wrestling / Columns

Ask 411 Wrestling: How Often Did Bret Hart Have the Best Match on PPV?

January 11, 2021 | Posted by Ryan Byers
Bret Hart WWE Shoot

Welcome guys, gals, and gender non-binary pals, to Ask 411 Wrestling. I am your party host, Ryan Byers, and I am here to answer some of your burning inquiries about professional wrestling.

If you have one of those queries searing a hole in your brain, feel free to send it along to me at [email protected]. Don’t be shy about shooting those over – the more, the merrier.

Hey, ya want a banner?

I’ve been told I should promote my Twitter account more. So, go follow me on Twitter.

James is drawing parallels all over the place:

Whilst watching a video about the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship, first won by Frank Shamrock in 1997, I noticed a striking similarity to the WCW Cruiserweight Championship design. I initially thought maybe Eric Bischoff had slightly copied the design to capitalize on UFC’s popularity at the time, and then realized I remember the CW design being around longer.

I looked back at Shinjiro Otani’s CW title win in 1996 when the championship was created, and he did indeed actually have the same belt that would stay as the Cruiserweight Championship until WCW closed its doors in 2001.

Is there anything you can find that says maybe Dana White/UFC saw how popular the cruisers were becoming and decided to push that element too and copy the look slightly for their championship or do they just look similar? As much crap as Dana used to give professional wrestling as fake shit, it’d be funny if he then copied it so much back then.

We’ll start with a small correction to the facts outlined in your question. You are correct when you say that the WCW Cruiserweight Title and the corresponding belt made their debut in 1996 – March 20, 1996, to be specific. You are also correct that the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship came about later, as Frank Shamrock won the first version of that belt on December 21, 1997 at UFC Japan in Yokohama. However, when you say that this might be an instance of Dana White “copying” professional wrestling, you’re a little bit off there. White wasn’t involved as UFC president until 2002, so the belt we’re talking about here predates him by a little over four years.

Going on to the question itself: Did WCW’s Cruiserweight belt inspire UFC’s Light Heavyweight belt?

I will admit that there are some common design elements between the two belts. The center plate is more or less the same shape, with the most distinctive features being a series of “fingers” that reach out from the entire length of the top and bottom of the plate. The color scheme is similar as well, with a round blue field in the center (a globe in WCW’s case or a cage in UFC’s) overlaid with some red text and black detailing. However, there are key differences between the two belts as well. The side plates are larger and more prominent on the Cruiserweight Title belt, being longer than they are tall and adorned with the letters “WCW.” The UFC side plates on the other hand, are more tall than they are long and have less prominent lettering. Also, the leather strap of the UFC belt is wider and has more in common with a strap on a boxing title belt, whereas the WCW belt’s strap widens in the center and narrows from there, as most wrestling belts tend to do.

Were the similarities intentional? Probably not, but there is still a good reason for them.

I could not find anything that directly states that one belt inspired the other. However, their commonalities most likely stem from the fact that these two belts were designed by the same person. Long-time belt designer Joe Marshall, who is better known in his professional endeavors as J-Mar, was the man putting together the belts for all of the most prominent combat sports promotions in the mid and late 1990s, and he gave shape to both the original WCW Cruiserweight Title belt and the original UFC Light Heavyweight Title belt. It’s technically possible that somebody from UFC went to him and said, “Hey, give me something that looks like that belt Dean Malenko is carrying around!” but it’s far more likely that J-Mar just unintentionally created two similar belts, just as there will be common themes in any artist’s works if you compare them.

Tyler from Winnipeg is taking us to strange new places:

I’m frustrated about the best of all time compared to the best off all timeS. Explain please.

One is proper and one is not. If you want to express your appreciation for Kenta Kobashi, you would say that he is the “best of all time.” If you say that he’s the “best of all times,” you would be saying something that is grammatically incorrect.

Welcome to my new column, Ask 411 Grammar.

Paul is snapping, and it’s not even into a Slim Jim:

When i think of guys who if they had their head screwed on straight and what could of been I think of Sid Justice/Vicious/Psycho Sid. He wouldn’t have been Austin or Hogan or certainly The Rock at their peak but man, what could have been. What you think of him? Do you think Vince will ever induct him into his HOF?

