The SmarK DVD Rant for Bret Hart – The Dungeon Collection

The SmarK DVD Rant for Bret Hart:  The Dungeon Collection

Hosted by Bret Hart, duh.

Disc One

Bret Hart v. Dynamite Kid

From Stampede Wrestling, December 1978.  As usual with Stampede, we’re joined in progress well into the match, about 20 minutes in.  Bret is up one fall to none at this point and he chokes Kid out in the corner, until Kid clobbers him from behind.  I would be remiss in not pointing out that Dynamite managed to find the ugliest possible combination of tights in every appearance in Stampede I’ve ever seen.  Kid tosses Bret and threatens to walk out on the match, but returns and starts going after Bret’s leg, slamming him into the ropes in a neat spot and then stomping him down in the corner.  Kid wrenches on Bret’s leg with a toehold that looks legitimately painful, since he was kind of a dick that way, but Bret gets a quick comeback before Kid beats on him in the corner again.  Half crab, with Kid looking eerily like Brian Pillman, and the ref actually pulls Kid off Bret when they’re in the ropes.  That’s some shoddy refereeing!  Kid viciously stays on the leg and goes to the bow and arrow, which was crazy for 1978, but Bret falls out of it.  Kid misses a dropkick and Bret comes back and goes after Kid’s leg, and a sunset flip gets two.  Kid does a slick reversal of an armdrag into a headlock by yanking on the hair, but Bret flips out of it.  Kid gets a butterfly suplex, but Bret reverses a wristlock and drops an elbow on him.  They slug it out and Kid cheats to win that, but Bret comes back with an atomic drop, so Kid suplexes Bret over the top in a crazy bump by both guys, and it’s a DQ at 13:40 shown.  Not quite the state-of-the-art stuff Dynamite was doing at the time, but it was a solid effort.  ***

Bret Hart v. Buzz Sawyer

From Georgia, September 1979!  This was not a particularly successful period in Bret’s career, as he notes in the introduction.  I still find it crazy that WWE owns all this footage and can just pull video like this out of their vault like it’s nothing.  This is pretty rough video quality, like it was taped off a satellite feed onto a VCR.  Buzz, in his pre-beard/pre-bald days, takes Bret down by the arm and they work for the armbar.  Buzz with a hiptoss but Bret gets his own and Buzz goes back to the arm again.  Gordon Solie thinks Buzz is ahead on takedowns, which shows that he could have been an MMA judge had he lived.  Sawyer gets an awkward dropkick and goes back to the arm, as this is certainly not a version of Buzz Sawyer I’m used to seeing.  Bret reverses to a chinlock, but gets taken back into an armbar again.  Bret’s vocal fans at ringside grow impatient with his efforts here.  So Bret goes with a headlock to ramp up the excitement, but Sawyer sweeps the leg and now goes with a kneebar.  They collide and both try dropkicks and get nothing, but Bret reverses a slam attempt into a cradle for one. Bret with a rollup for two, and Buzz gets his own for two.  Buzz goes to a facelock and the time limit expires at 10:00.  Nothing exciting, but just a good mat wrestling match for the time.  ***

Stampede North American title:  Leo Burke v. Bret Hart

Back to Stampede, January 1983.  Joined in progress as usual at about 10:00.  The charm of Ed Whalen:  “I’ve been gone a week and Leo Burke has turned into an idiot.”  He had just turned heel on Bret, you see.  Burke drops knees in the corner as Whalen explains that Burke turned to the dark side because inflation was killing his bank account and bad guys make more money.   And what more explanation do you need?   Burke gets a neckbreaker and goes up, but Bret slams him off and makes the comeback.   Burke reverses into a sleeper and the crowd is FREAKING OUT, but Bret makes the ropes. He comes back again, but the ref is bumped and Burke drops a knee on the poor guy for good measure.  Burke pulls out brass knuckles, but Bret blocks it and piledrives him for the apparent pin and title at 5:22.  BUT WAIT!   Evil ref Ron Hayter reverses the decision and calls it a DQ, so Bret is foiled here.  He would eventually prevail.  *1/2

