Hell must be frostbitten and winged hogs must have been spotted overhead. On Jan. 4, 2010, Bret Hart returns to WWE.
For years, the world presumed that the day would never come for the almost mythic “Hit Man” to once again step foot on the WWE turf of Vincent Kennedy McMahon. Hell would freeze over and pigs would fly – requisite impossibilities – before the true pink and black would ever again be seen on WWE programming.
As unperceivable as it may be, the new decade kicks off with perhaps the biggest announcement in WWE history: Bret is back.
The five-time WWE Champion and two-time WCW World Heavyweight Champion began to establish his electric pink legacy throughout the 1980s, flourishing with his greatest successes in the 1990s as he pioneered a “new generation” in World Wrestling Entertainment.
Boasting a lineage as rich as his ring achievements, the Hit Man is perhaps the most recognizable member of the legendary Hart Family, but more so, he is arguably the most outstanding product of Stu Hart’s infamously venerated Dungeon.
A “graduate” of his father’s basement training ground in the Harts’ home, Bret ultimately debuted in WWE in 1984. Thereafter, in addition to his World Title feats, The Excellence of Execution captured the World Tag Team and Intercontinental Championships (on two occasions each), and proudly held the United States Championship in WCW three times. He was the first Superstar to capture the radiant King of the Ring crown on pay-per-view. He’s even won the 30-man Royal Rumble Match.
Essentially, there is nothing the Hit Man has not done inside the squared circle.
Pink and blackest night
The infamous Montreal Screwjob. A well documented tale of deception and betrayal that permanently impacted all of sports-entertainment, but moreover, the career of the greatest technical wrestler of our time.
The 1997 Survivor Series was the WCW-bound Hit Man’s final night as a WWE competitor as defending WWE Champion Hart clashed with his ultimate rival, Shawn Michaels, in D-Generation X’s infancy. To insure that the Hit Man would not be able to leave WWE with the coveted title, Mr. McMahon conspired with several key officials to guarantee Hart’s defeat in Montreal.
Drawing Hart’s fellow Canadian countrymen in attendance to their feet, Michaels applied his own version of The Excellence of Execution’s signature hold, the Sharpshooter. Leaving mouths agape, the referee immediately signaled for the ring bell as McMahon wildly commanded the timekeeper to follow suit. In one shocking instant, the match and WWE Title were awarded to HBK, while a disoriented then irate Hart watched the gold prize exit the arena over the shoulder of his greatest enemy. (PHOTOS | WATCH)
The WWE Chairman would endure Hart’s fist-clenched wrath, but the blow would be returned the next night on Raw as McMahon callously summarized the controversy with a simple explanation: “Bret screwed Bret.”
The most foul end to any relationship, this was the tainted culmination to The Excellence of Execution’s unrivaled legacy within WWE. (READ MORE | WHAT IF…)
Bret’s career, however, proved more prolific than its most notable blemish acquired on that November night much colder than any other in Montreal, Quebec.
Realizing triumphs very few Superstars have attained in their careers, there was no surprise when the Hit Man was called to the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006.
The true shock, rather, was Hart’s willingness to attend the induction ceremony since Hart vowed to never again walk the WWE Chairman’s territory as long as he breathed. For his countless fans, so many members of the WWE Universe, Hart participated in the Hall of Fame event that celebrated his heavily decorated and respected career.
The best return there ever will be
This prestigious night was the last time Bret Hart appeared live for any WWE function of any kind. But as announced by the Chairman, that changes when Hart returns live to Monday Night Raw as arguably the most distinguished special guest host to date.
It will likely be an emotional night for The Excellence of Execution, his unanticipated homecoming to a place he never thought he’d ever revisit. It’s a WWE fan’s dream come true, limited to just two hours on USA Network. But so much has changed in WWE since 1997, raising countless questions.
What will it be like when the Hit Man walks into a WWE locker room after more than a decade? What kind of reception awaits him? How will the WWE Hall of Famer use his authority? Will he be overwrought by his personal feelings? Might he be vengeful? Or is this his means for closure?
Perhaps more on the minds of the WWE Universe is the almost guaranteed encounter between the WWE Chairman and the Hit Man. What might happen between these two men? And what of a potential meeting between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels?
Don’t miss this monumental edition of Monday Night Raw kicking off a new decade in WWE, and witness the long-awaited return of “the best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be,” live on USA Network at 9/8 CT.