Bret Hart – “I Think The Rock Appreciated That I Went To Bat For Him”

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Despite being two of the biggest names in the history of professional wrestling, Bret Hart and The Rock only ever met in the ring once.

A week after WrestleMania 13 where Bret Hart competed in his legendary Submission Match against Stone Cold Steve Austin, Hart was back in the hunt for silverware. After failing to win the World Title just weeks prior to WrestleMania, Hart found himself in the running for the Intercontinental Title.

The Intercontinental Champion at the time was an and coming Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Known as Rocky Maivia, Rock had won the title in the February of 1997, before retaining it against The Sultan at WrestleMania.

On the March 31st edition of Monday Night RAW, the young champion retained his title via disqualification, but things could have easily been very different.

Appearing on the 81 Podcast, Hart has now revealed that Triple H was pushing for him to win to the title. The former world champion recalled how Triple H and Shawn Michaels were ruthless backstage, adding that trying to get the Intercontinental Title off The Rock was a political move.

“Triple H and maybe even Shawn [Michaels], were pretty ruthless. If someone was tied to me or connected to me, they would try to ruin them. Even Dwayne Johnson [The Rock]. They really tried to crack him and bust his chops. I remember telling Dwayne all the time, ‘Don’t listen to these guys. You’re a really good talent and you don’t need these guys.’ When I did the big interview about America, the next week’s taping, I wrestled The Rock and they wanted me to beat him. Triple H did. He wanted me to beat Dwayne and win the Intercontinental Title. I refused. ‘What do I need the Intercontinental Title for?’ We did the figure four on the post, Steve Austin came out, Owen [Hart] and Davey [Boy Smith] came out, a bunch of interference. I remember Triple H was sick about it because he had a thing for Dwayne and wanted to ruin him. He hated him.”

Hart went on to explain why he refused to win the title and how he wishes he could have worked more with The Rock in the future.

“I remember say, ‘I like Dwayne, he just got the Intercontinental Title and doesn’t need me to take it from him.’ I didn’t want to be Intercontinental Champion. It was all politics, Triple H was trying to steer me into the Intercontinental Title instead of the World Title. It didn’t make any sense. I told Vince, ‘I don’t get heat from beating Dwayne for the title, it doesn’t do anything for me. Let him keep it.’ I think Dwayne always appreciated that I went to bat for him. I didn’t want to beat him, I wanted to wrestle him down the road as a future guy to draw money with. It’s a shame I didn’t get to work with him other than that one night,”

Elsewhere in the conversation, Hart also revealed that he saved Ken Shamrock from getting fired. The Hitman detailed how Vince McMahon was all set to fire Shamrock, as he was unpopular backstage, before Hart changed his mind.

H/t to Fightful for the transcription.