The SmarK DVD Rant for Hart & Soul: The Hart Family Anthology

I’m sure my lifelong fascination with the Hart family needs no introduction, and in particular the Bret Hart DVD was one of my favorite sets ever put out by WWE. This is a sequel of sorts, focusing on the entire family rather than just Bret.



Disc One

The Documentary

The various Harts begin with a discussion of their days living dirt poor in Saskatchewan and later Edmonton. The legend of Stu is covered, as he becomes an amateur wrestling star in the ’30s, then gets inducted into the army to derail his Olympic hopes. So it’s off to New York as a pro wrestler under Toots Mondt (one of the only times I’ve ever heard Toots mentioned on these history sets).

– Stu met Helen and married her, with an ironic twist in that medical circumstances would seem to dictate that they shouldn’t have been able to have any children. Chalk one up for medical science there, I guess. After making a ton of money in New York, Stu came back to Edmonton to start up the promotion that would eventually become known as Stampede Wrestling. For the whole story on that, I highly recommend the book Pain and Passion.

– The family goes over the purchase of the Hart Mansion and the circus atmosphere that always surrounded it. Bruce talks about Stu’s various problems with businesses outside of Stampede Wrestling, in that he was helped by people who were inherently dishonest. Adventures with renting out beach property worked better, but the cancellation of Stampede’s TV show returned them to poverty again.

– At various points, the story breaks off to talk about each individual Hart child. The segment on Smith is pretty short and diplomatic, to say the least. The Wayne one is really interesting given that he’s mostly a footnote. Who knew he was a dope-smoking hippie who was into Zappa? The Ellie one doesn’t even mention the tumultuous nature of her marriage to Jim Neidhart, instead focusing on her early courtship. Well, it’s not hard journalism.

– Skipping forward to 1984, Stampede is losing money hand over fist, so Stu sells out to Vince McMahon in exchange for the Hart Foundation and British Bulldogs getting called up to the WWF. The story omits the other end of that deal, with Vince reneging on his payments and defaulting the promotion back to Stu again.

– Onwards and upwards with the Harts-Bulldogs thread, as they move up the card and become big stars, while Bruce tries to restart Stampede with a new crop of young stars. Brian Pillman is made out to be a much bigger deal than he actually was at the time, but I know what they were going for there. That incarnation died for good in 1989.

– And then we suddenly jump to Bret-Bulldog from Summerslam ’92 and discussion thereof.

– Much more interesting is the focus on Owen Hart, as the family lists some of his ribs and Bret talks about how the family came around to the idea of the brothers wrestling each other.

– The death of Matthew Annis (Georgia’s son) from the flesh-eating virus at age 13 is particularly sad. I’m surprised they didn’t even get Teddy Hart for a quote here.

– Bret quickly goes over the Hart Foundation angle in 1997, which was probably my favorite time as a fan. And then, after the high point of the Canadian Stampede PPV, everything fell apart in rapid fashion. Of course, we get to Montreal again. Jim Neidhart sums up the aftermath thusly: “So everyone ended up going to WCW…and that was a big mistake.” Bret’s take: “My kids didn’t even watch my matches, none of it made any sense anyway.” There’s just so many ways to bury WCW and they’re all valid.

– They briefly touch on Davey’s downfall and death, almost coming close to blaming the business, but then move onto Owen’s death instead. That goes more along the lines of “it was horrible without specifically being the fault of World Wrestling Entertainment” than you’d want, but c’est la vie.

– More death and depression, as Owen’s death leads to Helen’s death. Diana talks about driving Davey towards death by comparing him to Stu, and again they kind of gloss over the actual cause of his death and just note that pain pills killed him. Thankfully the soap opera drama with him and Bruce is left out completely. I do like that they’re being classy about everything where they can.

– Finally Stu himself dies, leading to Hart Mansion getting sold and made into a historical site.

– They shock the hell out of me by actually talking about Teddy Hart and showing footage of him. And they’re even nice when talking about HIM! What mirror universe did I fall into? This leads to a discussion of the current Hart Dynasty, about which there’s not much to say yet.

– We end with a montage of guys in Stampede and the stars they turned into later.

A very respectful and low-key documentary, thankfully free of the usual talking heads and mainly just featuring the Hart family telling their story. Yeah, it omits all the dirt and ignores one giant part of the tragic history of the promotion (hint: I wrote a book about it), but for a basic primer of the history of the family, it’s good stuff.

The first disc features a series of extra interview segments that didn’t make the main documentary.

– Keith talks about Stu’s distinguished athletic career early in his life. Basically, if it was a rough and rugged game, Stu was all over it.

– Smith recounts Helen’s car accident, which left her with a shattered face. Yikes.

– Keith talks about Ted the Wrestling Bear. TNA should sign him.

– Diana reads a letter from the late Dean Hart, written to his parents.

– Did you know Stu once wrestled a TIGER? Because he did. That dude was TOUGH.

– Home video from the Hart Thanksgiving dinner, 1987. Teddy Hart looked like a little punk even then.

