What better way to say goodbye to the year 2010 than to count down the 10 biggest stories of the year in professional wrestling?
This 10-part series is designed to do exactly that, and each installment will be dedicated to the stories that fueled the very Internet fodder that makes the dirt-sheet media world go round.
No. 3. Bret Hart Returns to WWE After a 13-Year Absence
In pro wrestling, you never say never. Such a promotion driven by talent and drawing power can ill-afford to hold a grudge for too long.
WWE's storied history is laced with tales of them bringing back and mending fences with a host of talent who were thought to have burned their bridge with the company simply because there was money in their return.
Such tales have mandated one of many time-honored adages in the pro wrestling industry that you never say never.
Unless it comes to Bret Hart.
In 1997, Bret "The Hitman" Hart left WWE on such sour terms that the mere thought of a return was nothing short of an impossibility.
Even in the pro wrestling industry, where you're never supposed to say never, Hart's unceremonious departure following the infamous Montreal Screwjob had created such intense feelings of ill will that Vince McMahon literally risked bodily harm coming in contact with the Canadian wrestling legend.
Following a relationship (between Hart and McMahon) that had been the most stable in pro wrestling, McMahon's emasculating betrayal of Hart in his then-final match, and in his home country, had created a rift between two men whose bond was often compared to that of a father and a son.
Hart's WWE exit would sadly be the beginning of a quick erosion of his career as Hart's subsequent WCW run was poorly handled and saw his own career end prematurely due to injury.
The stark juxtaposition of WWE 's imminent ascension following Hart's final match with the company did nothing but intensify already existing feelings of bitterness harbored by one of the more ego-driven and prideful personae in the annals of pro wrestling.
For over a decade, after 1997, Hart would not even humor the idea of a WWE return. In fact, he furiously scoffed at it.
The (epic) promo seen above from 2005 by Shawn Michaels, Hart's career rival both in and out of the ring and culprit in the aforementioned Montreal Screwjob, captured the essence of the general sentiment regarding any reconciliation between Hart and WWE.
Too much damage had been done. The events surrounding the Montreal Screwjob, which actually holds precedent despite its uniqueness, were so callous and evil that the stubborn Hart would never find it in his pink and black heart to forgive any of the principles on.
He was never coming back.
Until January 2010.
In a year that started with TNA, WWE's chief competitor, debuting their flagship Impact show on Monday nights, WWE countered the monumental occasion with a monumental occasion of their own: the return of Bret "the Hitman" Hart.
With time healing even the deepest of wounds, Hart had become open to a WWE return after 13 years of bitter resentment. In previous interviews prior to his return, Hart had uncharacteristically favored the possibility of a WWE return.
With the lines of communication apparently reopened, WWE seized the business opportunity to both counter their rival and harvest a high profile Wrestlemania program between Hart and McMahon.
When Hart appeared in a WWE ring for the first time in almost 13 years, on Jan. 4, 2010, his confrontation with Shawn Michaels was as surreal as it was authentic.
Despite being somewhat scripted, the showdown and ensuing public reconciliation between the two bitter rivals created one of the most real moments professional wrestling has ever seen.
Hart's return would see him actively participating in WWE live events around the world for the better part of the year as the reconciliation seemed to be in full effect.
Although his ensuing Wrestlemania program and match with Vince McMahon was somewhat fumbled, Hart's return remained one of the biggest stories of 2010.
Top Ten of 2010
3. Bret Hart Returns to WWE after a 13 Year Absence