Bret "The Hitman" Hart was referred to as "the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be." That may be a bit of a stretch, but let's keep in mind that we're talking about the wrestling business, where Mark Henry is "the world's strongest man." Exaggerations are par for the course.
There's no question that Hart is one of the greatest of all time. He was similar to Shawn Michaels in the sense that he could have a mediocre opponent and still put on a 5-star match. As they say in the wrestling business, "he could wrestle a broom" and still make it entertaining (another exaggeration, ha!).
Hart's detractors maintain that he can't be considered among the greatest because ratings were a bit flat during his title reigns. That may be true, but Hart also carried the belt during some of the darkest days in the wrestling industry, particularly after the steroid scandal in the early 1990s. The bottom line is that he had a wonderful career and is a Canadian hero. But man...he had a lot of gripes with a lot of people.
Hart's autobiography was outstanding because it was so candid, but it was also the voice of a man holding onto a lot of bitterness. It was near 600 pages of him just going off on people. Granted, he's mended a lot of fences since 2010 when he made his return to WWE television, but he doesn't hesitate to sound off when he feels the need. He won't be getting into politics anytime soon either, as he is about as diplomatic as a rhino. Sometimes Bret was completely justified in his anger, but there were other times where perhaps he over-dramatized. There were also instances where you just wanted to give him a hug.
Here are the top 10 people that Bret Hart put "on blast."
10 Vince Russo
Bret Hart has also been complimentary to some of the people that he has put on blast. For example, he called Shawn Michaels a "2-faced lying chicken s**t," but also admitted that he was a fantastic in-ring performer.
This isn't the case for Vince Russo, as Hart has never had an even remotely nice thing to say about him. His most recent jab at Russo came in a "shoot" interview where he asserted that Russo was: "A magazine writer that thought he was a wrestling expert but never had a good idea in his life."
There's certainly some merit to Hart's gripes in this case, as many other wrestlers have sounded off on Russo's stupidities. Mick Foley claimed that Russo attempted to orchestrate a segment where Mankind would ask The Rock to marry him...This idea was obviously nixed.
There's also a personal vendetta in Hart's case. Owen Hart died during an equipment malfunction while making his entrance from the rafters at the "Over the Edge" pay-per-view." Clearly, not Russo's fault, but it was he who came up with the idea. Years later in WCW, he wanted Bret to perform a risky stunt that almost ended badly, to which Bret got angry and called him a "screwball."
9 Dean Malenko
Dean Malenko had the reputation of a very solid worker but would sometimes attempt to execute moves that he simply did not have the stature for. He was billed as "The Man of 1,000 Holds" but apparently Bret didn't like the one that Malenko pulled on him.
This is Hart's version of what happened in a match that they had on Nitro:
"His style reminded me of Cirque du Soleil - it was a little too rehearsed. When Malenko went for a standing suplex on me, I went up for him effortlessly in the air, straight as two dinner forks stuck together. Instead of taking me back for a simple back bump, Malenko decided to walk me the short distance to the corner, but he didn't have the size or strength and dropped me full-weight, crotching me and tearing my groin. I don't even know how I was able to bring myself to finish the match. I was in too much pain to even tell Dean how pissed off I was at him. Even worse, he dressed fast and left without acknowledging that he hurt me, or that he was sorry. As well regarded as little Malenko was, I lost respect for him as a professional that day."
We have to go with Bret on this one. Things do happen in the ring, but if you take liberties with someone's body (even if it's an accident), there must be some ownership or at least a half-assed apology.
8 Scott Hall
Scott Hall has received an immense amount of fan support and sympathy since the E60 episode that aired in 2011. To be blunt, he doesn't deserve any of it. In his heyday, Hall never cared about the fans as he was notorious for refusing to take pictures or sign autographs, even for children. While it is true that people can change, Hall appears to be the same unkind person that he always was. Yours truly is just a humble writer whose opinion means absolutely nothing to Scott Hall (nor should it). But leave it to Bret Hart to put Hall on blast!
