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Diary of a "Hitman": The Story of Bret Hart

By Ervin Griffin, Jr.

Part 1 :Beginings

For over 20 years, fans everywhere have watched a young man from Calgary, Alberta Canada come from the preliminary ranks to become one of the legendary superstars of this sport. This man is Bret Hart.

Thanks to Matt Benaka, another historian here at Solie's, I was able to get some interesting facts about "The HitMan." One fact was that he actually had his first pro match in the summer of 1973 in Amarillo, TX!! This happened at a spot show because the promoter was short of a wrestler. So, Bret actually made his ring debut at age 16!!! Another interesting fact was that his wrestling idol growing up was Dory Funk, Jr.!!!

An interesting fact that I read on his column page from the Calgary Sun was that he almost didn't become a wrestler. While he was a successful amatuer at East Manning High School, he actually attended Mount Royal College for a year majoring in Broadcasting (Yeah, that's my major!!!) with dreams of becoming a movie director. But, as we can assume, the pull of the ring was too great and he officially began pro wrestling in 1976 at about 19 years of age (just a guess since he recently turned 40) for the Stampede organization in Canada. His first opponent was Dennis Stamp. I do not know if Bret won or lost but it was the start of his career. Stamp, by the way, was the guest referee for the recent Hart/Terry Funk match that saw Bret get the duke after suplex attempt by Funk caused a double-pin but saw Bret get his shoulder up at the last second.

In 1980, Hart won his first singles title when he defeated The Junkyard Dog for the North American belt (I'm not certain if it is the same title that was later changed into the UWF Title). In 1981, he won the IWGP Championship Tournament final against Ted Dibiase (not to be confused with the IWGP title). He also received shots at both the NWA and AWA World Titles during that time.

Now, we jump to 1984 when Hart first appeared in the WWF. He was a bit of a hearthrob in those days. While he didn't shake his a** like Shawn Michaels, his scientific skills and good looks made him a favorite with the ladies. While he was successful, he didn't get the chance at the spotlight. That is, until he met Jimmy "Mouth Of The South" Hart. Jimmy Hart was managing Jim "The Anvil" Neihart at that time and convinced Bret that they should form a team and take on the tag ranks of the WWF. Bret, seeing that his singles career was going no where, agreed to hook up with the heel manager and his future brother in law. They would become known as The Hart Foundation and from late 1984 until 1991, they would become a feared and respected tandom.

Part 2: The Bulldog Wars

In 1984, The Hart Foundation team of Jim "The Anvil" Neihart and Bret "The HitMan" Hart was one of the hottest teams in WWF if not wrestling. There was only one team in the WWF that was just as hot as the Harts. That team was the combo of Davey Boy Smith and The Dynamite Kid: The British Bulldogs. Born and bred in England, these two spectacular athletes took the WWF tag team ranks by storm!!! Interesting to note, though, is that these two feuded in the Calgary Stampede Wrestling area during the early part of the 80's!!! After their feud, these two decided to form a tag team and go to the WWF. I remember the first time I saw the Bulldogs in action. It was on USA Networks' WWF Prime Time Wrestling. Prime Time used to play matches from house shows around the world. They showed a squash match The Bulldogs had at Madison Square Garden. I'm sitting there thinking, "My god, look at these moves!!! This is the team that should be the champs!!" Dynamite's snap-suplex and

Davey Boy's powerslam (along with their double-team maneuvers) made them an instant favorite with me!!! Then, I saw a Madison Square Garden bout between the Harts and the Bulldogs. I'm thinking, "The Bulldog will kill them." The match ended in a time limit draw but (even as a young man) I was impressed by the way the Harts held their own against these miracle men from England!!!

The feud died down for a time while the Bulldogs went on to feud with then WWF Tag Team Champions Brutus Beefcake and Greg "The Hammer" Valentine. Meanwhile, the Harts were still struggling to get a break!!! One of their first appearances on the big stage was at WrestleMania II in the 20 Man Battle Royale. The Harts used teamwork to survive most of the match until they were eliminated by the eventual winner, the late Andre The Giant.

The Bulldogs, meanwhile, finally caught up with Valentine and Beefcake as they defeated them for the tag straps. A bad day for Valentine and Beefcake but somewhere in the Rosemount Horizon, the Harts were smiling!!! Their chance had arrived!!!

Part 3: WWF Tag Team Championships

After gaining some attention at WrestleMania 2 in the 20 Man Over The Top Rope Battle Royal, the Harts were still in the doghouse (the British Bulldogs' doghouse that is). They started securing title matches in the fall and nearly won them on many occasions. Then, fate intervened for the Harts as the team of Don "The Rock" Muroco and "Cowboy" Bob Orton seriously injured the back of the Dynamite Kid during a title defense in December of 1986.

Then, in January of 1987, The Harts had a scheduled match against The Bulldogs. Davey Boy (understandably) did not want to take the match with his partner not at 100% but Dynamite insisted on the match. Add to the fact that Danny Davis was the referee and you have a stacked deck against the Bulldogs. In case you're wondering, Danny Davis was under much controversy at that point because of some questionable calls he had made (not unlike the more recent Nick Patrick/NWO/WCW affair). It became obvious, as the match progressed, that Davey Boy was going to have to fight this one alone. Davey Boy actually did have the "Anvil" pinned but Davis (conviently) had his head turned during this. The Harts, as they had done all through the match, continued to double-team Smith and finally put Smith in "The Hart Attack." A move similar to the Road Warriors' "Doomsday Device" execpt that Neihart holds a man in a bearhug position and Bret runs of the ropes with a clothesline.

Anyway, The Harts got the pin and were the new WWF Tag Team Champions despite the protests of wrestlers and fans everywhere. I personally thought that these guys would lose to the first good team that came along but they actually proved themselves worthy of the title during their seven month reign. Then, as if to balance the scales of justice, "The Anvil" suffered a back injury during the fall of 1987. In October 1987, Strike Force (Tito Santana/Rick Martel) defeated the Harts by submission as Martel applied his Boston Crab to Neiharts bad back. "The Anvil" had no choice but to give up the match and his title or risk his career. But, as we all know, this was not the end of the Harts and certainly not Bret Hart.

Part 4: The Royal Rumble

After losing the WWF Tag Team Titles to Strike Force (Rick Martel/Tito Santana), the Harts needed something to reestablish themselves as top contenders. They got it at the first annual Survivor Series during the ten team elimination bout. No, you didn't read it wrong!!! This match had five tag teams on each side. The Harts recruited The Bolsheviks (Nikoli Volkoff/Boris Zukov), future rivals Demolition (AX/Smash), The Islanders (Tama/Haku aka Meng) and The Dream Team (Greg Valentine/Dino Bravo). Strike Force went and got The Rougeo Bros. (Jacuqes/Raymond), The British Bulldogs (Dayey Boy Smith/Dynamite Kid), The Young Stallions (Paul Roma/Jim Powers) and The Killer Bees (B. Brian Blair/Jim Brunzell) for this big (and I mean big) tag bout (imagine getting caught in the wrong corner in this bout?!!! Instant mugging.).

The Harts got the pin on Tito Santana, reaffirming their status as top contenders. Although they're team did go on to lose the match, the Harts did what the really wanted to do.

In January of 1988, The WWF introduced an new type of battle royal. The Royal Rumble. I'm not sure but I think this free TV event was broadcasted from Canada. Anyway, it was a 20 man event and order of entry was decided by random draw. Numbers 1 and 2 starts the bout and every two minutes, another wrestler comes in. Bret Hart drew number 1 while Tito Santana drew number 2. Santana's worst nightmare came true as "The Natural" Butch Reed was number 3 and Jim "The Anvil" Neihart was number 4!!! Santana was butchered unmercifully until Jake "The Snake" Roberts showed up to even the odds. From there, Bret Hart stayed in that match over 20 minutes before finally being tossed over the top rope. During his stay in the initial Rumble (won by "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan), Hart showed tenacity and remarkable skills that no one realized he had. This started the rumblings of Hart being a great singles wrestler. An ambition that was soon to be realized.

