Review: WWE ‘Bret Hitman Hart: The Dungeon Collection’ DVD & Blu-Ray

March 10, 2013 by Joe Israel

WWE Bret Hart: The Dungeon Collection DVD

Bret Hart was never a wrestler that immediately came to mind as one of my favorites, but when I really think about it, I can’t deny the fact that he is one of the greatest ever.  He’s been in so many great matches, including my all-time favorite (Bret Vs. Owen, WrestleMania X).  He’s also been able to work surprisingly well as both a good guy and a bad guy.  The first DVD set about Bret, which was released back in 2005, made my list of Top 10 WWE DVD’s last year, so I was looking forward to this set to serve as a nice complement.  That’s exactly what we got here.  The stories from Bret were more interesting than I expected, and we got some great, forgotten matches.  Disc 1 of this Blu-ray runs 4 hours, with 17 minutes of bonus interviews.  Disc 2 runs 3 hours, with 80 minutes of bonus interviews and matches.  The Blu-ray is rated TV-PG.



“Pink and Black Attack”: The Format/Interviews

When the content listing for this release was first unveiled, I was thrilled to see that there would be an intro clip for each match.  I didn’t realize just how in depth they were going to go for the interviews, though.  Bret shares some great stories for each match, and oftentimes gives nice justification for why each particular match is going to be included in the first place.  There were several instances where the comments from Bret did in fact change how I watched the match.  It becomes clear pretty early on that Bret was quite hands on during the creation of this project.  Since the matches span such a large part of Bret’s career, we also get the chance to learn about Bret’s career as a whole pretty nicely.  Of course, this doesn’t serve as a total replacement for the 2005 documentary, but it is a great supplement.

WWE Bret Hart Cartoon

The Blu-ray allows for even more story extras.  Of course, we get to hear intro stories for each of the four Blu-ray exclusive matches.  Some of the extras are stories about wrestlers who didn’t get individual matches on the DVD or Blu-ray, such as Bob Backlund.  We also get some general bonus interviews.  My favorite of these was probably the one where we get to see him working on some of his cartoons.  I always knew that this was a hobby of Bret’s, but I had never gotten to see him in action actually working on a piece.  This was a nice bonus to see.  If you have the opportunity, I would say the Blu-ray is worth the extra money just for these bonus interviews alone.  As you’ll see below, the bonus matches aren’t too bad either, but for me, the interviews are really what made the Blu-ray worthwhile.


“Excellence of Execution”: The Matches

Bret Hart Vs Dynamite Kid Stampede Wrestling

British Commonwealth Jr. Heavyweight Championship 2-out-of-3 Falls Match: Bret Hart Vs. Dynamite Kid (Stampede Wrestling, 12/78) – N/A

I have decided not to give a traditional star rating since this match is joined in progress.  It is a great match to see on this set, though; two great talents early in their careers. You can see the greatness they will go on to in the match.

Bret Hart Vs. Buzz Sawyer (Georgia Championship Wrestling, 9/79) – ** 1/2

This is a fun, short match. The video quality isn’t great, but that’s to be expected for such a rare gem.  A very technically proficient match.

North American Heavweight Championship Match: Bret Hart Vs. Leo Burke (Stampede Wrestling, 1/83) – N/A

This match is also joined in progress. The storytelling is nicely done here. Bret plays the underdog role well.

Bret Hart Vs. Dynamite Kid (Capital Centre, 9/85) – ** 3/4

This match felt very ahead of its time.  While not using too many modern “highspots”, this felt very much like a match you would see on the independent circuit today.  A technical clinic.

WWE Hart Foundation VS The Islanders

WWE Tag Team Championship Match: The Hart Foundation Vs. The Islanders (Philadephia Spectrum, 3/87) – ***

More than anything, this match lets you see how great The Hart Foundation were as heels.  A very well put together story, that can move a little slowly at times.

WWF Bret Hart Vs Andre The Giant

Bret Hart Vs. Andre the Giant (Milan, Italy, 4/89) – * 1/2

The video quality for this match is very poor, but it still is awesome to see for historical purposes.  Andre wasn’t very agile at all at this point in his career, so the match itself isn’t anything great, but it’s still a nice hidden gem.  Also note that the commentary for this match is in Italian.

WWE Bret Hart Vs Mr Perfect

Bret Hart Vs. Mr. Perfect (Maple Leaf Gardens, 4/89) – *** 3/4

Hart & Perfect worked together really well, and while this match doesn’t reach the levels of their future classics, it still tells a great story.

