June 27, 2005
Bret Hart vs. Mr. Perfect (w/ the Genius)
October 2, 1989
Without a doubt, Bret Hart and Curt Hennig are two of the most accomplished and respected talents over the past 25 years. There’s not much I can say about them that hasn’t already been said a million times over.
While their two most well known bouts are from Summer Slam 91 and King of the Ring 93, they had quite the rivalry in 1989 when Perfect was slowly climbing up the ladder of world title contention. Along the way he had faced off challenges from a long line of solid midcard talent, among them Brutus Beefcake, the Blue Blazer, Hercules, the Red Rooster, and the returning Jimmy Snuka. Hart, on the other hand, was looking to parlay his tag team accomplishments into a successful singles run. While he had yet to compile a list of victories as impressive as Perfect’s, his in-ring ability was undeniable.
Their handful of televised matches from MSG, Boston, etc aren’t difficult to find. However, I recently downloaded a match of theirs that originally aired on Prime Time Wrestling late in the year.
The Genius introduces his new protégé to the ring as ‘Exodus’ plays throughout the arena. Hennig, with a cocky smile on his face and a mouth full of chewing gum, confidently walks to the ring wearing a multi-colored singlet.
The Hitman soon follows, wearing his original silver wrap-around sunglasses, and receives a very strong reaction from the crowd. After the bell rings, Bret rolls to the floor and hands his glasses to a young girl in the front row.
With Hart back inside the ring, the two men circle one another before locking up. On two occasions, neither man can take control. On the third try, Hart takes a headlock. Hennig grabs the hair and sends Bret to the ropes but is shoved to the mat. Hart runs the ropes a second time, Perfect attempts a hiptoss, but Hart spins it around and sends his opponent down with his own hiptoss – a spot also seen in their IC title contest from 91. The momentum sends Hennig sprawling out to the floor to the delight of the crowd.
With a look of frustration on his face, Hennig cautiously reenters the ring and is again caught in a headlock. The two men try the exact same exchange as before – Perfect grabs the hair, Hart knocks him to the mat on the way off the ropes, Perfect goes down as Hart comes off the ropes a second time, but then Hart simply hops over Hennig before turning to the fans and facetiously clapping in acknowledgement of Perfect’s skills. All Hennig can do in response is stand there speechless, his hands on his hips.
Another lock up and Bret grabs the arm. Perfect reverses into a waist lock before selling a hard elbow to the face which breaks the hold. The two lock up once more, with Bret taking Hennig to the mat with a side headlock into a hard take down. Hennig grabs the hair to try to regain the advantage and it takes referee Earl Hebner a good 10 seconds to notice the infraction.
Perfect gets to his feet and tries to send Bret off the ropes but Hart twice grabs onto the hair to keep the headlock applied. Perfect’s third try is the charm but the Hitman comes off the ropes with a crossbody for a 2 count. Hennig kicks out, sending Hart out to the floor where Bret immediately regroups, drives his shoulder hard into Hennig’s mid-section, and hits a sunset flip into the ring for another near fall before once again taking Perfect down with the side headlock.
Curt hits the first heelish move of the bout when he leans Bret against the ropes and lands a knee to the midsection to break the headlock. Hennig sends Hart to the ropes and attempts a clothesline but Bret reverses into a crucifix for a 2-count. And the second Hennig stumbles to his feet, he’s taken down once more with a headlock.
Perfect puts Bret against the ropes again and lands a chop to the chest and a blow to the back of the head. Curt throws him to the ropes and lifts his leg to attempt a kick but Hart grabs the foot, sweeps the leg out from under him, and connects with a boot to the midsection. The same spot done 2 years later would have received a much larger ovation as it would have clearly teased the crowd for the Sharpshooter. However that move was not yet in Bret’s repertoire.
Hart eventually hits the corner and walks into a bodyslam from Hennig. And here comes another familiar spot between the two as Hart uses both feet to kick Hennig away, then hits a bodyslam of his own, before Hennig kicks Hart away in the same fashion.
A clothesline clips the dazed Hennig in the side of the head and he takes a hard tumble over the top to the floor. Perfect stumbles all over himself on the floor, trying to regain his senses while at the same time trying to slow down the pace of the match.
“Don’t worry, he’s just taking a brief hiatus. He’ll be back in the ring and I guarantee victory. I prophesize victory for Mr. Perfect. This is the Genius talking!” – The Genius to the cameraman
Back inside the ring, Hennig has a visible look of frustration on his face over how the match has progressed thus far. The Hitman corners Perfect but, as Hebner tries to get between the two to break the lock up, Hennig connects with a hard punch to the face that levels Hart. Curt follows with a series of stomps and a kneelift. A football punt to the ribs sends Bret out to the floor, mere feet away from the Genius.
Perfect jumps over the top to the floor and follows Bret around the ring, landing a big chop before reentering the squared circle and posing as the crowd gives him the very audible thumbs down.
Back out on the floor, Perfect slams Bret chest-first across the guardrail. As the action returns to the ring, Bret regains the advantage with a sudden burst of offense, only for that to end suddenly as he hits the corner sternum-first and allowing Hennig to score a near fall in the process.
Now in full control of the bout, Hennig grabs two big handfuls of hair and flings Bret across the ring (and I thought the women’s division had the exclusive rights to that move). A snapmare and flip-over neckbreaker follow, with Hennig using a double leg roll over to gain a near fall. A hard punch to the face follows.
”Now I’m gonna finish this piece of shit off.” – Mr. Perfect to the crowd
(…Way to sell the ‘wholesome family entertainment’ aspect of the WWF)
With the match seemingly at hand, Hennig climbs up top. However, he spends a little too much time posing and ends up being caught by Bret, who lands a blow to the midsection that results in Hennig crotching himself.
As Curt gingerly attempts to ‘walk it off’, Hart takes full advantage and kicks Hennig’s leg out from underneath him. A series of punches, an inverted atomic drop, and a regular atomic drop follow. Hart twice grabs Perfect by the hair and flings him across the ring as was done to him moments earlier, with the second attempt resulting in Hennig landing hard with the post between his legs.
The Hitman connects with a snap suplex for a 2 count and takes exception to the referee not counting to 3. An inside cradle follows for another 2 count. A backbreaker again gets Hart a near fall. However, as Bret again argues with Hebner over the count, Hennig comes up from behind with a roll up off the ropes. Hart is able to kick out at 2, sending Curt falling out of the ring in-between the ring ropes. With the crowd on their feet, Bret goes out to the floor and begins pummeling his opponent. Hennig counters with a blow to the face and is able to reenter the ring first.
A chant of “Let’s go Bret” can be heard as Hart climbs on the ring apron. Perfect goes to meet him and sets him up for a suplex into the ring, however Hart flips over and uses a roll up for a 2-count. Perfect grabs the tights to gain the momentum, rolls on top of the Hitman, and gains the controversial victory at 17:20.
Wow. Quite the contest for free TV, especially during this era of the WWF. A lot of similar spots from their more famous contests and just an incredible match that certainly stands the test of time. I would very much recommend tracking this one down.