WWE and Pro Wrestling's Greatest Rivalry Ever: Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart (CvC)
Thousands years ago, there was the Abel and Cain's sibling rivalry.
Fast forward in the 1990s and there was the Bret and Owen's rivalry.
From 1993 to 1995, The Hart brothers had a grueling rivalry that also involved their family, including their mom Helen and their dad Stu. Jim Neidhart and The British Bulldog, their brothers-in-law, also joined the explosive mix.
The feud between Bret and Owen lasted for over a year and it had everything. It was personal, intense and disputed on multiple battle fronts.
The origins of the rivalry
In November 1993, Bret and Owen Hart were joined by their two other brothers, Bruce and Keith to face Shawn Michaels' team at Survivor Series.
The Hart brothers had the things well in hands and they managed to eliminate all Michaels' partners.
While fighting HBK, Owen crashed into Bret who was walking on the ring apron after being injured. That distraction allowed Michaels to eliminate Owen from the match.
After the Hart brothers won the contest via count-out, a frustrated Owen came back to the ring and he blamed Bret for his elimination.
The confrontation between the two brothers almost degenerated, but Keith, Bruce and their dad calmed things down. Owen finally left the ring under a rain of loud boos from the crowd while the boys' mother was crying.
To send a message to his brother, Owen started to use the Sharpshooter in the following week. He also started to wear Bret's signature sunglasses and outfit to provoke him.
After Bret refused all challenges issued by Owen, they buried the hatchet for the Holidays after their parents begged them to make peace.
Bret and Owen even started to team up again and they battled a few tag team matches together. At the 1994 Royal Rumble, they faced The Quebecers over the Tag Team Championship. During the match, Bret sustained a serious knee injury so the referee stopped the match.
Following the match, Owen snapped. He viciously attacked Bret's knee and he blamed him for the lost opportunity at the gold. From that moment, the rivalry was ignited for good and the fire lasted one year.
Owen Hart's heel turn
Owen officially turned heel when he attacked his brother at the 1994 Royal Rumble. The Holidays peace was short lived. Owen still had that bitter taste in the mouth because of his most successful older brother.
To add more oil on the fire, Bret co-won the Royal Rumble match, making Owen even more jealous. He was then madder than ever and he made it clear.
With jealousy between two brothers as the element to set the tables, the feud was probably the most personal ever.
The younger brother then started to cut unforgettable and passionate promos to finally get his revenge. He constantly accused Bret to have done everything to keep him in the shadow. Owen even blamed Bret to have forced him to wrestle behind a mask as the Blue Blazer to make sure he would not be in the spotlight.
After few weeks refusing any challenge, Bret finally accepted. Owen vs. Bret was made official for Wrestlemania X.
The first official encounter
At Wrestlemania X, after the intense showdown, the two brothers clashed the ring for the first time.
The Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart encounter became one of the best (if not the best) Wrestlemania opening match ever. After 20 grueling minutes of exciting back and forth battle, Owen pinned Bret after they exchanged Sharpshooter holds.
Even the announcers participated in that feud. Jerry Lawler defended all of Owen's actions and accusations against Bret during the Wrestlemania X match. Vince McMahon was the face commentator and he sided with Bret Hart for the whole feud.
After that clean win over Bret, Owen got his long awaited revenge and it appeared to be the end of the rivalry.
Bret Hart's continued push on the main event scene
On the same night he lost to his brother, Bret had a second match scheduled, against Yokozuna for the WWF Championship.
He earned the right to contend for the Title after he was the co-winner of the previous Royal Rumble match with Lex Luger.
Bret's victory infuriated Owen and started the second round of their rivalry. While Bret was celebrating his second WWF Championship win and defending the gold, Owen sent the rivalry into a new level.
Brother vs. Brother, the sequel
To add spice to an already hot rivalry, their brother-in-law Jim Neidhard joined the mix at the King Of The Ring pay-per-view in Bret's corner.
Neidhard, who left the WWF in 1992, made a surprise comeback especially for the event. But if he was Bret's mystery cornerman, it was to start a plot concocted by Owen.
Bret's former tag team partner came back to side with Owen and both men shared the same jealousy towards The Hitman. Neidhart helped Bret to keep the WWF Title by getting him disqualified. But, after the match, Diesel and Shawn Michaels attacked Bret while Neidhart left for backstage, letting his brother-in-law behind, under attack.
Later in the evening, Jim Neidhart appeared ringside while Owen was battling Razor Ramon in the final round of the King Of The Ring tournament. Neidhart interfered in the match in favor of Owen who became the 1994 King Of The Ring. And, most important, it secured Owen a Title shot against Bret at the upcoming Summerslam.
In a memorable showdown leading to Summerslam, Owen proclaimed himslef "The King Of Harts" and Neidhart continued to accompany him at ringside. Both men went together in a rant against Bret, always based on jealousy. They considered The Hitman did all he could to keep them out of the spotlight.
