When you think of all time great WrestleMania opening matches, some of the ones that might come to mind are Triple H vs Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania 30, Rey Mysterio vs Eddie Guerrero at WrestleMania 21, Rob Van Dam vs William Regal at WrestleMania X8 or more. However, the undisputed greatest opening match in WrestleMania history goes to Bret Hart and Owen Hart, who would slug it out in an all-time classic at WrestleMania X.
What was it that led to the brothers colliding, especially when Bret Hart vowed to never fight his brother? While the seeds of the story were only planted the previous year, it goes back quite a bit, but jealousy, resentment and bitterness have a whole lot to do with it. Owen Hart arrived at WWF in the late 80s and would use his Blue Blazer superhero gimmick, one that was naturally not really destined for success.
He was a lower mid-carder, and while he did squash enhancement talent, there wasn’t much of a ceiling on his potential. As a result, a loss to Mr. Perfect at WrestleMania V was a seal of doom for his first WWE run. He would go out to the world again to prove himself, even returning to Stampede Wrestling before its eventual shutdown.
He would lose his Blue Blazer mask during his time in Mexico, in a “Mask vs Mask” match up. Sooner than later, inability to agree to a deal with WCW saw Owen Hart return to WWF, where his brother had a lot of tag team success and was on the verge of branching out as a singles star.
Owen spent a while teaming up with Jim Neidhart as The New Foundation, and then a brief run with Koko B. Ware known as “High Energy” before they abruptly split. It was only in 1993 when Owen Hart began to get involved with his family, and at first, all was well, as Owen would accompany Bret, and they would even team together.
Survivor Series 1993 was when the first seed was planted for their eventual rivalry. It started off when they accidentally crashed into each other, allowing Owen Hart to get eliminated by his Shawn Michaels, who took advantage and rolled him up. Bret Hart and his team did win, but Owen came back furious, and there was visible tension between the two brothers. Owen left to a chorus of boos, much to the dismay and confusion of Bret Hart.
Owen would later challenge Bret Hart to a match, and the former WWF Champion refused to do so, because he felt that it would tear the family apart. However, things would seemingly smoothen out between the two, and Owen Hart would listen to better judgment, reforming his alliance with his brother Bret.
As 1994 had come along, they looked to be an even more cohesive unit than before, becoming #1 contenders to then-tag team champions the Quebecers. At the event, however, disaster struck for the brothers as Bret Hart suffered a (kayfabe) knee injury. Due to this, he was unable to tag into Owen Hart, who got increasingly frustrated in the process.
The referee was forced to stop the contest due to Bret’s injury, and at this point, Owen had enough of his brother. He had officially turned on him, kicking his legs from underneath and attacking the knee. This would be the start of an extensive heel run for Bret Hart’s younger brother – a role that he would thrive in throughout.
Despite this, Bret Hart still ended up becoming the co-winner of that year’s Royal Rumble match, alongside Lex Luger. It was the first and only time that there would be co-Royal Rumble winners, which meant that both superstars were heading to WrestleMania. Owen Hart challenged Bret Hart to a match at the show of shows, and this time, Bret would accept.
With two massive matches in one night, Bret Hart knew he had a daunting task, but he probably didn’t expect Owen Hart to bring it the way he did. It would turn out to be an all-time classic, with the two brothers going at it in a technical masterclass of a contest. It was ultimately a grudge match, and it truly felt like they were legitimately fighting it out.
Owen Hart would win by the skin of his teeth but he wouldn’t have the last laugh of the night. Bret Hart ended up beating Yokozuna to become WWF Champion, something that he hadn’t been able to do for a year. The shot at WrestleMania X ended with Owen Hart looking at his brother celebrating, still bitter despite having beaten him. Their rivalry was far from over, and later in the summer of that year, Owen Hart would contend for the WWF Championship in a steel cage. This time, Bret Hart was able to overcome his brother and redeem himself.