Bret Hart. The Hitman. The Excellence of Execution. The Best There Is, The Best There...okay, you get where I'm going here. Bret has been my favorite ever since I fell in love with wrestling in 1991.
His ring attire, theme song, nicknames, morals, rivalries, matches, ability, charm, and being the ultimate "good guy" are the reasons I love wrestling. I owe it all to Bret.
I made sure to tell him that when I finally had the honor of meeting him in 2008. Without Bret, I have no idea what type of wrestling fan I would be.
If I would even be one at all. I always imitated his moves, his ring enterance, and tried to put so many people in the Sharpshooter, and dreamed of one day being the lucky kid who got his sunglasses.
He made wrestling feel real and made it exciting. He gave it something that it had been lacking and that was quality matches all the time. Regardless of the product or the opponent, Bret made them look amazing and in the process proved he was indeed the best at what he did.
He sold better than anyone I ever watched, he was the greatest story teller in the history of the industry and he made me see wrestling for what it really could be, and that was an art form.
Then there's WrestleMania 13. Austin-Bret. It took place in my hometown of Chicago (well Rosemont, actually) and to me, it's the greatest match to ever take place. It has no flaws at all.
I will never forget the Figure Four on the ring post, or the bell to Austin's head, Stone Cold hitting the Stunner on Bret, and of course the most iconic moment of the match, the Sharpshooter that made Stone Cold Steve Austin a full fledged star.
I see the replay of the blood and anguish on his face and I get goosebumps.
I then watch his refusal to give up and Bret's determination to win and I become a kid all over again.
Not only was it the best match I've ever seen but the best story ever told in wrestling history.
The good guy feeling turned against, and the guy who was supposed to be the heel, never giving up and winning the fans affection and respect. The double turn of Bret to a heel and Austin to a face was done so perfectly.
It's a testament to Bret and Austin. Bret's heel turn would go on to become one of the best ever and made me love him for a whole new set of reasons.
His matches with British Bulldog, Owen Hart, Shawn Michaels, Mr. Perfect, Razor Ramon, Diesel, The Undertaker, and of course Stone Cold, are why I will always love this man above all others.
He never took a night off. He was dedicated to being the best and giving the best to the fans night in and night out. For that, I can only say thank you, but I think anyone who loves the Hitman knows there could be more to say.
It's just tough to be able to say it. Thank you for being a huge part of why I had a great childhood and for giving me the love for wrestling that I have to this day.
I'm so glad to see you back in 2010 and ending your career the way you deserve to. You are a true champion and legend.
To The Best There Is, The Best There Was, and The Best There Ever Will Be,