Wrestling / Bret Hart

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The Excellence of Execution.

Bret Sergeant Hart (born July 2, 1957) is a Canadian retired professional wrestler. He was one of the biggest stars of Professional Wrestling in the '90s and is simultaneously one of the most technically gifted performers to ever step into a wrestling ring and, in the last years of his career, one of the most troubled and tortured personalities in the history of the industry.

Hailing from Calgary, Alberta, Bret was a member of the Hart Wrestling Family and was trained by his father Stu in the famous "Hart Dungeon". Easily the most successful member of the family, he is a double Triple Crown Champion. He is a 5x WWE World Heavyweight Champion, a 2x WWE Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion, a 2x WWE World Tag Team Champion with brother-in-law Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart, a 1x WWE United States Heavyweight Champion, a 2x WCW World Heavyweight Champion, a 4x WCW United States Heavyweight Champion and a 1x WCW World Tag Team Champion with Goldberg.

After The Nasty Boys defeated the Hart Foundation for the WWE World Tag Team Titles at WrestleMania VII in 1991, Bret launched a successful singles career. At SummerSlam 91, he defeated Mr. Perfect for the WWE Intercontinental Championship, his first singles title in the WWF. By Survivor Series 92, he had defeated Ric Flair for his first of five WWE World Heavyweight Championships. His first reign ended at the hands of Yokozuna at WrestleMania IX, but in the ensuing craziness that was 1993 WWF, it quickly became apparent that Bret was the most popular wrestler in the company. In 1994, at WrestleMania X, he won the title back from Yokozuna and cemented himself as the top Face in the WWF, then spent the rest of the year in a bitter rivalry with his brother, "The Rocket" Owen Hart.

He would be pushed into the background in 1995 due to The Kliq's reign of terror backstage. Even after he ended Diesel (Kevin Nash)'s financially disastrous year-long title reign at Survivor Series 95, it was already set that he would be dropping the title four months later to Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XII. According to a variety of accounts, including their own, the backstage grudge between Bret and Shawn started around that time. After WMXII, Bret took time off to contemplate his future. He returned in November to kick off the feud that would make "Stone Cold" Steve Austin's career, and transform Bret's forever. Bret defeated Austin at Survivor Series 96, but the feud continued, culminating in a submission match at WrestleMania XIII, which saw Austin become a huge face, and Bret become a heel, after having been one of the company's top faces since 1988. Bret recruited his brother Owen and brother-in-law the British Bulldog, with brother-in-law Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart and family friend "The Loose Cannon" Brian Pillman joining later, in a new version of the Hart Foundation, as Bret became, for the first and only time in his career, a Foreign Wrestling Heel who denounced America and spoke of Canada being better. He left for World Championship Wrestling (WCW) following the controversial "Montreal Screwjob" in November 1997.

Bret was poorly used in WCW, never again attaining the levels of success of his WWF run and his stint would be marred by the death of his younger brother Owen Hart. His career eventually ended in 2000 due to a severe concussion suffered in a match with Goldberg. A stroke two years later, after a motorcycle accident, would ensure he would never wrestle again. Three years later, Bret resurfaced for a WWE Hall of Fame induction prior to WrestleMania 21.

Bret would make an official return to what is now WWE in 2010, making sporadic appearances in a (mostly) non-wrestling role at pay-per-views and Raw... but not before having one last feud with Vince leading up to WrestleMania XXVI.

On February 1st, 2016, Bret Hart revealed he was dealing with prostate cancer.

As per usual, That Other Wiki has an extensive article on his career and life.

"These are the best tropes there are, the best tropes that were, and the best tropes there ever will be!"

