The night before the Summer Slam 88, a Mega Powers’ promo hyping their match against the Mega Bucks got me hooked on professional wrestling. The actual matches were ancillary as it was all about the drama and interviews ending in “whatcha gonna do.” Three years later, my wrestling fandom got flipped turned upside down by an amazing match between two all-time greats.
The Intercontinental Title match at Summer Slam 1991 between Mr. Perfect and Bret Hart completely changed how I looked at wrestling. I didn’t know anything about booking or storytelling at the time, however, the match was a masterful display of the art.
Mr. Perfect was an arrogant heel who was often as good as he bragged to be. This infuriated fans because his technical ability was so obvious to even the novice eye that you almost wondered if anyone could beat him. Enter Bret Hart, a tag team wrestler who was only five months into his WWF singles push.
Like Perfect, Hart’s technical skill was also clear to anyone with a pulse. Hart’s persona didn’t stand out like the charismatic might of Piper, Hogan, and Warrior, but it was just good enough to score him a seat at the table.
“You are excellent, but you’re not perfect. There’s only one Mr. Perfect and you’re looking at him.” Mr. Perfect
The bell rings, the two men lock up and in a sight never seen before, Hart out wrestles Perfect. They went on to match each other move for move, hold for hold until Perfect leveled Hart with an overhand right out of the corner to gain control…The heat begins.
Perfect throws Hart into the ringside barricade and whips him into the corner, back first, for Hart’s customary turnbuckle bump. Every punch and kick Perfect threw looked like it hurt and Hart equally sold each shot as much.
Perfect began to take liberties with Hart; slapping him in the face before he hurling him out of the corner by his long black hair. Now, it’s time for the Perfect-Plex. Perfect gets Hart in position, hooks the leg and suplexes the challenger an unprecedented two count.
Perfect was shocked, Madison Square Garden was shocked and I was shocked. No one had ever kicked out of the Perfect-Plex but Bret Hart did.
Hart found his opening and came back like a house of fire. All of his trademark moves were on display. Backbreaker, elbow drop from the second rope, Russian leg sweep, and that vertical suplex with the little jump in mid-flight. The crowd was deafening for every move as one great near fall was followed by another.
The Coach (John Tolos), Perfect’s short-lived manager, got knocked off the apron by Hart for his troubles. Hart stepped halfway out onto the apron to make sure that the whistle-blowing fiend was down, only for Perfect to kick the middle rope, catching Hart below the belt.
Perfect followed up with a leg drop to the abdomen of Hart that looked to have landed a little too low for comfort. Perfect went for another leg drop, however, Hart caught his foot, tied up his legs and turned him into the Sharpshooter. Perfect immediately gave up and Hart became the new IC champion.
Perfect deserves a lot of respect for working that night as he went into the match with an injured back. No one would have blamed him if he withdrew from the match. WWE could have put someone else in Perfect’s place, however, it wouldn’t have been the same. Perfect worked his ass off to get Hart over as a star.
My wrestling fandom changed forever on that hot summer night. The rest of the show was fun, but I was trapped in this euphoric cloud of wrestling goodness as I became a fan who officially watched wrestling for the wrestling.
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Categories: Pro Wrestling