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What’s All The Hubbub: Bret Hart – The Best There Is, The Best There Was, The Best There Ever Will Be (Disc 3)

June 23, 2010 | Posted by Aaron Hubbard
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What’s All The Hubbub: Bret Hart – The Best There Is, The Best There Was, The Best There Ever Will Be (Disc 3)  

BRIEF NOTE ON STAR RATINGS: I view star ratings as a way of expressing my personal enjoyment level of a given match. I do not consider my ratings to be definitive or absolute. What you consider an average match, I may consider an underrated gem, and and what you consider a classic I might view as simply good. Ratings are subjective, and just because I give a match **** when you gave it ***** does not magically negate the validity of your rating. That’s YOUR rating. These are MY ratings, my opinions in my review. I will explain why I have those opinions and why I give those ratings, but I’m not trying to change your opinion or ratings, just giving you mine.

WWF Championship Match: Bret “Hitman” Hart © vs. “The King of Harts” Owen Hart, The Action Zone 9/29/94
Vince McMahon and Todd Pettingall are on commentary, making this match considerably harder to watch. Owen throws his glasses at Bret, so Bret gives them to a kid. That is so awesome. I suppose this is as good a time as any to say I have a ****3/4 cap for incomplete matches, including those with commercial breaks. Unfortunately, that’s not the only problem with this match. The Wrestlemania match was all about getting Owen Hart over. Summer Slam was the blowoff. This doesn’t really have any purpose other than being a good match to kick-start The Action Zone. It plays like Bret and Owen’s greatest hits, so it’s more than entertaining, but it doesn’t have any of the deep storytelling or the intensity of their other matches. The finish also sucks something fierce, as Bulldog just throws Owen off the top rope, Owen crotches himself on the top rope, and Bret gets a cheap pin. Lots of little things keep this from reaching **** territory, for me anyway.
Match Rating: ***3/4

Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. Hakushi, In Your House I
Bret’s tights look incomplete for some reason. Perhaps the most notable thing is some fans chanting “USA!” in support of Bret. I see no Americans here. I’d talk more about the match but there’s really not a lot going on here. Hakushi controls most of the match, and while he has some cool spots like a cartwheel elbow, a diving headbutt and a missed slingshot splash, he doesn’t have much more than some weak chops in between them. Bret makes his comeback with his usual, but Shinja distracts him from putting on the Sharpshooter. Hakushi goes 360 degrees off a clothesline and Bret works in a tope suicida on Shinja and the suplex over the ropes to the outside. Hakushi hits a nice Asai Moonsault but Bret rolls through a German Suplex to end his undefeated streak. Not much to see here outside of the spots, but those spots hold up well.
Match Rating: ***1/4

WWF Championship, No Holds Barred: Bret “The Hitman” Hart vs. Diesel ©, Survivor Series 1995
They start the match with mind games by removing turnbuckles. It’s a good idea but Bret has trouble doing that. Diesel slowly beats Bret down in the early going, hitting him with a chair as a receipt for Bret using a chair in their last match. Bret holds Diesel’s leg and bites Diesel to avoid getting hit with the powerbomb. He even starts raking the face before going after the legs. He continues to be heelish by taking advantage of no holds barred to keep a figure-four on when Diesel grabs the ropes, which means nothing in this environment. Diesel gets some relief by kicking Bret into the exposed turnbuckle, but that just puts Bret in a position to slam the knees against the post. He gets really creative by tying a cord around Diesel’s ankle to keep him from moving.

That allows Bret to go to town on the knee with a chair. Bret goes up top and gets tossed across the ring, and that allows Diesel to untie the cord and use it to choke Bret out. Diesel hits a sidewalk slam, whips Bret chest-first into an exposed turnbuckle, and then slowly hits his straddle move and Snake Eyes. He goes to do it again in an exposed turnbuckle, but Bret slips out and smashes Diesel into the buckle. Bret takes over with the Hart Attack clothesline and the flying bulldog, clotheslines Nash outside but misses a pescado. They work in the spot from Bret-Perfect matches where Bret gets shoved off of the apron, but this time he flies through a table. Diesel starts showing some sympathy and doesn’t pin Bret when he can, as Bret just falls on the mat to avoid a powerbomb, and Bret gets a small package out of nowhere for the win. Diesel gets pissed and drops Bret with two Jackknifes and assaults a bunch of refs as he prepares to turn heel. This got better down the stretch, but even with all of the interference and the non-finish, the Royal Rumble match is way better. Bret wrestled less like the Bret of 1994 and more like the Bret of 1997 here.
Match Rating: ****

