Jim Ross has shared his thoughts that WWE Hall Of Famer Bret Hart should have topped WWE’s payroll list as the highest-paid star in the company.
From the end of Hulkamania to the cusp of the Attitude Era, Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart led the then-World Wrestling Federation as the leader of its New Generation. Hart became a 5-time WWF Champion during this time and cemented a legacy that many today still consider one of the greatest of all time.
In 1996 Hart disappeared from WWF television after his loss to Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 12. Stories from the time suggested Hart had been offered a contract with WCW with his own deal with Vince McMahon’s company running down.
Speaking on his Grilling JR podcast [available early and ad-free at AdFreeShows.com] Jim Ross discussed Hart’s worth to the company at the time and what it would have meant to gate receipts if the Hitman went to excellently execute elsewhere:
“Bret felt he had great worth. He felt like he should have been paid more, and I’m not disagreeing with that, quite frankly. He should have been the highest-paid guy in WWE by far. He was the most valuable player in WWE at that time by far, so to me, it was not a hard decision. But, also, I’m not looking at the books. I’m not looking at Vince’s accounting and so forth and so on.”
“Losing Bret would have been a big hit on the live events and even though today live events are not of huge consequence, it seems like, because of the rights fees and so forth and the promotions getting their money in a different source, Bret was always that staple that drew houses. He was big on the live event tours and sold tickets and made money for the company.”
Hart stayed with the WWF, signing a twenty-year deal that WWE Chairman Vince McMahon was forced to renege on just the very next year. In November 1997, Bret Hart’s time in the WWF came to a bitter end at Survivor Series in Montreal, and the next month The Hitman was part of Eric Bischoff’s WCW.