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Don't feel sorry for the Hitman


By GLENN COLE -- Toronto Sun
  The seeds for Bret Hart's departure from the World Wrestling Federation appear to have been sown when he came back in 1996 after a six-month layoff.

Sounding weary of talking about Hart's departure, WWF boss Vince McMahon dropped into Toronto to give the Sun and TSN's Off The Record his side of the acrimous split which sent Hart to the Atlanta-based WCW, where he is earning $3 million a year and travelling a lot less.

"It didn't happen overnight," McMahon said. "It was a gradual thing. After Bret came back, he did the one thing he said he would never do, he pitted the WWF against (WCW owner Ted) Turner and made us bid for his services. Although he stated he was not about money, that's what he did.

"WWF made what I thought was a difficult business deal with Bret and we were living with that business deal until other factors evolved."

Those factors apparently included Hart's physical ability to perform because of various injuries Hart had.

"That changed the value of Bret," McMahon said. "The other was the difficulty of dealing with Bret. Once you begin believing your own publicity -- Canadian hero etc., sometimes the performer can become a little difficult to handle and less co-operative."

McMahon said that he began to question whether Hart was worth the money he was getting in his four-year wrestling deal, "strictly from a business standpoint."

"The emotional thing, I would want Bret to be my friend forever. I would want Bret to be in the World Wrestling Federation and retire in 20 years or whatever. It didn't work out that way."

Hart was shocked on Nov. 12 at Montreal's Molson Centre when his match against Shawn Michaels abruptly ended with a quick count. McMahon changed the script of what was supposed to be a double disqualification.

"I did what I had to do," he repeated.

McMahon admitted that he not surprised with the reaction of fans, particularly in Canada, toward Hart's departure, but was surprised at how long Hart's acrimony has remained.

"I think Bret has done what he thinks is a pretty good job to evoke sympathy for his point of view," McMahon said. "He's making $3 million a year, he's working fewer dates. He's better off financially and better off physically. They don't have the contact we do down south in the WCW. He's better off in every way."

There were many who felt Hart came across as a whiner in a recent TSN appearance, giving the same tired arguments.

"You have got to be tired of it," McMahon said. "Who is really going to feel sorry for Bret? He's better off.

"I don't feel sorry for Bret nor should anyone feel sorry for Vince McMahon."

More on Bret Hart