From the WWE Network: The Hart Foundation

The Hart Foundation battle the Bulldogs, Ricky Steamboat, JYD and others as we look at their hot run as villians in the 80’s!

I became a huge fan of the Hart Foundation after they turned to the side of good in 1988. However, I can definitely remember their dastardly heel actions against Randy Savage and the British Bulldogs filling my toddler mind with sadness and rage. I can’t imagine a heel themed VHS tape like this sold very well, since it was designed for the glorification of the Harts, which is not something most fans would have wanted to witness.

Craig DeGeorge hosts. By the time this was released, the Harts were a few months into their WWF tag title run, but only weeks away from losing the gold to Strike Force.

WWF World Tag Team Champions the British Bulldogs vs. The Hart Foundation 

We open with joined in progress action from Superstars. Dynamite Kid is already down from a megaphone shot. Of course, his real life back issues forced him to miss a bunch of shows as he was hospitalized. The Kid was forced to show up for this TV anyway and lose the gold.

The heels double up on Davey Boy Smith as ref Danny Davis ignores the cheating and looks at Kid writhing in pain on the floor. Smith manages to knock the challengers together and gets a visual pin as Davis again looks away at the Kid. The Harts regroup and hit the “Hart Attack” to finish Smith off (with Davis delivering a fast count to boot). Davis walks off with the heels to really put over the B.S. that has unfolded.  This was fine for what it was, as the Bulldogs were protected and the Harts earned all sorts of heel heat for their bogus methods of winning.

The Rougeau Brothers vs. the Hart Foundation

The Rougeaus use flashy reversals and flips to win the crowd’s approval. The Anvil uses his size to bully Jacques, but Jacques plays to Neidhart’s vanity and tricks him into charging into an offensive flurry. The Rougeaus are full of talent, but they lack the pizzazz to stand out in the WWF circus. They had a good pedigree of drawing money in Montreal as well, so the brothers pretty much had the whole package, minus a gimmick which appealed to the masses. Their heel turn in 1988 gave them that extra something they needed to escape their two-plus year lull of being bland underneath tag team workers.

We get the standard tag formula here, well executed as the heels cheat and cheat and cheat to keep Jacques battered and far from his brother’s tag. Raymond finally makes the “hot” tag and he opens up on both of the villains. The Rougeaus outwit the Hart’s desperate attempt to thwart their comeback and Jacques rolls Hart up for the pin. WHAT?!? Well, that was a surprise start to a tape that is supposed to be highlighting the Harts. I totally was caught off guard by them losing.

Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat vs. Bret “Hitman” Hart

DeGeorge says Hart hand picked this match as his finest match. Since he loses, does that make any sense kayfabe wise? This is the famous Boston Garden match that was supposed to be a dry run for a Wrestlemania 2 match that never came to pass. That or it was a small make good to Hart for being taken out of a high profile match at the big show. We got that Hercules vs. Steamboat classic instead though!

Hart attacks the Dragon before the bell and enjoys an early advantage before Steamboat takes over with arm work. Steamboat busts out his world class arm drags. He’s probably glad he’s in the ring with someone actually capable of selling, and not one of the roided up monsters that filled much of the roster. This segment actually feels like it goes on a bit long as they are sitting in the arm bar for quite a while, without any real struggle by Hart to aim for a reversal or escape.

Steamboat loses control and is then sent to the floor. Hart helps him back in with a suplex. Steamboat teases a comeback, but a splash attempts finds nothing but knees. Hart then drives him to the floor and slams him onto Boston’s wood floor. We get a proto version of the five moves of doom as Hart hits the back breaker, but misses a follow up elbow drop attempt from the second rope.

Steamboat sells his beating as he tries a few desperation pins on the dazed Hart. Steamboat chops away at the Hitman, shoving the ref in frustration as he assaults Hart. The ref is bumped. Hart catches Steamboat with the flying clothesline for the visual pin. The ref is revived and Hart attempts another flying move, with Steamboat rolling through on it and pinning Hart!

After a sluggish start, these guys really picked up the pace, hitting crisp moves and selling well for one another. The finish was well designed as it put Hart over, with Steamboat still earning the victory.

JYD, Tito Santana and Davey Boy Smith vs. the Honky Tonk Man, Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart

This was taped in early January of 1987. Honky is still in suspenders and ugly tights. This apparently was taped for “Wrestling Challenge”. Smith gets a big pop early for slamming Neidhart, as if he was THAT fat. JYD and Honky square off in the battle of the best gimmicks in the match, if not necessarily the best grapplers. That lasts all of a move or two before Honky bails. Quick tags prevail before Santana, JYD and Smith take turns on Hart.

