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Posted in: Just Business
Just Business: The Preview Side of the Doc Says Special – The Under-Appreciated Work of Bret Hart
By Samuel 'Plan
Nov 12, 2017 - 6:23:46 PM

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Don’t forget to pick up your copy of my book, 101 WWE Matches To See Before You Die, from the LOP Store or Amazon today! Simply click here to find mine and a host of other books and merchandise on offer, all courtesy of LOP, or on the icon to the left to be taken directly to Amazon!

Just Business: The Preview Side of the Doc Says Special – The Under-Appreciated Work of Bret Hart

Today, you’ll be able to listen in on the second and concluding part of the latest The Right Side of the Doc Says Special, where once again my fellow The Right Side of the Pond compatriots, as well as Chad “The Doc” Matthews, have been taking a look back at the career of another man we consider to be one of the greatest in WWE history. This time, the object of our conversation was Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart, and on the show we will be counting down what we consider to be the best five matches of his career, and five of the best under-appreciated matches of his career. Part 1 did likewise with picks 10 – 6, and you can catch that on demand over on LOP Radio or iTunes!

In light of the lack of a TPSOTP this last Friday (due to internet troubles – commonly known as chip-shopping on our show!) I thought instead I would quickly preview the concluding part of the latest Right Side of the Doc Says Special. In particular, I wanted to do this because there are three Bret Hart matches I am immensely fond of, none of which made either our Top 10 or Under-Appreciated 10 lists at all; even though, I think, they were deserving of inclusion on either.

Considering them in chronological order then, the first of the three is the WWF Championship Match between a defending Bret Hart and a challenging Shawn Michaels at the 1992 edition of Survivor Series. Together, both men compile one of the greatest matches never talked about in yet another of multiple demonstrations of their unparalleled chemistry together in the ring. It’s noteworthy, I believe, for two reasons.

Firstly, it is a leaner, faster paced version of their more famous, but perhaps more divisive, 60 Minute Iron Man Match for the same championship four years later in the main event of WrestleMania XII. Those who found the pair’s magnum opus too demanding a watch, too slow paced a piece of work or, though I struggle to write it, ‘boring,’ then this earlier clash at Survivor Series is worth seeking out. It tells a very similar story, albeit with an obviously vastly different intonation. After all, there is no Boyhood Dream being chased here quite so prominently, and Shawn Michaels plays the classic villain to Bret Hart’s classic hero. Still, when a match watches as a bite-size, more populist version of one of the greatest matches ever wrestled, you know it’s a classic in its own right. It very much deserves rediscovering, and the timing to re-watch it couldn’t be better. Much like this year’s main event, this ’92 bout was also the two top champions in the company (World and Intercontinental) competing with one another and, hopefully like this year’s main event may come to unfold as, very much watches as the top two performers in the company locking horns.

That leads interestingly to the second notable aspect of the match: its timing. Summerslam 1992, I believe, was the last night of the Golden Age Era in WWE’s modern history, and the company began its transition into the criminally under-appreciated, at times outright ignored New Generation Era thereafter. As such, the most infamous feud of that period here headlines what I consider to be the first New Generation Era pay-per-view, and does so in a manner that hints at the duo’s masterpiece years later; a masterpiece which, in its own right, perhaps marked that Era’s maturation point. Whether Hart and Michaels were seeking to make a statement or prove a point I don’t know, but they certainly do both regardless.

The second match of the three that didn’t make our lists on The Right Side of the Doc Says is one of my all-time favourite matches; quite possibly a Top 5 in fact. At Royal Rumble 1995, Diesel defended his newly won World Championship against Bret Hart in an outrageously fun, powerfully affecting match up that has stood the test of time remarkably well. You could lift this one out of 1995, drop it into 2001 or 2011 or even 2017 and it would still stand up. Its lack of a decisively clean conclusion shouldn’t put people off. For almost thirty minutes Diesel and Hart wail on one another and drag what begins as a fiercely competitive match down into the murky depths of a swiftly developing personal animosity. They watch as they should: two evenly matched competitors with alternative strengths and weaknesses using every trick in their respective books to emerge the victor and prove themselves the best in the world. That those tricks aren’t always moral, aren’t always clean and aren’t always legal just contribute to its already infectious, explosive, ferocious sense of aggression.

It is truly an exhaustive (and exhausting) match to watch, demonstrating tropes that would come into some prominence ten to twenty years later. You know that familiar set piece where two men stand toe to toe and take turns slogging rights at one another to the audible reaction of the crowd? Well you’ll find that here, in the midst of an absolute tome of offensive displays. The sheer amount of content packed into this match’s run time is impressive, even by modern standards.

Some would therefore see its conclusion a bit of a let-down. I think it tops things off beautifully. Rivals of both men repeatedly interfere in the match, only escalating the already rapidly escalating situation still further. Eventually, the referee, after re-starting the match twice on the back of interference, is forced to concede and call proceedings off before somebody gets seriously hurt. I love the way the match ends because, as announced, “the referee cannot maintain control.” Conceptually, it’s the entire match summed up in one sentence: an out of control riot. If you revisit any Hart match, I implore you to pick this one.

My third and final selection is a match many may not know even exists. On the go-home show before WrestleMania XI, only a couple of months after that Royal Rumble classic, Bret Hart and Owen Hart finally had their last one on one encounter to officially culminate and close off their year-long rivalry once and for all. The two met one another, this time with No Holds Barred, days before the WWF’s biggest show of the year, and in doing so wrestle with all the same familiar sense of zeal and natural chemistry the two had possessed from the get-go.

The match itself, arguably, isn’t the best the two put on, though I would venture is as good as their Action Zone title bout months prior in September of 1994. Nor, in honesty, do they make the most of the stipulation. It feels appropriately nasty, however, and is the all important closing chapter to the more finite portion of their feud that many may think doesn’t exist. As a historical article it’s worth seeking out for that reason alone.

So too is it something of a unique occurrence in company history, though. Theirs is the only match wrestled that week on Monday Night Raw, with the rest of the show instead consisting of Vince McMahon-led conversation, highlights and pay-per-view previews – although the majority of even this talking time is taken up by looking at the Hart / Hart rivalry, I seem to recall. This centricity might be because of production demands; maybe they had no time to do anything else. However, regardless of the reason why, it might stand out as the one and only time in company history when an entire episode of their flagship show was largely dedicated to one match culminating one rivalry that, arguably, does not carry the sense of importance, influence and grandiosity it deserves from the company. It simply baffles my own mind why they didn’t just stage the match at WrestleMania instead…. Imagine what the two brothers could’ve done then.

Unfortunately, that’s all we can do, is imagine. But on The Right Side of the Doc Says, available on LOP Radio today, Doc, Maverick and I imagine nothing and instead talk in concrete terms about why we believe Bret Hart is among the greatest of all time in WWE history, as we document five of his most under-appreciated matches and the absolute best five matches of his career; the latter was no small task, let me tell you.

So until next week, let me know what your opinions of the divisive Hitman are, and what matches of his, if any, are your favourites, down in the comments below or over on social media!

Don’t forget to pick up your copy of my book, 101 WWE Matches To See Before You Die, from the LOP Store or Amazon today! Simply click here to find mine and a host of other books and merchandise on offer, all courtesy of LOP, or on the icon to the left to be taken directly to Amazon!

Click here to add me on Facebook!

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