LOP on Facebook LOP on Twitter LOP on Google Plus LOP on Youtube LOP's RSS Feed

Home | Headlines | News | Results | Columns | Radio | Forums | Contact

Posted in: LOP Hall Of Fame
2017 LOP Hall of Fame Inductee: The British Bulldog vs. Bret Hart at Summerslam '92
By Samuel 'Plan
Mar 27, 2017 - 7:49:08 AM

The British Bulldog vs. Bret Hart at Summerslam '92
Class of 2017

Bret Hart vs. British Bulldog at Summerslam 1992 – for any fan old enough, simply reading the match out loud will prove emotive. That is because it is one of a handful of examples littered throughout WWE’s modern history of a match that has transcended the status of a match. It is a case of a match that “isn’t just a wrestling match.” In WWE lore, perhaps even in pro wrestling lore, it is a composition that has, over the years, cemented a reputation as a folkloric happening; a cultural event; an in-ring watershed moment. It is of the same status as Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat at WrestleMania III, or The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels at the 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania; but with one key difference.

Unlike a number of other matches that enjoy the same monolithic state in our memory, Bret Hart vs. British Bulldog at Summerslam 1992 had no real direct impact on the in-ring product of the time. It followed in the sweeping footsteps of Randy Savage vs. Ultimate Warrior’s main event defining epic from the year before, and predicted many athletically focussed main events to come throughout the following years, even to this day. What the Hitman and the Bulldog did do, however, is close out the Golden Age and usher in the New Generation by displacing the two aforementioned legends, and indeed the World title vied for between them, to status of semi-main event. Further, Hart and Smith placed the vaunted Intercontinental Championship centre stage at the second biggest spectacle of the year, before what remains one of the biggest crowds in company history even in this age of excess. Best of all, Bret Hart vs. British Bulldog at Summerslam 1992 heightened the benchmark set by their forebears when it came to the Intercontinental Championship; to main eventing a major supercard; and to creating a competitive piece of work. Though their effort may not have eventuated in a dramatic shift in the predominant in-ring approach of its time – a shift that was already underway – their achievements on that hot British summer evening were, nonetheless, singular.

I have often likened this grandiose clash to being a Star Wars of pro wrestling, and what I mean by that is, not only has it attained the status of a match everybody under the sun has quite rightly seen, or at least become familiar with, but for all its epic scale and inflections of dynastic drama amidst the wider Hart family it is ultimately a composition that wants to do one thing: entertain. And entertain it does. This exhausting rollercoaster of a match steamrolls across your screen for a full half an hour, never letting the excitement ebb away but instead pushing its way forward through an action-packed thrill ride. Though you cannot deny its exhausting effects, it does not leave you feeling deflated but rather, even in retrospect and full knowledge of the famous outcome, utterly uplifted. It proves that, as the phrase goes, yes, sometimes wrestling can “just be fun” because good quality wrestling is always fun. You needn’t worry about this match being forgotten, because anybody lucky enough to have seen it will never be able to.

It is, of course, easy to gush on occasions such as these, and it is therefore important to consider the machinery working away underneath the surface success to fully appreciate why this match is particularly deserving of the honour of being inducted into the LOP Hall of Fame. That machinery is certainly impressive. Why is it that Bret Hart vs. British Bulldog at Summerslam 1992 manages to become everything I have claimed it has become? A myriad of factors, but foremost among them is its effort. This is not an effortless piece of work. Effort is in full force, especially from the defending champion; Hart was never short of motivation to wrestle excellently, but on this particular night you could be forgiven for thinking he was doubly-so. Stories of British Bulldog turning up poorly prepared and in requirement of being ‘carried’ to the success the bout attains flabbergasts in lieu of the work you must conclude the Hitman had to put in. The action is slick and well executed, as ever, and even in moments where one man stumbles the other picks them up straight away; though the joints are not undetectable, they are recovered from well enough to immunise against criticism and entertain all the same. You are never jolted from the fiction, but only ever lost in the moment.

And as if all this were not enough, this is a match that takes on fresh meaning for any British WWE fan specifically. I have said many times before, am likely to again, that being a British WWE fan is not always the easiest task in the world. It requires dedication to pursue the hobby, and for the most part we are happy to put the necessary in. Until just this very year, WWE’s presence on our shores was intermittent at best. But now, as the world’s foremost pro wrestling promotion seeks to establish a more permanent presence on this sceptred isle, it is only fitting that it be this year we induct WWE’s love letter to the British WWE fan into the Hall of Fame, for that is what Bret Hart vs. British Bulldog at Summerslam 1992 has always been. It is the most famous and successful British professional wrestler in history storming the show in the main event before 80, 000 flag waving fans to overcome one of the greatest who ever laced up a pair of boots and take home a fan favourite championship. As if the emotional rushes were not already enough, its patriotic vibes are unashamedly prideful.

Prideful: a word I would normally use in a critical fashion. Just this once, however, I use it with glee. For Bret Hart vs. British Bulldog at Summerslam 1992 is an accomplishment both men deserved to be prideful over. Though Bret Hart vs. British Bulldog at Summerslam 1992 may follow in the footsteps of legends who trod the canvas before its own composers, this is not now nor has it ever been a match that stands on the shoulders of giants; it is a giant, and for that I am honoured, delighted even, to induct the main event of Summerslam 1992 into the Lords of Pain Hall of Fame Class of 2017.