Wrestling: Bret Hart

Bret "The Hitman" Hart 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, Canada, 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 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 Heavyweight Title. By Survivor Series 92, he had defeated Ric Flair for his first of five WWE World Heavyweight Titles. 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 d. 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. This ultimately led to the Montreal Screwjob and Bret's departure for WCW.

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 would eventually end due to a concussion suffered in a match with Goldberg. A stroke several years later would ensure he would never wrestle again.

Bret would return to what is now WWE in 2010, making sporadic appearances in a non-wrestling role at pay-per-views and Raw.

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 1/4/10, they buried the hatchet on RAW. When Shawn retired later after Wrestlemania 26, and 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) 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 Nineties. The feud started at the 1993 King Of The Ring and was finally put to bed over two years later.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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 26 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 the 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.
  • Evil Versus Evil: The Hart Foundation feuding with DeGeneration X in 1997.
  • Executive Meddling: Pulled a power play to keep the WWE World Tag Team Titles on Owen and Bulldog at WrestleMania 13, which they had originally been scheduled to drop to Mankind and Vader, in order to set the up the Hart Foundation angle.
  • Face Heel Double Turn: 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.
  • Finishing Move: The Sharpshooter.
  • Five Moves of Doom: A fan commentary on Bret's matches from the newsgroup rec.sport.pro-wrestling included this phrase, making Bret sort-of the Trope Namer.
  • Flanderization: The Montreal Screwjob has become pretty much the be-all and end-all of his entire career, as if everything he had ever accomplished before that didn't happen or didn't matter. In fact, the emphasis this page puts on it makes it into a Self-Demonstrating Article.
  • Foreign Wrestling Heel: At least in the United States after his Face-Heel Turn in 1997. Overseas, he is more popular.
  • 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 doesn't fault himself for his actions.
    • Not so much that he doesn't fault himself, but more that he 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.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: Famously wore a leather jacket with "Hitman" and a skull on it.
  • Lets See You Do Better: Vince's retaliation to the aforementioned Wrestlemania 26 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 someone 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).
  • Montreal Screwjob: The target.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: See Wounded Gazelle Gambit below.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Signature Move: You can be damn sure that if someone uses the Sharpshooter it is in some way related to Bret Hart, whether to taunt or show respect to the man.
    • Or to Owen, as when Jeff Jarrett, Owen's tag partner at the time of his death, used it on Test on the Owen tribute episode of Raw.
    • 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.
  • Squash Match: The aforementioned WrestleMania 26 match with Vince quickly degenerated into this.
    • At Wrestlemania VI, the Hart Foundation squashed the Bolsheviks in 19 seconds flat.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!"