Bret "The Hitman" Hart VS Nick Bockwinkel
Nick Bockwinkel was no slouch. He dethroned Verne Gagne from his seven year AWA World Championship run and held onto it for five years himself. (Can you imagine a decade-plus period where only one title change happened? You have to go back to 1995 to find a solitary year where that's true in the WWF (ironically enough, the two champions were Bret Hart and Diesel).) Bockwinkel was good at being a dastardly heel too. Point is, the man's accolades are earned.
Bret Hart, on the other hand, wrestled like his slogan of "The Best There Is, The Best There Was and The Best There Ever Will Be" was a total shoot, and he did his damndest every night to provide the proof. There are very few workers out there for my money better than Bret Hart. There's no shame for one Hall of Famer to lose to another unless you're jobbing to Koko B. Ware. (Seriously, how is he in there? Dafuq?) Bret wins.
The Ultimate Warrior VS Lou Thesz
That awkward moment when Warrior goes for a flying shoulder tackle at the same instant Thez goes for the Thez press, and it's the ugliest thing in the history of professional wrestling. Until Thez decides to shoot on Warrior in retaliation, that is. Thez advances at the cost of kayfabe.
Bully Ray VS Samoa Joe
I went back and forth on this one, but I gotta give it to Samoa Joe. Bully Ray's singles run has been extremely impressive in the last few years; he's managed to be the best heel in wrestling on more than one occasion. And he has the experience edge on Joe, no doubt. But Samoa Joe is a man who, though he's held TNA World Title Gold, should have been champion at least three to five more times than he has. He only held it once believe it or not, in 2008. That company has shackled a man who should be a beast and a beast who should have been a king; instead, they put him in secondary feud after secondary feud. Well, no more. Joe's on his own now, gunning for Mark Briscoe. (God, I hope he doesn't go to WWE. It would be such a waste.) It is time for the Samoan Submission Machine to break free of these shackles and take his rightful place in the wrestling pantheon. Welcome to Round Five.
The Rock VS Bruno Sammartino
Dude, pick a winner, heh? The longest reigning World Heavyweight Champion in wrestling history and the most popular crossover figure to emerge from pro wrestling. Wrestling purists will hate me for this one, but I've already crossed that bridge before: The Rock is going over. Sure, Sammartino would have a strength advantage, but The Rock's tenacity is perhaps without equal. Not only could Rock wrestle literal circles around Bruno due to his cat-like speed, anything Sammartino could dish out would have the Brahma Bull kicking out at two. A true champion for the ages falls, but The People's Champion advances to Round Five.
Bret Hart defeats Nick Bockwinkel
Lou Thez defeats The Ultimate Warrior
Samoa Joe defeats Bully Ray
The Rock defeats Bruno Sammartino
Come on back for Brackets XXXIII-XXXVI!