Bret Hart v. Dynamite Kid

We’re into the WWF era now, September 1985, as Bret and Dynamite decided to let it all hang out with the video cameras rolling.  Bret relates here how other guys were riveted by the match and came to him talking about how great they were, which is exactly the kind of thing that I’m sure people on the blog enjoy mocking Bret for.  Watching their original match from 78 and then this one is crazy, because Bret has the same physique and Dynamite is now gigantic.  Bret bails and complains about hairpulling, and Kid catapults him into the corner and to the floor.  Kid leaps to the top and threatens to do something awesome, but Bret moves away quickly.   Back in, Bret gets a cheapshot, but Kid hits him with an atomic drop and follows with the snap suplex for two.   They trade trade hammerlocks and Kid leverages him to the floor to escape.  Bret thinks it over and goes to the arm, and Kid immediately outwrestles him again, so Bret cheats and takes over.   The middle rope elbow and legdrop follow and Bret tosses Kid and slams him on the floor, with no mats.  Watching Kid bump leaves no mystery as to why he’s currently in a wheelchair.  Back in, Bret gets two, but Kid gets a sunset flip for two. Bret stomps him down again, but Kid reverses to a backslide for two.  Kid flips out of a backbreaker and hits his own, but Bret ties him up in the ropes. Sadly, Bret misses his charge and clotheslines himself, allowing Kid to make the comeback.  Clothesline and headbutt, and Bret takes the turnbuckle bump for two.  Backdrop suplex gets two.  Flying knee gets two, and he NAILED that fucker.  What a dick.  Kid tries a rollup and Bret reverses him to the floor, but Kid comes back in with a rolling reverse for the pin at 12:35.  WOW.  This was way down the undercard and the crowd was going crazy for it, and no wonder.   ****

WWF Tag titles:  The Hart Foundation v. The Islanders

From Philly, March 1987.  Back in the slower-moving 80s, the Hart Foundation’s title win over the Bulldogs was still fresh and still giving them nuclear heat.  Big stall to start and Haku puts Neidhart down with chops .  They do the test of strength and Haku dropkicks out of that, then sends Anvil reeling with a headbutt.  So it’s over to Bret, and he gets kicked in the face right off the bat and put down with an atomic drop.  As a note, in the mind of Dick Graham, Haku = “Tama” and Tama = “Afa”.   Resnick, meanwhile, feels that Tama = “Haku” and Haku = “Tama”.  Tama chops Bret down and out and the champs go for advice from Jimmy Hart, and it’s back to Anvil again.  Tama showboats and tags Haku in, and the Islanders pinball Neidhart in the corner and double-team the arm.  Tama is actually one step ahead of Bret and evades the cheapshot from the apron, but Anvil just clobbers him from behind anyway.  That’s why they’re the tag champs!  Bret drops a leg as I stop and ponder:  I know that, in kayfabe, the purpose of wrist tape is for grip during holds, but what’s the purpose (either real or kayfabe) for the Islanders to have ANKLE tape?  I never got that.  Tama gets choked in the corner and Anvil drops him on the top rope, which allows Bret to choke him out from the apron.  He’s having a grand old time doing it, which is a nice bit of facial expression.  Haku has had ENOUGH and fights off the champs, so they toss Tama to the floor and the Islanders regroup.  Back in, Anvil with a standing dropkick that gets two for Bret, but Tama gets a sunset flip.  Bret makes the tag on the way down, however, and Anvil beats Tama down for two.  Quality tag team stuff here.  Anvil goes to a chinlock and Tama elbows out, so Anvil puts him back to the floor again as Tama is a bump machine tonight.  Back in, Bret with a backbreaker for two.  Neidhart comes in and collides with Tama.  Tama goes for a slam and Bret dropkicks them over, but Tama rolls through for two.  Big pop for that spot.  Bret goes with biting in the corner, eschewing subtlety altogether, but he runs into a knee and it’s hot tag Haku.  He fires away on the champs and there’s a malfunction at the junction, but Danny Davis makes a nuisance of himself while Tama gets the flying bodypress.  Davis turns them over and Bret gets the pin to retain at 18:20.  Classic Hart Foundation!  ***3/4

