This Monday is Bret Hart Appreciation Night on WWE RAW. I’m not a Bret Hart fan, but I don’t disagree with people who say he’s one of the greatest wrestlers in WWE and professional wrestling history. I have not reviewed a Bret Hart match here at Wrestling Rambles so I thought this was a good time to review one of his matches. For this review, I wanted to pick a Bret Hart match I liked and a match that isn’t one of his most famous matches. I don’t enjoy most of Bret’s matches because I don’t like his style of wrestling. He did too much psychological wrestling. I have tried to like Bret, but I just don’t like watching his matches. I don’t hate all of his matches. Some of his matches are good and I think the Bret Hart match I enjoyed watching the most was Bret Hart vs. Undertaker from SummerSlam 1997.

The Facts:

  • This match happened at the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The attendance was 20,213.
  • Undertaker’s WWF Championship was on the line in this match and Shawn Michaels was the special guest referee.
  • If Bret Hart did not win the World Wrestling Federation Championship, he would never wrestle on American soil again. If Michaels screwed Bret and favored Undertaker in this match, Michaels would never wrestle on American soil again.
  • Bret was quoted saying that this match was “one of my favourite matches of all time” in a story published at globalnews.ca on November 22, 2012.
  • This SummerSlam included the famous Mankind vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley steel cage match and Owen Hart breaking Stone Cold Steve Austin’s neck.
  • Undertaker started a feud with Michaels after this match. Two famous matches from that feud were the Hell in a Cell match at Badd Blood 1997 and the Casket match at Royal Rumble 1998.
  • Bret wrote in his book that he was the first WWF wrestler to ever lock up with Undertaker.
  • The announcers who called this match were Vince McMahon, Jim Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler.
  • The time length of this match was 28:09.
  • This match is on The History of the Undertaker DVD.
  • This match can be seen at http://www.wwe.com/videos/the-undertaker-vs-bret-hart-summerslam-1997-wwe-championship-match-full-length-m-26044999.

The Match:

Bret Hart attacks Undertaker before the match starts. The bell rings and this match has officially started. Bret’s offense is brief and Undertaker attacks Bret in the ring corner. Undertaker knocks Bret down with a clothesline. Bret leaves the ring and Undertaker follows him. Undertaker puts Bret into the security railing and the ring post. Undertaker tries to attack Bret by the ring post, but Bret gets out of the way. Undertaker makes contact with the ring post. Bret whips Undertaker into the ring steps. Bret is back in the ring and then jumps off the ring apron. Undertaker catches Bret and slams Bret’s spine into the ring post. Undertaker picks up Bret and Bret’s spine hits the ring post again. Undertaker throws Bret into the ring. Undertaker attacks Bret’s back. Undertaker hits Bret with a backbreaker. Undertaker covers Bret and Bret kicks out. Undertaker puts Bret in a bearhug. Jim Ross says Undertaker is focusing on Bret’s lower back. Bret gets out the bearhug and then Undertakers knocks down Bret with a boot to the face. Undertaker goes for a legdrop and Bret gets out of the way. Undertaker gets up quickly and hits Bret’s back. Bret attacks Undertaker’s leg and Bret is able to chop Undertaker down. Bret continues to attack Undertaker’s leg while Undertaker is down. Undertaker gets up and Bret tries to chop Undertaker down again. Undertaker gets to the ring corner and Bret attacks him there. Bret pulls Undertaker to the middle of the ring and Bret works on Undertaker’s leg again. Shawn Michaels has been an unbiased referee so far. Shawn was Bret’s archrival at this time. Jim Ross just mentioned this is Shawn’s first time as a referee. It wouldn’t be his last. Bret puts Undertaker in the Figure-Four Leglock. Hey there’s Paul Bearer walking down to the ring. Vince McMahon talks about Undertaker’s brother Kane who hadn’t debuted in WWF yet. Undertaker reverses the leglock and the pressure is on Bret now. Bret reaches the rope and Shawn calls for the break. Undertaker attacks Bret’s leg a little bit and then leaves the ring to attack Paul Bearer. Bret attacks Undertaker from behind. Referees get Paul Bearer away from the ring. Bret does the Figure-Four Leglock with Undertaker’s legs around the ring post. Shawn starts a count and Bret releases the leglock before Shawn can count to five. Bret and Undertaker are back in the ring. Outside the ring right now are Owen Hart and Brian Pillman. All three men who have made surprise appearances outside the ring are currently dead. Bret is attacking Undertaker’s leg by using the ring post. It looks like Bret just flipped off a fan at ringside. Shawn talks to Bret and I hear him say, “Keep it in the ring.” Bret is attacking Undertaker’s leg again. That’s what makes Bret different than other wrestlers. I don’t see wrestlers focusing on one body part often and when it does happen, it doesn’t last very long. Bret has been attacking Undertaker’s leg for almost the entire match.

