WWE Turning Point: Analyzing Historical Impact of Bret Hart vs. Ric Flair

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WWE Turning Point: Analyzing Historical Impact of Bret Hart vs. Ric Flair
Credit: WWE.com

Last Thursday, WWE held NXT Takeover on the WWE Network and the show was put together very well.

One of the marquee matches that evening featured divas Natalya and Charlotte battling for the vacant NXT Women's Championship. What made the match all the more interesting was the fact that Ric Flair was in the corner of his daughter, Charlotte, while Bret Hart came out to support his niece, Natalya.

The two divas had an excellent match, each applying their respective family's trademark submission hold on the other. But in the end, it was Charlotte who was able to defeat Natalya and win the title.

The disappointment was shown on Hart's face as Flair hugged his daughter with joy inside the ring. Of course, this wasn't the first run-in that Hart and Flair have had.

On an October day in 1992, the two faced off for the WWE title and on that day, there was a much different result.

The two men went at it in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, giving Hart a huge home-field advantage.

The match took place at a non-televised event, and any wrestling fan knows that titles very rarely change hands when that is the case. There was no way Hart would win the title on that night, right?

At the time, the two men were in the prime of their careers but Flair was an established star, having already held the WWE title on two occasions.

Hart was coming off a very successful run as a frequent Intercontinental champion. Still, it seemed a little early for him to win the company's main title.

But in a shocking turn of events, Hart did just that. This was the moment that launched Hart into the main event scene, where he stayed for much of the remainder of his career.

After a great back-and-forth match, Hart was able to deliver a superplex off the middle ring rope, setting up the Sharpshooter. It still didn't seem like there was any way he would get a clean victory, at least not with Mr. Perfect in Flair's corner.

At the time, "tapping out" was not used to indicate submission. Instead, a Superstar would just nod his head as an indication he was giving up—and that's exactly what Flair did.

Hart took in the roar of the crowd as the bell sounded and he held up the WWE title for the first time in his illustrious career. A new star had truly been born.

 

Historical Impact

This result led to somewhat of a changing of the guard for WWE.

For years, they had searched for someone to be the face of the company aside from Hulk Hogan. Ultimate Warrior, Randy Savage and Flair had all been given title runs in between Hart's win.

But none of them would come close to reaching the level of success that Hart had.

Before the days of Monday Night Raw, you would have to consider yourself lucky if you ever saw two major WWE Superstars face each other on free television, let alone the WWE champion.

But Hart was a different kind of champion. You didn't have to wait until the next pay-per-view event to see Hart in action. It seemed like he competed every time WWE was on TV.

Just as he had done as Intercontinental champion, Hart defended the title often and against a wide variety of opponents.

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He proved he could wrestle a classic technical match with someone like Flair, but then he would face a big brawler such as Papa Shango or Big Bully Busick—on free television.

Hart could get in the ring with any Superstar, regardless of their style, and have a solid match. That was part of what made him so appealing.

He endeared himself to fans by handing out his sunglasses to one of the youngsters in the front row each night, but also by proving that hard work does pay off.

Hart becoming champion was a huge moment in WWE history. He wasn't the most muscular guy or the flashiest guy, just the most deserving.

WWE had a penchant for putting the title on guys who had a certain "look". Many would argue that they still do. But Hart helped change that.

His title win paved the way for guys like Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit and Daniel Bryan to rise to the top of the company. None of them were muscular or flashy, either. They were just excellent wrestlers.

WWE needed someone to step up in late 1992. They took a chance on that night in October, and it paid off big time.

 

*** Next week, Turning Point will take a look at the impact that the first title win for another member of the WWE Hall of Fame had on the business as a whole. ***

 

 

 

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