What are the best rivalries of the best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be?

 

In his 20-plus year career, WWE Hall of Famer Bret Hart went from Stampede standout to tag team specialist and eventually, five-time WWF World Champion. After jumping to WCW following the infamous Montreal Screwjob, The Hitman held that company's World Title twice among other accolades. 

For this list, we're focusing on storyline rivalries Hart had with wrestlers and non-wrestlers alike, not speculating on what may have happened backstage..

In counting down the Top 50 Bret Hart Rivalries, Wrestling Merchandise and Memories looked at the following criteria:

 

  • How prominent was the rivarly?

  • What type of stage(s) did it play out on?

  • How memorable were the matches and/or segments?

  • How much did the rivalry do to advance either person's career?

 

If you'd like to be a part of this conversation, Tweet us at @canadianbulldog using the hashtag #Top50, or leave a comment below.

 

Ready? Here we go!

50.

The Nexus

Years after his official retirement, Bret Hart was General Manager of Raw the night a group of NXT rookies caused havoc and destroyed the ring. Hart was relieved of his GM duties, but returned at that year's SummerSlam, where he helped John Cena and others defeat the group known as The Nexus.

48.

Ricky Steamboat

Bret Hart was originally scheduled to face WWE Hall of Famer Ricky Steamboat at WrestleMania II before the show was changed to The Dragon versus Hercules Hernandez. Still, the two competed on the house show circuit in what would be Hart's first WWF program as a singles wrestler.

46.

The Nasty Boys

In early 1991, Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart (The Hart Foundation) were WWF Tag Team Champions. The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags) won a battle royal to face The Hart Foundation at WrestleMania VII. Due to Jimmy Hart's interference, The Nasties defeated The Harts for the championship

44.

Hakushi

In 1995, Jerry Lawler convinced Hakushi that Bret Hart was a "racist", leading to a short-term rivalry between the two competitors. Hart faced Hakushi at the first ever In Your House PPV, defeating the Japanese star, although Hakushi came back later in the night and got revenge. 

42.

JR Foley

No, not the guy who played Mankind - JR Foley was a manager in the Stampede territory that feuded with the Hart family for years, seconding such stars as The Stomper and Dynamite Kid in matches against Bret Hart.

40.

Eric Bischoff

While Eric Bischoff and Bret Hart may have had backstage differences during Hart's WCW run, their on-screen rivalry began at Starrcade '97 when The Hitman opposed Bischoff's nWo. A couple of years later, Hart participated in an angle on Nitro where he screamed "Hey, Bischoff - I quit!"

38.

The Patriot

Late into Bret Hart's WWF run and in the midst of their red-hot Canada vs. USA angle, The Patriot debuted as a symbol of American pride. Bret Hart battled The Patriot at that year's Ground Zero pay-per-view and later teamed with brother-in-law Davey Boy Smith against the masked crusader and Vader in a flag match.

36.

Dino Bravo

Dino Bravo challenged Bret Hart several times during his Intercontinental Title run, but they battled many times in Hart's early singles career. Perhaps the most infamous moment was in the film Wrestling With Shadows, when Bravo knocked Hart into a ringside barrier, injuring his ribs.

34.

Rowdy Roddy Piper

While Bret Hart and WWE Hall of Famer Rowdy Roddy Piper only had two matches against one another, they both had a major championship on the line. Hart defeated Piper at WrestleMania VIII to regain the Intercontinental Title, and lost the United States Title in WCW to Piper during an episode of Monday Nitro.

32.

Sycho Sid

As Bret Hart began slowly unraveling from reliable babyface to despised heel, he faced Sycho Sid. Hart attempted to dethrone WWF World Champion Sid at In Your House: It's Time, and gained a measure of revenge at In Your House: Final Four, but dropped the World Title to Sid the very next night on Raw.

30.

Demolition

The Hart Foundation took on Demolition at two different SummerSlams. In 1988, The Harts fell short when Jimmy Hart aided Ax and Smash. Two years later, The Foundation battled Ax, Smash and Crush and were aided by The Legion of Doom - an assist that gave Bret and Jim the WWF Tag Team Titles.