Bret Hart v. Andre The Giant

This a rarity if there ever was one, their only meeting.  From Milan in April 1989, as Andre apparently personally requested this match with Bret as a sign of respect.  Hey, it’s his DVD, he can put himself over if he wants.  When you get a DVD, you can set the record straight.  This looks like it was ripped off YouTube or something, and maybe it was.  Kind of gives these soulless WWE DVD compilations some personality, like our own tape trading library. Andre tries the butt splash in the corner and misses, allowing Bret to get some shots in, but Andre casually smacks him down and sits on him.  Bret dropkicks him into the ropes for the standard Andre spot, and the video quality suddenly undergoes a dramatic improvement.  Andre escapes and chokes Bret down, then goes to a bearhug.  He slugs away in the corner, but Bret makes the comeback and goes after the back, until Andre headbutts him down again.  Andre misses a big boot and Bret clotheslines him into the corner, but Andre shrugs him off and drops an elbow for the pin at 6:28.  Probably the best you were getting out of Andre at that point.  ½*

Bret Hart v. Mr. Perfect

From Toronto, April 1989.  They fight for the lockup to start and Bret grabs a headlock, then hiptosses him into the corner.  Another go around turns into a criss-cross and Bret takes him down again.  Bret with a crossbody for two, and he gets a sunset flip for two and takes him down with the headlock again.  Perfect tries the chops, but Bret takes him down with a crucifix for two.  Perfect bails and complains about the grease in Bret’s hair, but really what’s the ref gonna do?  Recommend a good conditioner?  Back to the lockup and Perfect uses a cheapshot to gain the advantage, but Bret catches a kick and takes him down.  Hennig slams him, but Bret mule kicks him from the mat and then rams his head into the mat and clotheslines him into the mat.  You can tell Curt is feeling the love tonight because he’s bumping like crazy for everything now.  Perfect stalls for a while and they start with the lockup again, allowing Perfect to hit him with another cheapshot, and he follows with a kneelift and boots Bret out of the ring.  He keeps knocking Bret off the apron and then Bret gets to take his favorite bump into the railing.  Always a classic.  Back in, Bret gets whipped into the corner for the turnbuckle bump, and that gets two for Perfect.  They head out to the ramp and Perfect rams him into it, then goes to a spinning toehold, but Bret kicks him into the corner.  Ah, it’s dueling turnbuckle bumps.  The shoulder is hurt, so Bret runs it into the corner again and follows with a hammerlock slam before grabbing an armbar on the mat.  He pounds on the arm in the corner and puts him down with a headbutt, but another crucifix attempt is blocked with a samoan drop.  He follows with a falling headbutt to Bret’s midsection, further knocking the wind out of him, and then punts him in the ribs.  They fight for the abdominal stretch and Perfect hiptosses out of it, then follows with a rollup for two.  Bret shoves him out of the ring on the kickout and follows with a beautiful pescado, and they head back in.  Vertical suplex gets two for Bret.  Backbreaker and middle rope elbow get two, but the bell rings for the draw at 20:00.  Well shucks.  This was like a template for their 1991 match, with Hennig bumping all over the place and Bret refining his babyface act.  And for the time, it was EXCELLENT.  ****  Bret wants five more minutes, but Perfect notes that he couldn’t beat him in 20:00, so 5:00 more won’t help.  Then he turns around and jumps Bret and beats the hell out of him, but goes up and gets crotched by Bret.  Bret makes the comeback and elbows Perfect out of the ring, and this time he goes back to the dressing room for real.  Hell of a deal, but Bret’s singles push got stalled and aborted soon after.

Disc Two

The Hart Foundation v. The Twin Towers

This is a dark match from a TV taping in Duluth, MN, May 1989.  And wouldn’t you know, the music police strike again, as JIVE SOUL BRO is edited out.  I continue to not get them.  Anyway, the commentary places this on a “Fan Favorites” Coliseum video which I’ve probably reviewed in the past, but I don’t remember it.  Bossman manages to overpower Neidhart to start, but he’s crazy enough to throw a dropkick in retaliation.  The Harts work on Bossman’s arm, but Bret gets caught trying a bodypress and it’s over to Akeem.  Bret quickly drops an elbow on him for two, and Anvil trips him up because babyface Hart Foundation are still dicks.  Bret tries a sunset flip on Akeem and gets sat upon, which according to the intro nearly paralyzed him and was only dumb luck that his spine didn’t break.  So Bret, having nearly died from a transition move, is naturally the face-in-peril and gets beat up for a while.  The Towers do a unique double avalanche and Bossman goes to the bearhug and then boots him down.  So it’s Akeem’s turn for the bearhug, and then Bossman goes to the chinlock.  Lord Alfred randomly talks about how Bossman is only 24 and has the potential to be the greatest wrestler of all time.  Really?  He was actually 26 at that point according to Wikipedia, but still, REALLY?  Anyway, hot tag Anvil and the Harts hit Akeem with a double dropkick and a slingshot splash from Bret that gets two.  Bossman gets tossed…man, and they brawl outside for the countout at 12:06.  Apparently the Towers win for some reason.  This might be the gravest injustice that Earl Hebner has ever committed against Bret Hart.  Hayes is still unsure what the decision might be, even during the announcement.  **