The Hart Foundation Vs. The Twin Towers (Duluth, MN, 5/89) – ** 3/4

As Bret points out in the interview, for a match featuring two big men, it is a surprisingly fast paced match.  Nothing too out of the ordinary here, but still fun.

Bret Hart Vs Tiger Mask II

Bret Hart Vs. Tiger Mask II (Tokyo Dome, 4/90) – ***

It’s not a big surprise that Bret fit in well with the Japanese style of wrestling.  I never felt like this match really got out of 2nd gear, though, and something didn’t totally click.  This match also has no commentary, which I will admit has always been a struggle for me.

WWE Bret Hart Vs Ric Flair

Intercontinental Championship Match: Bret Hart Vs. Ric Flair (New Haven, CT, 11/91) – ** 3/4

As Bret alludes to in the interview before this match, Bret & Ric never had great chemistry, and I think it shows here.  Of course, they put together a technically solid match, but it never felt like they were on the same page.

Bret Hart Vs. The Undertaker (Madison Square Garden, 1/92) – ***

Taker was still pretty early into his career at this point, but Bret is able to bring some good out of him.  Of course, Taker would go on to be one of the greatest of all time, but at this point, he was still fairly inexperienced in the ring.  Still, a solid match.

Bret Hart Vs. Bam Bam Bigelow (Milan, Italy, 4/93) – *** 1/2

Bret & Bam Bam worked together very well.  This match can be a little slow, but overall, it works quite nicely.  Like the Andre match, this also features Italian commentary.

WWE Championship Match: Bret Hart Vs. Diesel (King of the Ring, 6/19/94) – *** 3/4

A surprisingly fun match, considering the fact that Diesel was just a manager only a few months before this match.  This isn’t nearly at the level of the Royal Rumble or Survivor Series 1995 matches, but it’s still great.

WWE Owen Hart

No Holds Barred Match: Bret Hart Vs. Owen Hart (Raw, 3/95) – *** 1/2

This match doesn’t reach the heights of some of their most famous encounters, but you can’t really go wrong with a Bret Vs. Owen match.  This is probably my favorite all time feud.

Bret Hart Vs. Jean-Pierre Lafitte (In Your House 3, 9/24/95) – *** 1/2

I can’t say I was familiar with Jean-Pierre Lafitte before watching this match, but I was definitely impressed.  This is a fun big man vs. little man match, something Bret is great at.

WWE Bret Hart vs Steve Austin

Bret Hart Vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin (Sun City Superbowl, 9/14/96) – ****

An excellent technical encounter.  A nice “primer” before their WrestleMania classic.

WWE Championship Match: Bret Hart Vs. The Patriot (In Your House: Ground Zero, 9/7/97) – *** 1/2

Another solid, technical title match.  The Patriot looks really strong in this match, and heel Bret is always fun to watch.

WCW US Championship Match: Bret Hart Vs. Booker T (Nitro, 1/25/99) – ***

I was surprised with this match.  For a TV match, it was given a pretty good amount of time.  As Bret mentions in his interview, this was probably one of his better WCW matches.

WCW Championship Semi-Finals Match: Bret Hart Vs. Sting (Mayhem, 11/21/99) – **

This match screams “what could have been” to me.  Seeing Bret & Sting wrestle at the prime of their careers would have been great.  At this point, they still put together a decent match, but it isn’t anything special.

Blu-Ray Exclusive Matches

WWE Bret Hart vs Yokozuna

WWE Championship Match: Bret Hart Vs. Yokozuna (Raw, 11/93) – ** 1/4

Bret was able to get some pretty good matches out of Yokozuna, but I didn’t think this was one of their best matches.  Still an OK match.

Bret Hart & The British Bulldog Vs. Owen Hart  & Jim Neidhart (Albany, NY, 10/94) – *** 1/4

A fun tag team match.  Doesn’t rewrite the book, but still fun to watch given the four men involved.

Bret Hart Vs. Hakushi (Raw, 7/24/95) – ** 3/4

Another fun TV match, but I can’t say this was anything special.

WWE Championship Match: Bret Hart Vs. Vader (Friday Night’s Main Event, 8/29/97) – * 1/2

This match never really has the chance to get going.  It devolves into a multi-man brawl pretty quickly.