I’ve always enjoyed Sid as a character, as he had great intensity and, when he was speaking or just standing around, he could portray a terrifying monster more than just about anybody else. The only problem is that, when he stepped foot into the ring, it all fell apart. I’m not breaking any heretofore unreported news by saying that Sid was a terrible grappler. Normally with a huge guy like him, you can at least take some pleasure in watching him manhandle opponents and hit them hard in safe places, but Sid didn’t even do that, as his offense looked shockingly light for somebody who in just about every other context looked like a killer. It didn’t help that you had Vader running around at the same time and doing Sid’s finisher a hundred times better than the man itself.

So, between all of his positives and negatives, Sid is a guy that I never really minded. I never got excited about seeing him, but there was enough worthwhile stuff in his package that I didn’t recoil in disgust when he came on to the screen, either. (I saved that reaction for the Nightstalker.)

Will he ever got in to the WWE Hall of Fame? Maybe. As I’ve mentioned several times in this column over the years, there are no real criteria for entry into that HOF and it’s all just a matter of whether the company thinks that they can make some money off of you being there. It does seem like Sid is in the company’s good graces, because he appeared in a legends spot during an episode of Raw back in 2012 and hasn’t been around to piss them off since, so it’s entirely possible.

Stuart wants to separate the champs from the chumps:

What do you see as the ideal title situation in WWE? For me, there’s far too many, so what gets whittled down? I see the ideal situation as:

1 Heavyweight champion between brands
2 secondary champions with one on each brand
1 set of tag team champions between brands
1 Women’s champion between brands
1 Cruiserweight champion who is 205-exclusive, barring occasional main-roster appearances.

Thoughts?

Honestly, my answer to this one is pretty simple. Take all of the categories that you’ve mentioned above and limit them to one championship that moves between brands, with the exception of the Cruiserweight Title which is more-or-less exclusive to 205 Live.

I have long been old school in my feelings about championships, which is that the fewer of them you have, the more they mean, and the more of them you have, the less important they become. I have seen some people make the argument that you need more than three or four titles if you have the amount of television programming that WWE does, because otherwise there are large groups of wrestlers who “don’t have anything to do.” If you’ve ever said that, you would be a lousy member of a wrestling creative team, because you can’t come up with an original storyline and just want titles around so that you can use them as a booking crutch.

Some may note that Stuart and I have both omitted the Women’s Tag Team Championship, and, though I can’t speak or Stu, that’s very much intentional on my part. I do not think that the women’s roster is deep enough that those belts are worth keeping around.

Lee is stealing the show:

Of all the WWF PPVs that Bret Hart wrestled on, how many times was he wrestling in the best match on the show?

If my count is correct, Bret wrestled on 56 different WWF pay per views during the course of his career. In order to determine whether he had the best match on any one of those shows, I looked to Dave Meltzer’s star ratings, as compiled by Chris Harrington. That’s not to say that I think Meltzer’s ratings are in any way definitive – it’s just the only thing that I’m aware of that provides a comprehensive evaluation of match quality.

If you look at those ratings, Bret had the best match on his PPVs on 27 occasions and did not have the best match on his PPVs 29 times, meaning that he had the best match on the card 48.6% of the time, which sounds pretty good when I have nobody else’s stats to compare to. It’s also worth noting that, in many of the instances where Bret lost best match honors, he lost them to Shawn Michaels, which is just underscores the professional rivalry between the two men.

And, because this column is about nothing if it’s not about presenting ridiculously long lists of data, here is how every Hitman match fits into the statistics listed above. First, we’re listing the shows on which Bret had the best match and giving the star rating. Then, we’re listing the shows on which he did not have the best match and noting the match that beat him out, along with the star rating for that match and for Bret’s match.

Hope you enjoyed this one, Lee.

