Remembering Bret Hart’s progression from tag teams to icon

It struck me after watching Monday Night Raw this week just how enduring Bret “Hitman” Hart is as a WWE star.

Hart and, ironically, Shawn Michaels, are probably the only wrestlers who grew out the tag team ranks of the 1980s to become huge singles stars (granted, the WWF tag team division was a bit more invigorating 25 years ago than it is today).

Hart actually started in the WWF as a prelim singles wrestler. His first match in the old Boston Garden was the opening bout in January 1985, when Hart (of course) defeated “The Duke of Dorchester” Pete Doherty. At that time, Hart was bland on interviews and displayed little charisma, but was noticeably good in the ring.

Hart’s big WWF break came when they teamed him with Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart and veteran manager Jimmy Hart as the Hart Foundation. Those of us who were fans in 1986 will never forget the awesome battles the Foundation had with the British Bulldogs (Dynamite Kid and Davey Boy Smith).

Hart’s mic skills slowly improved and he embraced his heel persona before eventually turning babyface. Today, even at age 54 and a stroke survivor, he commands a crowd when he speaks. It was an amazing transformation for a guy whom many of us thought would be a lifer in the tag team world.

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