WWE Hall Of Famer Bret “The Hitman” Hart is one of the biggest babyfaces in the history of professional wrestling.
During his heyday in the early to mid-’90s Hart was one of the WWE’s top attractions and was winning several World Championships along the way. Around 1997, however, Hart began to turn heel in the United States by forming an anti-American stable with Davey Boy Smith and Jim Neidhart.
The Hart Family paraded around with Canadian flags while denouncing Americans on a weekly basis. When the entire idea was first presented to Hart, he had no interest in turning heel at all, as he recently told Sky Sports.
Hart didn’t even want to hear McMahon’s pitch, but “The Chairman Of The Board” managed to talk him into the heel turn pretty quickly after telling him his alternative was working a year-long feud with Vader as a babyface:
“I very much worried about losing my fan base when they wanted to turn me heel. I remember that (WWE owner) Vince McMahon laughed and joked on the phone when he called me to tell me, and I said ‘I don’t want to turn heel, I don’t want to be a bad guy’.
“I really took pride in being a worldwide hero, much the same as John Cena today. But much the same as John Cena today, the wrestling audience was wanting something different. They wanted somebody new. So it was like, ‘do I change styles to stay alive’?
“Vince said ‘give me five minutes and I’ll talk you into it’, and I said ‘no thank you, I’m not interested’, but he talked me into it pretty fast because my option as a good guy was that I was going to wrestle Vader for the next year. That was going to be brutal, and I was thinking ‘anything but Vader’.
“So the heel turn was a difficult choice to make, and I remember Vince stressed to me – and I wonder whether that was the beginning of them trying to tear me down – that ‘you are going to be a hero everywhere else except the United States’.
“I don’t know if they were totally honest. I remember when we wrestled that pay-per-view in ’97 in Birmingham that they were clearly trying to turn me heal or trying to turn the audience against me on the mic and commentary, and that was Vince and Jim Ross and guys like that.”