What is it about Bret Hart that people find fascinating?

Discussion in 'Old School Wrestling' started by HeenanGorilla, Feb 5, 2018.

  1. HeenanGorilla

    HeenanGorilla Championship Contender

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    Before any Bret marks fly off the handle, I am not sarcastically asking "What's so great about Bret Hart?". The question stems from the amount of views and replies that any Bret Hart post gets. Click on Old School Wrestling and scroll down...in general, posts get a few thousand views, unless it's about Bret. Then, you see 12, 15, 17 thousand views.

    So, I am legitimately asking, what is the fascination with Bret Hart based on?

    I'll start with my opinion.

    I started watching wrestling in 1986 and I only watched WWF until 1995 or so...when the guys I grew up watching started showing up on that other channel. Until then, I knew of Flair, Luger, Road Warriors, the Steiners, etc., before they jumped ship to WWF, from their pictures in magazines, but I never watched NWA or anything but WWF. At the time I started watching, Bret was part of a heel Hart Foundation tag team and even though I rooted for the good guys, I liked Bret and was THRILLED when he and Anvil became faces. He had a very cool look and was fun to watch in the ring. I bought his shades and his tank top. (Granted, I am actually one of the people who bought a Hercules t-shirt, so take that for what it's worth. No offense to Herc, and I still think the shirt looks cool, but I doubt he was atop many merchandise sale charts.) Personally, I think terms like ring psychology and "telling a story" are horribly overused here, but Bret's matches really did make sense more than others. He would favor the body parts that his opponents worked on. He would play possum to gain the advantage. Even to a young kid, like me at the time, he was a smart wrestler with cool-looking moves. Not the high-flying spots done today, but he did moves most other guys at that time didn't do...or at least didn't do as well. Check out SummerSlam 89...that match with the Brain Busters is a perfect example. (Actually, I was in attendance for that one and, before signs were EVERYWHERE in the crowd, I had made a Hart Foundation sign that security didn't let me bring in. Fortunately, my dad put it up his pant leg and I didn't have to throw it out.) But, as much as I loved the friendly characters like Hillbilly Jim and Junkyard Dog, Bret was fun to watch in the ring.

    While I was still a huge WWF fan, Bret won the IC title a couple of times and right at the end of my true fandom, he beat Flair for the big belt. The Hulkamania Era had ended at WrestleMania VIII, so I was coming to the end of my infatuation with the WWF at the time Bret was rising to prominence. It wasn't anything to do with Bret, it was just that most of the guys I grew up watching were leaving and I wasn't as interested in the New Generation stars. As my childhood faves started showing up in WCW, and the Monday Night Wars began, I came back to being a full-time fan, but nowhere near as into it as I used to be. BUT, I got a good look at Bret Hart and what he had become. His matches always seemed to be more interesting than the others.

    This leads us into the Hart Foundation heel stable, his feud with Michaels and beyond, but I'll stop here because I wasn't watching nearly as much as most of you probably were.

    So, what was it about Bret? What IS it about Bret that makes anything having to do with him such an attraction for those on this forum? It can't all be Screwjob-related. Is it because of his wonderfully-detailed biography? Did that look into the lives of so many wrestlers make people feel like they knew Bret in a way? Is it simply because he was so good in the ring? Is it because he seems to still be bitter about the product? Is it the "what ifs" concerning Bret leaving WWF, Owen's tragic accident and all that goes along with that?

    I realize I wrote quite a bit here, but I was trying to show that I was a Bret fan and understand why people love, or loved, him. I'm not someone who hates him and is complaining about the attention he gets. I'm truly just wondering why, after all this time, any mention of him gets incredible amounts of attention. What are your reasons for reading Bret posts and not reading others as much?
     
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  2. Starkist

    Starkist (To Rip) The Heart From Your Hate

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    I am not the biggest Bret Hart fan, but my take on why I enjoy him is he seems so smooth overall. His wrestling was smooth, his walk was smooth, it is just the way he carried himself. He owned the Best There Is the Best There Was and the Best There Ever Will Be very well. He was ready to lead RAW until the screw job happened (from what I have gathered) to the slightly more charsmatich HBK. Bret was enjoyable to watch, he knows the business very well and his aoura shows his excellence. He just lacked slightly in the charisma department but that doesn't take away his appeal. Plus, I think the screw job earned him some new fans as well after witnessing what happened to him.
     
