Fighting Hart beats strong

Fighting Hart beats strong
"Ladies and gentlemen, the winner of the 1994 Royal Rumble is…"

You had to feel for ring announcer Howard Finkel at that moment. No one—not the WWE fans in Rhode Island's Providence Civic Center, not referees Earl Hebner and Joey Marella, not then-WWE president Jack Tunney, not even commentators Vince McMahon and Ted DiBiase—could tell "The Fink" with any certainty as to who fell over the top rope first. Therefore, after several minutes of video replays and heated debate, Tunney had no other option but to declare the Rumble's final two participants, Lex Luger and Bret "Hit Man" Hart, co-winners of the 30-Superstar main event.

At face value, the evidence suggests that both men were deserving of the Rumble's big prize: the opportunity to head to WrestleMania X in March and face Yokozuna for the WWE Championship. But if one were to factor the intangibles—a word often used to describe sports greats like the Yankees' Derek Jeter or the Patriots' Tom Brady—the true winner was unquestionably the Excellence of Execution.

A seemingly broken Hart had limped into the main event in the No. 27 spot, his left knee badly injured during his WWE Tag Team Title Match against The Quebecers earlier that evening. More damaging than the injury or the loss of that match, however, were the angry, spiteful words uttered afterwards by Bret's tag partner and brother, Owen, whose growing jealousy of the Hit Man had reached the breaking point.

Granted, Hart drew four spots better than his Royal Rumble co-winner, and he threw out two Superstars as opposed to five. But he still outlasted the 11 remaining Superstars that were in the ring despite having only one good wheel, having already wrestled once that night, and now having to contend with a devastating family rift (which wouldn't mend for three years). Thirteen years and one big picture later, let's just look past the controversial finish and recognize why Bret Hart's gutsy effort ranks as's No. 7 Over-the-Top Royal Rumble Performance, hands down (and with both feet on the floor).

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