankfully, the little girl barrels through and explains that while she never gets to leave the hospital, she’s never going to give up because Shawn never gives up.
Shawn notes how touching it is, as does Norm. Barry, for his part, follows up with “I bet she’d look good in one of these t-shirts!”
I guess they don’t call him the Mayor of Merchandise for nothing!
Norm then mentions Shawn’s earrings again, with Shawn growing increasingly irritated. Our home shopping host then goes off on some ridiculous story about, and I am not making this up, how he recently saw a man wearing a wig and earrings, and he was doing an impersonation of Joan Rivers and…well…Barry jumps in to separate the two noting, “Umm, you didn’t need to go there.”
Norm goes back to the Bret shirt, talking nonstop about how The Hitman just won the title a couple weeks ago, which in fact does truly make him the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be.
Again, none of this was done in jest or attempting to play act – it was simply done to sell a shirt by a guy who didn’t even know who Diesel was prior to the show.
But Shawn? He grabs a chair and looks like he’s seriously thinking about going Mike Awesome-Masato Tanaka on him.
Thankfully, the show comes to an end before that happens with Norm looking for a handshake…
…and Shawn yanking him down to the floor then carrying him offstage as he mutters “ok, ok, everybody wants me to grab him, whatever.”
Well, that couldn’t have ended soon enough.
On the plus side, though, we all discovered that WWF Pogs once existed.
Remember Mantaur? He’s back…in pog form!