Part 5: Bad News Brown

Dear Fans,

In pt. 1 of the Bret Hart series. I said that I wasn't sure which North American title that he won in 1980 from the Junkyard Dog. Thanks to a reader (whom I can't remember his name, for that I apologize for), I can now say that Bret's N.A. title was the Stampede version and not the title that later became the UWF title. Also, in pt. 4, I mentioned not really knowing whether the original Royal Rumble took place in Canada or not. After doing some digging, I can say that, in fact, it took place in Canada in Hamilton, Ontario. Can someone please tell me whether it was at the Medicine Hat arena or not. Again, thanks goes out again to the fan who e-mailed me the information about Bret's N.A. title. If you'll e-mail me again, I'll make sure you get named. Thank you.

After the Royal Rumble, The Hart Foundation made several attempts to regain the WWF Tag Team Title from Strike Force without any success. To remain in the spotlight, Bret Hart and Jim "The Anvil" Neihart entered the 20 man over the top rope battle royal at WrestleMania IV. Bret Hart ended up being one of the last three competitors along with the Junkyard Dog and Bad News Brown.

Hart and Brown combined to eliminate the Dog but as Bret was celebrating the elimination, Bad News nailed him with the "ghetto blaster" (his version of the ensiguri)!!! Hart, disoriented, was easy pickings for Brown as he eliminated the "HitMan." But, as if to balance the scales, Brown also made the mistake of turning his back on his opponent as Bret returned to the ring, dropkicked Bad News from behind and smashed hi winners' trophy!!! This began one of Bret's first forays into singles competition as he feuded with Bad News (It is also significant to note that Demolition (Ax/Smash) won the WWF Tag Team Titles on this same card).

Even more surprising than that, Bret was being cheered for the first time in years and he even fired his manager Jimmy Hart!!! There was rumblings about a possible feud with Jim Neihart but nothing ever came of it as they still remained a team (but it was a sign of things to come). After his feud with Bad News, The Harts refocused their attention on the WWF Tag Team Belts. By the time their chance came at SummerSlam, JImmy Hart had sided with Demolition to gain some measure of revenge against his former charges. For the most part, Jimmy got his wish as he help Demolition retain the WWF Tag straps. This began an "all-Canadian" feud of sorts because the Harts began feuding with Jimmy Hart's new charges, The Fabulous Rougeuoes Bros. This feud ended indecisive.

Then came Survivor Series in 1988 when The Hart Foundation was part of an "all-tag team" elimination match. This time, they teamed with The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith/Dynamite Kid), Young Stallions (Paul Roma/Jim Powers), The Powers Of Pain (Warlord/Barbarian) and The Rockers (this last team I mentioned featured Marty Jannetty and Bret's future rival Shawn Michaels). Their opponents were Demolition, The Bolsheviks (Nikoli Volkoff/Boris Zuckoff), The Conquistidors, The BrainBusters (Arn Anderson/Tully Blanchard), and The Rouegeous.

The Harts, in my opinion, had one of their finest matches in this bout. They were eliminated by a controversial decision when the ref ruled that Blanchard had gotten his shoulder up on a double pin situation (actually, neither man had gotten the shoulder up and both men should have been gone). Nevertheless, it was a good outing for the Harts.

Part 6: 1989-A Weird Year

1989. It was a bit of a limbo year for The Hart Foundation. At the second Royal Rumble in Houston, TX, they teamed with "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan to defeat The Rougeaous Bros. and the late Dino Bravo in a two out of three falls six man tag match. Later, in April of that year, they defeated the makeshift team of the Honky Tonk Man and Greg Valentine at WrestleMania V.

After this bout, Bret and Jim decided to go their own way for awhile. Jim had a feud with both members of The Powers Of Pain (Warlord/Barbarian) while Bret wrestled several time limit draws with Curt "Mr. Perfect" Hennig. The Harts reunited in the summer to battle The Powers Of Pain. Most of those bouts saw the Harts gain wins and earn a non-title shot at then-WWF Tag Team Champions The BrainBusters (Tully Blanchard/Arn Anderson) at SummerSlam '89. This bout, which was the opening bout on the PPV, was probably the best match of the night as both teams showed brilliant wrestling expertise. The match ended in a screwjob when Bret Hart, after having Tully pinned for about 5 seconds was hit with a double-axhandle from Arn. Tully rolled Bret over for the pin.

Seeing that they wern't going to get a title shot anytime soon, the Harts went their own way again. This time, at Survivor Series, Bret join Jim Duggan's 4 x 4 team along with Hercules and Ron Garvin. Their opponents were "The King's Court" team of Randy Savage, Dino Bravo, Greg Valentine and Earthquake. Bret had one of his better showings here as he dominated Savage only to be eliminated after he rammed his shoulder into the ring post. That set up "The Macho Man's" flying elbow for his elimination as Savage's team went on to victory. "The Anvil" joined up with "The Ultimate Warriors" team with UW and The Rockers (Shawn Michaels/Marty Janetty). Their opponents were "The Hennan Family" team of Bobby Henan, Arn Anderson, Andre The Giant and Haku (Meng). Neihart was one of the first men eliminated from the match but his team did go on to win (after all, when you have "The Brain" wrestling and no Andre for later on you are surly going to lose).

Meanwhile, the rumblings about the Harts going for tag gold began again in January of 1990. These rumors, however, turned out to be true, as we will see next time.

Part 7: Demolition

In January 1990, The Harts were in an unusual and rare feud (in those days) with the Rockers (Marty Jannetty/Shawn Michaels). I call it rare because, back then, you seldom saw two fan favorites collide. In any event, they made for some competative match ups. Looking back on them, I often wonder if some friction wasn't developed between Shawn and Bret from those days because the exchange between those two when they were in the ring together was especially intense.

Also in January, the Harts were part of one of the four best Royal Rumble matches of all time (IMO, this and the Rumbles from 1988, '89, and '92 were the best). Both Bret and Jim made a good accounting of themselves in this match against the other 28 competitors (this Rumble was won by Hulk Hogan).

In the next seven months, the Harts would engage in more matches with the Rougeaous, the Rockers and other teams. They also achieved a quick pinfall victory over The Bolsheviks at WrestleMania VI. On this same card, Demolition regained the WWF Tag Team Titles from the Colossial Connection (Andre The Giant/Haku) and The Ultimate Warrior defended his WWF Intercontiental Title against Hulk Hogan (in doing so, UW also gained the WWF World Heavyweight Title from Hogan which was also on the line). The Harts immediately challenged The Demos to a series of matches. The Demos, meanwhile, added Crush to their ranks and gained permission to choose any two members to defend the title. This obviously did not set well with the Harts (or any of the other WWF Tag Teams for that matter).

At SummerSlam '90, The Harts got another title match against The Demos under two out of three fall rules. Another added stipulation to this match was that only two of Demolition would be allowed at ringside. The two chosen were Smash and Crush. The Demos actually dominated most of this match, including the fall in which the Harts won. In the final fall, Ax came down and hid under the ring (feeling that the WWF Tag gold was slipping away). After some illegal exchanges for about 5 minutes, The Road Warriors showed up to expose the plot!!! During the chaos, Crush was left alone in the ring. "The Anvil" and Bret took advantage by using a slingshot shoulder-tackle/school-yard trip combination to pin Crush for the win and, because of new rule changes, the titles. Now, in previous years, a challenger would have to win two falls by pin or submission to gain a title. If their was a DQ or countout in any of the falls against the champ (or champs), then the title wouldn't change hands. Since 1989, however, a challenger need only get a pinfall or submission in one fall to gain the titles. From there, the champion can't afford to lose a fall under any decision because the title would change hands. This precident was set due to a WWF Tag Team Title Match in 1989 between Demolition and The Brain Busters (Tully Blanchard/Arn Anderson).

Part 8: New Horizons

After their WWF Tag Team Title victory at SummerSlam '90, the Harts would go on to an eight month reign as champions. A controversy arose, however, during that reign as The Rockers defeated the Harts for the belts in October in a two out of three fall match at Madison Square Garden in New York. The controversy came five days later when then WWF President Jack Tunney ordered the decision to be overturned and the titles be returned to the Harts because during the third fall, the top rope strand broke and cause uneven ground for both teams. In that time, The Rockers had already defended the title about six or seven times. What would've happened if they would've lost the belt?!! Ah, well. The bottom line was that the title change was treated like it never happened. No mention of it was ever made on TV either. The Harts, in essence, are actually three time WWF Tag Team Champs if you really think about it!

