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.
September 29th 1994 - White Plains, NY
Bret Hart © vs. Owen Hart
Owen yanks the WWF title from the official and poses. He tosses his glasses at Bret, who hands them off to a kid. Technical wrestling quickly turns into a shoving contest. Owen slaps Bretís face and hides in the ropes. Bret outmaneuvers Owen at every turn, drawing Jim Neidhart out to offer some advice. Bret retains the upper hand until The Anvil trips him from behind. The British Bulldog appears to even the odds as we head to commercial. After the break, Owen is controlling the match with rest holds. Bret shows some life but Owen counters with a hard Irish whip. Missile drop-kick by Owen, who then distracts the ref by arguing with Bulldog while Neidhart cheap shots Bret. Owen turns his attention to working over Bretís freshly injured knee. They cut to a second commercial. After the break, Bret is mounting his patented comeback. Owen rakes the eyes and follows with a leg lariat. Neidhart grabs Owenís leg to block a superplex attempt by Bret! Bulldog shoves Owen off the turnbuckles, allowing Bret to make the cover for the win at 14:45 (shown). Typically strong showing from the Harts, though a more routine outing than their pay-per-view classics, ***.
Winner and still WWF Champion: Bret Hart
Bret Hart vs. Hakushi (with Shinja)
May 14th 1995 - In Your House - Syracuse, NY
Hakushi holds his own in an exchange and shows off with a cartwheel. Hakushi yanks the hair to counter a wristlock. Hakushi follows with a sort of flying shoulder block and targets the arm. Hart counters and tries to build some momentum with a series of arm drags. Hakushi takes a time out before connecting with some chop shots. We see Jerry Lawler gleefully watching backstage (heís facing Bret later that night). Hakushi works Bret over, including a bronco buster type maneuver. Shinja gets some sneak attacks in as well. Bret survives a backbreaker and diving head butt and dodges a springboard splash. Signal the FIVE MOVES OF DOOM!!! A Shinja distraction nearly costs Bret, but he foils a sneak attack. Shinja trips Bret and takes a suicide dive in retaliation. Hakushi capitalizes with a drop-kick for a near fall. Bret suplexes Shinja and himself over the ropes. Shinja interferes yet again, allowing Hakushi to nail an Asai moonsault. Bret is nearly counted out but reverses Hakushi into a victory roll for the well-earned win at 14:38! This was fun, Hakushi was an unusual opponent and Bret did a nice job making him look like a threat, ***.
Winner: Bret Hart
November 19th 1995 - Survivor Series - Landover, MD
Diesel © vs. Bret Hart
Bret immediately exposes a turnbuckle after the bell. Diesel takes control, pummeling Hart into the corner. The fight continues on the floor with Diesel dropping Hart onto a steel guard rail. Bret throws some punches, but Diesel wins the brawl. Diesel drives Bret into the steps and ring post and connects with a blatant chair shot. Bret blocks the Jackknife by biting the arm! Bret desperately rakes the eyes and chokes. Bret pulls Diseselís leg out from under him and works it over. Diesel rakes the face to avoid the Sharpshooter. Bret gets kicked into the exposed turnbuckle and seems to hurt his neck. Hart retaliates by wrenching Dieselís leg into the ring post. Bret ties Dieselís leg to a rope from the ring apron, preventing him from dodging an elbow off the ropes. Hart charges with a chair, but Diesel manages to kick him away. Bret stands on Dieselís hand and unloads with some chair shots. Hart goes to the top with a chair but Diesel tosses him off. Diesel finally unties himself and uses the rope to choke Bret. Sidewalk slam by Diesel gets a 2 count. Hart gets driven into the exposed turnbuckle as Diesel is back in control. Bret counters a snake eyes on the exposed steel and finds his second wind. Itís time for FIVE MOVES OF DOOM, though it gets sidetracked when Bret clotheslines Diesel over the ropes. Diesel counters a dive, and suddenly the momentum has shifted. Hart climbs onto the apron and gets knocked off through the Spanish announce table! Diesel looks ready to end it but Hart surprises him with an inside cradle for the win and the title at 24:47! This was a nasty fight with both men fighting dirty and taking punishment. Iím not in love with the finish, but when Hart went through the table I caught myself thinking ďIs this really the match where Hart wins the title?Ē All in all a ****ľ effort.
