Bret The Hitman Hart

Discussion in 'Old School Wrestling' started by legendkiller1979, Oct 12, 2017.

  1. legendkiller1979

    legendkiller1979 Pre-Show Stalwart

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    It was 25 years ago today that Bret Hart defeated Ric Flair for the WWF championship. The WWF was in a transitional period and they needed a new face of the company going forward. Bret was tasked with following Hulk Hogan, which is nearly impossible. How does someone following the man that put wrestling on the map and the biggest star in the history of the business? More than that, it was still a big man's business and there isn't anyone that is going to consider Bret a big man. What did Bret do? He went out nearly every night defending the belt and putting on damn good matches with everyone he got in the ring with. Anyone that wants to stay Bret's first reign wasn't great needs to look back at the aftermath of his first reign. People crapped all over Hulk Hogan and rejected Lex Luger. Lex was pushed like crazy! It got him nowhere. Does anyone remember the Lex Express? People wanted Bret to be the guy. He was crazy over everywhere he went. He finally got his big moment at Wrestlemania X and he absolutely deserved it.

    Bret represented all that was good about wrestling. He was everything that a role model should be. He did everything right and there isn't anything that he did that someone could reasonably criticize him for. There isn't anyone else that Vince could have put into that spot that could have succeeded the way Bret did. As time went on, it became uncool to be a role model and be a good person in this country. Everyone wants to be a badass and they were able to live through Stonecold Steve Austin. Bret was HUGE in every other country he visited. It doesn't matter which side you agree with, the way Bret's WWF career ended is wrong.

    I am a huge Bret Hart fan. I have been watching wrestling for 29 years and Bret is my favorite of all time. He is on the short list of the greatest of all time. On the 25th anniversary of his first WWF championship win, he deserves to be honored.
     
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  2. Jack-Hammer

    Jack-Hammer YOU WILL RESPECT MY AUTHORITAH!!!!
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    While I agree that he's among the all time greats, I can't agree that he represented all that was good about wrestling. I think that he may very well have at one point, but he fell into the same trap that so many other big stars have before him and after him in that his ego got so out of control that he began to see himself as THE definitive judge on what's good or bad in wrestling. Now that in and of itself wouldn't be such a bad thing, but what's made it so bad is the sheer, naked hostility he often shows towards almost anyone who holds a different opinion. It's a trait that's gotten even worse now that he's older as he really comes off as an angry, bitter veteran who's more concerned with the "well this was how it was done back in my day", vehemently attacking old rivals out of the blue or railing against some modern stars.

    I'm not trying to take away from what he's meant to wrestling, that'd be impossible, nor am I trying to hate on the guy. I just don't look at him as the patron saint of all that's great in professional wrestling and I think his conduct during his final run as WWF Champion is a good example of that. For years, I was firmly in Hart's corner when it came to the Montreal Screwjob...then I saw the Hitman Hart: Wrestling with Shadows documentary. Maybe it wasn't the intention of the documentary and I'm sure it wasn't the intention of Bret himself, but it struck me how full of himself he came off and how unprofessional he could be. For someone who painted himself as such a devoted wrestling purist, I found it hypocritical that he didn't want to drop the WWF Championship to Shawn Michaels because he didn't like Michaels and because of an out of control ego. Hart was leaving and it'd always been tradition for a champion who was leaving to put over the challenger and drop the title to said challenger if it was his last match, but he felt he was entitled to simply because Survivor Series was taking place in Canada and he hated Shawn Michaels. Don't get me wrong, HBK was a pure prick in those days, he's come right out and said as much but part of being a professional in any job means sometimes doing something that you may not personally like. If you look at HBK objectively, there was no legitimate reason for Bret Hart not to drop the title to him; HBK had the charisma, he had the mic skills, he was insanely over with fans everywhere and is genuinely among the best in-ring workers of all time, and he certainly was in 1997.

    I like Bret Hart, I still like to head over to the WWE Network sometimes and watch some of his matches as they're definitely worth it. In my eyes, however, he's caused some damage to his own legacy by some of his words and actions over the past 20 years.
     