Anyway, the Harts lost the titles for the final time at WrestleMania VII in Los Angeles in a screwjob to the Nasty Boys (Brian Knobbs/Jerry Sags), who were managed by Jimmy Hart. After that bout, The Harts had a "dark match" with The Legion Of Doom to decide the number one contenders to the Harts (Yes, this match did happen and their is a WWF SuperTape Volume from 1991 that can prove it!!). The Harts actually dominated most of the match until Bret tried a flying bodypress on Animal. Animal caught him and turned it into a powerslam for the pin and the number one contenders spot!!! All four men, however, left the ring together in a show of sportsmanship (a rare thing these days).

After that match, the Harts came back for one more shot at the title during the summer of 1991. The defeated the Nasties by DQ in Madison Square Garden but did not get the belts. After that match, Bret decided to concentrate on then-WWF Intercontiental Champion Curt "Mr. Perfect" Hennig. A new horizon had begun for Bret Hart.

Part 9: The Intercontinental Days

After The Hart Foundation ran its course, Bret resumed his singles career again in the summer of 1991 as he campained for a shot at Curt "Mr. Perfect" Hennig for the WWF Intercontiental Title at SummerSlam '91 at Madison Square Garden. He was granted that shot as August 26, 1991 would turn out to be a historic date for the "HitMan." In the weeks prior to the match, Bret showed a variety of moves and manuvears but was searching for a finisher. One week, he used a running clothesline to finish his opponent. Another week, he used a very effective piledriver. Finally, he settled on the leglock/boston crab as his finisher and dubbed it the "sharpshooter" (known to WCW fans as the "scorpion deathlock").

Then came the match. The match was a see saw match up all the way through. Reports earlier in the night stated that Hennig was coming into this match with an injured lower back so it is amazing that he was able to compete at all and at the level he did!!! Still, this is not meant to take anything away from Bret's victory but to show that Hennig (despite having a scum's character) showed some guts that night. The back injuries, however, were apparent as he submitted almost immediately to the "sharpshooter." Another interesting note was that Bret hooked the hold on his back from the canvas before flipping over to complete the hold!!!

Over the next six months, Bret defended his first singles title in years with pride. At first, however, the contenders were nothing to speak highly about. I mean, guys like The Berserker and The Warlord, while powerful, can be had by a guy with Bret's skill level. So, Bret asked for better opponents. What he got was The Mountie (Jacques Rougeaoe), Ted "Million Dollar Man" Dibiase, and Ric Flair!!! He wrestled brilliantly against these men. Once, he even gained the fastest pinfall in wrestling against The Mountie by pinning him in three seconds!!! No, that is not a misprint and I checked this one out through magazines and other sources. THREE SECONDS!!!

Finally, the "HitMan" lost the I-C belt on a reported screwjob to The Mountie. Bret, reportedly, wrestled with a 104 degree temperature (yikes)!!! But I guess that shows the heart of Bret Hart. Still, it was a foolish mistake as he lost the title that he worked so hard for!!! Two days later, at the 1992 Royal Rumble, The Mountie dropped the strap to "Rowdy" Roddy Piper under 5 minutes!! Piper didn't beat The Mountie, he whipped The Mountie's a**!!! Piper's reign led to a closely fought match against Bret at WrestleMania VIII four months later. Bret regained the title that he had lost four months earlier. Out of respect for Bret Hart, Piper even put the I-C strap on Bret and walked out with him. Over the next 5 months, Bret's main opponent was future arch-rival Shawn Michaels. Bret easily handled Michaels but you could see a personal rivarly developing between the two as Michaels became somewhat obssessed with beating Hart.

In July of 1992, the card for SummerSlam '92 was announced as Davey Boy Smith was named as the opponent for Bret Hart. For the first time, it was revealed that Davey Boy Smith and Bret Hart were brother-in-laws!!! This added even more interest into the match and led to rumors that Bret would turn heel. The fact that this card was taking place in London, England at Wembley Stadium meant that "The British Bulldog" would be the crowd favorite!!!

As for the match itself, it was a great contest (it won the PRO WRESTLING ILLUSTRATED Match Of The Year honors that year). "The HitMan" actually dominated most of the match but could not put the Bulldog away!!! The end came when Smith reversed an attempted sunset flip into a pinning combination by hooking Bret's legs. After the match, Bret, bitter at first, embraced his family member and raised his arm in victory!!! But, in a way, this was a blessing in disguise as another new horizon loomed.

Part 10: First Reign

After losing the WWF Intercontiental Championship to Davey Boy Smith at SummerSlam '92, Bret Hart was not really in the spotlight that often although he was still one of the most popular atheletes in the world. Around the time that Bret lost the I-C strap, "Nature Boy" Ric Flair regained the WWF World Heavyweight Title from Randy "Macho Man" Savage. I believe the date was September 2, 1992 (only a few days after Bret lost his belt). Anyway, Flair's run as champ came to an end on October 12, 1992 in Saskatoon, Canada when Bret (from out of nowhere) defeated Flair by submission to win the WWF Title. I have seen this match via the WWF's "Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em" video and I must say that Bret kicked Flair's a** in that match up. I know that I am going to hear it from Flair fans for that opinion but get the tape and watch the match and you'll see what I mean. Anyway, Flair is one of the few wrestlers that Bret has a low opinion of (at least in character anyway). Bret was once quoted in PRO WRESTLING ILLUSTRATED saying that he couldn't understand people's facination with Ric and that in terms of wrestling skills he is overrated. He even went so far to say that Flair, on a scale of 1-10, was really a 3!!! While I don't agree with that analogy, I must give Bret a little credit for having the guts to say that considering the fire he would be under for saying it and given Flair's standing in the wrestling community.

Anyway, Bret's first title run was probably his best run as champ (IMO) because of the quality of his opponents. He defeated just about everyone by submission with his "sharpshooter from the Berserker, Virgil, Papa Shango, Ric Flair and (I think) Rick Martel. At the 1992 Survivor Series, he defeated then WWF Intercontiental Champion Shawn Michaels in a classic match up. In January of the next year, he defeated Razor Ramon (Scott Hall) at the 1993 Royal Rumble in a good match. It was a revenge match of sorts because a month before, Ramon attacked Owen Hart and left him laying in the dressing room. Bret was fighting for family pride as well as defending his title. At that same card, he found out that Yokozuna would be his opponent for WrestleMania IX at Ceasar's Palace in Las Vegas, NV. The "HitMan" was viewed as a big underdog despite the fact that he was the champion because of the size and ability of his oppenent. Yokozuna weighed in at 505lbs. at that time and had great ability for his size so there was good reason to believe that Bret was going to become an ex-champion that day.

In reality, Yokozuna would've lost that day if not for Mr. Fuji (Yoko's manager) throwing salt into the eyes of Bret as he (incredibly) put the "sharpshooter" on Yokozuna. Hulk Hogan came down to "protest" the decision. I use that term loosely because I really think he came down to challenge Yokozuna for his own reasons. I also believe that he was genuinly surprised when Fuji challenged him right there to a match (I know this stuff is a work but I'm writing it according to the story line and characters these men portrayed). Bret even gave Hogan his OK to go get Yokozuna. The "match" was all of 30 seconds as Hogan defeated Yoko for his fifth title reign (a mark that Bret recently achieved himself). Still, the real loser of this situation was the "HitMan" because he would not recieve another opportunity at a big event for the title for over a year. But that doesn't mean that he was bored during that time. Some "royality" was about to enter his life.

Part 11: The Lawler Wars

After Bret lost the WWF Title on a screwjob, he entered the 1993 King Of The Ring Tournament. On this same card, Yokozuna regained the WWF Title from Hulk Hogan. Many agrued that Bret, not Yokozuna, should have gotten this opportunity since he lost the title under tainted circumstances to begin with. Now, this is just speculation on my part and by no means is this true but I have my own take on this little controversy. I have always believed that Hogan wanted to take on Yokozuna because he felt he would have a better chance against him than against Hart. Also, there was a rumored clause in Hogan's contract that would've forced him to job to Hart if they met. Hogan then used his influence to have the opponent switched but Vince McMahon insisted that he job the title anyway. Hogan, his ego bruised, left the WWF after the loss and hasn't been seen there since. As stated, it is purely fiction and speculation on my part and may be total bullsh*t but that was always my take on it.