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  3. THTRobtaylor

    THTRobtaylor Once & Future Wrestlezone Columnist

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    To answer the question, he cuts across the generations who MOST of these forums are made up by.

    In the mid 80's Bret was perhaps the closest WWF had to a "hearthrob" wrestler. He was good looking, had a cool look and wasn't like the other featured talents of the time, most of whom were monsters.

    He perhaps over-exaggerates his claims of "more fanmail than Hogan" but he was probably getting quite a bit, and even I can remember him being one of the first characters I gravitated to, probably cos of a combo of the Hitman name and the glasses around 86 when I started watching properly. Most in my age bracket will have similar memories of him

    Early 90's he took off as a singles and from the UK side always had that aura of your mates without Sky not believing you when you told them he'd beaten Flair...perhaps my first real "smark" moment. Of course I'd also been to Summerslam 92 so part of his mystique came from that match/experience too.

    For people who started watching in the early 90's, he was there and prominent, for those who started around the time of the screwjob he'd have been the biggest name and for those who never saw him wrestle until he returned to the WWE of which some will be on here, he'll always be that guy they never saw in his prime...

    Like it or not, Bret Hart is part of MOST of the biggest moments of the 90's and very early 2000's in some way or another, even the unfortunate ones like Owen's death. His career arguably "touched" people who "got into wrestling" over a 16 year period, which is covering a huge age range. Many of us are disappointed at his behaviour at times since, but still give the credit that Bret Hart played a big part in our fandom, even if he wasn't our fave.

    For those who missed it, there is probably interest in how he became the bitter old guy that they read about and question if he was ever really that good. In truth, he has to have been or he wouldn't be so indelibly linked to the business's biggest moments.
     
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  4. The Fabulous Rougeau's

    The Fabulous Rougeau's Championship Contender

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    I do think Montreal is a big part of why he gets talked about as much as he does. This was the 1st time we saw anything like that. It was the climax of 97 WWF which occurred in the perfect time of internet just starting but nothing like it is today with all sorts of backstage news being all over the place. As a result much of the audience at the time took a lot of what they saw at face value and the events of Montreal is what allowed the Vince/Austin angle to work so well in that one moment made Vince the biggest heel in the history of wrestling.

    It really comes down to two things for me that make me believe Montreal is the biggest reason for the Bret Hart situation you described.

    1) Fans not knowing what was real and what was a work making that situation the most polarizing moments in wrestling history.
    2) It being the springboard for what would become one of the two biggest boom periods in WWF history in the Attitude Era.
     
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  5. safeco1999

    safeco1999 Occasional Pre-Show

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    Bret was huge outside the US throughout his entire run. He's a big deal in Canada because seeing him wave the Maple Leaf in the faces of his opponents (when he turned heel against the US) was a huge source of national pride in Canada.

    Once he got screwed, people felt sympathetic towards the guy who was so loyal to the company. My speculation is that a lot of people may have connected to Bret, seeing a guy like that get betrayed in real life like that. It's the same reason why people related to Austin so much - they hated their bosses and wished they could do what Austin did to their bosses/teachers/etc.

    But from a pure wrestling side, I think you can truly appreciate the beauty of Hitman matches by reading about them later - Austin's commentary on his Mania match vs. Bret really shows the next level intelligence that Bret has. Or Undertaker saying his best matches were with Bret, and it allowed him to display a different side to his wrestling persona. Several wrestlers have echoed the same sentiments.
     
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  6. Hyorinmaru

    Hyorinmaru Sit Upon The Frozen Heavens
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    He's old school but not to old school that people haven't heard of him like a Gorgeous George or Verne Gagne.

    He's easily found on the Network which means people of all ages can watch his matches and then come here to talk about them.
     
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  7. Makaveli31

    Makaveli31 Championship Contender

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    Bret Hart is one of the most, and arguably, the most polarizing figure in pro wrestling history. You are either on his side when it comes to the "Montreal' Screwjob" and the whole "Bret screwed Bret" argument or you are not. Either way we all have an opinion. The same goes for his beef with Shawn Michaels and Triple H. Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair and list goes on and on. Eric Bischoff. Vince McMahon. Vince Russo. You either agree with him or think of him as a guy who blames others.

