Bret Hart is widely regarded as one of the greatest professional wrestlers to ever step into the ring. Over the course of his career he competed in classic matches with the likes of Stone Cold Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, the British Bulldog and his brother Owen Hart.
Come the final months of 1997, Hart was at the top of his game and still one of the biggest stars that the WWF had to offer. However, the wrestling world was tipped on it’s head when The Hitman made the move to WCW. While the switch at the height of the ‘Monday Night Wars’ was a massive story in it’s own right, the fact his departure came after the Montreal Screwjob took the move to a whole new level.
“I Was A Better Sports Entertainer Than Bret Hart” – Road Dogg
At Survivor Series 1997, Earl Hebner called for the bell in the main event clash between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, with the former trapped in the Sharpshooter. However, Hart never submitted and the whole finish of the match was to ensure that the star left the ring without the WWF Championship. This sparked a near riot in the arena, and ended with Hart punching Vince McMahon in the face backstage.
Speaking on his podcast, Oh You Didn’t Know, Road Dogg, who was with the WWF at the time, was asked whether there was a feeling within the company that losing Hart could hand WCW victory in the wresting war. In response the WWE Hall of Famer claimed that he never really understood what the big deal was with Hart, commenting that he wasn’t a great wrestler.
“For me, personally, and that’s all you’re gonna get from me ever is because that’s all I got. It’s my only reference point. I never saw what the big deal was with Bret Hart as a performer. I never understood it. He was a great worker, and I thought about saying good, but he was a great worker. He worked better than me, 10-fold. Worked circles around me. Don’t ever think that I’ve told anybody I was a good wrestler, because I haven’t, and if you’ve listened to my podcast, you know that’s true.
I don’t think I was a good wrestler. I don’t think Bret was a great wrestler. I think I was a better sports entertainer than Bret was and I think that’s where the money is.”
“So I always thought that he should have done business and done what was right. You know what I mean? But I never looked at him like if we lose this guy, we lose the war. I never thought that for one moment. Now I can understand people who are huge Bret Hart fans going, screw you Road Dog. You suck. Okay, screw me and I suck. Okay, like now what? We still get to my feelings, which is I never thought he was that great to begin with so it wasn’t that great a loss when we lost him for me personally.
That’s professionally, really, not personally, because I didn’t have any personal feelings about it one way or the other. I just didn’t think we were sunk because he left. I thought we got a lot more to offer than that. I didn’t think we were sunk. I thought now we can catch our breath and move forward.”
Road Dogg went on to clarify his comments, noting that he wasn’t attempting to be disrespectful, rather it was just his opinion on Bret Hart the wrestler and performer.
“I apologize, but I want everybody to understand. I don’t dislike Bret Hart. I just don’t think he’s that great of a wrestler and I’m sorry if that hurts anybody’s feelings, his especially, because I’m not trying to do that. I always thought Shawn was the better sports entertainer and I still believe that to this day. I mean, that’s controversial to some, but I don’t know why. It’s how I feel. You know what I mean? I don’t know why my feelings are so controversial. You know what I mean? The person who has the opposite side of the argument, you’re allowed to have that side.”
“One of my great friends was a huge Bret Hart fan, and yet, I’m not going to tell him Bret sucks. You know what I mean? I’m not gonna tell him I don’t like Bret. He loves Bret. I’m just saying cool, love Bret. But you’re asking me about my feelings and they’re asking me questions about how I perceive things. I told the truth, and I will do it again. I agree that if you think he’s on the side of great wrestlers, okay. I’m not gonna debate that because he is a really great wrestler. But where I draw the line is there ain’t a dime in wrestling and that’s how I feel.”
“We’re gonna get a lot of questions and comments about this just because of the stuff I said about Bret. Again, I don’t dislike the guy. I respect him a lot. I have a ton of respect for him and his whole family and I mean that from the bottom of my heart. We have a difference of opinion when it comes to professional wrestling. I say there isn’t a dime in wrestling and that’s a lie. There’s money in wrestling. I just feel there’s more money in sports entertainment and that’s why I think the way I think.”
Bret Hart remained away from WWE until he began working with the company in 2005, before being inducted into the Hall of Fame a year later. It was recently revealed that Hart almost returned to the ring in 2006 to face Vince McMahon at WrestleMania 22.
H/t to WrestlingNewsCo