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Bret Hart

Hart with his signature sunglasses,[1] 1994.
Ring name(s) Bret Hart[2]
Brett Hart[2]
Buddy Hart[2]
Billed height 1.86 m (6 ft 1 in)
Billed weight 106.3 kg (234 lb)
Born July 2, 1957 (1957-07-02) (age 52)[2]
Calgary, Alberta, Canada[2]
Billed from Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Trained by Stu Hart[2]
Katsuji Adachi[2]
Kazuo Sakurada
Harley Race[2]
Debut 1976[3]

Bret Sergeant Hart (born July 2, 1957) is a Canadian professional and amateur wrestler and writer currently signed to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), appearing on its Raw brand. Throughout his career in the United States he has wrestled under the persona of Bret "Hitman" Hart. He is also known by the monikers "The Pink and Black Attack", in reference to his ring attire,[4][5] and "The Excellence of Execution."[6] He is a member of the Hart wrestling family.

Following success in amateur wrestling tournaments in high school and throughout Calgary,[7] Hart debuted in professional wrestling in 1976 with his father, Stu Hart's promotion, Stampede Wrestling. In 1984, he signed with the World Wrestling Federation (WWF; now WWE) and was soon paired with future brother-in-law Jim Neidhart to form the successful tag team The Hart Foundation, while also enjoying a singles career. When WWF management separated the team in 1991, Hart continued his singles career, winning his first WWF Championship the following year. WWE has asserted that "in the mid ’90s, there were very few, if any, superstars as popular as Bret "Hitman" Hart."[8] He left the WWF for a lucrative World Championship Wrestling (WCW) contract following the Montreal Screwjob in 1997, where he enjoyed continued championship success until his retirement in 2000. He returned to WWE for a series of appearances in 2010, becoming involved in a rivalry with owner Vince McMahon. Hart competed as both a villain and a fan favorite during his professional wrestling career and is widely regarded within the industry as one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time.[6][7] Several noted professional wrestlers have named Hart as one of their favorite opponents.[9][10][11][12][13][14]

Hart held thirty-one championships in various promotions during his professional wrestling career, and is recognized by WWE as a seven-time World Champion: a five-time WWF Champion[15] and two-time WCW World Heavyweight Champion,[16] and the second WWF Triple Crown Champion.[17] He also held the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship four times: the most reigns in the history of the organization.[18] In addition to championships, he is the 1994 Royal Rumble co-winner (with Lex Luger), and the only two-time King of the Ring in WWE history, having won the 1991 tournament and the first King of the Ring pay-per-view in 1993. One of sports-entertainment's biggest names,[6] Hart was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006 by former on screen rival Stone Cold Steve Austin.[19] He has come out of retirement to face Vince McMahon in a final match at Wrestlemania XXVI.[20]

Contents

Early life

The eighth child of wrestling patriarch Stu Hart, Bret Hart was born in Calgary, Alberta into the Hart wrestling family. His introduction to professional wrestling came at an incredibly early age. As a child, he witnessed his father training with future wrestling stars like Billy Graham in the Dungeon, his household basement which served as possibly the most notorious training room in the world of wrestling. Before school, Hart's father, also a wrestling promoter, had him hand out fliers to local wrestling shows. In the 1998 documentary, Hitman Hart: Wrestling with Shadows, Hart reflected on his father's discipline, describing how Stu inflicted excruciating submission holds while uttering morbid words to his teenage son. The suffering endured in these sessions even left broken blood vessels in his eyes. Hart also, however, cited his father's otherwise pleasant demeanor and growing up in the professional wrestling atmosphere.

Amateur wrestling career

At high school, Hart gained experience and success in the amateur wrestling division, despite being "skin and bones," as Hart refers to his teenage physique.[7] He won significant championships in tournaments throughout Calgary, including the 1973 Calgary City Championship.[7] This later offered credibility to his career in professional wrestling as being "legit". Hart considered trying out for the Commonwealth Games during the mid-1970s,[7] but decided to pursue a college degree instead. He enrolled in Mount Royal College.

Professional wrestling career

Stampede Wrestling (1976–1984)

At the age of 19, Bret Hart began working for his father's Stampede Wrestling promotion in Calgary, with his father serving as his manager for a time. Hart first began helping the promotion by refereeing matches, but at one fateful event, a wrestler was unable to perform his match. This forced Stu to ask his son to stand in as a replacement, paving the way for Hart's very first match in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Before long, he became a regular contender, eventually partnering with brother Keith to win the Tag Team Championship four times. Earlier on, however, he was still unsure he wanted to make a career of professional wrestling and continually contemplated the idea.

Hart gained some of his most prominent experience with Japanese combatants and real-life trainers Mr. Hito and Mr. Sakurada, later praising them as his most significant teachers. Before long, Hart was amazing crowds with his high-impact matches against the Dynamite Kid. In the midst of wrestling alongside his brothers and even his aging father, Hart made a point not to ride on the shoulders of his elder as other sons of promoters have. Hart faithfully jobbed as requested of him, taking pride in the believability of his performances. As he said himself, "no one could take a shit kicking like Bret Hart."[7] Although he dreaded partaking in interviews and speaking in front of a crowd, Hart went on to win the promotion's top titles, including two British Commonwealth Mid-Heavyweight Championships, five International Tag Team Championships, and six North American Heavyweight Championships. Hart also wrestled the famous Tiger Mask in New Japan Pro Wrestling and remained one of Stampede's most successful performers until the promotion, along with several wrestlers, was acquired by the World Wrestling Federation in August 1984.

