The Hitman: Revolutionizing the Industry
Bret Hart revolutionized the industry in the early 1990s by bringing high-quality, athletic in-ring performances to the fore.
While big, cartoonish men were forced to step aside due to steroid scandals, wrestlers like Hart, Curt Hennig, and Shawn Michaels stepped to the frontline, with Bret leading the charge.
Over the years, Bret Hart has had a lot to say about his peers, but what do they have to say about him? We have collected twelve memorable stories showing who the real Hitman is.
Stone Cold Steve Austin Opens Up About Bret Hart
"Man, working with Bret Hart was some of the most fun matches I’ve ever had in my life,” Steve Austin fondly remembers. “There were Chicago and WrestleMania 13, over in South Africa, in Germany, and Bret had a pretty good stronghold over in Germany.
"I loved working with Bret. I’ve got a lot of respect for Bret as a person and everything he did as a pro wrestler.
"Hell, I remember one time we were working a show somewhere, and Bret was in the main event. He got a flat tire on his Lincoln Towncar, and I changed his tire while he was in the ring working.
"Every day you work with Bret, you could learn something. We had 100 percent trust in each other and 100 percent respect for each other. He’s a badass guy, and every night was a good night with Hart. That’s the truth.
"I wish him all the best. I love that guy. I got so much respect for him. He truly is one of the best ever — an absolute artist in the ring. I hold him in very high regard, and he’s a very dear friend."
How The Hart Foundation Settled on the Color Pink
Bret Hart once shared, "If you remember back then, we used to have blue tights with a black stripe or maroon with a silver stripe.
"[WWF] had a lady back then that used to make all the wrestling gear, and we used to call her and say, ‘We need a new color…’
"She kept saying, ‘I don’t really have anything…all I got left is a hot pink.’
"I went back to Jim, saying, ‘All she’s got is a hot pink…’
"He said, ‘Nah… we’ll never wear pink.’
"We kept waiting. I called her again about a month later and still, all she had was this hot pink…
"Me and Jim went into catering for Saturday Night Main Event, Vince McMahon was there in line at the buffet table.
"We strolled in with these hot pink tights on.
"I remember Vince did like a double-take; he just about fell over. He said, ‘Stop everything! Don’t move…’ He walked around me and Jim about three times. We were starting to think we were about to get fired.
"Vince circled around again and said, ‘Whatever you do… DON’T change that color. The Hart Foundation’s been missing one thing since they got here… it’s color,’ he said, ‘That’s your color.’”
Bret Hart Was Undertaker’s Toughest Opponent
"The toughest opponent [I’ve had] on more of a wrestling format, I think, was Bret Hart,” The Undertaker admits.
“He was always a real challenge for me in the ring, and he actually brought something out of me that a lot of people never got to see because of what my character was. They actually got to see that I could wrestle and that I could wrestle against somebody who did wrestle."
"Some of my favorite matches are with him because you’ve got this big brawler, power guy against this cunning wrestler. To this day, I think my matches were Bret were some of the best."
Harley Race on Why Bret Hart Was a Wrestler’s Wrestler
"A young Bret Hart was as good as they got,” the late-great Harley Race once said.
"In the WWE, I never wrestled Bret because in the time I was there, he was in a tag team with Neidhart, exclusively a tag team and no singles. To me, Bret was a wrestler’s wrestler. He came by that naturally because of his father. I have nothing but admiration for the whole Hart family."
Kevin Nash on the Ring Psychology of Bret Hart
"Bret had that methodical psychology of, ‘I’m the wrestler. It’s David and Goliath. I need to get Goliath off his feet. I’m going to do it methodically. I’m going to go toe-to-toe with him if I have to,” Kevin Nash explained.
“Jim Ross was always the best because he was always telling that story of, ‘Bret Hart when he gets the big man off his feet, he’s got the advantage. But when Diesel is vertical, Bret Hart’s in trouble!’
“We just had that easy psychology to tell that real, simple David and Goliath story. And Bret was stiff. Bret worked stiff. His [stuff] looked good. He worked snug. And you know what? I wouldn’t let another 5 foot 11 guy in this business give me a backbreaker, but I did him because it worked. I never had a bad one with [Bret]."
Bret Hart on Violence in Wrestling
Bret Hart once said, "Wrestling doesn’t have to be overly violent. You don’t have to have wrestlers hit wrestlers over the head with chairs.
"Back in the ’90s, when I was wrestling, they didn’t have chairs. There was always a big red flag if there was blood in a match, and often blood was either a rarity or accidental if a few wrestlers collided. It was never saturated with the gore that maybe it was back in the 70s and ’80s of American wrestling.
“If you look back at the period I was champion in the 90s – from 92 to 97- it was drug-free. Steroid testing and drug testing was as real as it is right now. The violence was pretty much cut off. I can remember situations in wrestling back in the ’90s where they said you cannot use a chair; you absolutely cannot hit anyone with a chair.
"I think it was Undertaker where we had a whole series of suspense built around the chair, but we never hit anyone with the chair.
"I remember Vince saying if we can use the chair but not actually hit anyone with it, it would be great. We didn’t need all the violence and gore. We knew we had a child audience back then. We didn’t want to lose that. I was a fairly outspoken critic of the direction wrestling went after with the sleaze and the girls. I know they made a ton of money through that direction, but it was a more wholesome era when I was champion."
Bob Backlund Opens Up About Bret Hart
"It was a great pleasure to work with Bret,” Bob Backlund fondly remembers. “When I first tried getting into the wrestling business, I called lots of promoters, and Bret’s father Stu was the first promoter I rang. Bret and I had some great matches together.
