There's a lot of wrestling matches out there that one could argue are the "greatest of all time," but none of them can compare to the match between Bret Hart and The British Bulldog at SummerSlam 1992 in Wembley Stadium. What makes that match stand out above all the rest? Bret Hart will be glad to tell you. Hart was a guest on WWE's The Bump podcast last week, and in talking about that match, Hart revealed that it was his goal from the start to make that match the GOAT.
"I think I was of the belief that knowing the matches I'd had with Davey throughout my career and just the way the English fans were that us wrestling in Wembley would be, there's nobody that could top it," Hart said. "I really think that during that time period probably the greatest match in wrestling, considered by the guys in the dressing room, not by anybody else, Macho Man/Steamboat from WrestleMania 3 was kind of an iconic match that everyone wanted to sort of if someone could top that. And my idea was we're gonna top that match. We're gonna have even a better match than Macho Man, and Ricky Steamboat did, and that's gonna be, we're gonna raise the bar to a new level, and the SummerSlam match will be the greatest match of all time until now. And I think I that time, it's arguable, but I think it was up there. It was one of my greatest matches for sure, and it may very well be the greatest match of all time."
There were a lot of factors that went into making that match the greatest of all time. Hard work. Real-life family connections and drama. And of course, most importantly, the fact that Hart was even more popular in England than The Bulldog himself.
"The drama was all real," said Hart. "He was really my brother-in-law. It just had a lot of realism naturally in the storyline so that when you wrestle each other… I think what I said last week which was really important, it was one of those kind of matches, which is a beautiful thing, when the fans hear about it, like 'oh it's Bret Hart vs. British Bulldog, that'll be a good one,' but they don't think about who's gonna win. When their minds, when they come down like who do you think's gonna win, they leave it, like, we'll have to think about that. And then there's all those other matches on the card from Macho Man and Warrior and everybody else. So you think about those ones, and by the time me and Bulldog came out, I could feel it. When we walked out in the arena, nobody knows who's gonna win. They're scratching their heads going who's gonna win this one? And I was really popular in England at the time. I dare say I was a little more popular than Davey. But we were really over with the crowds, both of us, and that was the beauty."
Hart says he knew right from the start of the match that it would be something special. He and Davey Boy Smith had those Brits hooked right from the start. From that point, it was simply a matter of holding their attention.
"When we looked at each other, this part where we go nose to nose and then he pushes me off, there's this feeling, there's this hush over the crowd," said Hart. "They don't know who's gonna win. They're totally at a loss. They haven't thought about it enough. Now it's in the ring, they're watching it, and it's like they're riveted to every single move for the whole match. Eighty-two thousand people just watching every single move. When you have that, you're gonna have the best match ever. You're gonna have such a great match because you got 'em right from the get-go."
Of course, Hart couldn't have the greatest match of all time on his own… or so he thought. Hart says he needed the Bulldog to be able to hang with him long enough to put on the great match he wanted. Famously, The Bulldog was gassed during the match, but Bret managed to carry him to greatness anyway. Of course, Bret doesn't say that in the interview. He's far too humble, obviously.
"I put a lot of thought into the match itself, and I just knew and could feel if Davey could hang with me long enough, we were gonna carry this match into the history books," Hart said. "It was gonna be a great match. And I always, even though I lost that match, I always thought that match made me. It was a sympathy rebound that it's hard to explain. Most wrestlers hate losing, but in my case, I knew that there was gonna be a rebound, and I didn't really expect to win the world title five weeks later or four weeks later or whatever it was, but I did. And it was just the whole feel of that match and how people took it. In America, where the match was seen, I'm not sure if it was at 4 in the morning, there was sort of a rebound that I got that benefited me and actually took me up higher and that's how I got the title."
So it all worked out for the best in the end.