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SummerSlam Memories #1: British Bulldog vs. Bret Hart 1992
By John Canton (@johnreport)
The "biggest party of the summer" for World Wrestling Entertainment is an event known as SummerSlam. With that in mind, I thought it would be a great idea to share some of my favorite SummerSlam memories in the weeks leading up to the event. We'll start out with the match that I feel is the best in SummerSlam history.
Of course I'm talking about the "British Bulldog" Davey Boy Smith vs. Bret Hart at Summerslam 1992.
I love everything about this match. I loved it 21 years ago and I think I loved it even more when I watched it again recently. It was in London, England and a lot of people may not know this, but it was taped on August 29th and then shown on August 31st in 1992 with just over 80,000 fans in attendance.
The main event wasn't the Savage/Warrior match for the WWF Title, but the Intercontinental Title match between champion Bret Hart and challenger the British Bulldog, who was wrestling in his home country. It was a match between two good guys with the added dynamic of Bulldog's wife Diana being at ringside, who was also the sister of Bret Hart. Two brother-in-laws battling it out in the main event of one of wrestling's biggest shows ever? It was certainly a unique thing.
The work in the match was special from the beginning. Through a lot of it, Bret was the more aggressive of the two because I think he realized he needed to be that way in order to get the crowd totally behind Smith. It's interesting to note that Bret Hart wrote in his book about how Bulldog was blown up (another way of saying tired) very early in the match, so he forgot a lot of the things that he had to do. It didn't show in Bulldog's work. He looked fantastic out there.
Bret claims that he carried the majority of the match, which isn't much of a surprise because Bret was such a great technician. You could tell Bulldog had lost it a little bit because of the bump where Bret did a slingshot over the top rope and Bulldog was supposed to catch him. Instead, he was hunched over against the side of the ring where he was trying to catch his breath. Hart ended up grabbing him by the shoulder to pull him down. Like Hart says on his DVD, he could have easily tore his knee at that point.
What I loved about the match is that it was so even from bell to bell. It wasn't easy for me to root for somebody when I watched it as a 12 year old. I was a fan of both guys. Part of me wanted Bret to retain the title, but then I also wanted Davey Boy to have his moment in front of the fans in his home country too. I was emotionally torn watching it. I'm sure most fans watching at home felt the same way.
Let's jump to the awesome finishing sequence. After a double clothesline, Bret wrapped Bulldog up in the Sharpshooter while they were on their backs. He sat in it, the crowd was going NUTS freaking out and Bulldog got to the ropes.
That was followed by this classic line by commentator Bobby Heenan: "If you don't like it you shouldn't be here - go do the dishes." That's what he said when they showed Diana Hart-Smith. The Brain wasn't the nicest announcer in wrestling history, but the man is a legend.
For the finish, Bret whipped him into the ropes, did a sunset flip, Bulldog dropped to his knees, hooked the arms, leaned forward for the one, two and three for what might be the loudest ovation I've ever heard. The new Intercontinental Champion was the British Bulldog. Bret is one of the most technically proficient wrestlers ever yet he lost the match because the more powerful Bulldog found a way to counter a wrestling hold. It was a brilliant finish.
Post match, Bret was dejected and he even teased leaving, but he hugged his brother-in-law and the crowd gave a huge reaction for it as Diana went into the ring for the big family celebration. The match went 25 minutes, which was how long they should have went.
On his DVD and in his book, Bret talked about going into this match with the idea that not only will people think Bulldog became a bigger star by winning the title, but that Bret would be a bigger star after his performance too.
Bret saw this as an opportunity to prove that he could be the top guy in the company. Less than two months later he would win his first ever WWF Title. He was right. It's the perfect example of a match doing great things for both guys.
One guy won (Bulldog), but the other guy became a bigger star after it was finished (Hart). That's the point of wrestling. It's not about the wins and losses all the time. It's about telling stories, getting over and creating memories to last a lifetime. That's exactly what they did here. I'll never forget how loud that reaction was when Bulldog countered Bret, dropped down and cradled him up to get the victory.
At the end of the match, Vince McMahon called it one of the greatest wrestling matches of all-time. Guess what? He was absolutely right. It's the greatest SummerSlam match of all-time.