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While the general public is fond of criticizing professional wrestling for not being "real," there are many aspects of the sports-entertainment world that are only too genuine. (Such as Jake the Snake's snake.) Bad blood can build up between certain superstars to the point where ring-specific oppositions turn into real-world rivalries. Someone who knows about that more than most is former WWE superstar Bret "The Hitman" Hart, who hasn't let go of his foul feelings for fellow icon Hulk Hogan.
It's been roughly 27 years since Bret Hart's professional relationship with Hulk Hogan soured, and it doesn't sound like things have gotten smoothed over in the slightest in the interim. While taking part in a fan Q&A on Instagram Live, Bret Hart offered his blisteringly compact opinion about Hogan, saying:
Do I like Hulk Hogan? No, I don’t. I think he’s a phony piece of shit.
Had you ever seen a wrestler body slam someone before without even using their hands? Because that's what just happened with Bret Hart's sharpshooting comment.
In a way, what's even more amusing about that video clip is the what happens after Bret Hart calls Hulk Hogan out with such subdued vitriol. Just when you think he might be mulling over what else to say about the Hulkster, Hart blithely states that he's waiting to get his next question. Doesn't take the time to explain his continued disinterest in Hogan. Doesn't offer up any caveats. Just states his business and gets on with it. This is the wrestler's way.
This obviously isn't the first time that Bret Hart has waved his anti-Hogan flag over the years. (And it's not like he's the only one waving it.) In his memoirs, titled Hitman: My Real Life In the Cartoon World of Wrestling, he goes into detail about the events that lowered his respect for Hulk Hogan, even though the WWE (then-WWF) probably never would have rose to the heights it did without Hulkamania running wild all over fans across the globe.
According to Bret Hart, things went down hill back in 1993 for WrestleMania IX. As the World Heavyweight Champion, Hart faced the sumo-sized Yokozuna, and was unable to secure the victory, dropping the belt to the Samoan American. (No, he wasn't actually Japanese.) Hulk Hogan came out after the match to make sure Hart was okay, and quickly found himself in an impromptu match against the new champ Yokozuna, just minutes after he'd defeated Hart.
After a 22-second "match," Hulk Hogan pinned Yokozuna and won the belt, resulting in one of the shortest champion stints in WWE history. It also led to WrestleMania IX getting bashed by critics and fans alike, but that's for another time. (But seriously, remember Papa Shango?)
Things got tricky for the trio of wrestlers here, with Bret Hart claiming that the initial plan was for Hulk Hogan to lose the belt to Bret Hart at the upcoming King of the Ring tournament. Hulk Hogan, however, stated that wasn't the plan at all, with Vince McMahon also saying he hadn't told Hart any different.
Hogan ended up losing the title back to Yokozuna at King of the Ring, with Hart not winning it again until WrestleMania X. That King of the Ring was Hulk Hogan's last PPV match with the WWE until nine years later, and the athlete sat out the rest of 1993 to end his contract with the company ahead of his jump to then-competitor WCW.
Four years later, Bret Hart had signed his own WCW contract and was on his way out, with a plan to more or less forfeit the belt to rival Shawn Michaels at Survivor Series in Montreal, as not to be physically defeated in his home country. However, Hart was allegedly the victim of the massive kayfabe controversy dubbed the Montreal Screwjob, in which he lost the belt to Michaels due to a quick three-count that was supposedly ordered by Vince McMahon. (Check out ViceTV's Dark Side of the Ring episode about the Montreal Screwjob for a deeper look at how fiction and reality crossed paths.)
Bret Hart and Hulk Hogan worked together in WCW for a spell, and not even as rivals. With Hogan having turned heel as the leader of the nWo, Hart also turned into a villain, though not officially as an nWo member. The two even tagged together on several occasions, though they never had an official one-on-one match in that federation.
Knowing how Bret Hart feels about Bill Goldberg – not a fan, to put it lightly – it'll be interesting to see if he has any short and sweet comments about that superstar in any upcoming Q&As. Now to see if it somehow actually ends up being Hulk Hogan on The Masked Singer.