World Wrestling Federation (1984–1997)

Hart Foundation and early singles matches (1984–1991)

Hart was asked to start out in the WWF with a cowboy gimmick but refused, citing that where he comes from "if you say you're a cowboy, you'd better be one".[21] He instead requested to be paired with his brother-in-law Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart who was being managed by Jimmy Hart and asked to be called the Hart Foundation. He made his first televised WWF debut in August 1984, in a tag team match where he teamed with his brother-in-law, The Dynamite Kid.[22] In 1985, he was eventually partnered up with another brother-in-law, Neidhart, to build the promotion's tag team division. Originally a heel team, they joined manager Jimmy Hart's Hart Foundation stable but soon the name stuck with the team of Bret and Anvil, due to the similar family names of both team members and their manager.[2] At WrestleMania 2, they participated in a 20-man battle royal which was won by Andre The Giant.[23] Bret's agile, technical style—which earned him the moniker "The Excellence of Execution" (coined by Gorilla Monsoon)[24]—created an intriguing contrast with his partner Neidhart's strength and brawling skills.

Hart rose to fame in the WWF in the mid-1980s, and the Hart Foundation won the WWF Tag Team Championship twice. Their first reign started on the February 7, 1987 edition of Superstars when they defeated the British Bulldogs to win the title.[25][26] They lost the title to Strike Force on the October 27 edition of Superstars.[25] Eventually, they turned face and adopted the nickname "The Pink and Black Attack."

At SummerSlam, the Hart Foundation began their second reign by defeating Demolition members Crush and Smash in a two out of three falls match with some help from the Legion of Doom.[27][28] On October 30, the Hart Foundation lost the title to The Rockers (Marty Jannetty and Shawn Michaels), but a few days later, President Jack Tunney returned the title to the Hart Foundation because the decision had been reversed due to a rope coming off of the turnbuckle during the match and the win was never acknowledged on television. The Hart Foundation's reign lasted from August 27, 1990 to March 24, 1991.[29]

During his time in the Hart Foundation, Hart also competed occasionally as a solo wrestler. At WrestleMania IV, he was the last man eliminated in a battle royal by the eventual winner Bad News Brown.[30] Brown also defeated Hart in a singles match at Wrestlefest 88. In May 1989 Hart won a 16-man battle royal in Hamilton, Ontario.

During his WWF career, Hart increasingly described himself as "The best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be" (derived from the 1984 film The Natural), which he would later justify through three claims: he never injured an opponent through any fault of his own; through the entire course of his career he missed only one show (as a result of flight difficulties); and that he only once refused to lose a match—his final WWF match with long-time adversary Shawn Michaels at the Survivor Series event in 1997, which culminated in the now infamous Montreal Screwjob.[31]

Solo success (1991–1992)

Following a loss to The Nasty Boys at WrestleMania VII,[32] the Foundation split and Hart went on to pursue a singles career. He won his first WWF Intercontinental Championship by defeating Mr. Perfect with the Sharpshooter at SummerSlam in 1991.[33][34] Hart was then placed in a feud with the Mountie. This feud came about when the Mountie's manager, Jimmy Hart, threw water on Hart. Then, the Mountie proceeded to shock Hart with a cattle prod. Following the loss, Roddy Piper defeated Mountie with a sleeper hold at the 1992 Royal Rumble,[35] and Bret would later pin Piper for his second Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania VIII later that year.[36][37]

Rise to main event status (1992–1993)

Hart dropped the Intercontinental Championship to his brother-in-law, Davey Boy Smith, in the main event of SummerSlam in 1992 held before over 80,000 fans at Wembley Stadium. It was his first main event pay-per-view match, and he subsequently maintained main event status, being pushed as a contender to the WWF Championship.[38] He won the WWF Championship from Ric Flair at Saskatchewan Place in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan on October 12 of that year, in a match not originally broadcast on WWF television[39]—the match was instead available on a Coliseum Video release. Hart dislocated one of the fingers on his right hand during the match and popped it back in himself so it would not affect the rest of the match.[7]

Hart defended the title against contenders such as Papa Shango,[40] Shawn Michaels,[41] Razor Ramon[42] and former champion Ric Flair[6] before losing the title to Yokozuna at WrestleMania IX after interference from Mr. Fuji. Mr. Fuji then challenged Hulk Hogan, who had come out to help Hart, to compete for the title; Hogan then won his fifth WWF Championship from Yokozuna.[43] Shortly after, however, Hart won the first pay-per-view King of the Ring tournament in 1993, defeating Razor Ramon, Mr. Perfect, and Bam Bam Bigelow (prior King of the Ring tournaments were just house show events).[44] After being crowned as the King of the Ring, Hart was attacked by announcer Jerry "The King" Lawler. Lawler claimed he was the rightful King and began a barrage against Hart and his family. The feud culminated in a match between the two at SummerSlam in 1993, where Hart originally won the match by submission, via the Sharpshooter. Hart, however, would not let go of the hold and the decision was reversed to a Lawler victory by disqualification.[45] According to Hart, the original plan for SummerSlam was to pit WWF Champion Hulk Hogan against Hart in a passing of the torch. Hart also claimed that promotional photos were even taken of the two playing tug of war with the belt before the plans were dropped.[46] Instead, Hogan dropped the belt to Yokozuna in his last WWF appearance at the King of the Ring PPV, which inspired some genuine animosity between the two as Hart felt that Hogan didn't respect him enough to drop the belt and put Bret over as the leader of the "new WWF Generation."

Family problems (1993–1994)

It was at this point that Bret Hart entered into a feud with his younger brother, Owen Hart. The storyline involved Owen becoming jealous of Bret. It began at Survivor Series, when the Harts (Bret, Owen, Bruce, and Keith) took on Shawn Michaels (a last-minute substitution for Lawler) and his knights. All of the brothers survived the match except for Owen, the only Hart family member eliminated.[47] Owen blamed Bret for his elimination and in the weeks ahead, blamed Bret for holding him back. Owen demanded a one-on-one match with Bret, which Bret refused to accept. In the storyline, Bret, along with his parents, worked over the Christmas holidays to reunite the family and to settle their rivalry.