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  3. THTRobtaylor

    THTRobtaylor Once & Future Wrestlezone Columnist

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    I'm not sure the trap that Bret fell into was feeling he was the arbiter of good in wrestling but that he held himself to a standard he has since turned out to be well below of backstage.

    He made a big deal about the "Sunny Days" comment wrecking his marriage, yet openly admitted in his book being a womaniser for years prior. H e called WWE on its "moral direction" when he turned out to be morally quite bad himself. "but but I didn't do drugs I did women" doesn't really work as making him better than a Hogan/Jake/Razor/Shawn.

    In the same way some people don't accept Shawn's "born again" outlook as wiping out earlier behaviour, which at times was disgraceful, it's hard to accept Bret's "holier than thou" approach to himself in that era and the business as a whole then when he has admitted so openly, at times... to being a hypocrite.

    Not all was his fault, I have no doubt the Hart family dynamic plays a big part and that he truly believed he was Canada's hero... but you could say the whole family perhaps had an inflated sense of importance. Looking back is Bret thinking that any different to Bruce feeling he was the brains of the operation and the one who should have been the star? or how some of the daughters behaved at times to get their men "ahead"?

    He's had arguably the "roughest run of luck" of anyone the business has had to deal with, between Owen, the retirement and the stroke. But at the same time Montreal and some of his WCW issues, and the criticism he gets now are on him. Wrestling with Shadows is now an awkward watch with the info that has since come out, especially in his book. Summerslam 92 is coloured by his throwing Davey "under the bus" when he's not here to defend himself. Coked off his tits or not, it took 2 to put that match on and its a shame that Bret forgot that.

    In the ring, fantastic for the period we're talking about... from 91 to the end of his Yoko loss he was a breath of fresh air in the main event. The whole idea of a "fighting champion" was great, he backed up his talk in the main and made it slightly cooler to like wrestling. Once he lost the belt and the Hogan match didn't happen, he changed, began to pout, sulk and seemingly went backwards in the ring. Sure he helped guys get over in that period, but 5 moves of doom came as a perjorative towards him first rather than Hogan.

    I liked Bret Hart as a wrestler and for a time he was my fave, but as time moves on we see our childhood idols are not quite what we thought and I was really disappointed in him in later life. He has perhaps a bit more reason to be a bitter man than some, but he took a lot of smooth in his life too, so now I don't pity him quite the same for his rough spells.

    As much as this sounds like a rant, I don't WANT it to be one... Bret likes to call it as he sees it and has to be prepared for people, including the fans he once was so proud of to do so as well as his peers. He is important to the business, maybe just squeaks into an "all time great" top 10... but in truth, he damaged his own legacy by not being what he claimed to be and relying on Kayfabe to protect him. In our modern age of us knowing every dirty secret, the whiter than white guy's shit is gonna make him look dirtier than the rest.

    In today;'s hysteria of Weinstein and Cosby, guys like Bret may well get nervous... not for a second saying he did anything untoward... but it's only gonna take one of the women he boasted of in his book to accuse something and boom, that rep is soiled forever. A lot of wrestlers are probably getting very nervous, as are guys like Vince...
     
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  4. HeenanGorilla

    HeenanGorilla Championship Contender

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    I'll only speak to Bret the wrestler since, despite all of the biographies you might have read, none of us know him.

    As a kayfabe-invested little kid, I was relieved when Bret "became a good guy" because I wanted to like him for so long, but he was a bad guy under Jimmy Hart. But, once he was good, I bought his tank top, I bought his shades, I brought a Hart Foundation poster to SummerSlam '89...which was not allowed back then--all that artwork for nothing...though being in the upper deck, it was probably all for nothing anyway. Haha. But I thought he was so cool. Looking back on his matches now, thanks to memories and the Network, he really was a guy who consistently had entertaining matches. Sure he worked in the same moves a lot, but they were seemingly used for a purpose. Today, it seems like these guys have a checklist of moves to use and just trade signature moves and "finishers"--that no longer finish matches--just to get them done. I think the phrase "told a story" is overused on this forum. Bret used it in his book and then all of a sudden, everyone started using it. But his matches, more often than not, made sense based on the feud or the action that took place earlier in that very match. He favored body parts that his opponents had worked on, he focused on one area of an opponent--either to hurt their offense, or to set up the sharpshooter later. He had a plan and it was fun to watch, even when I was too young to realize that these guys had plans and weren't just trying to beat each other up until they could get a three count. Same with Randy Savage. It is very rare that I find a bad match from either of these guys. (I'm talking WWF here...I didn't know them before that and I don't remember much of their WCW matches)