Bret Hart v. Tiger Mask (Mitsuhara Misawa)

This is from the famous WWF/SWS “Wrestling Summit” supershow at the Tokyo Dome in April 1990.  Seeing this today you’re probably like “Holy shit, Bret Hart v. Mitsuhara Misawa?!” but this wasn’t really one of either one’s better matches and obviously neither guy was a star on the level they’d get to later.  Bret is oddly dismissive of Misawa on the intro, just kind of noting that this was put together at the last minute and he was just hoping he could have a good match like he did with the first Tiger Mask, with no mention of what Misawa became later or his death or anything else.  He basically does not enjoying working in Japan for a variety of reasons.  Anyway, Tiger works the arm on the mat and Bret bails, then runs into a knee back in the ring.  Tiger stays with a wristlock and works the arm for a while on the mat, but Bret goes to a chinlock and then grinds a side headlock.  Dropkick misses and Mask gives him a weak catapult into the corner, and then it finally picks up a bit with Bret getting sent to the floor and Tiger following with a dive.  Back in, he grabs a cross-armbreaker, but it was basically meaningless at that point and Bret easily gets to the ropes.  Criss-cross and Bret has a crippling knee injury, but recovers in time to clothesline Tiger and heel on the fans a bit. Backbreaker gets two and Bret gets more aggressive now, throwing forearms until Tiger backslides him for two.  Bret tosses him and they head back in for the Russian legsweep, which gets two.  Bret hits the chinlock again and has a lengthy on-camera discussion with him before cutting off a comeback with a nasty looking atomic drop.  Snap suplex gets two.  And it’s back to the chinlock as this is clearly building to a 20 minute draw.  Bret with the abdominal stretch as this thing has just totally run out of steam.  Tiger comes back with a flying bodypress for two, and Bret takes the turnbuckle bump for two.  They slug it out and as predicted, it’s a draw at 20:00.  Couple of fun moments with Bret antagonizing the Japanese crowd, but otherwise this was a colossal bore.  *1/2

Intercontinental title:  Bret Hart v. Ric Flair

Bret of course relates a story about Flair coming to him while Flair was World champion one night and telling him what a great worker he was.  Oh, Bret.  Also, Flair has no psychology and did the same moves over and over.  Oh, Bret.   I think Bret and Shane Douglas are the only people left taking the hardline anti-Flair stance in 2013, and even Shane has probably softened his stance.   Anyway, Bret doesn’t think this is a very good match, but thankfully he was able to turn things up a notch and push Flair to something better.  Oh, Bret.  So this is from a TV taping in New Haven, November 1991.  And in a rare fuckup for Finkel, he introduces Mr. Perfect as “Financial Consultant” instead of “Executive Consultant” before correcting himself.  Bret works the headlock to start as Sean Mooney declares that as far as he’s concerned, the WWF title is the ONLY title in wrestling!  And they wonder why Flair and Hogan didn’t draw.  Flair gets into a dispute with Hebner, which is interesting to me because this was 1991 and they were still putting forth the storyline of DAVE Hebner being the referee when in fact Earl had basically taken over full-time since the Andre deal.  When exactly did they stop lying and just admit it was Earl?  Even the Apter mags were taking them to task about it, so you know it was getting silly.  Flair takes over with a cheapshot and thrusts his pelvis at the women seductively, but Bret comes back with clotheslines until Flair cuts him off with an atomic drop in the corner.   Flair tries a few cheap pinfalls in the corner but gets foiled by Hebner and Bret fires back.  Flair catches him with a sleeper, which Bret quickly escapes to trigger a Flair Flop, but Flair goes for the leg and gets the figure-four.  Bret fights into a reversal, so Flair cheats again and drags Bret to the apron, which allows Bret to suplex him back into the ring and make the comeback.  Bret PULLS DOWN THE STRAPS and they slug it out, which ends with a Flair Flip and a fight up the aisle.  Back in, Flair begs off and Bret repeatedly attacks him in a funny sequence, and Bret looks to finish with the Sharpshooter.  Perfect distracts Bret long enough to get him to break, so he tries again and once again gets distracted by Perfect.  Bret with a rollup for two and Flair grabs a headlock to setup the standard reversal sequence that must have hurt Bret deep down to participate in.  Poor guy, having to be led through a match by washed up old Flair.  They fight on the floor, and back in just in time for Flair to beat the count at 19:20.  Kind of a weak finish, obviously.  They never really got into high gear, but Flair looked like he was having fun with it, and it probably would have been WAY better if Bret had just let Flair do the Flair match instead of having to prove a point or something.  ***