Anyway, back to reality. Bret defeated Razor Ramon (Scott Hall) in the first round, then wrestled (and won) a grueling match with Curt "Mr. Perfect" Hennig in the second round. In the finals, Bret was nearly screwed out of the KOTR title when Luna Vachon interfered on behalf of Bamm Bamm Bigelow. The officials then ordered the match to continue and Bret went on to make a miraculous comeback for the win. During Bret's corination, Jerry "The King" Lawler came out and declared Bret an imposter. Bret responded by starting the chant "Burger King." Lawler replied with a cheap shot on Bret, knocking him down the steps and off of the podium. This led to a match at SummerSlam '93 where Lawler tried to get out of it by claiming that he hurt his leg in a car accident and offered Doink The Clown (Matt Borne) in his place. The "HitMan" had the match with Doink won when the charade was exposed when Lawler hit the ring to attack Bret. Then WWF President Jack Tunney then ordered that Lawler must wrestle Bret that night or be banned from the WWF!!! This would prove to be a painful experience for Lawler as Bret tortured him with the "sharpshooter" and refused to release the hold even after the match was over!!! WWF officials then reversed the decision on Bret and gave the match to Lawler. Then, as Lawler was being taken out on a strecher, the entire Hart Family (particulary Bret, Owen and Bruce) rioted in an attempt to get Lawler but officials managed to keep them away!!! Let me say that while I understand the WWF officials' decision, I still think (to this day) that was a bad call. Lawler won on a real screwjob there.

Bret's troubles with Lawler continued over the years but that would be nothing compared to what was going to face him next.

Part 12: Brothers Divided

After SummerSlam '93, Bret Hart still had unfinished business with Jerry "The King" Lawler. Bret called on his brothers (Owen, Keith, and Bruce) to take on Lawler at Survivor Series '93 in an eight man tag team elimination match. Lawler got a bunch of nobodies to be his partners, calling them his "knights." At the card, however, Shawn Michaels unexpectedly took the place of Lawler. Even with Michaels' considerable talent, there was no hope for this team as the Hart Bros. dominated most of the bout. Then came the "bump heard around the world" as Owen accidentally collided with Bret and caused Owen to be eliminated! In fact, he was the only member of his team to be eliminated. Frustrated, Owen nearly started a fight with Bret right there and then but was broken up by Bruce and Keith.

In the following weeks, Owen began making challenges to Bret for a one on one match up. Bret resisted the match saying that "he would never fight his own brother." In an attempt to smooth things over, Bret convinced Owen to team with him at the 1994 Royal Rumble against The Quebecers for the WWF Tag Team Titles. To be honest, I thought this was a big mistake because it was too soon after the blow up. For most of the match though, Owen and Bret dominated the more experienced Quebecers and had the match won. Bret, however, got hurt in his left knee and refused to tag out to Owen. We will never know if it was because of selfishness or he just thought he had things more in hand than what he really did. In any event, the ref stopped the bout and awarded the decision to the champs. Owen, feeling slighted, kicked Bret in his left knee and left him there to suffer!! While I can understand Owen's point of view (Bret should've tagged out), he still shouldn't have left his brother to suffer like that.

Meanwhile, Bret went on to tie with Lex Luger for a WWF Title shot by winning the Royal Rumble itself. As a result of a coin flip, Lex Luger was awarded the first crack at WrestleMania X at Madison Square Garden while Bret would get the second crack later in the card. Bret, however, was forced to fight the man he vowed never to fight: Owen Hart.

What was a nightmare for Bret was actually a blessing for the fans as they watch one of the two best matches of the card in my opinion (the other was Shawn Michaels VS. Razor Ramon in a WWF Intercontiental Title Ladder Match). Bret was on his usual game but Owen had never looked better than he did that day. Executing manuvears that I didn't think he had in his arsenal, including a lethal "tombstone" piledriver (I hope SCSA doesn't look at film of this match. Ouch!!). Owen fit into the heel role very well but the shocker was that he scored a clean pinfall over Bret. He's one of the few individuals to score a non-controversial pin on "The HitMan." That, in itself, was an accomplishment. Despite the loss, Bret would go on to face Yokozuna after Lex Luger was screwed out of his title match by "Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig and regain the title that he lost to Yoko over a year ago.

Owen, meanwhile, was named top contender to Bret's title based on his win. The two brothers wrestled brilliant matches and even did 60 Minute IronMan matches for the title. In every case, Bret was either the winner or walked out with the title.

Then, in June 1994, Bret had a Champion VS. Champion title defense when he met then-WWF Intercontiental Champion Diesel (Kevin Nash). To counter possible interference from Shawn Michaels, Bret brought Jim "The Anvil" Neihart down to be his second. The match itself was the first of the classic Hart/Nash trilogy and was the tone setter for the other two matches. Often, big man VS. little man doesn't do well but these men managed to pull it off!!! In all honesty, Nash might have been WWF Champion then if not for Neihart interfering and causing Bret's disqualification. This is not to take away from Bret's performance (he did wrestle a brilliant match against Nash) but he was beat in my opinion.

Later, when Owen won the KOTR tourney by defeating Razor Ramon (Scott Hall) with the help of "The Anvil", Owen started nicknaming himself "The King Of Harts." Neihart also revealed that the real reason that he helped Bret retain the WWF Title was because he wanted to save it for Owen to win. Thus, the family feud continued with another strange twist yet to come.

Part 13: Bob Backlund: MadMan

After his bout with Diesel at the 1994 King Of The Ring, Bret Hart had another unexpected problem to deal with. After a televised title match with Bob Backlund, which the "HitMan" won after a close match, Backlund attacked Bret viciously and used his dreaded cross-face chicken wing armlock!!! Bret was in pain for several minutes until some help finally came to the ring. Backlund, who had been a fan favorite for several years, just snapped because of the result of the match and the way he was being treated by fans during his comeback in the WWF (not much unlike Bret recently).

Meanwhile, Bret still had that family dispute going on with Owen and now Jim "The Anvil" Neihart. At SummerSlam '94, many thought that the cage title match would be the end of this rivarly but that was not the case as "The Anvil" attacked Bret after he defeated Owen in a close match up. Owen and Jim threw Bret into the cage and locked the door!!! As other members of the Hart Family tried to get in, The British Bulldog (who was sitting at ringside with his wife, Diana) scaled the cage and came to the rescue of Bret. Owen and Neihart beat a hasty retreat out of the cage but the damage had been done!!! Owen and Bret later had a title match with the stipulation that if Owen lost, it would be his last chance to challenge for the title (I had interpreted it as "his last chance" as long as Bret was champ). Bret, with The Bulldog keeping "The Anvil" at bay, defeated Owen and would finally gain some peace from his brother, right?!! WRONG!!! Although Owen lost the match, he still wouldn't leave Bret alone. He began to accompany Bob Backlund to the ring and agreed to be the towel bearer for Backlund's title challenge to Bret at The Survivor Series 1994 in a submission match. This match would be decided when one of the seconds for the wrestlers (Bulldog for Bret/Owen for Backlund) throws in the towel.

I must say that this was a great scientific match that ended in screwjob for Bret. Bret had Backlund in the "sharpshooter" but Owen began to move on the ring apron. As the ref was trying to keep the Bulldog back, Owen broke up the "sharpshooter." As the Bulldog chased Owen, he cleverly ducked down and caused the Bulldog to trip and fall head-first into the steel steps!!! While Owen avoided a beating, he realized that, without a towel bearer for Bret, Backlund couldn't win the title (by this time Backlund had slapped on the cross-face chicken wing armlock on Bret). I'm not sure but I think Bret was in that hold for about 10-15 minutes!! Maybe I'm wrong, but I know he was in it for a hell of a long time (I would've been screaming "I Quit" in about 30 seconds)!!! Owen, in one of the most sickening angles that I have ever seen, manipulated his mother (Helen) into throwing in the towel for Bret. Thus, ending the match and the second title reign of Bret Hart.

