Bret Hart is right about his contributions to professional wrestling

Bret Hart is widely considered one of the best performers to ever take to the ring and he's right about being a pioneer for today's in-ring action.
WWE Smackdown Live Tour in Durban
WWE Smackdown Live Tour in Durban / Gallo Images/GettyImages

Whenever there’s a Bret Hart quote in a headline it’s almost easy money to bet that he’s taking a shot at either Bill Goldberg or Hulk Hogan. Looking back, the disdain he frequently spews toward both men may seem petty, but when keeping score, he’s been right about them more often than not. In 2021 his comments about the current level of in-ring action point back to his generation and it’s a statement that rings true then, and three years later.

“I took wrestling in a different direction, I think,” Hart said on the Q with Tom Power show in 2021. “When you look back today, they don’t wrestle like Hulk Hogan anymore. They wrestle like Bret Hart. Wrestling’s all about action and speed and telling a story and I think that’s where I came in.”

That’s quite the statement, especially when you compare what Hart did in the ring to what superstars like Kenny Omega, Ilja Dragunov, Bryan Danielson, and Seth Rollins do in the ring today. Each man has their own style, but what they do well is tell a story through speed and action, just like Hart points out.

Take Danielson versus Will Ospreay from AEW Dynasty. Those two men told a story about a younger talent looking to supplant a man long considered the best in the game, and he did so with a win. Or Dragunov versus Ricochet from WWE Raw a few days later. That was a sprint of a match that showed fans who are “new” to Dragunov that he’s ready to hang with the best on the roster.

Now, take those two examples and compare them to some of Hart’s best works. The Danielson versus Ospreay match could be related to the match Hart had with Austin, or against his brother Owen at WrestleMania X. If you’re looking for a sprint of a match from him, look back to his initial match against the 1-2-3 Kid or his 1993 King of the Ring run.

Hart has a catalog full of classics, many of which are seen as inspiration for today’s performers. Individuals like CM Punk and FTR openly talk about how great his work was and what he meant for their introduction to professional wrestling. What he did in wrestling during the 90s truly set the tone for what fans are enjoying in 2024.

Not just Bret Hart, but Shawn Michaels is another who could be seen as a pioneer for today’s wrestling performers. He had some strong words for Carmelo Hayes, who many are tagging as the next iteration of a Michaels-like performer in WWE. He appeared on The Ringer Show to talk about a variety of topics, including the influence that Michaels had on his career. During the conversation, Hayes pointed out that Michaels told him that due to his size, he needed to be better than everyone else in every other way. That’s some heavy advice coming from a man who was a giant performer in the days when the main opportunities went to the giants of men.

Bret Hart has a lot to say about today’s professional wrestling. He’s either taking shots at those that will live on his hit list forever or giving praise to the quality of in-ring action seen today. He’s right when he calls himself a pioneer who pushed for what fans get to enjoy today. Perhaps one of his greatest contributions to the industry.