Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Bret Hart Surviver Series 97 Forever Debated

By Wacko Bob
Originally written August 21, 2006
Reprinted with permission

Its been almost nine years now! And with a lot of people the debate still live on. What was really on Bret Hart's mind? What was really on Vince McMahon's and the rest of WWE's mind? What was on the mind of all that was involved? Lets go back and review all sides of this from the time of 1997 all the way up to now.

At the time the Surviver Series 97 card was getting set up Bret Hart had handed in his notice at the request of WWE owner Vince McMahon. According to lots of reports it all had to do with the size of Bret Harts contract he had gotten. Reports had him offered 3 million dollars a year from WCW. And Vince McMahon offered him a 20 year deal at an undisclosed amount. No one including Bret Hart said how much it was! But there where reports that it was bigger then half of what WCW was offering for a longer period of time. And if this was the case then you would have had others in WWE wanting the same thing that were on the level if not higher him Bret Hart. Mick Foley was really on the rise at that point and you had guys like Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin and The Undertaker would have all been guys wanting the same money for the same contract. This is something I really do choose to believe seeing that rumors had Bret Hart making 2.2 million a year by some and getting paid in merchandise and in ticket sales as well. To me if this story is true it would add up to why Vince McMahon had to let him go. Because Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels had become bigger superstars then Bret Hart.

As wrestling is done theres always pre-arranging of whats gonna happen and whats gotta happen. And thinking ahead as always! Vince McMahon, and WWE writer Vince Russo are working to-wards the future. One of those plans that would go on is when I person is leaving and he's on top he is gonna have to lose before he leaves. And as we saw on Wrestling With Shadows Bret Hart had an issue with losing in his home town in Montreal Canada. But! I have other reservations about this too. Because Bret Hart talk about a character he loved too. The Hit Man being that character. But was this really about The Hit Man? Or was this more about how Bret Hart really was feeling in his own mind? My guess is it had to do more with The Man himself! Because almost anyone else who was leaving all a promotion all did the job and took some loses before leaving. The Big Show did it as The Giant in WCW, and even Tazz did it in ECW and Tazz did it after putting in his notice while on top. Tazz first jobbed losing the ECW title and jobbed in his last few matches before leaving putting other over. This was all about one match with Bret Hart as the WWE Champion on his last day and last match in the WWE. Weather or not its your home town is irrelevant!

To move on here now. There are several sides to this story that have been said by all. Bret Hart and Vince McMahon would be the 2 biggest names to talk about this. But other have talked about all this as well. Vince Russo would talk about this matter on a sports radio show that also dealt in wrestling. He would say how him and Jim Cornette were at Vince McMahon's house discussing how this finish would happen at Surviver Series 97. And he would also say why this was to happen. He would say the it had nothing to do with not trusting Bret Hart. and that It had to do with not trusting Eric Bischoff. Because! Eric Bischoff was a very shrewed business man. And he would have had Bret Hart show up on WCW TV with that the WWE title belt. This is something I think would make the most logical sense since Bret Hart was wanting to not lose in his last match in WWE and with him being the champion as well Eric Bischoff would have went all the way with doing anything to make Bret Hart do just that. Even though Bret Hart said he would never do that and they seem to believe him according to Russo. Without him benign under a contract with WWE after that night Eric Bischoff would have done anything to have that happen.

Others who were close to Bret Hart would talk about this as well. Honky Tonk Man who was shown in one spot on Wrestling with Shadows talking about the things going on in WWE and how they felt about it. But in countless shoot interviews The Honky Tonk Man would talk about the fact that it was proper for Bret Hart to lose in Canada. Saying that his home town and crowd had nothing to do with the issue at hand with it being his last match in the WWE. Bad News Allen was another guy who always had issues with Vince McMahon and would not even want to be in the same building as him. And even he took the side of Vince McMahon as well. Saying he had to lose and do a job to Shawn Michaels as well. to here those 2 alone shows you what the tradition in wrestling has always been. and you can be some ones friend and hate that other but still admit when the one to hate or not as close to as the other is rite. And in this can be the case too with the Bret Hart Screw Job at The Surviver Series 97!

