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Hart-felt Reunion

WWE.com's No. 6 story in 2006 began with an ending nearly nine years ago. At Survivor Series 1997, the world-infamous "Montreal Screwjob" in the Molson Centre closed the storied rivalry between Bret "Hit Man" Hart and Shawn Michaels in questionable fashion, and signaled the end of a WWE era with the "Excellence of Execution."

To be fair, this controversial conclusion could have no other outcome. Mr. McMahon—knowing Hart was leaving for WCW the following night, and fearful that he would bring the WWE Championship with him—had called for the bell moments after Michaels placed the "Hit Man" in his own Sharpshooter finisher. The Molson Centre fans, believing their native hero had been "screwed," nearly rioted as HBK exited the arena with the WWE Championship. From the ring, a disgusted Hart—who hadn't actually submitted—spat in the face of Mr. McMahon, then physically confronted him backstage minutes later, prompting several Superstars to come between the two men. For the next nine years, neither Bret Hart nor WWE would budge on their position regarding the events that transpired at Survivor Series.

Fortunately, time heals all wounds, and the end of this story offers a promising start. In recent years, despite prior vows to never again associate with WWE, Hart had re-entered discussions with Mr. McMahon and the company. He began appearing again in WWE-related toys and video games, this time as a WWE Legend; in 2005 he even visited WWE's offices in Stamford, agreeing to participate in the production of a DVD focusing on his career. The real surprise, however, came on April 1, 2006, the eve of WrestleMania 22, as Bret Hart was officially inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. There, Hart thanked every WWE Superstar he ever worked with—including Mr. McMahon—and expressed his gratitude to the fans for remembering his contributions to sports-entertainment.

Although he declined to appear with the other Hall of Fame inductees at WrestleMania 22, the raising of his image on the scaffolding of Chicago's Allstate Arena symbolized that Bret Hart's WWE legacy will forever acknowledge him as "the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be."

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