Bret has a hold on Undertaker’s leg and Undertaker gets out of it. Undertaker leaves the ring to attack Owen and Pillman. Shawn forces Owen and Pillman to go back to the locker room. Inside the ring, Undertaker hits Bret with a chokeslam. Undertaker covers Bret, but Shawn is too busy making sure Owen and Pillman aren’t going to try to come back to the ringside area. Undertaker realizes that Shawn isn’t watching the match and Undertaker walks towards Shawn. Undertaker is talking to Shawn and Bret rolls up Undertaker from behind. Shawn counts and Undertaker kicks out. Undertaker knocks down Bret and he is mad at Shawn for ignoring his pin attempt, but counting Bret’s pin attempt. It looks like Undertaker thinks Shawn is trying to screw him. Bret pulls Undertaker out of the ring and slams him into the ring post. Shawn tells Bret to “get your ass inside”. Bret throws Undertaker into the ring. Bret jumps off the turnbuckles and attacks Undertaker. It looks like Bret is focusing on Undertaker’s back now. Bret covers Undertaker and Undertaker kicks out. Bret hits Undertaker with a suplex. Bret hits Undertaker with an elbow drop off the second rope. Bret just flipped off another fan. Jerry Lawler says Bret thinks these fans are #1. That was funny. Undertaker kicks out of another pin attempt. Jim Ross says Bret might have gotten the three count if he didn’t waste time letting the fans know how he feels about them. Bret attempts another pin and Undertaker kicks out again. Undertaker picks up Bret and drops him face first onto the top turnbuckle. Undertaker covers Bret and Bret kicks out. Bret stops Undertaker’s comeback and takes down Undertaker with a Russian Leg Sweep. Bret hits Undertaker with two legdrops. Bret tries to set Undertaker up for the Sharpshooter, but Undertaker counters it. Undertaker attacks Bret in the corner. Bret fails to stop Undertaker’s comeback. Undertaker hits Bret with a flying clothesline. Undertaker whips Bret into the ring corner and then covers him. Bret kicks out. Undertaker hits Bret with a big boot and a legdrop. Bret kicks out of another pin attempt. Bret is on the ring apron and Undertaker chokeslams Bret back into the ring! Undertaker covers Bret and Bret kicks out! Undertaker goes for Old School and Bret counters it. Bret tries to suplex Undertaker off the top rope, but Undertaker collapses. Bret gets Undertaker back up and hits the superplex. Bret puts Undertaker in the Sharpshooter. Undertaker breaks the Sharpshooter and Bret rolls out of the ring. Jim Ross sells it like it was the greatest thing he has ever seen. According to Ross, no one has ever broken the Sharpshooter. Bret gets back in the ring. Bret tries to whip Undertaker into the ropes and Undertaker reverses it. Undertaker knocks down Bret with a clothesline. Undertaker goes for the Tombstone, but Bret avoids it. Bret takes down Undertaker and he puts Undertaker’s legs around the ring post. It’s a Sharpshooter using the ring post. Undertaker gets Bret to release the hold and Bret falls onto Shawn. Bret gets up and grabs a chair. Bret gets in the ring and uses the chair to hit Undertaker on the head! There’s something we don’t see today. It doesn’t look like Shawn saw it. Shawn is not feeling good after Bret fell on top of him. Shawn gets in the ring and Bret covers Undertaker. One…two…kickout! Bret thinks it was three. Shawn finds the chair in the ring and he shows it to Bret. Obviously, Shawn thinks Bret used it to attack Undertaker. Bret spits in Shawn’s face and Shawn tries to hit Bret with the chair. Bret ducks and Shawn hits Undertaker! That’s two times Undertaker got hit on the head with a chair! Bret covers Undertaker and Shawn counts to three.

Winner: Bret Hart

Rating: ****

That was the second time I saw this match. It wasn’t as good as the first time I saw it, but I still think it’s one of my favorite Bret Hart matches. I definitely think Shawn Michaels as the special guest referee is why I enjoyed this match so much. Undertaker and Bret did good wrestling, but Shawn was the star of the match in my opinion. Shawn didn’t do anything amazing in the match, but when I saw this match for the first time, I was focusing on Shawn a lot. If Shawn helped Undertaker, Shawn would be banned from wrestling on American soil, but he didn’t want his enemy Bret Hart to win. It reminded me of a John Cena and Wade Barrett storyline in 2010. Cena was the referee for a Barrett vs. Randy Orton match and if Cena didn’t help Barrett win the WWE Championship, Cena would be fired (Cena didn’t get fired and Barrett didn’t win the WWE Championship). Good storylines like that can make a match better and it makes me interested in a match-up I may have not liked without that storyline. Shawn made this match better, but I will admit that this match wouldn’t be a great match without Bret Hart. He’s not my favorite wrestler and I don’t think he’s the best there was, is and ever will be, but I’m not going to disagree with WWE’s decision to have a Bret Hart Appreciation Night on RAW.

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