Bret ďThe HitmanĒ Hart
by Samoa Rowe
The Best There Is, The Best There Was, The Best There Ever Will Be
-Home video release, 2005.
-I just returned from a road trip around the country, followed by camping in Maine. On my vacation, I finally got around to reading Bret Hartís autobiography (which is a fantastic read, if you havenít read it yet, get on your ass already) so Iím on a Hart kick again. My renewed interest has lead me to sitting down and recapping the matches on this WWE released set, which contains some all-time classics from shows that Iíll probably never review, so here goes something!
The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart, with Jimmy Hart) vs. The British Bulldogs (Dynamite Kid and Davey Boy Smith)
July 13th 1985 - Madison Square Garden
The Foundation are dressed in black, not yet discovering that pink was their color. The Bulldogs are both ridiculously gassed, particularly Smith. Dynamite Kid starts off against Bret, pushing him into the ropes while Jimmy antagonizes from ringside. Jim Neidhart trades shoulder blocks with Dynamite, knocking him off his feet. The Bulldogs get a tag and knock Neidhart down with a double tackle. Davey Boy Smith drop-kicks Neidhart into a tag to Bret, who takes control of the match. The Foundation isolate Davey and build some heat. Smith manages a desperate scoop slam on Hart, but fails to make a tag. Smith counters with a crucifix pin but The Foundation retain control. The Foundation suffer a miscue and Dynamite Kid gets the hot tag and cleans house. A flying drop-kick from Dynamite knocks Bret off his feet. Davey Boy nails his running power slam but Neidhart makes the save. Bret counters to toss Smith to ringside but gets ambushed by Dynamite. Neidhart softens Smith up and feeds him to Bretís Boston Crab. Smith once again finds himself on defense against the Foundation. The bell rings at 13:19 to sound the curfew, just as Smith was beginning to build a comeback. We have a draw as the building quickly begins to empty. The work here was crisp and fun to watch, but they were basically just running out the clock, so it never kicked into a higher gear, **Ĺ.
The Hart Foundation vs. The Killer Bees (B. Brian Blair and Jumping Jim Brunzell)
February 17th 1986 - Madison Square Garden
Neidhart kicks things off against Brunzell. Neidhart uses his strength to block Brunzellís bag of tricks. Neidhart finds this to be terribly amusing but Brunzell gets him by the leg and forces a tag to Blair. The Killer Bees have some success making quick tags and keeping Neidhart grounded. Bret saves Neidhart from a Figure Four, and Neidhart pummels Blair into Foundation territory for a tag. Bret is fresh and takes control of Blair. Hart argues with the ref while Neidhart chokes Blair with the tag rope. Hart nails a backbreaker but misses a flying elbow drop. Brunzell gets a hot tag and fights off both Hart and Neidhart. Hart sneaks a knee to the lower back of Brunzell, putting a halt to the Killer Bees comeback. Brunzell takes an extended beating while isolated by the Foundation. Hart sneaks in a power slam on the concrete floor, which sets off Blair, who cannot stand watching anymore. Despite the back injury, Brunzell shows some life with a sunset flip counter on Bret. The Foundation continue to roll when Neidhart Irish whips Hart into Brunzell. The referee doesnít see a Killer Bees tag but the Hart Foundationís second Irish whip attempt backfires. Blair gets a much-needed (and well built) hot tag and cleans house. The match breaks down and the Killer Bees whip the Foundation into one another. The Killer Bees try to put Hart away when the bell suddenly rings at 18:48. Apparently the time limit expired and the match is ruled a draw. This was a tremendous clinic (until the non-finish) on how to build an exciting tag team match, ****.
