Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart has told of how Pat Patterson was the go-to the guy when a talent was attempting to put together a memorable and effective ending for the Royal Rumble Match.
Creator and mastermind behind the 30-Man over-the-top-rope clash, the inaugural WWF Intercontinental Champion was also the man who for years put together the list of entrants and eliminations. While in the latter years he was aided in his quest by Shane McMahon and Michael P.S Hayes, the former ‘Pretty Boy’ was the man who helped to put together the majority of the finishes.
The Royal Rumble match has many unforgettable finales, including Hulk Hogan helping Ric Flair to eliminate Sid Vicious in 1992, the much lambasted finish to 1993 where for some unknown reason Randy Savage attempted to pin Yokozuna following an elbow drop only to be thrown over the summit on a kick-out, and of course 1997 where Stone Cold Steve Austin snuck back into the bout to eliminate Bret Hart, The Undertaker and Vader to triumph.
Now, ‘The Best There Is, The Best There Was And The Best There Ever Will Be’ Bret Hart has sat down with Fightful to contribute to their ‘Inside the Royal Rumble’ feature by telling the story of how Patterson would just be able to visualise what was needed:
“When they lay out the strategy or the psychology of the match, Pat was always one of the best to lay it out. He always had a great vision. Pat was one of those kinds of guys that, if you had an idea, and you were talking to Pat, if you said to Pat, ‘How about this?’ and then you explain the idea to Pat, Pat had an ability to visualize what you’re talking about while you’re talking. He could visualize it and recognize right away whether or not it would work. I can remember when I first started in WWF, it wasn’t a Rumble or anything, but I could remember I’d been there for about two years. I remember Pat coming up to me, he was kind of out of ideas and I said, ‘How about this?’ I ran a whole finish by him that we used to do in Calgary with Stampede Wrestling. I just remember I laid it out to him and Pat goes, ‘You can do all that?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I can do all that. We’ve done it lots of times.’ He goes, ‘I want to see it. You do everything you just told me, and I’m going to go out and watch.’ We went out, did the whole match like clockwork and he came back and he was just blown away. He was like, ‘I can’t believe how good that match was and how you had so much in there. It didn’t look rehearsed or practiced.’ We had done it a million times. I think that was when, if I can pat myself on the back, I think that was when they started realizing that I was a good finish guy. I could come up with my finishes. I always liked that, and appreciated that respect that they had for me.”
Of course, Bret Hart himself was part of one of the most memorable finishes in Royal Rumble history in 1994 when both he and Lex Luger toppled over the top rope simultaneously, with both of their feet touching the floor at the same exact time. With the aid of Pat Patterson, Hart has also credited ‘The Man Made in the USA’ for coming up with the finish.
Bret Hart was part of several Royal Rumble bouts including the inaugural experiment in 1988 and 1991 where he entered number one, 1990 entering number 8, 1994 at number 27 prior to being crowned co-winner, 1997 when he arrived at 21. In total, Hart has spent over an hour and a half in the bout itself.
Credit for the interview and transcription: Fightful