    What he did in his personal life is none of my business...and certainly none of my concern. I never needed wrestlers, celebrities or sports stars to be heroes for me. Darryl Strawberry did drugs and Bret Hart cheated on his wife. I didn't know that and it had nothing to do with what I got from them. They entertained me. Their morals and those consequences are someone else's problem. I just think "Thanks for the homeruns, Darryl, and thanks for the matches, Bret."
     
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  5. Goldie

    Goldie Getting Noticed By Management

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    Bret Hart is still one of my favourites to this day.

    I first started watching wrestling around WM7- about the time the Hart Foundation went solo- so been able to chart his solo career as it happened from 1991 to his retirement in 2000 (not counting his horrible comeback matches in 2010).

    in late 1992 Vince wanted to step away from the huge physiques with the steroid scandal and needed a new stat to elevate. I don't think there were many others to choose from- Hogan vacated the spotlight, Warrior was fired (along with Davey Boy) for violating HGH rules, Savage was being phased out for the commentary booth, Flair was soon on his way back to WCW...

    Bret was the logical choice.... he was no Hogan at the box office but was still popular, he could guarantee a 4 star match (5 with the right opponent) and his first PPV headlined (with Davey at Summerslam 92) was an enormous success.

    From his book... I remember Bret being startled when Vince told him he was going to be world champ... and felt that somebody else should be carrying the belt.
    Of course by the time he would lose the title 6 months later he had grown in confidence and thought it was his right, and that Hogan (via Yokozuna) didn't deserve to have the belt after the double title change fiasco at WM9.
    Some question his drawing ability- but there is only Austin and Rock who can really be comparable to Hogan ..... Hart was no worse than Michaels or Nash in the 90s- though the match quality in main events hit the roof!

    In his early to mid 90s prime- Bret was an outstanding worker- the way he structured his matches, his selling, timing his comeback ... often grabbing victory from the jaw of defeat.... story telling in the ring. You don't really see this level of structure any more .... you find more matches that focus on high spotfests, and getting cheap laughs from the audience.

    In his older years he has come across as a bitter man which seems to tarnish him in the eyes of some (though I still say his book is a great read- the level of detail is amazing compared to other wrestling biographies I've read)
    They often say that Bret Hart represents the conscience of wrestling- how the industry has changed from the babyface in the white hat saving the day- to the anti-heros becoming the good guys.

    25 years has gone by since this first world title win- how time flies! though I still think Bret should be respected for his accomplishments and his technical ability in the ring, and his worthy of his all-time-great status
     
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  6. WWEWrestleFest

    WWEWrestleFest Pre-Show Stalwart

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    I have mixed feelings on Bret. First off, I was a kid in the 80s and grew up watching the Hulkamania era. Back then, you just saw Bret as a tag team guy. And even then, he'd usually be the one getting beat up and then Anvil would come in start the comeback. I get "working" now, but as a kid, I didn't think he was that good. But that's how you saw him, as a tag team guy, maybe a IC guy, but not a heavyweight guy. In those days, you didn't really see a lot of guys "move up" from the IC belt to the world title. Sure, Warrior and Savage did it. But for the most part, guys in the main event picture started off in the main event picture. A guy like Zeus comes in and is right in the main event. A guy like Earthquake comes in and is right in the main event. A guy like Sgt. Slaughter comes in (and I know he had been in WWF before, but I was too young to know that) and is right in the main event. The whole "working your way up the card" thing wasn't really done too often, so as a kid, I kinda saw a limit on how high Bret could go.

