Bret Hart: The Hitman's Top 10 Matches of All-Time
"The best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be."
For many wrestlers that sentence would be nothing more than a catch phrase, but for Bret "The Hitman" Hart the case could be made that he was in fact speaking the truth.
Wrestling may not have always been what Bret wanted to do for his profession, but it was in his blood to become "The Hitman" of wrestling. Being the son of legendary Canadian wrestling promoter Stu Hart, Bret was around the sport all of his life, and eventually he made it into the WWE in 1984.
Hart would eventually become part of the tag team named "The Hart Foundation" with Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart for some time, leading to two tag team championships and one of the greatest teams in WWE history.
Though Hart began his career along this path, his greatest matches were yet to come. After the break up of "The Hart Foundation," Bret began his singles career and went on to become one of the greatest wrestlers of not just the 1990s, but of all time. His most memorable matches during his professional wrestling career occurred when Bret had feuds with some of the greatest performers of the nineties.
Here are the top 10 matches in the illustrious career of Bret "The Hitman" Hart.
10. Bret Hart vs. Chris Benoit: WCW Mayhem 1999
In the Air Canada Centre of Toronto, two of the greatest Canadian wrestlers in history would lock up for the vacated WCW World Heavyweight Championship.
It as tournament finals that would take place throughout the pay-per-view night, culminating in Benoit and Hart putting on a technical clinic inside the WCW ring.
The match would go back and forth, with constant changes in momentum and even run-ins by The Outsiders (Kevin Nash and Scott Hall) and Goldberg.
Benoit would work on Hart's legs for much of the match, trying to take the Sharpshooter out of Bret's arsenal; but it would be that exact submission hold that would lead to Hart's victory and first WCW World Heavyweight Championship.
9. Bret Hart vs. Mr. Perfect: 1993 King of the Ring Semifinal
It seemed that whenever Mr. Perfect and Bret Hart got into the ring, the match was going to steal the show.
En route to Hart winning the 1993 King of the Ring, he had to defeat three superstars in one night. Perfect would be the second wrestler Hart faced that night, and though it wasn't their best bout, it had the same feel as the battle these two had at the 1991 SummerSlam for the Intercontinental Title.
In Hart's WWE DVD he talks about this night and how he felt he had three great matches with three completely different superstars in terms of style. His favorite and many others was his match with Mr. Perfect in the semifinals, and it's not difficult to see why.
The match was technically classic, with many submissions and counters that you'd expect from these two. Often an underrated match, this battle deserves to be mentioned among the best of Hart's career.
8. Bret Hart vs. Chris Benoit: Owen Hart Tribute Match
Perhaps one of the most emotional matches in both men's careers, this bout between the two on WCW Monday Nitro was perhaps their greatest match together.
In the same arena where his brother, Owen Hart, had tragically fallen to his death, Bret went out and did what he always did: have the best match he could.
Benoit came to the ring bearing a Owen Hart t-shirt before the match began, and once the bell rung, both wrestlers went on to showcase what it was that made them such a good combination in the ring. The match would begin slowly, with both men locking up on multiple occasions, leading to a fair share of submission maneuvers.
Both would show off their plethora of submission knowledge, including an interesting modified Boston Crab by Benoit, ending with Bret Hart's patented Shapshooter leading to a Benoit tap out. The match was a joy to watch for fans and a proper tribute to Owen Hart.
7. Bret Hart vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin: Survivor Series 1996
This match will forever be overshadowed by the epic battle between these two at Wrestlemania XXIII. But without the success of this match, perhaps WWE never schedules the Wrestlemania bout.
This match would arrive due to Stone Cold's constant calling out of Bret Hart during a brief hiatus by "The Hitman". It would be the perfect way to lead into Hart's return to the WWE, and what better rival could you have asked for at the time than Austin?
The Survivor Series match featured Austin dominating for a fair amount, specifically towards the end. But it would be Hart who had the last laugh on this night. The finish to this match should be included in every Bret Hart highlight reel, as it would feature him turning Austin's Million Dollar Dream submission hold into a pinning predicament using the turnbuckle to flip things in his favor.
Perhaps the greatest finish in the history of Hart's career, this match rightfully sits at No. 7 on this list.
6. Bret Hart vs. Mr. Perfect: SummerSlam 1991
When you think of Mr. Pefect's career, many point to this match as being his greatest. During Bret's rise up the wrestling card, he had multiple battles for the Intercontinental Title, none more famous than his match with Perfect at SummerSlam 1991.
These two would go back and forth throughout the night. At one point Hart even kicked out of the "Perfect-Plex" finisher, which according to "Rowdy" Roddy Piper's commentary that night, may have been one of the first times that a wrestler had kicked out of Perfect's modified fisherman suplex.
