Hitman back at WWE HQ to prepare DVD launch
TJ MADIGAN - Calgary Sun
Every Monday through Friday, Bret Hart goes to work at WWE headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut -- but seeing his name on the sign-in sheet is hardly headline news.
He's not the famous Calgarian wrestling star, but simply a WWE executive who is unfortunate enough to share a name with the legendary Hitman.
Apart from occasional raised eyebrows from puzzled beat reporters who reach his voicemail, the presence of Bret Hart at Titan Tower doesn't usually generate a lot of fanfare.
This week, however, Hart's more famous namesake paid a visit to WWE headquarters to meet with Vince McMahon, and it certainly garnered its share of attention.
WWE broke the story on its own web site, trying to create a buzz around the possibility that the Hitman may be open to finally returning to WWE.
The reality is that Hart was meeting with McMahon to discuss an upcoming DVD release, Screwed: The Bret Hart Story. The 3-disc set, featuring a documentary on Hart's career and a collection of his best matches, is due to hit stores in mid-November.
The DVD biography is a WWE project -- which was going to go ahead with or without Hart's involvement -- but the company is anxious to finally repair the burned bridges with the Hitman and, by proxy, half the population of Canada.
Hart left WWE in 1997 in a whirlwind of controversy, when McMahon cheated him out of the WWE title (for real) on live TV. The pair then engaged in a series of back-and-forth arguments in the media, which only intensified when Hart's brother Owen died in the ring during a WWE event in 1999.
McMahon became a villain to wrestling fans across North America, and particularly in Canada, garnering chants of "you screwed Bret" wherever he went.
The feud continued for several years before the pair finally began talking, first through intermediaries and then directly. They have been on civil terms since 2002, but Hart seemed intent on staying away from any formal business dealings with his former employer.
It's no secret WWE bosses want to induct Hart into the WWE Hall of Fame next April. They also want a hand in the three-volume autobiography he's writing, and to get him involved in various DVD projects and the 'WWE 24/7' video-on-demand channel.
Ideally, they'd like to talk him into an in-ring angle, since Hart is the last great untapped resource for a big-money nostalgia storyline.
Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, The Rock, Mick Foley, Roddy Piper, Goldberg and even Shawn Michaels have been in and out of WWE so many times that their returns tend to have little impact. Hart hasn't had any association with the company in almost eight years, and his real-life fight with McMahon is probably the most famous clash in the history of wrestling.
Because of his stroke and multiple concussions, Hart will never be able to wrestle again, but even if he simply appears in a WWE ring and punches out McMahon (or Shawn Michaels, the other guilty party in the infamous 1997 screw job), the buy rates would likely be off the charts.
WWE announced Hart has agreed to be interviewed for the DVD biography and will stay in Stamford for several days to oversee the project. There has been no firm word on what other possibilities came out of the meetings, but if nothing else, it looks like WWE will finally give the Hitman the legend treatment he deserves.
For now, Hart, 48, continues to divide his time between personal appearances in North America and spending time with his new wife in her native Italy.
More on Bret Hart
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Pre-order the Bret "The Hitman" Hart Triple DVD Set