WWE Hall Of Famer Bret “The Hitman” Hart recently took part in an interview with Sky Sports in which he revealed how Vince McMahon convinced him to turn heel after many years of being the company's top babyface.
“I very much worried about losing my fan base when they wanted to turn me heel. I remember that (WWE owner) Vince McMahon laughed and joked on the phone when he called me to tell me, and I said ‘I don’t want to turn heel, I don’t want to be a bad guy’.
“I really took pride in being a worldwide hero, much the same as John Cena today. But much the same as John Cena today, the wrestling audience was wanting something different. They wanted somebody new. So it was like, ‘do I change styles to stay alive’?
“Vince said ‘give me five minutes and I’ll talk you into it’, and I said ‘no thank you, I’m not interested’, but he talked me into it pretty fast because my option as a good guy was that I was going to wrestle Vader for the next year. That was going to be brutal, and I was thinking ‘anything but Vader’.
“So the heel turn was a difficult choice to make, and I remember Vince stressed to me – and I wonder whether that was the beginning of them trying to tear me down – that ‘you are going to be a hero everywhere else except the United States’.
“I don’t know if they were totally honest. I remember when we wrestled that pay-per-view in ’97 in Birmingham that they were clearly trying to turn me heal or trying to turn the audience against me on the mic and commentary, and that was Vince and Jim Ross and guys like that.”