    To me, Bret is one the most real and raw personalities. Sure, he has his biases and opinions and I don't agree with all of them but I know he's speaking the truth and what he actually believes unlike Hogan, Flair, or Shawn and HHH. He had no agenda. It is why I value his opinion. It comes from what he's seen and experienced in the wrestling business. It's not a canned answer meant to butter someone or bury someone and I think that's what rubs alot of people the wrong way. He has strong opinions and has the pedigree who back them up.
     
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  8. shooter_mcgavin

    shooter_mcgavin Mid-Card Championship Winner

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    He was a great wrestler and one of the best in the ring. But, as a kid, that was secondary Bret Hart was just awesome in his presentation. He wasn't a super hero or a larger than life character he was just cool. Nononsense slick and his Leather Jacket, Shades, Pink Attire, and long hair really made him look like the pro-wrestling's Fonzie
     
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  9. THTRobtaylor

    THTRobtaylor Once & Future Wrestlezone Columnist

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    He's also popped a few bubbles over the years, for example digging out Davey Boy in his book and being as open on his views of Triple H etc.

    I think the other thing that makes people dislike him is that he has been "holier than thou" at times, yet in his book admitted being far from a role model when it came to his wife etc... Some people gained respect for his honesty, but it also puts a different veneer on that whole Wrestling With Shadows period, when you know he's boning anything in sight (including Sunny most likely) while his wife seems pretty oblivious.

    That in itself is something that a lot of people will remember him for too... he was the first guy to do a "reality" thing in Wrestling, to let you backstage to see the WWF and how it worked with that film. Even with Vince's involvement, you could tell he was never 100% comfortable. It was the first time the myths of things like The Hart get togethers, all the cats and The Dungeon actually got shown, before Bret let those cameras in and forced them into his deal, those type of tales all stayed in the business as urban legends. Would the screwjob have happened without that movie? Would it be as legendary or would Vince have made the Mr. McMahon thing work so well? probably not - we all saw him after he got knocked out, we all saw the aftermath... either Bret was very clever at the time or very unfortunate that Vince was the one to prosper from it.
     
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  10. Makaveli31

    Makaveli31 Championship Contender

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    But even with all that, the documentaries, the books, the interviews, there are still the "myths" out there about Bret. The decision not to drop the title to Shawn, the whole "Screwjob" set up, the decision to go back to the WWE in 2006 and later in 2012. It seems like every move he makes or every opinion he has is dissected like no other. People are always looking for an ulterior motive or some "shade" that is thrown at the direction of someone.
     
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  11. THTRobtaylor

    THTRobtaylor Once & Future Wrestlezone Columnist

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    I guess because he did exactly that so publicly... he dissected the whole contract/Shawn situation for the doc... then he did the same with everything to do with the screwjob and Owen. Gotta be prepared to take it if you do it yourself.
     
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  12. relentless1

    relentless1 G.O.A.T.

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    Mostly the Montreal screw job

    And HBK real life issues

    But also he was good at his job in a time where being small and steroid free was a detriment, he helped usher in a time where being athletic was better than being huge which is still being enjoyed by guys like Styles and Balor today.

    He was one of the first guys who could end a match in other ways than his prescribed finisher; he told a unique story in the ring most of the time which is a rarity.
     
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  13. Goldie

    Goldie Getting Noticed By Management

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    There is so much more to Brets legacy than just the screwjob.

    He has to rank in the top 10 WWE all time list based on his achievements, and no matter what some may say... he was one heck of a wrestler in the ring. The way he would structure his matches and time his comebacks was impeccable.
    I still rank his Summerslam92 match with Davey amongst my favourites ever. How many 5 star matches has he been in? countless.

    For me as a kid in the early 90s- you had so many 'Over the top' cartoon characters... Hogan, Warrior, Taker, Savage were larger than life characters... but Bret didn't have such a flashy persona.... in fact he seemed more real, more human... someone you could relate to.
    I think his popularity was also underated. Whilst he couldn't follow Hogan at the box office (but who could till Austin exploded?) he did have a worldwide following. As a European I can say he was exceptionally popular in the UK, Germany.... and of course a national hero in Canada.

    After his career he did become somewhat of a jaded cynic .... (though despite this his book is still an excellent read), however its great to see after all this years that he has mended fences with Vince and Shawn, and move on with his life.
    That said the Screwjob was still incredibly intriguing ... but that alone doesn't define him.
    He was one of the best.
     