  • Arch-Enemy:
    • Shawn Michaels. On January 4, 2010, they buried the hatchet on Raw. When Shawn retired later after WrestleMania XXVI, he thanked Bret Hart for putting up with him backstage. By that point it was clear that both wrestlers were on speaking terms once again.
    • Allen Coage (Bad News Brown in the WWF), of all people, was possibly Bret Hart's worst enemy. Bad News has commented in many interviews that Bret was the most difficult wrestler he ever worked with, and Bret Hart has called Bad News his nemesis (the only person he refers to as this in his book.) Unlike Shawn Michaels, they never buried the hatchet, although this is possibly because Bad News died in 2007.
    • In the days of the Hart Foundation Tag Team with Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart, the British Bulldogs (the Dynamite Kid and Davey Boy Smith), the Fabulous Rougeau Brothers (Jacques and Raymond), Demolition.
    • Jerry Lawler was a frequent in-ring rival of Bret's in The '90s. The feud started at the 1993 King of the Ring and was finally put to bed over two years later.
    • Bret's never-ending little jabs at Triple H in shoots. It's a mutual relationship: When Austin asked Triple H about Bret on his podcast, Hunter's lukewarm response was "He's a good technician". (Triple H was on the booking committee during the year lead up to Montreal, and Bret, while having helped a little on-screen with the beginning of the Attitude Era, didn't quite agree with the edgy shift in direction.) This was back when The Kliq were practically running the show, which doesn't help matters. The animosity still continues to this day — while they can be civil with each other, it's very clear that Bret still nurses a grudge against him. It's generally agreed upon that you can trust Bret to give an unbiased view of something only if it is unattached to Triple H completely. For example, the 2016 Royal Rumble. Everyone regarded both the titular match and the PPV in general as a significant improvement over the last two years. Bret, however, called this the worst Royal Rumble of all time, even though the last two ended with severe X-Pac Heat for the winners and this one had the debut of AJ Styles. Considering precedent, you could easily make the conjecture that Bret regarded it as such because Triple H happened to win the Rumble that year and win his fourteenth world title in the process. The fans weren't exactly happy about that either but they were willing to live with it since the rest of the PPV and the match were okay and the winner actually fit storyline purposes.
    • The Nature Boy Ric Flair. This is one that doesn't even make sense. You know how sometimes you just don't like somebody, and they just don't like you? And you don't know why? That's been the case with Ric and Bret for a long time. Most recently, Bret was on Ric's podcast, and Ric spoke about he never had a beef with Bret apart from... just not liking him.
    • Hulk Hogan. Bret still held a grudge against Hogan for not giving him the opportunity to put him over for the WWF Championship because of his size.
    • For longer than anyone else, his big sister Ellie (Natalya Neidhart's mother). According to the book Pain and Passion: The History of Stampede Wrestling they never got along. She's the only one of his eleven siblings whom he never seems to say anything good about in his book, Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling. At least this hatred hasn't passed on to Nattie, who is very close to Bret.
  • As Himself: On the talk show Later, along with "Fallen Angel" Christopher Daniels in 1998.
  • Ascended Meme: On Bret's Twitter, he referenced the Five Moves of Doom and linked to the El Dandy interview on YouTube, labeling it his favorite moment from his time in WCW.
  • Bash Brothers: The Hart Foundation.
  • Breakup Breakout: After he split from the Hart Foundation, Bret was catapulted to the main event. Ironically, Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart was initially considered to be the stronger performer. Bret's singles push came during the WWF's infamous steroid scandal, where McMahon wanted to push someone smaller.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: At King of the Ring 93, Jerry "The King" Lawler objected to Bret being named "King" just by winning a tournament, and apparently stiffed Bret hard with a sceptre, and did so again with crutches at SummerSlam. Lawler had shown up on crutches in an attempt to get out of the match, and introduced Doink the Clown, still a Heel at the time, as his replacement. Bret basically squashed him, and Lawler threw down the crutches, thus revealing that his "injury" was faked, and attacked Bret, leading to Kayfabe President Jack Tunney forcing Lawler into the match. Bret claimed to have really cranked on the Sharpshooter in retaliation, though Lawler told him that he thought "that was how the Hart boys worked." They made up sometime later.
  • Canada, Eh?: Not normally the focus of his gimmick, but his 1997 heel turn played up his Canadianness as Hart would use it as a source of pride against Americans, who he believed didn't deserve a hero of his caliber.
  • Captain Ersatz: Fire Pro Wrestling began including Bret Hart ersatz types after he debuted in WCW.