Backlund, however, would not have the title long as Diesel (who had just become a face) whipped Backlund's a** in 8 seconds to win the title in Madison Square Garden just three days after Backlund won the title!!! Just to put this into perspective, the bell sounded, a boot from Diesel doubles Backlund over, a jacknife powerbomb is executed, Diesel makes the cover and is the new champ (all in eight seconds)!!!

Getting back to Bret, he suffered some serious shoulder injuries as a result of being in the cross-face chicken wing for so long and not submitting!!! When he returned to action, however, we got a glimpse of the "HitMan" that we have seen for most of this year for the first time in 1995.

Part 14: Dark HitMan

After being screwed out of the WWF Title by his brother Owen at the 1994 Survivor Series, Bret spent the month of December recouperating from shoulder injuries he sustained against Bob Backlund in the title loss. Meanwhile, as I briefly touched on last time, Diesel (Kevin Nash) defeated Bob Backlund in 8 seconds at Madison Square Garden for the WWF Title only three days after Backlund won it. Over the next month, Diesel defended the title as frequently as possible (mostly against Backlund).

In January 1995, the WWF announced a WWF World Title Match between Diesel and Bret Hart (a rematch of sorts from The King Of The Ring 1994). Bret, however, wanted to get in some active competition before the big rematch so he scheduled an appearance on WWF Monday Night RAW (as it was known at that time) to face Jeff Jarrett. Before that match, though, he interfered in a WWF Intercontiental Title Match between Owen Hart and then I-C Champion Razor Ramon (Scott Hall). Bret's intentional interference costed Owen the win as he had Ramon trapped in the "sharpshooter" for a possible submission. This was payback for Owen causing Bret to lose the WWF World strap 2 months earlier. Then, during his match with Jeff Jarrett, the "HitMan" was unusually aggresive with his moves and manuvears!!! He even racked Jarrett's face across the top rope and used dirty tactics that no one has seen out of Bret since his Hart Foundation days in the 80's!!! Needless to say, Bret got the win via "the sharpshooter."

Then came the match itself at the 1995 Royal Rumble. The match was a classic which saw both men using dirty tactics as well as legal manuvears to their fullest advantage. To be fair, both men were screwed out of seeing a decisive victor!!! About 20 minutes into the match, Diesel powerbombed Bret and had a sure pin when Shawn Michaels came down and attacked Diesel's left leg (which had been worked over for most of the match by Bret Hart)!!! The ref could've DQ'ed the "HitMan" but chose to have the match continue. Probably because the ref reasoned that Bret wouldn't have had Shawn come down to interfer based on their past. Anyway, Bret took full advantage of Shawn's unwanted interference and slapped the "sharpshooter" on Diesel for a sure submission (I mean, Bret was working on his legs to begin with, Shawn messes up Diesel's leg even more and before Bret placed his finishing hold on Diesel, he hits his leg with a steel chair!!! Diesel would've had to have gave up then!!). But, lo and behold, here comes Owen Hart!! Owen breaks up the hold and then rams Bret, chest-first, into the top turnbuckle without the turnbuckle pad!!! At this point, the ref could've DQ'ed Diesel for interference but chose to let the match go on!! Both men were dog-meat after all of this but they still battled for the title!!! Eventually, Shawn and Owen were joined by Bob Backlund, Jeff Jarrett, and JJ Armstrong in a gang up on both men!!! Bret and Diesel managed to fight them off but not before taking a butt whippin'!!! Both men gave each other respect and hugged after the match. Later, during the Rumble match itself, Bret costed both Owen and Backlund a shot at the WWF title at WrestleMania XI by attacking them as they were coming to the ring!!! This was uncharacteristic behavior, at this time, for Bret although you certainly couldn't blame him. Afterwards, his feud with Owen would die down and Bret would defeat Backlund in an "I Quit" match at WM XI by using Backlund's own hold (cross face chicken wing armlock)!!!

But, there would be no rest for the "HitMan" as a familiar rival appeared again with a new ally.

Part 15: Hakushi

After putting away his crazed rival Bob Backlund at WrestleMania XI, Bret Hart was greeted by a familiar foe: Jerry "The King" Lawler. He had claimed that "The HitMan" had made racist remarks about Japanese people and had sided with a newcomer to the WWF named Hakushi with manager Sinja (Akio Sato). While Bret was recieveing a award from the Japanese people, Hakushi attacked Bret on the interview platform. Hakushi then executed a moonsault off of the platform onto "The HitMan." To put this in perspective, Hakushi jumped off of a platform that was (at least) 6ft. off the ground onto Bret!!! This match was the first to be signed for the WWF's first In Your House PPV in May of 1995. Another stipulation added to the match was that Bret would wrestle Lawler regardless of the outcome of his match with Hakushi. "The HitMan" wrestled a great bout that saw the match up trade advantage time on several occasions. In the end, Bret rolled up Hakushi for the pin and the win. Bret, however, had hurt his knee during the contest or so we thought. In actuality, it was a ploy to throw Jerry Lawler off as Lawler thought that he would have an advantage going in. Bret dominated Lawler but was cheated out of a victory by Hakushi with a diving headbutt!!! This allowed Lawler to score a pin on Bret!! Bret would get his revenge later, though, in a match where the loser would have to kiss the other man's feet!!! This match took place at The King Of The Ring 1995 in June. Lawler actually dominated this encounter but you knew there was no way that Bret was going to kiss his feet!! With the help of a misfire by Hakushi, Bret hooked the "sharpshooter" on Lawler and forced him to not only kiss his feet but made Lawler kiss his own foot!!!

Bret, however, still had unfinished business with Hakushi. They wrestled one more time on an edition of Monday Night RAW and this bout was just as good as (or better than) their original encounter. This tough matchup ended with Bret securing the victory via of guess what hold? Sinja also got some punishment as he was given a vicious piledriver by "The HitMan." Sinja hasn't been seen in the WWF since.

Lawler, however, was still proving to be pain in the a** for Bret. As you will see soon.

Part 16: Pirates And Dentists

After humiliating Jerry Lawler and defeating Hakushi, Bret Hart had to deal with his "royal" rival again. This time, he went and got Dr. Issac Yankum, DDS (Glen Jacobs). A 6'10" monster of a man. At the same time, Jean Pierre LaFet (formerly Pierre of The Quebecers) was making noise about challenging the "HitMan." He even went so far as to steal Bret's ring jacket!!! At SummerSlam '95, Bret took on Yankum in a one on one match that soon turned into a two on one situation with Jerry Lawler at ringside doing commentary at first. Lawler, being the sneak, couldn't resist getting involved as they gave Bret a savage beating. In September, "The HitMan" took on Jean Pierre in a surprisingly close encounter that saw Bret barely pull out a win with the "sharpshooter." I guess I was shocked because Pierre came so close to defeating him it was scary!!! In a rematch on Monday Night RAW, Bret defeated Pierre again but was blindsided by Lawler and Yankum. Yankum gave Bret his version of the DDT on the arena floor and challenged him to a cage match for the following week.

Bret accepted Yankum's challenge and soundly defeated Yankum in this televised cage match. Bret now focused on WWF Survivor Series 1995 as he awaited the winner of the WWF Title match between champion Diesel and Davey Boy Smith. This contest was at an October IYH and saw Diesel shove Bret as Bret was trying to help him up during the match. Later, Smith smacked "The HitMan" in the face and provoked him to come into the ring. This caused a DQ on "Big Daddy Cool." Diesel was so incensed that he attacked Bret and a brawl erupted!!! This prompted then WWF President Gorilla Monsoon to make the title match at SS a no-DQ, no-time limit and no-countout affair in which the only way to win was by pinfall or submission. He made this decision not only based on what happened at IYH but also based on Bret and Diesel's first two encounters at King Of The Ring 1994 and Royal Rumble 1995.

So, the stage was set for the final big encounter between Kevin "Diesel" Nash and Bret Hart (sorry, but I don't really count that cage match in February 1996 because everyone knew who was going to win that one and all of the drama had gone out of the feud by then). An encounter that I will cover next time.

