Bret Hart (c) vs. Bam Bam Bigelow
We start with this title match from March 1993 in South Charleston, NC. This comes a few weeks before Bret dropped the title to Yokozuna at WrestleMania IX. I wonder why Bam Bam wasn’t on Mania IX. He could have really improved that terrible card. These two usually have decent matches. I remember one from Spain that was really good, and of course the King of the Ring final three months later was a great piece of work. I have said it before, but I think Bigelow is one of the all time best big man workers. He has a very distinctive and unique way of moving around the ring and he is quick too, though not as quick as Hart, who avoids him to begin with and puts on a headlock. This quickly (and unsurprisingly) becomes a battle of power against technical ability, with Bret using holds such as the armbar, with Bigelow retaliating with headbutts, tackles and a big press slam, which Hart actually switches into a pinfall attempt. They fight outside, and Bigelow gets the better of it, sending Bret twice into the post. This has been exactly what I expected, and that is not a bad thing. Hart and Bigelow have a good chemistry, as I said earlier, and they have had a fun contest here so far. The WWF was a very strange place in this era, with Vince turning to guys from the past to try and beef up his roster. He brought back Bigelow and Kamala, turned to former WWF champ Bob Backlund and then in later years brought King Kong Bundy out of the wilderness. It seems crazy to think that Bundy was only two years away from the Attitude era. It feels like a lifetime. Back to the match, and Bigelow has slowed the pace significantly, but he throws a few high impact moves in such as the back suplex and some hard whips into the buckles. Bigelow tries to wear Hart down with a bearhug and a back rack, but Bret beats the count and hits a back suplex of his own. Bigelow recovers first, and drops a headbutt to Hart’s back, continuing his assault on the area. Bigelow has impressed here, he was so light on his feet for a big guy and psychologically sound. He hits a lovely backbreaker, just so smoothly executed. His flying headbutt is impressive too, though he misses it, allowing Hart back into the match, and he unloads with his five moves of doom. Bret goes for another back suplex, but Bigelow reverses it into a near fall of his own. A very near fall. This has been a great go-home sequence. It ends in the same way as their King of the Ring match, with Hart catching a victory roll from Bigelow’s shoulders. A really good match, and a sterling effort from both.
Final Rating: ***¼
Bret Hart vs. Blake Beverly
Sometimes Bret Hart cannot be bothered. He knows he is fighting a lost cause, so he dogs it. I am certain that this will be one of those matches. This comes out of Brandon, Manitoba in September 1992, a month after Bret lost the IC title to the British Bulldog, but a month before his first WWF title win over Ric Flair. A brief lean month in a very successful 1992 for ‘the Hitman’. Quite what the point of this match is, I cannot fathom. Who are they trying to get over exactly? Blake is a tag wrestler, and doesn’t need to work Hart, whereas Hart will gain nothing from going over Blake either. As suspected, Bret is not interested in Blake’s dull offence, and he adjusts his kneepad and wipes his face while in a side headlock. It’s pretty painful. This is supposed to be a Hart “best of” tape, and this comes after the aforementioned Davey Boy match, so that could be on here instead of this. Hey, if this tape was only two matches and it was the Bigelow bout we just saw and then that, I would be a happy man. Quality, not quantity, Columbia! You know it is a bad match when they pull out the Diva’s “hairplant” spot. This doesn’t deserve any further comment… Though, actually it DOES, because Blake fucking Beverly just beat Bret Hart by pinfall, after interference from Beau! No wait, it is the old Dusty finish, as Sgt. Slaughter comes out and reverses the decision, and thus Bret wins the match on a DQ. Well that was ass-backwards. They are pushing Bret as the face of the company and the future WWF champion, yet he can’t get a win over a tag wrestler in a singles match? This is a tag wrestler who is generally considered something of a jobber by this point anyway, and would be gone from the company within a few months. What an affront to wrestling and its fans that match and finish are.
