An experiment occurred on this day in wrestling history 19 years ago. WWE taped several weeks of programming in Bethlehem, PA heading into WrestleMania 10, which occurred on 3/20/94.
Lex Luger and Bret Hart were co-winners of the 1994 Royal Rumble when they eliminated each other simultaneously as the final two competitors. As a result, both would vie for the WWE Title against Yokozuna.
Lex Luger was the favorite to leave WrestleMania 10 as champion. WWE had been pushing him as the new top babyface to fill the void left by Hulk Hogan’s departure. However, fan support for Luger waned to the point where the company considered a course correction, but they needed to be sure.
Bret Hart is arguably the best storyteller to ever don a pair of wrestling boots. His exquisite technical prowess and pink and black in-ring attire are a hallmark of his legendary career. However, despite Hart’s intense portrayal of an anti-American heel in 1997, it wouldn’t have cut the mustard in 1998.
If the Montreal Screw job had never happened (November 1997) and Hart never went to WCW, WWE’s Attitude Era would have still been the most famous period in modern professional wrestling. The anti-establishment bravado spearheaded by “Stone Cold” Steve Austin made the era a time of reinvention.
Austin was already tailor-made for the highly volatile TV-14 product. Everyone else, however, charged their stripes to match the contemporary look of the times. If Bret Hart had stayed on, he would undoubtedly have to change as well.
Wrestling fans have always had their sentimental favorites. You know? The ones you’d love to see the world title, but their mid-card ceiling seemed unbreakable. On October 11, 1992, Bret Hart was one of those favorites. Masterful tag team fare followed by an exciting singles run served as an example of Hart’s exquisite craftsmanship in between the ropes.
On October 12, 1992, all that changed for Calgary’s favorite son.
Wednesday was the 30th anniversary of the legendary Bret Hart vs. British Bulldog match from Wembley Stadium. It was also my Birthday. I’ve written about this match hundreds of times; however, there is no clear-cut reason why I’m writing about it this time.
I know it’s personal as opposed to analytical. I’m spitballing here. My words might be clumsy in this exercise of writing for the sake of writing while strolling down memory lane.
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. Continue reading “Favorite Matches #4: Bret Hart vs. British Bulldog”→
The WWE Intercontinental Championship is essentially the silver medal of in-ring achievement. It’s the stepping-stone to main event glory. Behind the scenes, it’s been christened the “workhorse belt” due to its rich history of classic matches. Back in the day, IC title bouts were usually the best match on the card. The action inside the ropes often accentuated the title’s prestige.
The night before the Summer Slam 88, a Mega Powers’ promo hyping their match against the Mega Bucks got me hooked on professional wrestling. The actual matches were ancillary as it was all about the drama and interviews ending in “whatcha gonna do.” Three years later, my wrestling fandom got flipped turned upside down by an amazing match between two all-time greats.
The Intercontinental Title match at Summer Slam 1991 between Mr. Perfect and Bret Hart completely changed how I looked at wrestling. I didn’t know anything about booking or storytelling at the time, however, the match was a masterful display of the art.
This past Sunday’s Royal Rumble match treated fans to some fun over-the-top-rope eliminations. One elimination, in particular, saw Braun Strowman hurl the ill-suited James Ellsworth out of the ring with a chokeslam that sent him crashing to the floor, hip first.
Seeing this hip-crushing ejection got me thinking of some of the memorable Rumble match eliminations over the years that have stuck with me. Some made for great moments while others served as the kick-off to a bitter feud. Then some are just plain terrible.
The Undertaker and Bret “Hitman” Hart are my two favorite wrestlers. Hart’s never give up attitude, despite not being the biggest, fastest or strongest, along with Taker being the unconventional hero to conquer the biggest threats when no one else could, were ideals that inspired me growing up.
I often flip-flop on who takes the number one spot on my list because it changes almost every day. They helped define a generation of wrestling by being two of the best storytellers to step into the ring. However, can you name their best match with one another? Continue reading “Favorite Matches #8: Bret Hart vs. Undertaker”→
What is your favorite wrestling match? This is the single hardest question for any enthusiast of the squared circle to answer. There have been so many legendary nights over the years that it’s hard to narrow it down to just one.
Over the next ten weeks I’m going to write about my ten favorite wrestling matches of all-time. The listings will be in no particular order as I’ve given up on trying to rank every match in specific fashion. Now I just enjoy them as fun collection.