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[1999-02-22-WCW-Nitro] Bret Hart vs Booker T

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The Benoit match later in the year is sort of an outlier, but this is really the last great Bret Hart performance. Bret carries Booker through a 20-minute match that shows how badly WCW wasted the guy. After selling all of Booker’s early offense by rolling outside, he goes after his knee really aggressively to set up a figure four. It’s awesome anytime WCW crowds actually get a reason to get into heavyweight action by this point, and they are really hot for this one. Bret built so much sympathy on Booker that the finish really meant something. They do the Summerslam ’92 finish.

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Bret Hart vs Booker T - WCW 2/22/99

 

I needed to watch something other than Pro Wrestling NOAH and 1999 WCW sounded different enough and this definitely caught my eye. Bret is such an amazing offensive wrestler. He basically carries the entire match by kicking Booker's ass, but never killing him and everything was just so convincing and interesting. He is the closest version to an American Genichiro Tenryu. He just has such contempt for anyone who isn't him. I feel like it would very difficult to have a conversation with Bret if you had a different point of view than him. Could be totally wrong, but that how he comes off in the ring. I think it comes off really well in this match because Booker surprises him early, but it takes a couple cheapshots in the corner and a quick chair jab to the midsection to really gain control. Bret worked the crowd early with his antics and then kept them hooked by working in great highspots like the figure-4 and superplex. I really thought that Booker was the proverbial broomstick who happened to be able to do the spin-a-roonie. I really didn't think he added much in terms of offense or in selling (would have loved a longer shine). He had all the spots I remember WCW Booker having axe kick, side kick, side slam and missile dropkick/Harlem Hangover. I can see why people dug him because he had a good ring presence, was energetic, was young and could break dance, but he never did anything for me. All in all, I liked this a lot as an extended squash that was effectively masked as a competitive match by Hart's wrestling IQ and a hot crowd (I miss hot American crowds for midcard matches). Bret could definitely still go, very sad , he didn't get the extra time to make it count. ***

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This was fine but I just didn't care for it till the final 5 or so minutes.Bret seemed checked out of WCW and Booker was still trying to find himself in singles. I liked the big "Watch Raw" sign in the front row.

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I liked this match and it was nice to see Bret fairly motivated since when he staggers out he has the biggest "what the fuck am I doing here" look. Bret worked over the leg well and made Booker's comeback and the finish feel well earned while at the same time keeping Hitman strong. In some ways, this was like him working Davey Boy but it didn't have the atmosphere to overtake that series. ***1/4

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We've reached the point in time where describing a match as being old fashioned is usually a compliment. This was outdated and really boring however. Aside from the Flair match in 98 and the Benoit one later this year you can write off Bret in WCW for me.

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This was, like, half of a good match. I know they were pacing themselves but the first half of this is full House Show Bret Mode, and his control segment on Booker where he's just clubbering isn't interesting at all. Once he goes after the knee this match finally gets a hook to it, and Booker is of course really great at comebacks, so this really gets the crowd going by match's end. Booker wins in a big upset, but it feels hollow because of all the old veterans in WCW it has to be *Bret* putting over a young up-and-comer.

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As stated above, this was Bret in house show mode, filling time and trying to be compelling while not going full gear. This was entertaining enough, loved his Russian Leg Sweep and general stalling heel attitude, while making Booker shine on highspots. Crowd was into the finishing stretch, starting with the Figure 4, wich is a testiment of good work, since this didn’t try to accomplish much from the beginning. Nothing above mildly fun. ***

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