    When he won his first world title, I felt they screwed up because of how he won it. He beat Flair on a house show, and we heard about it on Superstars or one of those weekend syndicated shows. Even back then, nothing important happened on house shows. But here they had the world title change hands. And on top of that, it wasn't even a feud between Bret and Flair. At least not a memorable one, they may have had a small angle going on for a few weeks, but I don't even remember it. I think if they had a long feud where Bret was chasing Flair, and then he won the belt on a PPV, it would have been better. But instead it was just like suddenly "ok, Bret's the champion now" out of nowhere, and title changes didn't happen too often in those days.

    Also, Vince should have had either Hogan, Savage, or Warrior put Bret over. If Bret had beat either of those three for the championship, that would have help legitimize him a lot more. Warrior was a headcase and Hogan was out of the company by then, but I'm pretty sure Savage would have done it, he never really had an issue putting anyone over. And I think they did wrestle on one of those European tours and they put it on one of those Coliseum Home Videos, but they should have done it on a PPV.

    But I say all that because as a kid at the time, I just didn't buy Bret as champion. I always thought like "oh if Hogan or Warrior came back, or if Savage left the commentary booth, they'd kill Bret." He also didn't have much personality. Which I get is part of his "I'm a real guy" character. But you'd see a guy like Randy Savage do talk show interviews with so much personality and character, and then when Bret was champion, he'd be on those shows sounding super boring, just sounding like a regular guy. Which again, I get was his character, but to go from the over the top characters like Hogan, Savage, and Warrior, to just regular old Bret Hart was a drastic change.

    That being said, I do feel like he's one of the best in-ring workers of all time. I appreciate his matches a lot more now than I did back then. I also feel like he, not Shawn Michaels, was the face of the new generation. I think Shawn's probably the bigger star now because he had a whole second life in the 2000s, but in the 1990s, Bret was definitely the bigger star.

    And regarding the Montreal Screwjob, I actually side with Bret. Don't give the the "time honored tradition" crap. Shawn told Bret to his face "I'll never do a job for you" and Bret's supposed to just swallow his ego and do the job for Shawn? These are prideful men. Bret said he would lose the belt to anyone else on the roster. So it's not like he was going to walk out with the belt. And plus, he had CREATIVE CONTROL for the last 30 days or something before he left. If you have a perk in your contract, you have every right to use it. How many of you get a perk like vacation time at your job? Do you not use your vacation time? I mean, the company has to pay you when you don't even come into work. And they have to pay extra help for someone to cover your work while you're gone. It's really not what's best for the company. So are you being selfish for using your vacation time? I'm 100% with Bret for that. He had creative control, he had every right to use it.

    Now Bret's current state. For years he spoke out against Vince and Shawn and Hunter. He blamed Vince for killing Owen, he blamed them all for how his WWF run ended. But then he made peace with Vince and Shawn. And I feel like he's one of those guys who always has to blame someone else. So now he blames Hogan and Bischoff. They paid him millions of dollars just so they could bury him in WCW. I remember a while back, when he was still on the outs with Vince, he said how great Bischoff was to him, especially when Owen died. But now he thinks Bischoff is the worst thing that happened in wrestling history. He blames Hogan for "lying" that he'd put Bret over in 1993. But others including Brother Love Bruce on his podcast recently have said Hulk was never brought in to do a match with Bret, they never even ran that pass him, the plan was always to put the belt on Hogan temporarily and then move it back to Yoko. Vince may have told Bret they'll put the belt back on Hogan to eventually do a match with Hogan and Bret, but that was never really the plan or ever discussed with Hogan. But Bret doesn't blame Vince for lying to him, he blames Hogan for not wanting to do the job.

    I just feel like his constant negative attitude is hurting his legacy. Your career didn't end the way you planned. Your life may not have turned out the way you planned. Sure things like Owen, Davey Boy, your non famous brother who died, all that sucks.. but at a certain point you need to stop blaming others.
     
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  7. THTRobtaylor

    THTRobtaylor Once & Future Wrestlezone Columnist

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    See it's that mentality that got Hollywood in the mess it's in right now... What x and y do is none of my business, even if it ain't quite kosher.