– Bret talks about Helen throwing in the towel at Survivor Series ’94 and totally ignoring son-in-law Davey Boy, who was unconscious on the floor and possibly dead.

– Bret discusses some of Owen’s incredibly detailed and meticulously executed pranks.

– Chris Jericho talks about his regret at never really crossing paths with Owen, and relates the one time they did.

– Harry Smith reveals that one of the Hart family members in the ring at Canadian Stampede was actually just some guy who snuck in.

– Bret talks about his return to the WWE and getting over Montreal.

– Following RAW on January 4, everyone comes out to celebrate with Bret and pay tribute.

Disc Two (The Matches)

Keith, Bruce & Bret Hart v. The Dynamite Kid & The Kiwis

From Stampede, May 1979. The Kiwis are of course The Bushwhackers, back when they had hair. We pick it up with Bruce pounding on Dynamite and getting an atomic drop (complete with crazed sell), but Bruce gets caught in the corner inevitably. Sweet William (Luke) chokes him out, but Bruce catches him with a clothesline and brings Bret in. Bret is the house of fire and the heels are cleaned out of the ring. A slam gets two on William. The old thumb to the throat turns the tide again. Talk about a classic that never gets used to its proper effect any longer. Yeah, Umaga used it as a finisher, but as a pure “get the crowd riled up in sympathy” dick heel move, there’s few that compare. The heels get their cheapshots from the outside and Crazy Nick (Butch) chokes Bret on the ropes, and it’s over to the Kid. Bret takes an early version of his corner bump, then reverses Dynamite into the corner for an even more spectacular version. Kid ties Bret up in the ropes, but charges and crotches himself. Hot tag is cut off by nefarious means, and it’s more thumbs to the throat from William in the corner. Back to the corner for ANOTHER false tag, and Bret takes another ass-kicking in the corner as a result. That is some questionable officiating right there, and it makes me question the legitimacy of the sport as a whole. Nick cuts off the tag again as the crowd is just getting ANGRY now. Kid with a slam into a flying stomp from the middle rope, but the Kiwis cut off his comeback with more cheating. Bret valiantly gets a sunset flip on Kid for two, but gets pounded down again. William gets two. Bret finally headbutts him low and makes the hot tag to Bruce, and the Harts are running wild! Noggins are knocked, and the ref actually tries to sort out the legal men during the brouhaha. That doesn’t work out so well. Bruce gets mugged on the outside and busted open (causing to bleed grey blood, oddly enough), and now the heels go to work on him. Bruce manages to crawl over and tag Keith, and another brawl erupts. Keith fires away on Nick and gets two, and now we have double juice. Piledriver gets two. William makes the save and mauls Keith, so the ref has had enough and calls for the bell at 15:00. This is what Stampede was all about. ***1/2 The post-match interview is also great, as Keith accuses Crazy Nick Carter of perhaps not being as crazy as his nickname suggests. Perish the thought.

WWF tag titles: The British Bulldogs v. The Hart Foundation

From Boston, November 1986. This is recycled from the awesome Hart Foundation Coliseum video in the late 80s. From Boston in November 86. Bret pounds on Kid to start and traps him in the corner for some abuse, but the Kid is ornery and fights out without much problem. Over to Davey, who atomic drops Bret into the corner. Bret comes back with a rollup for two, then bails. Back in, it’s over to Anvil, and Smith dropkicks him (about 0.5 on the Erik Watts scale) and they do a power match. Smith can’t knock him down, and in fact walks right into a powerslam, which allows Bret to slingshot in with a splash for two. They work Davey over in the corner with the double-team elbow, and Bret adds a shot to the back from the apron, then slams him on the floor. Back in, Anvil hits the chinlock and they cut off the ring, as Bret distracts the ref and then whips Anvil into Smith in the corner. That gets two. Crucifix gets two for Smith, but Bret recovers quickly and elbows him down again. Anvil comes in and pounds away, grabbing another facelock to keep Davey out of his own corner, and it’s more shenanigans from the Harts. Double-DDT gets two. Bret grabs a sleeper, but Davey powers him into the corner to break and manages to press him onto the top rope. He’s got a groin pull, the likes of which you’ve never seen! Hot tag DK, Bret gets clotheslined as a result. Snap suplex and falling headbutt set up his own sleeper, but Anvil clobbers him and the ref is bumped. Neidhart puts Bret on top and revives the ref, but that only gets two, as the Garden was nearly on the verge of rioting. Anvil clobbers Kid again and puts Bret on top again, and that gets two again. This time Anvil has had ENOUGH of this shoddy reffing, and tells him so, but that allows Davey Boy to roll him up for the pin to retain at 13:41 ***1/4 Pretty standard Bulldogs-Harts match, but the finish was super-dramatic and fun.

