DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 08: Special guest referee Bret "The Hitman" Hart is introduced during the WWE Smackdown Live Tour at Westridge Park Tennis Stadium on July 08, 2011 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
You've heard it before, probably countless times. When Bret Hart infamously left the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in 1997 after the Montreal Screwjob at Survivor Series, he jumped ship to World Championship Wrestling (WCW), where he had signed an extremely lucrative deal that would pay him upwards of $3 million per year.
For that kind of cash, you would think they would utilize him like a major main event level player. After all, that's what he was with the WWF, constantly in or around the main event and a multiple time WWF champion.
Instead, Hart quickly became lost amidst the crowded black, white, and red sea of New World Order (NWO). When he finally came on and started working matches, the focus had shifted to the feud between the NWO Hollywood and the NWO Wolfpac.
Hart never officially joined either group, though he was loosely affiliated with NWO Hollywood for a while. That was the case on this date in history (July 20, 1998), in fact, when he was able to win his first WCW championship, the U.S. title that Goldberg had vacated, by defeating Diamond Dallas Page in the main event of Monday Nitro. This was also the first time, Hart was the headlining act of a WCW show.
The match itself was nothing to write home about if only because DDP was selling injuries to his knee. Hart won in short order and the NWO came out to celebrate with him, overrunning the ring and quickly overshadowing "The Hitman's" victory.
And that was his problem with how he was used, really. It was never really about Bret Hart while he was with WCW. We could sit here and call him a big mark for himself or anything else like that but he was a major star with WWF who got paid like an even bigger star in WCW but wasn't really used like one. He would go on to various successes, getting two runs with the world heavyweight championship, but Hart described his time with WCW as the worst of his life as a professional wrestler.
Watch him defeat DDP for the U.S. title after the jump.