Their names are often associated with each other whenever you think of 1990s wrestling. Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels were the guys who took the WWE audience and reprogrammed them. When Vince McMahon took complete control of the WWE in the '80s, it became known as the land of the giants. From the likes of Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, and The Ultimate Warrior, fans would never expect a guy who was 6’2’, 220 lbs. to be the face of the company.
In the early '90s, Vince McMahon was charged with distribution of steroids to wrestlers. Although McMahon admitted to using steroids and even admitted that the wrestlers used them as well, he was not convicted of distribution. To be safe, McMahon moved away from the bigger guys, and Bret Hart was now the face of the company.
With Hart as the new top guy, he opened the door for the smaller guys, mainly Shawn Michaels. The same way the NWA had Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat, the WWE now had Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels. Hart and Michaels, initially friends, worked themselves into a real life shoot. Hart was a traditionalist and wanted to keep the business as real as possible. In an attempt to make the entire locker room believe that they really hated each other, the jabs they took in a business manner would eventually get personal. The climax came at the 1997 Survivor Series in Montreal where Shawn Michaels beat Bret Hart for the WWE Championship in Hart’s last night with the WWE in the infamous Montreal Screwjob. 13 years later, Hart and Michaels buried the hatchet.
Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels have a lot of history, but here are the top 15 interesting facts about the history of these two WWE Hall of Famers.
15 First Official Ladder Match in WWE
Bret Hart introduced the Ladder match idea to Vince McMahon. He told him about having a match that he had with Bad News Allen in his dad’s promotion, Stampede Wrestling. Bret said that he had to be included in the first match. The match took place at a live event that was taped but never aired on television. In fact, Vince McMahon missed the match altogether while first Ladder match credit is often associated with Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon.
14 Three Matches at Survivor Series
When you think of Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels at Survivor Series, of course the 1997 event in Montreal comes to mind. But they wrestled on two other occasions. In fact, Michaels was Hart’s first title defense on Pay-Per-View in 1992 after he defeated Ric Flair. The first match was thrown together. Originally Hart was supposed to face Jake the Snake Roberts, but WWE could not come to terms with Roberts. This match is often forgotten, but it would set the stage for years to come.
The following year, these two met in a traditional Survivor Series match. The Hart family led by Bret faced Shawn Michaels and his Knights. Just like the previous year, this was not the scheduled match. The Knights were actually supposed to be led by Jerry the King Lawler, but he was sidelined due to sexual assault allegations. (The story was found to be false)
13 WrestleMania VIII, Singles Competition
Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels careers have had similar paths. While Hart was in the company longer than Michaels, and participated in earlier WrestleMania events, they both received their first one-on-one match at WrestleMania VIII. Bret defeated Roddy Rowdy Piper to win the Intercontinental Championship, while Shawn defeated Tito Santana. Four years later, they would square off in the epic iron man match.
12 12 Road to WrestleMania XII
As Bret and Shawn traveled down the road to WrestleMania XII, they took different paths. Bret continued his grueling schedule while Michaels took time off to train. Hart stated that he felt the company already had their champion and was just waiting on WrestleMania XII to give him the ultimate carnation, while he was doing all the hard work. Of course, this would all lead to perhaps the greatest match in WrestleMania history.
11 Vince McMahon at WrestleMania
Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels were both responsible for reprogramming the audience after the steroid scandal that almost landed Vince McMahon in federal prison. In the twilight of their careers, they would each face McMahon on the grandest stage of all, WrestleMania. Shawn faced McMahon at WrestleMania 22 while Bret faced him at WrestleMania XXVI, in both cases the match would be contested as No Holds Barred, and McMahon would lose both contests.
10 Sunny Days
In May 1997, Shawn Michaels made a comment that hurt Bret Hart and more importantly, his family. He said to Bret, “maybe you have been having some ‘Sunny Days,” which was an accusations about Bret having an affair with WWE Diva, Sunny. Bret said that when he went home, his wife and father began asking him questions as to whether or not he had been sleeping with Sunny. Ironically, Shawn was the one having Sunny Days…they dated for nine months.
