Top 20 WrestleMania moments: No. 7
Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart (WrestleMania XII, 1996)
The buildup to this 60-minute Iron Man match for Hart’s WWE title was so basic, yet so effective. In Michaels and Hart, WWE had perhaps the two best workers in the business at that time on it roster, and that’s what this match was all about – proving who truly was the best of the best. Both men were babyfaces, but there was a sense of underlying professional jealousy between them – which seemed to be part work, part shoot – that added some tension to the mix.
The winner of the match would be the man who scored the most pinfalls in 60 minutes. Michaels thrilled the crowd before the contest even started when he made perhaps the most exciting entrance in WrestleMania history, as he appeared in the rafters and floated to the ring on a wire. The match gradually built to a dramatic finish, with neither wrestler able to secure a fall heading into the final minute.
With about 35 seconds left, Hart locked on the Sharpshooter, but Michaels managed to hold on as the time limit expired. It was determined, however, that there had to be a winner, so the match went into sudden death overtime despite Hart’s protest. Less than two minutes later, Michaels caught Hart with a superkick to win his first world title. As someone who had been a big Michaels fan since his Rockers days, I got caught up in the moment watching on pay-per-view and cheered as if my hometown team had just won the World Series or Super Bowl.