Note:This is unofficial as Shane has already put up the voting. I was told I could've put it up on Tuesday, but whatever.
"The Best There Is, The Best There Was, The Best There Ever Will Be" is a slogan that Bret Hart went around with while wrestling in the WWF.
The rise and fall of Bret Hart was well documented. The fall was of course, the Montreal Screwjob. The rise? Well, let's get into that now.
For Bret, it all started in his dad's promotion of Stampede Wrestling. At that point, Hart said that he did not at all see wrestling as an area he would go into. That would all change.
Originally Bret was merely a referee, but when a man went down, his father asked him to step in to wrestle. From there on Bret wrestled full time in his dad's promotion, learning the game and tagging up with his brother Keith to win the tag team titles four times.
Bret continued to wrestle, fighting with many different styles. Hart's job mostly included jobbing, but he didn't mind that. Bret was quoted saying, "no one could take a shit kicking like Bret Hart." And can you disagree with him?
Bret would capture various titles in Stampede Wrestling, such as the British Commonwealth Mid-Heavyweight Title, International Tag Title, and the North American Heavyweight Championship.
Stampede Wrestling would later be acquired by the WWF, taking some of the talent there such as Bret over to their company.
Hart Foundation Is In The Building!
Bret was originally supposed to be in a gimmick where he would play a cowboy but refused. Instead, he teamed up with Jim Neidhart to form the Hart Foundation. The stable would grow larger as Jimmy Hart and others would join.
Hard made his WWF debut in August, 1984, teaming up with The Dynamite Kid in tag team action. At Wrestlemania II the Hart Foundation found themselves participating in a 20-man battle royal, which was won by Andre The Giant. However in this Battle Royal, Bret Hart would pick up his first professional nick name, "The Excellence of Execution", due to his amazing technical style.
The Foundation found success, picking up two WWF Tag Team Championships. The first reign came after defeating the British Bulldogs and the second when they beat Crash and Smash. They lost the titles to the Rockers but the belts were returned when WWF President Jack Tunney said the win was not acknowledged.
At Wrestlemania IV, Hart was the last man eliminated in a battle royal by Bad News Brown, who would also defeat him at Wrestlefest 88. In May 1989 he would win a 16-man battle royal in his home country of Canada.
Soon enough, Bret would start calling himself, "The Best There Is, The Best There Was, The Best There Ever Will Be." Maybe at the time you could disagree with him, but not today.
After Wrestlemania VII, the Hart Foundation split to pursue solo careers. This would really benefit Bret; 1991 was the year when he won the IC Championship from Mr. Perfect at SummerSlam. It was the start of a true "superstar."
Bret eventually lost the title to the Mountie. After that, the Mountie dropped the title to Rowdy Roddy Piper, who subsequently lost it back to Bret.
In July 1992, he competed with Shawn Michaels in the first ever Ladder Match held in the WWF. Even though Shawn Michaels is known as the innovator of the Ladder match, the idea for the match was introduced by Hart.
Welcome To The Big League
SummerSlam 1992 marked the end of Bret's reign as the IC Champion as he dropped it to Davey Boy Smith. However, the WWF Championship would soon be in reach of the Hitman.
On October 12, 1992, Bret Hart became the WWF Champion, beating 16-time World Champion Ric Flair to capture his first title. He successfully defended the title against Shango, Shawn Michaels, Razor Ramon, and Ric Flair again before losing it to Yokozuna at Wrestlemania.
In 1993 he became the King of the Ring winner, defeating Bam Bam Bigelow, Mr. Perfect and Razor Ramon. After he won, Jerry Lawler attacked him, claiming Lawler was the true king, which started a feud between the two.
The two met at SummerSlam where Bret won by submission, but refused to let go so the win would go to Lawler by DQ.
Why did Bret not let go? Perhaps because of this: at SummerSlam, it was originally supposed to be Hulk Hogan vs. Bret Hart for the WWF Championship, the "passing of the torch" from Hogan to Hart. Hart felt that Hogan didn't respect him enough to go through with it which created some animosity between the two.
After the drama with Lawler & Hogan, Bret moved into a feud with his younger brother, Owen Hart. The storyline involved Owen being jealous of Bret; can you blame him? It's the Hitman we are talking about.
The Harts took on Shawn Michaels and Lawler's nights at Survivor Series (Shawn was a last minute sub-in for Jerry). The Harts won the match with only one of them getting eliminated, Owen. After that, Owen blamed Bret for holding him back and wanted a one-on-one match with him.
At Royal Rumble, Owen and Bret took on The Quebecers for the WWF Tag Team Championships. After Bret faked an injury, the match was stopped. Owen, feeling that Bret cost them a chance at winning the belts, attacked his older brother. The feud would escalate from there.
