Is there a wrestler that incited more controversy in the WWE than Bret "The Hitman" Hart? There is no doubting that Bret was one of the most talented technical wrestlers of all time. Yet you can't think Bret, without thinking Montreal Screwjob, so you better believe that gets covered in here. But there is more to the man as well.
Bret was well deserving of his runs as World Champion and of all the accolades that came his way throughout his career. Whether it was because of his signature Sharpshooter, his iconic glasses, or his overall swagger, there was no doubt that when the Hitman was in the building, you knew it. When you consider the legacy that Bret has left behind, you may immediately realize that it is a legacy with some black marks.
Bret has been no stranger to controversy, both with the WWE as an organization, but also with how he feels about other wrestlers in the business. Ultimately there is no doubt that Bret is talented, but is he a good guy? That's one I'm still not too sure on. Overall, Bret was an admirable figure, but you may realize that you didn’t him know quite as well as you did before opening this list.
Among these 15 facts include the reason for why he started wearing glasses, Bret’s thoughts on other legends such as Ric Flair, as well as other facts to help further contextualize just who Bret was as a person.
Overall, you're going to learn a lot more about Bret turned from just Bret Hart, son of Stu Hart, into Bret "The Hitman" Hart. It’s an interesting tale, and one that is well worth taking the time out of your day to engage in.
Whether you love or hate him, there is no doubt that he’s lived one heck of an interesting life.
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15 Role of Earl Hebner in the Montreal Screwjob
There are a lot of factors that went into the famous Montreal Screwjob but one angle that you might not always think about was the role of the head referee, Earl Hebner. Hebner was a long time employee of the WWE, and actually went up to Bret the night before the match and promised that he wouldn’t let the company screw him over.
When the match first ended, it was Hebner that got a lot of heat from Bret. However, after the dust had settled, it came out that Earl had been mic’d up throughout the match and that if he had tried to alert Bret Hart in any way towards what was happening, that he would have been fired immediately. While this doesn’t mean Bret got any less screwed over, at least it adds more context to the night.
14 What The Worst Part of WCW Was
Bret may not have felt he had much of a choice but to leave the WWE after the Montreal Screwjob and if not the WCW, where are you going to go? Not to mention that after punching out Vince, that probably didn’t help earn him any brownie points. His time in the WCW was much less successful, and when asked what was the worst thing, Bret stated that he hated how he started in the WCW as a referee. While he was coming off of a big 1997, including several key wins, he felt that the WCW failed to use his energy and that backstage politics held him back. Unfortunately there was a 60 Day No-Compete Clause in his contract after leaving the WWE, so I suppose the WCW thought him as a ref is better than nothing? Bret was also critical of Eric Bischoff for failing to have as complete a vision for the product, especially in contrast to Vince.
13 Why He Wore Sunglasses
When Bret was starting out in the wrestling business, he was not nearly as confident on the mic as he is in the ring. One time, he was cutting a promo, there was some noise in the back and it made them have to look at the footage to see if it was usable. The footage was ruined, but it also allowed Bret to observe how nervous and scared his eyes made him look. As a result, he ran and picked up a pair of sunglasses and wore them for the interview. Given that Bret was trying to make his name in any way that he could, I’m sure he was thrilled when it became part of his iconic look.
12 His Reaction After The Screw Job
While his televised reaction was obviously seen by most of the WWE Universe, what you may not have seen was that Bret destroyed half a dozen TV monitors after the match. He also proceeded to throw several headsets in the crowd that belonged to the commentators, what Bret didn’t realize was that each headset that he threw into the crowd cost roughly $110,000 each. While it is not clear on if Bret had to pay for them (I’m going with no), it was definitely a costly move on the WWE’s part.
11 Who He Would Want To Face In the WWE
When you ask someone who is as great a technical wrestler as Bret was, you can expect to get a few different answers when Hart himself was asked who he would wrestle in the WWE today. The first name he went with was John Cena though, who Bret thinks is one of the hardest working people in the history of the WWE. Hart also speaks about how much he would have loved to work with Kurt Angle. Given both men’s affinity for technical moves and submissions, there is little reason to doubt that Bret Hart vs. Kurt Angle (if both wrestlers were in their prime) would be one of the greatest matches of all time.