JYD winds up as the face in peril. We get the popular and effective troupe of the face making the tag as the heels distract the ref, then the heels switch off without tagging as the crowd rages. Heenan explains that since Jimmy Hart manages all the heels, they don’t legally have to tag.

JYD is put in numerous rest holds, as he wasn’t going to bump. Santana finally makes the hot tag, releasing a flurry before a melee breaks out and all three heels are tossed together, leading to Bret being pinned.

Solid enough match. The editing may have removed Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan explaining where the Dynamite Kid was. Upon a review of the results from that evening, it appears this match was only shown on the international version of “Wrestling Challenge”.

Inside the offices of “The Hart Foundation”

“Mean” Gene does a voice over of B-roll film from New York about visiting the offices of the Hart Foundation. Gene walks down a hallway full of old clippings which appear to be of black and white movie era productions, but Gene claims they are “wrestling awards”. A woman runs from a room screaming. Gene calls the secretary a “bimbo”. #MeToo

Another woman agrees to give Gene a tour. He ogles her. They pretend the wall is full of pictures of wrestling memorabilia again. Gene gets hot as he leers into the sauna. Another woman is seen running and screaming.

Gene is brought to another room, where we get some porn level acting from a dominatrix-esque lady in an office. Gene finally busts into a room, where the Hart Foundation and Danny Davis are caught playing with the LJN action figures -while wearing furs. They talk for a while, with Gene dropping insider terms like “your working me!” and “wearing gimmicks”. Gene scolds Bret and wonders what Stu Hart would think of him being around so many floozies. Bret says Stu comes in every few weeks to be serviced himself.

We see clips of Danny Davis in full heel ref mode. Davis shoves another ref before staring down Tito Santana. Jack Tunney jogs down and suspends Davis for life. Jimmy Hart comes down and he and Davis walk off together.

Jerry Allen and Jim Powers vs. The Hart Foundation 

This is Davis’ first appearance as a full on stooge for the Harts. Vince McMahon actually says “Pro wrestler” on commentary and I’m a bit floored. The heels dispatch the job squad easily. Davis beats on the jobbers after the bout and the Harts carry their buddy around like a conquering hero.

Next is highlights from Wrestlemania 3, where Davis is destroyed by the Bulldogs and Santana before heel shenanigans lead to Davis stealing the win. Great heat for that finish!

WWF World tag champions the British Bulldogs vs. The Hart Foundation

From November of 1986, according to the voice over. The Harts control early with cheating, double teaming and generally wearing away on Smith. The crowd is surprisingly quiet for all this. They tease Smith making the tag, only for the Harts to cheat and prolong his agony. Everything is solid, but all in all nothing here is remarkable. I suppose it’s not fair to watch a match like this without sitting through the two hours of jobber squashes and roid monsters plodding about to truly appreciate the workrate. I mean if I just sat through George Steele vs. Kamala, I’d probably be preaching the virtues of this match from the heavens.

Kid makes the hot tag, but the ref is bumped in the middle of the comeback. The heels down both faces and the ref delivers two painfully slow counts in which the Kid is able to kick out of. The crowd popped huge on the first one but didn’t buy the second attempt. Smith sneaks in and rolls up the Anvil for a tainted win. The heels try to maul the champs afterward, but Smith is able to fight them off. This was fine, but I’m feeling a bit burned out on the sameness of all these matches so far.

The Killer Bees vs. WWF World Tag Team Champions The Hart Foundation 

From MSG in early 1987. Jimmy Hart claims Davis was a champion wrestler and boxer before becoming a ref. The faces get their shine as the champs bumble about and end up tossed together. Monsoon and Heenan make fun of the Bees wearing yellow tennis shoes in the ring.

The Harts eventually wrangle Brian Blair into their corner and he falls into the position of peril. After an hour and a half, I’m kind of done wanting to watch this formula play out back to back to back. Even Monsoon is phoning it in, giving us his cliches about tag matches needing two refs. We hear about the Anvil quitting the NFL for about the 5th time on this tape.

False tag behind the ref’s back. The heels use more wear down holds to attempt to rile up the fans. Blair electrifies the crowd with a desperation electric chair drop. Brunzell tags in and is a house of fire. Danny Davis smacks Brunzell as the ref is busy and the heels cheat to win yet again. Another good finish to build heat and keep the fans coming back.

Final thoughts: There was really nothing wrong with any of the action on this VHS tape. The formulaic nature of the matches may wear on you too though.

 

Written by Andrew Lutzke

The grumpy old man of culturecrossfire.com, lover of wrasslin' and true crimes.

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