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Happy 60th Birthday, Bret Hart


tiger_rick
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That title makes me feel ancient. God knows how it makes Bret feel.

I nearly started a thread recently about which wrestler is your absolute favourite. Just one. The sort of thread we used to get all the time but haven't had for ages. Feel free to add your answers. I might even edit the title tomorrow!

Mine is Bret Hart. Always has been and always will be. Randy Savage runs him close but not enough.

I've no idea why I was drawn to Bret. It was long before he was even IC champion, let alone a WWFtitle contender. Something about the pink gear, the hair, the glasses and the tan just appealed.

He was the best wrestler I've ever seen. Just immaculate. Smooth, believable, exciting on offence, majestic when selling. His mic work overall isn't lauded but he cut some of my favourite promos ever and was someone whose word I always clung to.

I've never given a shit about the criticisms of him outside the ring. Took himself too seriously? Thays not a criticism. That'sa compliment. And the reason he was incredible. 

Bitter? Damn right he is. He was forced out of the WWF, betrayed to the bargain, watched his brother die on live TV, suffered a career ending injury and then had a stroke and aged ten years overnight. And the rest. If I was him, I'd be bitter too - if I could avoid killing myself. 

We can say this about a lot of guys but there'll never another like Bret. Fuck me, I adore that guy.

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Great post Rick, and too bloody right. Apologies if this turns into.a rant, I share a birthday with Mr Hart so have had a couple of shandies.

 Bret will always be my absolute favourite. There was always a certain integrity and legitimacy about him. He was a ring general for sure, but even when people criticise his promo skills (wrongly) they miss that even where he wasn't cutting the over the top promos some of his peers were for, he always seemed the genuine article, and you could believe he meant what he said. If anything his style was ahead of its time in its subtle, realistic delivery. 

A true great, happy birthday!

 

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It's not going to be a great birthday for Bret, unfortunately. His brother Smith has passed away today.

Bret was a huge part of my childhood - the first memory of him I have is him smashing up Bad News Brown's Battle Royal trophy at 'Mania IV in his big face turn. He quickly became my second-favourite wrestler (after Hogan, of course - anyone my age who claims Hogan wasn't their number one at this point is a liar). Bret's IC title era for me is what makes it the most prestigious title in WWE - from him winning it from Perfect at SummerSlam '91, losing it and then regaining it before having that classic match with Bulldog at Wembley. His heel turn in '97 produced probably my favourite period in his career with the new Hart Foundation faction and the feud with Austin which produced the WWF's greatest match up to that point. The screw job pretty much finished Bret, he lost his heart after that and the man who wrestled in WCW was a shadow of the man he'd been the year before. I would have loved to have seen a motivated Bret Hart against Sting, Hogan etc. Maybe a good idea for the near future to have a "Book Bret Hart in WCW" thread like the one Rick started to rebook Steve Austin in 2000-2001.

Wrestling's version of Messi-Ronaldo, for me, is Michaels-Hart. For me, Shawn was marginally better in the 1990s (and since his 2002-2010 run, undisputedly so). But being second to the absolute greatest of all time is no disgrace.

Some Bret Hart matches everyone must see:

  1.  Bret Hart vs Steve Austin (Mania 13)
  2. Bret Hart vs Owen Hart (Mania X)
  3. Bret Hart vs British Bulldog (SummerSlam '92)
  4. Bret Hart vs Chris Benoit (Nitro at the Kemper Arena, 1999)
  5. Bret Hart vs Diesel (Survivor Series '95)
  6. Bret Hart vs Mr Perfect (SummerSlam '91)
  7. Bret Hart vs Undertaker (SummerSlam '97)
  8. IYH: Canadian Stampede

I hope 'The Hitman' lives to be a hundred years old.

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Yeah. Damn shame his career was cut short, because he'd have definitely drop his bitterness earlier than he did, and came back around 2002. If he was match fit, he'd have 100% returned when they bought WCW. I just watched SummerSlam 2010 the other day, and for about 2 minutes it was like 1997 again. He was excellent in that match. Couldnt take a bump, but his offence was sensational.

As far as his mic work, he'd be one of the best talkers on the roster today. We're in a world where Dean Ambrose is considered a good talker for fucks sake. And for me, put the likes of Kevin Owens and Bray Wyatt or whoever is considered good today, I bet they wont have a year on the mic like Bret did in 1997.

Whenever anyone mentions Bret's age, I always think that he isnt that much younger than Jake Roberts. Yet when Bret was headlining WrestleMania 12, they were doing the "look at this old cunt" storyline with Jake. Definitely says more about Jake than it does Bret in fairness.

Needs to cut that hair, though. Lisa Dingle, I believe NEWM wonderfully described him.

Edited by IANdrewDiceClay
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22 minutes ago, IANdrewDiceClay said:

Whenever anyone mentions Bret's age, I always think that he isnt that much younger than Jake Roberts. Yet when Bret was headlining WrestleMania 12, they were doing the "look at this old cunt" storyline with Jake. Definitely says more about Jake than it does Bret in fairness.

