Bret Hart, Goldberg, and the Devastating Kick That Ruined Bret’s Career

"Whatever You Do, Don’t Hurt Me”

Photo Credit: WWE.

Bret Hart and Goldberg would clash in the main event of WCW Starrcade from the MCI Center in Washington D.C., on December 19, 1999.

In his autobiography, Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling, Bret Hart wrote of what happened and where things went wrong in this match.

“I fired [Goldberg] into the ropes, and as he reversed me, I heard him call, ‘Watch the kick!’

“I had no idea what kind of a kick he meant, and there wasn’t much room coming off the ropes. Goldberg’s right foot flew just under my right hand, WHAAAAM!

The kick, unfortunately, would lead to life-long consequences for The Hitman.

Bret Hart And Goldberg Reflect On The Ill-Fated Moment

Former WCW Tag Team Champions Goldberg and Bret Hart face off at WCW Starrcade 1999. A botched kick later in the match would mark the end of Bret Hart's wrestling career.
Photo Credit: WWE.

What was supposed to be a moment for the two former WCW tag team champions to shine turned into a match with dire consequences.

Here, Bret Hart and Goldberg openly discuss the botched kick that ultimately led to Hart’s retirement in 2000.

Bret Hart Recounts How The Kick Felt

Photo Credit: WWE.

“It felt like someone chopped me with a hockey stick,” Bret continued. “It was an agonizing blow that sent me crashing to the mat where I lay holding my neck just behind my right ear at the base of my skull.”

After the errant kick to the head, Bret remembered nothing. He just remembered thinking, “I’ve got to get up for the finish, but I can’t remember what it is.”

Regrettably, people with concussions are the last ones to figure out how badly hurt they are.

A Devastating Diagnosis

Photo Credit: WWE.

“I was more responsible than anyone for downplaying my condition to myself and everyone else. I let myself go on, believing that the problem was a sore neck.

“I drifted through every day in a pale-faced, sweaty, head-pounding stupor, pacified to the point of numbness by the four Advils I took every three hours.”

After his match with Goldberg, Bret Hart flew home to Calgary to visit lauded NHL Concussion specialist Dr. Willem Meeuwisse.

“I sat in Dr. Meeuwisse’s office in Calgary. He noticed that I was slurring my words. The doctor said, ‘I can feel a hole in the back of your neck the size of a quarter…’

“He felt around the back of my skull. ‘This part here feels like hamburger. I hate to be the one to have to tell you this, but your career is probably over…’”

Bret Hart’s Candid Reflections On The Wishes And Fallout With Goldberg

Photo Credit: WWE.

In a later interview with The Columbus Dispatch, Bret Hart spoke of the wishes he made clear to Goldberg before the match.

“One of the last things I said to Bill before I walked out to the ring was, ‘Don’t hurt me.’ I wish he heard me a little better.”

Hart continued, “I’ve always had a lot of respect for Bill. He doesn’t have a mean bone in his body, and what happened- it was just part of the job. I do wish he had been a little bit more careful, but we’ve always been friends over the years.”

Goldberg Opens Up About The Botched Kick On Bret Hart

Photo Credit: WWE.

“That will forever go down in history as the biggest mistake that I have ever made in my entire life,” Goldberg admitted in a 2016 interview with The Law. “For those who haven’t heard me say it, I apologize profusely.”

“God knows I put Bret Hart up on a pedestal where very few sit. The last thing that I ever wished upon him was harm, especially by my own hand.

“Every time I think about Bret Hart,” Goldberg confessed, “I feel remorseful about the kick. Though Bret and I are very good friends, and he doesn’t hold it against me, ’til the day I die, I’m gonna feel bad about it. And there’s nothing I can do to take it back.”

What Happened In The Days And Months After The Injury

Photo Credit: WWE.

The botched mule kick delivered by Goldberg gave Bret Hart a severe concussion. Unaware of the severity of the injury, Hart continued to compete in matches in the days that followed.

Hart would later be diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome, and he had to relinquish his title on January 16, 2000.

The Final Farewell: Bret Hart’s Illustrious Career Comes To A Poignant Close

Photo Credit: WWE.

Later that year, Hart retired from professional wrestling altogether.

From Injury To Forgiveness: Finding Humor Amid Adversity

Photo Credit: WWE.

