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The greatest Intercontinental title match that time forgot

Jeff Jarrett and Shawn Michaels produced a forgotten one-hit wonder.


Mention WWE’s Intercontinental Championship to any well-versed wrestling fan, and it won’t be long before a conversation quickly turns to the greatest matches in the title’s history. Immediately, talk turns to the fiery classic between Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat at WrestleMania III or GUNTHER’s war in Wales with Sheamus, while others point to the WrestleMania X ladder match between Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon that heightened audience demands for daredevil performances.

But in 1995, two men engaged in a fantastic exchange of innovative reversals and highspots while telling a mat classic that has sadly become overlooked.

Until now.

The Backstory

In late 1993, Jeff Jarrett debuted in the World Wrestling Federation as a revamped version of the Honky Tonk Man, a professional wrestler and entertainer intent on using the company to further his aspirations to become a singer. By the summer of 1995, the son of wrestling promoter Jerry Jarrett was seeing his character’s plans come to fruition as he had become a three-time WWF (now WWE) Intercontinental Champion. More importantly, his first single, “With My Baby Tonight,” had just dropped, proving that the man known as Double J wasn’t bluffing about his singing ability.

Or so fans were led to believe.

Meanwhile, Shawn Michaels, “The Heartbreak Kid,” was gaining steam as the WWF’s most popular superstar. After a confrontation with Jarrett’s stage assistant, appropriately named The Roadie, Jarrett and Michaels were on a collision course for Double J’s Intercontinental Championship at the second In Your House pay-per-view event that July.

And so the stage was set for Nashville, TN, minutes from Jarrett’s hometown of Hendersonville, TN, at the historic Nashville Municipal Auditorium, where artists such as Elvis Presley and The Rolling Stones had performed. There, Jarrett was going to prove that he was not only the world’s greatest wrestler but also its greatest singer by performing a live rendition of “With My Baby Tonight” in front of his hometown crowd, taking his next step toward becoming a country music icon.

That was the storyline.

In reality, In Your House was a crucial next step for the character of Double J and a massive opportunity for the real-life Jeff Jarrett, who was to be the focal point of the pay-per-view. On his podcast, “My World With Jeff Jarrett,” the WWE Hall of Famer said he was happy to be working with Michaels, knowing they’d have a great match while realizing the magnitude of the moment.

“In a two-hour show, I knew that I’m roughly taking 45 minutes to close to an hour of a two-hour show in my hometown. It was a big deal for ol’ Double J, and I was excited for it.”

The Match

In Your House opened on a high note for Jarrett as his crew hand, The Roadie, defeated the 1-2-3 Kid. Following the second match on the show, Double J took to the stage to croon his tune, and he crushed it out of the park. Jarrett was feeling himself as he mocked his fellow Tennesseans, telling them to eat crow.

To say the IC Champ was confident was a massive understatement. Jarrett was ready to walk off the stage and straight into the nearby Country Music Hall of Fame, with his title defense against Michaels now reduced to a pit stop in between.

When the two finally met later that night, broadcaster and wrestler Jerry Lawler dropped some ominous foreshadowing, stating, “This is Double J’s night. Nothing can go wrong here.”

From there, the two engaged in a frenetic pace of chain wrestling and innovative reversals until Jarrett launched a charging Shawn Michaels over the top rope with a high back body drop, causing Michaels to crash and burn to the arena floor.

Later, Jarrett laid a speed trap for Michaels, catching the racing rocker coming off the ropes with a sleeper hold. The crowd, who had been behind Michaels all match long, were rallying behind him here, and in a classic babyface manner, he fired up accordingly.

After ducking a clothesline attempt by Jarrett, Michaels bounced off the ropes and took flight to deliver a soaring clothesline before immediately nipping up upon landing.

But Jarrett was at his best here, countering Michaels at every turn. Back on top, Jarrett moved in for his finishing move, the figure-four-leglock, but was kicked off by Michaels, causing Jarrett to collide with referee Dave Hebner. As Hebner gathered himself, Jarrett gave Roadie the signal to sweep Michaels’ legs as he prepared to send Michaels into the ropes.

Roadie did as instructed, but his gaze was elsewhere, and he took out Jarrett’s leg by mistake after a reversal by Michaels. A stunned Double J got up to protest his charge’s misdeed, but Roadie was busy admiring his handiwork.

As Jarrett turned around, he was met with a different tune, Sweet Chin Music, Michaels’ vaunted superkick. Three seconds later, the curtain dropped on Jarrett’s reign, and Michaels was the new champion, celebrating with one lucky fan who got a big kiss from Michaels.

The Aftermath

The plan coming out of In Your House was for The Roadie and Jeff Jarrett to feud with each other when the truth was revealed, both in kayfabe and reality, that Jarrett was lip-synching while Roadie, real name Brian James, did the actual singing.

On his podcast, Jarrett disclosed that WWE was intent on drug testing James. Confident that his sidekick would fail and face suspension, causing them to lose their heat and languish in limbo following a split, Jarrett and James walked out on the company immediately after the match.

As for Michaels, he went on to have another thrilling ladder match with Razor Ramon a month later at SummerSlam. Six months later, he defeated Bret Hart at WrestleMania XII to win his first world title, while Jarrett, despite a brief return, landed in WCW in late 1996. He would return to the fold in 1997.

While creative issues between Jarrett and the company following the In Your House led to WWE making like the match never happened, the fact remains that Jarrett and Michaels made beautiful music in the home of the Grand Ole Opry.

It’s a one-hit wonder that still stands the test of time.

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