    Like it or not, Bret sold his entire career on the premise he was a morally correct man... someone who could be trusted by his family, his fans and his company... Over time it became clear he was nothing of the sort, and that then becomes EVERY fan's business... just the same as Hogan finally admitting he roided affected him.

    Bret's "good guy" image was predicated on a lie, a flawed man who arguably was more savvy than others of the time at hiding their indiscretions and using the concept of kayfabe to their advantage. Look at how Bray Wyatt has been recently de-pushed cos he did exactly what Bret did... cheated on his wife. Only difference is there is TMZ, an IWC and no kayfabe to back him up... We all know he isn't REALLY Bray Wyatt... Look back at Wrestling with Shadows and you can tell that marriage is dead, evne if they were selling it as not... but Julie knew 3m a year was coming in, so wait to split until she can get a big chunk... unless that was already agreed of course, which is FAR more believable.

    In reality, if you turn the blind eye to Bret, it must be turned to Wyatt... as what Windham Rotunda does at home shouldn't impact Bray at all... likewise Edge and Lita, Shawn and Sunny...

    Bret wasn't the only one, but others were honest far sooner and didn't predicate their entire standing in the business on being wholesome... Jake Roberts, Ted DiBiase both had major problems but fessed up. Bret waited till a book years later.

    Like I said, as a wrestler, he is up there... but as a man, if you choose to ignore that side.. then you lose part of that wrestler... he HAD to be that good in the ring to make up for what he was doing outside, lest it ever got out... now it's out and the irony is, people aren't that impressed with the in-ring side any more and often less than impressed with the bile he regularly spits at the biz and other workers. Someone like Cornette is at least funny when they do it, someone like Prichard was ALWAYS a dick... Bret is the bad guy who pretended to be good and now is just bitter cos not enough see him as their hero anymore... that's sad...

    Make no mistake...Vince was right... Bret Screwed Bret at the end of the day.
     
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  8. HeenanGorilla

    HeenanGorilla Championship Contender

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    No. I said "good guy" as in a kid liking the good guys and not liking the bad guys. I was not at all talking about his image of being a good guy. That's all I'll say because your whole response is based on something I didn't say. I don't care what this guy does or did in his personal life. He was a wrestler to me. Not a role model, not a hero...not a real person. He was simply one of the guys on TV that my LJN figures were based on....and one who had better matches than many others. And that was it.
     
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  9. AnthonyM4

    AnthonyM4 Getting Noticed By Management

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    When I put on wwf superstars on Saturday morning and saw that he won the title from Ric Flair a few days before that(they showed highlights), I was shocked. It came out of nowhere because 6 weeks earlier he lost the IC title. Also Flair just when it from Savage a month earlier. It made no sense to me watching it as a kid, but I was happy for him. A few days ago on the 25th anniversary of him winning, I popped in the coliseum video(not the actual VHS, but a burnt dvd copy) Smack Em Whack Em. Ric Flair said in his book that he was sick that day and he didn't think the match was good. It definitely wasn't either guy's top 10 matches. Did he ever defend the title against Macho Man during his first reign as champ? That should have been either the Royal Rumble or Wrestlemania main event.
     
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  10. Psykohurricane55

    Psykohurricane55 Moderator
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    I actually found out about his first title win from ric flair from the newspaper the day after he won the title. Back then newspaper across canada we're covering wrestling from time to time especially if it was something to do with bret hart or the local wrestler, for us it was jacques rougeau. So when I found that bret won the title from flair I was confused and surprise at the same time. Until that day, bret was booked to look more like a midcarder and the title win came out of nowhere and let face it, his first title reigns didn't really set the world on fire, fans had problem accepting him as the top guy because they didn't see him as one and the booking of his title run showed that.

    The fact his that hogan came back near the end oof his first run and hulkamania was running wild for the little time he was there, in fact fans for so happy to see hogan save bret after the mania main event and then have him beat the evil yokozuna for the title.

