Hey everyone! It’s The Wrestling Classic here with another list for One37PM.
This time I’ll be ranking the 30 best matches of the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be, Bret “The Hitman” Hart. I thought it was appropriate to work on an article on Bret Hart due to him being announced as an inductee for the 2021 Canadian Walk of Fame. Outside of that though, the Hitman was my childhood hero and arguably the greatest wrestler in the history of the business. I grew up idolizing Bret Hart and as a kid from Canada, he was representing our country.
Many wrestlers of today would say Bret Hart was an influence of theirs and everyone has a favorite Hitman match. He wasn’t dubbed the “Excellence of Execution” for no reason. I could watch Bret Hart matches all day and to be honest I did exactly that for a couple of days preparing for this article. Shoutout to everyone on my Instagram and Twitter who gave me suggestions including All Elite Wrestling’s very own Dax Harwood of FTR.
MSG – 03/19/90
Bret “The Hitman” Hart vs. Rick Martel
Saturday Nights Main Event – 04/27/91
Bret “The Hitman” Hart vs. “Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase
Wrestlemania 9 – 12/05/93
Bret “The Hitman” Hart (C) vs. Yokozuna w/ Mr. Fuji
Raw – 02/21/94
Bret “The Hitman” Hart vs. Dr. Tom Prichard
Wrestlemania X – 03/20/94
Bret “The Hitman” Hart vs. Yokozuna (C) w/ Mr. Fuji
King of the Ring – 06/19/94
Bret “The Hitman” Hart (C) w/ Jim Neidhart vs. Diesel w/Shawn Michaels
Royal Rumble – 01/21/96
Bret “The Hitman” Hart (C) vs. Undertaker w/ Paul Bearer
In Your House 6 – 02/18/96
WWE Championship – Steel Cage Match
Bret “The Hitman” Hart (C) vs. Diesel
Shotgun Saturday Night – 01/25/97
Bret “The Hitman” Hart vs. Mankind
Raw – 02/17/97
WWE Championship – Steel Cage
Bret “The Hitman” Hart vs. Sycho Sid (C)
Raw – 03/31/97
Bret “The Hitman” Hart vs. Rocky Maivia
In Your House 14 – 04/20/97
Bret “The Hitman” Hart (C) vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin
Raw – 08/09/97
Bret “The Hitman” Hart vs. Vader
ECW Wrestlefest – 11/09/97
Bret “The Hitman” Hart vs. Terry Funk
Nitro – 06/22/98
Bret “The Hitman” Hart vs. Chris Benoit
Mayhem – 12/05/99
Bret “The Hitman” Hart vs. Chris Benoit
Bret Hart isn’t very fond of his time in World Championship Wrestling so a lot of younger fans are quick to write it off. However, the Hitman had a handful of memorable and solid matches that you’ll find on this list. If you never took the time to watch these matches, definitely do so. The first one that makes the list is Randy Savage versus the Hitman at Slamboree with “Rowdy” Roddy Piper as the special referee. It’s crazy how many times and for how long Savage and Hart were in the same company together but yet they have very few matches against each other.
Out of that handful of matches, only two of them were televised. At this point of their careers, they were both larger-than-life names, multiple-time World Champions, and even though this match wasn’t as technically sound as their other matches on this list, it showcased just how good they both were at telling stories in the ring. The finish was overbooked in typical WCW fashion with shenanigans but the work between my two all-time favorites and the addition of Hot Rod make this a memorable one.
This is one of those hidden gem matches. Most fans remember Bret Hart versus Hakushi from the very first In Your House event but they had a rematch later in the year on Monday Night Raw. This was a shorter match and different from their first encounter as Bret Hart seemed more confident against Hakushi. These two worked a faster pace here pulling out ahead of their time aerial moves mid-match.
Hakushi did a moonsault over the top rope while The Hitman sprung off the middle rope to splash onto his opponent outside the ring. Another big difference between this match and the one at In Your House was that Bret picked up a definitive victory here where he felt like he just snuck away with the victory in their previous match.
This is another one of those classic WCW matches that Bret “The Hitman” Hart had. After years of teaming with his brother Stevie Ray as one half of Harlem Heat, Booker T was focusing on his singles career. The Hitman was embroiled in a short feud with Booker in the Summer of 98 that accumulated at Bash at the Beach. Bret Hart seemingly injured Booker’s knee which would sideline Booker for a handful of months.