Bret Hart v. Undertaker

From MSG, January 1992, and this might be Taker’s last MSG appearance before turning babyface.  Bret relays a story about how Undertaker came to him and was so glad to be wrestling Bret because then everyone could see that he could be a great wrestler and not just a movie monster.  Taker attacks after the glasses are delivered, and he chokes away in the corner.  Bret comes back with a pair of clotheslines and a dropkick that puts Taker on the floor, and Bret follows with a dive that nearly overshoots and breaks his neck.  Taker shrugs him off and resumes the beating back in the ring.  Bret tries a sunset flip that fails, so he pounds away in the corner instead until Taker whips him into the corner.  Ropewalk gets two.  Taker goes with the SMOTHER OF DOOM, but Bret eventually fights out with a suplex that gets two.  Taker no-sells again and the ref gets bumped, so Bret gets the Sharpshooter to no avail.  Bret dumbly lets go, and Taker waffles him with the urn and pins him at 12:22.  Pretty standard Undertaker match for the time.   *1/2

Bret Hart v. Bam Bam Bigelow

From Milan, April 1993.  Bret must have really loved Bigelow because there was already a 93 match from Spain on the first Bret DVD set, and he didn’t even have a story in the intro about how Bigelow came to him looking for bounty hunting advice or anything like that.  After some stalling, Bret tries a headlock and gets nowhere with it.  Bigelow pounds away, but misses an elbow, and Bret goes to the armbar.  Bammer bails and Bret tries a dive, but Bigelow catches him and runs him into the post.  Bigelow milks the count while Bret recovers, and then goes out and runs his back into the post all over again.  That’s pretty awesome.  Back in, Bigelow pounds on the back with a series of headbutts and tosses him again.  Back in, a delayed suplex gets two.  Bearhug into a backdrop suplex gets two.  Bigelow goes to a body vice, but Bret escapes with a suplex and both guys are out.  Bret revives first and tries a bodypress, but Bigelow dumps him down and follows with the butterfly backbreaker.  To the top, but the flying headbutt misses and Bret comes back.  Legsweep gets two.  Middle rope clothesline gets two.  Bulldog sets up the Sharpshooter, but Bigelow blocks it and grabs another bearhug.  Bret tries another suplex to escape, but Bigelow falls on top for two this time.  Blind charge misses and Bret finishes with the victory roll at 20:41.  This was basically the same match as King of the Ring, down to the finish, so I’m not really sure what the point of inclusion was.  I mean, it was fine, but what’s so interesting about it?  ***

Disc Three

WWF title:  Bret Hart v. Diesel

From King of the Ring 94, our first PPV match of the set.  Obviously this was the least of the Bret-Diesel series.  Jim Neidhart re-debuts here in Bret’s corner before turning heel later in the night, and of course Art Donovan on commentary has no idea who he is, with Randy Savage of all people having to tell Art that Neidhart used to play for the Raiders.   Diesel attacks in the corner to start, but misses a boot and Bret goes to work on the leg early and gets a rollup for two.  Meanwhile, Gorilla and Donovan have the greatest conversation in wrestling commentary history:

Art:  “These two are like David and Goliath!”