Winner and new WWF Champion: Diesel
-Diesel is furious over losing the WWF title and puts Hart down with the Jackknife. Referees run in to stop him but Diesel shoves them away and nails a second Jackknife on the new champion.
December 17th 1995 - In Your House - Hershey, PA
Bret Hart © vs. The British Bulldog (with Jim Cornette)
They trade holds and Bret seems to be building momentum until Bulldog yanks his hair. Bret comes back with an arm drag and targets the arm. Hart continues to roll with an atomic drop and resumes working the arm. Big knee lift by Bulldog shifts the momentum. Diana Hart-Smith cheers her husband on as he places Bret in a Tree of Woe for some punishment. It sounds like the fans are chanting ďECWĒ as Bulldog builds some heat. Cornette cheap shots with his Santa racket, as Bulldog continues to wear down his brother-in-law down. Bret counters with a monkey flip and atomic drop. Running bulldog by Bret and a PILEDRIVER gets a near fall. Bretís legsweep sets up the flying elbow but Bulldog counters a superplex by crotching the champion on the ropes. Hart is bleeding from the forehead after being driven back-first into the ring post. Bulldog nails a PILEDRIVER of his own and a vertical suplex (while Diana wipes tears from her eyes). Davey Boy seems to knock himself loopy with a flying head butt. Bret escapes a Bow and Arrow but the Sharpshooter is blocked. Bret desperately delivers a German suplex for a 2 count. Double clotheslines leave both men down. Hart drops Bulldog over the ropes and connects with a dive. Bulldog catches Bret on another dive and nails a running power slam. Smith exposes some concrete floor but Hart crotches him on the guard rail. Bret is back in the drivers seat and punishes Bulldog in the ring. Bulldog absorbs a superplex and they trade pinning predicaments. Bret rolls up Bulldog for the win at 21:06. Hard hitting main event and another great display of Bret earning sympathy without coming across as an underdog, ****.
Winner and still WWF Champion: Bret Hart
March 23rd 1997 - Wrestlemania 13 - Chicago, IL
Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin (Special Referee: Ken Shamrock)
Austin tackles Hart before the opening bell and the fight is on. They brawl at ringside with Hart shoving Austin head-first into the ring post. Austin crotches Hart on the guard rail and clotheslines him off! Austin controls a brawl into the crowd. Hart counters with a back body drop on the concrete steps. Hart drops an elbow off the guard rail but Austin whips him violently into the ring steps. The brawl reenters the ring, where Hart takes control with a spinning neck breaker. Bret starts wearing down Austinís injured knee for the Sharpshooter. Austin surprises with a Stunner but is too dazed to build any momentum. Bret applies a Figure Four around the ring post! Bret wraps Austinís ankle in a chair but Austin uses it to knock him off the top rope. This time Austin is able to mount a comeback as we get a close-up of Bretís daughter crying in the front row. Stone Cold applies a Boston Crab as Stu Hart looks on in concern. Austin gleefully goes for a Sharpshooter but Bret rakes the face. The brawl spills back to the floor, where Stone Cold gets busted open. Bret relentlessly attacks Austinís bloody forehead as they return to the ring. Hart uses the chair to attack Austinís hurt knee. Stone Cold avoids the Sharpshooter and kicks Bret in the groin. Austin loses his temper while taking control, hitting a superplex in the process. Austin chokes with a power cord but Hart counters with the ring bell right to the head! Bret applies the Sharpshooter and refuses to let go! Austin struggling in the Sharpshooter with blood pouring down his face is one of the most spine-tingling moments in any form of entertainment. Austin passes out and Shamrock calls the match for Hart at 22:03! This is nothing short of one of the all time greatest matches, both in terms of ring work and in dramatic storytelling. *****
Winner: Bret Hart
-Bret isnít satisfied and keeps attacking Austinís knee. Shamrock has to pull Hart off with a waist lock takedown. Shamrock challenges Hart to a fight, but the Hitman leaves as the crowd boos him.
