Bret “The Hitman” Hart vs. the Barbarian
We continue on through the summer of 1991 as we are now a few weeks away from Summerslam and we have a quick stop here with the Summerslam Spectacular. One of the big matches set for Summerslam is the Intercontinental Championship match between champion Mr. Perfect and challenger Bret Hart. Bret has been slowly climbing up the ladder throughout the year after the Hart Foundation ended and it seemed pretty clear that he was being groomed to be the top dog in the midcard, but it wasn’t completely certain because Perfect has been on a really good run and you weren’t sure if they were going to take the belt off him yet. Meanwhile, Barbarian has seemingly been sliding down the ladder as he was not in any big feud and was pretty much spinning his wheels by this point, and after it was announced he would face Bret here you figured he was going to put him over strong to help build him to Summerslam.
Since Wrestlemania, Bret and Barbarian have been working the house shows with Bret also working some house shows with Perfect, and Bret would even reunite with Jim Neidhart as the Hart Foundation at certain times including the most recent MSG house show. On TV, Bret made it clear that his goal was to be the new IC Champion and on 7/13, it was announced that he would challenge Perfect for the title though it was announced he would face Barbarian here first. This was a good challenge for Bret to build momentum to Summerslam and you knew that he and Barbarian could put on a really solid match.
Bret gets a good pop from the crowd while Barbarian still had pretty good heat as a heel. The two men lock up to start with Barbarian shoving Bret back into the corner and they lock up again with Bret hooking a headlock, and Barbarian whips him off as Bret ducks a shot only for Barbarian to knock him down. They lock up again with Barbarian hooking a headlock and Bret whips him off only for Barbarian to knock him to the outside, and Bret regroups before returning to the ring and they lock up with Bret working on the arm. He hits an armdrag on Barbarian and drops a knee on the arm as he continues to work on it and he hits a legdrop on the arm, and he continues to work the arm as Barbarian hoists him up by the throat only for Bret to keep control on the arm. He pounds on the arm as Barbarian whips him off only for Bret to catch him ducking by pounding on him, and he hits a pair of standing dropkicks on Barbarian which sends him to the outside and Bret leaps off the apron only for Barbarian to catch him and he rams his back into the apron. Barbarian hoists Bret up again and rams him into the post as Coach stands in the aisle and Barbarian rolls back into the ring, and after we take a quick commercial break Bret rolls back into the ring and Barbarian chokes him with his boot on the mat before pounding on him in the corner. He whips Bret hard into the other corner as we see Coach taking notes and Barbarian pounds on Bret, and he hits a backbreaker on Bret for a two count and pounds on him as Bret blocks a hiptoss only for Barbarian to hit a short clothesline. Barbarian hits a delayed suplex on Bret for a two count and stomps on him before pounding on him and he shoves him into the corner, and he chokes Bret and whips him hard back into the corner before hooking a bearhug on. Bret bites Barbarian in the face to escape the hold though Barbarian recovers first and stomps on Bret repeatedly, and he pounds on Bret in the corner and whips him into the other corner only for Bret to catch him with a boot to the face. Bret goes up to the middle rope and hits a clothesline on Barbarian before hitting an atomic drop and he pounds on Barbarian, and he rams Barbarian into the buckle and pounds on him in the corner before hitting a Russian legsweep for a two count. Bret hits a backbreaker on Barbarian and goes up to the middle rope as he drops an elbow on Barbarian for a two count, and Bret argues with the ref which allows Barbarian to hit a big boot and Bret rolls out to the apron. Barbarian stomps Bret to the floor and Bret gets on the apron as Barbarian picks him up only for Bret to hook a small package which gets the three and he wins the match.
The match itself was solid as both men worked hard and put on a good match. Bret had really transitioned from a tag wrestler to a singles wrestler pretty quickly and you could tell that he was being prepped for something big, and even though he wasn’t going to be pushed Barbarian was really hitting his stride in the ring by this point. Having these two work together for the last few months was good as they had some really good chemistry going into this match, and Barbarian does his job and puts Bret over strong while still looking strong himself. Vince and Bobby did a good job as well as Vince does his best to put Bret over and Bobby also puts Bret over, but also mentions that he is not as good as Perfect to put over the Summerslam match. The crowd was into the match and popped for Bret when he won. Bret gets a hard fought win over Barbarian and both men move on as Bret is now ready for his title match at Summerslam.
Final Grade: **1/2