There is no denying that Bret Hart is the most celebrated of the Hart clan. His influence on WWE during the 90s and his accomplishments cannot be understated. During his time in WWE, he was one of the most popular wrestlers on the roster and was heralded as one of the best in the world. A downside to the influence that Bret has had on the wrestling world was his youngest brother, The King of Harts; Owen Hart, getting lost in the shuffle.
Owen Hart might be one of the most unappreciated and undervalued talents in the history of the business. During his time in WWE, Hart was one of the best in the company. He was incredibly funny and was a genius on the microphone. He understood what it took to entertain the fans, and as a face, or heel, he would always hit the nail on the head.
Outside of being incredibly entertaining, Owen Hart was also an incredible worker. The Rocket did not have a bad match and some of his best will be remembered forever. Below we will take a look at the ten best of The King of Harts matches.
Survivor Series | November 24th 1993
The Hart Family v Shawn Michaels & His Knights
Going into the 1993 Survivor Series Bret Hart had been embroiled in a feud with Jerry Lawler. Lawler had been taking shots at Stu and Helen Hart for years and the Hart Family had enough. This led to their match at Survivor Series being booked, with HBK taking the place of Lawler at the last minute.
The match was an entertaining one. Most Hart brothers were past their prime but they understood the game enough to get us from point A to point B. What stood out, though, was the breakout performance from The King of Harts, Owen Hart.
We saw fantastic energy and mat skills from the youngest Hart brother. He showed that he was capable of working a larger program and it was clear by the ending that this was the direction they were headed in.
The Survivor Series family battle was a coming-out party for Owen Hart and it lead to bigger and better things for the Rocket.
NJPW Explosion Tour 26th April 1991
Owen Hart v Jushin Thunder Liger
Before hitting it big in North America, Owen was plying his craft in the Far East. As part of the Junior Heavyweight Division, Hart would have a fantastic match against Jushin Liger during NJPW’s 1991 tour.
The style of the match may not appeal to some as it is not your typical sports entertainment affair but that should not take away from it. The technical aspect of the match was great. Both men picked a body part and tried to wear it down throughout the match.
Outside of the ridiculous technical skill show, there was some great high-flying action. Both men used the ropes and ringside area to show off their high flying skills and this added the perfect complement to the technical skills that came later.
A younger Owen Hart showed s surprising depth to his skill set during this match. A skill set that will look very familiar to anyone who has watched his WWE matches.
SummerSlam | August 29th 1994
Bret Hart v Owen Hart | Steel Cage Match for WWE Championship
The feud between Bret and Owen Hart dominated 1994. Owen turned on his brother at the Royal Rumble and that sparked an incredibly intense feud that lasted for nearly 3 years, off and on.
During their feud, Bret and Owen put on some matches that will go down as instant classics. One of the two that come to mind has to be their WWE title clash at Summerslam. The other will be looked at later.
Having to play second fiddle to an odd Undertaker v Undertaker match was a mistake on the part of WWE. Bret and Owen put on a masterclass wrestling match. It is easily the best blue bar cage match and is in the top ten of the greatest cage matches of all time.
The brother’s Hart worked the escapes to perfection during the match. They knew how to use suspense and tension well enough to make every escape attempt believable. They brought a sense of violence to the match that was unexpected from two mat technicians. The WWE Championship match at Summerslam is one of the best of Owen’s career and is close to the top of the feud with his brother.
Wrestlemania X | March 20th 1994
Bret Hart v Owen Hart
Following the odd double win at the Royal Rumble, it was decided that both Bret and Lex Luger would challenge for the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania. Since one would challenge first it was determined that the other would wrestle in another match so to take away any advantage. Thus, the greatest opening match in Wrestlemania history was booked between Bret and Owen Hart.
Bret and Owen had obvious history from Owens turn on Bret at the Royal Rumble in January. The two brothers had been at each other’s throats for months at this point and the tension between the two told a great story going into their Wrestlemania opener.
Storytelling aside anyone who has seen this match knows how great the contest is. Both brothers were incredible technicians and the opening few minutes showcased this. The game of one-ups manship was spectacular.
The finish came with Owen going over his brother and this helped to make the match one of the best. Everyone expected Bret to go over, considering his championship match later on. Having Owen win cleanly was a great way to push him to the top of the card. The Rocket was a made man in WWE after this match.
In Your House 6 | February 18th 1996
Shawn Michaels v Owen Hart
After getting jumped, in November, HBK was forced to take some time off from wrestling. To facilitate this WWE had Owen hit a nasty Enziguri during a match that “knocked” Michaels out.
Following his return and Royal Rumble win, Owen demanded that Michaels put his title shot on the line against him. The reasoning being that Owen nearly knocked him out of the industry and would finish the job at In Your House.
There was no shock that this would be a fantastic match, as both men were some of the best workers in the company. It was fast-paced throughout the contest, with Owen going after Michael’s head the entire time.
