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SummerSlam Memories #4: Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart 1994
By John Canton (@johnreport)
I absolutely loved everything about the Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart feud that was the best rivalry in WWE in 1994. On August 29, 1994 they had a fantastic matchup inside the blue cage with Bret's WWE Title on the line against his younger brother Owen.
The seeds were planted at Survivor Series 1993 when every member of Bret's team survived their Survivor Series match except Owen. At the 1994 Royal Rumble, Bret and Owen teamed up. Bret had a knee injury, which led to Owen attacking him when they couldn't get the win.
At WrestleMania 10 in 1994, Owen beat Bret in the best opening match at WrestleMania. Despite that loss, Bret would go on to win the WWE Title later in the show and Owen's jealousy was at an all-time high while he stared Bret down from the aisle when other WWE superstars celebrated with Bret. After Owen won the 1994 King of the Ring event (Bret won 1993), it set them up for another matchup this time inside of the blue steel cage.
I'm not a fan of the blue cage because it looks silly. The silver steel cage is better because it actually looks like steel, it looks like it would hurt if you ran into it and that's the point of cage match. The cage is supposed to bring pain! The blue cage was more visually appealing because you could see more of the match through the square holes, but it's not something I particularly enjoyed. Still, this was Bret vs. Owen in a cage for 32 minutes. If anybody could make the blue cage work it's them.
I think the best way to describe this match is by saying that these were two guys who were masters of the little things or the small details in a wrestling match. I noticed it in a lot of their matches. They were always on the same page. You know how sometimes a guy will be in the spot for a move and the other guy is a step slow? Not with these two. It must be a brotherly instinct and the fact that they were born to be professional wrestlers. They always seemed to be in the right place at the right time.
Another thing I loved about this match is that it was escape the cage only. No pinfalls or submissions like they do in cage matches now. You could win by either climbing out of the cage or escaping through the door. That's how ALL cage matches should be. The purpose of the cage is to keep two guys in the middle of the ring so they can settle their issues. Pinning or submitting shouldn't be an option. Escape should be the best way to win.
It's hard to describe all of the action because over the course of the 32 minutes there was a lot going on. I really liked how they had some realistic escape opportunities. You had each guy lunging to get out through the door at various times, a lot of smart escape chances and they built up to the big moments well. The two highlights were late in the match.
Owen was climbing out of the ring when Bret went after him. They were right above one of the turnbuckles. Instead of simply pulling him back in, Bret did a spectacular move: a superplex off the top of the cage. You have to remember that this is 1994. It was not a common move back then especially at this time in main event level matches. At the same time WCW was having Hogan vs. Flair matches and they were both old even back then.
A few moments after the superplex off the cage, Owen had Bret in the Sharpshooter. Bret was able to reverse out of that and put Owen in one of his own. The crowd was going nuts for it. Both guys used the Sharpshooter as a finisher, so when Bret was able to slap it on his brother Owen it was no surprise that the fans would go wild for it.
The finish of the match was excellent as they each climbed the cage to get outside of it. If you watch it closely you would notice Owen hooking his leg on the inside to make sure he didn't accidentally fall out first. Bret rammed him into the cage, Owen went upside down, hanging by his leg and Bret dropped down to retain the WWF Title. It wasn't a dominant victory at all. It was a victory after an evenly fought match that made both guys look great.
Post match was great too as Bret & Owen's brother in law Jim Neidhart attacked Bret Hart. Many members of the Hart family were sitting at ringside. They also attacked the British Bulldog, who was another brother in law of the family that was a fan favorite at this point. This led to Neidhart & Owen double teaming Bret in the cage while all of the other brothers tried to get in the ring until Bulldog finally made it in to save Bret.
Even though Bret won this match to ultimately win the feud, there's no denying that Owen was a bigger star because of this rivalry. At the 1993 SummerSlam event, Owen defeated Barry Horowitz in the dark match. One year later he main evented SummerSlam against his brother in a memorable cage match for the WWE Title.
The Hart brothers battle in the blue cage is a match that will always be remembered as one of the best in SummerSlam history and in WWE history as well.