Bret Hart (with Jimmy Hart) vs. Ricky Steamboat
March 8th 1986 - Boston Garden
Hart jumps Steamboat before the bell can ring and itís on. Steamboat nails a desperate hard Irish whip and finally gets a chance to take his jacket off. Steamboat takes control of the match but is easily distracted by Jimmy Hart. Steamboat hoists Hart up by the wrist and drops him hard. Steamboat follows up by driving Hart into the turnbuckles via a hammerlock. Steamboat continues to work over the wrist until Hart counters with a reverse neck breaker. Hart throws some head butts and begins targeting the midsection of Steamboat. Hart delivers a suplex over the ropes for a near fall. Hart counters a power slam but Steamboat toughs his injury out and scores on a second attempt. Hart counters with knees to the gut to regain control. Hart nails a scoop slam on the concrete floor and celebrates as if the match is over. A running power slam only gets a 2 count for Bret. A backbreaker by Hart, but he misses the flying elbow (a common occurrence). Steamboat forges a comeback and nails a back suplex. Steamboat unloads on Hart in the corner and risks a DQ by pushing the referee away. The referee takes a bump when Steamboat inadvertently gets knocked into him. Hart nails a clothesline but thereís no one to count. Steamboat rolls through a second clothesline. The referee comes to in time to count Steamboatís cover for the win at 15:09. The building explodes while Jimmy throws a fit. Typically solid match that you would expect from these two, though Hart seemed to forget to sell his hurt wrist once he was in the driverís seat, ***.
Winner: Ricky Steamboat
Bret Hart vs. Ted Dibiase (with Virgil)
March 8th 1989 - Odessa, TX
Virgil demands that Dibiase be introduced as the Million Dollar Champion. Bret cuts off Dibiaseís posturing and takes the fight to him. Dibiase doesnít like this one bit and takes a moment to regain his composure. Dibiase exchanges some counters but soon gets flustered by The Hitman once again. Dibiase is tied in the ropes but escapes just in time to cause Hart to wipe out on a charge. Bret is nearly counted out as he crawls into the ring, where Dibiase is waiting to dish out a vicious assault. Dibiase delivers a suplex and argues with the official over the 2 count. Bret reverses a suplex and they exchange punches on their knees. Back suplex by Dibiase gains another near fall. Hart takes some abuse but counters with an inside cradle. Dibiase kicks out and retains control by tossing Hitman through the ropes. Dibiase is frustrated when Bret survives a loooong chinlock spot. Bret catches Dibiase on the ropes and tosses him off. Hart builds some momentum, delivering a backbreaker and connecting with a fist off the ropes. Bret wipes out in the turnbuckles, allowing Dibiase to work his leg. Hart kicks Dibiase to the floor and scores with a flying cross body. They brawl at ringside until they are both counted out at 15:04. Hart deals with this by chasing Virgil and knocking Dibiase out of the ring. Solid match, but no idea why it was picked for this set, **ĺ.
The Hart Foundation vs. The Rockers (Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty)
April 28th 1990 - Saturday Nightís Main Event - Austin, TX
Jannetty and Bret kick things off with a fast paced exchange of reversals. Michaels tags and assists in double teaming Hart with a double neck breaker. Neidhart gets a tag and knocks Jannetty off his feet. Jannetty rebounds and tags in Michaels, who goes toe to toe with the much larger Neidhart. A scoop slam by Neidhart allows a tag to Bret, who outmaneuvers Shawn to set him up as the isolated baby face. Michaels takes some punishment before countering with a sunset flip. Demolition shows up at ringside to check out the action. Bret allows himself to be distracted by Demolition and gets drop-kicked to the floor. After a commercial break, Bret is struggling to remain in control of Shawn. Jannetty gets a hot tag and goes wild on the Foundation. Hart cuts off Jannetty with a neck breaker. Bret catapults Neidhart into the ring, but he misses Jannetty. Michaels gets a tag but gets wiped out by a Neidhart shoulder block. Shawn delivers an elbow for a near fall but Neidhart tosses him out on a cover. Demotion attacks The Rockers and the match is thrown out at 9:01 (shown) as all six men brawl in the ring. This was a breezy, almost effortlessly awesome match up until the sudden finish, ***.