1. Survivor Series 1987
Bret’s Match: Ten Tag Team Survivor Series Elimination Match (4 stars)

2. Royal Rumble 1990
Bret’s Match: Royal Rumble Match (3 stars)

3. Summerslam 1990
Bret’s Match: Hart Foundation vs. Demolition (3.5 stars)

4. Survivor Series 1990
Bret’s Match: The Dream Team vs. The Million Dollar Team (3.5 stars)

5. Summerslam 1991
Bret’s Match: Bret Hart vs. Mr. Perfect (4 stars)

6. Summerslam 1992
Bret’s Match: Bret Hart vs. Davey Boy Smith (4.25 stars)

7. Survivor Series 1992
Bret’s Match: Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels (4.5 stars)

8. King of the Ring 1993
Bret’s Match: Bret Hart vs. Mr. Perfect (4.25 stars)

9. Royal Rumble 1994
Bret’s Match: Quebecers vs. Bret & Owen Hart (3.25 stars)

10. King of the Ring 1994
Bret’s Match: Bret Hart vs. Diesel (3.75 stars)

11. Summerslam 1994
Bret’s Match: Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart (5 stars)

12. Royal Rumble 1995
Bret’s Match: Diesel vs. Bret Hart (4.25 stars)

13. In Your House #1
Bret’s Match: Bret Hart vs. Hakushi (3.75 stars)

14. King of the Ring 1995
Bret’s Match: Bret Hart vs. Jerry Lawler (2.75 stars)

15. In Your House #3
Bret’s Match: Bret Hart vs. Jean Pierre Lafitte (4 stars)

16. In Your House #5
Bret’s Match: Bret Hart vs. British Bulldog (4.5 stars)

17. Royal Rumble 1996
Bret’s Match: Undertaker vs. Bret Hart (2.75 stars)

18. Wrestlemania XII
Bret’s Match: Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels (4.25 stars)

19. Survivor Series 1996
Bret’s Match: Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin (4.5 stars)

20. Royal Rumble 1997
Bret’s Match: Royal Rumble Match (3 stars)

21. In Your House #13: Final Four
Bret’s Match: Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin vs. Vader vs. Undertaker (4.25 stars)

22. Wrestlemania XIII
Bret’s Match: Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin (5 stars)

23. In Your House #14: Revenge of the Taker
Bret’s Match: Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin (3.75 stars)

24. In Your House #16: Canadian Stampede
Bret’s Match: Hart Foundation vs Steve Austin, Ken Shamrock, Goldust, & LOD (4.25 stars)

25. Summerslam 1997
Bret’s Match: Bret Hart vs. Undertaker (3 stars)

26. Survivor Series 1997
Bret’s Match: Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels (3.75 stars)

27. Summerslam 2010
Bret’s Match: Team WWE vs. Team Nexus (3.5 stars)

1. Wrestlemania II
Highest Rated Match: British Bulldogs vs. Dream Team (4 stars)
Bret’s Match: WWF & NFL Battle Royale (2 stars)

2. Wrestlemania III
Highest Rated Match: Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat (4.5 stars)
Bret’s Match: Hart Foundation & Danny Davis vs. British Bulldogs & Tito Santana (2.75 stars)

3. Wrestlemania IV
Highest Rated Match: Demolition vs. Strike Force (2.5 stars)
Bret’s Match: Battle Royale (0.5 stars)

4. Summerslam 1988
Highest Rated Match: Mega Powers vs. Mega Bucks (2.75 stars)
Bret’s Match: Hart Foundation vs. Demolition (1.5 stars)

5. Survivor Series 1988
Highest Rated Match: Ultimate Warrior, Brutus Beefcake, Jim Brunzell, Sam Houston, & The Blue Blazer vs. Honky Tonk Man, Bad News Brown, Danny Davis, Ron Bass, & Greg Valentine (3.5 stars)
Bret’s Match: Ten Tag Team Survivor Series Elimination Match (2 stars)

6. Royal Rumble 1989
Highest Rated Match: The Royal Rumble Match (2.5 stars)
Bret’s Match: Hart Foundation & Jim Duggan vs. Fabulous Rougeau Brothers & Dino Bravo (2.25 stars)

7. Wrestlemania V
Highest Rated Match: Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Savage (2.75 stars)
Bret’s Match: Hart Foundation vs. Rhythm & Blues (2.25 stars)

8. Summerslam 1989
Highest Rated Match: TIE – Ultimate Warrior vs. Rick Rude / Rick Martel & Fabulous Rougeau Brothers vs. Tito Santana & Rockers (3.25 stars)
Bret’s Match: Hart Foundation vs. Brainbusters (2 stars)

