WWE Hall of Famer Bret Hart has always had a turbulent relationship with Vince McMahon. But after the allegations of sexual abuse in Janel Grant’s lawsuit, Hart says he’s done with McMahon altogether.
Hart spoke with Slate about his and his family’s history with McMahon, and led off by telling Vince biographer Abraham Josephine Riesman he was going to speak his truth. “I’m not worried about Vince’s feelings. He’s never cared about mine.”
With regard to accusations in Grant’s case, which has already led to other stories of McMahon abusing the power he wielded as the head of the largest most successful company in the history of the pro wrestling business, Hart said, “I don’t have any problem with everybody kicking his head around the parking lot. I’m OK with the truth coming out.”
Discussing perhaps the most vile story in a lawsuit full of vile stories, Grant’s claim that McMahon defecated on her head during a threesome and forced her to continue while covered in his feces, Hart said, “When you get that vision in your head, you go, ‘That’s messed up. ’It’s too sick and disgusting to really imagine.”
He also said the graphic text messages included in Grant’s suit as evidence, “sound like Vince.” Hart admitted talk of sexual abuse was common during his time in the industry, and concluded, “I don’t think this is the only incident of this kind of predatory behavior. I think you’ll find that it’s everywhere in [WWE].”
As to why he never spoke up about McMahon, Bret pointed to the power Vince had and the idea that calling him our wouldn’t matter anyway:
“It’s kind of like The Godfather: You never know when a guy like Vince will be your enemy again over something you say or do.
“He’s the Teflon guy. You just can’t seem to get anything on him. He’s just too powerful, got too much money.”
Hart acknowledges that McMahon was instrumental in his pro wrestling success, and that he “wouldn’t be the same man” he is today without McMahon. But while he “always had a respect for him”, he says, “now it’s tainted. I’m embarrassed that I thought so highly of him.” Riesman says Hart sent her a text after their conversation which read:
“I think, despite all of the issues I ever had with Vince, I know, deep down, I always respected him; but now, knowing what kind of a weirdo he became, I have absolutely zero respect for him. I do not think I could ever shake his hand if he extended it. Too creepy.”
Bret also relayed a story of how he apologized to Rita Chatterton, the WWE referee who accused McMahon of raping her in 1992 (as he has with the contents of Grant’s suit, McMahon has denied Chatterton’s claims, even when agreeing to a multimillion dollar settlement to close a lawsuit on them last year). Hart didn’t believe her for years, figuring “Vince had too much at stake to ever do something like that.”
But a few months ago, after hearing the advance rumblings of these latest accusations, Hart ran into Chatterton at a convention.
“I apologized from the bottom of my heart,” Hart recalled, “and I said, ‘I believe that what happened to you, happened to you. And I apologize. I was wrong.’”
While no punishment may fit his alleged crimes, Hart believes McMahon will always be synonymous with them more than anything else he did:
“It’s like Jeffrey Dahmer, Harvey Weinstein, or Jeffrey Epstein: Vince will be a joke. He’ll be used for humor, and you’ll shake your head at the shock value of some joke about, ‘What did Vince McMahon do?’ He’ll always be associated with this story, especially as it gets bigger and bigger and bigger.”
You can read Riesman’s full piece for Slate here.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, confidential support is available by calling 800.656.HOPE, and links to other resources can be found here.