"That’s when I turned into a bad guy, and I didn’t ever think I would do that during my career, but there were a lot of changes with society and a lot of the good guys in the WWF at the time were lying, cheating and swearing. So I thought, let me be the bad guy by being good…"
Recommended read: Bob Backlund: From Humble Beginnings to Championship Gold
Was Bret Hart and Lex Luger Hitting the Floor at the Same Time at 1994’s Royal Rumble Planned?
Lex Luger and Bret Hart tied for the win at the 1994 Royal Rumble by exiting the ring simultaneously. Just how confident were they of hitting the floor together at the same time?
BRET: "It was critical to the storyline leading into WrestleMania X that our feet touched the ground at the exact same second, even when watched on instant replay and in slow motion by fans around the world…"
LEX: "What was going through my head? Number one: that we could pull it off. Number two: that I could go over the top rope, backward, while holding on to him and that I didn’t crack my skull open in the process. My arms are wrapped around him [so I couldn’t use them to protect myself]. It’s not the most comfortable feeling. I was concerned for my safety…"
BRET: "After a flurry of punches, Lex picked me up with his back to the ropes and attempted to dump me out. Lex controlled how we went over, and it was a testament to his skill and professionalism that it came off so well."
1-2-3 Kid Sean Waltman on Bret Hart Putting Him Over Early in His Career
"I had a [great] match with Bret Hart [as the 1-2-3 Kid] that people still talk about to this day. Even though I lost, he put me over,” Sean Waltman emotionally shared.
"He actually went out on a limb and kind of turned heel just to get me over. I got all my [stuff] in, and we had probably a 35-minute match cut down to 25 for TV. In the end, he raised my hand and hugged me. It was like, man, that boosted my stock and put me straight to the top."
Bret on Wrestling in Japan
"The language barrier sort of complicates things,” Bret Hart remembers.
"The whole trip over there was complications since nobody spoke English and I didn’t speak Japanese. But funnily enough, the wrestlers could call things in Japanese or call them in English — like ‘dropkick’ and ‘clothesline.’ They knew the English terminology for most of their moves. So it was pretty easy to communicate with them.
"But the crowd in Japan was very difficult.
"They would watch wrestling as if they were studying opera or something. They would sit on their hands — nobody would clap or cheer. Every once in a while, there was an ‘Oooh…’ or ‘Ahhh…’, but they generally don’t clap until it’s over.
"So we would build all these things, setting up higher and higher, and you don’t get much reaction from the crowd unless you really work for it. If you really do work for it, you can get them to blow the roof off the place.
"Japanese audiences are great audiences, but they’re just really hard to win over. You really have to know how to pull their strings…"
Mr. Perfect Shares His Thoughts on Bret Hart
"I’d have to say out of all of my matches, my best would have to be with Bret Hart,” ‘Mr. Perfect’ Curt Hennig remembered before his tragic passing.
"Pretty much the same chemistry, same age almost, same background…I went into that match when I lost the Intercontinental belt to him. I was already done for two months – my back was so bad I couldn’t even hardly [enjoy an adult beverage] (laughs)… but I went out and did it. So I have a good thing with Bret Hart forever."
Bret Hart on The Greatest Wrestler of All Time
"I tip my hat to a lot of the great wrestlers. Dynamite Kid– I would never say that I was better than him,” Bret Hart admits. “I think that pound-for-pound, he was the greatest wrestler of all time. [But] I also think that I was more professional than he was, and I had more longevity than he did.
"Curt Hennig was also a wrestler that I would never say I was better than. He was a great wrestler. There are a lot of great wrestlers. Although, I don’t know that anybody did it as safely or as smoothly as I did.
"I never hurt one wrestler in my career that I know of. I never saw a wrestler that couldn’t work the next day on account of working with me. That in and of itself is such a statement. I don’t know of any other wrestler that had a schedule like mine that can say the same thing."
12 Times The WWE Failed To Recognize Talent: Notable Hall Of Fame Omissions
We pay tribute to the legends who were done wrong by Vince McMahon, despite being clearly on his radar. Sadly, many of them will never receive this honor.
Rick Rude: A Ravishing Man with a Tragic End
“He refused to budge.”
Rick Rude was a unique, once-in-a-lifetime kind of wrestler. He went by the nickname “Ravishing” — and rightfully so. He had a solid moveset, great looks, and unbridled arrogance with the in-ring skill to back it up. He played hard in the ring but even harder out of it.
Wrestling Injuries That Ended Careers Too Soon
“When I hit the mat, I knew my neck was broken and that I was paralyzed.”
Greg Valentine’s Defiant Act Behind The WWE Intercontinental Championship Belt
When Greg Valentine and Tito Santana met on July 6, 1985, in a steel cage in Baltimore, Maryland, Santana got the victory to reclaim the title. Valentine responded by retrieving the championship and destroying the belt, beating it repeatedly against the cage and tearing the gold away from the leather.
"I had to give the belt back to Tito after that angle," Valentine said. "And one day, when I saw him a few years ago, I asked whatever became of that belt, because Tito kept it after that angle. What he responded with broke my heart.”
Owen Hart’s Death: What Really Happened, From Those There
VINCE McMAHON: “Earlier that day, I was shocked and surprised by what Owen said.”
On May 23rd, 1999, the wrestling world mourned the loss of Owen Hart. People behind the scenes on this unthinkable day reflect on the tragedy, answering the all-important questions.
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