28.

Jim Neidhart

Although Bret Hart and WWE Hall of Famer Jim Neidhart were partners in The Hart Foundation, there was a period where they didn't see eye to eye. When Owen Hart became King of the Ring in 1994, it was because Neidhart was helping him in his feud with Bret. The ex-partners wrestled on house shows as well.

26.

The Warlord

One of Bret Hart's earliest rivalries after winning his first Intercontinental Title was against The Warlord. While Warlord never captured the gold, the two battled for several months on the house show circuit in both singles and tag team matches.

24.

Bam Bam Bigelow

One of Bret Hart's favorite all-time big men to work with was Bam Bam Bigelow, because the two could have a believable, fast paced match. Such was the case in the finals of the first King of the Ring tournament, where Hart pinned Bam Bam. They also battled it out during a WWF tour of Japan and on Monday Night Raw.

22.

The Killer Bees

Prior to capturing their first set of WWF World Tag Team Titles, Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart were constantly at odds with The Killer Bees (B. Brian Blair and Jumpin' Jim Brunzell). They fought numerous times on the house show circuit in 1986, including a bout on Saturday Night's Main Event.

20.

Ted DiBiase

While Bret Hart never had a prolonger feud with WWE Hall of Famer Ted DiBiase, the two second-generation stars did battle at house shows, on television and even in the finals of their 1990 Survivor Series match, which The Million Dollar Man won.

18.

The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers

When Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart turned face in 1988, they were immediately matched against Jacques and Raymond Rougeau. The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers took on Jimmy Hart as their manager and the two had a long rivalry on house shows. Bret later faced Jacques as The Mountie in singles competition.

16.

Chris Benoit

Bret Hart respected Chris Benoit's wrestling ability so much that he'd arranged for hin to get a WWF tryout in the mid-1990s. Years later, the two engaged in a tribute match on WCW Nitro to Bret's fallen brother Owen Hart. That same year, the two battled for the vacant WCW World Title at Mayhem.

14.

Yokozuna

A few months after capturing his first WWF World Title, Bret Hart faced WWE Hall of Famer Yokozuna in the main event of WrestleMania IX. Yokozuna won the contest under suspicious circumstances, and Hart went through a full year of redemption before facing Yoko at WrestleMania X - and dethroning him.

12.

Sting

Bret Hart has called his matches with WWE Hall of Famer Sting as among his favorite during his run in WCW . The two had a rivalrly over the Sharpshooter vs. Scorpion Death Lock finishers, and later had a match at WCW Mayhem as part of the World Title tournament.

10.

Jerry Lawler

The rivalry between Bret Hart and WWE Hall of Famer Jerry Lawler began in 1993 and lasted several years. It began with The King attacking The Hitman after he was named the first King of the Ring. From there, they competed at SummerSlam, on Monday Night Raw and even several times in Lawler's USWA.

8.

Dynamite Kid

During the early 1980s, few were matched as perfectly as Bret Hart and The Dynamite Kid. Together, they had classic and vicious  matches in Stampede (including one of the first Ladder Matches). When they both became members of a tag team in the mid-1980's WWF, they turned it up a notch again.

6.

The Undertaker

Bret Hart was a part of The Undertaker's very first WWF match (Survivor Series 1990) and battled The Dead Man on house shows. Most famously, the two battled for the WWF World Title at SummerSlam 1997, with guest referee Shawn Michaels accidentally giving Hart the win in that match.

4.

Mr. Perfect

Some of Bret Hart's greatest matches were at the hands of WWE Hall of Famer Mr. Perfect. This included a match of the year candidate at SummerSlam in 1991 where Hart won his first Intercontinental Championships. They also crossed paths at the following year's King of the Ring, and even for several bouts in WCW.

2.