Intercontinental title: Bret Hart v. Davey Boy Smith

Yeah, it’s Summerslam 92 again. Cut and paste, you know the deal. DBS brings Lennox Lewis with him to suck up to the crowd, just in case any of them didn’t know who the babyface was. Shoving match to start. Bret takes a bump to the floor off a shoulderblock. Back in and they trade side headlock takedowns, and Bret flips out of a slam to roll him up for two. Small package gets two, and Bret goes back to the side headlock. Into a wristlock, and Bulldog flips out and goes into the armbar. Bret comes off the ropes, but gets caught with a slingshot into the corner, and Bulldog goes back to move #929 (ARM-bar). Crucifix gets two, and Bulldog takes him down with a hammerlock. Shots of Diana Hart-Smith are cut in. She was cute in 92, but got really ugly from about 96 on. I’m just saying. Bret escapes and knees DBS in the gut coming off the ropes to take control. He goes into Heel Bastard Mode, dropping a leg and taunting the fans. DBS fights out of a chinlock, but eats an elbow coming off the ropes. Inverse atomic drop is called a “reverse piledriver” by Vince. DBS goes for another crucifix but gets dropped on his back for two. They do a criss-cross sequence and Bulldog hits a monkey-flip to take control, then a pair of cross-corner whips on Bret. He runs into Bret’s foot on the second, however. Bulldog (a nasty one, too) from Bret. How ironic. See, he’s the Bulldog, and he got…oh, never mind. Bret goes to the top, but gets slammed off. DBS tries it, but Bret moves. Bulldog tries a quick rollup, but Bret ducks down and Bulldog goes flying to the floor. Bret hits an ugly looking pescado. Ouch, he better buy Bulldog a round of drinks after that one. He rams him into the post for good measure. Back in the ring for more punishment, with a series of forearms and a dropkick. I’ve never liked Bret’s dropkick. Bulldog takes an awkward-looking bump on his knee off a backdrop, and Bret goes back to the chinlock. Bret gets the snap suplex for two. Bulldog blocks a forearm with a backslide for two. Bret decks him and hits the elbow off the second rope for two. I like how Bret is actually varying the FIVE MOVES OF DOOM here. Bret hair-tosses DBS, pissing off the crowd. Bret gets a sleeper, and Vince declares the match over. Sure. Smith fights out and presses Bret, but drops him crotch-first on the top rope. He clotheslines him three times for a two count. Military press gets two. The delayed suplex gets a big pop, and a two count. Cross-corner whip gets two. The running powerslam gets two. Davey Boy is perplexed. Bret is dead. Smith shoves him out of the ring, then suplexes him in, but Bret reverses to a german suplex for two. Bret tries a suplex, but Bulldog blocks and superplexes him for two. Whip, reverse, and double-KO spot. Bret maneuvers into position and applies the Sharpshooter, however, drawing screams of horror from the crowd. Bulldog makes the ropes. Bulldog whips and puts his head down, Bret sunset flips him, and Bulldog hooks Bret’s legs for leverage and gets the pin and the Intercontinental title at 25:10. Crowd goes NUTS. Davey’s best match, post-Stampede era. ***** Smith and Hart reunite the family after the match, despite Bret teasing walking out a couple of times.

Bret, Keith, Owen and Bruce Hart v. The Blue Knight (Greg Valentine), The Black Knight (Jeff Gaylord), The Red Knight (Barry Horowitz) and Shawn Michaels

The Hart women are at ringside and Georgia has a crying baby with a soother. I know it can’t be Teddy at this point, but MAN the resemblance is astounding. All he would need to do is get fired by the WWF multiple times and it would be uncanny. Shawn starts with Bruce and gets run into the Red Knight as a result. Bruce controls Shawn with an armbar and it’s over to Keith, who reverses a suplex into a small package for two. Keith works on the arm, but Shawn brings in Red. Owen quickly dominates and hiptosses him, so it’s over to Black. He gets triple-teamed by the Harts, so Blue comes in. Bret clotheslines him for two and the Harts work him over. Bruce gets caught with a cheapshot and Red gets a butterfly suplex for two. Black pounds Bruce down, but falls victim to a backslide for two. Shawn dumps Bruce and drags him back in, but Bruce hits his finisher (a clothesline, no really) and makes the tag to Bret. Bret rolls up Black for two and gets a small package for two. Middle rope elbow gets two. Owen hits him with the leg lariat and a brawl erupts, as all the heels collide and Owen finishes Black with a missile dropkick at 10:48.

Bret works on Red’s legs, and Keith continues on with that. Yes, this match CAN get more boring, why? Here’s the problem with it, besides the obvious one of replacing Jerry Lawler at the last minute with Shawn Michaels: Clearly the dynamic of the original match was supposed to be the Hart Family being forced to eliminate all the Knights before they could even touch Lawler, but here Shawn actually started the match, so there’s no payoff. Anyway, Blue works on Keith’s arm, not even trying to hide his identity. Ray Combs, on commentary, gets the unintentional shoot comment of the show when he notes “This is painful to watch.” Word. The beating of Keith just drags on and on until Bret gets the hot tag and finishes Red with the Sharpshooter at 18:00. Blue attacks Bret and tosses him, and back in Shawn takes over on Bret. Back elbow gets two. And it’s time for the chinlock. Over to Blue, who gets two. Owen comes in and hammers away in the corner, and Shawn bumps out and takes a punch from Stu. Owen follows with a pescado, and finishes Blue back in the ring with a Sharpshooter at 23:44. So it’s Shawn by himself, and he superkicks Bruce for two. Bret comes in and whips Shawn around the ring, and gets the legsweep for two. Shawn goes to the eyes, so Bret tags Owen in, and Owen accidentally collides with the blinded Bret and Shawn rolls him up for the pin at 27:25. And so begins Owen’s heel turn. Bruce clotheslines Shawn for two and goes to a sleeper, and then Bret comes in and tries to finish, but Shawn runs away to end it at 30:55. THANKFULLY. *1/2