 “Hall of Fame Career”: Closing Thoughts

WWE Bret Hart Dungeon Collection DVD Interview

I wouldn’t be surprised if this ends up being one of my top DVD’s of 2013.  Along with the 2005 Bret Hart DVD, they function as a package of the best DVD’s that the WWE may have ever put out.  As you can see from the star rankings, while pretty much every match on year is really good to great, you aren’t getting any of those five-star classics Bret had throughout his career. We’ve seen most of those on other DVD’s, though, and pretty much all of them are featured on the 2005 Hart DVD.  What you do get from this compilation is the feeling that you are watching rare footage.  As much as you would be inclined to complain about some of the grainy quality and weird commentary, it does make this feel like you are watching some hidden treasure that you were only to get through tape trading.  For a collection of matches that have never been released, there is a really high level of quality here, and most importantly, the quality is consistent.  As you may have noticed, my match thoughts got a bit repetitive, and that’s because so many of the matches end up delivering as fun, well told stories.  I will acknowledge that it was strange just how many of these matches ended in time limit draws or other non-finishes, but with so many house show matches, I guess I can understand why the finishes were the way they were.  I had no trouble watching this entire Blu-ray pretty quickly, even though all of the matches featured the same competitor.

If taken all together, the interviews with Bret come across as a mini shoot interview about Bret’s career, and I mean that in the best way possible.  Bret isn’t out to make anyone look bad throughout the interviews.  Bret clearly is pretty content with the way his career has turned out.  He speaks highly of pretty much everyone that he faces in any of these matches.  He even gives Sting credit for creating the Scorpion Deathlock before he came up with the Sharpshooter.  Also, as mentioned above, the interviews are what sets the Blu-ray apart from the DVD.  You get some really nice extra interviews with some great stories.  The bonus matches on the Blu-ray, for the most part, aren’t anything too special, but I did really enjoy that tag team match, which is a nice hidden gem.

Overall, there’s no question that this DVD/Blu-ray is a very high recommendation.  Some of the older matches from the Stampede/Georgia Championship era are definitely of that time period, and fans who aren’t familiar with wrestling of that time period may find them a bit slow.  I think it was a good decision to not include any matches from that era that were too long, though.  They flow pretty well.  Most of the matches that were chosen for the set were given a nice amount of time, and you really can see just how good of storyteller Bret was in the ring.  I hope everyone enjoys this set as much as I did; let me know what you thought in the comments below.

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26 Comments left on this article...

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  1. thejmp187 says:

    It was great. Bret is great love all his DVDs. I ownall of them. I have his coliseum vhs as well. Love bret. Hope theresthere’s a Bret lll. It would be a triple Bret yea.

  2. Dude says:

    Owen was better. =/

  3. Shane C. Montgomery says:

    Best DVD in some time, wish they could put out a new Best of Bret Hart DVD every year.

  4. John Anderson says:

    Great review! I have to ask…has the WWE produced an anthology of sets featured on one performer that is as good as the Bret “Hitman” Hart series of releases? Lets take a look…Bret vs. Shawn is perhaps the best “shoot” style documentary ever produced, The Best There Is, is one of the best all-around wrestling DVD’s ever released w/ a collection of matches so good it’s only rivaled by Ric Flairs first set & Hart & Soul…another great documentary that has a good collection & verity of matches featuring the Hart family. I certainly can’t think of anything that would be a distant 2nd at this point. The Dungeon Collection is less about 5 star classics – though believe me, this set still has its fair share of typical Bret Hart classics – and more about offering up rare or unreleased matches…some of them would even seem odd choices at first glance. But Bret Hart is the greatest of all time & what this set lacks in all time classics, it certainly makes up for in entertainment.

    My Top 5:

    1. Bret Hart vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin (Sun City Superbowl) ****1/4
    2. Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart – No Holds Barred (Raw) ****
    3. Bret Hart vs. Mr. Perfect (Maple Leaf Gardens) ****
    4. Bret Hart vs. Diesel – WWE Championship (King of the Ring) ****
    5. Bret Hart vs. Jean-Pierre (IYH 3) ***3/4

    Overall DVD: 8.5/10

  5. Colin Smith says:

    Great review. I purchased this the day at came out and am nearly done with it. Agree pretty much blow for blow with the match and content rating. The mini-interviews at the start of each match are what set it apart. This will tend to lean heavy on big Bret Hart fans. Wrestling fans probably would enjoy it, but the average fan will struggle through the older matches.

  6. Bix says:

    For what it’s worth, they ripped the Andre match from YouTube, and weirdly didn’t try to contact the uploader, which sucks because his DVD looks a lot better than the rip they used.

