All wrestling fans have a list in their heads (some on computer) of their favorite wrestlers of all time or their best wrestlers of all time. Ask professionals and they can easily ramble off 10 to 20 names before they stumble a bit. They start to think about eras, decades and promotions.
[adinserter block=”1″]I am no different – knowing wrestlers in order of how I have witnessed them perform or seen them on video because I wasn’t old enough to see superstars in their prime. But I may have to amend my list of sorts because there is one wrestler who I did not consider as select as others. Now that I have done some more research and watched more tape, it is obvious I may have been wrong about Bret Hart.
This being his birthday, I thought maybe I should publically apologize.
That being said, I have always thought the 10 greatest wrestlers of all time were Ric Flair, Randy Savage, Dory Funk, Jr., Rick Steamboat, Arn Anderson, Terry Funk, Lou Thesz, Jack Brisco, Hulk Hogan and Barry Windham. I also believe in every case that all of these wrestlers helped improve the sport more so than Hart.
I am also wrong about that.
Hart has held championships in five decades from the 1970s to the 2010s, with a total of 32 held throughout his career, and 17 held between the WWF/WWE and WCW. He is a seven-time world champion, having held the WWF Championship five times and the WCW World Heavyweight Championship twice. He spent more time as WWF Champion than any other wrestler during the 1990s, with a total of 654 days as champion, and was the first WCW World Heavyweight Champion born outside the United States.
Hart is also a record-tying five-time WCW/WWE United States Champion, and the second WWF Triple Crown Champion and fifth (with Goldberg) WCW Triple Crown Champion.
Hart was the first man to win both the WWF and WCW Triple Crown Championships. He is also the 1994 Royal Rumble winner (with Lex Luger), and the only two-time King of the Ring in WWE history, having won the 1991 tournament and the first King of the Ring pay-per-view in 1993. Steve Austin, with whom Hart headlined multiple pay-per-view events as part of a critically acclaimed rivalry from 1996-1997, inducted him into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006.
Those are mighty big accomplishments for someone who started out in Canada, training under his father – the legendary Stu Hart – and is part of one of the greatest wrestling families of all time (arguably third behind the Guerrero Family and the Von Erich Family). Hart’s in ring skills set him apart from others. While I am not willing to place him in the top five of any category, I wonder how he would do in his prime against talents like CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Arm Anderson, Bobby Roode and Chris Jericho.
The WWE has also described Hart as one of the biggest names in the history of the business, and perhaps the most popular in the world by the mid-1990s. His work with Shawn Michaels in the company is legendary and as part of the “Montreal Screw Job” may have begun what we all came to love as the “Attitude Era” in the WWE and professional wrestling.
[adinserter block=”2″]In an era where Vince McMahon wanted the bigger, stronger power wrestlers to lead the company, he soon learned Hart was just as successful and was not the muscle-bound giant like Hulk Hogan and Lex Luger, but was still able to draw because of his mat skills, his “thinking man’s game” and could talk on the mic and incite the crowd.
Hart was an original, a throwback, someone who could link the past champions with the current ones of his era. And for that reasons alone, he deserves my apology for being informed. All I can do is pen this apology, offer my best wishes and most of all, wish him a happy birthday.
Follow David on Twitter @davidlevin71
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