Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart was interviewed by Sky Sports recently, where he spoke about his heel turn back in 1997. Hart and Stone Cold Steve Austin battled in a highly rated submission match at WrestleMania 13, where both men flipped the switch at the same moment, turning the Hitman heel and Austin face.
I very much worried about losing my fan base when they wanted to turn me heel. I remember that 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.
Bret Hart also spoke on how his career molded who he is today, and what his legacy means for wrestlers and fans alike. You can check out the whole piece here.