WWE Legend Came Close to Signing With AEW

AEW's first official event back in 2019, the inaugural Double or Nothing pay-per-view, featured a surprise cameo from two-time WWE Hall of Famer and five-time former WWF Champion Bret Hart. "The Hitman" arrived at the show to unveil the AEW World Championship, a title Chris Jericho would go on to win months later at All Out. Hart never wound up appearing in AEW again after that appearance, and during a recent Wrestling Observer Radio episode, Dave Meltzer explained why.

"It was a last-minute thing," Meltzer explained. "They asked him to present the title and said 'sure'. He knew he would get heat with Vince, but you know Bret. He didn't have a contract saying he couldn't do it, and he didn't worry that much about getting heat from Vince. So, he worries to a degree, because Nattie [Natalya] is still there and you don't want them to take out reprisals against her."

Meltzer went on to explain this is why Hart no longer hosts any podcasts or (rarely) does podcast interviews anymore. Back when he was doing Confessions of The Hitman, the former WrestleMania main eventer didn't hesitate in blasting Vince McMahon for decisions he made.

When I look at those days and those teams, all of them, The Hart Foundation, and The Bulldogs, even Greg Valentine and Brutus Beefcake as an example, were a good combination," Hart said back in December, blaming McMahon for "killing" tag team wrestling. "Beefcake was never the wrestler that Greg was; Greg was a very solid and credible wrestler. He carried the weight, and Brutus was enough of a character that he could carry his end, and he was a big enough guy, and had enough of a physique. It was an interesting combination. If you look at even Mike Rotunda and [Barry] Windham, they really were a good, polished, skilled wrestling team that could go out there and have a great match with anybody. And then you look at the Rougeau Brothers - they came out of Montreal [Canada] with their dad and wrestling in Montreal, which was a very formidable wrestling territory in its time. Montreal, nothing but great wrestlers came out of Montreal.

"It's sad if you look at tag team wrestling today, where it [has] gone because they let it die out a little," Hart continued. "But it always had its own history and its own style. A tag team wrestling match is so much different than any match on the card. It's a completely different kind of strategy to the match and building it up. And the matchups - there are four guys in the ring and you team up Andre [The Giant] and Haku, as an example, against me and Jim 'The Anvil'. It's like, people go, 'what's going to happen in this?' Me and Jim working over Andre can happen. Two guys on one. It was just fun to play up the psychology of how would The Hart Foundation fare against that team or The Rougeaus? They tag in and out all the time and they have a certain style. I think it's my understanding that Vince McMahon got sick of tag team wrestling and is no longer a fan of it. And that's so sad that he kind of single-handedly killed a part of the wrestling business that was so important."