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Posted in: LOP Hall Of Fame
2016 LOP Hall of Fame Inductee: Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart at WrestleMania X
By The Doc
Mar 28, 2016 - 7:36:51 AM

Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart at WrestleMania X
Class of 2016

When I began studying the intricacies of professional wrestling’s in-product, there were many matches that I had previously seen that I could have, even without a wrestling education, easily identified as great. What countless hours of examination yielded were the reasons why they were great. Some matches excel because of atmosphere; a dream scenario becoming reality, for instance, creates a palpable aura among the wrestling fanbase. Others are awesome for the grandiosity of their stories told; a clash of historic titans, for example, allows mammoth expectations to be met through extraordinary feats (of production, of ability, of innovation, etc.).

Then, there are matches like Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart at WrestleMania X; a match great not because of anything particularly intangible, but great because it does all of the simple things necessary to create a classic as exceptionally as any match ever has. If the basic means to in-ring success are remarkable selling, psychology, and execution, then the battle between the Hart brothers was perfect.

It is my personal favorite Bret Hart match; it exemplifies better than any of his other performances that which made him such a special part of WWE history: his ability to paint masterpieces on the 20'X20' canvas. No wrestler relied more on their pure wrestling ability to reach Top 10 all-time status than the Hitman and he shined brightest when his matches were stripped of gimmickry, allowing his technical superiority to be the focal point; such is what makes Bret vs. Owen a better representative of the Hitman's abilities than even his 2013 LOP Hall of Fame match inductee against Steve Austin at WrestleMania 13.

Additionally, Hart vs. Hart watches today as a 20-minute audition for Owen to join every wrestling Hall of Fame in existence. He had always been a fantastic, well-rounded wrestler, but his ability to emote the characteristics of the validation and attention-seeking, brattish younger brother made him the star that added such value to WWE programming through most of the 1990s. WrestleMania X was the event that made Owen Hart. That he won the match was icing on the cake.

Bret vs. Owen, put succinctly, was the blueprint - a design for all other wrestling matches to follow. While it is commonly held that WWE’s benchmark for a critically-acclaimed performance is 2013 LOP Hall of Fame inductee, Ricky Steamboat vs. Randy Savage at WrestleMania III (and a blueprint it has certainly been), Bret vs. Owen took what had been done seven years prior and tweaked its design, creating a superior version. Any aspiring pro wrestler should be required to watch it until it has sunk into his or her brain how to majestically tell a story without pomp or circumstance, blood or gore, wooden or steel-built furniture, outside interference or protective booking, a plethora of physically demanding moves, or an abundance of crowd-popping near falls.

The opener at WrestleMania X is a reminder that simplicity is one of professional wrestling’s primary virtues. Despite its lack of awe-inspiring athleticism, it was still especially athletic. Void of glitz and glam, it remains one of the most aesthetically-pleasing performances of all-time. Wrestling permits that a single match can be the amalgamation of silky smooth and physically pugnacious; the Harts almost effortlessly and organically moved about the ring with such grace, all the while weaving a tale of brotherly love turned fierce sibling rivalry.

So, it is my pleasure to open the 2016 LOP Hall of Fame ceremony by inducting the greatest opening match in wrestling special event history; the best Bret or Owen Hart match of all-time; the blueprint for professional wrestling match success; from WrestleMania X, the simply brilliant Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart.