5 reasons why Diesel vs. Bret Hart is the most important Survivor Series match ever
In the Fall of 1995, Vince McMahon's WWE, then known as the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), was at a crossroads. Between McMahon's criminal trial (and eventual acquittal) for alleged steroid distribution, mass talent defection to rival promotion WCW, falling TV ratings and both creative and financial woes ongoing, the company was at a low point and something had to happen to get things back on track.
Fortunately, there was a strong card for that years Survivor Series and the main event happened to be a No Disqualification Match between the company's two top stars, Bret 'The Hitman' Hart and Kevin Nash under his then ringname, 'Big Daddy Cool' Diesel. While the undercard for the pay-per-view (particularly the multi-man wild card elimination match) was solid-to-good, it was the high-quality showdown between Nash and Hart, with Hart winning and becoming 3x WWF champion, that stole the show.
For context, this was the same era where people like Doink The Clown and Duke 'The Dumpster' Droese (a wrestling sanitation worker) existed. Throwaway gimmicks were the norm, in-ring athleticism was minimal, and the overall product was overwhelmingly stale.
In retrospect, it's arguable that Hart and Diesel's match was the light at the end of a dark tunnel.
While the Montreal Screwjob will always go down as the company's most controversial Survivor Series moment, and the various multi-man elimination matches might always be the most memorable, Diesel vs. Bret Hart was technically a quiet watershed moment that subtly and permanently changed the course of the entire business.
These are five (count 'em five!) reasons why Diesel vs. Bret Hart is the most important Survivor Series match ever.
#5 It was the first time the Spanish announce table was weaponized in WWE
For nearly 25 years, the Spanish announce table has been a mainstay prop in in WWE's presentation of brutal simulated combat. Dozens of pay-per-view matches have featured this piece of furniture being smashed and demolished with various Superstars atop of it. This has happened for so many years that it's hard to imagine a time when there were no tables broken at all.
While uses of tables had been common in other promotions around the world, WWE's very first use of the spot happened with Diesel/Hart. Nash, recovering inside ring after dodging a slingshot plancha from Hart, stood by waiting as the Hitman gradually climbed the apron to get back inside, then suddenly charged at Hart, shoving him off the apron directly into the table.
In the WWE of 1995, this was a shocking moment. Young fans in attendance just outside Washington, DC ran to the front row to see Hart laying on the table as if something 'real' had just happened that broke up the monotony of scripted wrestling maneuvers.
After a quarter century and hundreds of uses, this violent use of lumber is not as shocking as it was in 1995, but it always elicits a reaction from the crowd. Diesel and Hart's match deserves credit for executing the spot so perfectly that it began a trend that's ongoing to this day.