No Superstar did more to bring technical wrestling to mainstream wrestling fans in the 1990s than Bret "Hitman" Hart. At a time when the industry was lost, trying to fight its way through the muck of the post-bang period of the late 1980s, Hart earned the respect and admiration of the audience, not because he was the biggest or most dynamic personality on the show, but because he was very clearly the best wrestler in all of WWE.
A second-generation star who learned under father Stu and took the artistry of professional wrestling very seriously, he approached every match like a blank canvas for him to work his magic. The result, especially in high-profile situations, was often a sweeping epic of a match. While he was able to take a beating as well as anyone of his peers, Hart was not opposed to taking his opponent down, working a series of holds that targeted their legs in preparation for the Sharpshooter.
A master of the game, he also knew that not every match should end with the predictable finisher. He would pull out Oklahoma rolls, la majistral cradles or victory rolls to break the monotony. In fact, several of his greatest matches ended in pins, despite his signature maneuver being a leg-based submission.
Hart's ability to not only get on the mat and wrestle his opponent but, also, to piece a match together by feeding off the audience or seeing it in his mind before the bell even rang, helped establish him as one of the best wrestlers of his generation and, arguably, the most talented technician in WWE history.
Erik Beaston is a freelance pro wrestling writer who likes long walks in the park, dandelions and has not quite figured out that this introduction is not for Match.com. He resides in Parts Unknown, where he hosts weekly cookouts with Kane, The Ultimate Warrior, Papa Shango and The Boogeyman. Be jealous.