Everyone needs to remember is that Vince is and always has been primarily a business man. His comments on Off The Record were Vince's words (hearsay) of the events that led to Bret Hart's departure, and as such they were very self-serving and primarily geared to salvage whatever fan-base the WWE had lost due to the fallout of the Montreal Screwjob.
I am a big Hart fan, and in a perfect world I would have wished that both sides were more willing to come to an agreement, but both sides were at fault for the events that transpired.
You can listen to that interview and believe that Hart was no-showing events, and causing problems backstage, and however valid those types of rationalizations may be, I doubt that that it is the reasons Vince let Bret leave the company and jump ship.
I think it had more to do with the fact Vince no longer needed a superstar like Bret, with the dawn of the anti-hero's like Austin and to a lesser extent DX and The Rock, it was hard for Vince to make Hart seem, or remain relevant to the new generation of WWE fans.
This was a time when shows like Jerry Springer were invading homes and skyrocketing in ratings, and the wrestling business has always been a mirror of what is relevant in pop culture, just like the tastes of their viewers, WWE changed its image, its approach and the way they did business.
The problem with Hart is that he was true to his beliefs, and did not want to be "a part of the smut", pushing the envelope week to week, he did not like what wrestling had turned into, and in retrospect its easy to see why he felt that way.
Bret was an old school wrestler, who was around since the golden days in WWE's history, and even before then he was proudly apart of a traditional territorial promotions like his father's Stampede Wrestling.
Bret Hart took pride in his character, it defined him as a performer and a man and to ask him to be anything but the Hitman was a slap in the face to the legacy that he had built for himself and the WWE.
Although Bret allowed himself to be portrayed as an Anti-American in his final days at the WWE, he took pride in his character, even if he had compromised his beliefs in order to do so.
On many occasions Hart has stated that this era in his career was very bizarre, but fun, although he regrets doing the angle saying that it wasn't "me" and sometimes he was urged to go too far, he felt uncomfortable doing many of the promos but ultimately he knew it was his fault for going along with it.
In retrospect Hart felt Vince deliberately sabotaged his career due to this angle, losing many of the fans in the US that had come to adore Hart.
Vince thought that there was simply nothing that they could continue using Hart for when the WWE had Michaels, Austin, The Rock, The Undertaker, Triple H and Mankind as their main stars, and those stars were not afraid to "go there."
Vince was desperate to beat WCW in the Monday Night Wars, and that led to some hasty decisions on his part in order to keep the company alive.
The only way he could see the company pulling ahead of WCW was not by buying new talent, or spending tons of money on advertising, but instead on pushing the envelope on anything the WWE could get away with.
They incorporated a more hardcore appeal, storylines that were racy and even controversial, and propelled the stardom of its talents by any means necessary, and so it was that we had an "Attitude" Era.
As to whether or not Bret was aging and failing in the ring, I urge anyone to check out any of his matches in 1997 including Wrestlemania 13, Summerslam 1997, or even the Motreal Screwjob itself and tell me if you believe if that statement is valid. If he was hurt, in my opinion he was hiding it well.
In response to his behavioral issues, the only instance I've ever heard of as far as backstage friction was between Hart and Michaels and yes it was heated and at times did lead into an altercation or two in which things got physical.
None of that should be news to any wrestling fan, their backstage rivalry is well documented, but Hart alone was not at fault, HBK had a very troubled past with The Hitman and he now admits that "he was and angry young man" and let his ego and pride do unsavory things in regards to his relationship with his rival.
Vince merely singled out Bret as a scapegoat in his interview to show the world that there was justification for his treatment to his long time employee.
Vince is first and foremost a business man, Hart was a wrestler who was hungry and greedy for respect, not money. Finances essentially played the smallest role in this tangled web of betrayal.
Now, I can't blame either side, McMahon or Hart for making the decisions that they made, both loved the business, and to this day they believe that they did right thing.
Many may call McMahon a "two-faced liar", or Hart a "baby" for not wanting to concede, to a point that the Montreal Screwjob happened, but we must understand that until we walk a mile in either man's shoes we cannot judge them.
Thank you Daltonio Alexander for your article and for sparking great discussion. His article can be read here: