The following article containing comments from Bret Hart about Vince McMahon contains sensitive subject matter regarding sexual assault. It may not be suitable for all readers.
Bret Hart and Vince McMahon have a long and complicated history. In 1984, McMahon purchased Hart’s father, Stu’s promotion, Stampede Wrestling, and signed Bret to a deal. Bret began his WWE run as a tag team star alongside Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart as part of The Hart Foundation, but eventually worked his way up the ranks to become a multi-time WWE World Champion. Infamously, at the 1997 WWE Survivor Series in Montreal, McMahon screwed Hart out of retaining his WWE World Championship over Shawn Michaels before he left for WCW. Hart returned to the WWE fold in 2006 when he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame and began a feud with McMahon.
The last two weeks have been filled with traumatizing revelations about McMahon and his behavior while running the sports entertainment juggernaut. The dark clouds began to move in when the Wall Street Journal posted a story looking at depraved allegations former WWE employee Janel Grant leveled against McMahon, John Laurinitis, and WWE. More recently, allegations Ashley Massaro made before her tragic passing in 2019 have resurfaced, claiming McMahon encouraged her to stay quiet about a sexual assault she endured at a WWE show at a military base in Kuwait in 2006, among other issues.
“I always had a respect for him,” Hart said in an interview with Slate. “Now it’s tainted. I’m embarrassed that I thought so highly of him.”
The 1992 allegations former WWE referee Rita Chatterton made about McMahon raping her were then brought up. Hart noted he did not think McMahon would do something like that due to how much jeopardy it could put the company in, but now he feels that thinking was misguided. The same is true for the hush-money payments that became public. At first Hart did not take them seriously, but once he got the impression things were more serious, he began to change the way he was thinking about the situation.
“I apologized from the bottom of my heart,” Hart recalled saying to Chatterton a few months before the McMahon allegations became public. “I said, ‘I believe that what happened to you, happened to you. And I apologize. I was wrong.’”
In general, it sounds as if Hart is feeling genuine remorse for putting up his blinders to McMahon, and others, bad behavior.
“I think, despite all of the issues I ever had with Vince, I know, deep down, I always respected him, but now, knowing what kind of a weirdo he became, I have absolutely zero respect for him,” Hart continued in a text message to the writer after their interview was over. “I do not think I could ever shake his hand if he extended it. Too creepy.”
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