The Hart Brothers v. The Steiner Brothers

Bret & Owen Hart v. Rick & Scott Steiner. Yes, this is the famous only meeting in history between these two teams. Scott takes Bret down with a double-leg to start, and Bret wisely gets the ropes. Back up, Bret gets his own takedown and rides Scott, and now Scott gets the ropes. Scott uses a vicious single-leg to take Bret down and steps over with a toehold, but Bret reverses out of it and they wrestle up to a headlock position. Criss-cross and Bret gets powered right out of the ring, where he regroups. Back in, they fight over a wristlock and Scott tries a powerslam, but Bret reverses to a rollup for two. Bret goes back to the arm, and Owen wants in. He continues on that road, but Scott slams out of it with authority and Rick comes in. They do a really cool mat-wrestling reversal sequence, trying to get control of each other. Rick goes for the arm, but they criss-cross and Owen gets powerslammed. Rick misses an elbow, but settles for a backdrop suplex that gets two. That’s a fair trade, I guess. Owen flips out of a wristlock and gets a german suplex for two. Suh-weet! Scott comes back in and walks into a leg lariat that gets two. Northern Lights suplex gets two. Rollup gets two for Owen, and Scott bridges into the butterfly bomb for two. This is some wild technical wrestling. Rick and Bret pair off next and the crowd is 50/50. Rick uses a wristlock takedown, and works the arm over, but Bret slams him…and Rick hangs on. Great touch. You just don’t see that all the time. Rick takes him down to the mat and stretches him, turning it into a pinning combo for two. Criss-cross and Rick eats knee. Bret misses an elbow, however, and Rick is back on the arm. Solid strategy there. Rick stretches him into pinning position again and Lane & Gorilla actually get to discuss mat-wrestling strategies in a meaningful manner. Bret DDTs out of it and drops a leg, pounding him with elbows. He grabs a sleeper, and hangs on even as Rick rams him back into the turnbuckles. Rick falls into the ropes, and that’s enough to break. Bret smartly won’t release until forced by the ref. And why not? You’ve got a count of five. Bret suplexes Rick and misses another elbow, which allows Rick to head up and bulldog Bret for two. Rick sends him into the turnbuckles for two. Scott comes in with bad intentions and hits a tilt-a-whirl slam for two. Bret tries a charge and nearly dents the post with his shoulder as a result. Scott tries a suplex back in, but Bret reverses and suplexes Scott to the floor! Bret rams him into the apron and they head back in, where Owen takes over. He heads up and headbutts the back for two. Gutwrench gets two. Abdominal stretch, but Gorilla points out that Scott is too strong for it to be effective. And indeed, he reverses. Owen snaps off a belly-to-belly for two. Bret comes back in and pounds on the back. Legsweep gets two. Owen comes back in, and Bret cheapshots him on the apron to turn heel. Owen gets two. He misses a dropkick, however, and Rick gets back in and goes at Owen again. Tilt-a-whirl backbreaker gets two. Tombstone gets two. Scott comes in and gets a Dragon Suplex for two. Oh MAN. Rick with the Steinerline for two. He goes to a rear chinlock, and Scott comes back in and hits the MOTHERFUCKING SCREWDRIVER! OH MY GOD! That gets two, as Bret saves. He just DRILLED Owen right on his head, too. Nasty. Owen takes a breather outside, and Scott hammers him on the apron, but Owen suckers him in and slingshots him to the floor. Owen manages to tag Bret, who hits Scott with an atomic drop and a clothesline for two. Backbreaker and second-rope elbow get two. He can’t get the Sharpshooter because Rick saves, so Owen tries, and Rick saves again. The Steiners then go for the bulldog, but Owen cradles Scott for two while Bret pushes Rick off. It’s BONZO GONZO and both Rick & Bret end up on the floor, and Scott follows with a double axehandle onto Bret, and Owen follows with a pescado onto Rick, and the ref calls for the bell at 24:52. The referee brigade can’t break up the fight, however, and the Steiners accuse the Harts of being cowards. Well, you can’t say that about Canadians, so let’s get it on! It’s a huge brawl again, and the officials finally get all four separated, but they keep going. Finally the Steiners decide they’ve had enough, so now BRET eggs them on and here we go again with another brawl. That’s awesome. Finally, everything gets calmed down and they all shake hands and go home. The match was amazing, an easy ****3/4 and probably one of the best matches of the decade.