September 20th 1997 - One Night Only - Birmingham, England
Bret Hart © vs. The Undertaker
Hart doesnít back down and takes the fight to the Dead Man, who quickly pummels him into the corner. Hart sneakily uncovers a turnbuckle. Bret uses his quickness to match Undertakerís strength as neither man seems to be able to gain the advantage. Hart thrust kicks Undertaker into the announce table. Hart leaps off the apron but Taker counters with a spinebuster onto the floor. The brawl heads toward the stage, where Hart gets dropped on the ramp. Back to the ring, Hart rebounds with a DDT. The English fans actually boo Bret as he takes control. Undertaker reverses an Irish whip into the exposed turnbuckles and the momentum shifts. Hart reverses the momentum, working over the freshly injured knee of the Dead Man. This includes Hartís nasty Figure Four around the ring post. Hart applies a normal Figure Four and it takes Undertaker a couple minutes to reverse it. Undertaker misses a big boot and Bret goes right back to work on the hurt knee. Bret flies off the ropes into Undertakerís boot and the tide might be turning. Both men go down after a double clothesline. Leg drop to the midsection by Taker gets a 2 count. Taker repeats the spot and Bret counters into a Sharpshooter! Undertaker breaks the hold! Bret head butts the midsection but Undertaker counters with a choke. Big boot by Taker and a guillotine leg drop for another near fall. Bret grabs the ring bell but Taker counters with yet another big boot. Taker tries to use the bell but the ref takes it, inadvertently allowing Bret to shoulder block the back of Undertakerís knee. Bret tries to continue attacking the knee, but Taker dumps him to ringside and drives him into the steps. Back to the ring, Taker whips Hart into the ring post. Bret counters Old School! Hart counters with a victory roll and tries to steal the Tombstone! Undertaker counters into a Tombstone position, but Hart grabs the ropes, accidentally wrapping his head in the process. Undertaker chokes Bret while heís stuck in the ropes and gets disqualified at 28:28! Best DQ finish ever! This was amazing, with Bret viciously working over Undertakerís legs throughout and The Dead Man acting monstrous in response, ****Ĺ.
Winner by DQ and still WWF Champion: Bret Hart
-Owen Hart and Gerald Briscoe save Bret from the ropes. Undertaker grabs Gerry and choke slams him (after also taking down the referee).
Owen Hart Tribute Match:
October 4th 1999 - WCW Monday Nitro - Kansas City, MO
Bret Hart vs. Chris Benoit
Not surprisingly, this is the only WCW match on the set. Harley Race puts over how proud he is to be the ring announcer for this special match. Owenís brother is wrestling one of Owenís best friends in the building where Owen fell to his death. This match is all about respect as they kick things off exchanging holds. They come to a stalemate and slap hands. They restart with a test of strength, which Benoit transitions into a chinlock variation. Benoitís hammerlock takedown leads to a surfboard stretch, which Bret reverses. The chain wrestling leads to a side Russian leg sweep from Hart. Knee lift by Bret gives him the advantage. Benoit desperately delivers a chop, causing Bret to nail a DDT and flying elbow. Benoit counters into a Boston crab variation! Benoit builds momentum with a backbreaker as we head to commercial. After the break, Benoit is in control. Bret dodges an elbow drop and head butts the midsection. Backbreaker by Hart, who is now targeting the back. Benoit counters with a Tombstone Piledriver! Benoit nails another chop, prompting Hart to make a comeback. Hart nails a suplex but Benoit ducks a charge and he wipes himself out in the ropes. Suicide dive by Benoit connects! Cue the second commercial! After the break, Hart is dominating Benoit on the apron. Benoit counters a suplex and they reverse covers. Bret methodically wears down Benoit, not seeming too concerned with getting a quick win. Bret struggles but manages to deliver a superplex. Benoit counters the Sharpshooter with the Crossface! Benoit delivers a trio of suplexes and signals the end. The diving head butt connects! Back suplex by Benoit as the fans get behind the Hitman. Bret comes back with a back elbow and a PILEDRIVER! The Wolverine throws some chops but runs into Hartís boot. Rolling German suplexes by Benoit! Bret blocks the final suplex but Benoit looks for the Crossface. Hart desperately reverses into the Sharpshooter! Benoit submits at 22:57 (shown)! They went out there to have a great match for the sake of paying tribute to someone they both cared about deeply and they succeeded. Obviously, future events have diminished the specialness of this match, but itís a ***** match in itself.
Winner: Bret Hart
-Bret and Chris embrace as the crowd gives them a standing ovation.
Final Thoughts: The worst matches on this disc were *** and there are 2 (count Ďem, 2) five star matches (and thatís a rating I donít give out lightly). Bret Hart was a remarkable worker and a brilliant story teller and these matches showcase him at his very best. This set is easy to find and has been discounted, so go pick it up already. Thumbs up, leaning up!
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