Working an angle after re-securing Bret Hart's signature in 1996, Vince McMahon cut a relieved figure at the commentary desk as the 'Hitman' pledged to be with WWE "forever" during his 21st October Raw return.
McMahon was acting then, just as he was a year later when he agreed to a "schmoz" in Montreal.
In his incredible autobiography, Hart theorised that McMahon regretted the unprecedented 20-year contract almost immediately after he'd agreed to it. Only really audible to trained ears - and Bret's were more trained than most - McMahon and Jim Ross subtly reduce Hart's typical excellence in his return match against Stone Cold Steve Austin at that year's Survivor Series, despite his execution being as on-point as ever.
'The Best There Is, The Best There Was, The Best There Ever Will Be' wasn't just believable ballyhoo by that point - it had never been truer. Keen to earn his money and retain industry-wide respect in contrast to bitter rival Shawn Michaels, Hart was as masterful as he'd ever been in his iconic, earth-shifting feud with 'The Rattlesnake'.
1997 was arguably his best ever year, but the ruthless and shrewd McMahon had already started imagining it as his last.
Square eyes on a square head, trained almost exclusively to Pro Wrestling, Sunderland AFC & Paul Rudd films. Responsible for 'Shocking Plans You Won't Believe Actually Happened', some of the words in our amazing Wrestling bookazines (both available at shop.whatculture.com), and probably every website list you read that praised Kevin Nash.