    • According to Bret's autobiography, there was an Indian brand of jeans called Hitman, where the man on the billboard posing as Bret had "long hair, a big nose, and a fat gut."
  • Career-Ending Injury: Bret officially retired in 2000, but was planning a (limited) comeback in the coming years. A bicycle accident resulting in a stroke put an end to that.
  • Catch Phrase: The page-topping quote.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Bret Hart's promo on the Raw before WrestleMania 13, after losing a steel cage match to Sycho Sid.
    Bret Hart: Frustrated isn't the goddamn word for it! This is bullshit!
  • Cool Shades: Would hand these out to kids. A good pair of sunglasses can last a lifetime so, making it one of the best remembered "cheap pops".
  • Cue the Flying Pigs: Bret's appearance as the guest host of Raw pretty much incited this reaction (with a hefty dose of squee) from both the fans and himself, stating that hell had probably frozen over.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: His WrestleMania XXVI match against Vince McMahon. It wasn't so much a match as it was an extended beatdown.
  • Demoted to Extra: Especially during his time in WCW.
  • Determinator: Bret once wrestled a match against Dino Bravo, which saw Bret get bumped a little too hard to the outside, where he broke his sternum on the steel guard rail. Despite Bret's nonverbal cues that something was wrong (i.e. he couldn't even breathe) the match kept going. Bret was supposed to win, but ended up losing by countout.
  • Despair Event Horizon: In-character version: his 1997 heel turn and reformation of the Hart Foundation, complete with What the Hell, Hero? speech against America's failing family values.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: On the March 29, 1999 WCW Monday Nitro, which was held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Bret called out Goldberg. Goldberg ran out and speared Bret, and got knocked out. Bret took off his Toronto Maple Leafs jersey to reveal a steel torso protector.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: The beginnings of his 1997 Face–Heel Turn, kicked into high gear when "Stone Cold" Steve Austin got an ill-begotten win at that year's Royal Rumble.
  • Enemy Mine: Michael Cole was such a huge jerkass that Bret was more than happy to come to the aid of Jerry Lawler in putting him in his place.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: In Hart's autobiography, there are several instances of gay men hitting on him.
  • Evil Versus Evil: The Hart Foundation feuding with D-Generation X in 1997.
  • Face–Heel Double-Turn: One of the more famous examples with Stone Cold at WrestleMania 13.
  • Face–Heel Turn: After WrestleMania 13. Following his move to WCW, Bret would switch back and forth between Face and Heel until Goldberg's heel connected with his face.
  • Family Business: The Hart Family are virtually all in the wrestling business, including cousins and in-laws. Bret's father Stu was a legendary Canadian wrestling promoter.
  • Finishing Move: The Sharpshooter became his finisher for the rest of his career once he started using it. Prior to that he would use a piledriver or an abdominal stretch. As part of the Hart Foundation their finisher was the Hart Attack (Anvil would hold the opponent up by the waist while Bret would deliver a neckbreaker clothesline).
  • Five Moves of Doom: He had a few that he used almost every single match: the Russian legsweep and the scoop slam were on top of this list. A fan commentary on Bret's matches from the newsgroup rec.sport.pro-wrestling included this phrase, making Bret sort-of the Trope Namer.
  • Foreign Wrestling Heel: At least in the United States after his Face–Heel Turn in 1997. Overseas, he is more popular.
  • Foreshadowing: During the build up to WrestleMania XII, one of the episodes of Monday Night Raw had an in ring promo of Hart and Shawn Michaels - who at this point at least respected each other - verbally sparring, only to have (kayfabe) acting commissioner Roddy Piper declare that their match would he the 60 minute Iron Man Match. Piper had the final word: "Shake hands now, boys, cause you're gonna hate each other when it's over!" If he only knew...
  • Friend to All Children: Bret would always give his glasses to a lucky child sitting in the front row during his entrance.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: Took an errant stiff kick from Goldberg, which led to all sorts of concussion-centric health issues (and possibly the stroke he suffered). It essentially brought his career to a grinding stop.
  • Handsome Lech: According to his book, he's slept with many women during his first marriage and kept finding excuses to justify it even though he knew on some level that it wasn't ideal behavior. His biggest self-justification was that every wrestler needed to find ways to relieve the stress and boredom of spending 300 days a year on the road, and (in his mind) picking up women was far less harmful/destructive than using drugs and/or alcohol to cope with the stress like so many other wrestlers did.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: For much of 1996 Austin had been doing everything in his power to make Bret's life hell, and kept on targeting Bret no matter what. This led to Bret snapping at WrestleMania in their submission match and not holding anything back against Austin, which was the start of his run as a heel.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: Famously wore a leather jacket with "Hitman" and a skull on it.