At the Royal Rumble in January, Bret and Owen took on The Quebecers for the WWF Tag Team Championship. Referee Tim White stopped the match after he considered Bret unable to continue after he sustained a kayfabe knee injury during the match. After the match, Owen berated his brother for costing him a title opportunity and attacked the injured knee, setting the feud between the two.[48] Later on, Hart managed to participate and win the 1994 Royal Rumble match amid controversy. Hart and Lex Luger were the final two participants and the two were eliminated over the top rope at the same time. Therefore, both men were named co-winners of the 1994 Royal Rumble match and received title shots at WrestleMania X.[49] Luger won the chance to face Yokozuna first, with Hart having to wrestle his brother Owen, who still demanded a match, before receiving his title shot. Owen won the match.[50] Hart lost his match against Owen but went on to defeat Yokozuna for his second WWF Championship.[51][52][53]

Hart continued to feud with his brother Owen while he also started feuding with Diesel. Hart's friend and former tag team partner Jim Neidhart returned to the WWF and reunited with Hart. At King of the Ring, Hart defended the WWF Championship against Diesel. When Hart was winning the match, Shawn Michaels interfered on Diesel's behalf. Diesel appeared close to victory after he delivered a Jackknife Powerbomb yet before he could pin Hart, Neidhart interfered. Diesel won by disqualification but Hart retained his title. Neidhart left when Diesel and Michaels attacked Hart following the match. Neidhart's motivation was made clear when he helped Owen win the tournament that night, so that he could receive a title shot against his brother.[54] At SummerSlam, Hart successfully retained the WWF Championship against Owen in a steel cage match.[55] This match would get a 5-star rating from Dave Meltzer.

Hart eventually lost his WWF Championship at Survivor Series in a submission match against Bob Backlund where the manager of either competitor (Davey Boy Smith for Hart, Owen for Backlund) would have to 'throw in the towel' for the wrestler they were representing. When Hart was in Backlund's Crossface Chickenwing and Davey Boy was kayfabe knocked out, Owen persuaded his mother Helen to throw in the towel for Hart, giving Backlund the championship victory.[56] Bret's feud with Backlund would continue at WrestleMania XI where he would defeat Backlund in another submission match.[57]

Various rivalries and Hart Foundation reunion (1995–1997)

Bret would then go after Diesel's WWF Championship in 1995. After their match at the Royal Rumble was continually marred by outside interference, Bret won his third WWF Championship at Survivor Series in a No DQ match against Diesel.[58][59] After Hart's real life rival Shawn Michaels won the 1996 Royal Rumble,[60] a 60-minute Iron Man match was set up between the two at WrestleMania XII. The wrestler with the most decisions during the 60 minutes would win the match and the WWF Championship. With less than a minute left on the clock and the score still 0–0, Michaels jumped from the middle rope; his legs were caught by Hart, and Hart locked in his Sharpshooter. However, Michaels did not submit in the last 30 seconds so the match ended in a tie. President Gorilla Monsoon ruled that the match would continue in sudden death overtime. Michaels hit a superkick to win the gold.[61]

Hart in 1995

After WrestleMania, Hart took a hiatus from television. Hart would consider offers of employment from both WCW and the WWF, but would ultimately re-sign with the WWF.[62] Over the summer, Steve Austin, who was fresh from winning the 1996 King of the Ring,[63] continually taunted Bret and challenged him to come back and have a match. After eight month hiatus from television, Bret returned and defeated Austin at Survivor Series.[64] The feud continued at the Royal Rumble, when Hart tossed Austin out of the ring, only for Austin (unbeknownst to the referees) to climb back into the ring and win the Rumble.[65] In order to deal with this controversy, a Fatal Four-Way between Austin and the participants he eliminated after reentering the ring was set up for In Your House 13: Final Four, with the winner becoming the number one contender. After current champion Shawn Michaels relinquished the belt, though, the match officially became one for the WWF Championship. Hart defeated Austin, Vader, and The Undertaker in the Fatal Four-Way.[66][67] However, Austin made sure Hart's reign was short-lived, costing him a match against Sycho Sid the next night on Raw.[68] The two had a steel cage match shortly before WrestleMania 13 (Hart's twelfth consecutive and final WrestleMania), which saw Austin actually attempt to help Hart win, in order to make their match at WrestleMania 13 a title match. Concurrently, The Undertaker, who had a scheduled match with Sid at WrestleMania, attempted to help Sid win. Sid ultimately retained, leading to a pure grudge match for Hart and Austin.[69]

At WrestleMania 13, Hart and Austin had their rematch in a Submission match that would later get a 5-star rating from Dave Meltzer. In the end, Hart locked the Sharpshooter on a bloody Austin, who refused to give up. In fact, Austin never quit, but passed out from the blood loss and pain. Ken Shamrock, the special guest referee, awarded Hart the match, after which he continued to assault Austin.[70] This turned Austin face, and Hart became a heel. The original plan for WrestleMania 13 was a Hart versus Michaels championship rematch in which Michaels was slated to drop the belt to Hart. However, Michaels injured his knee two weeks after the Royal Rumble. Rumors immediately began flying that Shawn did not want to drop the belt to Bret. Hart actually came out during the main event at WrestleMania 13 and challenged Michaels to step in the ring and stated (in a shoot promo) that Michaels has a "pussy foot injury." McMahon, commentating at ringside alongside Michaels, immediately got up from his seat and tried to keep Michaels calm. Hart would face Austin in a no-disqualification street fight on Raw, in which Austin injured the now-heel Hart's ankle with a steel chair. The match ended with Austin refusing to release Hart from his own finishing move, the Sharpshooter. Austin continued to beat Hart while on a stretcher in the back of an ambulance. They would meet once again at In Your House 14: Revenge of the 'Taker: this marked the first and only time a match between the two would be a pay-per-view main event. Austin had Hart locked in the Sharpshooter in the middle of the ring when The British Bulldog interfered on Hart's behalf, resulting in disqualification and giving Austin his only victory over Hart.

