The fateful day that changed Bret Hart's life forever transpired on November 9, 1997 in Montreal, Quebec.
Hart's WWE contract had been nearly up, and with WCW looming in his future, Vince McMahon decided to make a pivotal decision.
After swaggering toward the ring, McMahon ordered referee Earl Hebner, against script, to ring the bell the moment Shawn Michaels put Hart in his own hold, the sharpshooter.
Betrayed and heartbroken, Hart bore witness to a broken promise that lay before him. McMahon had unceremoniously turned his back on a man who labored for 14 years as a WWE employee.
The reason, which is ironically laughable now, was to protect the investment in, and credibility of, the WWE championship. McMahon, in his mind, had to preempt the possibility that Hart would parade the title around in foreign, WCW territory.
As the years passed along, many would retroactively argue that McMahon's directive laid the foundation for the Attitude Era, as well as WWE's eventual crowning as a pro wrestling monopoly.
On the other hand, Hart would continue to suffer from successive tragedies, from the untimely loss of his brother Owen, to his concussion-induced retirement, to, finally, his stroke.
It wasn't until nearly 13 years later, in January 2010, when Hart made the conscious choice to put the anguish and bitterness behind him when he embraced his former friend and rival, Michaels, in the ring.
While Hart has continued to make amends with his past, there has always been a feeling of incompleteness in the pit of his stomach.
However, as the "Hitman" now prepares to make his highly-anticipated return to Montreal after 15 years, he can't help but have the following thoughts on his mind (h/t MontrealGazette.com):
"Over the years…in the last couple of years anyways, since we sort of got back on good terms again, I always thought: 'I wonder what will happen when they’re in Montreal…whenever that happens, it will be a Monday Night Brawl eventually…they’ll have to think that maybe it would be a good idea to bring me into that.’ Hart, 55, said over the phone Friday from Calgary. "I didn’t expect it in some ways and wondered if it would ever happen, and here it is."
There are a number of ways that Hart could be used on the September 10 edition of Raw.
But the one that makes the most sense is involvement in the John Cena-CM Punk title feud.
For instance, an attack by Punk and a subsequent save by Cena would not only further the agenda of the Night of Champions main event, but spotlight Hart as the same vulnerable hero who disarmed Canada at Survivor Series 1997.
Follow me on Twitter @ImaanJK
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!