When you really look at it with both Wrestling with Shadows and The very first WWE confidential show, you really wonder what was really going on with Wrestling with Shadows. Wrestling with Shadows was meant to be a documentary about Bret Hart and with all this going on in his career. I did not think that Wrestling with Shadows was meant to be about this screw job at The Surviver Series 97. I do believe it became an issue about that and really more or less redeeming Bret Hart's reputation that really had been tarnished in a lot of ways after the whole screw job in 97. Because Bret Hart was looked at more as the bad guy then some would want to believe. Because no one new about the back issue. Heres where it become an issue with some with this documentary. Wrestling with Shadows showed more this selfish side of Bret Hart with this issue of losing the title and match in Canada. He would bring up being requested to leave the WWE and going to WCW. But Bret Hart would say things that did not add up rite as well. Saying how he did not agree with that WWE was doing there and how bad its gotten in public. And in Wresting with Shadows Bret and the producers of this documentary would go out of there way. Showing Bret Hart on talk shows really putting down the WWE and what they were doing there. But if you look at the things going on in WWE at that time as they would show it on that talk show, it would show things that went on after Bret Hart was gone. This would show me that this was really going on after the Surviver Series 97 and would show that Bret Hart was bitter because of what happened to him in WWE through his attitude. Bret Hart would say how Vince McMahon would be upset about it and he would be the one to say how Bret Hart was leaving WWE for the money in WCW. Again I have a hard time believing this. Because! This was a one sided documentary about Bret Hart! On a special Wrestling with Shadows with extras with Bret Hart and the Producer talking about it. They would talk about the whole thing and how people were like in the back. saying how Undertaker would be crying. And how Shawn Michaels would be covering his face in disbelief that this happened. This is also something I have a tough time adding up as well. And 5 years later on confidential would be why!

The WWE confidential show would be the the one to tell the other side of this story. With Shawn Michaels talking about it and Gerald Brisco and Earl Hepner on along with Vince McMahon to talk about this you now get to here that other side. With us all knowing about Bret Hart getting duped in the back with Vince McMahon. Leading Bret Hart to believe he did not have to loose the title. We all know that there was another plan that Bret Hart did not know about that would be done instead. Shawn Michaels, Gerald Brisco, Earl Hepner and Vince McMahon were the only ones who knew what was gonna happen. Shawn Michaels would talk about the whole thing and what it was like before the match in the locker room area. And with him knowing what was going on and agreeing to go along with it you knew that he had a lot on his mind. And working in possible scenarios with Gerald Brisco in case he should he should get in trouble with Bret Hart. Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels did have issues with one another. And this was a matter of getting the job Vince McMahon wanted done. This was a tough issue going on with all involved and with the 5 guys it was all about what they all knew would happen and what they also thought might happen. As said already Shawn Michaels did agree to do this to Bret Hart to get the title off of him. And with all of the aftermath of it all and hearing Earl Hepner saying how he ran for his life after calling the match and getting out of the arena that night. And Shawn quickly getting his stuff and leaving for The Hotel rite away saying very little to Bret Hart in the back. It was only Vince and Bret in the end! Shawn Michaels admits to knowing what was gonna go on and agreeing to do it himself and gives his reasons for doing it. Being paid by Vince McMahon and pushed to the top as well. Shawn Michaels knew what his job was to do. And with him not being sorry for doing it makes a lot of sense too. And this segment of confidential which was only 10-12 minutes long made more sense and added up a heck of a lot better then the 90 mins Wrestling with Shadows was. All five guys stuck to there story and all stand buy it, and that backs up more then anything Bret Hart did on his own with what he did.

However when Bret Hart and Vince McMahon would come back together to everyones surprise to do this Bret Hart DVD, something else would show that would not fit rite with me. As Bret Hart would down play the whole thing as far as Surviver Series 97. He would claim how it was more about him not losing in his home town, as he;s lost there plenty of times. And would go on in other areas that again would not add up. Again I feel that Bret Hart was downplaying everything fans got to see and here about. He wanted to understand Vince's position about it all but now using the fact that his family and kids were there too. Long story short I have issues with him and this because he was downplaying the fact that he refused to lose in his home town in Canada. Vince McMahon would down play that night and things said there as well. I do believe that they both mite have felt a lot of regret with everything that night but would have at least come down to some understanding of the truth. So there is still a lot of questions that need to finally be answered.

The one thing Shawn Michaels said is that this would become something to be talked about. And after almost nine years it still is being talked about. And like what was said before! It will always be debated. And until you run a multi-billion dollar business there will be no room to even get into debate.

Was Bret Hart Screwed by the WWE and Vince McMahon? To an extent yes! Did Bret Hart screw Bret Hart? to another extent Yes! But who was rite? Who really knows! But as long as its talk about that question will always be asked with different opinions from everyone.

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