WrestleMania XII Rematch, Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart: Who Is the Greatest?

Cec Van GaliniAnalyst IIIMarch 20, 2011

Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels' match at WrestleMania XII was a legendary encounter. Their match at the 1997 Survivor Series is perhaps the most talked about in wrestling history.

They are two wrestling legends, who after April are deserving Hall of Famers. But who is the greatest?

As wrestlers, they are almost polar opposites. Shawn Michaels is the ultimate showman: flamboyant, high flying and colourful. Bret Hart is technical, traditional and conservative.

With their respective careers now finished in the ring, history will begin to analyse and interpret their legacies in the wrestling business. Furthermore, because we were robbed of one final showcase match between the two, questions will also be asked as to who was better.

In presenting the case of Shawn Michaels, it is clear that controversy does indeed create cash. I am not that keen on quoting or agreeing with Eric Bischoff, but many of Shawn's earliest moments do indeed involve controversial topics.

That barber shop window, arrogance as a heel, his backstage power, losing his smile, DX and of course Montreal: some are creative, some are real life. Shawn has courted controversy, but they seemingly worked in creating a superstar who made it from rocker to his boyhood dream at WrestleMania XII.

Of course we offset these moments with those ladder matches, the win at WrestleMania XII, the triumphant return, the Chris Jericho match, the Ric Flair retirement and of course those legendary battles with the Undertaker.

It is clear that Shawn has done it all. Some good, some bad. His career has only just begun to be analysed, but in the immediate, his legacy shines through, not least because he has managed to avoid the wrestler's pitfall and stayed in retirement. His place in history is untouched by comebacks and an aging body.

In contrast, Bret Hart is the ultimate face. Born and bred into the wrestling business, Bret grew up with a respect for tradition. His early career relied on simple wrestling ability, which is something seldom found today. 

His character was simply himself.

Bret has not been without moments though. He admitted publicly that he used steroids, although in the age of denial, perhaps this admission is a positive. Some will also criticise him for his role in the Montreal Screw Job, believing him to have put his own standing before the business. His refusal to drop the belt was seen by some as a sign of disrespect to Shawn and the WWE.

His return to the WWE over a decade later was heralded but due to legal problems, it was badly put together and ultimately ended prematurely. But at least he left amicably this time around.

Comparing the two superstars is difficult. They are like chalk and cheese in terms of their style, character, personality, in-ring abilities and mic skills. Where one is strong, the other is supposedly not so. They have different strengths and weaknesses, so it is clear that comparison is difficult.

However, when you put the matches, angles, commitment, moves, moments and history together, who does come out on top?

With WrestleMania XXVII just around the corner, we take a moment to look back on one of wrestling's biggest rivalries.

Shawn or Bret? You decide!