Part 17: Exile

At the 1995 Survivor Series, Bret "The HitMan" Hart took another crack at the WWF World Heavyweight Title held by Kevin "Diesel" Nash. WWF President Gorrilla Monsoon deemed that this match would be no time limit, no DQ, and no countout. The match would only end in pinfall or submission.

With the guidelines set, Diesel and Bret fought this brutal match up. Most of the match was actually dominated by Nash as he pummeled Hart. "The HitMan" only gained the advantage when he worked on the big man's legs. Surprisingly, "the sharpshooter" never really came into play as Diesel blocked Bret's attempts at it. At one point in the match, Nash knocked Bret off of the ring apron and through the commentator's table!! Bret, using a version of the old "play dead" trick, sneaked in a small package for the win and the title!! True, Diesel did lay "The HitMan" to waste afterwards (he powerbombed him twice) but it really didn't matter. Bret Hart had regained the WWF World Title for the third time.

After that bout, Bret had another close encounter with his brother-in-law The British Bulldog at a December In Your House card. Bret won this brutal encounter, avenging his loss over three years earlier at SummerSlam '92 at Wembley Stadium. Bret went into January of the next year to face The Undertaker at the 1996 edition of The Royal Rumble. This match was dominated by Bret mostly but he got caught in the "tombstone" piledriver and would've lost if Diesel would'nt have gotten UT disqualified. While I can't take anything away from Bret's performance, he was a beaten man and I think the fans on both sides of the border (US and Canada) got cheated from seeing a clear winner.

Later, Bret granted UT a rematch on an edition of Monday Night RAW. Again, the fans were denied a clear winner when Diesel once again interfered in the match!! Bret, feeling cheated from proving that he (in his mind) was the better man than UT again, gave Diesel another shot at the title at a February IYH in a steel cage match. UT payed Diesel back for his two previous screwjobs by coming up from the ring and dragging Nash down under!!! Thus, helping Bret take the victory and retain the title!!

On a side note, I feel that UT is still the one opponent that Bret has yet to defeat on his own. Sure, he got that win over him at SummerSlam '97 this past August but only because of Shawn Michaels' blundering. Deep down, Bret would rather beat UT on his own and the old Bret that lives within him would relish one more chance to face UT. I'll talk more about this pt. 19.

Anyway, with Diesel gone, Bret now concentrated on WrestleMania XII and his defense of the WWF World Title in a 60 IronMan match against his long time nemisis Shawn "HeartBreak Kid" Michaels. In the weeks before hand, Bret made several comments regarding Shawn's toughness and the opinion that a mexican trained wrestler wasn't as tough as a canadian style wrestler. While I can't argue that the Canadian style wrestler isn't tough (Bret, Owen, the late Brian Pillman, Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho are proof of that), I couldn't agree with Bret that the Mexican style wrestler wasn't tough either (anyone that has seen latin stars like Tito Santana, Pedro Morales, Manny "Ragin' Bull" Fernandez, Rey Mysterio, Jr., Konnan, Juventud Gurrerra, Eddie Gurrerro knows what I am talking about). In any event, this added some heat for this match up.

As for the match itself, I must say that it is one of the best matches in WrestleMania history. I know that I have been only watching wrestling since 1985 but I would rank this match against any match in the world in that time period (including the Randy Savage/Ricky Steamboat match at WM III and the Ric Flair/Ricky Steamboat match at one of the Clash Of The Champions specials in 1989). I love a good brutal match but their is nothing like a good scientific classic for me. Anyway, before I get nostogic, Bret and Shawn put on a clinic of high-risk and ground moves. Shawn was surprisingly effective on the mat while Bret went to the air more than usual. I would have to say, based on what I saw, Shawn dominated the first 20 minutes or so while Hart asserted himself for about 30 minutes or so. The last 10 minutes saw the advantage switch back and forth with neither man gaining a decision of any kind!!! In the last minute of the match, Shawn went for a high risk move but got caught by the legs and was placed into the "sharpshooter." How Shawn withstood the pain for the last 30 seconds is beyond me!!! Anyway, the "HitMan" rightfully thought the match was over. WWF President Gorilla Monsoon order the match to go on until someone won. Bret, at first, protested the decision but went through with since Michaels was still laying out on the mat from the "sharpshooter" as about only a minute passed by between the ending of regulation and the beginning of the overtime. Bret proceeded to open up a can of "whup-a**" on Shawn. Shawn managed to survive the onslaught to give Bret two "Sweet Chin Music" superkicks to pin Bret for the title!!!

Now, I must say that while I was glad for Shawn (at that time), I did feel terrible for Bret Hart. I think that the WWF did screw Bret because the overtime, while a great idea, should've already been in the contract stipulations anyway. I, personally, think that all IronMan type matches should be conducted with an overtime in case there is no winner or there is a tie. In any event, Bret dissappeared for six months, only appearing in sporadic interviews for the WWF. Rumors ran abound that he was retired. Another strong rumor had that he was offered a $2 million dollar contract to wrestle for WCW (a rumor that was confirmed later by Bret himself). In any event, no one would know his next move until October 1996.

Part 18: The Stone Cold Days

During the summer of 1996, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin began to emerge as a major player in the WWF. Defeating everyone in his path. In September of 1996, rumblings began of a matchup between Austin and Bret "The HitMan" Hart. Austin had a choice opinion about the matchup:

Needless to say, there was no doubt in Austin's mind who would win. Meanwhile, Bret Hart was making up his mind whether to come back or not and, if he did come back, would he come back to the WWF? WCW had made him (as Bret described it) a "tremendous offer." An offer to wrestle for $2 million dollars to be exact. But, in the end, Bret felt he had too much unfinished business in the WWF (I also suspect that he didn't want to play second fiddle to Hulk Hogan in WCW). So, Bret announced his return to the WWF and also announced that he would face Autin at the 1996 Survivor Series. The night of the match, WWF President Gorilla Monsoon added that the winner of the match would get a definite title shot at a December In Your House in West Palm Beach, FL. Both men had pointed comments before the match:

As for the match itself, it was a classic battle that saw "The HitMan" turned Austin's "million dollar dream" sleeper into a pinning combination. I don't think he earned Austin's respect as much as he earned his wrath that night though. Austin became obsessed with Bret from that night on. He was partially responsible for Bret not regaining the WWF Title at the December IYH (along with Shawn Michaels), he attacked Bret on several occasions, and he screwed Bret out of the Royal Rumble victory when Austin illegally threw Bret out when Austin had actually had already been eliminated. WWF President Gorilla Monsoon (in response to Bret's comments about quitting), let Austin keep The Royal Rumble victory but denied him the title shot that the winner was supposed to get. Instead, he forced Austin and Hart, along with the other two men that Austin screwed (Undertaker and Vader), to fight in a "final four" match with the winner getting the title shot at WrestleMania 13. But Shawn Michaels, claiming that he had a knee injury (rumors had him actually going to drug rehab for pain killers while others said that he was getting out jobbing to Bret at WM 13), chose to give up the WWF Title. Gorilla Monsoon then made the "final four" match a championship match up with the winner getting the title. The bad news was that the next night on RAW, the winner would have to face "Sycho" Sid. In any event, Bret Hart won this encounter by eliminating UT over the top rope. Personally, I think that the "over the top rope" rule shouldn't even been added. I liked the no DQ, no countout, no time limit rules but that one shouldn't have even been written into the match!!! That rule just made the match, essentially, "The Royal Rumble" all over again. I'm not taking away from Bret's victory but I would've rather seen him win by pinfall or submission.

Anyway, Bret would go on to RAW to face "Sycho" Sid. Before the match, however, SCSA attacked both Bret and Sid. Austin injured Sid's left leg during the attack and the match had to be moved until later in the card. When time for the match again, Bret was attacked again by the "Cold" one before he even left the hallway!! When the match finally did get underway, Bret dominated Sid. Not surprisingly, he took advantage of Sid's misfortune from earlier in the night and worked on Sid's injured leg. This match also had the first appearance (to my knowledge) of Bret's RPFF (Ring Post Figure Four). As the match progressed SCSA came down to interfere again. This time, Sid dispatched "Stone Cold" temporaraily. When Sid went back in, the advantage shifted to Bret and he put the "sharpshooter" on Sid. Sid, remarkably, was powering out of the "sharpshooter". Whether he would've escaped on his own is up for debate but SCSA made sure there was not going to be no submission when he clocked Bret across the head with a steel chair. With Bret stunned, Sid (not realizing at the time what had happened) put the "powerbomb" on Bret to claim the title once again. Bret was understandably pi**ed afterwards and lobbied for a rematch on RAW with Sid in a steel cage. The match was to take place the week of WM 13.