At the 1994 Royal Rumble, Lex Luger and Bret Hart were the co-winners, earning the right to wrestle Yokozuna at Wrestlemania. Luger would get the first match, while Bret had to wrestle Owen first and then Yokozuna. He lost to his brother, but still would go on to win the WWF Championship.
Hart then began feuding with both Diesel and Shawn Michaels. At King of the Ring, Hart defended his title against Diesel. Bret had the match until Michaels got involved and when it looked like Diesel was going to win, Jim Neidhart intervened on Hart's behalf. Diesel won by DQ, but Hart retained the belt.
After the match, Shawn and Diesel attacked Bret and Neidhart left. Why? To help Owen Hart win the King of the Ring tournament.
Bret would go one-on-one with Owen Hart for the WWF Championship in a Steel Cage Match. Bret would retain the championship in an amazing match, but Hart eventually lost the title to Bob Backlund after Owen, who was in the corner of Backlund, gave an unfair assist. Bret would continue feuding with Backlund, getting some retribution when he beat Backlund in a submission match.
Giving Fans Something to Remember
At Survivor Series, Bret Hart recaptured the WWF Championship and started his third reign as champion. When Shawn Michaels won the Royal Rumble, it set up the famous Iron Man Match at Wrestlemania XII. The match would be won in sudden death overtime by Shawn Michaels.
After that, Hart needed to make a choice as wrestling began expanding: WCW or WWF? He eventually appeared live on TV saying he will stay with WWF and Hart fans were ecstatic.
After his announcement, Hart began a feud with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. Austin taunted Bret and promised to meet him at Survivor Series. Hart returned and knocked off Stone Cold in a successful comeback.
Austin would go one to win the annual Royal Rumble, and after Shawn relinquished the WWF Championship, Hart would go on to win it in a Fatal Four-Way. Stone Cold did not take the loss well and helped Sycho Sid beat Hart on Raw the next night.
At Wrestlemania XIII the two had an unforgettable contest. The match ended with with Austin, in a bloody mess, eventually falling to the Sharpshooter, giving Hart the victory at what would be his last Wrestlemania.
After the match, Bret continued to assault Austin, turning Bret Hart into a Patriotic, Canadian heel and having Steve go face. The two would meet twice more, each winning one match.
The End of an Era
In the weeks after Wrestlemania, Hart taunted WWF fans for the negative reactions he received. Bret then reformed the new and improved Hart Foundation, which thrived on provoking Americans. The stable was really popular in Canada and Europe.
He would eventually recapture the WWF Championship in a match against The Undertaker. Shawn Michaels, the special guest referee, swung a chair intended to hit Hart but instead connected with The Undertaker. This allowed Bret to get the pin and the win, and began another feud with Michaels.
What comes next? The famous Montreal Screwjob of course.
Unless you are not a true wrestling fan, have been living under a rock, or are too young to know what that was, let me explain it for you.
Vince McMahon had been losing ratings to Ted Turner and WCW. In 1996, Vince originally signed a 20-year contract with the Hitman. However, due to financial issues, Vince told Bret that he could not go through with the contract and asked him to go to WCW.
Bret didn't really want to leave but didn't really have much of a choice. The WWF was like family and he didn't know what he would do without them, but eventually Hart agreed to go to WCW.
Bret was given the opportunity to control his last 30 days in the WWF. However, McMahon didn't play along, telling Bret to lose the 1997 Survivor Series, held in Montreal, Canada. Bret didn't agree; he was willing to lose anywhere but Canada.
The argument went back and forth until the day of the PPV, when McMahon supposedly agreed to allow Bret to win if he surrendered the title the next night on Raw.
As the match played out, Shawn Michaels locked in a Sharpshooter, which was supposed to be reversed by Hart. But Hart heard a call to stop the match. Who would do such a thing? The devil himself, Vince McMahon.
Unbelievably, Hart had lost the match. However, Bret didn't let it end like that; he managed to spit in Vince's face, give him two middle fingers and punch him out cold, getting a little payback on his way out.
Despite this controversial moment, Bret's legacy lives on.
Looking Back at The Hitman
The Hitman basically ruled in the '90s. Even though a few years of those were spent in WCW, most of his glory days were in the WWF. It was where he made us remember his name forever, the time where he went around winning titles, making spectacles of matches and running the WWF as a superstar.
According to Vince McMahon, Bret Hart was the leader of the new WWF Generation. Yes, the same Vince McMahon that got spit at and punched. You just can't deny talent.
He was and still is a Canadian hero. He was known internationally as an amazing wrestler and helped many countries discover what wrestling and the WWF is.
Bret Hart, without a doubt in my mind, is the greatest face of the WWF (now WWE).
Once again I would like to remind you this is an unofficial piece.
Svyato Rovenchuk is also the creator of FTS Sports Writing , a new sports website that will elevate sports writing to new standards. Check out new masterpieces on the website like this one from Rocky Getters. Thanks and good day to all.