Bret Hart's Best, Worst and Most Outrageous Moments in WWE Career

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistAugust 5, 2017

Bret Hart's Best, Worst and Most Outrageous Moments in WWE Career

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    Credit: WWE.com

    It is impossible to tell the story of WWE without Bret Hart.

    A second-generation star and promoter's son, he had a deep respect for the industry before he ever laced a pair of boots. When he did, he starred for Stampede Wrestling but would go on to his greatest and most internationally recognized success as part of Vince McMahon's traveling circus.

    In a day and age in which McMahon was constantly promoting larger-than-life characters and cartoonish personalities, Hart brought credibility to the product. He was a master technician who took pride in his ability to make his performance look convincing.

    He also generated a ton of sympathy, forging a connection with fans across the globe. Whether he was a good guy or villain, Hart was an elite worker and all-time great.

    Relive the amazing career of The Hitman with his 10 best, worst and most outrageous moments, ranked according to their historical significance and importance to his career as a whole.

10. Tag Team Champion

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    Coming out of Stampede Wrestling, a promotion steeped in history and owned by his father, there was no guarantee Bret Hart and tag team partner Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart would make it in the cartoonish WWE. Hart, in particular, was a no-frills wrestler. He was a technician who could work with the best of them but lacked that over-the-top character of a Hulk Hogan or a Randy Savage.

    On January 26, 1987, all questions about The Hart Foundation's ability to succeed on the big stage were erased when they defeated longtime rivals The British Bulldogs to win their first WWE Tag Team Championships.

    An injured Dynamite Kid and crooked officiating by referee Danny Davis led to the monumental victory, but The Hitman and The Anvil's consistent performances afterward earned them the trust of management and kept them at or near the top of the division for their entire run as a tag team.

    Rematches against The British Bulldogs proved red-hot and culminated in a WrestleMania III showdown in which they teamed with Davis to battle Davey Boy Smith, Dynamite and Tito Santana in a high-profile Six-Man Tag Team match.

9. The Return

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    In 2010, Hart returned to WWE television for the first time in four years.

    It was the first time since 1997 he appeared on Raw, though, making the moment so much more significant. The Hitman made his way to the ring amid a thunderous ovation and addressed the audience that had so warmly welcomed him back.

    An on-screen reconciliation with longtime rival Shawn Michaels was heartwarming and proved bygones really could be bygones.

    Later in the night, he was confronted by Mr. McMahon, who would kick him low, leave him lying and kick off the renewal of their rivalry ahead of one last WrestleMania match for The Hitman.

    In hindsight, everything after the return probably could have been handled better, but his handshake with Michaels more than made up for the creative disappointment in the weeks and months that followed.

8. King of the Ring 1993

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    The 1993 King of the Ring would have been an utter failure of a pay-per-view without Bret Hart.

    The entire show was built around him, and the quality was ensured via three superbly wrestled matches against three wholly different workers.

    The Hitman kicked off the night's action with a victory over Razor Ramon in which he was forced to fight from underneath to score a pinfall after reversing a suplex.

    From there, he tangled with Mr. Perfect in a rematch from their SummerSlam 1991 classic. Arguably an even better match than the original, Hart and Perfect delivered an ultra-competitive contest that ended when Hart reversed a cradle to score the win.

    In the final, Hart would battle a Bam Bam Bigelow, who bypassed the semifinal round thanks to a bye. When Bigelow's main squeeze, Luna Vachon, interfered and hit Hart with a steel chair before the big man finished him off with the diving headbutt, it appeared as though The Hitman's storybook ending was not to be.

    The referee restarted the match, though, and Hart won with a victory roll. The 1993 King of the Ring, he had overcome every obstacle in his way and defeated three unique Superstars to attain the crown. More importantly, he showcased his technical wrestling expertise, relying on three reversals to score his wins.

    While the show may have been built around Hulk Hogan's WWE Championship defense against Yokozuna, it was Hart who would define the broadcast thanks to his incredible string of performances.