9. Survivor Series 1989
Highest Rated Match: Rude Brood vs. Roddy’s Rowdies (3.25 stars)
Bret’s Match: King’s Court vs. 4x4s (1.5 stars)

10. Wrestlemania VI
Highest Rated Match: Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior (3.75 stars)
Bret’s Match: Hart Foundation vs. Bolsheviks (0.25 stars)

11. Royal Rumble 1991
Highest Rated Match: Rockers vs. Orient Express (4 stars)
Bret’s Match: Royal Rumble Match (2.25 stars)

12. Wrestlemania VII
Highest Rated Match: Randy Savage vs. Ultimate Warrior (4.25 stars)
Bret’s Match: Nasty Boys vs. Hart Foundation (3.5 stars)

13. Survivor Series 1991
Highest Rated Match: Beverly Brothers & Nasty Boys vs. Bushwhackers & Rockers (3.5 stars)
Bret’s Match: Ric Flair, Ted DiBiase, Mountie & Warlord vs. Roddy Piper, Bret Hart, British Bulldog, & Virgil (2.5 stars)

14. This Tuesday in Texas
Highest Rated Match: Ted DiBiase & Repo Man vs. El Matador & Virgil (3.5 stars)
Bret’s Match: Bret Hart vs. Skinner (2.25 stars)

15. Wrestlemania VIII
Highest Rated Match: Ric Flair vs. Randy Savage (4.25 stars)
Bret’s Match: Bret Hart vs. Roddy Piper (3.5 stars)

16. Royal Rumble 1993
Highest Rated Match: Shawn Michaels vs. Marty Jannetty (4 stars)
Bret’s Match: Bret Hart vs. Razor Ramon (3.25 stars)

17. Wrestlemania IX
Highest Rated Match: Shawn Michaels vs. Tatanka (3.5 stars)
Bret’s Match: Bret Hart vs. Yokozuna (3 stars)

18. Summerslam 1993
Highest Rated Match: Steiner Brothers vs. Heavenly Bodies (3.5 stars)
Bret’s Match: Bret Hart vs. Doink (2.75 stars)

19. Survivor Series 1993
Highest Rated Match: Steiner Brothers vs. Heavenly Bodies (3.25 stars)
Bret’s Match: Hart Brothers vs. Shawn Michaels & His Knights (1.5 stars)

20. Wrestlemania X
Highest Rated Match: Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon (5 stars)
Bret’s Match: Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart (4.75 stars)

21. Survivor Series 1994
Highest Rated Match: Undertaker vs. Yokozuna (2.5 stars)
Bret’s Match: Bret Hart vs. Bob Backlund (2 stars)

22. Summerslam 1995
Highest Rated Match: Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon (4.75 stars)
Bret’s Match: Bret Hart vs. Isaac Yankem, DDS (2 stars)

23. Survivor Series 1995
Highest Rated Match: The Bodydonnas vs. The Underdogs (3.75 stars)
Bret’s Match: Bret Hart vs. Diesel (3.5 stars)

24. In Your House #6
Highest Rated Match: Shawn Michaels vs. Owen Hart (4 stars)
Bret’s Match: Bret Hart vs. Diesel (1.5 stars)

25. Wrestlemania XI
Highest Rated Match: Shawn Michaels vs. Diesel (4 stars)
Bret’s Match: Bret Hart vs. Bob Backlund (1.25 stars)

26. In Your House #12: It’s Time
Highest Rated Match: Marc Mero vs. Triple H (3.25 stars)
Bret’s Match: Sid vs. Bret Hart (3 stars)

27. In Your House #17: Ground Zero
Highest Rated Match: Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker (3.75 stars)
Bret’s Match: Bret Hart vs. Patriot (3.25 stars)

28. Badd Blood 1997
Highest Rated Match: Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels (5 stars)
Bret’s Match: Bret Hart & British Bulldog vs. Vader & Patriot (No Rating)

29. Wrestlemania XXVI
Highest Rated Match: Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker (4.75 stars)
Bret’s Match: Bret Hart vs. Vince McMahon (No Rating)

That will do it for this week’s installment of the column. We’ll return in seven-ish days, and, as always, you can contribute your questions by emailing [email protected].