WWF World tag team titles: The Quebecers v. The Hart Brothers

The Quebecers were fresh off regaining the tag titles at MSG and the Harts were fresh off a ***** match against the Steiners for Coliseum video, so it was a good week for both. Pierre gets a quick slam on Bret, but runs into a knee. Owen comes in and hiptosses Pierre into a slam for two. A sign at ringside declares “Yokozuna RIP” which unfortunately proved clairvoyant. Jacques comes in to slow things down, but Owen suplexes him and dropkicks him back to his own corner again. Another try, and this time Owen gets the enzuigiri for two. The Harts get a Demolition elbow for two. Bret with a small package for two. Sunset flip gets two. Rollup gets two, but Pierre nails Bret and it’s BONZO GONZO. The Quebecers try to whip the babyfaces into each other, but Owen catapults himself into a rollup on Jacques for two instead. Very nice. The champs bail for some advice from Johnny Polo (“Always insist on cash from Paul Heyman.”), and back in Owen gets a leg lariat on Pierre for two. Overhead suplex gets two. Legdrop gets two. It’s awesome seeing the Harts able to cut loose for once, as Jacques was able to keep up with whatever crazy stuff they could come up with. Bret comes in and walks into a Pierre powerslam for two, and Jacques allows some choking in the corner. Quebecers double-team Bret with an elbow and Pierre pounds on him in the corner, and it’s more quality cheating while hotheaded Owen tries to come in. Pierre comes off the middle rope and lands on Bret’s foot, and it’s hot tag Owen. Backdrop for Jacques, belly to belly suplex for Pierre, and he goes to finish Jacques with the Sharpshooter, but Pierre bulldogs him behind the ref’s back to break. And so Owen is your face-in-peril. They drop him on the top rope for two, but Owen quickly tags Bret back in and he fights off both Quebecers alone. Backbreaker and legsweep for Jacques and noggins are knocked, then he gets rid of Pierre and looks to finish…but Johnny Polo pulls down the top rope and Bret blows out his knee on the way down. The Quebecers swarm in and work over the knee outside until Owen chases them off. Back in, Jacques beats the hell out of the knee and goes to a Boston crab, while the announcers implore Bret to go over and make the tag. The Quebecers switch off on the knee and Vince declares that it’s not skill, it’s HOOLIGANISM. They should have marketed a Vince McMahon Word Of The Day Calendar. Bret tries a Sharpshooter on Pierre, but can’t complete the move, and the ref stops the match at 16:48. Who is he, Steve Mazzagatti? Terrible finish, but a great match up until the storyline took over. **** Speaking of storylines, Owen berates his brother for not tagging, and then KICKS THE LEG FROM UNDER HIS LEG. You know, it’s funny, because years later that would be the least horrific thing that members of that family would do to each other. At least Bret didn’t sue for that or write a tell-all book about it.

Disc Three

WWF Title, cage match: Bret Hart v. Owen Hart

From Summerslam 94. Owen attacks right off the bat, ramming him into two turnbuckles and doing the 10-punch count. Bret comes back with a lariat, but Owen stomps on his hands. Bret blocks a shot to the cage and DDTs Owen. Another slugfest erupts, won by Bret. He makes the first climb attempt, but gets pulled off by Owen. ENZUIGIRI, BABY! Owen nearly makes it out but Bret catches him going over the top and hits a backdrop suplex to the mat. Bret crawls for the door but Owen catches him and whips him to the other corner. Bret grabs a quick bulldog and tries for the door again. Owen yanks him away and dives, Bret yanks him away and dives, repeat twice. Bret tries to climb out, and gets slammed off by Owen. Now Owen climbs and again nearly makes it, but Bret grabs him by the hair and they fight on the top. Owen kicks him off and dropkicks him off the top rope. SWEET. Owen climbs again and they fight on the top again with Owen getting the better of the situation. Owen goes for a piledriver but Bret reverses. Whip, reverse, and double-KO. Owen lunges for the door again, but Bret stops him and drops a vicious looking elbow on him. Bret to the top, Owen stops him again. Bret kicks him in the face a few times, but Owen holds on and crotches him on the top rope. Owen tries for the door again, but Bret stops him. Headbutt to the groin puts Owen down and Bret goes for the climb out again. He changes his mind and goes for an elbowdrop, but misses. Owen climbs out, with Bret not moving. He pops up at the last second and blocks Owen, however, pulling him in by the hair in a great visual. He slams him in for good measure, then makes his own ascent. Owen brings him back in with a modified samoan drop. Owen tries to climb again, Bret stops him. Owen keeps control, however, and they end up ramming each other into the cage. Bret recovers first and makes it about 3/4 of the way down the cage…when Owen grabs his hair and pulls him back in. Piledriver on Bret. Both guys are exhausted, but Owen tries to climb out again. Bret meets him at the top, and they have a slugfest that leads to both guys collapsing to the mat below. Bret immediately crawls for the door, but Owen grabs his leg. Owen fights him down and then lunges for the door himself, but Bret blocks, drags him back in, and slingshots Owen into the cage. Crowd is WAY into this one. Bret crawls for the wrong corner to build suspense, then finds the right one…and Owen leaps over and stops him. Crowd is having a collective heart attack. Owen is up first and goes behind Bret, but ends up going facefirst to the cage.

