Bret Hart has claimed that Hulk Hogan was limited in the ring, describing him as a “one-out-of-three” wrestler.
Hulk Hogan and Bret Hart couldn’t have been more apart in how they approached professional wrestling. While Hart prided himself on realism and all of his matches making logical sense, Hogan was a larger than life character whose matches were arguably more about the ‘show’ than being ultra-realistic.
Speaking in a new interview with the Calgary Sun, Hart went into detail about how he approached his time in the ring. The Hitman explained that he wanted to put the emphasis back on what happened from bell to bell, and the result was a body of work he believes still holds up to this day.
“I went into a lot of detail to make my wrestling style and wrestling matches believable. I got to tell these great stories as a wrestler. When I went to WWF in 1984, nobody saw any potential in me. I was destined to be a guy that went nowhere. I wasn’t big enough. I wasn’t charismatic enough. I was a guy in reality who was going to change the course of wrestling back to when wrestling was about wrestling and not about how big your arms were or how many muscles you had.
I was a guy who looked very human and normal. And I was about wrestling and what stories I could tell. I think in my own way I told the greatest wrestling stories that have ever been done. I still stand by my body of work. Even the wrestlers today, as good as they are, I don’t think there are good as I was. The historical making matches I had with Steve Austin , Undertaker , Shawn Michaels and my brother Owen. You can go through my career and just find some beautiful stories.”
Continuing on, Bret Hart used the example of his legendary showdown with Stone Cold Steve Austin at WrestleMania 13. The violent and bloody bout is considered one of the greatest matches in history, and a high point in the careers of both men. Despite the chaos in the ring, Hart said that no one got hurt during the match, commenting that it was better than a UFC fight.
“There are people out there who have watched wrestling matches who don’t know who Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart is. They’ll say, ‘show me.’ Then you put on WrestleMania 13 with Steve Austin. It’s better than a UFC fight. It’s real, violent and brutal as any kind of MMA match. There’s one thing you have to know is, nobody gets hurt in this match. They go back to the dressing room, hug each other, smile and shake hands and say ‘that was a great match.’ That’s what I did and I think I did it better than anyone better on the planet.”
Since Bret Hart’s retirement, numerous wrestlers have commented on how the former World Champion has influenced their own in-ring style. Reflecting on his level of influence, Hart says it all goes back to his moniker as the “Excellence of Execution.”
“I think it all goes back to when (WWE commentator) Gorilla Monsoon called me the ‘Excellence of Execution.’ I was just a guy who did everything right. I remember when I started wrestling, I knew how everything worked. I knew how to take turnbuckle (hits to the chest), I knew how to body slam. When you want to watch how to do something in wrestling, you watch my matches back. You’ll learn how to do a Sharpshooter. That’s how you do it. Want to learn how to do a standing suplex? That’s how you do it. I was always that guy.
I was really well taught the art of wrestling by two Japanese guys (Mr. Hito and Mr. Sakurada). I was taught how to protect myself and my opponent so he doesn’t get hurt. More important than that, it was all about what I represented. I have an incredible body of work with so many different wrestlers. I was so proud of those matches.”
Continuing on, Hart said you can see his influence in a number of Canadian wrestlers including Natalya and Edge. The Hall of Famer further explained that when he held the World Championship, he wanted it to represent being the best wrestler. A move away from Hulk Hogan, who he described as being “limited” and “not knowing very much.”
“And all the Canadian wrestlers like Natalya or Edge were influenced by me. I think if you look back at wrestling when it was the Hulk Hogan show. He was six-foot-eight and a one-out-of-three wrestler. He didn’t know a headlock from a headlamp. He didn’t know very much. He knew how to do a clothesline and maybe a body slam. He was very limited. (WWE owner) Vince McMahon took a chance with me and made me that champion. It meant so much to me that I think I tried to live up to be that champion. It was about being the best wrestler. I gave so much as that wrestler. I was a good role model in the dressing room. All that means a lot.”
Speaking in a recent interview, fellow WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle discussed missing out on a match with Bret Hart. Angle said that it would have been an “epic matchup,” revealing that the two men have since chatted about what a showdown between the pair might have looked like.