    His second title run felt most normal and while they're we're some dumb title defenses during that run (defending the title against virgil is one of them), bret felt more like a big star because hogan weren't there anymore and while luger was popular, he wasn't working as well as they wanted it to be mostly because that character wasn't him. But the lex express was a memorable angle that a lot of us still remember

    In the end, the thing is that bret came in in a down period in wrestling history and I fell that why he was able to become the legend that he became. He really didn't bring in the crowds but he still keep then in business for a while and that's pretty good considering the product the wwe was delivering back then plus anytime you get a wrestlers that ever canadian is cheering and threat like a hero even in Quebec, that's saying something.
     
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  11. FromGlasgow

    FromGlasgow Championship Contender

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    To be fair as far as we know Bret Hart never raped anyone so your comparison to the Weinstein thing is a bit over the top. Cheating isn't good but at least his was consensual.
    Doesn't seem 25 years ago when he won the world title I still remember it quite clearly, I liked his title reign, Difference between him and Hogan I seen Hogan live against Yokozuna for the world title in a horrible count out match that only seemed to last less than 2 minutes and not long afterwards seen Bret live for the title in a great match that went about 20 times the length of the Hogan match so for delivering a great main event as much as I like Hogan I have to go with Bret Hart.
     
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  12. Goldie

    Goldie Getting Noticed By Management

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    Bret mentions wrestling Savage in his book- I think it was 1994 during Brets 2nd title reign at a house show... where Savage was used sparingly as a wrestler and more of an announcer- eventually prompting Savage to leave for WCW.

    In this extract from the book Bret mentions that whilst preparing for the match road agent Blackjack Lanza talked down to Savage like he was a jobber.... so Savage told him to 'Shove it'.
    Bret says that a year or two before savage would never have been spoken to like he was a 'secondary wrestler'.... though ever the pro- Savage let Bret go over clean.

    However it would have meant more had Savage and Bret wrestled early in Brets first reign to really help put him over. Savage at the time was a premiere star.... but he was phased out and put out to pasture rather quickly as soon as Bret first became champ... at WM9 Savage didn't wrestle nor did he at Summerslam 93.

    Aside from rematches with Flair.... Brets first reign lacked big name defences on his resume
     
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  13. jacdnwarrior

    jacdnwarrior Championship Contender

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    If I chose to remember Bret, I'll remember him for his work in the ring not focus on his personal failures. No one looks at the failures of Hulk Hogan, Flair, Austin Rock, etc. they only talk about their greatness. Bret wasn't the only wrestler to mess around on his wife, hell a lot of athletes do that on the road we don't take away their achievements for that.


    One of my favorite performers is Bret Hart. I liked his ability to tell a story with any performer. His matches were real, they weren't (no matter what his detractors say) spot fests or routine. He rose from the bottom to the top, he paid his dues. When he became a champion, WWE was in turmoil, WWF and the steroid trial, Hogan's denial of steroid use, the issues with sexual assault of minors and/ or sexual harassment of employees in the organization by high executives.

    He won the belt off a Rick Flair (not in his prime, tbh) at a house show. Why not a PPV or a Saturday night main event or on live tv show ? Have no idea why that happened. He came a downtime but was let down by the way he was booked and the talent he was surrounded with. He was the senior guy, the main person of any true stature. Hogan (supposedly) was to do the favor which he refused. That could have done wonders for Bret Hart.

    Bret Hart was a good champion. He wasn't what I would call great box office , but he was a person who could work with the talent around him and deliver watchable entertaining matches. A guy with his ability and knack for storytelling and helping talent would be beneficial to WWE today.
     
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  14. V/CV/

    V/CV/ Dark Match Jobber

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    Okay for the sake of proper facts on this forum a comparison to Weinstein to Bret Hart is like comparing the Ritz hotel to McDonald's.Bret Hart is a class act all the way around no one is to know what mistakes he has made but everyone makes a mistake.His reputation speaks for itself as a human being as someone having morals and standing up for what is right and pound-for-pound the greatest wrestler character included that has ever laced up the boots in that ring,not Dean malenko not anybody can compare to what Bret Hart does in that ring it is art.
    I think his best days were the WCW and the reason why even though many would argue that is because like any company someone may go to it has an effect on who they are,on their character.Aside from the fact that Bret Hart did not get utilized as he should have his character his makeup in WCW out did it in WWF.
    Classy. That's what WCW is.That's what Bret Hart was & that's how it always will be.
    The proof is in the pudding.
     
