July 15, 2004

Bret Hart vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin
November 17, 1996 - Survivor Series
Madison Square Garden - New York City

The Tale of the Tape
Bret ďHit ManĒ Hart

Height: 6'0
Weight: 234 pounds
Finisher: Sharpshooter
From: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
WWF Career Highlights (up to that point) : Three-time WWF Champion, two-time Intercontinental Champion, two-time Tag Team Champion, 1993 King of the Ring winner, co-winner of the 1994 Royal Rumble

ďStone ColdĒ Steve Austin
Height: 6'2
Weight: 252 pounds
Finisher: Stone Cold Stunner
From: Victoria, Texas
WWF Career Highlights (up to that point): 1996 King of the Ring winner

The Match Begins
The match begins with Hart and Austin staring each other down. Austin shows his disrespect for Bret by flipping him off, which leads to both men exchanging blows. The match then shifts to wrestling, with Hart and Austin exchanging hammerlocks and working the arm. Austin switches gears and returns to brawling to take the advantage. Hart briefly manages to make a comeback, but Austin stops it with the Stun Gun. A slugfest soon ensues with Austin gaining the edge.

Bret rallies back
Despite coming out on the losing end of the slugfest, Bret manages to make a comeback, hitting an inverted atomic drop and clothesline. Bret rolls up Austin from behind for a two count. Bret follows up with a Side Russian Legsweep, which gets another two count. Bret goes for a bulldog, but Austin counters, leading Bret to take his trademark chest-first bump into the turnbuckles. Austin sets Bret on the top rope and attempts a superplex, but Bret counters, sending Austin face-first to the canvas. Bret hits the elbow from the top rope (instead of the middle rope like he usually does) for a two count. Bret goes for another one of his trademark moves, a pendulum backbreaker, but Austin counters by raking Bretís eyes.

Austin brings it
Austin sends Bret to the outside, then rams him into the ring post. They brawl into the crowd, with Bret managing to gain the upper hand, knocking down the guard rail in the process. Austin regains control of the match by slingshotting Bret onto the announcerís table. Austin climbs onto the table and pounds away relentlessly, which ends with both men brawling under the table. Austin slams Bret back onto the table, then drops an elbow from the ring apron. The elbow from the apron works well here, since Bretís upper body had been weakened earlier by Austinís Stun Gun and the chest bump from the bulldog counter. Austin suplexes Bret from the apron back into the ring. Austin takes a page out of Bretís book and hits an elbow from the second rope for a two count. Austin continues to work on Bretís upper body, then locks on an abdominal stretch. Austin uses the ropes for leverage, but referee Tim White catches it and forces Austin to break the hold. Austin displays his disdain for authority, shoving White. White responds by threatening to disqualify Austin. Austin backs off, which normally, would be uncharacteristic of him. However, it works in this case, because it shows that Austin wants to beat Bret.

Austin vs. Hart, round two
Another slugfest ensues, but this time, Bret comes out on top. Bret attempts an Irish Whip, which Austin counters, but Bret counters that, and nails Austin with his own Stun Gun. Bret follows up with an Oklahoma side roll for two. Bret hits a nice piledriver for another two count. Bret goes for the pendulum backbreaker, and gets it. Bret attempted the backbreaker earlier in the match, but Austin managed to counter. Austin didnít have the wherewithal to counter this time, because he had been sufficiently weakened by the Stun Gun and piledriver. Bret goes to the top rope, but Austin stops him. Remembering what happened earlier, Austin weakens Bret with a series of chops. Austin climbs to the middle rope for a superplex, but changes his mind. Austin releases the suplex position, then further weakens Bret by pounding on him. Austin climbs to the top-rope and hits a perfectly-executed superplex. With both men laying on the mat, Bret cradles Austin for two.

Beating the legend
Both men get back up and Bret walks up to Austin from behind. Austin reaches back and hits the Stone Cold Stunner out of nowhere! Bretís close to the ropes, so Austin pulls him into the middle of the ring and hooks the leg...for a two count. The few seconds Austin took to pull Bret away from the ropes may have cost him the victory. However, Austinís rationale in pulling Bret away made sense. Austin felt the Stunner would be enough, but he realized that Bret was too close to the ropes, so he pulled him away. However, Austin didnít count on the possibility of Bret kicking out, since no one had ever kicked out of the Stunner before. Austin pounds Bret a few times and covers several more times, only getting a two count each time. Realizing that he canít pin Bret, Austin switches to a new strategy: make Bret submit. Austin locks on a Texas Cloverleaf, but Bret manages to get to the ropes. Austin whips Bret into the corner, but Bretís legs give out, sending him under the bottom rope and back-first into the post. Austin pulls him towards the middle of the ring and covers for a two count. Austin tries a bow-and-arrow, but Bret manages to fight out and goes for the Sharpshooter, but Austin gets to the ropes before the hold is locked on.

Austinís persistence costs him
Bret catches Austin in a sleeper, but Austin tries to counter by backing Bret into the corner. That doesnít work, so Austin breaks the sleeper by countering into a jawbreaker. Austin gets to his feet first and sneaks behind Bret, measuring him up for an apparent submission hold. Austin pulls out the one hold he hasnít tried yet...the hold that he used as his finisher upon entering the WWF, the Million Dollar Dream. Unfortunately for Austin, Bretís been in a similar situation before. Bret, remembering WrestleMania VIII, walks to the corner, kicks off the turnbuckles, lands on top of Austin in a pinning predicament and gets the pinfall victory. Austin made the same mistake that Piper did...he didnít let go of the hold. Austin exits the ring and glares at Bret as if to say "You beat me this time, but it wonít happen again."

Final Thoughts
In my opinion, this is one of the best WWF matches of all-time. There weren't any blown spots, the crowd was into it, the psychology was sound, and it had a clean finish. Austin's persistence in beating Bret was played off pretty well, with Jim Ross noting that Austin's refusal to release the Million Dollar Dream cost him the victory. An absolutely tremendous match which I highly recommend to any wrestling fan.

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