9 Rockers Beat Hart Foundation for WWE Tag Titles ... or Did They?
On a Saturday Night's Main Event taping, Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannety also known as The Rockers, faced Bret Hart and Jim the “Anvil” Neidhart also known as The Hart Foundation. During the match, the top rope collapsed. They continued the match and the Rockers went on to win the titles. But the match never aired. Therefore the title change was reversed. Hart said that he wanted to stop the match, fix the ring and they could edit it because he wanted to put The Rockers over. Unfortunately for Bret, and The Rockers, Jim Neidhart went to the powers at be and convinced them to let him and Bret keep the belts.
8 Bret Declined Invitation to Join The Kliq
In 1994, during a European tour, Shawn Michaels, Razor Ramon, and Diesel approached Bret Hart about forming a Kliq of top guys to help take care of their own. Bret says in his book, “These boys wanted me to be the leader, to voice concerns pertaining to the group as a whole.” While he considered them friends, he did not like that idea. He also did not want to be around their lifestyle.
7 Injuries Cancelled Two Matches
For those who are fans of both of these guys, it is easy to feel robbed of “what could have been.” After their Iron Man match at WrestleMania XII, the two were set for a rematch at WrestleMania XIII. However, Shawn Michaels "lost his smile" and could not wrestle due to a knee injury. Ironically over a year later, Bret would not be able to compete in their scheduled match due to his knee not being 100%. He also did not trust being the ring with Shawn Michaels with the injury.
6 Kayfabing the Boys
After their match at WrestleMania XII, Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels did not shake hands and Bret stormed out of the arena while Shawn basked in his glory. Bret said after the show, Owen called him and asked if he and Shawn really had an issue with each other. Bret instructed Owen to continue to allow them to believe they do not like each other because it would set up a bigger showdown when Bret returned from vacation.
5 Blade Hart Dressed Like Shawn Michaels
During the height of their rival and hatred, Bret Hart was home one night and told his son Blade to go to bed. Blade went back downstairs while Bret was having a conversation with his wife Julie, this time wearing a Shawn Michaels T-Shirt, hat, and heart shaped glasses, opening and closing his red leather-gloved first. When Bret asked him what was supposed to be, Blade responded, “I’m with the Kliq.” He later admitted it was just to mess with him.
4 Fight in Hartford
After the Sunny days comment and the backlashed Bret received at home, he had plans to set Shawn straight once and for all. Bret approached him in the locker room in Hartford, Connecticut and asked him if he anything to say. Shawn responded with a swing and a miss and Bret hit him in the chin, then grabbed him by the hair and proceeded to drag him around the locker room. Vince McMahon even admitted that it was his fault because he did not deal with Shawn earlier.
3 The Sharpshooter is Wrong
Right before the final bell happened during the '97 Survivor Series, Shawn Michaels went for Bret Hart’s finisher, the Sharpshooter. Expecting the match to end in a disqualification, he had no idea that Shawn, Vince McMahon, and referee Earl Hebner would use his own finisher to screw him. So as Shawn stepped his leg to the inside, Bret instructed him to move his leg to the outside in order to execute the move properly. When hearing this story, its easy to see why Vince says, Bret screwed Bret.
2 Squash the Beef
Before they had their public reconciliation, Bret Hart reached out to Shawn Michaels through his family, Tyson Kidd, David Hart Smith, and Natayla. In an attempt to bury the hatched, Bret told them to tell Shawn to call him. Shawn admitted that he was scared and therefore did not call Bret. On January 4, 2010 the moment everyone waited for finally happened. Bret and Shawn had a public reconciliation on Monday Night Raw. On this night, all talks of the Montreal Screwjob could finally be put to bed.
1 Shawn Seeking Bret’s Validation
Bret Hart paved the way for the smaller guys to be in the main event. However, when Shawn Michaels got his turn, he grabbed the brass ring and took it to a new level. Many may consider Shawn the greatest WWE Superstar of all time but while earning his nickname the Showstopper, he sought validation from Bret. He wanted Bret to just say that he was a great champion and leader of the locker room. Bret said that it was coming, but in the mean time, him being such a traditionalist he was constantly working the storylines on and off screen. If Bret would have validated Shawn right after WrestleMania XII, one can only imagine how many more matches fans would have been privy to between these two icons.