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  15. HeenanGorilla

    HeenanGorilla Championship Contender

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    What a tease! I saw a lot of new responses in the Old School Wrestling section, but they're all from this guy who must have started learning English a week ago. Holy hell... "Proof is in the pudding" Do me a favor.. Ask your ESL teacher why she started the semester with proverbs instead of vocabulary, spelling or punctuation.

    I look forward to your improved language arts, so that you can more clearly convey the reasons that Bret's best days were in WCW.

    I feel that disagreeing with you, or pointing out that his WWF days were his best, would be irresponsible on my part, as it may cause you to spend time on YouTube or the Network. That time should be used learning what a comma is and when I comes before E.
     
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  16. FlairFan2003

    FlairFan2003 Mid-Card Championship Winner

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    Lets clear some things up...

    Im surprised how many posters here in this thread seem to have no idea on how Brett's first World Title win came about. SummerSlam was written to set up a big feud between Ric Flair & Ultimate Warrior, which immediately commensed on the US house show circuit and WWE TV. It seemed (but was never confirmed) that Warrior vs Flair was destined to main event Survivor Series, likely with UW winning (Vince definately preferred strong hero characters as champ). In Phoenix Flair was injured during a press slam spot with UW, breaking bones in his ear which caused him equilibrium problems. No one knew how long it would take to clear up but niether Flair nor Vince believed he could continue wrestling so Vince decided to switch champs ASAP, not wanting to lose revenue on the circuit by having a champ who didnt wrestle and risk the fact Flair might not be better by S-Series. Hart was chosen because A) He was very popular & well established with the audience. B) He could be relied on to work a full time schedule on the touring circuit (Hogan never worked full time on tour, sometimes going over a month without a match, but Vince made Savage & Flair work full time schedules as champ, which seemed important with the industry in general seeing declining ratings and attendance for 3 straight years after a peak in 1989). C) Hart wasnt a trouble maker, he was viewed as a comany man.

    That last part was important because Warrior and WWE were never fully on good terms after his contract dispute and long absence the previous year. UW's lackluster performances during his 92 comeback didnt help, injuring Flair being about the last straw.

    UW disapeared from TV when Hart won the title, with no explanation (Flair was gone over a month too, but his absence was explained on TV as related to injuries he suffered in his title loss to Brett). UW returned to TV briefly when Flair did, ostensibly to finish their feud at S-Series but UW disapeared right after his return after a TV segment on Saturday Night's Main Event in which Flair punked him with help from Scott Hall aka Razor Ramoan. This lead to the Curt Henning comes out of retirement angle but it seemed to indicate how far UW had fallen since S-Slam. This is why Brett's first title win had no build up and seemed out of nowhere.

    Flair & Hart in a joint interview discussed the whole situation last year, with Hart admitting he was surprised when Vince told him the news (in his words he thought he was summoned to Vince's office to be reprimanded for issues he had with his passport that caused him travel delays).

    As for Hart's legacy as a performer, he's a bona fide Hall of Fame talent, he was great in The Hart Foundation tag team as WWE's answer to the Midnight Express, his initial singles push which included a memorable IC Title run and great matches with Henning & Roddy Piper was a significant success, and he dominated the WWE Title scene 1992-97 which is no small accomplishment. There were highlights in WCW too, matches with Flair, Sting, Lex Luger and Chris Benoit that just add to his legacy.

    Do I personally rank Hart at the top all time ? I do not based on his charisma, his character simply wasnt as entertaining as Austin, Flair, Hogan, etc. I think Hart gets unfairly criticized for his "lack of charisma", he wasnt "Dean Malenko Boring" so to speak, and he was effective at getting over with audiences as both a heel (especially in 96 & 97) & face (unlike Sting, who never was a good heel or Ricky Steamboat who never even worked heel), he just comes up a bit short in entertainment value compared to a lot of others. If he was truly as dull as some call him he never would have had the success he had.

