Bret Hart’s Case:
Bret Hart is probably the most unique performer that I have done in this series up until now. He is up there in terms of talent with virtually everyone, but his time as a true “top guy” was cut short by outside circumstances. Whether in WWF or WCW, though, it is hard to argue that Bret isn’t one of the greats. Bret may or may not be the “G.O.A.T”, but he has cemented himself amongst the best of the best.
Bret Hart was a masterful storyteller. There isn’t any way around this fact because no matter what type of storytelling you prefer, Bret could pull it off. Do you want gritty, in-ring realism? Bret could do it. Do you want layered interpersonal dynamics? Bred did it. Do you prefer classic babyface vs. heel wrestling? He did that too.
When I hear Bret Hart and Storytelling in the same sentence I think of two feuds. His iconic rivalries with Steve Austin and his brother, Owen. Both feuds were unique and still on equal levels of quality. Each produced some of the best matches and moments of all time. Bret has always strived to make things feel real and he achieved that here.
His on-screen dynamic with Owen captured so many people’s hearts because it felt realistic. Sibling rivalries don’t always work, but viewers could relate to what either brother was feeling. They created magic together. Bret’s program with Steve Austin was the true start of the attitude era. The switch from early 90s goofy wrestling to realism was a sudden shift but it was only so successful because of the two men at the top of the card.
Much has been said about Bret Hart’s drawing ability. People like Eric Bischoff have publicly bashed Hart for his inability to become a draw, but how true is this? During his run at the top, countless things were affecting the attendance and viewership numbers. The steroid scandal, the talent exodus to WCW, and even the outdated booking philosophies of WWF at the time all played a part in this low period for the company. Was this truly Bret Hart’s fault? Compared to other people on the roster at the time, Bret was a far better draw. Still, though, he will never hold claim to the “top draw” of his era. Does this affect his legacy as the greatest, though?
There is a reason they call him the “Excellence of Execution”. There has possibly never been a better wrestler at the execution of a wrestling match. All of his strikes, submissions, and selling look so incredible he sucks you into thinking the two competitors are fighting for real. Having countless classic matches under his belt only adds to his prestige in this category. So many wrestlers cite Bret as their favorite wrestler ever because he was that good. If he isn’t the G.O.A.T. he is at least top ten in-ring workers of all time.
Bret Hart is undoubtedly one of the G.O.A.Ts. His legacy has stood the test of time and only continues to grow with wrestlers consistently paying homage to him. From iconic matches, feuds, and moments, the “Hit Man” has done it all. Despite the criticisms of his drawing power, the quality of his work has consistently been high. The “GOAT” is all up to opinion, but if someone does not put him up there with the greats you have to question their knowledge of the business.
Do you think Bret is the G.O.A.T.? Let me know where he ranks for you and who I should discuss next! Make sure to follow me on Twitter/X and make sure to stay tuned to Cohen’s Commentary for more articles like this.