Bret Hart was one of the first wrestlers whose career I watched pretty much from the start. Technically, he started wrestling in 1978, but that was in Stampede Wrestling, the federation his father ran in Calgary. Back then, there was no way to watch smaller feds. I remeber him from his WWF debut in '84 as a cowboy.
Bret quickly became a tag team star with his brother-in-law Jim Neidhart. The Hart Foundation went on to win the WWF tag titles twice and were a popular team for many years. Bret eventually went on to a singles career, winning the WWF title five times and the Intercontinental title twice. Bret was inducted into the WWE HOF in 2006 as a solo performer, then again in 2019 as part of the Hart Foundation.
Clearly Bret is one of the greatest of all time. It's unfortunate that his career is also dotted with controversies and tragedy. The Montreal Screwjob will forever be a source of debate. His WCW tenure was disappointing. His occasional bitterness overshadows his greatness at times. Nothing is worse than the death of his brother Owen.
I cannot possibly know what is in Bret's mind. He has had more than his share of problems. How does one react to all of that?
Bret wrote a very detailed autobiography a few years back. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I must admit sometimes Bret seems to think the wrestling world is real. That's a small criticism for an otherwise fascinating look at the life of Bret.
I have met Bret several times and have heard him in Q&As and panels. The man knows wrestling. He has his detractors and they have some legitimate complaints, but I'll take Bret over many of the other wrestling legends. Bret might take it all too seriously, but he cares deeply for the sport. I'll take his passion over the egos of others every day.
Bret Hart, Jason Fleigel and me in Schaumburg-November 2015.