The rival brothers entered in a series of confrontations, including a lumberjack match over the WWF Title two weeks before the August pay-per-view. At one point, Owen even started to celebrate his victory, but the officials ordered the match to be resumed due to outside interference. Bret then won the contest to retain.
The second big encounter, a 5-Star match
In their second pay-per-view match, the brothers faced each other in a brutal cage match at Summerslam 1994.
The Hart family was again in the crowd; Stu, Helen, the Hart brothers, Davey Boy Smith and Jim Neidhart were all there to witness the events that were tearing the whole family.
Bret and Owen battled in what became a classic Summerslam moment, one of the best match ever in WWE. The bout was in fact so great that it received a rare 5-Star award by Dave Meltzer's Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
Only four WWE matches received such an honor since it inception so it shows how great the match was.
For over 32 minutes, the Harts clashed in the cage in another grueling back and forth battle. There was about everything in the match, from bone crushing brawling to an intense technical clinic and from breath taking aerial maneuvers to a dramatic ending.
Bret retained the WWF Championship after he escaped the cage while Owen had his leg trapped in the structure.
After the match, Jim Neidhart left his seat and assaulted Bret thrown back in the cage. Owen and Neidhart locked themselves in with Bret to brutalise him in front of the shocked Stu and Helen. The other Hart brothers and Davey Boy Smith eventually entered the cage to save a hardly beaten Bret.
A new level for the rivalry
After the classic Summerslam encounter, the feud was brought to a new level, in the tag team division this time.
Owen teamed up with Jim Neidhart and Bret was joined by Davey Boy Smith. Both teams collided in a series of memorable matches through the rest of 1994, exchanging victories.
In November, at Survivor Series, Owen pushed the rivalry into a different dimension. He costed Bret the WWF Championship by forcing his mom to throw the towel in the ring.
The match was between Bob Backlund and Bret, with a special stipulation: Owen was in Backlund's corner and had to throw a towel in the ring to notify the referee to stop the match in the case of a submission hold; the same applied to Bret, with Davey Boy Smith in his corner.
During the match, Davey Boy Smith was knocked out and Bret was put in the grip of Backlund's Crossface Chicken Wing. Bret was struggling to escape. Owen then asked his mom who was in the crowd to get at ringside to replace Smith.
No one knows if Bret was to give up, but Owen begged his mother to stop the match while Stu refused and grabbed the towel. Helen could not contain her emotions and, after a lot of hesitations, she picked up the towel. Her mom's heart could not stand to see her son Bret in such a pain and she threw the towel.
When the bell rang, Owen ran backstage with a huge smile on his face and, more than ever, the Hart family was torn. Stu was upset and mad about the turn of events and even about his wife in what was a golden moment.
Arrived backstage, Owen was interviewed and he could not contain his joy. He won a huge battle against his older brother. That blow did hurt more than any battle they could ever have.
The rivalry formed a full circle
After the Survivor Series psychological battle, the rival brothers continued the unfinished business with some more matches, including a No Holds Barred contest on January 10, 1995. Bret got the upper hand and trapped Owen in a Sharpshooter he refused to release even after the bell. It took five officials to get the hold released.
Bret snapped and he sent a clear message to his young brother by applying the Sharpshooter once again. Owen was screaming in pain, begging Bret to stop. Apparently, Bret wanted to put an end to the rivalry by trying to injure Owen for good.
A few weeks later, at the Royal Rumble, where it started one year before, the rivalry formed a full circle. Bret was in a match for the WWF Championship then held by Diesel. Owen did shoot one of the last bullets in the war against his brother by preventing Bret to regain the Title with outside interference. The match ended in a no-contest.
Following the Royal Rumble, the war continued, but with less intensity. Bret ended it all by winning the next matches and the fire between the brothers slowly extinguished and the rivalry toned down with both of them pursuing different goals.
Months after, the hatchet was buried and a truce was silently signed backstage. Like any brothers they had their highs and lows and they came back together to later form the New Hart Foundation.
...as you could see, Owen vs. Bret was without the shadow of a doubt the greatest rivalry ever in pro-wrestling. And I'm inventing nothing here! Even Pro Wrestling Illustrated gave them the 1994 Feud of the Year Award.
The rivalry had it all to be called the greatest ever. It had a torn family, jealousy, psychological war, brutal confrontations and classic matches.
If you still have any doubt, I strongly suggest you to take a look at their matches at Wrestlemania X, Summerslam 1994 and the January 10, 1995 No Holds Barred match. You should also watch the 1994 Survivor Series match to see the tormented Stu and Helen Hart.
As you could read above, there is nothing more entertaining for a wrestling fan than a complex sibling rivalry and the Harts' saga was the epitome of it.
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