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  14. ilapierre

    ilapierre Getting Noticed By Management

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    There's absolutely nothing wrong with Bret being a labelled an 'aging cynic' by naive wrestling fans. Calling a spade a spade, like saying that Triple H is his own biggest mark, is simple honesty. Today's millennials know very little about being honest with others and themselves as they grew up on a steady diet of fake reality TV and parental guidance garbage. Obviously the screwjob is a big part of the fascination surrounding Bret on wrestling threads. But the biggest reason is that Bret was simply one of the all time best. I think what makes 'Bret threads' the more entertaining though is the fact that Bret himself is a straight shooter who is never shy to speak his mind. Bret has also been known to stand for doing the right thing. That's why he's so outspoken and 'cynical' about those who don't or in the past didn't do the right thing. It wasn't just a hero character he played on TV. Bret is and was the real deal and people who hold integrity above all else, like myself, tend to be fascinated with him.
     
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  15. FromGlasgow

    FromGlasgow Championship Contender

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    No matter what you think of the guy personally you can't deny the talent he had, His matches against Dynamite etc were incredible and in my opinion on a different level to anything before or since, With the exception of his most recent WWE return have you ever seen a bad or lackluster Bret Hart match? I'm a huge Hogan fan but even I was disapointed by his 30 second main event against Yokozuna the first time I seen him live in the UK but Bret Hart I always felt gave 100% each time even against lower card guys, His matches felt real there was no over the top or wasted moves. I have seen him at conventions a couple of times now and his line always seems longer than everyone elses so going by that he seems popular.
     
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  16. TDFG

    TDFG Championship Contender

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    Bret Hart was like the down to Earth guy that went about his business, what guy could be considered cool yet wore pink & black as his attire.

    He won the World Title and despite him being in the WWF for some time it was like the New Generation had arrived. Hogan was on his way out with his tired and dated gimmick, Savage was semi-retired, Andre was gone, Flair was gone, DiBiase's back was giving him problems.

    Bret Hart didn't have bulging biceps, he didn't have some cartoon gimmick, but he was 'The Hitman', the guy that wore leather jackets and introduced people to a more technical, submission style wrestling that people at the time probably weren't too familiar with.

    I can't remember Bret Hart having a poor match, bear in mind Hart wasn't the biggest wrestler either, and he had feuds against the likes Yokozuna, Diesel, Bob Backlund. Basically everyone who wrestled him says it was like a night off and he never injured anyone.

    If Bret Hart was on the card then the match was worth watching, it didn't matter whether is was against HBK, Jerry Lawler, Hakushi or Bam Bam Bigelow.

    Even when he was past his peak and seeing out his days in WCW, there's a couple of matches against Benoit that anyone who is a wrestling fan should watch, regardless of opinions of the latter.
     
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  17. WWEWrestleFest

    WWEWrestleFest Pre-Show Stalwart

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    I think his fans feels like he was screwed his entire career. He was too small to main event with guys like Hogan, Andre, Savage, Warrior, etc, was never going to get out of the tag-team/IC level. Then when the New Generation era started to take shape, Vince always wanted someone else on top, be it Luger, Diesel, or HBK. Obviously the screwjob happened. And then in WCW he was supposedly held down, and then forced to retired sooner than he probably would have due to injury. On top of that, you add personal tragedy such as Owen and Davey Boy dying, and him having a serious stroke. And on top of that, HBK came back after the Attitude era and had a whole second run, you couldn't help feel like Bret should have been there was well. You could see why his fans would feel bad for him.

    On the other hand, there are those who say he never really became a top star like Hogan or Flair because he wasn't that special. They say the screwjob was his own fault for not doing what his boss told him to do. They say he's bitter now and that's why he's constantly criticizing any and every one.

    His peak was the New Generation era, but he was a part of the start of the Attitude era, and the screwjob is the event that really put the wheels in motion for the Attitude era and the evil Vince McMahon character. And while he was always a tag-team/IC level guy during the Hulkamania era, was a big part of it. So really the two biggest boom periods, while not the top guy, he was a part of both to some degree. And on top of that with his polarizing personality and career, it’s understandable why so many wrestling fans still find him fascinating today.
     
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  18. rmp0012002

    rmp0012002 Championship Contender

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    If the screw job is all you remember about Bret Hart then you’re not much of a wrestling fan. Bret was always true to the sport being how he grew up in a wrestling family. The times when he wouldn’t drop the belt to someone was because of the way that person was to Bret, ala Shawn Michaels. He was a wrestler not a gimmick and that’s how he felt the business should be.
     
