Let’s go old school with our first ‘Coliseum Classics Review’, looking at the told tapes recently uploaded onto the WWE Network, taking in Bret Hart’s best matches up until 1993, when this video came out.
We start with his theme tune and footage from his SummerSlam 1992 appearance before cutting to this tape’s host: Mean Gene Okerlund. We learn that in this tape we’ll see him face Yokozuna, Shawn Michaels in a ladder match as well as him defeating Ric Flair for the WWF gold. Let’s get underway.
Match 1: WWF Champion Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart vs. Bam Bam Bigelow
Cartwheel of sorts from Bam Bam to demonstrate his agility. It’s Jim Ross, Bobby Heenan and Macho Man Randy Savage on commentary for this match from WWF Superstars. Bigelow shows his advantage in terms of strength by shoulder-barging his opponent to the outside.
Back in, they lock up but Bam Bam soon regains control but misses an elbow and Hart fights back and applies an armbar as Heenan wonders how sore a head tattoo is… Flying back elbow sends Bigelow tumbling to the outside, much to the delight of the crowd here. Hart tries to take the fight to the outside but is caught and drive twice back first into the ring post.
The champion eventually makes it back in but Bigelow pounds on the back, including a running headbutt. Bam Bam gets a nearfall before hurtling Hart into the turnbuckle sternum first. Back submission is countered with a belly-to-back suplex and the crowd erupts. Bigelow manages another running headbutt to the lower back and signals for the finish.
He picks up Hart and hits a double-underhook backbreaker. Bigelow then heads up top but Hart dodges the diving headbutt. We head into the Hart moves of doom, starting with a Russian legsweep then a second rope bulldog. Sharpshooter time but it’s foiled by Bigelow. Bigelow grabs him in a bearhug which is countered into a belly-to-back suplex but that’s countered with Bigelow falling on top for a two. Bigelow misses a running charge, Hart hits a Victory Roll and that’s it.
Winner: Hart via pinfall.
Rating: Good but not as good as their King of the Ring match.
Match 2: WWF Intercontinental Champion Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart vs Skinner
This is from the 1992 SummerSlam spectacular. Same commentary team as the last match, suggesting that it was added afterwards judging by the timeline of Jim Ross joining the company.
He catches Skinner trying a leapfrog and applies a reverse chinlock but a counter sends the IC Champion tumbling to the outside, where Skinner catches him with a double axe handle aided by the crocodile claw he carried around with him.
JR and Heenan wonder if Skinner had an ancestor in the film ‘Deliverance’ – the banjo playing kid – as he applies an Abdominal Stretch. Classic heel ‘grab the ropes for additional leverage’ stuff from Skinner, the big mad heel. It’s reversed but Skinner makes the ropes and tosses Hart to the outside.
Don’t get me wrong, Hart was able to make an opponent look like a million dollars at the time through his selling but sometimes it made him look week. Not convinced Hart should be looking anything other than dominant against someone like Skinner.
A sunset flip gets the IC Champion a nearfall but Skinner is up first and hits a shoulder breaker. Skinner heads up top, of all places, but is caught coming off the top with a punch to the gut. Hart pounds away, another abdomen shot and a side Russian legsweep for a two. Side backbreaker and this sequence is looking familiar. Another two for Hart as Skinner pleads for mercy. Skinner catches Hart charging into the corner and connects with a big boot.
Skinner drops a leg to the groin but is caught and Hart turns him over with a sharpshooter and that’s all she wrote.
Winner: Hart via submission.
Rating: All a bit meh for a videotape advertising the greatest matches. Maybe just a blip.
We cut back to Okerlund who hypes the upcoming IC title match against Shawn Michaels, which he describes as “very unique”.
Match 3: WWF Intercontinental Champion Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart vs Shawn Michaels (w/ Sensational Sherri).
Gorilla Monsoon and Lord Alfred Hayes are on announcing duties here. Monsoon states that Hart has, for all intents and purposes, lost the title as he has to surrender it to the referee before the match starts. But isn’t that just the same as any other title match when the champion hands over the gold?
Aaaaaaaaaaaanyway, let’s get this one underway as the announcers ponder what role, if any, Sherri will have in this one. Michaels lands a couple of blows to start this one but is felled by a series of clotheslines before that’s followed up with a backdrop.
Hart pounds away in the corner and whips Michaels into the other. An uppercut fells Michaels and Hart goes for the ladder but is caught from behind and the challenger takes control of proceedings. He then heads down the aisle for the ladder but is caught at ringside, where Hart attacks. Pretty smart stuff from the champion, let Michaels do all the ladder carrying.
It’s the Hitman’s turn to go for the ladder but Sherri distracts him and Michaels starts to climb. Hart drags him off the ladder and unloads in the corner and tries to climb himself but, too, is caught and Michaels rams the ladder into the champion’s gut.
Michaels sets the ladder up in the corner, leading to the announcers wonder what he has in mind. Michaels drives Hart sternum first into the ladder before setting it up to go for the gold. Hart pulls Michaels down and the ladder falls across him and Hart makes an attempt to grab the gold. The challenger catches Hart and drives him head-first into the ladder.
