Kurt Angle has revealed he tried to get Bret Hart to come back for one more match – but the Canadian legend turned the chance to wrestle him at Wrestlemania.
The dream match between the two technical wizards never took place, due to Kurt making his debut in 1999, two years after Bret left the company for WCW following the infamous Montreal Screwjob. By the time WCW was bought out by the WWE, Bret Hart had been forced to retire from wrestling due to concussion issues started by Goldberg.
Hart left the WWE under a cloud in 1997 after being screwed out of the WWE Championship at Survivor Series 1997. He went into the match in Montreal as the champion, facing off against long-time rival Shawn Michaels. While there was bad blood between the duo, it was Vince McMahon who could not risk the title going over to WCW, so forced Bret Hart to drop the championship to Michaels during the main event – even though he wasn’t aware of it.
Exactly two years later, Kurt Angle made his WWE debut at Survivor Series 1999. He quickly worked his way up the card, becoming WWE Champion within the year and becoming one of the key players during the famed Attitude Era. He did wrestle Owen Hart during a dark match that has never been released, but the bout with Bret Hart was always the holy grail for the Olympic Gold Medallist.
In a recent interview with The A2theK Wrestling Show, Kurt Angle revealed that he tried to convince the retired Hart to come out of retirement for one last bout with him at Wrestlemania. He confirmed that he asked The Hitman to considering the fight for Wrestlemania 21 or 22, making their supposed match in 2005 or 2006 – half a decade after Hart left the business.
In 2005, Bret Hart had been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, so tensions between him and WWE were slightly dampened. However, due to his concussion issues and a stroke suffered because of them, he was forced to retire and banned from wrestling due to a Lloyds of London insurance pay out. Due to the nature of his injuries, Angle offered to do all the bumping and all the heavy lifting, working around Hart to make The Hitman look as good as he did in his prime, even offering to lose – however, the legend still declined.
“Bret Hart was always my dream match from when I started in WWE. I always thought I’d have a match with him, but right when I came in, he left. He went to WCW, and unfortunately, he got knocked out and had the concussion, and then he had a stroke. Unfortunately, I tried to get Bret to wrestle at WrestleMania, I believe, 21 or 22. I told him, ‘Listen, I’ll do all the bumping, all the selling, I’d let you beat my butt.’“
“But I understood why he said no because where I am in my life now, I know I can’t have the Kurt Angle match that fans expect and Bret was trying to tell me at that particular time, ‘I’m not the Bret Hart I used to be and I’m not gonna go out there and embarrass myself.’ Not that he would embarrass himself, but he wants to be at a level that nobody else is and that’s that’s where Bret Hart always was. And if he can’t do that, he’s not gonna do it at all.”
Instead, Angle faced Hart’s rival Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 21. It was one of the best matches in Wrestlemania history and well worthy of the replacement for a Bret Hart return match. The year after he defended the World Heavyweight Championship against Rey Mysterio and Randy Orton, so he wasn’t short of main event matches.
Bret Hart did eventually return to the ring at Wrestlemania 25, wrestling Vince McMahon in a match where he did exactly as Kurt Angle offered – not taking any bumps and not selling at all. He had a few other matches with similar results and quietly retired in 2011, putting an end to his amazing wrestling career.
The Bret Hart vs Vince McMahon match was voted one of the worst Wrestlemania matches of all time.