In the ensuing weeks, Bret "The Hitman" Hart denounced American fans, because of their negative reaction to him in the recent weeks in contrast to his continued popularity through the rest of the world, and reunited with brother Owen and brothers-in-law Davey Boy Smith and Jim Neidhart. The family members formed a new Hart Foundation with Brian Pillman; this incarnation was an anti-American stable which was popular within Canada and Europe. During an angle in which it appeared that the Hart Foundation had vandalized the locker room of the African American stable, the Nation of Domination (in the storyline, DX framed the Hart Foundation). As kayfabe retaliation, during a promo with DX, Hart called both Triple H and Shawn Michaels "homos". After leaving the WWF, Hart apologized for the angles and said that he had been pressured into going through with them. He said, "I am not in any shape or form a racist. And I don't believe it is anything to kid around about. I also want to apologize for any remarks I made about gay people. It was a stupid mistake on my part."[71] Hart's reluctance to use such references was cited on Wrestling with Shadows, where he points out that while Shawn Michaels wanted Bret to use these insults against him to further their on-screen rivalry, Bret was extremely reluctant to do so.

Hart captured his fifth WWF Championship at SummerSlam after spitting in guest referee Shawn Michaels' face; Michaels swung a steel chair in retaliation, which accidentally struck the Undertaker and allowed Hart to get the pin.[72][73]

Montreal Screwjob and departure (1997)

The "Screwjob"—Earl Hebner call the bell as Shawn Michaels holds Bret Hart in the Sharpshooter finishing move.

Around this time, Hart's on-air rivalry with "announcer" Vince McMahon also escalated. A heated ringside altercation between the two led many fans to dislike McMahon, who at the time was being exposed as owner of the WWF more and more frequently on-air. Although Hart was signed to a 20-year contract back in 1996, the WWF was in a rough financial position by late 1997 and could not afford the contract. Although Hart was arguably the biggest wrestler in the world during the mid-1990s,[8] McMahon also felt that the value of his character was beginning to wane,[74] but wished for Hart to remain with the WWF and discuss the contract and the character's future. Nonetheless, McMahon gave Hart his blessing to talk to World Championship Wrestling (WCW) about possibly taking a second look at their original offer to him.[75] Hart subsequently signed a three-year contract with WCW. His final match with the WWF would be a title match against his real life rival Shawn Michaels at Survivor Series in Montreal. Hart did not want to end his WWF career with a loss to Michaels in his home country; McMahon agreed to Hart's idea of forfeiting the championship the next night on Raw or losing it a few weeks later.

Although Hart stated to McMahon he would not take the WWF Championship with him to WCW TV (and despite insistence from then-WCW President Eric Bischoff, according to Hart's DVD biography,[75] that Hart would join WCW with a "clean slate"), McMahon was still concerned; this led to him breaking his word in what eventually came to be known as the Montreal Screwjob. Even though Hart did not submit to the Sharpshooter, referee Earl Hebner called for the bell as if he had, on McMahon's orders. This resulted in Hart "losing" the WWF Championship to Michaels.[76] The night ended with an irate Hart spitting in McMahon's face, destroying television equipment, and punching McMahon backstage in front of Gerald Brisco, Pat Patterson, and McMahon's son Shane. Hart also confronted Michaels backstage about the match finish. Many behind-the-scenes events leading up to the Montreal Screwjob were filmed for the documentary Hitman Hart: Wrestling with Shadows, released in 1998.

World Championship Wrestling (1997–2000)

Early WCW run (1997–1998)

A day after the Survivor Series pay-per-view, Eric Bischoff, while with the New World Order (nWo), announced that Hart was going to be coming to World Championship Wrestling (WCW), and joining the nWo. About a month after Survivor Series, Hart joined WCW, the WWF's main competitor. He made his debut on WCW Monday Nitro on December 15, 1997 when it was announced by WCW Chairman of the Board J.J. Dillon that Hart would be the special guest referee for the match between Bischoff and Larry Zbyszko at Starrcade.[77] Bret was involved in the Sting versus Hulk Hogan match at Starrcade, stepping in toward its conclusion as impromptu referee. He attacked referee Nick Patrick, accusing him of making a fast count and shouting he would not let "it happen again" (a reference to the Montreal Screwjob).[78] During Bischoff's period in control of the company, the goodwill towards Hart generated by the Montreal Screwjob resulted in his being pushed as a face; he defeated Ric Flair in his first WCW match at Souled Out in 1998,[79] and beat Curt Hennig at Uncensored.[80]

Heel turn (1998–1999)

WCW President Eric Bischoff confessed on TSN's Off The Record in March 1998 that he wasn't entirely sure how to creatively use Hart, but that he had future plans for a feud between Hart and Hulk Hogan, which would make "a tremendous amount of money" (the feud never materialised—they instead had one televised match on WCW Monday Nitro which ended in a no-contest).[81] In April 1998, Hart turned heel in a Nitro main event involving Hogan and "Macho Man" Randy Savage, unofficially joining the nWo. He defeated Savage in singles action at Slamboree, thanks to assistance from Hogan,[82] and then again in a tag team match with Hogan at The Great American Bash in which Savage was partnered with Roddy Piper.[83]

At Bash at the Beach, Hart competed in his first championship match in WCW as he faced Booker T for Booker's WCW World Television Championship. He was disqualified after hitting Booker with a steel chair.[84] Hart was then booked to win WCW's second-most prestigious title, the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship. Although Hart would later become a two-time WCW World Heavyweight Champion, some saw WCW's failure to push Hart as a contender to the title for another year — despite previously being one of the WWF's top stars and having signed an estimated $3 million a year contract with WCW — as a mistake.[85][7]

On the July 20 edition of Nitro, Hart defeated Diamond Dallas Page for the vacant WCW United States Heavyweight Championship, his first championship in WCW.[86] Hart would go on to hold the United States Heavyweight Championship four times—the most reigns in WCW history.[18] Though still not officially a member of the nWo, the faction did support him in the match, as The Giant came out to the ring and chokeslammed Page. A few days later, Hart lost the United States Heavyweight Championship to fellow WWF alumnus Lex Luger.[87] Hart regained the title from Luger, the next night on Thunder.[88] At Fall Brawl, Hart and several other wrestlers lost to Diamond Dallas Page in a WarGames match.[89] During the fall of 1998 Hart also had an intense feud with Sting which ended at Halloween Havoc with Hart controversially defending the title and (kayfabe) injuring Sting. On the October 26 edition of Nitro, Hart lost the United States Heavyweight Championship to Diamond Dallas Page.[90] The two had a rematch at World War 3 for the title which Hart lost.[91] Hart regained the title from Page on the November 30 edition of Nitro in a No Disqualification match with help from nWo member The Giant.[92]

