When Bret Hart departed WWE in 1997, nobody really thought we’d see him in the company ever again.
The infamous Montreal Screwjob went down at Survivor Series that year and as Hart was not willing to drop the WWE title to Shawn Michaels, Vince McMahon conspired to make sure the title was taken from him in the main event.
The Hitman was due to start with WCW – WWE’s fierce rivals at the time – the next night and McMahon did this to make sure Hart didn’t turn up on Nitro with the WWE title, scorned from what Madusa had done with his women’s title in 1995.
Hart was furious McMahon would embarrass him in his home country of Canada and lie to him like that after years of loyal service.
Two years later his brother, Owen, would die making an entrance for WWE and the company has been accused of negligence in the events surrounding his death.
Hart’s career wouldn’t last much longer either as a flush kick from Goldberg would give Hart a concussion that ended his career in late 1999.
Speaking on his podcast – Confessions of a Hitman – Hart delved into what made him return to WWE in 2010 after years of bitterness from both sides.
As quoted by Wrestling Inc, Hart said: “It’s kind of funny because I watched Vince wrestle Donald Trump – I’m pretty sure it was Vince – and I remember going, ‘s**t, I could do that! I could wrestle Vince. I could do something, at least as much as Trump’s pulling off here’.
“I remember, I thought about it, and I had my knee replaced, and I remember running up the stairs in the house in Hawaii, and the phone was ringing, and I remember when I ran up the stairs, I thought, ‘I just ran up the stairs!’ Like, that’s amazing. That’s a miracle all by itself.
“I remember somewhere in that, I watched WrestleMania that week or that day, and I ended up calling WWE.
“And I ended up talking to a guy named Kevin Dunn, who’s like one of Vince’s right hand guys. And I said, ‘I’d like to come back. I’d like to come back and do a storyline with Vince. I’d like to bury the hatchet.’”
Hart decided he wanted to let go of the demons that had weighed him down for over a decade and had caused him to have a stroke at one point.
He believed he could put in a decent performance in some kind of role and he needed to write a new chapter in his life.
“I said, ‘I’m tired. Everywhere I go, all I hear about is The Screwjob, what happened with my brother, Owen,” he added. “All of that starts to weigh you down. I mean, it really starts to weigh you down.
“Like, it was really starting to wear on me all the time. It’s like, it’s all I ever hear about: Vince McMahon, and The Screwjob, and ‘what are you going to do now?’ Anyway, it just got to the point where it’s like – I think it was the solution to all my problems at the time.
“It was like, the best way for me to get over this, get it out of my way so it’s not in my way anymore is to go back and make peace with it, make real peace with it. And I pretty much laid it out on the table to Kevin Dunn that I’d like to go back and do a storyline.”
Hart and Michaels had a very contentious relationship by the time Hart was leaving WWE.
The combination of Michaels’ ego and well-documented drug problem caused the pair to clash on multiple occasions and, of course, HBK was at the heart of the screwjob and lied to Hart about his involvement.
“I said, ‘it would be fine with me if I could bury the hatchet with Shawn’. I had watched Shawn wrestle a match. He might have wrestled The Undertaker. I don’t know if it was on that WrestleMania with Trump or not, but it was a match that I had watched with Shawn and The Undertaker.
“I was so proud of them. I really loved the match; I thought it was a fantastic, five-star match, and I was proud of Shawn. And I remember thinking, ‘Shawn and me used to be such good friends’, and I felt bad that whatever happened between us.
“And Shawn had his drug problems, and I had my – I certainly poked him in the eye enough times to know that I wasn’t totally innocent of all [matters].
“I brought on some of that myself. I don’t know that I was the biggest instigator, but I can reason that we can be friends. I mean, I’d like to make friends, if Shawn would be up for it.”
Hart says WWE took their sweet time getting back to him, but once they did, the ball really got rolling and he’s proud of the decision he made.
“So anyway, I kind of threw all things out there for Kevin Dunn from WWE,” Hart finished. “He said he was pretty excited and he said he would talk to Vince and get back to me in a day or so.
“Anyway, I never heard from him for four or five months. That was in March, I think, roughly. I didn’t hear from him again until August, and by then, I thought, ‘okay, that idea didn’t fly very high,’ and it was kind of like, ‘at least I tried.’ I was kind of setting myself free from all that stuff anyways.”
“I’ve always been really proud of that,” Hart shared. “I know it wasn’t my greatest wrestling match, and I didn’t look that great, but I was a much older man, and I had at least one knee replacement, and I was on my way to having another one.
“And for me, it was all a way to make peace and say ‘goodbye’ to all the bad feelings and all that. I could be part of the WWE family again, and I’m so glad I did it.
“It was the best thing I could do. It set me free from all the issues that we had sort of gone through and wore me down.”