5 Reasons why Bret Hart vs. Stone Cold was one of the greatest feuds of all time
In 1996, Bret Hart returned to WWE television and immediately established that he had come back to wrestle Stone Cold Steve Austin. On the surface, this was a pretty straightforward instance of a veteran face calling out an up and coming heel to set up a one-off match that they would both benefit from. Indeed, in producing a rock solid match in and of itself, Hart-Austin seemed to serve its purpose. Hart had the momentum to logically reenter the main event picture. Austin didn’t lose anything by coming up short against such an elite star, and if anything enjoyed a bit of a rub for having held his own against The Hitman.
But things were just getting started.
Hart vs. Austin would spill over to the Royal Rumble where the Texas Rattlesnake stole the battle royal victory. That would set them up for an iconic I Quit Match at WrestleMania 13, which gave way to a key double turn as Hart went heel and Austin turned antihero face, only to continue their heated rivalry into the summer. At the end of the day, it was one of the best and most important programs WWE ever engineered. This article looks at five key reasons why it was great.
#5 Setting up Austin as a megastar
Steve Austin had been a great in-ring worker long before WWE got fully behind him. After he had shaken off Ted Dibiase as his manager and taken on his Stone Cold persona, he started to elevate himself as a magnetic personality and cult favorite. The feud with Bret Hart took Austin to the next level, though, as even more skeptical fans who still saw him has a mid-card guy had no choice but to take notice.
Via great matches, great promos, and an above all else heated feud, Austin became not only a star but the most irresistible force WWE had at its disposal. Going toe to toe with The Hitman permanently elevated Stone Cold even though Hart by and large one the overwhelming majority of their matches against one another. Working with such a main event guy and a top-notch worker was key to getting Austin over, and after he lost their WrestleMania match, it's telling that Austin would be winning WWE Championships at three out of four of the WrestleManias to follow.