Saturday, July 9, 2011

Bret Hart

Bret Hit Man Hart -- (born July 2, 1957, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada) is best known to wrestling fans as "The Excellence of Execution" and as one of the top technical performers in the history of the World Wrestling Federation, for which he coined himself the nickname "the Best There Is, the Best There Was, and the Best There Ever Will Be."
Bret Hart was born into the industry as the son of famed trainer & wrestling promoter Stu Hart of Calgary's Stampede Wrestling. Bret broke into the business through the ranks of Stampede Wrestling, where he quickly established himself as deserving of the top spot in the promotion, despite being the promoter's son (his older brothers had kept the top spots without equal respect of their peers or the fans).
Along with the British Bulldogs, Bret Hart caught the eye of Vince McMahon who arranged a buyout of Stampede Wrestling to bring them into the company. With no specific plans for him, Bret Hart convinced the WWF to place him with Jimmy Hart & Jim Neidhart as "Jimmy Hart's Hart Foundation," a midcard tag team to help elevate other teams. The Harts quickly established themselves as true workhorses, earning a reputation for having the best matches of the night, usually against the Bulldogs or Killer Bees. When Dynamite Kid suffered an injury while holding the WWF Tag Team championship, he refused to drop the belts to any team except the Hart Foundation. Vince McMahon agreed, and Vince soon started treating the Hart Foundation as the best team in the WWF. The Hart Foundation reigned for several months before losing the belts to Strike Force, and then Vince told Bret that he wanted to elevate him as a singles competitor.
Despite aimless feuds with Bad News Brown and Mr. Perfect, Bret Hart never got momentum on his own and soon he & Jim Neidhart were back to teaming as babyfaces against Jimmy Hart's new team of the Fabulous Rougeau Brothers. In August 1990, the Hart Foundation regained the WWF World Tag Team championship belts, which they held through WrestleMania VII. Afterwards, the WWF resumed Bret's push as a singles wrestler, and this time, he was elevated to the WWF Intercontinental championship by August 1991. Bret held the championship through SummerSlam '92, where he lost the title to Davey Boy Smith. Under negative pressure surrounding steroids, Vince McMahon put the WWF World title on Bret in October 1992.
WWF Champion Bret Hart established himself as "the most fightingest WWF champion of all time," defending against the likes of Virgil, Rick Martel, Berzerker, Papa Shango, Mountie, as well as top contenders like Shawn Michaels, Razor Ramon, and Ric Flair. His first reign ended at WrestleMania IX, but he regained the championship at WrestleMania X. During his second reign, he defended countless times against his youngest brother Owen Hart, but a 43-year-old Bob Backlund was the man that ended his reign at Survivor Series 1994. For the next 12 months, Bret feuded with various midcarders hoping to make a name for themselves at this expense, but in November 1995, Bret pinned WWF Champion Diesel to regain the belt. During his third reign, he answered challenges from British Bulldog, Undertaker, and Diesel (as well as being the first man to defend the WWF championship in a triangle match) before dropping the title to Shawn Michaels.
After an eight-month hiatus, Bret Hart signed a 20-year contract with the WWF in October 1996, which most experts felt was critical to keep the WWF from losing the Monday Night Wars. Stone Cold Steve Austin was his first rival upon his return, but the fans leaned towards Austin's rebellious nature, enabling the WWF to work a double-turn (in which Bret turned heel and Austin turned face, simultaneously) at WrestleMania 13. Bret Hart formed a faction called The Hart Foundation with Owen & Bulldog, and they worked as heels in the United States while maintaining babyface values in Canada and overseas. Bret won the WWF World title for a fifth time at SummerSlam '97.

A few weeks later, however, Vince McMahon informed Bret Hart that he could not afford Bret's pricey, lengthy contract, giving him permission to broker a deal with rival World Championship Wrestling. On November 9, 1997, an infamous title match between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels came to a premature end, thanks in large part to Vince McMahon's orders, which were immediately known as the Montreal Screwjob.

Bret Hart moved to WCW as planned, but his time was marred by controversy as his career was forever linked to the Montreal Screwjob (albeit, Bret's constant whining about the events in his last months in the WWF didn't help get his WCW career in any fashion). About two years later, Bret Hart won the WCW Championship, but he suffered a career-ending concussion the following month, and he was forced to retire in January 2000. His last match was an unimpressive, non-title televised street fight with nWo partner Kevin Nash.
Despite years of bitter animosity towards Vince McMahon, Shawn Michaels, and WWE, stemming from the Montreal Screwjob, Bret Hart was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on April 1, 2006, following the release of a DVD set chronicling his WWF career. On January 4, 2010, Bret Hart was the guest host of RAW, marking his first appearance on the program in almost 13 years. Bret Hart faced Vince McMahon in a No Holds Barred match at Wrestlemania XXVI, which he won despite Vince's attempt to pay off several of Bret's relatives as his personal lumberjacks. Bret Hart continued working with WWE in 2010, even beating The Miz for the WWE United States championship and joining Team WWE in the main event of SummerSlam 2010, and, despite his tumultous past, he enjoys a healthy working relationship with the company today.

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