Gorilla:  “Well, we know how that story ended.”

Art:  “Yeah, he hit him with a rock.”

They should have just had these two do every PPV ever.  Donovan was like a living parody of every parody crazy announcer in pop culture history.  Anyway, back to the silly wrestling stuff, as Bret gets a figure-four and goes back to the leg.  Trying to decipher Art Donovan’s rambling is FAR more interesting than this.  Diesel shoves Bret to the floor, but that goes badly when Bret wraps the leg around the post a few times.  Shawn comes CHARGING from off-camera with a clothesline to save his big buddy, drawing more heat as a manager than either guy in the ring.  Here’s Shawn Michaels, multiple time Intercontinental champion and totally credible badass by that point in his career, and he just chooses to play an awesome cowardly weasel manager because he wants to get Diesel over.  Who says he was selfish?  Back in the ring, Diesel sends Bret to the outside again and into the post, and I feel it’s the proper time to discuss Nash’s trainwreck of a hairdo, as it combines a pompadour with a mullet.  It’s like party in the back, 50s karaoke night in the front.  Diesel works on the back with a backbreaker and sideslam for two.   He goes to a backbreaker submission, and Art Donovan is concerned.  “He’s gonna break that guy’s back!”  And now you know where the name of the move comes from, courtesy Art Donovan.   Shawn continues interfering freely and enraging the front row, and Bret takes the turnbuckle bump for two.  Short clothesline gets two.  Another backbreaker gets two as Nash seems to have exhausted his moveset.  Diesel goes to the body vice while Shawn removes the turnbuckle pad, but Bret wriggles into a sleeper, trying to get a good match out of this trainwreck against all odds. Bret, you’re fighting against Art Donovan on commentary and Shawn Michaels clowning for 3 at ringside, just accept the crazy and go with it.  And right on cue, the ref is bumped, but Bret sends Diesel into the steel first.  They slug it out with Diesel flailing around like a drunk barfighter.  Bret gets three clotheslines to put him down for two, setting up the FIVE MOVES OF DOOM.  Bulldog sets up the Sharpshooter, but once again everyone gets involved and Bret gets a middle rope clothesline for two instead.  Bret wants a backslide and turns it into a small package for two because Bret wants a fucking **** match and doesn’t give a shit if he has to wrestle Kevin Nash to do it.  Diesel tries Snake Eyes and settles for the big boot as this thing gets over to the shock of everyone involved.  Bret rolls into the Sharpshooter, but they’re in the ropes, so Bret dropkicks him to the floor.  This of course lets Shawn come in and clobber Bret with the IC title, and Diesel gets two off that.  He goes to finish with the poochiebomb, but Anvil runs in for the DQ at 22:45.  OK, Bret, you earned that one, wacky commentary and cartoonish Nash selling aside.  ****

Bret Hart v. Owen Hart

This is a no-holds-barred match from RAW, March 1995.  Kind of an odd choice.  It’s not like there’s any shortage of Bret-Owen matches out there on DVD already.  I think the magnificent Bret-Kid match from 94 would have been the better choice, but it’s Bret’s DVD so whatevs.  Bret chokes him out on the ropes and busts out a DVD, and they fight on the floor and back into the dressing room.  Bret adds a slam on the floor and they head back in, where Owen takes over following a cheapshot.  Enzuigiri gets two and they’re back to the floor, where Bret meets the railing, and we apparently skip over a commercial break and return with Bret in the Tree of Woe.  Owen undoes a turnbuckle and Bret hoists him by his own petard and makes the comeback.  This of course means FIVE MOVES OF DOOM, including a rare piledriver for two.  Sharpshooter, but Owen goes to the eyes and then runs Bret into the exposed turnbuckle for two.  He goes up and misses a missile dropkick, and Bret catapults him into the steel and finishes with the Sharpshooter at 9:15.  Terrific, fast-paced match.  ***1/2