    As far as Hart's character, that is a complicated issue. Was he more upset at the turn away from "Disney Style" programming during the start of The Attitude Era or was it that HBK was supplanting him as the company's top star (and the fact HBK by his own admission was total *&%$# and not a "company guy"). How much of Hart's vitriol in interviews in the last 16 years is related to the negative way he let go from WWE, his mistreatment by Bischoff in WCW, and the injury that prematurely ended his career, denying him the "last run" Hogan had or the great ending storylines and matches HBK & Flair recieved in the latter days ? Plus, shouldnt those who criticize Hart's alleged negativity give him credit for burying the hatchet, making peace, and publicly praising Flair, HBK, & Vince in more recent years ?

    I think Hart is comparable to John Cena, essentially Cena is the modern era Brett Hart, a guy who reached major heights of success during "down periods" in the industry. Also, like Cena, Hart was a work horse for years, on TV, the house show circuit, and PPV, also doing commercials, TV appearances, and charity work helping to promote the company. It isnt their fault that their ascension to "SuperStar" status happened when the industry as a whole was declining after an epic peak, in fact in one way that makes their success more praiseworthy, hitting comparable heights to many of the business' biggest legends during an era with lower numbers than when those legends reached their peak.

    In another way Hart is comparable to 90s era Flair. Wether it was an attempt to spark ratings or maybe a response to his "lack of charisma" but it seemed as if Vince & WWE were always looking to replace Hart as the #1 guy, yet they always came back to him, time & again, because A) Different attempts to crown a new top guy (like Nash & HBK) didnt deliver the change in business Vince sought B) Vince & WWE always knew Hart would deliver good numbers, even in down times, maybe they wanted "better numbers" but when others didnt deliver WWE knew consistently what they could get from Brett . In WCW it was same with Flair....Vader not delivering what they wanted, time to change, Go To Flair. Sting not delivering the numbers they want, Go Back To Flair, Hogan not drawing enough vs Beefcake & Vader, bring back Flair. With Flair it was more an age issue than entertainment value (he was in his mid 40s when he returned from WWE, still viable in the ring and valuable with the audience, but too old to be a long term answer). In the end, Flair always propped up the numbers and kept things in good stead while they searched for the next big thing.

    Its not an easy situation to be in, but Hart always worked his *** off and tried hard to deliver for the company.

    He's one of the best, if he was a quarterback he would be say a Brett Favre or Troy Aikman, a legit Hall of Fame talent and definately great, but not quite Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas, Tom Brady great. That's nothing to be ashamed of, in fact compared to the overwhelming majority of others who have done that job it's significantly better.
     
    #16
    tdmoon and Goldie like this.
  17. HBKperfect23

    HBKperfect23 Championship Contender

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    I got into wrestling in late 1991 to watch Hulk Hogan. By the time wrestle mania 8 was rolling around, I was becoming more of a Bret Hart fan. After Summerslam 92, I was all in on Bret. He was favorite wrestler.

    Bret's first title reign, IMO, was underrated. He wrestled on tv every week. You got to see the champion have non ppv matches. He didn't have a lot of notable matches but he was on tv doing his thing constantly, which was unheard of for the champion. I think it really set the standard the future of tv. Between this reign and Shawn defending the IC title on raw every week, it made the show.

    I immediately turned on Bret in 97 when he "turned on America". I insistently hated him. He played that role so well and was unbelievable on the mic. I still consider the USA vs CAN feud the most underrated angle in wrestling history. This may have been my favorite time as a fan.

    When I started to read the behind the scenes stuff on the internet and watching shoot videos, I became less of Bret fan. He really rubbed me the wrong way. I do think he's got a lot better since then tho. Between having his career end (he really did love wrestling), the concussion, the stroke, and Owen dying, I can see how he could have become bitter. Since him and Shawn buried the hatchet, I think Bret let go of a lot of the animosity towards Shawn, Vince, and wrestling in general.

    When I think of Bret, I don't think of the years he was bitter. I think of the first champion in my lifetime (possibly ever) wrestling on TV every week, I think of Summerslam 92, I think of the summer of 97, and I think of the iron man match. I have loved and hated Bret, but he definitely made my days of watching wrestling more enjoyable.
     
    #17

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