‘On This Day’ is a commemorative article series. It is dedicated to specific events, matches, and occurrences in wrestling history. We revisit those key moments and look back at how they went down and what they meant to the wrestling industry. Bret Hart wins First WWF Championship is that match.
The WWF had been slowly progressing from the big beasts of the ’80s to more technically sound superstars. This shift in business was because of the steroid allegations at the time against the WWF as well as wrestling fans wanting more athleticism in matches. No one filled the technical qualifications WWF needed more than Bret “Hitman” Hart. At Summerslam 1992, Bret Hart defended the Intercontinental title against his brother-in-law The British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith in front of jam-packed Wembley Stadium in the UK. The British Bulldog won that match, but Bret Hart won respect.
For the first time ever the Intercontinental Title was the main event of a pay per view. Both Bret and Davey Boy proved that size doesn’t matter. The main event was a success. Vince McMahon was so pleased with the success of Summerslam that he decided to reward Bret Hart.
Bret “Hitman” Hart wins First WWF Championship | Sharpshooter in Saskatoon
On October 12, 1992, Bret “Hitman” Hart would get his first WWF title shot against then-champion Ric Flair in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. Bret Hart was looked at as a national hero in Canada. He was a former two-time tag team champion with Jim “The Anvil” Neidhardt in the Hart Foundation. He was also a two-time Intercontinental champion. The only title in the WWF Bret Hart had not had at that point was the WWF Heavyweight Championship. Bret’s father is the legendary Stu Hart. Stu Hart ran Calgary Stampede Wrestling. He trained many of the greats, as well as his son Bret Hart. That night against Ric Flair, Bret would make his country and his family proud.
Ric Flair on the other hand was a cocky, arrogant champion. He was fresh off facing Macho Man Randy Savage and The Ultimate Warrior. Ric Flair was also a multi-time champion in the NWA and WCW. He was known as the dirtiest player in the game. Mr. Perfect Curt Henning was in Ric Flair’s corner as his executive consultant. Bobby Heenan would regularly sing the praises of the Nature Boy. Even though Flair had all the accolades, nothing would stop Bret Hart from achieving his dream to be WWF Champion.
This WWF Championship match was not televised.
Those lucky enough to be there in person witnessed the beginning of a legacy of excellence. Fans can however enjoy the match on WWE Network as well as YouTube. No one expected Bret Hart to defeat Ric Flair in a non-televised match. The match began with both combatants feeling each other out. Ric Flair attempted to throw Bret Hart off his game plan with his signature Wooooo. Bret was not intimidated. He remained calm, cool, and collected as always. Flair would grab a headlock, Bret would counter it.
Flair would grab an armbar, Bret would counter that as well. Hart lived up to his Excellence of Execution moniker, countering Flair move for move. At ringside, Mr. Perfect said Bret Hart didn’t have a chance, even though he knew first hand what Bret Hart was capable of. Hart defeated him at the year before’s Summerslam for the Intercontinental Championship. Eventually, Flair would hit the Hitman with a few of his signature chops, but Bret would fight fire with fire and suplex Flair. He would also get Flair on his back several times working on setting up the champion for the Sharpshooter.
Throughout the match, Ric Flair would attempt to outwrestle Hart. No matter what move the Nature Boy attempted, Bret Hart was always two steps ahead. Eventually, Flair became frustrated and lured Bret Hart into the turnbuckle with a kick to the gut. Living up to his nickname “The Dirtiest Player In The Game” Ric saw an opening. He threw the Hitman over the top rope to bide some time.
Bret “Hitman” Hart wins first WWF Championship
The Challenger Was On A Misson
Unfortunately for Flair, nothing could stop Bret Hart on this night. When Flair went to grab Bret, Bret rolled Flair up in a sunset flip using Flair’s tights and exposing the Nature Boy. Unfortunately, Hart only got a two count. To add insult to injury Bret Hart slapped the Figure Four submission onto Ric. Bret wanted to make Flair tap out to his own finishing move. Flair almost submitted but was eventually able to grab the ropes for a break.
Bret Hart went back to Ric Flair’s leg again but missed with an elbow drop. Flair took advantage and slowed down the Hitman with punches. Bret kept coming back. He stopped a hip toss attempt with a backslide. He also countered a suplex with a sleeper on Flair. This time Flair did back suplex Hart. And immediately put the boots to Hart. He dropped a knee and finally, Ric Flair put Bret Hart in the Figure Four leglock. Despite the pain, Bret Hart avoided his shoulders from being counted to the mat. Bret’s hometown fans in Saskatoon were behind the Hitman 100% as he fought his way through the pain. Bret Hart would not submit. The Hitman was able to reverse the hold, causing himself and Flair to run into the ropes breaking the hold.
Flair Pursued The Hitman’s Knees.
He knew Bret was weakened from the submission. Bret Hart had a target on his knee and Flair was all over it. Fans could tell Hart’s left leg was hurting. Bret attempted to get up on both legs but the left would buckle or Flair would kick Bret’s leg out from underneath him. Once again Flair tried to go for the Figure Four but Hart countered into a rollup and got a two count. Flair threw Bret into the corner turnbuckle and chopped the Hitman’s chest. Hart responded with a punch to the Champion’s face. Flair gave Bret another chop. Bret fired back again. There was a lot more fight in Bret Hart. He would not be denied.
Flair once again got the upper hand and went to the top rope to drop a knee on Hart. Bret popped up and threw Flair off the top rope. Bret was firing up again. Hart gave Flair a back-body drop that garnered a two count. Then the Hitman gave the champion a Russian leg sweep. Still only another two count. Bret went to the second turnbuckle for his elbow off the second rope. Flair still kicked out at two. Bret went for a textbook suplex. The champion again kicked out at two. Ric Flair was begging for mercy from the Hitman as he lured Bret Hart into the corner and gave him a chop.
Bret “Hitman” Hart wins first WWF Championship
Flair’s Chops Had No Effect on Hart
The chop seemed to have no effect on Bret Hart as he pulled down the straps of his singlet and went after Flair. Bret would not be denied. Hart fired back with several punches. Finally, Hitman superplexed Ric Flair off the top rope. The fans erupted! They knew it was just a matter of time. Flair was down on the mat. Bret Hart grabbed both Flair’s legs and slapped on the Sharpshooter. Mr. Perfect tried to save Ric Flair, but Flair tapped out from the pain. Bret “Hitman” Hart was the new WWF Heavyweight Champion. The following week on WWF Superstars Bret Hart stated that he dedicated this moment to anyone that still believes that the biggest dreams still come true.
Bret “Hitman” Hart proved to the world why he was worthy of being arguably known as the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be. He did it for his family, fans, and his country. Bret “Hitman” Hart defended his title against all challengers. That night in Saskatoon history was made with a sharpshooter.