Bret "Hitman" Hart:
The Best There Is, The Best There Was, The Best There Ever Will Be
Produced by the WWE and Sony Video
Reviewed By Jon Minners
I never thought this day would come, but it did and it was probably the wisest decision the WWE and Bret Hart ever made. After so much personal and professional drama between the two, the Excellence of Execution and Vince McMahon temporarily buried the hatchet to put together the greatest wrestling DVD collection since The Rise and Fall of ECW and the Ultimate Ric Flair Collection.
This great three-DVD set includes stories and matches from Bret Hartís Stampede career to his start as part of the Hart Foundation in the WWF to his rise through the singles ranks that made him a star right until his controversial match with HBK at Survivor Series and his eventual lackluster push in WCW that resulted in the concussion, stroke and eventual retirement from wrestling. This was the greatest Christmas gift a lifelong wrestling fan could receive.
The Legion of Doom may have introduced me to wrestling and Hulk Hogan may have introduced me to the WWF, but it was Bret Hart that made wrestling cool. As much as I hated the Hart Foundation and cheered when they lost to the Young Stallions on a fluke and were beat for the tag-team titles by Strike Force, I was supposed to hate them; they were heels. I always thought they were cool, right from their ring attire Ė blue and black and later the pink and black attack Ė to the shades and the cool strut Bret Hart had when introduced to the greatest tag-team finisher in wrestling along with that of Demolition and the Dudley Boys. You were always treated to a classic whenever they wrestled and I remember my older sister actually enjoying the feud between the Hart Foundation and the Killer Bees. It was that feud that got me into tag-team wrestling; a feud I always talked about and always felt outshined the top feud between the British Bulldogs and the Dream Team.
The Hart Foundation were the best and Bret Hart was just as good in singles action, which I got a taste of on Wrestling Spotlight when Hart battled Siva Afi and on Saturday Nightís Main Event when he took on Randy Savage in an underrated classic that should have been on this DVD. Of course, he would go on to being an intercontinental champion and world champion in both the WWF and WCW. This DVD takes you on a journey throughout the entire career and includes insight into his trepidation in being the star of his fatherís company; Stampede and his early anger over being a jobber of sorts when McMahon bought Stampede and imported Hart over to the WWF.
Viewers will learn about Hartís lack of promo skills, an early cowboy gimmick the company wanted to saddle him with and the eventual pairing of Hart and Jim Neidhart with Jimmy Hart as the Hart Foundation. There is a discussion about how Hart overcame the distinction that he couldnít get over as a heel, but unfortunately never discussed the reason for turning him face in a classic confrontation with Bad News Brown, the wrestler he had fought in a ladder match in Stampede before ladder matches were all the rage in the WWF. It was that turn at Wrestlemania IV that almost kick started a singles career before the Hart Foundation were back to teaming and winning the tag-team titles once more from Demolition. I would have liked to have leaned more about that.
They do discuss the amount of respect Hart had for Curt Henning when they wrestled for the IC title, which Hart won for the first time. Rowdy Piper even discusses the respect he had for Hart, which led Piper to provide him with the ultimate rub in their one and only battle.
Despite harsh words between the two, Hart also has great things to say about Ric Flair and then voices some contempt for Hulk Hogan who won the title and interrupted Hartís reign on top. Hart shows some disgust for the WWFís decision to make him a placeholder champion and how they handled his feud with HBK, but never rips him apart like fans probably expected; actually glossing over his hatred for HBK and applauding his wrestling ability. Hart also discusses his respect for Steve Austin in their feud, how much fun he had with the innovative anti-American angle and shows great restraint when discussing the Montreal screwjob.
A very candid and emotional section of the DVD is devoted to Owen Hart and Bret Hartís wish that he had been there for his brother. Chris Benoit discusses the tribute match he had with Hart for Owen and the eventual rematch that finally put Hart on top of WCW after some length of disappointment, which Hart also discusses on the DVD.
Vince McMahon is very kind in his assessment of Hartís career on this DVD and viewers are left hoping to see Hart one day in a WWE ring again; in any capacity; if not from the documentary then for the classic matches with The Killer Bees, British Bulldogs, Davey Boy Smith, Ricky Steamboat, Curt Henning, Bam Bam Bigelow, Chris Benoit and HBK. A touching and emotional tribute to the wrestlers who passed away is also included on this DVD along with more topic-oriented interviews and classic moments from Bret Hartís career.
The DVD is just masterfully done with the exception of some audio difficulties in the classic I Quit match with Steve Austin. Great match selection, wonderful video packages, an almost complete story; you couldnít get any better than this and thatís because this DVD is Bret Hartís story the way he wanted it told. As a great companion piece to Wrestling With Shadows, a great day-in-the-life look at Bret Hartís career, this three-DVD collection is Hartís gift to the fans who watched him grow as a wrestler and stood with him through the rises and falls in his illustrious career. For that, Mr. Hart, I thank you.
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