10 He Hates Hulk Hogan
Bret was never a big fan of Hogan, especially when you consider Bret thinks Hogan was constantly dodging him in the ring. Yet, his hatred became very evident when he stated that he was glad that Hogan got busted for his racist comments, and went on to state that he hopes Hogan is never allowed back in the WWE. The real scathing comment? Bret stated that Hogan was “probably glad that Roddy Piper passed away because it took all the edge off of all that.” You need to think pretty lowly of someone’s character to think that a death of a former colleague and friend would cause anything but sorrow. To Hogan's credit, he responded with:
"The words about Roddy Pipers death were out of line,I'm praying for you Brett Hart,only love my brother HH" (yes, he actually spelled his name Brett).
9 He Studied Filmmaking
It is amazing to think of the esteemed Hart family and think that Bret may have not followed in the families footsteps. Especially when you consider that all of his sisters also married wrestlers. Yet, when Bret left high school, he went to the Mount Royal College and had aspirations of working as a film director. While things ended up working out for him in the wrestling ring, it would be interesting to see how his life would have gone had he picked a different profession (my guess is he would be a lot less sore).
8 He Knocked Out Vince McMahon
There is no way you are going to be able to complete a list about Bret Hart and not pepper in little tidbits from the most controversial night in wrestling history. Bret stated that after the match, he had showered and gotten changed and then went to confront Vince. Allegedly, the two got into a tussle that ended when Bret Hart delivered an uppercut that lifted McMahon off the ground due to the force, and also broke Bret’s hand. The blow also literally knocked out Vince who had to be dragged out of the room, or risk having the crap beat out of him even harder by Bret.
7 He Felt Ric Flair Sabotaged Their Matches
There is no doubting that Ric Flair is one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. There is also no doubt that Bret Hart is as well, so you would expect their matches together to always be outstanding, right? That was far from the case with Bret Hart going after Flair after he retired stating:
"Flair was a tricky guy to work with, when I worked with Ric. When he was champion we had much better matches and the moment the title got switched we seemed to screw up my match every night… I always felt it was sabotage."
6 His Health Concerns
While you can look at the long career of Bret and think that it is what has left his body broken down, you would be wrong. The most prominent health concern came when Bret Hart was riding his bicycle when he hit a pothole and hit his head on the concrete, leading to a stroke. While he has recovered, the accident left him with a strong level of emotional imbalance. Bret Hart was also diagnosed with prostate cancer in February of 2016. While he has since had surgery to attempt to remove the cancer, this is always an incredibly scary diagnosis.
5 He Co-Founded A Hockey Team
It’s the dream of every stereotypical Canadian kid to own his own hockey team, so of course Bret was interested in the idea of bringing a team to Calgary. When the WHL was looking to expand in 1994, Bret was one of the 18 investors in the club. Bret’s influence on the team was evident, especially because they were called the Calgary Hitmen (a play on his nickname). The team was also decked out in a pink, grey, and black color scheme. While merchandise sold very well for the Hitmen, many people were outspoken in their disdain for a hockey team whose name seemed to perpetuate violence.
4 Stu Would Put Him In Submission Holds
I suppose when you grow up with a family that is as ingrained in wrestling as the Hart family, that any rough-housing around the house has a chance to get really serious. Bret recalled during a documentary in 1998 that his Father would often put Bret through incredibly painful submission holds. This would lead to Bret learning the art of submission wrestling, a craft he would apply to his professional wrestling career and now, Bret is considered by many to be the best submission specialist of all time.
3 His Attitude Towards Losing
It can be easy to look at some of Bret’s big blow-ups after some high-profile losses, or read about other wrestlers who have called him bitter, and believe that he is a sore loser. When he was starting out though, his father Stu made a point to Bret of the importance of "jobbing" (losing matches but making your opponent look good). Bret would claim that “no one could take a sh*t kicking like Bret Hart” and his passion to the overall craft and wrestling, and not just his own success, went a long way in helping him get recognized.
2 He Was The First To Pin Roddy Piper
Roddy Piper was an outstanding wrestler and is well deserving of his place in the WWE Hall of Fame. In the ring, he excelled at being unable to be pinned (though submissions nabbed him at times). At WrestleMania VIII, Bret had a match against Roddy for the Intercontinental Championship. The match was outstanding and was praised by fans and critics. The match helped solidify the Hitman in the eyes of the WWE, and also allowed Piper to take some time away from the ring following his loss.
1 Why He Thinks He’s The Best There Is
If you watched Bret Hart, it would not take long before you would hear him claim that he is "the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be." While this claim is always going to be disputed, it is interesting to know that Bret had three specific reasons for why he felt this way.
- He never injured an opponent through any fault of his own
- Throughout his entire career, he only missed one show (due to flight difficulties)
- He only once refused to lose a match (the Montreal Screwjob)
Hard to argue that these aren’t three outstanding qualities to have as a wrestler!
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