Essential Viewings: Bret Hart vs. Randy Savage (SNME November, 1987)

Some wrestling matches are great because they feature talented athletes showing off what they can do in the ring. Others are unforgettable because of their theatrics and high-level storytelling. Still more are memorable because of the crowd’s investment in the match. Some matches are all these things. Those are the ones that are truly essential viewing.

Bret Hart and Randy Savage both reside atop the Mount Olympus of the WWE for good reason. Both were top-notch workers capable of looking great in the ring and making even the lowliest opponent look good. They had unique personalities that divided them from the pack, and while Macho Man’s over the top antics stood in stark contrast to Hart’s subtle charisma and quiet (at least at the time) confidence, each successfully crafted a character that  did what most in the wrestling world failed to do: follow Hulk Hogan.

During the Hulkster’s multiple unsuccessful attempts to become a movie star, Savage and Hart kept the WWF afloat and subtly introduced the crowd to a quality of match that would make it increasingly hard for the returning Hogan to get over. Sure, Hogan had a superstar personality, but the limitations of what he could do in the ring were slowly exposed by the World Championship matches offered by the Macho and Hit men.

At the time of this match, Savage was four months away from a year-long title reign and true main event status. Hart, on the other hand, was still part of a tag team which, while over, was dealing with a jam-packed division that featured the likes of The Killer Bees, Strikeforce, Demolition, and The British Bulldogs. This match is a perfect example of an occurrence all too rare in the “well, these checks are pretty good, so I don’t want to shake the boat” Hogan era: two hungry, talented wrestlers making the best case for their stardom to a national audience.

Consider this match, then consider the fact that immediately after it, Hulk Hogan wrestled King Kong Bundy to a countout.

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