WWF Championship Match: Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. “British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith w/Jim Cornette & Diana Smith, In Your House V – Season’s Beatings
Lawler points out that Bulldog is wearing the same tights he wore at Summer Slam. He’s not. And I mean, they are nothing alike. Strangely when Shawn Michaels wore the gold and white outfit at the Royal Rumble this year, nobody mentioned the significance. Anyway, this is kind of the inverse of the Summer Slam match, with DBS a clear heel and dominating most of the match before Bret pulls out a win at the end. He uses the mahistrol cradle to win, and it actually has a cool back story. A young Chris Jericho was visiting friends at a WWF event, and Bret asked him to show him a Mexican Roll-up for this match. Jericho taught Bret that move, and was part of the smallest PPV audience in WWE history to watch the champion win a match with the move he taught him.

Bret does get a flurry of offense, including a bulldog for The Bulldog. I know it’s stupid, but I still find it amusing. DBS stops his momentum, countering a superplex and dropping Bret crotch-first on the top rope. Bret gets sent into the steps and has one of the top ten bladejobs in WWE history, drawing “He’s hardcore!” chants from the ECW faithful in Hershey and annoying comments from McMahon. Blood ends up all over the ring and Bulldog. They work in some spots from the Summer Slam match, like Bret countering a suplex from the apron to a German Suplex and the double clothesline. Then we get an awesome spot as Bret tries to springboard onto Davey on the outside and gets powerslammed onto the mats. Smith almost dies when he takes his signature corner bump and lands right on his head. He runs into a stiff kick in the corner before Bret does his roll-up. Watch that kick in slow motion; Bret seriously just jacks him in the face. Doesn’t have the historical significance or the atmosphere of the Summer Slam match, but I think it’s aged a lot better.
Match Rating: ****1/2

No Disqualification Submission Match: Bret “The Hitman” Hart vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin, Wrestlemania 13
Austin jump starts the match and the first several minutes is a lot of wild, intense brawling. Once they get in the ring, Bret gets two high impact blows with a neckbreaker and the forearm drop to the back of the neck before going to work on the legs. Austin hits the Stunner but it doesn’t mean jack in a submission match. Bret goes right back to the legs and applies his figure-four around the post, which actually works as a false finish due to the rules. Bret gets a steel chair to Pillmanize Austin, but he takes too long getting up and Austin smashes the chair across Bret’s back. He goes to work on that back while adding in some of Bret’s moves like the forearm drop, the stomp to the gut and the Russian Legsweep. He tries to make Bret submit with an octopus hold and a Boston Crab. He finally makes a mistake by mockingly going for the Sharpshooter, and Bret goes to the eyes to stop it.

The game changes completely when Bret counters an Irish Whip and sends Austin colliding into the steel guardrail, busting him open. Bret goes after the cut with uncharacteristic viciousness and then uses the chair to attack the legs, but Austin rakes the eyes to avoid the Sharpshooter just like Bret. Austin stops the beat down with a desperate low blow. He whips Bret chest-first into the buckle, stomps a mudhole and walks it dry and hits a huge superplex. In a normal match it would be over, just like with the Stunner, but thanks to the stips Austin has to find a new way to win. So he starts choking Bret with cords, only to get smacked in the face with a ring bell. He can’t block the Sharpshooter now, but the toughest SOB in the WWF isn’t going to give up to anyone, much less Bret Hart. Blood might be pouring down his face and into his teeth, but he’s not going to quit. He tries to break the Sharpshooter, but he can’t. Austin can’t fight forever, and he passes out in the pain, and Shamrock has to finish the match.

