Bret Hart’s first WWF Championship win came during a tumultuous time for the company. The future WWE was embroiled in a number of scandals at the time. Hart sees himself as the man who turned things around.
“The company was really sinking fast,” Hart told CBC Radio’s Q podcast. “And they tried [Ultimate] Warrior and they end up with ‘Macho Man’ [Randy Savage]. They end up with Ric Flair. But nobody was really turning things around and things were getting worse. They were losing all these toy deals and…things within the promotion that I really was unaware of. And I was kinda the guy who pulled the sword out of the stone.”
One scandal surrounding the future WWE at the time was an investigation that led to Vince McMahon being indicted for alleged steroid distribution in 1993. The trial ended with a jury finding McMahon not guilty of conspiracy to distribute steroids.
Bret Hart believes McMahon was fearful of losing the case and being sent to jail. He feels that’s at least part of the reason he became WWF Champion.
“Vince McMahon, I think, [was] worried that he might actually go to jail over all that stuff,” Hart recalled. “[He] decided that he needed to put the title on somebody that was a safe, secure bet, that wouldn’t drop the ball. Wouldn’t mess up. Would have no scandals – impaired driving or anything that could set the company back huge if they’re the wrong guy. And he chose me and I turned out to be a good hero for him and a good hero for the wrestling industry.
“I took wrestling in a different direction, I think,” Hart continued. “When you look back today, they don’t wrestle like Hulk Hogan anymore. They wrestle like Bret Hart. Wrestling’s all about action and speed and telling a story and I think that’s where I came in.”
The Hitman’s first WWF Championship win came in October 1992. He defeated Ric Flair in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Hart said the city was already a special place for him because it was where he had his very first match. He says his first world championship propelled him to become even better.
“There is something very beautiful about that, and how I slowly evolved into that character and then that crowning moment…when I became champion,” Hart explained. “That set me apart, that gave me a confidence and a believability in myself. I believed in myself and I just went above and beyond as much as possible to live up to that moment and to be that champion and always deliver those kinds of matches. I know I worked really hard at it and I think that’s why I feel like I’m remembered that way.”
Hart is now remembered on Canada’s Walk Of Fame. Hart is the first professional wrestler to receive the honor from his home country.
“It really made me feel proud,” Hart said. “It’s very special. It’s one thing to be recognized in the WWE Hall Of Fame and recognized by your peers and your fellow wrestlers and stuff like that. It’s one thing. But it’s another thing to be recognized by your country and your fans across the country and how much of an impact you had on their lives and how you – I think it’s 20 years later now that my career’s been over. You always say once you’re off TV in wrestling they forget about you and it’s always amazed me that I’ve never been forgotten at all.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Q on CBC Radio with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
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