Owen Hart

When Bret Hart teamed up with some of his brothers at the 1993 Survivor Series, he didn't expect his youngest brother Owen Hart to start rebelling against him. What followed led to a near-two-year feud, including interactions at WrestleMania X, SummerSlam, Survivor Series and Monday Night Raw before they finally reconciled.

49.

Leo Burke

During the early 1980s, Canadian wrestling standout Leo Burke teamed with both Bret and Keith Hart with some success. Soon after, however, he began a rivalry with The Hitman over the Stampede North American Title that included the two wrestlers trading the championship at least five times between them.

47.

Isaac Yankem

Many years before he became Kane, Isaac Yankem DDS was brought into the WWF by Jerry The King Lawler to get revenge on Bret Hart (Lawler had dental problems from kissing Hart's feet). The two clashed at SummerSlam 1995 and even had a Steel Cage Match on Monday Night Raw.

45.

Booker T

Five-time WCW World Champion and WWE Hall of Famer Booker T may not have been where he is today without the help of Bret Hart. After Hart interfered in a Best of Seven series between Booker and Chris Benoit for the TV Title, The Hitman challenged Booker to a match on Nitro, which he lost via clean pinfall.

43.

The 123 Kid

Bret Hart and The 123 Kid (a/k/a WWE Hall of Famer Sean Waltman) only had one match, but it was a doozy. Both fan favorites, The Hitman defended his WWF World Title against The Kid on an episode of Monday Night Raw in 1994. Hart won the match by submission.

41.

Lex Luger

Bret Hart and Lex Luger first battled in 1993, on the house show circuit for a brief period before Luger turned face. They reconnected in WCW in 1998, when Luger defeated Hart on Nitro to capture the U.S. Title.

39.

Tito Santana

Bret Hart and WWE Hall of Famer Tito Santana were natural rivals in their early WWF runs. They went toe to toe for several minutes during the first Royal Rumble. They feuded as Strike Force and The Hart Foundation, respectively. They were also on opposite sides of a big six-man tag team match at WrestleMania III.

37.

Vader

At the In Your House: Final Four PPV, there were four men vying for the WWF World Title: Bret Hart, Sid, The Undertaker and Vader. Although he lost that night, Vader continued to challenge Bret Hart over the next year or so, including in a singles match on Monday Night Raw and a flag match with The Patriot.

35

Greg Valentine

WWE Hall of Famer  Greg Valentine was a persistent challenger to Bret Hart during his first WWF Intercontinental Championship reign. They also met at WrestleMania V, when The Hammer and partner The Honky Tonk Man battled The Hart Foundation.

33.

Terry Funk

In the documentary Beyond The Mat, WWE Hall of Famer Terry Funk was set to "retire" and had his "final match" against then-WWF World Champion Bret Hart at an independent show in Texas, which Hart won. Years following that, the two feuded when The Hitman formed nWo 2000 and Funk was WCW commissioner.

31.

Jimmy Hart

While WWE Hall of Famer Jimmy Hart was the manager of Bret Hart (and they share a surname despite not being related), The Hitman and Jim Neidhart fired The Mouth Of The South in 1988. From that point forward, Jimmy kept 1/4 of The Hart Foundation's pay, giving it away to The Rougeau Brothers.

29.

Tiger Mask

The first Tiger Mask (Satoru Sayama) is generally regarded as one of the world's best light heavyweights, having classic matches with the likes of Dynamite Kid, Black Tiger and others. In the early 1980's, Bret Hart was sent to New Japan Pro Wrestling, where he had a legendary rivalry with Tiger Mask.

27.

Papa Shango

In the summer of 1992, Bret Hart was one of the first wrestlers to stand up to Papa Shango (a/k/a WWE Hall of Famer The Godfather). Shortly after the rivalry began, Hart won his first WWF World Championship, and defended the gold against Shango on Saturday Night's Main Event.

25.

Hulk Hogan

Bret Hart and WWE Hall of Famer Hulk Hogan were set to battle for Hogan's WWF World Championship at SummerSlam 1993, according to Hart. The match never took place, but the two faced off five years later in WCW when Hart was helping others fend off Hogan's nWo.