WWF Tag Team Championship:
March 24th 1991 - Wrestlemania VII - Los Angeles, CA
The Hart Foundation © vs. The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags, with Jimmy Hart)
Macaulay Culkin is cheering on the Foundation, in case thatís of interest to you. Bret connects with a Thesz press on Jerry Sags and snaps him in over the ropes. Bret catches Jerry by the leg and softens it up for a potential Sharpshooter. Knobbs tags in and wants a piece of Neidhart, so the Foundation obliges. The big men tear into each other, with Neidhart quickly gaining the upper hand. Bret continues the momentum against Sags, putting him down with a side Russian legsweep. The Nasty Boys rebound, knocking Hart to the floor in awkward fashion. Hart is hurt and takes an extended beating as the Nasty Boys isolate him. Hart outsmarts the Nasty Boys and makes a hot tag to Neidhart. The Anvil cleans house with a double clothesline and power slams. Bret chases Sags around the ring until he runs into Knobbs. They deliver the Hart Attack but Jimmy Hart tosses in his bike helmet to be used as a weapon. The Nasty Boys steals the titles at 12:05! The previously hot crowd is unimpressed as Jimmy and the Nasty Boys have an over the top celebration. Pretty run of the mill tag match here, **ľ.
Winners and new WWF Tag Team Champions: The Nasty Boys
August 26th 1991 - Summerslam - Madison Square Garden
Mr. Perfect © (with Coach) vs. Bret Hart
They lock up and Hart quickly takes control in the early going. Perfect kicks out of a cross body and sunset flip, but Hart keeps him grounded with a headlock. Hart teases a Sharpshooter but stomps the lower midsection. Hart absorbs a slam and delivers a scoop slam and drops Perfect to the floor. Perfect tries to leave but Bret rips his singlet pulling him back to the ring. Stu and Helen Hart are shown watching in concern as Mr. Perfect finds an opening to take control. Hart gets knocked off the apron onto a photographer and finds a second wind. Perfect cuts off the comeback and resumes picking Hart apart. Hart escapes a headlock but Perfect counters a crucifix pin! Bret takes more punishment but manages to kick out of the Perfect-plex! Hart throws some atomic drops to signal a comeback and tosses Perfect by the hair into the ring post. Suplex by Hart only gets a 2 count, as does a small package. Bret canít seem to put Perfect away with his series of finishers. Perfect almost steals it with a quick rollup, but Bret recovers to drive him into the ring post. Bret kicks out Perfectís leg but has to stop for a moment to knock Coach off the apron. Perfect cheap shots and once again finds himself in the driverís seat. Hart blocks a low kick and counters into the Sharpshooter for the win at 17:59! Fantastic finish to a fantastic match, ****ľ.
Winner and new Intercontinental Champion: Bret Hart
-Lord Alfred Hayes tries to get an interview as Bret celebrates his victory with his parents. Stu tries to say something, but Hayes inexplicably cuts him off. Weird.
August 29th 1992 - Summerslam - London, England
Bret Hart © vs. The British Bulldog
Diana Hart is in attendance to watch her husband wrestle her brother. Hart and Bulldog trade shoves and Hart must use his quickness to overcome Bulldogís strength. Bulldog counters a Thesz slam with a catapult into the turnbuckles. Bulldog shows his wrestling prowess by matching Hart hold for hold. In his book, Bret said he had to completely carry Smith through this match, and thereís been numerous times where you can see him mouthing instructions. Bret plays the de facto heel as he takes control of the match. Diana actually looks somewhat amused. Bulldog misses a flying head butt and soon finds himself being thrust through the ropes. Hart leaps down with an improvised neck breaker onto the floor. Hart continues to pick Smith apart until a sleeper gets countered in the corner. Bulldog slips up on a press slam and awkwardly drops Hart into the ropes. Bulldogís comeback continues in impressive fashion, complete with a delayed vertical suplex. The crowd roars as Bulldog delivers his running power slam, but Hart kicks out! Hart counters with a German suplex pin but Smith kicks out. Bulldog comes back with a superplex for yet another near fall. They both go down after double clotheslines, but Hart has the will of mind to apply the Sharpshooter! Bulldog gets the ropes and countered a sunset flip to pin Bret for the title at 24:11! This was a seriously awesome match with a great finishing sequence and a molten hot crowd, ****Ĺ.