On the February 8 edition of Nitro, Hart lost the United States Heavyweight Championship to family friend Roddy Piper.[93] On the March 29, 1999 edition of Nitro held at Toronto's Air Canada Centre, Hart appeared in street clothes and called out Bill Goldberg, claiming he could beat him in five minutes and verbally coercing Goldberg into tackling him. Hart was wearing a metal breastplate under his Toronto Maple Leafs sweater, which resulted in Goldberg being knocked out. Hart then counted his own pinfall over Goldberg's unconscious body, announced over the mic "Hey WCW, Bischoff, I quit!", and left the ring, arising speculation on whether Hart was actually leaving the company. Following the incident, Hart took a hiatus from WCW television. In May 1999, prior to his return, his brother Owen Hart died in an accident during a WWF pay-per-view. As a result, Hart did not return to television, and took a further four months off from WCW to be with his family.

World Heavyweight Champion and departure (1999–2000)

Bret Hart returned to wrestling on the September 13, 1999 edition of Nitro in a match with Hulk Hogan against Sting and Lex Luger. On the October 4, 1999 edition of Nitro he wrestled in a tribute match for Owen against Chris Benoit — this match took place in Kemper Arena in Kansas City, where Owen had died months earlier.[94] Around this same time, the WWF's top writer Vince Russo "jumped ship" to join WCW. Russo instigated an angle which involved a controversy over a series of World Heavyweight Championship matches between Sting, Hogan, and Goldberg at Halloween Havoc, ultimately leading to the title being declared vacant. A tournament then took place over several episodes of Nitro. Hart's first round match came against Goldberg the night after Halloween Havoc, with the match being a tournament match for a berth in the next round, as well as being a match for the United States Championship that Goldberg had won the night before. Thanks to outside interference, Hart was able to defeat Goldberg, handing him his second official WCW loss, and won the U.S. Championship for the fourth time.[95]

On the November 8 edition of Nitro, Hart lost the United States Heavyweight Championship to Scott Hall in a ladder match which also involved Sid Vicious and Goldberg.[96] Hart went on to win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship tournament by defeating Perry Saturn,[96] Billy Kidman,[97] Sting, and Chris Benoit at WCW Mayhem, held at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, giving him his first of two reigns in WCW and his sixth world title overall.

On December 7, Hart and Goldberg won the WCW World Tag Team Championship from Creative Control (making Hart a double champion), but lost the titles to The Outsiders on the December 13 edition of Nitro.[98] At Starrcade, Hart defended his WCW World Heavyweight Championship against Goldberg. During the match, Hart was struck with a mule kick to the head, resulting in a severe concussion. Hart later speculated that he may have suffered up to three additional concussions within matches over the course of that day along with the days immediately following Starrcade, having been unaware of the severity of his injuries.[99] As a part of this, Hart placed Goldberg on the post in a figure-four leg lock which ended with Hart hitting his head on the concrete floor when Goldberg failed to receive the move correctly.[100] The sum total of those injuries left Hart with post-concussion syndrome and ultimately forced his retirement from professional wrestling. Hart wrote a Calgary Sun column in which he said that Goldberg "had a tendency to injure everyone he worked with."[101] As part of his DVD documentary, Hart expressed regret that "someone as good-hearted as Bill Goldberg" was responsible for hurting him.[75]

Hart vacated the WCW World Heavyweight Championship on the December 20 edition of Nitro as a result of controversies surrounding his Starrcade match, offering Goldberg a rematch for the title that evening. During the match, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash came to the ring looking to attack Goldberg with baseball bats. Hart convinced them to stop, then in a swerve hit Goldberg with one of the bats. The three continued to beat down Goldberg and were eventually joined by Jeff Jarrett.[102] As a result, not only did Hart regain the championship, the nWo was reformed.[103][104] Overall, Hart was 3-1 against Goldberg, who was noted for his undefeated streak. He defended the WCW World Heavyweight Championship against Terry Funk and Kevin Nash in January 2000, before vacating the title in late January 2000 when he was forced to withdraw from the main event of WCW's Souled Out due to his injuries. Hart never lost either WCW World Heavyweight Championship he held, but forfeited them instead. Hart continued to make appearances on WCW television, generally cutting promos, although he did compete in the 41-man battle royal on the May 3, 2000 edition of Thunder to determine the number one contender for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship, which was won by Ric Flair. His final WCW appearance occurred on the September 6, 2000 edition of Thunder, in a promo where he confronted Bill Goldberg on the injury he sustained nine months prior. Hart left WCW as his three-year contract expired in late 2000 and announced his retirement soon afterward.

Creative handling in WCW

Although Hart held multiple titles and was involved in matches with many of WCW's biggest stars during his tenure, his storylines were regarded by many as lackluster.[7][105] Then-WCW President Eric Bischoff admitted in March 1998 that he wasn't entirely sure how to creatively handle Hart,[81] but has subsequently opined that, due to the impact of the Montreal Screwjob and death of his brother Owen, Hart was "not the same Bret" as he had been during the mid-1990s, which led to the sub-par execution of Hart's storylines: "As much as I like Bret and respect him, there was a real lack of passion and commitment."[106] Hart dismisses this notion, claiming that he entered WCW with the intention to "make as big an impact as I could possibly make". Hart has expressed the opinion that he was "poorly used" by the company, describing his tenure there as "really sad."[7] Vince McMahon claimed that WCW had "no idea" what to do with Hart, which McMahon said was "fortunate for me, in terms of my company; unfortunate for Bret personally."[7]

Post-retirement appearances (2001-present)

In late 2001, Bret Hart made appearances as the on-screen commissioner of World Wrestling All-Stars (WWA). In his first major appearance since recovering from his stroke, Bret Hart traveled to Australia to appear at another WWA event in May 2003.