Therefore when they met again in 1999 to become the number one contender for the United States Championship, Booker T made it clear that his knee was all better and he was ready for the opportunity. This was a really good match and Hart made Booker T look like a star. The finish even saw Booker T pick up the win when he reversed a sunset flip into a quick pinfall victory. Definitely a hidden gem for you younger fans.
This was the real first-ever ladder match in the WWE. The company likes the narrative that the first one took place at WrestleMania X between Razor Ramon and Shawn Michaels because it sounds better that it took place on the bigger stage under a larger spotlight. Also, this ladder match wasn’t aired live on television but became a Coliseum Video Exclusive. In this ladder match, Bret Hart defended his Intercontinental Championship against Shawn Michaels which actually took place two years before WrestleMania X.
They were really testing out the concept here and it led to a pretty good match. Sensational Sherri was in HBK’s corner which also added to the match. The Hitman who wrestled in a ladder match back during his days in Stampede Wrestling won the first-ever ladder match in the WWE. The match would become a staple in the company to this day. Check it out if you’ve never seen it.
The SummerSlam 1992 main event between British Bulldog and Bret Hart for the Intercontinental Championship is the more memorable match between the two but this encounter from In Your House 5 was awesome as well. It really gets forgotten or overshadowed due to the significance of their SummerSlam match and it took place in a year that was really weird for the business overall. If I did a list of the top ten In Your House matches, this match would definitely make the list.
Davey Boy Smith was a bad guy here with Jim Cornette in his corner so he was more aggressive and violent towards his brother-in-law. Bret’s sister and Smith’s wife Diana were in the crowd for this as they would show her reactions to things throughout the match. The Hitman got busted open here and was bleeding quite a bit which really added to the story that he had a lot to overcome here. Bret ended up retaining but it came off as if he barely did.
This is another one of those matches younger fans might not know about and other fans might have forgotten about but I had always enjoyed it. Bret Hart and Undertaker are two of my all-time favorites so I was always conflicted when they wrestled each other growing up. This was the rematch from their Summerslam encounter where Bret Hart had won the championship from the Phenom. The time around Bret Hart wasn’t trying to defeat the Undertaker but rather survive him to keep his title.
It took place in the UK so the fans were actually split down the middle even though The Hitman was a heel at this point. It was a simple story of where Hart targeted Undertaker’s knee to keep the advantage. Bret would go back to attack it every time Undertaker got the upper hand. Undertaker would not stop his attack to the point that the match ended in DQ which was an underwhelming finish to a solid match.
This match was surrounded by drama due to the people involved and stipulations in place which really added suspense to every minute of it. The Undertaker was defending his WWE Championship against Bret “The Hitman” Hart. Bret Hart said he would never wrestle on American soil again if he didn’t win the championship. Shawn Michaels somehow weaseled himself into being the special referee. Bret Hart got paranoid about Shawn screwing him over so the bosses made a rule that if he intentionally cost Bret Hart the match that he also would no longer be allowed to wrestle on American soil.
If all of that doesn’t already make you want to see how this match plays out, how about the fact that it was actually a really good match itself. Bret kept finding ways to gain the upper hand even if it was borderline cheating. Shawn Michaels was conflicted the entire match, holding himself back from slipping and The Undertaker wouldn’t stay down even breaking out of the sharpshooter at one point which nobody has done before. The finish was controversial but the results of this match planted the seeds for everything that would happen for the next seven months till WrestleMania 14.
I still think this match stands as the greatest opening match for WrestleMania. Owen Hart started off 1994 by being sick of being in his brother’s shadow after some controversy between the two in the end half of 1993. Finally, The Rocket got his brother to agree to face him in a match at the grandest stage of them all, Wrestlemania. It was a battle between the older brother and the younger brother. Bret was going to wrestle two matches this night since he was the co-winner of the Royal Rumble so it made sense that his matches would be kept apart. Also as the top babyface, it made sense that he would both open and close the show.
Nobody expected that Bret Hart would lose with a big WWE Championship match later in the night. The match was perfect from the jump. Owen Hart was celebrating every little successful move he did while Bret Hart was being more reserved and smart about the bout. The spots in the match, the pacing, the purpose behind every move, and just the work they put in were perfection. These two told a great story and used the canvas to portray their art. Owen ended up having one last lucky counter that earned him the victory. As a younger brother myself, it was awesome to see the younger brother outsmart the older brother with a slick victory. This is one of the greatest matches of all time. Don’t @ me.