Shawn charges into the corner but is caught and Hart hits a diving clothesline and both men are down. The champion follows up by slingshotting Michaels into the ladder. Side backbreaker from the champion and he starts to embark up the ladder but, unsurprisingly, is caught. The pair then trades blows before a running clash of heads results in both being down on the mat.
The pair both climb the ladder but drive each other head first into the steel and find themselves down on the mat. They again trade blows but Sherri grabs Hart’s foot giving Michaels the chance to land a superkick to the chin. Michaels hits his trademark butterfly suplex.
Michaels grabs the ladder and begins to climb to the top. Hart mounts a comeback, dropkicks the ladder and sends Michaels to the outside. He then pops up the ladder, climbs to the top and retrieves his title.
Winner: Hart by grabbing the title.
Rating: OK, so this one was a bit better. Really excellent match. I reckon these two, given a chance, could have a half decent feud… But, genuinely, this is superb.
Match 4: WWF Intercontinental Champion Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart vs Blake Beverly (w/ The Genius).
OK, this is a surprising inclusion, certainly on paper, of this match from a ‘Prime Time Wrestling’. The Genius starts with a poem, obviously… Difficult to work out when this is from but Hart doesn’t have any gold around his waist.
Bit of back and forth to start this before Hart gets a nearfall. Blake uses hair to get Hart done and applies a reverse chinlock. Heenan’s chat is a bit surreal, talking consistently about tag team wrestling.
Hart, enraged as Blake pulling the hair, hammers away on the Beverly Brother. Time for a resthold but it’s reversed and the Genius trips Hart. However, Earl Hebner catches him and he’s sent to the back. Hart runs off ropes and tries a crossbody but is caught and hit with a backbreaker. Blake applies a bearhug as the confusion remains over whether or not this is a tag match. Really, really odd stuff from Heenan.
Hart counters with an elbow to the face but is caught in a powerslam and Blake gets a nearfall. Blake hits a belly-to-back suplex for another nearfall. Back to a bearhug as Heenan talks about battle royals. This might make sense in the context of the rest of the show. Oh wait, JR asks what that has to do with anything. Fair…
The Hitman attempts another comeback but is picked up and driven into the corner. Irish whip into other corner but Hart dodges it and the crowd comes alive before a clash of heads drops both men. Both men are up and Blake in turned inside out with a clothesline. Hart follows with a headbutt and a Russian legsweep for a two. Side back breaker and Hart goes to the second rope on the inside and connects with a driving elbow.
Hart signals for a Sharpshooter and here comes Beau Beverly. He distracts the referee and from behind Blake clubs the Hitman and gets the win. Wait, what?
Sgt Slaughter heads out and awards the win to Hart. That’s even odder that a DQ win makes this ‘Greatest Matches’ video.
Winner: Hart by DQ.
Rating: A plodding, nothing match where Blake got far too much offence in before Hart wins via a screwy DQ. Odd inclusion.
Match 5: Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart vs ‘The Narcissist’ Lex Luger
Hart gets a great reaction as JR says that Luger isn’t in a good mood due to not having his mirror there to pose in front of. Hart chases Luger out before this one begins and poses in the ring.
Luger appears terrified of Hart to start with and is pummelled at. All Hart in the early stages and we get an armbar that Luger sells like it is the sorest thing of all time! A crossbody gets the Hitman a nearfall before we go back to the armbar. Luger powers out by misses a corner charge and we’re back to the armbar.
The commentators, rightly, wonder why Hart is focussing on the left arm rather than the right one, which carries the protective plate. Hart with a hammerlock but Luger makes the ropes and drills the Hitman with a back elbow. It’s followed up with another as Luger continues to sell the toll this match has had on his elbow.
A right hook fells Hart and they take it to the outside where Hart is driven into the barricades at ringside. However, it’s then Luger’s turn to eat the steel and appears in trouble as he writhes about on the ringside mats. He’s then driven face-first into the timekeeper’s table.
We are back in the ring and Hart pounds away before he’s stopped in his tracks with a thumb to the eye. A really stiff looking Irish whip into the corner leaves Hart lying on the mat. It’s followed up with an Irish whip into the other corner. An elbow drop gets him a nearfall but Hart kicks out with some authority, to the delight of the fans.
Another driving elbow gets another nearfall, which JR calls a “two and a half count.” Luger admonishes the referee for the speed of count, which allows Hart to fight back but Luger fells him with an elbow.
Luger applies a reverse chinlock, pulling Hart into his knee for extra force. Hart is back on his feet but finds himself back on the mat after a hair pull and we’re back to the chinlock. Another Hitman comeback is foiled with a clothesline. Hart gets a nearfall with a sunset flip, which exposes Luger’s backside to the crowd.
An infuriated Luger attempts a suplex but it’s blocked and Hart hits one of his own. Both men are on their feet, Luger misses a swing and has a sleeper applied. Luger breaks it by driving the Hitman into the corner. Hart is mounting a comeback with an inverted atomic drop and a clothesline. Punch to the gut and side Russian legsweep for a two.