In a "shoot" interview, Hart revealed that a bunch of wrestlers got together and bought a card for a kid who was dying of cancer. True to form, Hall refused to sign it. This didn't sit well with The Hitman:
"I thought geez, here's a guy that just had all these fans pay for his hip. You know, you think he could think about, you know, what a small gesture it is to autograph a kid's card. You know, and he refused to sign."
Shawn Michaels was "The Kliq" member that shouldered a lot of the load for Hart's tirades, but don't get it twisted. Bret showed disdain for Scott Hall, even referring to him as a cancer in the locker room.
7 His Family
Yeah, I get it. The article is called "top 10 people" that he put on blast. Grammatically speaking, it makes no sense to write "his family." But if we listed every family member that Hart had a beef with, this could easily become a top 25.
The issues with his siblings intensified after Owen's passing. From Bret's perspective, he simply wanted to abide by Martha Hart's (Owen's widow) wishes. There was a lawsuit in place against the WWE, and Martha's wishes were that nobody talk to the media, a request that was not granted, as the family did the exact opposite.
From his sibling's perspective, Owen's fall was simply an accident and Bret was just still bitter about what happened at Survivor Series. As usual, there are three sides to every story. His side, their side, and then the truth, which is somewhere in the middle. It got so bitter that when RAW came to Calgary, some of his brothers were sitting in the front row, sporting a sign that said: "Ha Bret!"
The irony is that all this time, Bret was supporting Martha's wishes...but now he's mad at her too:
"I think Owen would turn in his grave if he knew how much trouble Martha has gone to erase his career and make sure that nobody enjoys anything about his career today."
6 Eric Bischoff
Eric Bischoff's case is very similar to Russo's in the sense that Hart never liked him. The Hitman has gone off on Bischoff on many occasions since his stint in WCW. Bischoff has never really retaliated with any venom of his own until recently, where he referred to Hart as a "sad, broken and bitter person." That is child's play compared to what Bret has gone on record saying. Hang on to your hats, this is going to get ugly (and kinda funny).
"He was just a clueless idiot who should have never been in wrestling." Geez, tell us how you really feel Bret. He's always maintained that Bischoff was just "a puppet" that acted like the boss, when in reality it was Hulk Hogan and Kevin Nash running the show (telling him what to do). But time heals all, right? Nah...that's such a crappy slogan anyway:
"I look back today, I'd like to strangle Eric Bischoff with my own pair of hands and just thank him for doing such a lousy job with my career, and lying about everything he ever said to me."
Hey, it could be worse. He knocked out his other boss!
5 Ric Flair
Ric Flair was another man in the wrestling business that Hart was openly critical about. Perhaps his words weren't as venomous as his barbs towards Russo and Bischoff, but it's still pretty significant considering that Flair is widely regarded as the best in-ring performer of all time (despite working on a hangover most nights, WOOOOOOOO).
It's not even that Bret thought he was bad, because he never had anything negative to say during their matches while Flair held the belt. It was only afterwards where Hart felt as though Flair's work was getting sloppy. In other words, it's not that he wasn't capable, but if he wasn't "the man," then he suddenly stopped caring about the quality of the match.
Hart went as far as saying that Flair was even going out of the way to sabotage his title run:
"Flair was a tricky guy to work with, when I worked with Ric...when he was champion we had much better matches and the moment the title got switched, we seemed to screw up my match every night. I always felt it was sabotage."
4 Hulk Hogan
The poor Hulkster has been taking a serious lashing lately. In the past five years, he got cleaned out in a nasty divorce, got caught "pants-down" in a sex tape (have to credit the old man, he hung in there for quite a while) and had zero success in TNA when he thought he was going to revolutionize the business (yawn, again). Worst of all, when he finally got his act together and seemed to be genuinely humbled, a racist rant (from years ago) came to the forefront and WWE basically wiped out his existence. Normally we forgo the sympathy card and pile on the facts...and of course, today will be no exception.
The beef between Hulk and Bret started when Hulk was supposed to "pass the torch" to Bret at SummerSlam but refused, even though Hulk maintains that it was always supposed to be a non-title match (which, by the way, makes zero sense - why would WWE want to headline one of their main pay-per-views with a non-title match?) On Off The Record, Hart even said that they shot commercials where they were having a tug-of-war with the belt.
