Shawn Michaels vs Bret Hart: Everything You Need to Know About the Longest Match in WrestleMania History

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April 1, 2021 10:12 pm

Certain WrestleMania matches will go down as the most important in wrestling history. One match from 1996 broke records and created a star that would rule the industry and go down as the best of all time. This man is none other than Shawn Michaels, and the match is his Iron Man match against Bret Hart.

The longest WrestleMania match of all time

HBK won the 1996 Royal Rumble, becoming the second person to win the match back-to-back after Hulk Hogan. Michaels super-kicked Diesel over the top rope to book his ticket to the main event. After that moment, Bret Hart retained the WWF Championship against the Undertaker in a ferocious battle.

The stage was set for two of the biggest stars to enter the WWE since Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior. They locked horns in a sixty-minute Iron Man match, but neither superstar picked up a fall. They struggled and battled back and forth for the entire sixty minutes until the bell rang.

Since the match ended in a draw, Bret Hart retained his championship, but the match restarted under sudden death rules. Hart entered the ring and looked to end HBK once and for all, but two Sweet Chin Music’s later, we had a new WWF Champion.

Vince McMahon declared on commentary, “The boyhood dream has come true,” and the thousands of fans packed in the Arrowhead Pond Arena in Anaheim, California lost their minds. Michaels celebrated the win with his trainer Jose Lothario at ringside.

Is this match overrated?

The match between Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart went sixty-two minutes long. This makes it the longest WrestleMania match, and one of the longest wrestling matches of all time. Although it was the longest, it might not be the greatest.

Critics praised the brilliant wrestling and performances from HBK and Hart. However, many claimed the match was mostly boring. Rob McNew of 411mania claimed, “This match isn’t for everyone, and definitely has some slow spots in it, but the final 20 minutes are as good as any match as you’ll ever see. It’s about a three-star match for the first 40 minutes, the last 20+ are an easy five stars.”

HOUSTON – APRIL 05: Shawn Michaels makes his intro as he takes on The Undertaker at “WrestleMania 25” at the Reliant Stadium on April 5, 2009 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/WireImage)

Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Newsletter Observer rated this match with 4 1/4 stars. This meant it fell three-quarters short of the full five stars.

While Hart’s run in WWE would end the next year, HBK would have better WrestleMania matches against the likes of Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, and the Undertaker.

Read More: Chris Jericho Reveals Why He Did Not Work With WWE Legend Bret Hart

Nathan Fulgado

Nathan Fulgado is a WWE and AEW author at EssentiallySports. Having published close to 1000 professional wrestling articles, Nathan is currently pursuing his Journalism degree from Xavier's College. He has previously worked at Free Press Journal as a local journalist. Nathan is a former athlete, competing at the national level during his school days, but his current focus remains on the art of pro-wrestling. When he isn't writing or talking about wrestling, he can be seen watching the legendary battles between the Undertaker and Shawn Michaels, or what he regards as the best rivalry in wrestling history. As a fan of Japanese Strong Style and a supporter of independent wrestling, Nathan is an ardent follower of Kenny Omega, AJ Styles, Tomohiro Ishii and Hiroshi Tanahashi.

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