    That version of the Buzz Sawyer match has been floating around for years. It’s believed that the VHS sourced Georgia footage WWE has used is all from the collection of a tape/DVD trader that they seized,

  7. Nick says:

    Gotta wait a month to get it in Australia and cannot wait to watch it. By the review this is the definition of a dungeon collection. Based on the rare matches and video quality this would be something you would find in your basement with a lot of dust on it. I hope they release more of these sets.

    I’ve heard alot of talk about the andre match and how bad it looks. For me, I watched that match on youtube and it was very watchable, but think this is the only footage that is available. I had no idea that bret faced andre and glad its on here.

  8. Shane C. Montgomery says:

    I found this a few days early on DVD and picked it up and when the release day came I went out and bought the last Blu-ray my FYE had in stock. I have only did this once before and that was last years NWO set. To be honest, I will more than likely do the same when the Mick Foley set comes out. How do you choose, the DVD has great artwork and more to look at but the Blu-rays have better video and audio as well as more content. I sure wish they can combine the two someday. I think this year is off to a great start with an awesome WCW Nitro Vol. 2 and now The Dungeon Collection with Mick Foley right around the corner! Gonna be a great year for guys like us!

    • xaml says:

      I agree that there should not be drawbacks to these formats. A fourth disc would have solved the issue and therefore would have been necessary, even if this would lead to an assumably modest increase in price. That is aside from the experience being compromised for me, who has been watching in the nineties, about the acting and the predetermined outcomes as well as the ultimately senseless implied violence.

  9. Brad Attitude says:

    Nice review but I’m gonna pass on this set.

    I already have Hart’s 2005 dvd, The Hart Family dvd and Shawn vs. Bret on bluray. To me, that was my bret hart trilogy set.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Great review! One little thing to nitpick though. The Austin match would make more sense as a primer for their fantastic Survivor Series match since it happened a couple months before that one as opposed to quite a few before Wrestlemania 13.

  11. Paul says:

    Great review sir. Can’t wait to grab the Blu-ray as soon as much budget allows for it. Can’t go wrong with a Bret compilation and interview.

  12. Duane says:

    I had planned to skip this one but based on the review I decided to pick up a copy today. Sounds like there is some interesting stuff on here. I like the idea of an intro for each match as I think that will make the DVD a more enjoyable watch, I did go with the DVD though. I almost always buy bluray but with this one I figured the footage wasn’t going to look that great on either format.

  13. zach says:

    this dvd….. 4/10

  14. Lemo says:

    The Blu Ray is one of the best sets WWE ever made. All matches ranges from really good to great. It’s a great look through wrestling history where you go through different years & wrestlers. Bret’s interviews also are awesome to hear. I highly recommend any wrestling fan get this blu ray.

  15. NickP says:

    For me, Bret Hart is the greatest of all time and this set proves how good Bret was. Especially with guys who weren’t the best workers.

    Fun fact.. if you watch Bret vs Bam Bam on his 2005 dvd in spain, they basically have the same match in Italy. Same for Hart vs Perfect in MSG on Hennigs set. Basically same match as the Maple Leaf Gardens match.

  16. Jesus Lopez says:

    Great review! On point, as usual!

  17. wrestlingfan says:

    “Bret Hart Vs. Buzz Sawyer (Georgia Championship Wrestling, 9/79) – ** 1/2

    This is a fun, short match. The video quality isn’t great, but that’s to be expected for such a rare gem. A very technically proficient match.”

    Back in the day alot of matches were lost, nobody was thinking about “tape libraries” a lot of the tv tapings were recorded over with next weeks show. To save money…..

  18. Steve says:

    WWE did a nice job with this. But let’s be real Bret picked the matches. If WWE did this alone it would have been poor with a lot of repeats. The best releases are usually influenced by the talent or the fans. This set was nicely done because it was rare old school footage. Only thing missing would have been the Mayhem Finals vs. Benoit.

  19. Great review Joe, glad to hear the interview with Bret is of a decent length.

  20. pmdmf says:

    Spot on review. The Andre and Bigelow matches could have used alternate commentary, and the Tiger Mask II match could have used ANY commentary. But the Italian matches have a certain charm to them too.

    Another plus was that the Buzz Sawyer match was called by Gordon Solie, which there isn’t enough of, in my opinion.

  21. MattyT says:

    Triple H would rate all of these matches 4/10 (Sorry, I couldn’t resist).

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