Whether he was known to you as the Rocket, The King of Harts or even Nugget, Owen had an amazing ability to get fans to care about him in ways that many workers in the business today need to see. Owen was one of the most talented workers in the ring. His style was fast-paced with hard impact moves as well as a strong technical prowess that he picked up from his dad, the legendary Stu Hart. Owen also had a knack for being one of the funniest people in the wrestling. Owen was doing Daniel Bryan’s “YES” stuff way before him and pulled it off to a tee.
Defining Match Of The WrestleMania Era: Owen Hart vs. Bret Hart at Summerslam 1994
If there was a match for me that showed Owen’s greatness, it really would have to be the cage match he had with his brother Bret at SummerSlam 1994. As most of will remember, Owen “stunned” the world by going over Bret at WrestleMania X and it catapulted him into being a star. That win, plus winning the 1994 King of the Ring tournament made Owen an even more vital contender for Bret’s WWF Championship. So when they finally met up inside the confines of a 15 foot high steel cage, what the fans were about to see was truly breathtaking. This cage match is a work of art in terms of making escapes, some nasty cage bumps, actual technical wrestling, and one of, if not, the best finish to a cage match I have ever seen.
We’re down to the top five in our greatest matches countdown.
5. Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. The Rock – Wrestlemania X-Seven
Big D says:
In my personal opinion, this is the all-time greatest match in the history of Wrestlemania. I could write about this match for days and days and all of the little nuances in the spots, transitions, the build-up, as well as the aftermath because it meant so much.
This match, like Hulk Hogan vs. Andre The Giant in 1987, was the defining moment of the Attitude Era wrestling boom. The two biggest stars in the business went at it. Both were babyfaces for the past year (Austin even helped Rock win the title a year prior), but in Texas, nobody was going to be worshipped like Austin regardless of the little heelish things he did during the match. Austin wanted to win, and how did he do it? It was with the help of his arch enemy for four years – WWF Chairman Vince McMahon. The crowd reaction in this match was louder than perhaps anything in all of Mania history. The work, heat, and fantastic moments make this truly fitting of the words “Wrestle” and “Mania”.
It’s a shame that they wouldn’t be able to follow this up ever again.
Winner: Stone Cold Steve Austin
4. Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart – Wrestlemania X
WWE couldn’t have wished for a better match to kick off the 10th anniversary of Wrestlemania. The Hart brothers delivered an absolute technical masterpiece. It featured just tremendous back and forth action. There were some really great displays of counter wrestling throughout this match. I thought the victory roll reversal made for the perfect finish.
The benefits of this match were two fold. Firstly, Owen got a big win over a main event level guy. It established him as a star and set up a rematch for down the line. And secondly, it meant that the crowd was going to be particularly hot for Bret vs. Yoko in the main event. The story of Bret losing in the opener only to come back later and win the title played out perfectly. It was what made that show special.
Winner: Owen Hart
15. The Undertaker vs. Edge – Wrestlemania 24
Big D says:
I was actually there live to watch Undertaker vs. Edge at Wrestlemania XXIV. It was really a great match live as well as a great match on DVD with the exception of the absolutely horrible commentary by Cole and Coachman. The match itself felt sort of like an All Japan main event. The Orlando crowd was watching with intent and popping for the near falls and Edge’s reversals. The finish however, was predictable. Taker doesn’t lose at Wrestlemania.
The best moment for me was just seeing Edge walk down with his fireworks and music blazing. This was his first real Wrestlemania main event and he was closing the show. He got to close out the show with an awesome match.
Winner: The Undertaker
Just blame it on Lex Luger. Blame it on the fact that he was such an uncharismatic person that he was on the yellow brick road to the WWF championship and still didn’t win it. When Hulk Hogan left the WWF after losing the belt to Yokozuna, Vince McMahon had his replacement. He was tall like Hogan. He was blond like Hogan (well maybe a young Hogan with more hair). And he was more muscular than Hogan. Vinnie Mac’s kind of guy right? He was going to be the one to take the torch that Hogan left and he was going to run with it. There were some problems though. He couldn’t connect with the fans. He couldn’t wrestle an entertaining match. And after McMahon pushed him as hard as he could, he pulled the plug. It was the SummerSlam of 1993 where the Lex Express was going to ride into town and snatch that championship belt from the dreaded Yokozuna. When Lex didn’t win the belt that night, I knew McMahon didn’t think he was going to be the guy. They put all that marketing effort into a guy who WCW wouldn’t even put their money behind. It was a mistake for McMahon, but hey, he gave it his best to try to replace Hogan.
If not for Lex being terrible, history could’ve changed, and not for the better.
The guy who was supposed to be passed the torch from Hogan before Hogan decided he would only lose to someone bigger than him (Yokozuna) was Bret Hart. He was already given a small reign as champion when it was time to take the title off Ric Flair. But he lost it in that horrible match on a horrible PPV (Wrestlemania IX unless you’re Alan) with a horrible ending in which Yoko won the title, only to lose it to Hogan in an impromptu match. Let’s just say that Bret was the back-up plan. It didn’t need to be like this had Hogan only lost the belt to Bret at SummerSlam in 1993 before he balked at doing a job to someone as small as Hart. It probably didn’t even cross his mind that Bret would’ve probably carried him to the best match of his career, thus making him look strong in losing.
The WWF was struggling at the time to try and connect again with the fans. They started Monday Night Raw the year before and were drawing nice ratings even if house shows were struggling. But this was Wrestlemania, and for one night, all was forgotten. And where better to have it than Madison Square Garden in New York where the original Wrestlemania was held.