To say that Bret Hart left WWE in acrimonious circumstances would be an understatement. While there was an element of tension around his departure for WCW in late 1997, the Montreal Screwjob ensured that The Hitman and Vince McMahon wouldn’t see eye-to-eye for a number of years, while the death of his brother Owen in a WWE ring, only served to damage the relationship further.
However, things slowly began to change in 2004, as Bret Hart appeared in a WWE video game for the first time in six years. A year later Hart began working with the company on a collection of his best matches for a DVD release, and he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006 by Stone Cold Steve Austin. Although he didn’t appear at WrestleMania 22 the following night with his fellow inductees.
Bret Hart Almost Returned For A Match At WrestleMania 22
Interestingly, former WWE writer and current MLW boss Court Bauer has claimed that things were almost very different. In fact the on-screen feud between Bret Hart and Vince McMahon which took place in 2010 and ended with a WrestleMania match, almost happened four years earlier.
Speaking on The Insides podcast for AdFreeShows, Bauer broke down the original plans for Bret Hart’s return.
“Well, the original version was supposed to kind of, sort of, got off the ground in WWE in 2006, or seven. Bret was back in the orbit of WWE after coming to terms with Vince and doing the DVD and at one point was going to be Bret versus Vince at WrestleMania 22 in Chicago, and then Bret was a little uneasy about doing that. They eventually did it much differently a few years later.”
“But the original idea was gonna be the Harts and the Hart Foundation versus the WWE, Vince, Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Shane, Shawn’s students at the time. The idea would be you know, you have Paul London. You had Brian Kendrick, and then they were gonna sign Bryan Danielson. So you had like all these interesting ways against the Hart Foundation, which would have been Bret, Neidhart, and a new generation, Davey Boy Smith Jr., Nattie, Teddy and so on.”
“So we started the process and I got Harry Smith, Davey Boy Smith Jr. signed, Nattie and TJ, Tyson Kid and Teddy. I remember Vince looking at me saying. ‘You know, self-masturbatory gimmick.’ It was like a warning, like this is on you when this goes south. I’m like okay.”
“Now truth be told Teddy outlasted me in WWE. I left the summer of 2007 and he stayed around for a little bit more. So I don’t know how that ended up going, but clearly he didn’t end up on air and the other guys did. Nattie is still there doing great things, Tyson is contributing behind the scenes, and Harry’s had his tours of duty there since, so it was interesting what could have been with that. I think Jericho at some point was figured into the Hart story too, I think. I don’t remember the details off the top of my head.”
Bret Hart eventually re-signed with WWE in late 2009, returning to television in January 2010. During this period he was involved in an emotional segment with Shawn Michaels and faced Vince McMahon at WrestleMania XXVI. He also went on to be part of a storyline featuring the Hart Dynasty.
The Hitman has continued to make sporadic appearances for WWE, most recently sitting ringside at WWE Clash At The Castle in September 2022.
H/t to WrestlingNewsCo