A man is in custody after attacking Bret “The Hitman” Hart during a WWE Hall of Fame ceremony.
Police have identified the alleged assailant as Zachary Madsen, who was being held pending the filing of charges.
Madsen faces numerous charges including trespassing and assault.
Hart was uninjured in the melee and finished his speech after the alleged assailant was taken away by police.
No information has been released regarding the attacker’s motive.
Hart was standing at a podium inside the ring delivering a Hall of Fame induction speech when he was attacked.
“An overexuberant fan surpassed our security at ringside and made his way briefly into the ring,” WWE said in a statement obtained by ESPN. “The individual has been turned over to the proper authorities.”
The wrestling legend was speaking about his late friend Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart at the time of the assault, USA Today reported.
Neidhart’s daughter and Hart’s niece, Natalya, was standing beside “The Hitman” when Madsen allegedly jumped through the ropes, tackled her uncle and, according to police, punched him at least once.
— Gonzalo Alonso (@lalox) April 7, 2019
Footage shows chaos erupting as several people rush to Hart’s aid.
— Gorilla Position (@WWEGP) April 7, 2019
Among those to intervene was Hart’s nephew Davey Boy Smith Jr., who reportedly held down the assailant. Smith later said in a tweet the attacker was “lucky I was being held back.”
— Alan Fisher🍏 (@AlanFisher_) April 7, 2019
Other wrestling stars who came to Hart’s aid included Shane McMahon, Xavier Woods, Tyson Kidd, and Curtis Axel, CBS reported.
— Steve Patriots (@StevieDrama) April 7, 2019
Travis Browne, former UFC heavyweight and husband of WWE star Ronda Rousey, was one of those to step in, according to BJPenn.com.
Natalya, whose real name is Natalie Neidhart, later responded to the attack in a tweet, saying Hart “didn’t deserve to be attacked or have his moment or my dad’s diminished.”
She wrote, “I’m so proud of my uncle @BretHart tonight during our HOF ceremony. Bret is a cancer survivor, a stroke survivor and one of the greatest wrestlers of all time.”
I’m so proud of my uncle @BretHart tonight during our HOF ceremony. Bret is a cancer survivor, a stroke survivor and one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. He didn’t deserve to be attacked or have his moment or my dad’s diminished. We got it back on track. Thank you, guys🙏
— Nattie (@NatbyNature) April 7, 2019
Jim Neidhart, who was Bret Hart’s brother-in-law, died last August aged 63. Neidhart, who with Hart formed one of the top wrestling tag teams in the 1980s with the WWE, fell at his home and struck his head, after which the Pasco Sheriff’s Office said he “succumbed to his injury.”
‘I’m No Wrestling Tragedy’
Hart is one of more than three dozen former wrestlers who dissected the pitfalls of the professional wrestling lifestyle in the documentary “350 Days.”
Hart and other former WWE greats “Superstar” Billy Graham, Greg Valentine, Tito Santana, and Wendi Richter recount the toll that a life on the road could have on physical and mental health, and the broken homes that were often a result.
“I don’t look at myself as a wrestling tragedy,” Hart told The Associated Press. “I saved my money. I’m not broken down. I’ve got my share of injuries and hardships in wrestling. But I’m no wrestling tragedy. I don’t feel like I present myself like that. Unfortunately, there are a lot of wrestling tragedies and that does come across in the film. It’s a very tough life. It’s not a life for everybody.”
The documentary is based on more than 120 hours of interviews from 72 wrestlers.
“The title is ‘350 Days’ because at the peak in that mid-80s period, these guys were so huge, so popular, they were literally wrestling up to 350 days a year,” said Evan Ginzburg, an associate producer on Mickey Rourke’s “The Wrestler.”
“The toll on the human body, on the marriages, on the relationship with kids was too much. ‘Survivor Series’ was on Thanksgiving night. Starrcade was (around) Christmas night. How do you tell your kids, daddy’s not going to be home (for the holidays)? This is really what the movie is about.”
Hart said 350 days was a bit on the high side of his personal count, but he figured he was on the road 300 to 320 days each year for 23 years.
“If I could have worked half as many days, I would have been a hundred times happier,” Hart said. “That was the sacrifice that we all made and we all suffered through. I’m not sure there was anything we could have changed about that. If today’s wrestlers can have the money, they can get on a lighter schedule, I’m all for it. It’s important for the (WWE) to look after their talent a little better than they used to.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.