Winner and new Intercontinental Champion: The British Bulldog
Bret Hart vs. Bam Bam Bigelow
April 24th 1993 - Barcelona, Spain
Bigelow has a clear size advantage, but Hart holds his own in the early going. Bigelow takes control with a side tackle and continues with his clubbing offense. Hart comes back with a drop-kick and finds an opening after Bigelow misses an elbow drop. Hart counters a press slam and knocks Bigelow through the ropes. Hart leaps into Bigelowís arms and gets driven into the ring post. Bigelow smells blood and begins working over the freshly injured back of the Hitman. Hart makes Bam Bam look like a beast, selling for moves like the bear hug and falling head butt. Bret gets stretched over Bigelowís shoulders but counters. Bigelow gains his bearings and nails a double underhook backbreaker! Bam Bam misses a flying head butt! Cue the Hart comeback! Bigelow blocks the Sharpshooter but Bret counters the bear hug. Bigelow counters again and drops his weight on him for a cover. Bret counters with a roll-up for the win at 11:52. This match stuck to a familiar routine, but every move had a purpose and built to a satisfying conclusion, ***Ĺ.
Winner: Bret Hart
Bret Hart vs. Mr. Perfect
June 13th 1993 - King of the Ring - Dayton, OH
This is KOTR semi-finals match. They trade holds in an even contest until Hart builds some steam with side headlock takedowns. They continue chain wrestling on the mat. They quicken the pace and trade rapid fire attacks until Hart settles things back down with a headlock. They sprint through another exchange that concludes with a Hart headlock once again. Perfect counters with the ropes and finally gains the advantage. Perfect holds the ropes so Bret can crawl back in after being dumped, but itís a setup for a sneak attack. Perfect uses the environment to his advantage, thrusting Hart off the apron and into the guard rail. Missile drop-kick by Hennig, but Hart gets the ropes. Bret counters with a superplex but Perfect kicks out! Bret softens up the leg and applies the Sharpshooter. Perfect toughs it out for several seconds before getting a rope break. Hart continues working the leg. Hennig fights back and tosses Bret by the hair. Perfect applies a sleeper but Hart slumps into the ropes. Perfect reapplies the sleeper and uses the ropes for extra leverage. Hart muscles out and makes his patented comeback. Perfect desperately blocks the Sharpshooter by attacking Bretís injured hand. Bret counters the Perfect-plex with a suplex that sends both of them crashing to ringside! They crawl to the ring and Hart reverses an inside cradle to gain the victory at 18:45! This was an all-out war from start to finish, ****ľ.
Winner: Bret Hart
-Perfect looks frustrated but he still insists on shaking Hartís hand.
Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart
March 20th 1994 - Wrestlemania X - Madison Square Garden
The match begins evenly, though Owen celebrates each exchange like a victory. Bret scores a takedown and it pains Owen to have to break it. Owen goes for the back and gets thrust to the floor. Owen slaps the face but hides in the ropes. They continue mat wrestling, with Owen yanking the hair to take advantage. Bret scores with a monkey flip and clotheslines Owen over the ropes. They trade shoves and itís Bretís turn to slap the face. Bret takes control but looks unsure of himself. Owen counters with a heel to the face and drives Bretís back into the ring post. Owen builds some momentum targeting the hurt back. Bret survives a German suplex and repeatedly kicks out of Owenís covers. Tombstone piledriver by Owen but his flying cross body misses! Bret uses the opening to make his patented comeback. Owen surprises with an enziguri and they both block Sharpshooter attempts. Bret dives onto Owen at ringside, which seems to aggravate a knee injury. Owen goes right after the hurt knee, wrenching it into the ring post. Owen locks on a Figure Four but Bret reverses it. Owen mocks his brotherís injury, but Bret lands a desperate kick. Bret mounts a comeback while selling his knee. The piledriver only gets a 2 count for Bret, as does a superplex! Owen counters a sleeper with a blind low blow! Owen finally applies the Sharpshooter, but itís reversed! Bretís victory roll is reversed and Owen steals the pinfall at 20:16! This stands as one of the greatest technical wrestling matches ever. Owen was the perfect jealous little brother, and Bret was convincing as the conflicted older brother. I have a hard time thinking of a better example of wrestling as art, *****.
Winner: Owen Hart
Final Thoughts: Last I checked, this set was going for $5.99 on Amazon. It contains some of the greatest matches of the 90ís and Iíve only gotten through Disc 2. This is a must-have set. Go get it if you havenít already. Thumbs up.
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