Bret Hart v. Jean Pierre LaFitte

From In Your House III.  The fact that Bret got stuck in every shitty feud they could think up for him (like here, for instance, where the pirate dude stole his jacket, which Bret calls his lamest feud motivation ever on the intro) but still emerged as WWF champion I think shows how great he was.  Bret dives on LaFitte and pounds away in the ring, but gets hammered down.  Bret takes him down and grabs an arm, and a crucifix gets two.  Back to the armbar, but LaFitte clotheslines him and does some choking.  Bret rollup gets two, and Lafitte goes back to the pounding.  Bret tries a charge, but hits the post, and Lafitte sends him back there for good measure.  We get the Bret Hart Running Turnbuckle Bump and Lafitte gets two.  Bret dumps him, but that backfires as Lafitte yanks him out and sends him into the stairs.  Vince writes off Bret at that point.  Geez, give the guy a LITTLE credit.  Bret fights back, but a spinebuster gets two.  Lafitte goes to the chinlock.  Bret fights up and goes down, and Lafitte drops a leg for two.  Bret comes back with a sunset flip for two, but a clothesline puts him down again.  Sideslam and Lafitte goes up with a legdrop for two.  Back up, but the swanton misses.  Bret comes back with an atomic drop and Sharpshooter, but Lafitte powers him out of the ring.  He follows with a somersault plancha, but splats on the floor and Bret returns that trip into the stairs.  Back in, legsweep gets two.  Small package gets two.  Backbreaker and elbow, but he hits boot coming down.  You don’t usually see someone block that.  Bret tries another crucifix, but Lafitte has learned and counters to a Regal Roll for two.  Bret blocks a slam for two and pounds away, but charges and hits knee, giving Lafitte two.  Bret tries a bulldog, but gets sent into the corner for two.  He fights back, but charges and crotches himself.  Lafitte goes up and misses again, and they clothesline each other.  Bret, however, takes advantage on the ground and hooks the Sharpshooter to finish at 16:34.   ****1/4  This had all sorts of cool stuff that you didn’t see in 1995, with great psychology and both guys adjusting to each others’ strategy and mistakes.  Probably should have made Carl Ouelette into a star, but it didn’t.

Bret Hart v. Steve Austin

From  South Africa, September 1996.  No idea where this originally aired.  Austin lays the badmouth on him and starts with a headlock, and they trade armbars on the mat and do the kind of mat wrestling you don’t expect to see from Austin anymore.  Austin offers a sportsmanlike handshake, but Bret refuses, so Austin asks for a test of strength instead and cheapshots him.  Bret had it coming for not shaking hands like a man.  Bret takes him down with another armbar, but Austin gets the Thesz Press, which Bret counters to set up a pinfall reversal sequence.  Bret tries the Sharpshooter, so Austin bails to escape and takes some time to recover.  Back in, Austin goes low to take over and chokes him out, then whips him around the ring.  Elbow gets two.  Austin pulls him to the apron and drops elbows out there, and back in for a chinlock.  Bret fights out, but misses a charge and splats on the floor.  Austin decides to piledrive him on the concrete, but Bret escapes and they head back into the ring.  Bret tries a sleeper, but Austin reverses to a jawbreaker.  Bret keeps coming with the FIVE MOVES OF DOOM.  Bret rolls him up for two and dumps him to the floor, then follows with a dive and back into the ring.  Bret goes into turnbuckle for two and they fight to the top, where Bret blocks a superplex and drops a top rope elbow.  Sharpshooter, but Austin pokes him in the eye.  They fight over a backslide and Bret cradles for the pin at 19:58.  And they had an even BETTER match at Survivor Series!  ****

