There is arguably no one more outspoken in the world of professional wrestling than Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart. In recent years, he has taken everyone who wronged him to task for their crimes and not spared any feelings along the way.
Anyone who owns a copy of his superb autobiography, Hitman, purchased a copy of his WWE released DVDs, listens to his gripping shoot interviews or subscribes to his insightful Confessions of The Hitman podcast will know that Hart is one of wrestling’s greatest storytellers both inside and outside of the ring.
If you delve into the tales he has told with relish and delight, you’ll find the Montreal Screwjob, his feelings on Shawn Michaels, Triple H and Vince McMahon, his failed run in WCW and possibly one of his most famous fables, Bill Goldberg and the kick that ended his time as an active performer.
Just when you thought you knew everything about Bret’s feelings towards the former WWE Universal Champion, ‘The Excellence of Execution’ reveals more information about his time with the specialist of the Jackhammer.
In a recent episode of his Confessions of The Hitman webseries, arguably the greatest wrestler to ever step into a ring spoke once more about the man who ended his glorious career.
On the subject of keeping your opponent safe between the ropes during the episode named, ‘Nature of the Business’, Hart tore into the powerhouse even though he admitted he liked Bill as a person:
“Goldberg was a gorilla. Goldberg was a guy that nobody seemed to have taught how wrestling really works. He seemed to think he could just pick a guy up and just slam him through the mat as hard as you could and that was good wrestling. But I always liked Bill as a person. His wrestling, his work rate was 0/10. Like, everything he did hurt – everything! He could tie up with you and hurt you. He’d tie up with himself and hurt himself!”
Bret wasn’t finished there as the character assassination continued when the subject turned to how to present the in-ring product:
“Bill was one of those types of guys that I don’t think understood ever that it’s supposed to look like it hurt but it’s not supposed really hurt. And he had so many people praising him because he’d run you over like a car. Like, he’d football tackle you with no pads on. He’s all jacked up and roided up, and he’s about 280 lbs. You might as well have a real car just drive over top of you. He’d line up and just run you down, knock you down, and hurt guys. I asked, ‘how does he do that without hurting everybody?’ And everybody he worked with would come to the back holding their ribs. Guys would have tears in their eyes from how much pain they were in, and he was a really reckless and dangerous guy to wrestle.”
After Hart mentioned that the fastest rising star in WCW history had injured Haku with a simple bodyslam, attention turned to the kick that changed Bret’s life for good.
The date is December 19, 1999, and we’re at WCW Starrcade. One month earlier, Bret Hart had defeated Chris Benoit for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship in the Final of a tournament to crown a brand new champion at WCW Mayhem.
The match we’re here for is a No Disqualification war where Bret Hart will defend the WCW World Heavyweight Championship against Goldberg, who wasted no time in challenging the champion following his victory. Bret Hart’s life is about to change forever.
As Bret Hart rebounds off of the ropes, a haphazard mule kick catches him square in the head and leaves him with a severe concussion. ‘The Best There Is, The Best There Was, And The Best There Ever Will Be’ miraculously finishes the match and wins via submission in an ending which resembles the famous Montreal Screwjob from two years previous. As he lifts the strap, Hart doesn’t look like he knows anything about what just occurred.
“The kick was the work of a total– like, somebody who had absolutely no skill at all. He literally threw me into the ropes and tried to kick my head off my shoulders. Like, there was no working aspect to it. There’s no way you can do it without hurting somebody, and the thing with Bill was that all the ‘I’m sorries’ in the world don’t mean anything when you hurt somebody for real.”
Though Hart would continue to wrestling into January 2000, he was forced to retire from the industry thanks to the severity of the concussion he sustained. Hart claims that despite ending his career, Goldberg never bothered to contact him and when the pair spoke again, Goldberg denied any responsibility by blaming the accident on the nature of the business.
Apart from the vicious kick, Hart’s other gripe was about the payoff he didn’t receive from WWE once the company purchased WCW. World Championship Wrestling had terminated Bret’s contract just ten months after he had signed on the dotted line.
Had he made it to a full year with the company, then Hart would have been paid in full by his former employer once the then World Wrestling Federation had absorbed its competition:
“If I hadn’t got hurt when I did– they ended my contract. I hung on ’til it wasn’t quite a year; I hung on for 10 months and then they sacked me. But WWE bought out WCW and the guys that both got paid out where Goldberg and Hulk Hogan. They both got paid out in full in their contract what was owed to them by Ted Turner as part of the deal. I would have been part of that deal. I would have been paid out in full. I wouldn’t have to go back and work for WWE. I wouldn’t have to have had to work for anybody. I would have cashed in and made $15 million. But because Goldberg’s kick ended my career, they terminated me 10 months after I got hurt and I never got anything. My contract was null and void. If I couldn’t wrestle within six weeks, you’re done. And it’s one of those loopholes in my contract, but my contract was always with Ted Turner – not with WCW, and that was the key. That’s what Hogan had and that’s what Goldberg had. They had their contracts with Ted Turner. So that little clumsy kick by Bill Goldberg cost me $15 million in like, 10 seconds.”
The anger and bad blood Bret feels, however, is about more than money. That one careless moment in time had massive health detriments, adding to – but not being solely responsible for – the stroke he suffered in 2002 when he hit his head during a bicycle accident.
Bret Hart is many things to many people. A legend, an inspiration and the reason some got into professional wrestling in the first place. He is respected through generations, considered by many to be quite simply the greatest and the overriding memory of many childhoods.
If you would like to listen to the full interview with Bret Hart, then you can subscribe to Confessions of The Hitman now.
Credit for the interview: Confessions of The Hitman
h/t for the transcription: Wrestling Inc