Bret Hart wins the match, but only due to a referee’s decision. Austin didn’t quit and Bret knows it. That’s not acceptable to him, so he attacks Austin after the match in a low, unsportsmanlike act. Shamrock pulls him off and Bret walks to the back. The fans boo Bret out of the building and rally behind Austin as the defiant, courageous anti-hero that never gave up. The rest, as they say, is history. This is, for my money, the greatest match ever. Nonstop action, character psychology, palpable hatred, epic storytelling, using the stipulations to their advantage, a rabid crowd, the most dramatic finish ever, and the face turn of one of the two biggest stars in the history of the business. It’s all here. Apparently, not even Bret’s DVD can handle perfection because the sound file is about a second off. That’s literally the only complaint I have. Highest recommendation possible.
Match Rating: *****

WWF Championship: Bret “Hitman” Hart © vs. The Undertaker, One Night Only
This is the rematch from the Summer Slam 1997 match where Undertaker was basically screwed out of the WWF Championship by Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart, so the kid gloves are off. Jim Ross sums up the whole match by saying Bret wrestles with finesse and Undertaker wrestles with fury. The basic psychology of the match is based on the individual attributes of the competitors. Bret is a technician and a strategist, but submission wrestling and strategy don’t amount to much against a guy as big, powerful, tough and stubborn as the Undertaker. Taker is a powerhouse who throws big bombs and hits high impact moves to finish quickly, but Bret’s conditioning and savvy is enough to counter that. The logical conclusion is that there is no way these two can beat each other. This leads to lengthy, quality matches between two very different styles of wrestlers with great chemistry. But it also leads to screwy finishes. That’s what we get here as Bret gets tied up in the ropes and Taker pummels him until he gets disqualified, but the finish doesn’t negate the great work that preceed it.

There’s a number of notable spots in this match. The first great spot comes from the traditional “Taker scares off the ref” spot, but Bret uses it as a chance to remove a turnbuckle pad. They follow that up with Taker kicking Bret away to avoid the Sharpshooter, doing the zombie sit-up but Bret hits a sliding clothesline. There’s a slight botch when they go for the bearhug slam into the post, but Taker slips and turns it into a spinebuster of sorts. Somebody should do that spot on purpose. They brawl in the aisle and Bret gets slammed on the ramp. The buckle bites Bret in the butt, as he takes his signature chest bump into that exposed turnbuckle, and Taker goes right to work on the chest. Bret eventually manages to get an advantage by going after the legs with all his usual great offense.

He hits his other big moves, but Taker counters the Sharpshooter by sheer strength, just like he did at Summer Slam, and counters another attempt with a goozle, but takes too long to execute the chokeslam and gets knocked back down. He fights back with punches, the big boot and legdrop for two. Bret tries to use the bell but eats another boot to the face, and the ref keeps Taker from using it and Bret hits a chop block, only to get kicked to the floor when he tries a banzai drop to the knee. Bret tries his best to avoid getting whipped into the turnbuckle and ends up sliding back-first into the post. Hart counters Old School and gets two off of an O’Connor Roll, Taker goes for the Tombstone and Bret uses the ropes to escape but gets caught in the ropes and that’s your finish. Lots of post-match shenanigans with Mike Chioda and Gerald Brico eating Chokeslams. Taker chases Bret to the back and goes to kill the ring announcer when he calls Bret the winner. Sadly, the announcer escapes in the crowd. Probably the best match these two had against each other.
Match Rating: ****1/4

Owen Hart Tribute Match: Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. Chris Benoit, Nitro 10/4/99
Due to the circumstances, I don’t really feel comfortable rating this match. I mean, how does one assess and rate the artistic value of a tribute match? As Bret says, it’s really a match for one person. Who cares how good it is, who cares about lapses in psychology or what have you. That’s not the story here. It’s about a brother and a best friend paying their respects by doing what they do best. That brother and that best friend happen to be two of the finest scientific wrestlers ever, and the execution is flawless, but once again, that’s not all that important. I don’t know if the phrase “not applicable” is ever more appropriate than for matches like this.
Match Rating: No Rating

Easter Eggs
If you go to the Diesel match you can watch a Bret Hart video set to the unbelievably cheesy “You Start A Fire”. Not Bret’s finest moment, but good for a laugh or two.

The 411: One of the reasons Bret Hart is so revered is that he stayed in top condition and never slowed down throughout his career. This disc shows Bret going outside of his comfort zone by wrestling big men, a brawler, and the next generation of technician. In these situations, he continues to deliver. This disc has arguably the greatest match ever on it and a number of other great matches. Between the wrestling and the documentary, I don't know if this DVD set will ever be topped.
411 Elite Award
Final Score:  10.0   [ Virtually Perfect ]  legend

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Aaron Hubbard

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