The 1992 departure of Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior from World Wrestling Entertainment, coupled with a steroid scandal that was beginning to damage affect the company, forced McMahon to take his wrestling empire in a new direction.
He released several of the larger, more jacked Superstars from their contracts and put a focus on smaller, more wrestling-efficient performers. Ric Flair had done an admirable job as champion, but it was clear that he was on his way back to WCW.
Enter Bret Hart.
In 1991, he earned the reputation as one of the best in-ring workers in the sport. After years spent as a highly talented tag team star, Hart delivered an outstanding performance against Mr. Perfect at SummerSlam. He would capture the Intercontinental Championship in that match, and an excellent subsequent showing against Roddy Piper and the British Bulldog earned him McMahon's trust.
On October 12, 1992, Hart defied all odds by defeating Flair and capturing the top prize in World Wrestling Entertainment.
His WWE title victory was a win for the smaller stars in the promotion—those workers who had long delivered the best matches of the night but hardly saw any career advancement. Hart was their champion and the people's champion.
He represented the company as a champion should and carried the title with grace and respect, as the son of a beloved wrestler and promoter should.
Hart's title reign and the success he had as champion laid the groundwork for smaller Superstars such as Steve Austin, Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan and, most notably, professional and personal rival Shawn Michaels.
As champion, he put the focus on in-ring product and proved that wrestlers could carry McMahon's promotion, too.
He revolutionized what a champion in World Wrestling Entertainment could be and provided a glimmer of hope for the talented wrestlers who had yet to reach that level of stardom and success.