Bret is selling a knee injury, but still climbs up again. Owen gets up….collapses….and makes it juuuuuuuuuust in time to stop his brother from winning. Back in via the hair, and Owen hits a leg lariat. The crowd is absolutely losing it. Owen climbs to the top again, and makes it halfway out before Bret stops him. They fight on the top rope, with Bret getting a big field goal kick to send Owen flying. He pops up again and hauls Bret back in. Owen hits some european uppercuts, and we get another double-KO. Owen makes it up and to the top rope, but Bret stops him and superplexes him back in. Even Davey Boy, at ringside, is marking out. Both guys are out cold again. Bret crawls to the door . . . slowly . . . but Owen grabs him. Owen slaps on the Sharpshooter, screaming about how the belt is gonna be his the whole time. Bret breaks free and reverses to his own. He releases and climbs again, with Owen once again lunging at the last split second and grabbing the hair. Both men fall to the mat. Owen makes it up and to the top first, and both guys make it halfway down the cage, fighting the whole way. Owen rams Bret into the cage, but slips and gets hooked in the cage, allowing Bret to drop down at 31:51 to retain the title. Meanwhile, Jim Neidhart blindsides the Bulldog in the audience, taking Diana down with him. Owen and Anvil toss Bret back into the cage, chain the door shut, and beat the holy hell out of him as the Hart Brothers storm the cage. Oh man, this is so NWA. I love it. Finally the Bulldog (with his caveman hairdo and all) fights his way in and makes the save. This is easily the best cage match you’ll ever see in the WWF given the restrictive limits on rules and blood put on them, and it’s a terrific way to end the show. Sadly, it didn’t end the show – Undertaker v. Undertaker did. *****

Bret Hart & British Bulldog v. Owen Hart & Jim Neidhart

From RAW, November 1994. Finally, something I haven’t seen before! The New Foundation gets whipped into each other, and Bulldog presses Owen out of the ring, into the arms of Neidhart. Bret slingshots Anvil back into the ring and pounds away in the corner, but walks into a bearhug. He bites free and brings in Bulldog, but Neidhart uses the old thumb to the throat to slow him down. Over to Owen, but Bulldog backdrops him out of the corner and follows with the delayed suplex. That gets two. Bulldog goes to the armbar, but Owen comes back with a wicked leg lariat and an atomic drop. Anvil comes in and pounds away, then goes to a chinlock and gets a knee to the gut for two. Owen comes in for the chinlock, and we take a break. Back with Owen getting the enzuigiri for two. Anvil powerslam gets two. Bret chases Owen around the ring, which allows Owen to sneak in for a Hart Attack that gets two on Davey. Owen with a camel clutch, but Bulldog gets a backslide for two. Hot tag Bret and he beats on both heels, and it’s the FIVE MOVES OF DOOM on Anvil. Bret runs into Owen’s knee, but Davey dropkicks Bret onto Anvil. Owen comes off the top and puts Anvil on top for two, but Bret finishes Anvil with the Sharpshooter at 14:12. Pretty dull and uninspired tag match, actually, for four guys who are basically brothers. **3/4

European championship finals: The British Bulldog v. Owen Hart

OK, for those who have long been bugging me to do this one, here you go. Owen gives Bulldog a clean break to start and then starts on the arm, and they trade super-cool reversals until Bulldog takes him down to win. Owen tries a monkey flip out of the corner, but Bulldog blocks and they do a stalemate sequence off that. And then shake hands, which is always nice to see. Bulldog takes him down with the test of strength, and Owen bridges out of it and busts out the rope bounce escape. He tries to follow with a rana, but Bulldog powerbombs him, and transitions into a catapult that puts Owen on the floor. And then he lets him back in, as the sportsmanship continues. Owen comes back in with a rollup for two, but Bulldog takes him down with an armdrag and holds a top wristlock. Bulldog goes to a hammerlock and Owen tries to flip out of it, so Bulldog drops him right on the arm and we take a break.

Back with Bulldog working the wristlock again, into a crucifix takedown for two. Owen reverses a suplex and goes for the enzuigiri, but Bulldog ducks and takes him down into a bow-and-arrow submission. Owen uses the ref’s shirt to escape, so Bulldog grabs an armbar and monkey-flips him. He tries to follow with a charge, but Owen backdrops him to the floor and then also offers a clean entrance back into the ring again. Another shake and we’re on again. Bulldog takes him down with a headlock and they criss-cross, but Owen blows out his knee! BUT WAIT! It’s a miracle, as it heals up and Owen stomps him down and tries the Sharpshooter. Bulldog powers out of that and now the hurt feelings start, as they shove it out and Owen gets a leg lariat to take over.

Backbreaker and Owen goes to work on the back, and drops the leg for two. We hit the chinlock and Bulldog fights out of that, but runs into a knee as Honky does a pretty good Stu Hart impression. Bulldog bails and regroups, and Owen actually lets him be, but Bulldog fights in with a sunset flip for two. Owen takes him down with a clothesline, however, and drops an elbow for two. Back to the chinlock and we take a well-timed break. Back with Owen getting the overhead belly to belly suplex for two and goes to a camel clutch. Bulldog powers out with an electric chair drop, but runs into a boot on a blind charge. Owen tries for a pin in the corner, but only gets two. Can’t blame him there.