On the night of the card, Bret announced that if he did win the WWF Title, that he would defend it against SCSA during their submission match up. Leaving the Undertaker without a crack at the title that he was promised. That announcment may have costed Bret the title right there because both SCSA and UT interfered with both men's attempt at victory. The match ended when Bret, as he was about to leave the cage, got his face smashed into the steel door by UT, allowing Sid to leave the cage victorious. Now, while I must admit that Bret was screwed, I can understand why UT did what he did because he would've been screwed out his title shot. I have always felt that the WWF officials should've step in and made a ruling that would've allowed UT to get his title shot regardless of who was champion at WM 13. If that had been done, then UT would've had no reason to interfere in the match up.

Anyway, Bret was hot!!! As Vince McMahon tried to interview him, Bret grabbed the microphone and shoved McMahon down at the same time!!! He then said the phrase of that interview that I will never forget in response to McMahon's suggestion that he was frustrated:

After about a minute tirade, SCSA showed up on the titantron to rub it in even more. This caused a four way fight between Bret, SCSA, UT, and Sid!!! This created the heat necessary for WM 13.

Part 19: USA VS. Canada.

After losing the cage match with then WWF Champion "Sycho" Sid by a screwjob on RAW, Bret Hart was in a p*ssed off mood heading into WrestleMania 13. At the Slammy awards on Friday of that week, Bret tried to enjoy himself. He even shook hands with Sid at the award ceremony. Even there, however, he couldn't escape the venomous tounge of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. As Austin stepped up to accept a award for "Freedom Of Speech," he had this warning to Bret:

"It'll never be over. Never, ever, ever Bret. Not until your a** goes back to Calgary and you're sitting at home watching "Stone Cold" Steve Austin on Monday Nights."- Steve Austin

Then came WrestleMania Sunday. The waiting was over and it was time for the submission grudge match between the two. Ken Shamrock, fresh (?) from the UFC, was asked to be the special referee for this contest. As for the match itself, Bret Hart and SCSA didn't pull out a can, a six pack or even a 40 ounce!!! THEY PULLED OUT A KEG OF WHUP-A** ON EACH OTHER!!! They fought into the stands, used chairs on each other, ran each other into guardrails, etc. You name it, they probably did it!!! Anyway, SCSA utilized his "Stone Cold Stunner", a weird neck wrencher, a boston crab and a superplex to try to get the victory. Bret, likewise, used his RPFF (Ring Post Figure Four), fists, and ultimately the "sharpshooter" to gain victory. Austin, to his credit, was busted open by the "HitMan" earlier in the bout and was placed in the "sharpshooter." Austin valiantly tried to power out of the hold but could not as he was losing too much blood. Austin ultimately passed out and referee Shamrock had no choice but to end the match. Bret, still feeling that his job was not done, tried to re apply the hold but was stopped by Shamrock. Shamrock and Bret almost had it out but Bret thought better of it. The fans virtually booed "The HitMan" out of the arena for not fighting Shamrock but I, personally, think it was a wise move. I mean, he had already wrestled (or fought) a hard match with SCSA. To fight Shamrock in his tired condition would've been suicide!!! While I can't tell the fans who to cheer for, I think Bret did the right thing by not fighting Shamrock right there.

Later in the card, Bret came out at the begining of the WWF Championship match between The Undertaker and "Sycho" Sid. He also had some comments for guest commentator Shawn Michaels as well as the two participants:

"Hey Shawn Michaels!!! Why don't you take that p*ssy-foot injury and go back and find your smile, but whatever you do, you stay out of this match!!! As for you (UT), I just want to let you know, that when you slammed that door on my head, you slammed the door on our friendship and there is going to be a new set of rules from here on out!!! As for you (Sid), you know and I know and everyone watching this thing knows, that that belt doesn't belong to you!!! It'll never belong to you!!! Everyone in this arena and everyone watching knows that I am the best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be!!!" - Bret Hart

With that, Sid threw a smashing forearm and delivered a thunderous powerbomb to Bret!! Sid then said:


With Bret gone, the match got underway. Later on, however, Bret returned to interfere twice, costing Sid the WWF Title. The next night on RAW, Bret apologized to all of the wrestling fans around the world except those in the USA. His rational was that he felt that the US fans had turned their backs on him and declared war on the United States. Shawn Michaels, in response, came out and said that the fans have the right to cheer or to boo whoever they want. He then challenged Bret to a fight right then and there despite having a bad left knee. Bret declined the invitation but that would prove to be part of a trap as Bret kicked Shawn in his knee as Shawn was leaving!!! He then applied the RPFF on Shawn, causing more damage to the knee!!! Bret was finally chased away by Sid.

Later on that program, Bret attacked then WWF Intercontiental Champion Rocky Maivia after Rocky finished his matchup. He challenged the young champion to a title match for the following week. That week, however, SCSA returned to action and had this to say to his nemisis:


Also on this same night, Bret patched up things with Owen Hart and Davey Boy Smith to reform the Hart Foundation. As for Bret's challenge to the I-C belt, let me say that he could've won because he kicked Rocky Maivia's overrated butt all over the ring but I think that he wanted to make a statement rather than win the title!!! As he put Maivia in the RPFF, SCSA came down to attack Bret but was jumped by Owen and Smith. The Road Warriors came down to chase off Owen and Smith as Austin chased after the "HitMan."

Two weeks (or so) later, Austin came down at the beginning of RAW IS WAR and declared a challenge to Bret for a non-sanctioned "street fight." Bret Hart accepted the challenge with this reply:

SCSA replied:

Later in the night, Austin was in the ring awaiting Bret Hart. Bret came down but had a plan. As Austin was waiting for Bret, Owen and Smith attacked Austin and a three man gang up insued!!! Shawn Michaels came down to assist Austin but the damage had been done as Bret got the advantage that he wanted. Later in the "match", Bret tried Austin's "chair across the ankle smasher" but missed!! I'm not sure but I think he injured his knee in the attempt. Austin made matters worse by smashing the chair into Bret's knee and continued to do so!!! Finally, after giving Bret "the double middle finger", he placed the "sharpshooter" on Bret and held it for about 3 minutes!!! Bret's knee was severely injured as a result and Austin again attacked Bret on the ambulance!!! Bret would be sidelined for about four months.

While Bret was recovering, his Hart Foundation was joined by the late Brian Pillman and Jim "The Anvil" Neihart. In the weeks that followed, Bret foolishly had a face to face interview with Shawn Michaels and dared him to "superkick" him in his weakend state!! Shawn, unable to resist, kicked him out of his shoes and over his wheelchair!!! Now, I don't condone what Michaels did but I have to say (in this case) Bret asked for it. I mean, did he really think that Michaels wouldn't take the opportunity to strike him? Especially since he was provoking him? Personally, I would left the Foundation down at ringside for that one.

Anyway, Bret was scheduled to come back at the 1997 King Of The Ring to face Shawn Michaels but his bad knee and another attack by SCSA left him no choice but to scrap the match. Later that summer, Bret and Shawn were involved in an off-camera dressing room confrontation over comments that Shawn made about Bret possibly having an affair with Sunny (Tammy Fytch). These stories were proven later to be untrue but Bret was furious at Michaels for even suggesting it in the first place!! Personally, I don't know if this was a work or not but if someone had put out rumors about me having an affair with a woman when I am a married man, I'd be ready to pound some butt!!

Finally, Bret issued a challenge for the next IYH in Montreal, Canada for an ten man tag match with four American wrestlers. Goldust, The Road Warriors, Ken Shamrock and SCSA stepped up to the plate and the stage was set for Bret's return to the ring.