Despite Goldberg’s blunder causing a life-changing injury, Bret Hart has forgiven him, and the two get along just fine to this day. In fact, at autograph signings where they both are at, it is not uncommon for the two of them to sign a picture of Goldberg kicking Bret Hart in the head from Starrcade 99.

At least they can have a bit of fun with it after all these years.

Bret Hart On Who He Wishes He Had His Last Match With

Photo Credit: WWE.

Everyone wonders the hypothetical "what if?" In a fan Q&A session, Bret Hart opened up about who he would have loved to have had his last match with had his career not been cut short by the thrust kick of Goldberg in ’99:

"If I hadn’t gotten injured, it would have been fun to go back and end my career with a big blow-off match with Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, or The Undertaker.

"If I could have found the place in my heart to forgive Shawn Michaels back then, it might have been fun to come back to wrestle Shawn in a ladder match. It’s kind of the match he ripped off from me anyway! We could have built something around that. I think we were good enough friends that we could have done something good with that.

"I have a pretty good friendship with Shawn now. We get along — I think we’re both glad that we made peace with what happened. We were both drawn into the bad blood with all that screwjob stuff. I think we’re both glad we’ve moved on from that…"

The Real Bret Hart

Bret Hart.
Photo Credit: WWE.

Bret Hart has had a lot to say about his peers, but what do they have to say about him?

These twelve surprising stories paint a clear picture of who the real Hitman is!

The Night Goldberg’s Streak Died

Goldberg and Kevin Nash - The Night The Streak Died
Photo Credit: WWE.

GOLDBERG: “I didn’t know what was going on. Every time I went to the building, I thought I was going to lose.”

KEVIN NASH: “Goldberg got [angry], and then he got hurt. People say that killed WCW. Well, no, it didn’t!”

At Starrcade 1998, an undefeated Goldberg defended his WCW World Heavyweight Championship against Kevin Nash. Goldberg was 173-0. Nothing could stop him. Or so we thought.

This is the true story behind the ending of the streak. In the end, it would all be for nothing!

Read: Goldberg and Kevin Nash – The Night The Streak Died

The Hitman’s First Championship Reign

Earl Hebner raises the arm of Bret Hart after he successfully defended the WWF World Heavyweight Championship against Shawn Michaels at 1992’s Survivor Series pay-per-view.
Photo Credit: WWE.

When thinking of Bret Hart, it is easy to remember many classic moments. However, perhaps oddly, The Hitman’s first world title win does not always come straight to mind. In Hart’s case, the first elusive World Title victory did not just change his status but also the possible direction of the WWF as a whole.

Here, we look back on a slightly surprising title victory on one October day in 1992 and how the WWF seemingly could not entirely pull the trigger on Bret Hart this first time around.

Read: Bret Hart and his Often Overlooked First Championship Reign

Wrestling Injuries That Ended Careers Too Soon

Tyson Kidd and Cesaro with some tandem offense on Kofi Kingston.
Photo Credit: WWE.

“When I hit the mat, I knew my neck was broken and that I was paralyzed.”

These individuals’ lives were irrevocably altered while doing what they loved.

Greg Valentine’s Defiant Act Behind The WWE Intercontinental Championship Belt

Greg Valentine on His Career and the Tragic Fate of His Destroyed IC Title
Photo Credit: WWE.

When Greg Valentine and Tito Santana met on July 6, 1985, in a steel cage in Baltimore, Maryland, Santana got the victory to reclaim the title. Valentine responded by retrieving the championship and destroying the belt, beating it repeatedly against the cage and tearing the gold away from the leather.

"I had to give the belt back to Tito after that angle," Valentine said. "And one day, when I saw him a few years ago, I asked whatever became of that belt, because Tito kept it after that angle. What he responded with broke my heart.”

Read: Greg Valentine on His Career and the Tragic Fate of His Destroyed IC Title

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JP Zarka founded Pro Wrestling Stories in 2015 and is the creative force behind the website as editor-in-chief. From 2018-19, he was the podcast host and producer for The Genius Cast with Lanny Poffo, brother of WWE legend Macho Man Randy Savage. His diverse career includes work as an elementary school teacher, assistant principal, and musician, notably as a singer-songwriter with the London-based band Sterling Avenue. Zarka has appeared on TV programs like “Autopsy: The Last Hours of” on Reelz (U.S.) and Channel 5 (U.K.) and has contributed research for programming on ITV and BBC.