And was (and is) a few years older than Dok Hendrix and Barry Windham too, and you really wouldn't have thought that in 1996.

 

I've still never taken to him though

Edited by PowerButchi
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He was 35 when he won the title from Flair in 1992 as well. I never really thought about wrestlers' ages back then but you wouldn't have had him down as 35 when the Flair match and the Bulldog Wembley match happened. 

When did he start looking really haggard? Like Rick says, it's understandable why he aged so much given all the shit he went through but it seemed like it happened really quick. He still looked alright around 2000 and even when he came back in 2005 to do his first big DVD, he was grey but he didn't look that old in the face. By the time he came back and did the whole thing with Vince and Shawn though, he was Lisa Dingle in a leather jacket. 

Edit - Ha, no problem Ian.

Edited by wandshogun09
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It was my friends birthday today and while we were out celebrating  I made a point of telling her she shared it with Bret, my childhood idol. Whilst I'm sure she wasn't impressed- Bret has always been my number one.  A lot of his matches from the 90s I could retell move by move and he was such a big part of that time of my life.

Gutted I never saw him live.

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4 hours ago, Sonny Mustang said:

It was my friends birthday today and while we were out celebrating  I made a point of telling her she shared it with Bret, my childhood idol. Whilst I'm sure she wasn't impressed- Bret has always been my number one.  A lot of his matches from the 90s I could retell move by move and he was such a big part of that time of my life.

Gutted I never saw him live.

Same. He was at the Ice Arena in Hull in 1994, I think, and some mates went and I didn't. Still gutted. Didn't think I had anything for the misconceptions thread but this has just reminded me that my mate turned up the day after the show with some Bret Hart Glasses and tried to convince me that Bret had given them to him as he always did pre-match. They were the replica ones with the printed signature on. And he wasn't even ringside.

6 hours ago, wandshogun09 said:

He was 35 when he won the title from Flair in 1992 as well. I never really thought about wrestlers' ages back then but you wouldn't have had him down as 35 when the Flair match and the Bulldog Wembley match happened.

Was thinking about this last night while trying to fathom how Bret could possibly be 60. I think it's because everyone looked so old back then. Hulk looked 50, Earthquake looked 60, Ax looked 70, Andre looked 80. Bret at 35 was a whippersnapper.

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9 hours ago, IANdrewDiceClay said:

Whenever anyone mentions Bret's age, I always think that he isnt that much younger than Jake Roberts. Yet when Bret was headlining WrestleMania 12, they were doing the "look at this old cunt" storyline with Jake. Definitely says more about Jake than it does Bret in fairness.

I always think back to that with Jake, with Backlund when they brought him back in the '90s, and even LOD in '98, to a lesser extent, they would talk up what old timers they were, and how they might have missed a step, in a way you never hear now.

Backlund was 46 in 1995 - Triple H is older than that now, and you can guarantee that if they stick him in a match at Summerslam, no one's going to be questioning whether his best days are behind him, they'll be talking him up as an all-conquering legend. Hell, Jericho's that age now, and he was never booked as an old bloke.

I kind of miss that. I think it builds more intrigue to acknowledge that someone's older - they might not be as quick as they were, but they're smarter and more experienced. There's more storytelling potential in that than in WWE's approach, which seems to be to pretend that you're always as good as you always were, until you actually retire, at which point you're an interchangeable doddery old clown to dance about with Sgt. Slaughter and Jim Duggan in backstage segments and spout your catchphrase.

Watching LOD at the '98 Rumble, Jerry Lawler says, "the older they get, the better they were"; even from a heel, you'd never hear something like that said about a member of the active roster today!

 

Back on topic - Bret was great. Not my favourite wrestler of all time - that accolade falls to Roddy Piper, though he's the other half of my favourite match of all time, with Hot Rod. While the storytelling in that match is all focused on Piper's crisis of conscience, it takes two to tango, and Bret is the perfect partner to make that work.

Like @tiger_rick said, crisp and immaculate. Even when he wasn't the most exciting, everything made sense and looked great. He was a huge part of my childhood fandom and, watching back later in life, the '97 Hart Foundation stuff is amongst the best constructed wrestling storytelling going. The match at Canadian Stampede is an absolute masterpiece.

It's easy to talk about the bitterness, and what a shame it was that he was never able to come back to the WWE while still able to perform, but he was a wasted opportunity well before then. Watching his heel work towards the end of his WWF run, that should have been the making of a career-defining heel. If he had never left the WWF, he could have been the villain for the duration of the Attitude Era. How little WCW capitalised on getting Bret Hart, and how little he seemed to give a shit as a result, was depressing to watch - probably the worst misuse of a talent ever.

 

Here's a great clip from Madison Square Garden in 2010 - Five Moves of Doom!

 

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