On May 9, 2007, it was announced that Hart would make his first appearance for a professional wrestling event since the 2006 WWE Hall of Fame. Hart signed autographs at "The Legends of Wrestling" show at the Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.[107] On June 11, 2007, Hart made his first appearance on Raw since October 27, 1997 when he appeared in a pre-taped interview voicing his opinions on Vince McMahon as part of "Mr. McMahon Appreciation Night." On June 24, 2007, Bret Hart made his first appearance in Montreal, Quebec since the Montreal Screwjob at Unison Bar & Billiard. During this appearance, he signed autographs and spent the evening with over 1,000 fans. During the months of October and November 2008, Bret went on tour with American Wrestling Rampage promotions, touring many places throughout the UK and Ireland, posing for photographs and signing autographs before the show. On the weekend of July 11, 2009, Bret made an appearance at One Pro Wrestling in Sheffield, England, where he held a Q&A, and then entered the ring to address the fans at the show. On September 27, 2009, Hart appeared in New York City's Manhattan Center to sign autographs during a Ring of Honor event. He spoke to the crowd, reminiscing about some of his more memorable matches in New York. He said that if he ever does return to the ring, "he'll make sure it happens in New York."

Return to World Wrestling Entertainment (2010-present)

Return to WWE and feud with Vince McMahon

Hart confronts Michaels on January 4, 2010

On December 28, 2009, after weeks of controversy surrounding Hart and his presence in World Wrestling Entertainment, Chairman Vince McMahon announced that Bret Hart would be special guest host the January 4, 2010 episode of Raw.[108] Hart made his first appearance on Raw in over 12 years by hosting the program and confronting Shawn Michaels and Vince McMahon regarding Montreal Screwjob at Survivor Series in 1997. Hart and Michaels were able to agree on a truce, shake hands and hugging. While many cast doubts on the sincerity of their reconciliation, Hart has confirmed that it was indeed genuine.[109] It also appeared that he had buried the hatchet with Vince later in the night, until Vince subsequently kicked Bret in the gut (this was in fact part of a storyline, as Bret and Vince have been on speaking terms since 2006). Hart said of the ongoing storyline with McMahon: "I hate to tell you what's going to happen... I don't want to ruin it for anybody."[109]

During different encounters the following month, Hart and McMahon would reproduce similar events that occurred in the Montreal Screwjob: McMahon spits on Bret Hart's face (as Hart did to McMahon), and Hart then destroyed parts of the technical equipment that goes into producing Raw. (as he did to the Survivor Series equipment).[110] On the February 15 episode of Raw, Hart was to say goodbye to the WWE Universe; Hart was getting inside his limousine a woman was reversed her car and was crashed into limousine door and also Bret Hart's left leg was damaged. On the March 1 episode of Raw, Hart accepted Mr. McMahon's invitation back to Raw for a proper farewell to the fans, which would turn in to McMahon challenging Hart to a one on one match at WrestleMania XXVI. Hart accepted, marking Hart's long awaited return to the ring for first time.[20] During the contract signing, Hart revealed the 'broken leg' and events surrounding it had all been ploy set up to lure Mr. McMahon into having the match with him. The match set for WrestleMania XXVI was also changed to a No Holds Barred Match.

Honors

Bret Hart accepts his induction into the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame

In 2004, Hart was chosen as one of the Greatest Canadians, coming in at number thirty-nine. He was also the advocate for Don Cherry during the televised portion of the competition. Bret Hart said he's done with professional wrestling following his U.S. book tour. Hart believes his wrestling career will be complete after saying good-bye to his American fans on various book signing tours to promote its release in the States. Hart is content saying good-bye to wrestling through his book and not working for a promotion after spending seven years on the project. "I'd be happy being remembered for really brilliant storytelling in my matches, not for some last chance to snap up some money," Hart said. "I respectfully understand my light in wrestling is fading. I can live with that." Hart said he nearly gave up on the project while trying to fight with the illnesses he faced after suffering a stroke in 2002. However, Hart wanted to bring closure on his wrestling career. "A lot of times, I thought about giving up because it was hard reliving some of these events. But I couldn't say goodbye to my wrestling character until I finished."

On the February 16, 2006, episode of Raw, it was announced that Hart would be a 2006 inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame.[111] Hart had also been approached by Vince McMahon for a potential match between the two at WrestleMania 22 but declined the offer.[112] On April 1, 2006, Hart was inducted by "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. He thanked every wrestler he worked with (even thanking Vince McMahon) and said he's "in a good place in life."[113] Despite Hart's claims around the time of WrestleMania 22, the idea of a match between Hart and McMahon was revived in 2010 following Bret's guest appearance on the January 4th edition of Raw. On March 1, 2010, it was confirmed that Hart and McMahon would have their match at WrestleMania XXVI.

On July 15, 2006, Bret Hart was inducted into the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame, at the International Wrestling Institute and Museum in Newton, Iowa. The induction took place in an immensely crowded and humid display room showcasing one of Hart's ring entrance jackets. The honor is only awarded to those with both a professional and amateur wrestling background, making Hart one of the youngest inductees. During his acceptance, Hart compared this induction to his place in the WWE Hall of Fame, saying "This is a much bigger honor for me."[114]

In June 2008, Hart returned to the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame ceremony, this time to induct his father Stu Hart. At the induction ceremony in Waterloo, Iowa, he ridiculed Slam Wrestling editor Greg Oliver, calling him a "charlatan" and his books on wrestling "fiction" to the standing ovation of some wrestlers in attendance. At the end of the speech, Hart said "Either you go or I go." After Oliver refused to leave, Hart walked out of the ceremony with other wrestlers to scattered applause.[115]

Media

Writing

Hart promoting his autobiography in Belfast, Northern Ireland

Bret co-wrote an illustrated autobiography, entitled Hitman, with Perry Lefko in 2000. He also wrote a weekly column for the Calgary Sun from June 1991 until October 2004.

