Bret Hart has recalled his memorable SummerSlam 1992 bout against The British Bulldog and says he nearly faced perennial rival Shawn Michaels at the event.
The history between Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart is the stuff of wrestling folklore with a friendship that turned into a rivalry that turned into hatred which culminated in the Montreal Screwjob at Survivor Series 1997.
But back in 1992, the two up-and-coming WWE Superstars were on good terms and potentially on a collision course to meet for the Intercontinental Championship at SummerSlam. However, when Bret Hart found out the event would be held in England, he had only one opponent in mind, his brother-in-law, The British Bulldog.
Speaking to Inside The Ropes’ Kenny McIntosh at the 30 Years Later show at Starrcast, Bret Hart recalled how he first heard about a potential showdown with Shawn Michaels and also how he first heard murmurings of SummerSlam at Wembley Stadium in London:
“I was lucky. When I won the title from Roddy Piper, the way they told me they said, it was only pencilled in kind of thing, all of this stuff is thought out for months, we are thinking that maybe we will have you drop the belt eventually, meaning anytime, to Shawn. They asked me if I was ok with that, and I said I was totally fine with that because Shawn was a great wrestler. I was a big fan of Shawn and we were close friends at that time.”
“So I wanted to work with Shawn and that was roughly keyed in, I knew I was going to hold the belt for a little longer like I figured 6 months was my guess. So I figured 6 months from now I was going to drop to belt to Shawn as planned. But then Jim Duggan and Curt Hennig used to do the play-by-play, the announcing, and they get clued into everything ahead of time [before] the wrestlers do.”
“So I remember Curt and Duggan coming up to me, not at the same time but on the same day to tell me, they are looking over their shoulders and saying ‘Psst. SummerSlam, they are thinking about having it at Wembley Stadium in England.’ Then I was thinking me and Shawn at Wembley Stadium would have been a good match, it would have been a great match, but the match to have in England would have been Bret Hart vs. British Bulldog, as he had just come back.”
The Hitman explained how he went to Vince McMahon to suggest a match with The British Bulldog and how he tried to square the situation with Shawn Michaels who might have been expecting a big title match on the show:
“So I kind of stepped out on a limb to go to Vince prematurely and go ‘Vince, rumour has it that you are going to England and you are going to have a show at Wembley. I don’t know if that is true or not, but if it is true, and maybe you were thinking of having me work with Shawn, and have me drop the belt to Shawn, I think that’s a lousy idea. I think you should let me drop the belt to the British Bulldog in England and have the British Bulldog drop the belt to Shawn in a shorter run for Davey.’”
“I didn’t want to interrupt Shawn’s chance of getting the belt, wrestlers wait all of their lives to get that moment. For me to substitute Davey in Shawn’s place was not a fair thing to do, so I did go to Shawn and tell him that. I said ‘Shawn, I want you to know that I went to Vince. I don’t know if they actually have plans for me to wrestle you at Wembley, but if they do, I am suggesting this instead.’ Basically, Shawn trusted me enough to know that I was looking after him and the business at the same time.”
Bret Hart then explained how Vince McMahon had two options laid out – one where Hart faced Bulldog in England and one where Hart faced Shawn Michaels in Washington D.C. It was then, Hart says, he first introduced the concept of a ladder match to McMahon:
“So when I did see Vince, he said that he didn’t have it worked out yet, it was going to be either at Wembley or Washington DC. I told Vince, I said ‘Wembley with Davey would be great. If you want to do Washington DC, you gotta put me with Shawn in a ladder match.’ He goes ‘What’s a ladder match?’ I say ‘Well it’s this match we do in Calgary…’ and I try to explain it to him. He goes ‘Show me the match, I want to see it tonight.’ So they went and got a bunch of guys to go out and get a ladder and stuff, it was very spur of the moment.”
“He goes ‘Grab anyone you want and show me the concept of this.’ So I picked Shawn because Shawn is the guy that I would do it with in Washington. Anyway, it was all meaningless because within a day or two it turned out that it was going to be at Wembley, but the mistake I made was that I had the ladder match with Shawn at a tv taping and Shawn stole the idea.”
In the end, Bret Hart did get to have his dream match with The British Bulldog at Wembley Stadium and how he firmly felt the match should be the night’s main event:
“So Wembley, Vince comes up to me and tells me that it is me and Davey at Wembley. I remember that I told him that this might be the greatest match of all time. I said ‘You’re not going to be disappointed.’ I remember when I saw him a few weeks before SummerSlam, he told me that he was taking a chance, but he was going to put me on last. I remember saying ‘No one will follow us, you have to put us on last. There will be nothing left after my match.’ He said ‘I hope so.’”
In the end, the turn of events went as planned with Bulldog defeating Bret Hart before losing the Intercontinental Championship just three months later on Saturday Night’s Main Event to Shawn Michaels.
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