Bret Hart Wishes He Never Left WWE For WCW In 1997

Reflecting on the Montreal Screwjob in a November 2022 interview with The Ringer, Bret Hart said that he's proud that he stood up for himself at the time, but that he regrets the bad blood that kept him and Shawn Michaels at odds for years.

"I wish that none of the bad history that we had had ever happened," Hart told The Ringer. "I wished I'd never left for WCW because I probably wouldn't have had a stroke and I probably wouldn't have had to wrestle Bill Goldberg."

Wrestling fans know the story: with just a few weeks left on his WWF contract, Hart walked into Survivor Series 1997 in Montreal to defend the WWF Championship against his bitter rival Shawn Michaels. In one of the most infamous double-crosses in pro wrestling history, Hart was screwed out of the title — the subject of a real-life conspiracy led by WWF owner Vince McMahon.

What happened next was the stuff of wrestling lore. A backstage confrontation between Hart and McMahon left the chairman with a black eye. Hart went to rival promotion WCW, where his storied career was cut short by an errant kick from Goldberg. And more than a decade of bitter feelings and resentment culminated in a reunion and reconciliation between Hart and Michaels on a 2010 episode of "WWE Raw."

Hart told The Ringer he regrets that things became so personal between him and Michaels, someone he had once considered a close friend. Still, he said he wouldn't change the way he handled the moments after Survivor Series, including the punch he threw at McMahon. "And it was probably the greatest thing I ever did, in the sense that I stood up for myself like no other wrestler ever stood up for themselves," he said.

Bret Hart's WCW career fell short of expectations

While discussing his star's pending departure to rival WCW, WWF owner Vince McMahon famously told Bret Hart in a backstage meeting that WCW wouldn't know what to do with him. He may have been right. Despite coming into WCW fresh off one of the most controversial matches in pro wrestling history, Hart's first few months in his new promotion failed to capitalize on the moment. Due to a non-compete clause in his WWF contract, Hart was only able to appear in a non-wrestling capacity for his first two months in WCW.

Once he was able to get in the ring, much of Hart's tenure was mired by questionable creative decisions, including an extended period competing in the midcard and an early heel turn and allegiance with the NWO. He did manage to have a handful of standout matches and segments, including the Owen Hart tribute match against Chris Benoit in October 1999, but things took a turn for the worse in a fateful match at Starrcade 1999.

In the main event, Hart defended the WCW World Heavyweight Championship against Bill Goldberg. At one point in the match, Goldberg delivered a kick to the head that gave Hart a concussion. Hart finished the match and actually wrestled several more times in the following weeks and months, despite feeling the debilitating effects of the concussion. But his WCW tenure ended in 2000, and a stroke in 2002 meant that Hart's in-ring career was effectively over.

Goldberg has expressed remorse for the kick on numerous occasions, and Hart seemed to have accepted his apologies in the past, but he's continually dragged Goldberg's in-ring abilities and clumsiness in recent interviews. For his part, Goldberg has said he's done apologizing. "If he can't accept my apology, it is what it is," he said in an August 2022 "Talk is Jericho" interview.