Very few people in the history of wrestling have ever been as sharp and technically flawless inside the ring as Bret Hart. The Excellence of Execution had all-time classic matches with most of the top stars of 80s and 90s and even delivered all-time classic matches with some guys that weren’t top stars. He was always good at bringing the best out of his opponents, which is probably why he has so much respect for the guys who were able to bring the most out of him, specifically Curt ‘Mr Perfect’ Hennig.
The WWE Hall of Famer stopped by Brandon Walker’s Rasslin’ Podcast this week to promote his upcoming A&E Biography, which premieres this weekend. The conversation touched on a variety of other legends, but I was particularly fascinated by the section on Curt Hennig. The Hitman was asked about Mr. Perfect, and he said he’s the one wrestler he wishes he could get in the ring with again. That's high praise, especially given Hart isn't exactly shy with his criticisms either. You can check out a portion of Bret Hart’s answer below…
I’ll always say this about Curt. If I could wrestle one guy again, it would have been Curt. He was my favorite opponent ever. My brother Owen is a close second. We had such a bond and a chemistry together, whenever we went out there, no matter what the circumstances, no matter how you traveled that day, whether you got stuck at an airport for eight hours and were completely wiped when you got to the dressing room. I can remember a lot of times with Curt, it was like you get ready to out there, you have nothing left in the tank and you’re exhausted but you go out there and the crowd starts to cheer and within about five minutes, you’re just giving them a five star match, you’re laying out all the stops, giving them everything you have. I was like that with Curt, and I think there was a growing respect that we started to have for each other. Curt really loved working with me, and I loved working with Curt. If you really look at my rise to the top, it all starts with Curt Hennig.
No one has a better sense of the in-ring skills of wrestlers than other wrestlers, and it’s not unfair to say that both Bret Hart and Curt Hennig are consistently praised as among the best in-ring workers ever. Each delivered maneuvers in a very precise and technical way. Each was extremely safe with other wrestlers, and each really thought through the psychology of the match. They both cared deeply about telling a complicated and interesting story, and they both sold very effectively for their opponents, and their matches together were a thing of beauty.
Bret Hart and Curt Hennig wrestled numerous times during their storied careers. They worked extensively together during house shows in the late 1980s and even had a random match in Anchorage, Alaska that was raved about by attendees to the point where people are still trying to find footage more than thirty years later. Their most famous match took place at SummerSlam 1991 for the Intercontinental Championship and is widely considered to be a key moment and highlight in both men’s careers.
Unfortunately, the careers of both Bret Hurt and Curt Hennig weren’t nearly as long as they should have been. Hart had an incredible run in WWE before moving on after the infamous Montreal Screwjob in 1997. He quickly joined WCW but was repeatedly under-utilized and booked in less than thrilling storylines. His in-ring career (apart from sporadic appearances) ended in 2000 due to concussion issues. Hennig also left WWE in 1997 for WCW and had a somewhat successful multi-year run that included some work again with Hart. He later bounced around between several different promotions before dying in early 2003. He was just 44 years old.
I think I speak for every single wrestling fan on Earth when I say I’d love to see more matches between Bret Hart and Curt Hennig. They represent the best of what in-ring wrestling can be, and while I wish they would have gotten together more times, at least we can go back and watch all the greatness they gave us before, much of which is easily available.