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WrestleMania Retrospective: Steve Austin Battles Bret Hart In A Submission Match At WrestleMania XIII

Steve Austin looks to make a name for himself at the expense of Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart at WrestleMania XIII.

THE BACKGROUND

After losing the WWE World Championship at WrestleMania XII to Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart took a six-month hiatus from WWE in-ring action. During Hart’s time away from wrestling, ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin transformed himself from being the silent ‘Ringmaster’ to a brash, outspoken, no-nonsense wrestler. Austin’s rise started by winning the 1996 King of the Ring tournament, last defeating Jake’ The Snake’ Roberts in the finals.

Image: WWE

Austin began to call out Bret Hart on WWE television, and at the September WWE pay-per-view In Your House: Mind Games, Austin made his intentions clear that he wanted a match with Bret Hart. Finally, his wish came true, getting a singles match with Bret Hart at the 1996 Survivor Series. The bout wouldn’t disappoint as Hart and Austin battled for nearly a half-hour until Hart secured the win with a rollup out of a sleeper similar to the finish at WrestleMania VIII against Roddy Piper.

Despite the loss, Steve Austin would not shy away from Bret Hart. At the 1997 Royal Rumble, Hart eliminated Austin during the match, but the referees were distracted by Terry Funk and Mankind brawling outside the ring. Austin ended up winning the Rumble by last eliminating Bret Hart. However, Austin wouldn’t get a championship match at WrestleMania XIII.

Image: WWE

There were some significant developments regarding the WWE World Championship. Shawn Michaels, the champion after defeating Sid at Royal Rumble, ended up ‘losing his smile’ and vacated the championship. Bret Hart, Steve Austin, Vader, and Undertaker battled in a fatal four-way at the February pay-per-view. Hart ended up winning the match and regaining the WWE World Championship. However, the reign lasted one day when Austin cost Hart the championship on RAW the next night, allowing Sid to win the title.

Before WrestleMania, Austin got involved in a steel cage match between World Champion Sid and Bret Hart on RAW. The match happened six days before WrestleMania XIII, and Austin attempted to help Hart win the championship. If Hart had won, their WrestleMania match would be a title match. However, that wouldn’t happen because the Undertaker wanted to keep his shot against Sid and got involved. Thus, the submission match was not for championship gold but for respect.

UFC legend Ken Shamrock refereed the contest as the match needed someone to handle both men in the ring.

THE ACTION

Austin doesn’t wait for the bell and tackles Hart to the mat, where they trade strikes while rolling around. They spill to the floor to continue trade strikes as the Chicago crowd roars for the action. Hart sends Austin face-first into the ring post, but Austin crotches Hart over the railing before clotheslining Hart into the crowd. They brawl into the audience, where Austin dumps food onto Hart and pummels Hitman with stomps. The action continues further into the crowd towards the nosebleed seats. Austin attempts a piledriver in the crowd, but Hart counters with a backdrop down the steps. Hart tosses Austin back to the ringside area over the railing and delivers a strike to the head. Austin responds by throwing Hart into the ring steps shoulder first.

Stone Cold leaps off the apron to nail Hart with a forearm strike. After avoiding a shot with the ring steps, Hart pummels Austin with punches. Austin pulls Hart into the ring post ribs first, but Hart quickly recovers. They finally return to the ring, where Austin has control of the match. Hart drives Austin down to the mat with a swinging neckbreaker. Hart continues with a forearm drop off the middle rope. Hitman focuses his attack on Austin’s left knee, forcefully jumping down onto the knee.

Austin avoided a splash on his knee and nailed Hart with a stunner, but pins don’t count in the match. Hart regains control by kicking Austin on the knee and putting a figure four around the ring post, but Austin refuses to give Hart the satisfaction of a submission. Bret grabs the ring bell and a steel chair. Hitman brings the chair into the ring and puts the chair on Austin’s ankle. Bret heads to the top rope, but Austin gets up and whacks Hart over the back with the chair! Austin delivers another vicious chair shot to the back of Hart. Austin keeps control with a snap suplex and leaps off the middle rope to hit a forearm drop.

Image: WWE

Stone Cold takes Hart down with a side Russian leg sweep and locks in a submission, but Hart doesn’t submit. Austin locks in a Boston Crab in the middle of the ring, but Hart refuses to surrender. Stone Cold tries to go for the sharpshooter, but Hart counters with an eye rake. Austin sends Hart through the ropes to the floor and taunts the crowd. On the floor, Hart sends Austin into the timekeeper area, and Austin hits the railing face-first. Hart pummels Austin with strikes, and Austin is busted wide open.

Bret sends Austin face-first into the ring steps as blood drips down his face and onto the mats at the ringside area. Bret rolls Austin into the ring, and Austin’s blood stains the canvas quickly. Hitman delivers a backbreaker and a middle-rope forearm drop. Hart senses the momentum on his side and jabs Austin’s knee with several chair shots. Hart attempts to lock in the sharpshooter, but Austin fights Hitman off. Austin responds with a low blow out of the corner.

THE CONCLUSION

Austin sends Hart chest first into the corner and reclaims momentum with a series of stomps in the corner. Stone Cold sits Hart on the top turnbuckle and hits a superplex. Austin sends Hart to the apron and grabs an extension cord. Stone Cold chokes Hart on the apron with the cable, but Hart holds the ring bell and decks Austin over the head with the bell! Austin staggers backward and falls. Hart locks in the sharpshooter as a bloodied Austin is trapped in the middle of the ring.

Shamrock asks if Austin gives up, but Austin screams that he’s not. Austin is losing a lot of blood and is nearly losing consciousness. Austin tries one last burst of energy to break the hold, but Hart hangs onto the sharpshooter and regains position. Stone Cold refuses to give in and powers up on his palms, blood dripping off his face. Shamrock asks Austin again, but Austin doesn’t respond, and Shamrock calls an end to the match. Austin never gave in. Instead, he’d pass out rather than give Hart credit for making him submit.

Image: WWE

THE AFTERMATH

Despite winning the match and being a fan favorite, Hart continued to attack Austin after the contest to cement himself as a heel. The crowd loved Austin for his efforts, and the match propelled Austin into becoming one of the most significant fan favorites in WWE history. Shamrock tossed Hart off of Austin, and the crowd reacted hugely to a possible confrontation. Hart showing his actual attitude change, walked away from squaring off against Shamrock. The crowd applauded Austin in the form of a standing ovation following the match.

Over the next several months, Austin and Hart would continue their feud. They would wrestle at the following month’s pay-per-view In Your House: Revenge Of The Taker, where Austin won the match by disqualification and earned a title shot—the next night after on RAW, Austin, and Hart had a memorable street fight that ended in a no contest. Austin attacked Hart in an ambulance during the show, as well.

Their feud culminated in a memorable ten-man tag team match at In Your House: Canadian Stampede, which the Hart Foundation won. Austin won the WWE Intercontinental Championship from Owen Hart at SummerSlam 1997 but broke his neck during the match. Meanwhile, Bret Hart once again won the WWE World Championship at SummerSlam. Bret held the championship until the infamous Montreal Screw-job involving Shawn Michaels at the 1997 Survivor Series.

Written By

Bob Colling Jr. is a professional wrestling writer and reviewer based in Syracuse, New York. He is the owner of Wrestling Recaps a website dedicated to reviewing and documenting professional wrestling from a wide range of promotions. In his spare time, he is often times podcasting about professional wrestling or on the losing side of gambling bets.

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