Neckbreaker and Owen goes up with a flying legdrop for two. Back to the chinlock, but Bulldog fights out quickly, so Owen slugs him into the corner and follows with a superplex, which Bulldog reverses into a bodypress for two. Nice counter. Bulldog comes back with a wicked series of clotheslines and the delayed suplex for two. Owen gets the turnbuckle bump and Bulldog presses him onto the top rope to crotch him, then suplexes him back in. Owen lands on his feet and hits the german suplex for two. Owen tries to alley-oop and gets caught in powerslam position, so he grabs the ropes and falls on top for two. Bulldog rolls him up for two. Owen finally gets the enzuigiri and goes to the Sharpshooter in the middle of the ring, but Bulldog powers to the ropes. Owen tries a tombstone, but Bulldog reverses to the powerslam and gets two. Bulldog argues and Owen gets the victory roll from behind for two, but Bulldog reverses for the pin and the first European title at 16:52, kicking off 5 glorious years for that belt and highlights like Mideon digging it out of Shane McMahon’s bag to win it. The finish, by the way, was awesome, as it paid tribute to both the Owen-Bret Wrestlemania X finish with Owen’s victory roll, but also the Bret-Bulldog finish from Summerslam 92 with the pinfall reversal by Bulldog. This one told a great story, had no dead spots, and was pretty much 100% clean the whole way through, and not to mention foreshadowed one of the greatest angles in WWF history when they had their rematch a few weeks later. Probably one of the best matches ever broadcast on TV. *****

Goldust, Ken Shamrock, The Legion of Doom and Steve Austin v. Brian Pillman, Jim Neidhart, British Bulldog, Owen Hart and Bret Hart.

From Canadian Stampede in 1997. Unfortunately I was not at this PPV, as I had to work and thus got stuck staying home and taping it on PPV, but I was at the Edmonton RAW the next night. Everyone from the US team gets SERIOUS heel heat. Steve Austin is nearly booed out of the building. The Hart Foundation is introduced one-by-one, with the ovation building with every guy, until the roof is nearly ready to blow off the place when Bret comes out. It gives me a lump in my throat to watch it. Austin & Bret start. Oh, by the way, the announcer make mention of a little documentary being shot at ringside. Something about “wrestling” and “shadows” or something like that. Bret beats the hell out of Austin, drawing INCREDIBLE face heat in the process. The crowd literally boos Austin’s every move. I mean, literally, when the guys MOVES they boo him. Austin quickly gets the cobra clutch, and they do the reversal spot in the corner for two. Austin misses the rope run, and Anvil tags in. Austin gets the Thesz press and tags Shamrock in. Zen sighting #3: He gets my masterpiece, “What’s Kayfabe?” on screen for a good chunk of time, and then had it confiscated by Adam (of George and Adam fame) about 10 seconds later. Shamrock controls easily, so Pillman tags in. He uses a blatant cheapshot and gets CHEERED for it. I know wrestlers always say that they like playing a heel and riling up the crowd, but Pillman had a grin about 4 miles wide on his face the entire match because of the babyface heat he was drawing. Backbreaker gets two. Shamrock hits a belly-to-belly, and everyone tags out. Owen & Goldust go. Enzuigiri gets two for Owen. Crowd starts with a VERY loud “Austin sucks” chant, and Austin wisely plays off it for fun. Hawk comes in with a legdrop on Owen for two. Flying splash gets two. Owen quickly comes back with the Sharpshooter, but Animal breaks. Big heel heat. Bulldog comes in with a hanging suplex and powerslam for two. Bret & Animal go next, and Bret kicks his ass. Goldust comes in and gets his ass kicked, too. Then he gets caught in the corner and a mass-beatdown results and the crowd is rabid and I’m nearly standing up and cheering even now. Owen comes in and hits the post on a blind charge, but comes back with a leg lariat on Animal and a missile dropkick. Rana is reversed into a powerbomb and powerslam. The LOD hits the Doomsday Device fro two, and another brawl erupts. Austin posts Owen and smashes a chair into his knee, then takes a shot at Bruce Hart in the front row. Crowd lets Austin know how much he sucks as Owen heads to the back for medical attention. Austin gets pummelled in the corner to the delight of the crowd, but he fights free. Austin and Pillman go and a quick stunner ends that fight pretty quick. Bret bails him out and posts Austin, then smashes a chair into HIS knee and applies the ringpost figure-four as the announcers gasp in shock at the bloodthirsty crowd. Back in the ring, Bulldog crotches Hawk on the top rope for two. Austin heads to the back for medical attention, too. Animal & Anvil get into a test of strength. Anvil wins and the Harts double-team Animal. Bret gets caught in the corner, but Shamrock plays to the crowd and Pillman sneaks in and clotheslines him. Hey, Ken, you’re a HEEL here. Shamrock then gets caught in the Hart corner and sent to the floor, where Pillman gleefully launches him into the Spanish table. Pillman is just having the time of his life out there. Sadly, this would be the last great match of his career. It’s nice to actually see a smile on his face for an entire match, ya know? Hart gets the russian legsweep for two. Bulldog comes in and pulverizes Shamrock, but a low blow turns the tide. Ah, now you’re catching on, Kenny. Goldust comes in to clean up with a bulldog on Bulldog and the Curtain Call, but Pillman interferes again. Goldust goes aerial and gets superplexed down for two. Austin makes his return. It’s Bret v. Austin again, and Austin wins this round. Suplex gets two. Bret DDTs him and goes for the FIVE MOVES OF DOOM. Sleeper is escaped with a jawbreaker, and it gets two. Bret comes back and gets the Sharpshooter, but Animal saves, and the crowd is PISSED. Austin does his own version, and Owen returns now to make the save. Austin clotheslines him out to the floor and they fight there. Austin takes a shot at fomer referee Wayne Hart, and they end up brawling as Wayne jumps the railing. Bret comes over and nails Austin for hitting his brothers, then rolls him into the ring. Austin has some choice words for Bret, which lets Owen roll him up for the pin at 24:30. Like you need to ask what this gets. *****