The wrestling aside, what set this match apart from most was the fantastic storytelling throughout. Wrestling is not just about athleticism in the ring. Telling a great story and building tension is what can make a match great. That is what this match was all about. The tease of Owen trying to put HBK on the shelf permanently was an excellent way to lay the match out. It showed some long-term storytelling and you could see on the fans’ faces that they considered HBK being knocked out to be a legitimate conclusion to the match.
HBK walked away from the winner, of course, but this match showed how a great story can add so much to an already great match.
In Your House 16: Canadian Stampede | July 6th 1997
The Hart Foundation v Steve Austin, Legion of Doom, Goldust and Ken Shamrock
After the fantastic double turn, at Wrestlemania 13, Bret Hart became one of the most hated men in the company. His promos ripping into America were fantastic and had fans booing him out of every building he entered. Every building outside of the United States was another story. Bret and the rebuilt Hart Foundation were still heroes to the rest of the world and this was evident when In Your House made its way to Calgary.
For Owen Hart, it was great to see him getting a positive reaction from the crowd. He had been a heel for most of his career and seeing him get a pop was great.
Owen also did most of the heavy lifting during the contest. Whether because of injuries or other reasons, Owen was called upon to work most of the match and he did a superb job. He showed why, at the time, he was one of the best workers in the world.
Owen going over on Austin to end the match was a great way to finish the contest and a fantastic rub for the youngest Hart brother.
Wrestlemania 14 | March 29th 1998
Triple H v Owen Hart (European Championship Match)
After the Montreal Screwjob, the Hart family took their ball and left the WWE. The only one to remain with WWE was Owen Hart. Owen struck out on his own and began a feud with the men who screwed his brother months before, Degeneration X.
With Owen trying to reclaim the family honour there was a built-in backstory to the feud. It was bad luck that Steve Austin’s star was on the rise so Owen was put opposite HHH instead of HBK. Having him go against Shawn for an extended program would have been an easy story to tell.
The match was a great addition to Wrestlemania that year. Owen was a veteran worker and HHH was becoming one of the bigger stars in the company. The pacing was slightly on the slow side but that was necessary to tell the story they wanted to.
This was an important match for Owen as it was his first ‘Mania without any Harts on the roster. He proved that he was still a viable commodity for the WWE and judging from the crowd reaction he could have been pushed further. It’s a shame WWE didn’t capitalize on this.
King of the Ring | June 19th 1994
Razor Ramon v Owen Hart (King of the Ring Finals)
1994 was the year of Owen Hart in WWE. After turning heel in January he was able to snag a clean victory over his brother in a fantastic Wrestlemania opener. What was next for the Rocket? Winning the King of the Ring tournament.
In the ’90s winning the King of the Ring meant something. It signified that a mid-card talent was going to get pushed to the top of the card. A win also meant that a world title shot would be in the future of the winner. This is why the win by Owen Hart was so important to his character.
Once Owen reached the finals he was positioned against Razor Ramon. The two put on a fantastic little match for the crowd in Baltimore. It was never going to be a long-drawn-out contest as both men wrestled twice in the night already. Still, with the 6 minutes given both men put on a fantastic match. Their contrasting styles worked perfectly and the crowd was into it the entire way.
The end came with Jim Neidhart attacking Ramon and helping Owen win, but he is a heel so this was going to happen. Interference aside this was a huge win in the career of Owen Hart. Following this win he was considered a serious title contender, an accolade he carried for the rest of his career.
Monday Night Raw | February 26th 1997
British Bulldog v Owen Hart (European Championship)
In 1997, WWE introduced a new championship. For the first time in nearly 20 years, WWE would hold an 8 man tournament to crown the inaugural European Champion.
The tournament featured some great matches but none were better than the finals. Taking place in Berlin, Germany Tag Champions, Owen Hart, and The British Bulldog put on a banger of a title match.
The technical side of the bout was nearly perfect. Both men produced some fantastic chain wrestling and it was greatly appreciated by the German crowd.
There was also some great storytelling throughout the contest. Being heel champions, we would have expected to see some underhanded tactics. Outside of the odd hiccup, the match was a decently clean bout. The sportsmanship shown during it was surprising and added another layer to the championship match.
The Bulldog came away with the European Championship, in the end, capping off the match with a reverse victory roll. It was a fantastic match and one that is often overlooked when examining Owens career.
Monday Night Raw | January 9th 1995 [2nd Anniversary]
Razor Ramon v Owen Hart ( Intercontinental Championship Match)
Coming off costing his brother the WWE Championship, The King of Harts Owen Hart was one of the more hated men on the roster. The underhanded tactics of Owen Hart got some massive heat from the fans and eventually put him in line for a title shot against the Bad Guy.
Taking place on Raw, in early January, this is another under-the-radar Owen Hart classic. Building off the momentum from their King of the Ring match Owen and Razor put on a great contest. It was a more fast-paced affair than their earlier match. The tempo was rapid throughout and even during the rest holds there was a sense of urgency from both men.
Another interesting part of the match was the while being a face, Razor worked a large portion of the matching heel. Controlling the pace and rest holds was an interesting reverse of roles and it showed us a different side to the match.
There is a long list of notable Owen Hart matches and it is hard for some to get lost in the mix. This Raw championship match is a must-watch for those Owen Hart marks out there.