On episode nine of Confessions Of The Hitman, WWE Hall Of Famer Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart discussed the sale of Stampede Wrestling to Vince McMahon. Notably, Bret stated that WWE Chairman Vince McMahon never paid for the purchase of the Canadian company.
Also, Bret suggested that his parents never asked Vince for the money allegedly owed, because they believed it may have a negative impact on Bret’s place with WWE. According to Bret, Vince agreed to buy Stampede Wrestling from Stu in 1984 for $750,000, but WWE never paid.
“They worked out a deal,” Bret recalled. “Vince McMahon bought my dad’s wrestling company for, I believe it was 1984, bought it for $750,000. He never paid it. My dad gave up his show. Vince McMahon took over his time slot and took over, basically all the contacts for all the buildings and venues my dad was partnered with, and kind of took over. And he forgot to pay my dad. He forgot. It’s one of those things that Vince McMahon tended to do, but he never paid my father.”
Bret assumed Stu was paid for the sale of Stampede Wrestling all along but found out years later, around the tragic passing of Bret’s brother Owen, that Vince never paid.
“I didn’t know. I never knew that that was the case. I always assumed my dad got paid and I didn’t find out till Owen’s death that that was not true.” Bret said. “[Vince] never paid us a nickel.”
As Bret’s WWE career started to take off, Stu thought better of asking Vince to make good on the outstanding debt.
“I guess what it was is that my mom and dad never got paid, but my [WWE] career started to take off and they didn’t push it with Vince. It was either that or sue them and I think they would have won, but I would’ve been fired in the process. So I think my dad bit his tongue, and never said anything, and it was just this oversight that he never got paid. And why he never got paid is a mystery to me,” Bret professed. “My dad did basically everything he was supposed to do as far as their agreement.”
Apparently, Bret flew Stu to New York, New York, where WWE was going to put on an event at Madison Square Garden, so his father could confront Vince about not being paid for the sale of Stampede Wrestling.
“I remember my dad flew to New York to talk to Vince about having not been paid, and I brought my dad to New York. I remember I brought him to New York because I thought it was going to be the only chance for him to ever watch me in Madison Square Garden. ‘I might not be here six months from now.’ I was on pretty thin ice then,” Bret said. “I was still with Jim ‘The Anvil’ [Neidhart] and we were doing pretty well, but I was the type of guy whose name could get crossed out at any time and nobody would notice, like, ‘Oh, whatever happened to Bret Hart?’
“But it would have been a life altering thing for me because I didn’t have much to fall back on other than wrestling.” Bret added, “I think it was like, he was going to confront Vince McMahon, and I believe he did, about not being paid, and I’m not sure what happened. But I just know that I think they were like, we can’t interfere now and if we do anything, it’s going to cut my career short right when I really started to show everybody how good I was.”
Interestingly, while Bret does not believe Stu was ever paid the money allegedly owed to him by Vince, “The Hitman’s” star began to rise that night. Bret noted that Vince looked at the younger Hart differently that night following the match between The Hart Foundation and The Killer Bees.
“I remember we had a really good match with The Killer Bees. And I went out there and I had one of my better nights. I was in great form, and we had kind of good chemistry with The Killer Bees, and Jim was in good form. And we just had this great match.” Bret continued, “But that night in Madison Square Garden – I don’t know what year it was – I think it was ’86.
“It was almost like a year-and-a-half [after my failed “audition”] and we blew the roof off Madison Square Garden. We were like the second match or the first match of the night and we just blew the roof off the building,” Bret continued. “I remember when I came back through the curtain, everyone was clapping and patting me on the back. I remember Vince McMahon shook my hand with a whole different kind of [fervor], ‘Good match! Thank you so much!’ and all that. I remember [thinking], ‘Finally, he saw me and I had a good match.’ I believe my career turned around after that.”
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