Dot Net DVD Review: WWE Greatest Rivalries: Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart

Oct 30, 2011 - 01:11 PM

By Will Pruett

It seems like every few years wrestling returns to a certain moment. Whether it is a storyline around a referee, a wrestler or Vince McMahon himself, wrestling is fixated on Montreal in 1997. Why is this? To put it plainly, it is because it was one of the realest moments in the history of the business. Promotions have tried (and failed) to recapture Montreal time and time again. With this Blu Ray release, WWE has managed to use Montreal in a positive way, rather than in a negative retread.

The main feature of this release is a two-hour interview conducted by Jim Ross and Bret Hart with all three men in the same room. Interspersed in this interview are segments of history on Michaels and Hart as Ross leads them through their mirroring careers. This entire presentation is fantastic. The little bits of history help to highlight each man’s journey and paints a very good picture of just how similar their careers were.

Bret Hart’s amazing honesty over the course of this documentary is touching. Many times he gets emotional, especially when discussing his stroke and Montreal, but it never feels put on or fake. Hart genuinely seems to be enjoying the walk down memory lane and even when discussing things that hurt him deeply he approaches it looking more for catharsis than retribution.

Hart never blames anyone for his problems and seems very different than the Bret Hart seen in Wrestling with Shadows or the one that wrote his amazing autobiography (where he states that Shawn Michaels and Triple H ruined the wrestling business).

Shawn Michaels also deserves a lot of credit for his approach to this feature. He does not shy away from the controversy that was Montreal and it completely honest in the presence of Hart. Multiple times he mentions how he always wanted Bret’s approval and how he looked up to Bret as a trailblazer. This is a huge theme in this interview as it seems like everyone was just looking for a little bit of appreciation.

The wrestling world knows that Shawn Michaels is a changed man since 1997 and Michaels proves that here. He takes credit for his mistakes and unabashedly admits when he was in the wrong.

The third element to this interview is the man sitting across from Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart. Jim Ross might be the most important part of the interview. He speaks with the intelligence and knowingness of a man who lived through the chaos of their rivalry. He also does not shy away from asking important questions or calling Hart and Michaels out if they don’t answer a question as well as they should.

The entire interview is the most compelling DVD release WWE has ever made and is a must see for anyone who has interest in wrestling history.

The special features on this disk are mainly matches between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels (as they should be). These matches span The Hart Foundation vs. The Rockers, the first WWE Ladder Match, singles matches in their tag team era, Michaels challenging Hart for the WWE Championship in 1993, their Iron Man classic from 1996, many promos between them and finally their Montreal match from Survivor Series 1997 (at least this match appears on the Blu Ray).

Many people look at this list and wonder why they would want an entire collection of matches between the same wrestlers. I personally find it fascinating to see the growth of these two as performers in between their matches together. The promos also help to put into context just how intense this rivalry got (they are mentioned many times in the interview portion).

Another amazing Blu Ray extra is the footage of Michaels and Hart from between takes. As things are fixed around them these two men discuss their careers, lives and new friendship. This is when it comes down to two men who once may have hated each other truly seeming like friends.

I honestly cannot say that I have enjoyed a WWE DVD release more than this one. This series absolutely needs to continue and keep the same format. Hart and Michaels deserve to be commended for their part in it. Jim Ross needs to host every further release like this, since it is right up his alley. Wrestling history is fascinating and this release highlights a major moment and two of the best wrestlers in history.

Go and buy this release. It will be worth watching over and over for years to come.

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