  • A Hero to His Hometown: Very much so in Canada, especially during the days of The Hart Foundation.
  • Irony: One of more popular WWE Hitman t-shirts featured him standing proudly before an American Flag. Not only is Bret Canadian, but a defining aspect of Bret's character is his patriotism for his homeland of Canada.
  • Lets See You Do Better: Vince's retaliation to the aforementioned WrestleMania XXVI beatdown was to get back at Hart by...promoting him to General Manager so he could see if it was that easy to be the boss and be able to make important decisions and sacrifices not everyone would like. He somewhat destroyed his point by firing Hart at the first minor sign of a mishap however (possibly because they didn't want to humanize the actions that screwed his career too much).
  • Off the Rails: The last two appearances he made in WCW (the first of which being the plate-under-the-hockey-jersey spot) started with him supposedly being the heel, coming out to riotous cheering. The fans didn't even try to boo him, and Bret didn't even try to act the heel.
  • Perpetual Smiler: Thanks to his stroke, post-retirement Hart's mouth has "smirk" as its default setting.
  • Pet the Dog: Would frequently give out his Cool Shades to young fans at ringside. This is lampshaded by R-Truth, who borrows the shades to give to a kid, with the reasoning that it'd make him more popular and thus more likely to get a championship match.
    Bobby Heenan: There he goes, buying fans again!
  • Playing Possum: One of Bret's trademark tropes.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Despite being acrimonious in-ring rivals, Curt Hennig was Bret's best friend. He took Curt's untimely death rather hard.
  • Popularity Power: Bret is really, really popular in Canada. So much to the point that during an infamous promo by Shawn Michaels at Montreal in 2005, when Bret's music played and it seemed like he was going to come out and confront Shawn, the crowd erupted.
  • Power Stable: The New Hart Foundation.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot/Shocking Swerve: The Montreal Screwjob.
  • Real Men Wear Pink
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: As Raw General Manager, to the point where he won't even give preferential treatment to The Hart Dynasty.
  • Red Baron: The Hitman, of course. Commentators liked to refer to him as The Excellence Of Execution.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Let's face it, no one was surprised that the Harts sided with Bret against Vince at WrestleMania XXVI and eschewed Vince's bribe.
  • Shout-Out: Bret Hart's four stars on his wrestling tights represent his children: Jade, Dallas, Alexandra Sabina (a.k.a. Beans), and Blade.
  • Signature Move: You can be damn sure that if someone uses the Sharpshooter, it is in some way related to either Bret Hart or his brother Owen, whether to taunt or show respect to them. Unless it's Sting or a tribute to Sting, or, less likely, Riki Chōshū, who pretty much originated it in Japan, where it was named Sasori-gatame, or Scorpion Hold.
  • Spiteful Spit: Gave one to the ringside Vince McMahon as his very first action after Montreal Screwjob.
  • Squash Match:
    • At WrestleMania VI, the Hart Foundation squashed the Bolsheviks in 19 seconds flat.
    • The aforementioned WrestleMania XXVI match with Vince quickly degenerated into this.
  • Tag Team: Most famously with Jim Neidhart as the original Hart Foundation.
  • Unrelated Brothers: Subverted; pretty much anyone who was said to be a member of the Hart family actually was, be it by marriage or blood.
  • Verbal Tic: Whenever referring to his brother Owen Hart, he would always do so as "My brother Owen", never just "Owen", even in the instances when they were standing three feet from each other and it would be obvious to everyone who he was referring to. To be fair, Owen did the same thing with Bret.
  • Who's Laughing Now?: His win against Mr. McMahon at WrestleMania XXVI.
  • Worf Had the Flu: A rather literal case: just prior to the 1992 Royal Rumble, Bret, at the time Intercontinental Champion, had a flu that ranged at nearly 104 degrees. He lost the belt the night before the event to The Mountie, who then set the record for the shortest IC title reign ever when he lost it to Roddy Piper one day later at the Rumble itself.note 
  • Worthy Opponent: No matter how much he and Shawn hated each other, they had immense respect for each other's in-ring abilities.
    • Bret himself has stated that Mr. Perfect was his favorite opponent to work with.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit/Batman Gambit: Bret puts a Gambit twist on his Playing Possum routine to screw with Vince McMahon.
  • Wrestling Family: The Hart family.
  • Wrestling Psychology: One of the masters.

"And if you don't like it, tough shit!"
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