Bret still hates his guts as he had this to say in regards to Hogan getting busted for the racist rant: "He's probably glad that Roddy Piper passed away because it took the edge of all that."
3 Triple H
Hart essentially thought Paul Levesque was a "ass-kiss" as he was always cozying up to the head honchos and basically asked The Kliq if he could "be their friend." He felt this way even before Triple H and Stephanie McMahon got hitched. Right from the beginning, he had a tendency to latch onto those with power.
But it's not just The Game's brown nosing that ticked him off, he also feels as though Triple H is a highly overrated wrestler: "You look at somebody like Hunter and you go; what has he ever really...done? Like, one move that he ever created that nobody ever saw before?" Oh, the Hitman was far from finished, he went full WWE promo for this one: "What has he ever done that's great?! Like he's never had a great match, I don't think-ever." He then went on to rate the Triple H vs. Undertaker match at WrestleMania a 4/10...and maybe even a 3/10.
His reasoning for the mediocre rating of the match was because he saw the whole thing play out in his mind before it even started and that there wasn't much innovation involved. Hart seems to be onto something in his assertion that Hunter hitches (no pun intended) onto powerful figures. But his critique of Triple H's matches is unfair. He's had plenty of great matches. His Street Fight and Hell in a Cell contests with Mick Foley were absolute gems.
2 Shawn Michaels
They buried the hatchet in 2010 when Hart made his return to WWE television, but these two had a hatred for each other that lasted for many years. In short, Michaels was a real jerk to be around in his heyday and drove everyone absolutely bananas (probably seven people reading this will get the "banana, Pat Patterson" reference, but it was worth it!)
People simply put up with him because he was that damn good and was carrying the company. As we can clearly see, it doesn't take much to set Bret Hart off, especially acts of disrespect, as Hart is a traditionalist. After reading multiple biographies and listening to shoot interviews, it was clear that most of the locker room was siding with Bret in this squabble. There were so many fabrications in Shawn Michaels' autobiography, it's not even worth going over his perspective.
As they said in Anchorman...things jumped up a notch when they started getting personal with one another in their supposed scripted in-ring promos. It finally came to a breaking-point when Michaels eluded to the fact that Hart had been having some "Sunny days," implying that he was having an affair with Sunny. The irony is that it was Michaels that was having the affair with Sunny (along with half the locker room, but we digress). Bret confronted Michaels backstage and the two "threw-down." Hart got on top of Michaels and even ripped some of his hair out.
Michaels and Vince McMahon got the last laugh in this one, as they orchestrated the biggest swerve in wrestling history, "The Montreal Screw Job." If you're still reading up to this point, there's a good chance you already know the details!
1 Vince McMahon
McMahon narrowly edges out Michaels for the number one spot because he's the boss, and the one that executed the "Screw Job." This prompted Hart to hold on to a near 10-year grudge and hit unimaginable levels of bitterness. He also beats out The Heartbreak Kid for the number one spot because Hart didn't only verbally put him on blast, he literally blasted him in the face. Imagine that. Your boss pisses you off and you upper-cut him to the floor on your way out of the office...ah Bret, you've had a rough life but at that moment you really lived out half the world's dreams.
The hostilities got much worse after the "Screw Job" due to Owen Hart's tragic passing. As mentioned above, Bret gave some people the impression that he was the driving force in the lawsuit because he was still mad at Vince. At one time, McMahon event contests that they met-up after Owen's death to talk things out, and all Bret wanted to talk about was "Bret." On an old episode of Off The Record, McMahon claimed that it was like looking into the eyes of a skeleton. Hart contended that he would never eeeeeeever appear on WWE television again, and McMahon wouldn't welcome him either.
It was mentioned above that "time heals all" is a lame expression, and in many instances it is. But in this particular case, they managed to let bygones be bygones. As a wrestling fan, it was nice to see. Life is too short and it was such a shame to see Hart's career end on such a sour note. It was also a nice gesture on McMahon's part to welcome Hart back with open arms as he inducted him into the Hall of Fame in 2006.
Amidst all the rants and bitterness, we ended on a happy note!
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