Part 20: Return Of The Champ

After the match was made for In Your House: Canadian Stampede, Bret Hart wasted no time delievering the mind games to the American team. Members of his Hart Foundation (I believe it was Davey Boy Smith, Owen Hart, and Brian Pillman) attacked the Road Warriors on RAW one week. The following weekend, Bret led another attack. This time, the victim was Goldust as he made the "golden one" feel the "Hart-Breaker"(my official name for Bret's Ring Post Figure Four since, as far as I know, it doesn't have an official name)!!! The following monday on RAW IS WAR, Bret attacked Ken Shamrock and, later in the show, he and Jim "The Anvil" Neihart attacked "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. The "HitMan" made Austin feel the pain of the "Hart-Breaker" as well.

Then came the ten man tag and most everyone in Canada (as expected) was behind The Hart Foundation. Whether it was clean wrestling or some dirty tactic, they cheered every move of the Harts and Brian Pillman. SCSA was so obsessed with the Harts that he even went after Stu Hart, Bret's 82 year old father!!! Now, I don't know Stu's physical condition but you either have to be a coward or be just plain nuts to attack an old man (I think Austin fits the latter). Anyway, the match ended when Owen made the pin on "Stone Cold." Austin was so enraged that he had to be handcuffed and led away from the arena, but not before giving the Canadian fans "what for" in the form of the "double finger!!!" The next night on RAW IS WAR, Austin attacked Bret, Owen, and Davey Boy Smith during the playing of the Canadian National Anthem with a steel chair!!! On this same card, Bret made his return to singles action with a win over Goldust in a surprisingly competitive match up.

Over the following weeks, Bret campained for a match with then WWF World Champion The Undertaker for SummerSlam '97. Bret even put more pressure for the match stating that if he didn't win the title, he would never again wrestle on American soil. Adding to this match was the controversial decision to have long time enemy Shawn Michaels as the special referee. This angered Bret so much that he attacked WWF Head Vince McMahon!!! McMahon, surprisingly, held his own during the confrontation. He sure did better than Shawn did as "HitMan" and Co. attacked Shawn the same night in the dressing room!!! On this same night, Bret, Owen and Davey Boy won a six man flag match against SCSA, Dude Love and UT. I find it interesting that UT was cheered even when he was against the Harts in Canada. Apparently, the Canadian fans (from an outsider's point of view since I don't know any Canadians personally other than by e-mail) have some respect for UT that goes beyond any patriotism. He was even cheered against Bret (although Bret, obviously, got the larger cheers). Sorry, don't mean to ramble but I find that amazing since all the other American wrestlers were booed pretty much.

Anyway, the week of the match, Bret lost a controversial decision against The Patriot. I must say that Bret got robbed here!!! I mean, Shawn Michaels interfered in the match and we will never know if The Patriot could've beat Bret on his own. Anyway, this added more heat to the match at SummerSlam. I have yet to see this match but I think everyone knows how it ended!! Bret was going to use a steel chair on UT but was stopped by Shawn. Bret then spit in Shawn's face!!! An understandably enraged Shawn picked up the chair to his Bret but hit UT instead!!! Bret made the cover and Shawn reluctantly counted to three. Now, remember that Shawn had a stipulation for this match up too. That was that if he didn't call this match fairly (that is if he showed favortism towards UT and against Bret Hart) that he would never wrestle again in America. So, in reality, Shawn had no choice but to count the fall. You might argue that the match should've been stopped. Well, the only other fair thing to do would've been to call it a no contest. Shawn couldn't DQ Bret because he didn't hit UT with a chair. Likewise, UT hadn't done anything illegal so he couldn't DQ him either. Needless to say, American fans turned on Shawn Michaels overnight and Shawn, in response, has become a heel again (but that's another story).

Bret, now with a fifth WWF Title to his credit, was set to face The Patriot at IYH: Ground Zero. Bret, though willing to face the masked man, protested this match because of the way Patriot earned the match. In his own coulmn for The Calgary Sun, Bret even wondered why UT didn't get the title shot since he was the former champion. Needless to say, Bret successfully defended his title at Ground Zero. During the following weeks, he would also have various run ins with Vader. He and Davey Boy defeated Vader and Patriot in a flag match on October 5 (the dark weekend that Brian Pillman died). Still waiting in the wings, however, was the cocky Shawn Michaels and he didn't come alone.

Part 21: Degeneration X

After regaining the WWF World Title and dispatching The Patriot, Bret Hart had to deal with an old nemisis in the form of Shawn "HeartBreak Kid" Michaels. This time, though, Michaels didn't come alone. He formed "Degeneration X" with Chyna (Terri Power), Hunter Hearst Hemsley, and "Ravishing" Rick Rude. About a week or two before the "One Night Only" PPV in England, Triple H and Michaels attacked Davey Boy Smith and injured his left leg. This softened Davey for the WWF European Title match in England and enabled Shawn Michaels to win it!!

In the weeks to follow, Bret Hart issued a challenge to Shawn Michaels on RAW for a WWF Title Match at Survivor Series in Montreal, Canada. On the same night that he issued the challenge to Michaels, he suffered a countout loss to Triple H. But it was not without controversy as 1. Chyna prevented Hart from using the "HartBreaker" on Hemsley (My nickname for Bret's ringpost figure four) and 2. he was put to sleep with some "Sweet Chin Music" from Michaels (and got the nWo crotch symbol from Michaels as well). The following week, Michaels was involved in a title VS. title encounter with then WWF Intercontiental Champion Owen Hart. Hart had the match won when "Stone Cold" Steve Austin came out of the crowd and gave the "Stone Cold Stunner" to the referee!!! Thus, preventing either man from winning. Michaels, meanwhile, had given Owen some "SCM" when Bret came down and pounded a mudhole into Michaels!!! The next week, Bret was defending his title against former Ultimate Fighting Championship Superfight Champion Ken Shamrock!!! Shamrock had made Bret submit to his ankle-lock hold but the ref was knocked out. Bret regained the advantage thanks to a steel chair but as he put Shamrock into the "sharpshooter", Michaels came down and, once again, gave Hart the "SCM" treatment. When Shamrock came to the realization that he was DQ'ed due to Michaels interference, he snapped and tore into Michaels!!!

Then came Survivor Series on November 9, 1997. The Bret Hart/Shawn Michaels rematch was on. The ending, however, left a bad taste in everyone's mouth (including my American mouth) as the ref called for a submission victory in favor of Michaels when he caught Bret in the "sharpshooter." The ref, however, may have been acting under orders from Vince McMahon because Bret was exercising his right to look at other options after one year (he may be in WCW by the time you read this). I believe this was Vince's way of slapping the face of Bret Hart. He responded to Vince by spitting in his face!!! Even Michaels didn't seem to like how the match ended as he cursed out McMahon and the referee!!

Bret Hart, IMO, gave some of his best years to the WWF. Like him or hate him, he deserved better than the ending that Vince gave him at SS '97. Whatever Bret decides to do, I wish him nothing but the best!!! I don't know if he (Bret) surfs the net but I want to say to him:

"Bret Hart, thanks for 13 great years in the WWF. While I didn't always agree with you, I did know that when I saw you in the ring that I would be seeing a quality matchup!!! If you do go to WCW (which you may have had by the time this is printed), then I hope you have great success and add to your legend."

Who knows Solie readers. I might have be revisiting this series someday and add some more chapters to it.

Part 22: Book of Lists

Hello. In this final enstallment, I have asked for help from "Solie's" Title Historian Matt Benaka. Take it away Matt:

Titles Won:

Awards/Tournaments Won:

Greatest Opponents:

Greatest Moments (In no particular order):

And now for Ervin Griffin:

Worst Moments

Men Most Deserving Of The "HartBreaker" (my nickname for Bret's "ringpost figure-four")

Men That I Would Like To See Bret Wrestle Before The End Of His Career (some of my selections may surprise you)

Well, that's it from here. I would like to thank Matt for once again joining me for this "book of lists." See you next time when I (along with Matt Benaka) come back with "Stylin' And Profilin': The Legend Of Ric Flair. If you have any questions, e-mail me or Matt. Matt's address is My own address is I can also be reached at