Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart had one of the professional wrestling’s most bitter and authentic rivalries that stretched beyond the theatrics inside the ring.
The two men were WWE’s biggest stars in the early to mid-1990s, steering the ship for a company that was reeling from the departure of several megastars and numerous lawsuits. However, from their ascent as fixtures in the tag team division to becoming the two biggest main eventers, Hart and Michaels developed a hatred that spanned for over a decade.
Almost 13 years after the infamous Montreal Screwjob — in which Hart, the current WWF champion was double-crossed by Vince McMahon and Michaels in his final match before leaving for WCW — both men made amends inside a WWE ring.
— 411 Wrestling (@411wrestling) March 19, 2017
During his appearance on Eric Bischoff’s podcast Bischoff on Wrestling, the legendary WWE Hall of Famer Michaels spoke about his current relationship with “The Hitman” and how they were able to get past their issues.
“No. No. He and I actually get along really well now,” Michaels said (via Wrestlezone).
“We’ve done appearances together. We’ll text at Christmas and stuff like that. I heard about when he was struggling with cancer and I reached out to him right away and said, ‘Hey dude, just want you to know I’m thinking about you. If anybody can pull through this I know you can.’ Thankfully he did. It’s nice the reconciliation we had on TV.”
“It was real.”
Few things inside a wrestling ring can be categorized as “real.” The pain, the work, the blood, the canvas, and the results are all real — everything else is a thought that leads to a conclusion. Luckily for the Heartbreak Kid and the Excellence of Execution, their in-ring segment was the blurring of the lines — much like the Montreal Screwjob — that allowed them to make up after years of hatred.
Since that segment, they’ve been featured in a WWE DVD, made several in-ring appearances for WWE, and as Michaels mentioned, even made some appearances together. It’s a long way from the time when Hart — fresh off the hospital bed after suffering a stroke in 2002 — referred to Michaels as a “lying, two-faced chicken s**t…and I’m probably being nice to him.”
Their line of communication is open, and that’s a comforting feeling for Michaels.
“We got an opportunity to talk and all of the times we’ve seen each other at wrestling events since that time. We continue to talk. Bret and I… the thing that helps us now is that we recognize we are very different people and we look at the business a lot differently. Neither one of us when we were younger could understand that or were comfortable with that. Again, as we were talking about earlier, as you get older everyone is not going to see everything in life the way you see it. I think we are at a really nice place. I enjoy seeing him and we cross paths at different places.”
By the same token, people also should not get the wrong idea. They are not the closest of friends and there will always be a bitter history between them, even if the present is “pleasant.” In any case, having somebody that Michaels spent most of his career pretending to fight not be a real-life adversary anymore is a comforting thing.
— WWE (@WWE) March 14, 2017
“As you know, with WrestleMania they bring back almost everybody,” Michaels said.
“We are clearly not friends but it’s very nice and very pleasant. From my standpoint it’s real and from his standpoint, it’s real as well.”
[Featured Image by WWE]