23.

Razor Ramon

One of WWE Hall of Famer Razor Ramon's first big opportunities was taking on WWF World Champion Bret Hart at the 1993 Royal Rumble. The two battled again at the following year's King of the Ring. They also crossed paths in WCW, battling over Hart's U.S. Title.

21.

The Stomper

Bret Hart once referred to The Stomper as the greatest Canadian wrestler of all time. While we'd likely choose The Hitman (and others) over The Stomper, he and Hart had a fantastic rivalry in Stampede Wrestling circa 1983, with the two trading wins. 

19.

Randy Savage

Bret Hart and WWE Hall of Famer Randy Savage battled only a handful of times, but always in memorable matches. The first time the WWE Hall of Famers met was on a episode of Saturday Night's Main Event; one of Hart's first "great" WWF matches ever. They later faced off in Japan in a match for Hart's World Title.

17.

Bill Goldberg

In 1999, Bret Hart called out WWE Hall of Famer Bill Goldberg on Nitro to challenge him to a fight. When Goldberg speared Hart, he who was knocked out as Hart had been wearing a steel plate on his chest. Later, the two battled for the WCW World Title at Starrcade when Hart was given a career-ending concussion.

15.

Bob Backlund

In 1994, Bret Hart defended his title against WWE Hall of Famer Bob Backlund. After losing the match, Backlund snapped and turned heel. This led to Backlund defeating Hart at the Survivor Series and Hart winning the rubber I Quit Match at WrestleMania XI.

13.

Diesel / Kevin Nash

Bret Hart first crossed paths with WWE Hall of Famer Diesel at 1994's King of the Ring, but they would face off many more times on the house show circuit and at pay-per-views such as the Royal Rumble and Survivor Series. When both men landed in WCW, Hart and (now) Kevin Nash crossed paths a handful of times.

11.

Ric Flair

Bret Hart and WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair first crossed paths in 1992, when The Hitman surprised fans by winning the WWF World Title from The Nature Boy. Years later, the two renewed their rivarly in WCW, including a match where Flair again submitted to the Sharpshoot at Souled Out in 1998.

9.

Bad News Allen/Brown

In the early 1980s, Bret Hart feuded extensively with Bad News Allen in the Stampede territory. Years later in the WWF, Hart and Bad News (now Bad News Brown) began feuding in 1988, when Bad News refused to split the WrestleMania IV battle royal prize money and instead attacked The Hitman.

7.

Davey Boy Smith

Another rivalry that had roots in Stampede, Bret Hart and Davey Boy Smith began in that territory together and then feuded as The Hart Foundation and British Bulldogs. Later, brothers-in-law Hart and Smith had a classic match at SummerSlam '92 and several high-profile matches for Hart's WWF World Title.

5.

Vince McMahon

Sure, we know what Bret Hart and Vince McMahon thought of each other backstage, but what about on screen? Hart first became at odds with Vince McMahon as The Hitman slowly began turning heel. Following the Montreal Screwjob, Hart returned to WWE in 2010 and wrestled McMahon at WrestleMania.

3.

Stone Cold Steve Austin

A rivalry between Bret Hart and WWE Hall of Famer Stone Cold Steve Austin that began as a one-off match in 1996 turned into one of the WWF's top feuds and the catalyst for both Hart and Austin to switch allegiances. Their matches involved The Hart Foundation and centered around a Submission Match at WrestleMania XIII.

1.

Shawn Michaels

Beyond their infamous match at the Survivor Series in 1997, the rivalry between Bret Hart and WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels runs beyond that. At first, they were tag team opponents and then had a singles feud over the Intercontinental Title. Finnally, they had a feud over the WWF World Title between 1996 and 1997 that weaved personal backstage heat with storyline rivalry in one of the greatest and most enduring rivalries in wrestling history.

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Wrestling Merchandise and Memories podca
Wrestling Historian Mike Rickard