The match would end with Hart somehow countering Perfect into the Sharpshooter, leading to Bret's first run as Intercontinental Champion, and solidifying himself in the realm of singles competition.
5. Bret Hart vs. British Bulldog: SummerSlam 1992
Just one year after the epic Intercontinental Championship match between Hart and Mr. Perfect, yet another would take place at the 1992 SummerSlam pay-per-view.
This match would come about due to a storyline involving the real life fact that the British Bulldog had recently married Hart's sister, Diana.
The storyline would feature Hart playing the heel of the feud, and this match would serve as the battle that ended the rivalry.
It would also be the match that would put Bulldog on the map so to speak, being one of his most memorable matches and leading to a decent push for Davey Boy.
Though Hart would lose his title on this night, the match itself remains one of his best for the breathtaking bumps off the apron, the power displayed by Bulldog and its overall believability.
4. Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart: Wrestlemania X
Just as the previous match would lead to Bulldog's rise to fame, this Wrestlemania bout between the Hart brothers would be the match that would lead Owen Hart to receiving the push many thought he deserved.
The two Harts would show off the talents they both learned in their father's dungeon and why their last name carries so much weight in the wrestling world. Both made the audience feel the tension between the two brothers, as Owen would be in control for much of the match. Owen would eventually even lock in his brother's finishing maneuver, the Sharpshooter.
The match between the two submission specialists would surprisingly end with a pin, with Owen leaving Wrestlemania X as the victorious Hart.
3. Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart: SummerSlam 1994
If Shawn Michaels is "Mr. Wrestlemania," then just call Bret Hart "Mr. Summerslam," because as showcased by this list, Hart produced some of the most memorable matches at WWE's premier Summer pay-per-view.
The two Hart brothers would have perhaps their greatest match against one another on this night, battling for the then-WWF Championship inside a steel cage. As Bret has said, this was perhaps his favorite match against his brother in the WWE, and he felt that they were able to give the audience something different than the stereotypical cage match.
It wasn't a bloody battle, it didn't have many rakes of the face against the steel; but it did have that memorable superplex from the top of the cage. The two battled for just over half an hour that night, and not one of those minutes felt wasted. The two sold the sibling rivalry to the audience and showed that there doesn't need to be weapons and bloodshed involved to have a historic cage match.
It would be a hard fought battle by both, that ended with Bret leaving SummerSlam '94 with the WWF Championship around his waist.
2. Bret Hart vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin: Wrestlemania XXIII
Now if you want to talk bloody matches, here's one for you. It would be on this night that Austin would truly become "Stone Cold" and begin his march to the top of the WWE.
This match would be one much different than their Survivor Series battle. In the fact this was less of a wrestling match and more of a street fight.
Hart and Austin would both show the audience their mean streaks, with Austin beating down Hart in the crowd to Hart locking in his signature figure-four leg lock around the ring post.
This match was certainly not Hart's specialty, but you wouldn't know it by watching the match. "The Hitman" was just as ruthless and cold as Austin on this night, eventually leading to the unforgettable Shapshooter that would leave "Stone Cold" unconscious and bloody in the middle of the ring.
Though Bret would leave Wrestlemania XIII victorious, the fans commended Austin for not tapping out despite the very real look of pain on his face before he passed out.
1. Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels: Wrestlemania XXII
Whenever a wrestling fan, historian or promoter thinks about an Iron Man match, this is the match that immediately comes to mind.
As Shawn Michaels has stated, this was a match concept many thought would end in failure. Wrestling for 60 minutes non-stop is hard to do physically, and it's hard to keep the audience interested in the same competitors for such a long stretch of time. It's one of the most difficult matches to do well in the wrestling business; but Hart and Michaels showed everyone that it can be done.
The match was thoroughly hyped before the pay-per-view, including the famous "Rocky"-like footage put together featuring both Hart and Michaels conditioning themselves for the task at hand.
The two would have their most captivating match together at Wrestlemania XII, with Michaels showing off his high-flying ability and Hart sticking to his usual technical and submission filled attack.
With just minutes remaining in the match, Hart would lock in the Sharpshooter on Michaels and time would expire before Michaels tapped out. It had looked as if the "Excellence of Execution" had retained his WWF Championship, until the match was ordered to continue until a pinfall or submission had occurred.
Just seconds into the restart, Bret would fall victim to Michaels "Sweet Chin Music" super-kick, and subsequently lose to title to his longtime rival.
Though this match would prove to end one of Hart's many title runs, the ability for him as well as Michaels to make this match into the historic battle it has been remembered as goes to credit the ability of both superstars.
Bret Hart will always be remembered for his countless amazing matches, but this match with Shawn Michaels on wrestling's biggest stage proves to be his greatest.