“The best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be!”
That one quote (whether true or not) can only mean one man; Bret “Hitman” Hart. A man who did it all in pro-wrestling and a hero to millions around the world, it’s unfortunate that his entire career is encapsulated in a single night – November 9th, 1997.
During the early days of the Monday Night Wars, WWE was in serious trouble, both financially and from a creative standpoint. WCW had launched Monday Nitro and with a mixture of dirty tricks and major acquisitions of WWE talent (specifically, Luger on the first Nitro and then Hall & Nash in 1996), this led to the creation of the nWo and a period of Vince McMahon getting his ass kicked.
During this time, Bret Hart was leading the charge alongside Shawn Michaels, a rising Steve Austin and Undertaker. A young Canadian film-maker by the name of Paul Jay decided that this would be the time to chronicle the life and career of Bret Hart.
What he captured was possibly the most infamous period in the history of professional wrestling… and nothing would ever be the same again.
Running Time: 185mins (both discs)
Wrestling With Shadows
- Over the span of one year, a documentary film crew followed Bret Hart. They hoped for an unprecedented look behind the scenes of the WWE. What they got was the most dramatic story in the history of wrestling.Hitman Hart: Wrestling With Shadows goes behind the tightly guarded walls of wrestling’s world of grand spectacle and theatre. The film explores the meaning of today’s wrestling morality plays, and then, as fantasy crosses into real life, reveals the true story of Bret Hart’s struggle with Vince McMahon, the legendary owner of the WWE. The film climaxes with the tale of the biggest, real double cross in the history of pro wrestling.This film is about good and evil, sacrifice and greed, loyalty and betrayal and a man in a world of moral uncertainty, fighting to keep a sense of personal dignity and truth.
The Life & Death of Owen Hart
- Growing Up
- Nothing a Hart Can’t Overcome
- To Wrestle, or Not?
- More Important Things in Life
- Return to the WWE
- Owen the Trickster
- The Best of Both Worlds
- Life in the WWE changes
- Owen vs. Steve Austin
- Bret Leaves the WWE
- No Rules
- Back to The Blue Blazer
- Last Visit Home
- Time to Prepare
- Time for the Show
- The Phone Rang
- Someone Is At Fault
- Knew Where We Were Going
- Interview with Director Paul Jay
- Interview with Bret Hart – 10 Years Later
Along with Beyond the Mat, this DVD is a must-see documentary for anyone who considers themselves a wrestling fan.
From the Canadian Stampede PPV in July of 1997 to Survivor Series in November the same year, a documentary crew were given unprecedented access to the behind-the-scenes workings of WWE, with kayfabe being tossed aside in an effort to show what it is really like on the road with a major-league wrestling company.
Paul Jay could never in a million years have imagined what would fall into his lap. Bret Hart being offered a US$9million deal to join WCW, but declining that to pledge his loyalty to WWE after being given a 20 year deal, only for Vince to tell Bret to renegotiate with WCW and then screw him at Survivor Series in the single most famous incident we may ever experience… pro-wrestling was as real as real could be.
Disc 2 is what a lot of people will buy this set for as a lot of people will already own the original DVD release.
Owen Hart, as we all know, died in a tragic accident at Over the Edge ’99 and this feature covers his life and career. It’s biased at times, but it’s still a brilliant watch. The only issue is that at 45mins, it’s not enough for this reviewer. One can only hope that he eventually gets inducted into the Hall of Fame and has a credible WWE DVD release that his career deserves.
This is a fantastic two-piece set that is, as said previously, a must-have for all wrestling fans.
Once you get past the fact Bret Hart is a mark for himself and the biased nature of some of the commentary (especially on the Owen Hart disc), the fascinating documentaries are a great watch and a brilliant insight into the backstage workings of both WWE and Vince McMahon himself.
The choice of talking heads, especially on the Owen disc (Bad News Allen, Honky Tonk Man, etc – all guys who worked in Stampede Wrestling at some point – and Dave Meltzer) also add a bit more to the set than the standard WWE documentaries.
The last five minutes are heartbreaking (no pun intended) and left me with tears in my eyes.
In addition to this, the two interviews are pretty damn good too. With a ten-year gap to allow a different perspective to shine through, you get the feeling that time has healed Bret’s wounds and it’s interesting to hear him discuss the subjects raised in the original documentary.
As essential a purchase as you can have in this field.