Hart smells blood and rolls up Luger and gets another two. Side backbreaker and Hart goes up to the second rope on the inside and connects with an elbow for two and three quarters. Luger misses another punch and is rolled up for a two.
Luger attempts a roll-up but Hart holds the ropes and goes for the Sharpshooter. Razor Ramon hits the ring and that’s a DQ. Really?! They try to double team the Hitman but Hart manages to foil them for as long as he can but the numbers eventually get the better of him. Ramon holds Hart, Luger removes the forearm protection but knocks Ramon out. When he’s back on his feet, Ramon squares up to Luger.
Winner: Bret Hart via DQ.
Rating: Not a bad bout by any stretch of the imagination and got a lot of time – finish protects everyone involved but still…
Highlights from Bret Hart beating Ric Flair for the WWF title
We start with Hart in control, including applying a figure four leglock, of all things, on Flair which gets a nearfall. Flair fights back and gets a nearfall with a roll up and a double underhook suplex. Figure four of his own from Flair. As Flair attempts another figure four, Hart rolls him up for a nearfall then the pair trade blows. Hart catches Flair on the top turnbuckle and sends him hurtling to the mat.
All Hart now, a back body drop and a driving elbow getting him a nearfall. Hart hits a side backbreaker and goes up to the second turnbuckle for his trademark diving elbow but Perfect helps Flair kick out. The two trade right hands before Hart gets the advantage and perches Flair on the top turnbuckle and hits a superplex.
The crowd goes wild as Hart tees up for a Sharpshooter and locks it in. Perfect jumps up on the apron but is sent away by Hebner and Flair submits. We have a new champion.
Rating: Odd that Hart’s crowning glory by this stage in his career isn’t featured in its entirety… They even describe it afterwards as a Coliseum Exclusive…
Match 6: WWF Champion Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart vs Fatu (w/ Afa).
This is from Raw although oddly Jim Ross is commentating with Savage and Heenan again. Heenan hits out with the tag team chat again…
Side headlock from Hart to start this but a shoulder charge gets him nowhere and Fatu catches a crossbody. However, Fatu misses an elbow and a hiptoss and armbar has Hart in control over one half of the Headshrinkers.
Fatu powers out but misses a corner charge and back to an armbar via a hiptoss. Quite a fast paced start to this one. Bit of a crisscross and it appears Hart trips over his opponent. However, as Fatu celebrates, it transpires that Hart was playing possum and soon is back in control.
The Headshrinker quickly assumes control and gets a nearfall after a diving headbutt. Fatu applies a nerve hold on the WWF champion as the commentators discuss how close he was to defeating Hart for the gold.
Fatu gets another nearfall as Samu makes his way to ringside. Hart mounts a comeback but with Afa distracting the referee, Samu attacks at ringside with a slam and a diving headbutt before slamming him headfirst into the steps.
Back in, Fatu gets a two but Hart kicks out. Side slam from Fatu and he goes up to the second rope and connects with a headbutt but Hart, again, kicks out, but barely. Hart catches Fatu on the top rope and gets a two with a superplex.
A busted open Hart connects with a running bulldog but only for a two. Side backbreaker from Hart as he goes up to the second turnbuckle and connects with a driving elbow. Sharpshooter time as Afa again distracts the referee. Samu hits the ring and attacks Hart with a clothesline.
The Headshrinkers swap over in the ring but Hart still manages to kick out. Afa again distracts the referee and they swap back. Afa again distracts but Hart foils them, driving Fatu into Samu – tieing him up in the ropes – then applying a Sharpshooter.
Winner: Bret Hart via submission.
Rating: One of the better matches on this show. Hard-hitting and fast-paced, this is well worth watching, even with the silliness provided by Samu joining the fray.
Match 7: WWF Champion Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart vs Yokozuna (w/ Mr. Fuji).
This is fairly early into Yoko’s run by the look of things as he’s not as bulked up as he’d eventually become. The announcers state that Hart will struggle to either slam his opponent or apply the Sharpshooter.
Collar and elbow tie up and Hart is hurled across the ring, to the outside. Hart is again overpowered, easily slammed and Yokozuna drops a leg. The commentators question whether that is all she’s written as Fuji gives his charge instructions.
Hart is propped in corner and Yokozuna charges but the champion dodges and connects with a series of right hands. Three clotheslines barely budge the super-sized challenger before a bulldog takes him down. Diving elbow to the chest but it’s a one only. Hart against on the second rope but Fuji hits him with the flag, drawing yet another DQ on this video.
Post-match, Yokozuna hits a belly-to-belly suplex and drags Hart into the corner for the Banzai drop but Hart dodges it and drills the challenger with a series of punches before a dropkick sends him tumbling to the outside.
Winner: Hart via DQ.
Rating: Very short, nothing match.
The video goes off the air with Mean Gene Okerlund listing all of Bret Hart’s accomplishments in the WWF before calling him “truly, the Excellence of Execution.”
Overall: In no way terrible but based on fact it’s taken me two weeks to pluck up the courage to complete this set, it’s not great either. If your memories of this tape is that it’s very good, I’d urge you not to spoil those memories by going back and watching it…
You can see all ‘Coliseum Classics Reviews’ here.