7. Heartbreak and Triumph

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    WrestleMania X featured some superb storytelling on the part of the booking team and Hart himself.

    The show kicked off with The Hitman squaring off with brother Owen in a match that was months in the making. After repeatedly denouncing the idea of fighting his brother, Bret had no other choice but to square off with the sibling whose shocking attack at the 1994 Royal Rumble created a schism in the family.

    High expectations were met as Bret and Owens worked a five-star classic right out of the gate, setting a bar that was almost impossible for anyone else to surpass. In a physical, hotly contested bout, The Hitman tried to utilize the same victory roll that delivered him the King of the Ring crown a year earlier.

    Owen, knowing his brother as well as he did, countered and scored a monumental upset.

    The heartbreak Bret experienced as he watched his braggadocios sibling celebrate victory was unfathomable. Disappointed in himself, not to mention the fact he had just gone to war with his little brother, there was a real question as to whether The Hitman would recover quick enough to challenge for the WWE Championship late in the night.

    Nursing an injured knee from the opening contest, Hart limped his way to the ring to square off with the man who stole the WWE title from him a year earlier at WrestleMania, the mammoth Yokozuna.

    Hart fought valiantly and took advantage of Yokozuna's fall off the middle rope, which saw him hit his head. He pinned the super heavyweight and picked up his second world title.

    Brother Owen watched on, disgusted, from the ringside area as Bret was celebrated by his peers.

    The 10th WrestleMania, inside the historic Madison Square Garden, was a significant occurrence. It celebrated every one of the massive spectaculars that came before it, and on that night, Vince McMahon opted to build the broadcast around Bret, highlighting just how important he thought The Hitman was to the company and its success going forward.

    A far cry from a year earlier, when he was cast aside in favor of the returning Hulk Hogan.

6. SummerSlam 1991 vs. Mr. Perfect

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    There were real doubts about Bret Hart's ability to be a legitimate singles star by the time the 1991 SummerSlam arrived. After all, Vince McMahon had attempted to push The Hitman on two previous occasions to little success, though that can be attributed to a lack of patience on the part of the boss.

    In need of new stars to guide the company into the future, McMahon had no choice but to let Hart run with the proverbial ball, beginning at that year's summertime spectacular. 

    Luckily, his risk paid off, as Hart performed up to the enormity of the moment, stealing the show in a brilliant match with intercontinental champion Mr. Perfect.

    The match itself was brilliant, demonstrating Hart's ability to play a sympathetic babyface fans were willing to throw their support behind. They invested emotionally in the story he was telling, and that trait alone made him valuable to McMahon and his company.

    On a night when Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior and Randy Savage were prominently featured, few fans could have expected it would be Hart who would become the franchise player for WWE over the course of the next five years.

5. Hall of Famer

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    In 2006, The Hitman returned to WWE for his Hall of Fame enshrinement. On the heels of a WWE Home Video release, Hart set aside bitterness for Vince McMahon and took to the stage to put an exclamation point on his career, telling stories and saluting those who helped him achieve success.

    It was classy, never delved into a blame game for the events in Montreal and gave longtime fans the opportunity to see him celebrated as he should have been.

    For someone who always took such great pride in his work and the many memorable classics he delivered, the opportunity to stand at the top of the wrestling world for one more night and bask in the spotlight was one he richly deserved and, perhaps more importantly, earned.

4. SummerSlam 1992 vs. British Bulldog

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    One year after a star-making performance at SummerSlam, Hart returned to the show supremely confident in his ability to be a top star for WWE. The reigning intercontinental champion, he defended against The British Bulldog in the main event, with the pressure on him to deliver a match deserving of the honor.

    He did.

    Hart revealed in the 2005 WWE Home Video release Bret "Hitman" Hart: The Best There Is, The Best There Was and the Best There Ever Will Be that Bulldog was so nervous he forgot many of the planned spots, leaving The Hitman to carry him through the bout.

    When taking that into consideration, the five-star classic Hart achieved that night in London's Wembley Stadium is all the more impressive.