Final Rating: DUD
Bret Hart (c) vs. Fatu
The match was originally on Monday Night Raw so any long-time WWF fan would have seen it prior to this tape’s release anyway. Fatu was still part of The Headshrinkers at this point, and I am sure no-one predicted he would go onto have the singles success he did as Rikishi years later. His longevity in the WWF is surprising, because he became utterly worthless around 1995 when he was “time to make a difference” Fatu, complete with cheesy grin, positive attitude and bright red tights. For those who are not aware that Fatu and Rikishi are the same person, they would be very surprised at how comparatively lean he is here, and how well he can move around. Bret ends up bleeding hardway from the nose, and they go for a long time considering it is the WWF Champion against a tag wrestler. Once again the comparisons to Hogan are inevitable, and it is safe to say this would have been over within a few minutes if it were Hogan in Bret’s place. Bret was always put into long matches with lesser opponents, giving the impression that he had to really work for every victory, which I think hurt him during his first title run. Fatu (well actually, Samu) nearly wins the title after the ‘Shrinkers pull “twin magic”, but Bret kicks out in an exciting near fall. When you can get the crowd to buy that one of The Headshrinkers is going to win the WWF title, I guess you are doing something right. Samu ends up getting caught in the hangman in the ropes and Bret polishes off Fatu with a Sharpshooter. It was a handicap match at times, but a well worked one. Bret making Fatu look like a credible challenger was impressive. Actually there was some good stuff from both guys, and the match is much better than you might expect.
Final Rating: ***1/2
WWF Intercontinental Championship
Bret Hart (c) vs. Shawn Michaels
We have covered this next match before, as it featured on Invasion of the Bodyslammers. An early match from a famous rivalry here, as we go right back to April 1992 in Syracuse, New York. Bret had won the IC belt just a few weeks earlier from Roddy Piper at WrestleMania VIII. Savage pops me early, by saying Sherri must have a cold because her chest is swollen. Her waps are certainly looking full today! Savage quickly goes from amusing me to annoying me, by commenting on how the referees have changed for each match due to the intensity of the bouts. Surely it is obvious to EVERYONE watching that this tape features matches from over the span of a year. Hell, I knew this match was out of synch when I was little, because I knew Yokozuna was never around while Bret was IC champion. Why they had to retroactively try and alter reality on these Coliseum tapes is beyond me. How is Savage going to explain when Taker works again later? We get some smooth chain wrestling to start, which Bret inevitably gets the better off, sending Shawn to the outside to regroup with Sherri. Bret brings Shawn back in and zeroes in on the arm, then takes him down with a vicious clothesline for two. You really appreciate just how good these guys are when they are shoehorned onto the same tape as the likes of Typhoon. Shawn gets a foothold in the match by sending Bret hard into the buckles, and Sherri gets a cheap shot in as well. A high knee gets a two for Michaels, and he goes to the chinlock to slow the pace down. The difference between a chinlock in a Michaels and Bret match compared to in the Typhoon match, is that they fight to make it interesting, with Bret showing signs of life and fighting out with intensity, and Shawn cheating to stay in control. Shawn hits the superkick to derail a Hart comeback, but it still wasn’t his finisher at the time so he doesn’t get a fall. Hart fights back with a reverse atomic drop, bulldog, backbreaker and elbow from the middle rope, getting a two count. There was a great intensity to the five moves sequence there, a lot of snap and speed on them, helped of course by Shawn’s great selling and movement. Both guys tumble through the ropes while Bret has a sleeper locked on, and as the Hitman is trying to return to the ring, Michaels knocks him off the apron into the rail, and thus wins by count out. I hate the spot where the challenger poses with the belt after winning on a count out or a DQ, which Michaesl does; it just makes everyone involved look stupid. I do enjoy Michaels twatting the referee for having the gall to disagree with him though. Great 10-minute match, fast and furious throughout.
Final Rating: ***½
Summary: Well, it’s a Bret Hart comp, so it’s fairly good of course. The Blake Beverly match aside, everything on here is fine, with Bret carrying lesser opponents to enjoyable matches, and then going toe-to-toe with his future biggest all-time rival in a tidy early match in their long series. Despite three out of the four being good, the Beverly match leaves a really bad taste, and it takes up ten minutes of your life that you will regret losing. If you can get past that, then there is some really rewarding stuff on here, and this comes recommended from us.