Ranking SummerSlam #1: 1992 - Bret Hart vs. The British Bulldog

Or…the one that was everything we love about professional wrestling


Wrestling fans have to put up with a lot of bad stuff. We have to watch nonsensical storylines, horrible matches, guys burying other guys, embarrassing vignettes and other crap pretty much on a weekly basis. So why do we stick with all the garbage? Because of matches like this next one.

We've made it to our number one main event in SummerSlam history. First and foremost, thank you very much for following along with me as I counted these down. It has been a lot of fun counting down the bad and the good at the biggest party of the summer. Thanks again for the kind words and the recs and the comments.

Let’s talk about this match.

It was everything we love about this business. If you could only pick one match to show someone why they needed to watch pro wrestling, this would be the match. It has everything any wrestling fan could want and is just as good now as it was back in 1992. The word spectacle gets thrown around a lot, especially by the myth-makers inside the WWE but it absolutely fits when discussing this match and everything surrounding it.

Bret Hart won his second Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania VIII over Roddy Piper in an excellent match that had the added benefit of turning the Hot Rod face. At the time the World Wrestling Federation became a hit over in United Kingdom, so much so that it was decided to move SummerSlam from Washington DC over to London to capitalize on this surge in popularity.

The event was held at historic Wembley Stadium, home of FA Cup Finals and World Cup games and Rolling Stones concerts. With a registered (read: not kayfabe) attendance of over 80,000 people, this SummerSlam had one of the largest crowds to ever see a WWF/WWE event, second only to WrestleMania 29. (If you honestly think there were 93,000 people at the Silverdome to watch WrestleMania III then I don't know what to tell you. Non-WWE sources put the number at around 78,000, still impressive but less than this SummerSlam).


Wembley Stadium the day of SummerSlam. (via

The buildup to this match was simple yet effective. The British Bulldog, Bret Hart's brother-in-law and a big reason why the WWF was doing so well in the UK, wanted Hart's championship. World Wrestling Federation president Jack Tunney made a match and we were off to the races.

Bret Hart spent his entire career being a chameleon when it came to crowd reactions. In the United States, he was a face from the early 1990s to WrestleMania 13, then he was a heel until Montreal. In Canada, the entire country, from Vancouver to the Maritimes, gave Hart the hometown face pop and then some. Here in London against Englishman Davey Boy Smith, Hart would once again be the heel, a role he played with both vigor and skill.

The third wheel in this feud was Diana Hart, Bulldog's wife and Bret's sister. She spent the entire match wincing every time either man took a bump. She was torn between her brother and her husband and it gave the match an added dimension. Just about the only bad part of this entire thing was when Sean Mooney interviewed her and poor Diana literally couldn't form complete sentences. She must have been so nervous and I can't really blame her.

Main Event Time!

We oftentimes use the phrase "Big Fight Feel" to describe the buildup to a wrestling match. The few minutes before the bell rang in this one would be no different. This was treated like a major boxing match. The crowd was incredible, with chants, claps, horns, drums and whistles. All throughout the match they sang songs and cheered and elevated the match. A good crowd can make an average match good, a good match great and a great match legendary and this crowd played their roles brilliantly.

Remember that picture of Wembley I showed a few paragraphs ago? Notice how it is an open-air stadium? You wouldn't know it from the crowd – they were that loud. The second the first note of Bulldog's Rule, Britannia! hit the crowd lost its mind. We talk about guys getting huge pops when their music hits but for my money the pop Davey Boy Smith got as he was walking down the long aisle to the ring in front of 80,000 of his countrymen takes the cake.

Bret Hart comes out and gets the John Cena reaction – some cheers, some boos. Hart, consummate professional that he is, goes into full-blown heel mode from the opening bell.