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  19. THTRobtaylor

    THTRobtaylor Once & Future Wrestlezone Columnist

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    Not sure you can say that, as a whole generation of fans have come to the sport/business since Bret retired. They were not around when he was at his prime, and the first things they hear linked to his name are Montreal, Screwjob, Shawn, Owen...

    A modern wrestling fan may not have had the chance to go back and watch his work, or learn about him past a Wikipedia read or the odd youtube video. Remember he retired in 2001, so that's potentially any fan upto around 25 or so who may not be that familiar with him...

    They may have just grown up with Edge as their "canadian hero" or Chris Jericho... they may have been a Cena fan or focused on TNA.

    The difficulty is that much of Bret's career is either controversy or relatively repetitive... There are good matches, but a lot of dross... There's Wrestling with Shadows, but watching that without either being around the first time or having watched the whole time period makes it not very useful. His own book has somewhat damaged perception of even his best match as Summerslam by throwing the dead Davey under the bus as he did.

    Bret's career to the uninitiated can only ever be viewed "through a prism" so to speak now... just as Shawn's can. It's unfortunate but the reality is a lot of younger fans won't have the time or dedication to learn about it... and they will still be wrestling fans.
     
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  20. Vintage Punk

    Vintage Punk Pre-Show Stalwart

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    The thing about Bret Hart for me was what some of you said, a great in-ring technician that wasn't so gimmicky or larger than life but regular guy so to speak. When I started watching as a kid in the late 80's, of course like many I loved Hogan, Warrior, Savage, Demolition, etc because they were larger than life and characters. However, one guy who stood out was Bret Hart. At first what stood out to me about him was his in-ring work. Most of those guys I just mentioned and many others from that era had a limited and basic move set capped with a finisher in which most were pretty weak (Hogan leg drop, Warrior Big Splash, etc). However, Bret would do some great in-ring work and was good at selling especially when he'd hit that turnbuckle with his chest which I never saw other guys do. Secondly, his character was slick and cool with the jacket and glasses and the name Hitman. Now early on he wasn't that great at promos and delivered some typical old school style promos like the rest of the guys. But later he came into his own and when he became a heel, he was adding realism and delivering some good promos, not like an Austin or Rock, but still pretty solid.

    One last thought, I was recently watching some episodes of Raw/PPVs around the summer of 97 on the network and the Hart Family special on there. Kind of saddens me to think how great of a stable the Hart Foundation was as they were a great heel stable in the States but in Canada were god-like. And within a couple months, Pillman died and Bret was out of the WWF followed by Anvil and Bulldog and further another year or so later with Owen's death. I just think what could have been had Pillman not died and Bret, Davey, and Anvil not left. Could've had some great feuds with DX along with maybe Bret vs The Rock, Bret vs Kane, hart Foundation vs NOD, maybe revisit Bret vs Stone Cold again, etc. Honestly I think even if Bret stayed, we still would've gotten the Attitude Era and Mr. McMahon as a heel boss. What could have been....
     
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  21. THTRobtaylor

    THTRobtaylor Once & Future Wrestlezone Columnist

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    The one thing I do believe is that Bret would never have gone along properly with Attitude. While he could be hypocritical on some stuff, the one thing I always took was for better or worse, he genuinely believed he was a role model and him being involved in that would have been distasteful to him, not to mention Austin was clearly intended to supplant him.

    Austin was the perfect catalyst in many ways, and the injury at Owen's hands sealed the deal. However, what might have been had Pillman NOT rolled his car and come in crippled? Attitude would have happened with HIM at the helm and it would have been crazier. Bret may then have been more interested as it would have been him vs Pillman, two Stampede guys at the helm with Shawn in the wings for the winner.

    Ultimately though it's academic as Vince was the one who decided he no longer wanted Bret Hart. Whether the company was in true "financial peril" we'll never know, but he clearly had second thoughts over the long term deal he signed with Bret... perhaps once he realised he COULD be an ass backstage, just hadn't been.
     
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  22. LibSuperstar

    LibSuperstar Occasional Pre-Show

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    Hard to imagine Bret fitting in the Attitude Era though Hart-Pillman could've been great. We probably could've gotten a proper Austin-Pillman feud.
     
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