On October 16, 2007, Hart's second autobiography titled Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling, was released in Canada by Random House Canada, and released in fall 2008 in the United States by Grand Central Publishing, with a U.S. book signing tour. Hart began writing the book in July 1999 with Marcy Engelstein. They did not complete the book until eight years later in September 2007 due to Hart suffering his stroke in 2002, among numerous other tragedies that occurred during the writing. Hart's chronicle is based on an audio diary that he kept for all of his years on the road in professional wrestling.

Acting

From 1995 to 1996 Hart appeared in the Lonesome Dove television series as Luther Root. He has made numerous televised appearances since, including a guest spot on The Simpsons in 1997 (as himself, in "The Old Man and the Lisa") and a stint playing The Genie in a theatrical production of Aladdin in 2004, a role which he reprised in the Canadian Touring production of Aladdin in late 2006. Hart also appeared in episodes of the Honey I Shrunk The Kids TV series (along with his brother), The Adventures of Sinbad, ' Big Sound, and The Immortal. Hart is also the voice of the Hooded Fang in Jacob Two-Two (TV series)

Hart also guest starred on the sketch comedy series MADtv in 1997 where he acted as enforcer at a fan's house, appearing with his WWF Championship belt. Hart later appeared again on MADtv in 1999 and 2000 in an angle with actor Will Sasso in which the two feuded on the set of MADtv and in World Championship Wrestling; this culminated in a grudge match on WCW Monday Nitro, where Hart decisively defeated Sasso.

Wrestling-related

Hart was the subject of 1998 documentary, Hitman Hart: Wrestling with Shadows, which chronicles the events leading up to his transition from WWF to WCW.

In mid-2005, WWE announced the release of a three-disc DVD originally named Screwed: The Bret Hart Story, with the title a reference to the Montreal Screwjob. After he was approached about appearing in the DVD, Hart visited WWE Headquarters on August 3, 2005 and met with Vince McMahon. Hart filmed over seven hours of interview footage for the DVD, which was renamed Bret "Hit Man" Hart: The Best There Is, The Best There Was, The Best There Ever Will Be. The DVD includes a compendium of Hart's favorite matches, including a match against his brother Owen held in White Plains, New York and his first match with Ricky Steamboat. Before the DVD's release, the WWE released a special magazine covering Hart's career. The collection was released on November 15, 2005.

Hart appeared on many talk shows (Larry King Live, Nancy Grace, Hannity & Colmes, On the Record w/ Greta Van Susteren, etc.) discussing the Chris Benoit double murder and suicide. Hart is shown putting his finishing hold, the Sharpshooter, on Chris Benoit in the opening credits of Malcolm in the Middle

Personal life

Family

Hart married Julie Smadu-Hart (born March 25, 1960) on July 8, 1982. Bret & Julie have 4 children:[116] Jade Michelle Hart (born March 31, 1983); Dallas Jeffery Hart (born August 11, 1984); Alexandra Sabina Hart (born May 17, 1988), nicknamed "Beans"; & Blade Colton Hart (born June 5, 1990). The 4 hearts located on the right thigh of his tights symbolize his 4 children, as do the 4 dots following his signature. Bret & Julie separated in May 1998 & they eventually got divorced on June 24, 2002 just hours before Bret suffered his stroke.[117] Hart married an Italian woman named Cinzia Rota in 2004, but they got divorced in 2007 after failing to agree on where they should live.[117] His 7 brothers were either wrestlers or involved backstage with the wrestling business; his 4 sisters all married professional wrestlers. 3 of his brothers-in-law, the Dynamite Kid, Davey Boy Smith, & Jim Neidhart had successful careers in the business. His youngest brother Owen Hart became a decorated wrestler in his own right before his death in 1999, caused in a real-life accident at the WWE pay-per-view Over the Edge. When Hart began the controversial "Canada versus America" angle, he was criticized in public, accused of being anti-American & often told by angry American fans "go back where you came from". Hart responded in an interview with the Calgary Sun, stating that "[there is] a difference between a show and reality". In actuality, Hart holds dual citizenship with Canada & the U.S. as his mother is originally from Long Island, New York in the U.S.[118] On June 24, 2002, Bret Hart suffered a stroke after hitting his head in a bicycle accident. The Calgary Herald reported that Hart hit a pothole, flew over the handlebars of the bike, & landed on the back of his head. Hart suffered total paralysis on his left side, which required months of physical therapy. Hart has since recovered much of his mobility & is in good health, although he suffers from an emotional imbalance & other lasting effects common to stroke survivors. Hart wrote in detail about his stroke in his autobiography, Hitman: My Real Life In The Cartoon World of Wrestling.[119] Hart later became a spokesperson for March of Dimes Canada's Stroke Recovery Canada program.[120] The Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League took their name from Hart, who was a founder and part-owner.[121] He "supposedly" has a 27-year-old girlfriend who's going to school in Hawaii.

Feud with Ric Flair

In 2004, Hart engaged in an off-screen rivalry with Ric Flair. In his autobiography, Flair criticizes Hart for exploiting the death of his brother, Owen Hart, and the controversy surrounding the Montreal Screwjob.[122] Flair also claimed in his autobiography that, despite Hart's popularity in Canada, he was not a formidable money-making draw elsewhere, a claim which Hart dismissed as "plain ridiculous" in a column written for the Calgary Sun.[123] Hart claimed that he drew greater revenue than Flair, citing his headlining performances on consistently sold-out tours throughout his WWF career, while Flair wrestled to allegedly near-empty arenas. He also criticized Flair on what he perceived as insults to fellow wrestlers Mick Foley and Randy Savage. Hart did acknowledge a decline in the WWF's popularity during the mid 1990s, but he, and others, felt that this was largely attributed to the WWF's well-publicised sex and steroid scandals, as well as WCW's acquisition of former top WWE stars.[123][124][125] In 2005, Vince McMahon reinforced Hart's drawing power and in-ring ability, asserting that any company who hired him could have built their entire franchise around him.[7]

In wrestling

  • Nicknames
    • "The Cowboy" Bret Hart[2]
    • Buddy "The Hearthrob" Hart[2]
    • Bret "The Hitman" Hart[2]
    • "The Excellence of Execution"[2]
    • "The Best There Is, The Best There Was and The Best There Ever Will Be"[31]
    • "The Pink and Black Attack" (while teaming with Jim Neidhart)
  • Entrance themes
    • "Hart Beat" by Jimmy Hart and J.J. Maguire (WWF) 1988-1994
    • "Hart Attack" by Jim Johnston/Jimmy Hart/J.J Maguire (WWF) 1994-1997
    • "hitman in the house" (WCW) 1997-1999
    • "Hitman Theme" by Keith Scott (WCW) 1999-2000
    • "Our House" (WCW) (Used while in nWo 2000) 2000
    • "Return The Hitman" by Jim Johnston (WWE) 2010-present

Championships and accomplishments

1Hart co-won the Royal Rumble with Lex Luger after both simultaneously eliminated each other.

