In the 1980s, Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant were the main superstars in World Wrestling Entertainment. Hulk Hogan slammed Andre the Giant on March 29, 1987 at WrestleMania 3, and after Hogan pinned the Giant the star power within the wrestling entertainment world shifted.
The slam was heard around the world and a power vacuum formed in the wrestling entertainment business. The question was no longer who would be the franchise player within the industry.
The question became: who would create a viable middle-card option to maintain the balance within the industry?
Bret “The Hitman” Hart stepped in and performed well for many years at the intercontinental championship level. As Hulk Hogan’s career declined in the WWE and he went to WCW in the mid-1990s, Bret Hart was the franchise player within the WWE.
In the WCW Monday Nitro vs. WWE Raw ratings battle Hart provided the opposition to Degeneration X.
By providing the opposition Bret Hart allowed the WWE to transition to the Attitude Era which allowed the company to regain the lead in the ratings battle. Bret Hart had a hall of fame career but it did not translate into ownership over a time period.
He had the misfortune of wrestling earlier in his career in the Hulk Hogan era and wrestling at the transition of the Attitude era.
While his in-ring performance was perfect, he never attracted the heat needed to reach icon status. For a short time period he was the franchise player for the WWE out of necessity given the time period. But when the time period no longer required his skill set, it set the stage ultimately for the Montreal Screwjob.
It takes the discerning fan to see the greatness in Bret Hart. Luckily there are enough fans to keep his memory alive and prevent the long-term health of wrestling entertainment to fall victim to the Montreal Screwjob.