    With 80,000-plus fans watching from the stands, Hart put his brother-in-law over clean in the center of the ring. While much attention was put on Bulldog's triumph, the real winner was The Hitman.

    It was a risk for McMahon to book the IC title over the WWE title in the main event. Hart made sure that gamble paid off with a stunning, captivating championship clash that remains one of the best matches in the event's three-decade history.

3. WrestleMania 13 vs. 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin

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    There are only a handful of matches that can realistically compete for the title of "best of all time," but the Submission bout between Bret Hart and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin from WrestleMania 13 is very much one.

    The culmination of a rivalry that began with Austin calling The Hitman out for a match the previous September, it had steadily built into the hottest, most chaotic and emotionally charged feuds in WWE. Both Superstars possessed iron wills, making it even more embarrassing for one of them that they would be forced to submit to end the match.

    Hart entered Chicago the traditional babyface, though his bitterness over the direction of WWE was becoming more apparent and earning him more and more jeers in arenas across the country. Austin was the anti-authority rebel, the heel with a dictionary of curses and a well-timed middle finger. His popularity was increasing with every Stone Cold Stunner, and he was threatening to surpass The Hitman's level of adoration sooner rather than later, something Hart could not grasp.

    Their bloody, violent battle took the audience on an emotional roller coaster that had them following along with every spot, every weapon strike and every attempt at a submission. The fury and anger behind every blow created a sense of realism that portrayed an intense dislike between the Superstars.

    The most memorable moment of the bout saw Hart trap a profusely bleeding Austin in the Sharpshooter, wrenching down on it as The Texas Rattlesnake screamed in pain. Blood poured from his head wound, puddling on the mat below. Hart fought through a late attempt by Austin to break the hold and was announced the winner when Austin passed out from the pain, defiant in his unwillingness to submit.

    Not finished with his rival, Hart continued an attack on Austin, drawing a chorus of boos and, in that moment, executed a rare double turn that would see him become the most hated Superstar in the U.S.

2. The Montreal Screwjob

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    The story of the Montreal Screwjob has been told time and time again.

    Long story short, Hart was leaving WWE for WCW in 1997, and Vince McMahon wanted him to lose the WWE Championship to Shawn Michaels at Survivor Series in Montreal. Hart, citing a desire not to lose to Michaels in Canada and emboldened by the creative control clause in his contract, refused.

    In response, McMahon perpetrated a screwjob that sent Hart packing under less than pleasant circumstances, and a father-son relationship between star and promoter was irreparably damaged.

    The moment, the worst in Hart's WWE career, would come to define everyone involved and remains one of the most unforgettable and buzzed-about in wrestling history.

    In hindsight, Hart consequently became a greater hero to a larger fanbase and WWE discovered its next, great villain in evil, corrupt booker Mr. McMahon. Wrestling was better off for its occurrence, but the moment remains reflective of the untrustworthy and seedy underbelly of the industry.

1. WWE Champion

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    On the heels of his all-time great match with British Bulldog at SummerSlam 1992, Hart was one of the hottest Superstars in WWE. No one knew just how hot he was or the trust he had forged with Vince McMahon, who made a historic, calculated risk on October 12, 1992.

    During a television taping in Regina, Saskatchewan, Hart defeated Ric Flair to win the WWE Championship in a stunning and unexpected upset.

    Flair was on his way out of the company and also suffering from an inner-ear issue. McMahon needed to get the title off of him and on to a babyface. He was bombarded suggestions from by confidantes, each pushing for a specific wrestler to get a run with the title.

    Hart won out, with his hard work and dedication a striking a chord with the promoter.

    The eruption from fans as he trapped Flair in the Sharpshooter and forced the tapout was unforgettable and exemplified the guttural emotion they felt for The Hitman.

    An arduous journey from the small arenas of Stampede Wrestling to Wembley Stadium led him back to Canada, where a decade of bumps, bruises, creative disappointments and frustrations culminated with a championship victory that would firmly establish him as a credible main event attraction in the sport's top promotion.