Flag match: Bret Hart, Owen Hart & British Bulldog v. Steve Austin, Undertaker & Dude Love

From RAW in July 1997. This was in Canada with yet another crazy pro-Harts crowd. Bret dumps Austin out of the ring with a clothesline. Owen hits Dude with the enzuigiri and climbs for his flag, but he gets dumped. We take a break and return with Bulldog suplexing Dude. Undertaker comes in and pounds on Owen, and follows with a light chokeslam. Austin comes in and pounds on Owen in the corner, then follows with a clothesline and hits the chinlock. Owen fights out, but Austin tags Dude in. Owen evades him and makes a run for the flag, but Dude brings him down, only to take a DDT. Dude hooks Owen in a bodyscissors, and Austin comes in with a superplex attempt to THUNDEROUS boos. Owen fights him off, but Undertakers comes in as we take another break. Back with Dude holding a sleeper on Owen, but Owen fights him off with a leg lariat. Back to Austin for a Sharpshooter attempt, but Owen fights him off and it’s HOT tag to Bret. Bret pounds on him to increasing cheers, and tries the ringpost figure-four, but Dude saves. Back to Undertaker, who runs wild like he’s a babyface here, setting up Bulldog for the tombstone, but Bret breaks it up. Bret and UT clothesline each other, but Taker revives first and climbs for his flag, but Owen slows him down, with help from Brian Pillman from under the ring, and Bret captures the flag at 12:05. Easy way for big stars to lose without having to do a job, actually. ***

Unified tag titles: D-Generation X v. The Hart Dynasty

From the Christmas 2009 Smackdown. Shawn does a nice sequence with Kidd and catapults him into HHH’s cheapshot. HHH with a very delayed suplex for two. Kidd comes back with an axehandle off the middle rope, but HHH catches him and tries the Pedigree. Kidd escapes and brings Smith in, and we take a break. Back with Smith doing his own delayed suplex for two. The Harts double-team HHH in the corner, but Kidd walks into a HHH clothesline. Hot tag Shawn, and he goes up, but misses the flying elbow. Kidd with a springboard neckbreaker for two, and Smith whips Shawn out of the ring. They work on the back, and back in Kidd gets two. We hit the chinlock, and Kidd gets two. Smith with another delayed suplex for two. See, now they should have done a Rockerplex from that position to really torque Shawn off good and maybe even give Matt Striker something interesting to talk about. Smith with a backdrop driver for two. Kidd cuts off the ring to keep Shawn away from HHH, but they collide. Kidd comes off the top, but lands nut-first on Shawn’s fist, and it’s hot tag HHH. High knee and spinebuster get two on Smith. KICK WHAM PEDIGREE is reversed into a Hart Attack for two. That was slick. Smith sets up HHH for the powerslam, but runs into the superkick, and KICK WHAM PEDIGREE kills him dead at 12:13. Not exactly a shocking finish. Match was decent, but the Harts didn’t look ready to work on that level with DX yet. God, now I sound like HHH. ***

The Pulse:

Can’t argue with the match selection as far as quality goes, although a few of these are repeats and some are downright done to death lately. But you’ve got 4 ***** matches (and one near-miss) by my count on here, and that’s worth your $30 no matter how many times I’ve seen them. A very classy, if not particularly deep or informative, documentary rounds out a great little package and a fitting sequel to the Bret Hart DVD from 2005. Highly recommended!

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The SmarK DVD Rant for Hart & Soul: The Hart Family Anthology

Scott Keith has posted a mega-sized rant of the Hart & Soul DVD release at Inside Pulse Movies. Click here to see if it is a worthy companion to the 2005 release Bret Hart: The Best There Is, The Best There Was and the Best There Ever Will Be.

You can also support Inside Pulse by ordering the DVD at Amazon.com.

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