Bret Hart's Most Memorable Matches, Moments in WrestleMania History

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 19, 2018

Bret Hart's Most Memorable Matches, Moments in WrestleMania History

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    Shawn Michaels might be nicknamed Mr. WrestleMania, but Bret Hart was the star who first carried the flag for WWE when Hulk Hogan started to slowly phase himself out of the company in the mid-1990s.

    Hart main-evented WrestleManias IX, X and XII and combined with Stone Cold Steve Austin to deliver a classic at WrestleMania 13. Before that, he was a fixture on the midcard with tag team partner Jim Neidhart.

    Despite his abrupt exit from WWE in 1997, Hart still made 11 straight appearances at WrestleMania dating back to 1987. During that time, he created a number of memorable moments at The Showcase of the Immortals.

WrestleMania IV: Bret Is a Sore Loser

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    Hart was perfectly happy to team with Bad News Brown and eliminate Junkyard Dog from the WrestleMania IV Battle Royal. Hart was less pleased when Brown turned on him and threw him over the top rope to claim the Battle Royal trophy all for himself.

    Hart responded by grabbing the trophy and destroying it.

    It wasn't one of the most consequential moments in The Hitman's career, but it was entertaining nonetheless. Who doesn't love to see a comically large trophy thrown down and ripped apart?

    Plus, it's fun to go back and watch the legends at a time when they had yet to enter the category of WWE's top stars.

WrestleMania VII: The Hart Foundation Drops the Tag Titles

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    This match proved to be the swan song for one of the most famous tag teams of the late 1980s and early '90s. The Hart Foundation lost the WWF tag team titles to the Nasty Boys when Jerry Sags hit Neidhart with Jimmy Hart's motorcycle helmet.

    The Hart Foundation had a few more house show matches together before Hart and Neidhart went their separate ways.

    It's fitting that Jimmy Hart would play a role in The Hart Foundation's defeat at WrestleMania VII, since he was their manager when they first rose through the WWE tag team ranks.

WrestleMania VIII: Bret Recaptures the Intercontinental Title

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    You can really track Hart's climb to the top of WWE by how he was used at WrestleMania.

    At WrestleMania VII, he and Neidhart dropped the tag titles. A year later, Hart became a two-time intercontinental champion after beating another legend, Rowdy Roddy Piper.

    The match between Hart and Piper was one of the best at WrestleMania VIII, and it told an excellent story.

    During an interview alongside Hart before they headed to the ring, Piper played up his previous relationship with the Hart family and spoke about how he had seen Bret grow up.

    That emotional pull likely prevented Piper from hitting Hart with a ring bell while the referee was knocked out during the match, which surely would've resulted in Piper retaining the intercontinental title. Instead, Piper attempted to lock in the sleeper hold, which Hart countered into a pin and won the match.

WrestleMania IX: The Hulkster Comes to Bret's Rescue

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    This match is memorable for all the wrong reasons.

    Hart lost the WWF Championship to Yokozuna when Mr. Fuji threw salt in his eyes while he had the Sharpshooter locked on Yokozuna. Hulk Hogan came to Hart's aid and somehow ended up with a world title shot. Hogan then defeated Yokozuna, capping Yokozuna's title reign at nine minutes.

    There's so much to unpack here, starting with the fact there was little legwork done by WWE to establish Hart and Hogan were even friends. It was weird to see Hogan running down to ringside and even weirder seeing Hart implore him to avenge his defeat to Yokozuna.

    Then there's the fact Hogan could simply goad Mr. Fuji into granting him a title match right there on the spot. It made Mr. Fuji look pretty dumb and also took a lot of the air out of Yokozuna's balloon after he had been pushed as an unstoppable monster.

    The finish of WrestleMania IX is arguably the worst of all time.

WrestleMania X: Bret Loses but Wins in the End

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    More than two decades before Seth Rollins lost to Randy Orton and still walked out of WrestleMania with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, Hart essentially did the same thing at WrestleMania X.

    Hart wrestled his brother Owen in the opening match at WrestleMania X. Bret lost in what was an all-time classic. The bout also furthered a great story between Bret and Owen that lasted for more than a year when all was said and done.

    Bret recovered enough by the time the WrestleMania X main event rolled around and gained a measure of revenge against Yokozuna by recapturing the WWF Championship.

    WrestleMania X closed with the image of Owen watching Bret celebrate in the ring and refusing to take part, signaling his rivalry with Bret was far from over.

WrestleMania XII: Hart and Michaels Go the Distance in Iron Man Match

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    Opinions are likely to be divided on the quality of this match. Some see it as an instant classic, while others view it as a good match that has been inflated over the years.

    What's not in question is that Hart and Michaels had the most personal feud of the 1990s—one that would culminate with the Montreal Screwjob at the 1997 Survivor Series.

    WrestleMania XII came before tensions between the two really boiled over, but it still carried some emotional weight given everything that transpired.

    The lack of a fall during the 60-minute time period made the main event drag somewhat in the early-to-middle portions. Things picked up in the final 10 or 15 minutes, and the overtime portion in particular was nerve-racking stuff, thus bringing WrestleMania XII to a dramatic conclusion.

WrestleMania 13: Hart and Stone Cold Put on a Classic

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    It's a shame Austin suffered a broken neck at Summerslam 1997, because he showed how good of a technical wrestler he was in his prime when he battled Hart at WrestleMania 13. Their matchup at the 1996 Survivor Series was excellent, too.

    When it comes to WrestleMania 13, there isn't a better double turn in wrestling history.

    Austin was already building a following among wrestling fans by the time WrestleMania 13 rolled around, but the image of him passing out in the Sharpshooter with his face a bloody mess helped him make the full shift to babyface. 

    Hart, meanwhile, was on the verge of becoming the biggest heel in the United States, and the way in which he defeated Austin cemented it.

    There's a reason Hart vs. Austin is almost universally considered one of the greatest matches in WrestleMania history.

WrestleMania XXVI: Bret Gets Revenge on Mr. McMahon

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    By the time he returned to WWE in 2010, Hart was in no shape to wrestle a serious match, so a return feud with Michaels realistically wouldn't have made a ton of sense. The architect of the Montreal Screwjob, Vince McMahon, was a much better foil for The Hitman.

    WWE overcomplicated things, though, by having Hart fake a leg injury in order to get McMahon to accept the match. Then the company spoiled what would've been an effective surprise—McMahon bought off Hart's family members—at WrestleMania XXVI, only for Hart to reveal it was a double-cross before the bell even rang.

    It was a somewhat underwhelming conclusion to the McMahon/Hart story that went unresolved for more than a decade.