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Bret Hart vs. Ric Flair


On This Day in Sports: 30 Years Ago, Bret Hart Beat Ric Flair for His First WWF Title Win

On October 12, 1992, one of the most bizarre wrestling title wins in history took place: Bret “The Hitman” Hart won the WWF world championship from Ric Flair, in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The win was the first-ever world title win by Hart, who had spent much of his career as a tag team wrestler, and later as a multi-time Intercontinental champion.

What was so unique about the title change was that it did not take place on a pay-per-view event, as most title switches did at the time, but rather on a WWF Superstars taping that was originally meant as part of a Coliseum Video release (it is often described as a “house show,” but that’s not strictly true, as there were cameras present and the match was later released in a way that it could be watched at home.)

And while Flair had been known, especially in his NWA/WCW days, to drop the title and then win it back a short time later, Hart remained champion until Wrestlemania IX, the following spring.

The Saskatoon match was a relatively long one, ending when Flair submitted to the Sharpshooter. It is available to watch in its entirety on YouTube:

Hart’s win was a key moment in the rise of the WWF “New Generation.” That era began when, after Vince McMahon’s steroid indictment, the company turned away from the musclebound likes of Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage and embraced comparatively smaller competitors like Hart and Shawn Michaels.

Those two would meet in the main event for the first time — though certainly not the last — at Survivor Series that November. Hart’s win over Flair, in fact, would put him in the championship picture, and he would stay there for five years until the Montreal Screwjob and his departure from the company. And like so many major moments in Hart’s career, it took place in Canada.

Ric Flair said in an interview years later that he had dropped the title because the Ultimate Warrior had “dropped me on my head” the night before, and Flair’s balance was affected. This both required him to drop the championship immediately and sit out for some time afterward, and it’s why Flair claims they didn’t deliver a good match. By the following year — after losing a “loser leaves town” match to his former manager, Mr. Perfect — Flair was back in WCW, first with the “A Flair for the Gold” segment, and later as an in-ring wrestler.

Flair is about eight years older than Hart, and they spent most of their careers not working for the same company at the same time. But they would have other run-ins, both in and outside of the ring, as they ripped one another in their respective autobiographies. Both in WCW seemingly a lifetime later — even though it was only six years — Hart and Flair had another match at 1998’s WCW Souled Out event. That one, though, wasn’t so memorable.

Written By

Stephen Silver is a journalist and film critic based in the Philadelphia area. He is the co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle and a Rotten Tomatoes-listed critic since 2008, and his work has appeared in New York Press, Philly Voice, The Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Tablet, The Times of Israel, and In 2009, he became the first American journalist to interview both a sitting FCC chairman and a sitting host of "Jeopardy" on the same day.

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