Arguably the most well-known rivalry in the history of professional wrestling is the classic feud between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, with the two men taking their issues with each other far beyond the ring. Everyone knows about the rivalry that existed between them, with the Hitman and Mr. WrestleMania really hating each other, which created some of wrestling's greatest ever moments.
Within this article, we will be taking a deep dive into the classic rivalry between two of the greatest to ever lace a pair of boots, looking at 10 iconic photos that defined their epic hatred.
While many people often only like to talk about the infamous Montreal Screwjob when it comes to Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, people often forget that the two men had a deep history long before that ever took place. That history wasn't always negative either, as there were times when the two confident men got along and produced classics in the ring together, with their WrestleMania 12 match being one of the greatest of all time.
The ironman match is one that is still talked about to this day as a classic. It was on such a grand scale that it is something that could only have been pulled off by two of the very best in Hart and Michaels.
9 Early Battles
Long before their WrestleMania encounter, the two men did compete several times and clashed in tag team and singles action, with this Survivor Series match from 1992 being one of their first major singles bouts against each other. This battle was a champion vs champion match.
As WWE Champion, Bret Hart competed against Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels in a match that teased just how good they could be as opponents. While nobody knew just how intense and long the rivalry between the two men would end up being, it was still an incredibly fun bout between two amazing wrestlers.
8 Problems Brewing
Many fans aren't fully aware of the fact that the problems between Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart were already fully in effect long before the Montreal Screwjob took place, with the two men not getting along in the slightest.
The two men had incredibly different personalities, yet both believed they should have been the top name in the company. Because of that, they clashed on a regular basis backstage and that did boil down to the ring. While they were certainly professional when it came to any matches or segments they had, they certainly were able to land a few hammer blows to each other, as this image showcases.
7 The Spit
When it comes to the Montreal Screwjob itself, there is more than just Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels at play, with Vince McMahon himself being a very large factor in the entire reason why this blew out of proportion. With the WWE Chairman at ringside that fateful night in Canada, Vince McMahon quickly found himself in the firing line as an irate Bret Hart made his feelings on the entire matter abundantly clear.
The Hitman knew he was gone at this point and had clearly lost all respect for Vince McMahon due to his actions, showing just how he felt about it by spitting in his face, a moment that was perfectly captured by this image.
6 The Punch
Speaking of Vince McMahon, Bret Hart spitting on him wasn't the only way he proved just how frustrated he was with the WWE Chairman over the Montreal Screwjob incident, as he went backstage and continued to make his feelings clear.
This image shows the Hitman stepping into Vince's office for what was a reported to be a very heated conversation, which led to Vince walking away with a massive black eye that he sported on television for weeks. There is no footage or images from what went down that night inside the office, but considering how angry the Hitman was at ringside, it is pretty obvious to work out what happened.
5 Mocking The Hitman
Most people would presume that after leaving WWE to join WCW, the situation surrounding Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels would have come to an end, but that wasn't the case, at least as far as WWE was concerned.
Shawn Michaels continued to make fun of his rival on television, as can be shown in the image above, with WWE bringing in a dwarf simply to mock the Hitman, even though he wasn't on the show anymore. While it worked to get heat on Michaels, it certainly made WWE look ridiculous in the Monday Night Wars and only helped to back up Hart's arguments about the company.
4 The Beginning
As we have already mentioned, Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels' rivalry was an incredibly long one and it didn't even start with their singles careers, with their clashes dating all the way back to their tag team runs.
With HBK being a member of The Rockers and Bret Hart in the Hart Foundation, the two men had competed several times in brilliant tag team matches, with both men showing the promise to be bigger than that. While it wasn't clear just how big both men would become, it was fairly clear that they would at least have solid careers with the company moving forward.
3 The Handshake
This picture sums up a moment that most wrestling fans never thought they would see and is something that Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels themselves probably never presumed they would be doing. To be able to see Hart and Michaels bury the hatchet and put this entire situation behind them, live in the middle of the ring, was an amazing moment that provided some incredible emotion for everyone who has lived through their entire story.
Because their story and heated rivalry are so well-known, it was a moment fans were able to really enjoy, and one that no doubt provided some comfort for both men to finally end their problems.
2 The Revenge
Even though the moment between Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart certainly provided a moment of clarity for each man as they finally ended their lengthy issues with each other, there was still a major problem that Bret Hart had to get over.
The fact is that the Montreal Screwjob was really all the brainchild of Vince McMahon, and the WWE Universe really wanted to see the Hitman lay a beating on the WWE Chairman, which he finally got to do. Even though their WrestleMania match was a long and draining one on the night, it was certainly a fitting end to the entire saga, as Hart finally got his revenge for how he was treated all those years ago.
1 The Sharpshooter
This isn't just the most iconic photo of the Bret Hart/Shawn Michaels rivalry, but it is actually one of the most iconic photos in the history of professional wrestling, showcasing the exact moment that everything began.
With Shawn Michaels locking in the Sharpshooter, Bret Hart's own move, nobody expected what was going to happen next as the bell was rung, despite the Hitman never tapping out. Anytime anybody sees this picture, they know exactly how things are going to go down and people will instantly discuss the situation, making this the most iconic photo possible.