Favorite Matches #4: Bret Hart vs. British Bulldog

The critically acclaimed HBO series Legendary Nights tells the story surrounding thirteen of the most unforgettable bouts in the modern era of boxing. If professional wrestling were to produce an equivalent series, there is no doubt Bret Hart vs. British Bulldog from SummerSlam 1992 would occupy the list.

This match occurred on my 12th birthday. Money was tight for my family and we couldn’t afford to fix our broken VCR. This would be the first time that I was unable to record a WWF event on a Polaroid Super Color T-120 VHS Tape.

The I.C. title clash between Hart and Bulldog headlined the massive event held at London’s Wembley Stadium, even though, the WWF Championship match pitting Randy Savage against Ultimate Warrior was the advertised main event in the United States.

Vince McMahon considered Washington D.C. the site of that year’s SummerSlam where Hart was scheduled to drop the title to Shawn Michaels. Once England became a possible location, Hart convinced McMahon to let him put over the Bulldog if the company made the trip across the pond. England won the bid and one question remained.

How do you build heat between two babyfaces? The answer is family drama.

The storyline revealed the two were in-laws. Bulldog was married to Hart’s sister, Diana, making everyone wonder where her allegiance would lie. There was another storyline, however, that WWF couldn’t promote on their kid friendly television program.

In his autobiography, Hart stated Bulldog was “high as a kite” on the plane ride to England. During entrance rehearsal, the night before the show, Bulldog revealed he had smoked crack with Jim Neidhart for over four weeks. Hart sat down a wayward Bulldog and mapped out the entire match.

Five minutes after the bell rang; Bulldog was out of breath, clamped in a side headlock and told Hart “I’m fooked. I can’t remember anything.” In the most important wrestling match of their career and in front of WWF’s highest drawing crowd at the time, Hart called out every move, every high spot, and even facial expressions for the Bulldog. Hart shepherd an exciting contest as fans cheered for the Bulldog at every turn.

After a double clothesline, Hart tangled his leg through Bulldog’s; turned over and applied the sharpshooter. The crowd exploded as Hart looked as if he was trying to cripple the Bulldog. No one had ever escaped the sharpshooter until that evening as Bulldog scratched and clawed his way to the ropes. The crowd gasped in relief as referee Joey Marella called for the break.

All good things must come to end and this match was no exception. Hart came off the ropes and dove over Bulldog for a sunset flip. Instead of falling on his back, however, Bulldog fell forward, hooking Hart’s legs for the pin. Wembley Stadium erupted as their native hero won the gold.

While I found the result disappointing, I couldn’t have been happier with the finished product. Hart vs. Bulldog was grappling poetry that left me in a state of euphoria as I went to bed that evening. It was a once in a lifetime classic that cemented Hart’s legacy.

Bulldog deserves credit for entrusting himself to Hart’s generalship that evening. I have seen many matches where wrestlers lose their way and have bad matches with great workers because they simply don’t listen. Bulldog was hungover as can be and followed Hart’s instructions to a T.

In his 2005 Hall of Fame induction speech, Hart said his match with Bulldog is his favorite and most memorable. After all the drama beforehand, I would pat myself on the back for that performance, too. Honestly, I could write about this match all day!

2 thoughts on “Favorite Matches #4: Bret Hart vs. British Bulldog

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