References

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Further information

  • Bret Hart, Owen Hart, Vince McMahon. (December 8, 2009). Hitman Hart: Wrestling with Shadows. [Documentary film]. ASIN B001NG9GZ0. 
  • Hart, Bret; Lefko, Perry (March 2000). Bret "Hitman" Hart: The Best There Is, the Best There Was, the Best There Ever Will Be. Balmur/Stoddart. pp. 128. ISBN 0773760954. 
  • Hart, Bret (2008). Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling. Random House of Canada. pp. 592. ISBN 0307355675. 

External links


Simple English

Bret "The Hitman" Hart is a Canadian Professional wrestling superstar. He is a member of the famous Hart wrestling family of Calgary, Alberta.

Contents

Career

He worked for the World Wrestling Entertainment (Formerly the WWF; now the WWE), World Championship Wrestling, Stampede Wrestling, and New Japan Pro Wrestling. He has also appeared on select Ring of Honor cards (doing shoots and promos opposed to wrestling) and autograph sessions. Hart has held numerous World and regional belts. He is considered to be one of the most technically sound wrestlers ever.[needs proof]

Ending career

Hart retired after being kicked in the head by his opponent, Goldberg, in a match. Soon after he suffered a stroke. He has has since recovered and has pursued stage acting. He writes a column for a daily newspaper in Calgary, where he lives.

WWE Return

Hart returned to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), formerly the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), after a 12 year hiatus, as the guest host of WWE's January 4th, 2010 episode of Monday Night Raw which went head to head with TNA Impact on Spike TV, which featured the return of Hulk Hogan. On that episode of Raw he confronted both Shawn Micheals and Vince McMahon both about the Montreal Screwjob at Survivor Series 1997, which led to Vince dropping Bret w/ a kick to the abdomen at the end of the show. It has been rumored that Bret has signed a deal till' well after Wrestlemania 26 with the Company.


Title shots. Bret hart has won 123 wwe champion shipsss XDD

In wrestling

  • Finishing moves
    • Sharpshooter
    • Spike piledriver
  • Signature moves
    • Bridging / Release German suplex
    • Bulldog, sometimes from the second rope
    • Dropkick
    • Figure four leglock, sometimes while using the ringpost for extra pressure
    • Headbutt
    • Headbutt drop to the opponent's lower abdomen
    • Inverted atomic drop
    • Multiple pinning variations
      • Backwards flip out of chokehold into cover using turnbuckle
      • Crucifix
      • Inside cradle
      • Roll-up
      • Sunset flip
      • Victory roll
    • Pendulum backbreaker
    • Russian legsweep
    • Seated senton to an opponent's leg draped over the first rope
    • Second or a top rope dive into either an axe handle elbow drop or a side elbow drop
    • Sleeper hold
    • Snap suplex
    • Stomp to the opponent's abdomen
    • Suicide dive
    • Superplex
    • Swinging neckbreaker
  • With Jim Neidhart
    • Hart Attack
  • Nicknames
    • "The Cowboy" Bret Hart
    • Buddy "The Hearthrob" Hart
    • Bret "The Hitman" Hart
    • "The Excellence of Execution"
    • "The Best There Is, The Best There Was and The Best There Ever Will Be"
    • "The Pink and Black Attack" (while teaming with Jim Neidhart)

Championships and accomplishments

  • Cauliflower Alley Club
    • Iron Mike Award (2008)
  • Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum
    • Class of 2008
  • Pro Wrestling Illustrated
    • PWI Comeback of the Year (1997)
    • PWI Feud of the Year (1993) vs. Jerry Lawler
    • PWI Feud of the Year (1994) vs. Owen Hart
    • PWI Match of the Year (1992) vs. British Bulldog at SummerSlam
    • PWI Match of the Year (1996) vs. Shawn Michaels in an Iron Man match at WrestleMania XII
    • PWI Match of the Year (1997) vs. Steve Austin in a Submission match at WrestleMania 13
    • PWI Most Hated Wrestler of the Year (1997)
    • PWI Most Inspirational Wrestler of the Year (1994)
    • PWI Stanley Weston Award (2003)
    • PWI ranked him #1 of

the 500 best singles wrestlers of the year in the [[Pro Wrestling Illustrated#PWI 500|PWI 500]] in 1993 and 1994

    • PWI ranked him #4 of the top 500

singles wrestlers of the "PWI Years" in 2003

    • PWI ranked him #37 of the top 500 tag teams of the "PWI Years" with Jim Neidhart in 2003
  • Stampede Wrestling
    • NWA International Tag Team Championship (Calgary version) (5 times) – with Keith Hart (4) and Leo Burke (1)
    • Stampede British Commonwealth Mid-Heavyweight Championship (3 times)
    • Stampede North American Heavyweight Championship
    • Stampede Wrestling Hall of Fame
  • World Championship Wrestling

There Was, The Best There Ever Will Be]]

    • Feud of the Year (1993) vs. Jerry Lawler
    • Feud of the Year (1997) with Owen Hart, Jim Neidhart, British Bulldog, and Brian Pillman vs. Steve Austin
    • Match of the Year (1997) vs. Steve Austin in a Submission match at WrestleMania 13
    • Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (Class of 1996)

1Hart co-won the Royal Rumble with Lex Luger after both simultaneously eliminated each other.








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