Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty as The Rockers cleanly won the tag team championships. So why isn’t this championship win recognized?
Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty – Robbed By A Ring Rope
On October 30th, 1990, Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty as The Rockers defeated Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart of The Hart Foundation on Saturday Night’s Main Event. The match was a “Best 2-out-of-3 Falls” match, but the first victim was a ring rope. The four men did their best to work the match without the rope, but Vince McMahon decided that the title change couldn’t stand. He didn’t want the lasting memory of The Rocker’s first title win to be overshadowed by the rope breaking. So McMahon erased the win from the record books and planned for The Rockers to win the titles at a later date, but it would never happen. That was their only taste of tag team gold.
Here, all involved explain the unexpected turn of events.
“WWE had no [previous] intentions of putting the belts on The Rockers. But, after a while, me and Marty were really getting over. So they said, ‘You know, maybe it’s time…’”
“The Road Warriors’ success had changed tag teams to big, strong pummelling teams. Shawn and I made the change to high flying smaller guys. With our high flying, fast pace, and high energy, we were able to create something special.
When we first got to the WWE, the next closest guys in size were twenty pounds heavier. We were like midgets in there. Davey Boy Smith used to call out to us, ‘Hey midgets – you’re up next!’”
“With the tag belts, Jim [Neidhart] and I thought we had a rock-solid position in the company, but then Vince called us to his office and told me he had decided to break up the Hart Foundation and push me as a singles wrestler.
His plan was that we would drop the belts to The Rockers at the next TVs, at which they’d also be taping ‘Saturday Night’s Main Event.’
Afterward, Jim did his best to appear upbeat, but it was easy to see he was devastated…”
“A big thing we were told [by WWE management] was, a lot of people need the belts to get over, but we were always told we didn’t need them. Of course, we always thought that if we got it, wouldn’t that raise us even higher?…”
“It was a match that I thought was going to be one of my greatest matches.
It was one of my worst. And it’s much worse than even what it appeared.
I had a lot of ideas in my head; we’d all put a lot of thought into this match. All four of us wanted it to be the best match we ever had. We wanted to blow everyone away.
Most of the other wrestlers in the dressing room – instead of going back to their hotel rooms after their matches – stayed around to watch us. I remember Earthquake and guys like that saying, ‘I’m staying to watch your match.’
The bigger guys loved our matches…”
“It was a 2 out of 3 falls match and supposedly [The Rockers] were going to be champions and …blah, blah, blah.
But as we hadn’t gone to the first fall yet – the bottom rope breaks.
I said, ‘Holy jeez’, you know, ‘God…’”
“It was Neidhart that took the turnbuckle out. He may have done it on purpose.
I know I had nothing to do with that.
Jim hit the turnbuckle front-on and popped it off…”
“I can remember Bret having me or Marty, one of us in a chin-lock, and he said, ‘We’re just gonna stay here so they can fix it and we can edit it [on video later]’.
But the ref’ was frozen – just… [rabbit in headlights look]
We were like, [stage whisper] ‘Fix the rope..!’”
“The match was taped and could easily be edited [later], but the ref, Freddie Sparta, couldn’t figure out that he needed to temporarily stop the bout and fix the rope, even though I explained it to him…”
“I remember Bret, at first very calmly, telling him step-by-step, ‘Just do this…’
Then finally, both of us were like, ‘FUCKING FIX THE ROPE!’”
“It was a real disaster after that because, as you can imagine, we couldn’t DO anything without a top rope – I don’t think very many wrestlers can. Both teams needed the rope to do our best spots…”
“Then, the SECOND rope breaks! Now we just have the one rope…”
“Confusion took over, and the match went steadily downhill and turned into an embarrassing night of miscues. I remember being really flustered in there – and I don’t [usually] get flustered…I just wanted to stand in the middle of the ring and say, I give up. I can’t fix or salvage anything out of this…”
“So we continue to have this ‘match’ with no top rope.
We finish the match, and The Rockers win the championships, The Rockers’ first time – we had the belts. You’re supposed to be overjoyed, but it was just- [Mimes half-hearted celebration] it was just…TRASH. Very anti-climatic…”
“I felt sick when it was over. I hated it. It was one of the worst matches we ever had – as far as what it should have been.
I hoped and prayed it would never air…”
“Two or three days later, Vince calls up…”
“Vince said, ‘We don’t wanna air that. We don’t wanna air a match with no bottom rope.’
He just nullified everything…”
“Vince threw it out [laughs]. The Rockers never did get the belts…”
“To me…it was just a bad day at the office—one of the more disastrous days I ever had.
The truth is, no one wished the ropes hadn’t broke more than I did. I’m disappointed for The Rockers’ sake because they deserved to be world champions. It’s just something that never happened, and I regret that for them. But I’m glad they scrapped that match…”
“Marty and I were disappointed…but you know, [Vince] said that they’d just put them on us another time. But then, the [aborted] match had already got out so much that it would’ve been too obvious…the impact wouldn’t have been the same…”
“It was our one chance at winning the tag team title. And it didn’t happen.
We were never champs.
You can let it upset you or find the positive out of it. The positive I find out of it is, do you know how many tag teams there have been in this industry? If you are still mentioned in any light twenty years after you break up, you must have done something right. You had to have made an impact.
The Rockers were considered one of the best teams that have been around, and I am proud I was a part of that.”
Watch: The Erased Championship Win For The Rockers vs. The Hart Foundation on Saturday Night’s Main Event (October 30, 1990):
If you enjoyed this piece, be sure not to miss the following articles on our site:
- The Top 10 Failed Tag Team Remakes and Rehashes in Wrestling History
- Lex Express and The Failed Lex Luger Experiment
- Marty Jannetty – His Turbulent Life After The Rockers
Sources used in this article: Shawn Michaels: From Heartbreak To Triumph, Marty Jannetty shoot, Jim Neidhart interview, Bret Hart interview by offsettv, WWE: Greatest Rivalries – Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart, notinthehalloffame, Bret Hart’s autobiography: Hitman: My Real Life In The Cartoon World Of Wrestling, OSR boards
Quotes used in this article originally compiled by Matt Pender and shared here with thanks to our friends over at ‘Wrestling’s Glory Days’ Facebook page.
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