WWF World title:  Bret Hart v. The Patriot

From Ground Zero in 1997, the show where Shawn Michaels stole Bret’s thunder once and for all.  Well, aside from Montreal. Bret attacks and beats on Patriot in the corner, as Vince notes “What started as mere dislike has turned into loathing.”  Now there’s a Wrestlemania tagline!  Patriot comes back with a dropkick and clothesline to put Bret on the floor, as Vince openly calls him Del Wilkes in a weird bit.  Why bother with the mask, then?  Back in, Patriot controls with armdrags for a few boring minutes, but Bret goes to work on the leg for in response, which is slightly less boring because he’s moving.  This sets up the ringpost figure-four, and a legsweep for two. Breaking news:  The Headbangers are on the Superstar Line!  Bulldog comes out to cheerlead as Patriot comes back with clotheslines, but Bulldog trips him up and Bret gets a rollup for two.  Patriot gets his own rollup for two, and UNCLE SLAM gets two.  Vader comes out for a brawl with Bret while Patriot fights Bulldog, but everyone quickly gets removed from the area. Back in, Patriot comes back as Vince notes that the crowd is “whipped up into a frenzy”.  The standards for a frenzy must have been really low in 1997.  The Patriot Missile shoulderblock gets two.  Backdrop suplex gets two.  Bret catches him with a stungun (IRONY!  Because he hates Steve Austin so much, you see)  and drops the middle rope elbow for two.  The ref is bumped, however, and Patriot get another Uncle Slam for two after a delay.  Collision and both guys are out, but Bret recovers with a small package for two, reversed by Patriot for two.  Patriot get cheeky and applies a Sharpshooter, but the idea of Bret submitting to his own hold to lose that title is PREPOSTEROUS.  Bret thankfully reverses to his own version, and Patriot submits at 19:20, because Canada is awesome.  Bet tells everyone to kiss his ass afterwards, because Canada is also classy.  First half of the match was the most boring 10 minutes of my life, but the rest was pretty good.  ***1/4

US Title: Bret Hart v. Booker T

Oh man, now we’re into Bret’s unmotivated WCW run.  He talks about his legendary groin pull, the likes of which you wouldn’t believe, and how he wanted to do a run with Booker and WCW killed it.   This is from Nitro, January of 99.  Booker throws knees in the corner to start and Bret bails, and back in for a test of strength that Booker wins easily.  Bret gets a cheapshot and busts out his DDT to take over, then chokes away in the corner.  To the floor, where we randomly cut to a stock crowd shot and mute the commentary.  WTF?  Were they talking about Benoit there or something?  Back in, Booker slugs back and puts Bret down with a sidekick for two.  Bret goes low and works on the leg, setting up the figure-four.  Booker reverses as we take a break, and return with Bret putting it back on him.  Booker fights out and suplexes him for the comeback.  To the top, but the Hangover misses and Bret grabs the US title for some reason.  Booker kicks it back in his face and they fight to the floor again, and it’s ANOTHER clumsy edit to the crowd with muted commentary.  Finally they head back in, Bret whacks him with the belt, and that’s all she wrote at 12:12.  Just a typical Nitro match, leading to nothing.  **3/4

Bret Hart v. Sting

From WCW Mayhem 99, the semi-finals in the retarded Russo-booked WCW World title tournament.  I tried watching this show again on 24/7  a few years ago and it nearly melted my eyeballs out like at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.  Sting’s music is overdubbed here – was he using “Seek and Destroy” at this point?  Because Metallica is EXPENSIVE so I wouldn’t even blame them in that case.  Sting is decidedly off the gas at this point.  Bret wallops Sting to start and they fight to the floor, and back in for an atomic drop from Bret. Sting comes back and quickly walks into a clothesline, and Bret follows with a suplex.  Sting goes low because they’re in BIZARROWORLD and I guess he might as well be a heel.  Why fight it?  Elbowdrop gets two.  Sting goes to the chinlock and drops another elbow for two.  They head to the floor and Sting splashes the table by mistake, but recovers and sends Bret back into the ring again.  Blind charge hits boot and yes, the ref is bumped six minutes in.  This brings out Lex Luger, who turns on Sting for no adequately explored reason, and Bret saves for no adequately explored reason and puts Luger in the Sharpshooter, because, you know, Crash TV or something.  So the ref disqualifies Sting, but Bret is like “Who booked this shit?” and wants the match to continue.  So we carry on and Bret gets the FIVE MOVES OF DOOM, but lands on Sting’s boot coming off the top.  Sting gets the Deathlock, but Bret reverses to the Sharpshooter and Sting taps at 10:05 to send Bret to the finals against [censored].   **

Oh come on, WWE legal is censoring my reviews now AS I’M TYPING?

The Pulse

This is certainly a more eclectic set than most of them, more of a “rarities” than a “best of.”  But that’s OK, you can only watch Bret v. Bulldog at Summerslam so many times and this was a nice change of pace.  Plus it’s got two classic Hart Foundation matches and I could literally watch a whole DVD set of them.   There’s nothing classic on here, but it’s a fun set for looking back at Bret’s career.  Thumbs up.

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