Bret vs. Owen Hart: Looking Back at the WWE Version of the Harbowl

Ryan DilbertWWE Lead WriterJanuary 23, 2013

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 08:  Special guest referee Bret 'The Hitman' Hart is introduced during the WWE Smackdown Live Tour at Westridge Park Tennis Stadium on July 08, 2011 in Durban, South Africa.  (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Gallo Images/Getty Images

John and Jim Harbaugh are set to lead their respective teams in a Super Bowl that pits brother against brother for the ultimate prize in the sport, a scenario WWE utilized nearly 20 years ago.

Owen Hart challenged his brother for the then-WWF Championship inside a steel cage at SummerSlam on Aug. 29, 1994.

WWE didn't have to wait for fate to bring younger brother in the path of older brother.  It saw an opportunity and took it. Two of the company's all-time best technicians and performers just happened to be siblings, creating the catalyst for one of WWE's greatest feuds.

Bret "The Hitman" Hart was the clear star of the Hart family.

By '94, he’d already been tag champion, Intercontinental champ and the WWE title holder. Following Hulk Hogan's departure from the company, it was Bret who was asked to be WWE's franchise star.

Of the eight Hart boys, only Owen came close in wrestling ability.

The youngest of 12 kids, he wrestled in the proverbial shadow of his famous big brother.

The high-flying Owen began his WWE career as a tag team specialist, teaming with Jim Neidhart and Koko B. Ware. Bret had recently ventured on his own, winning both the 1991 and 1993 King of the Ring tournaments.

Storyline tensions between the brothers caught fire after their Survivor Series match in 1993. Owen felt as if Bret had caused him to be eliminated. And so it began.

Bret and Owen battled many times including matches at various house shows and in a memorable meeting at WrestleMania X.

It was their SummerSlam clash that earned a five-star rating from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. It was this steel cage war that had the championship on the line.

WWE had a rare and compelling story on its hands, younger brother attempting to surpass older brother.

The match itself was spectacular.

With metal clanging and the ring shaking, two brothers fought intensely. Owen remained the aggressor. He rattled Bret's jaw several times with stiff uppercuts. 

One of the best moments was when Owen clamped on the sharpshooter and looked in the camera and said, "I'm going to break his legs."

The brothers did everything they could to win, just like the coaches of the Ravens and 49ers will certainly do on Feb. 3. However the Super Bowl will in all likelihood feature less hair-pulling and knees to the gut than the SummerSlam classic.

In the end, Bret won, retaining the title and scoring a victory for big brothers everywhere. Owen hung upside, his legs caught in the cage as Bret sprung from the steel, escaping with a win.

Should Super Bowl XLVII be as evenly matched and compelling as Bret vs. Owen, then NFL fans will see the 2012 season end with a classic.