Bret Hart made the announcement on Monday that he has been diagnosed with cancer.
The announcement hit every wrestling fan like a ton of bricks. For so many of us, Bret represents wrestling in the ’90s. He brought in the era of in-ring greatness that followed the first “Steroid Era” of guys like Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior. He’d go on to have classic rivalries with Shawn Michaels, Stone Cold and help carry wrestling beyond a down period. This list won’t do his greatness its just due, but I’ll try.
Here are just 10 moments that I’ll never forget from the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be.
The Mr. Perfect Saga
I think the very first match I saw that I realized was a great wrestling match was Bret Hart vs. Mr. Perfect at SummerSlam ’91. I was five at the time and was a fan of wrestling in the way most kids are: the big, loud good guys are cool and I like it when they win. But this match was the first time I was sucked into the actual drama and greatness of the wrestling. Their SummerSlam match is one of the best Intercontinental title matches of all-time, and their follow-up at King of the Ring ’93 was only a notch below. But the part I grew to appreciate as I got older? The backstage segment before the match. Two underrated funny guys just being entertaining as hell.
The Greatest Match Of All-Time*
Ric Flair himself has said that Bret Hart vs. The British Bulldog at a sold-out Wembley Stadium for the Intercontinental championship is one of the greatest matches of ever. Bret himself (he’s never been one for humility) thinks the match should stand up in the history of greatest matches. And his argument wouldn’t be far off. Hart and Bulldog pulled off a match that allowed them to headline an event in which Savage and Warrior wrestled for the World title. You can make the assumption that Bret’s ability to headline an event like this put him firmly in the main-event picture going forward.