People (Bret Hart himself included) give Davey Boy a lot of crap for being gassed out and coked out of his mind during this match. I honestly didn't see that much of it. Davey could absolutely go. How many big men do you see nowadays doing handspring reversals of wristlocks or crucifix pins? I watched this match twice back-to-back, the first time sitting in front of my computer with a glass of Argentinean red, the second time with a notepad jotting stuff down. Maybe it was the wine but I didn't think Davey Boy was bad. On the contrary, I thought he was fine. He did everything he had to do and let Hart work his singular brilliance.

(If anyone carried anyone in this match it was Bobby Heenan carrying the overmatched Vince McMahon on commentary. Heenan was superb making witty comments as McMahon fumbled to keep up. You knew the match was great when even Heenan dropped his usual pro-heel gimmick and called it down the middle at the end).

Bret Hart was excellent though. He would get the heat on Davey, the crowd would boo and Hart would throw an incredulous look with his hands on his hips. He took powders outside the ring, he slowed the match down to milk the crowd's reactions and he told a brilliant, logical story inside the ropes as the crowd chanted and cheered the entire time. It was a masterful job by Hart to get the fans firmly behind Bulldog so when he ended up winning the pop was that much bigger.

Here's how you knew Bret Hart was awesome: everyone and their brother knew Davey Boy was going to win the match and the belt, but Hart made you believe that he was going to win. Life is a journey, not a destination and this match was no different. These two threw everything they had at each other. At one point Hart did a plancha and in mid-air turned it into something like Randy Orton's inverted headlock backbreaker. After kicking out of Bulldog's powerslam (the crowd was delirious) Hart managed to lock on a Sharpshooter while lying flat on his back. After a sunset flip and a reversal Bulldog gets the pin as the crowd just loses its mind. Grown men were hugging each other in the aisles at Wembley as literally all 80,000 stood and cheered. It was a helluva moment.

Afterward Bulldog tried to shake Hart's hand but the Hitman was having none of it (nuclear heel heat). As he was leaving he changed his mind and hugged Davey Boy (huge face pop) and both men and Diana celebrated together in the ring as the show went off the air.

Bulldog won the battle, Hart the war. He won his first WWF Championship in October 1992 and held it until WrestleMania IX's trainwreck of a main event. He'd hold the WWF title four more times before getting screwed in Montreal.

As for Bulldog? He dropped the Intercontinental to Shawn Michaels in November of '92 before he and the Ultimate Warrior were fired for getting caught getting human growth hormone from a UK pharmacy. He bounced around before making a WWF comeback in the mid-90s and later being part of the heel Hart Foundation stable.

Curtain Jerker's Star Rating – 5 stars. This is as good as it gets.

So there you have it – every SummerSlam main event ranked. Tell me in the comments where you'd rank the matches. I'll have an article up Monday evening where I'll rank where 2014's main event falls in this countdown. Thanks again for reading!

Also in this series:

#2 - Cena vs. Bryan

#3 - Rock vs. Lesnar

#4 - Bret Hart vs. Undertaker

#5 - The Undertaker vs. Edge

#6 - Jeff Hardy vs. CM Punk

#7 - Angle vs. Triple H vs. The Rock

#8 - Orton vs. Benoit

#9 - Steve Austin vs. The Undertaker

#10 - Cena vs. Orton

#11 - Triple H. vs. Mankind vs. Steve Austin

#12 - Punk vs. Cena

#13 - The Rock vs. Booker T

#14 - Michaels vs. Vader

#15 - Elimination Chamber

#16 - Cena vs. Edge

#17 - Michaels vs. Hogan

#18 - Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar

#19 - Hogan/Savage vs. Andre/DiBiase

#20 - Team WWE vs. Team Nexus

#21 - Rude vs. Warrior

#22 - Hogan/Beefcake vs. Savage/Zeus

#23 - Luger vs. Yokozuna

#24 - Hogan/Warrior vs. Slaughter/Mustafa/Adnan

#25 - Diesel vs. Mabel

#26 - Undertaker vs. Undertaker

The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Cageside Seats readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cageside Seats editors or staff.