Bret Hart gets a leg up on Vince McMahon
Capping off the long, painful swerve that everyone but Vince McMahon apparently saw coming, Bret Hart revelaed on RAW last night that he staged a freak car accident, with help from the RAW cameramen and production team employed by the Chairman of the Board. It’s really a shame the Hart/McMahon program took this turn, which was fascinating initially because of its inherent realistic nature playing off the bitter feelings of both men that have been simmering for 13 years. Tricking heels into a match has been a staple of the business for years, and if executed correctly, can build the fans’ anticipation for when the bad guy finally receives his comeuppance. I’ve seen it used with mixed results in Memphis over the years. Often, in many Southern promotions, the local heel or manager would be tricked into signing a contract to wrestle a bear. (Dutch Mantell sheds some light on this inhumane practice in his entertaining book.) Perhaps the most memorable such scenario was the ruse Jerry Lawler and Lance Russell pulled on Bill Dundee in November 1985 to goad the Superstar into one more Southern title defense before NWA champion Ric Flair returned to Memphis to face the region’s titlist–this was incredibly hokey, even by Memphis standards. (Apparently, some fans were fooled, as several mothers in Memphis flooded the WMC-TV studio switchboard complaining of the example Lawler had just set for the little Kingers.)
I like the idea of Mr. McMahon being afraid of Hart, showing a contrast to the bravado that he’s routinely displayed heading into high-profile matches over the years with Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair. It’s just the execution that was flawed here. Given the Hart family’s personal tragedies over the years, it would have been far more believable had Bret claimed to have experienced a gym accident or developed lingering complications from his stroke that would cause him to rescind his challenge to McMahon. Fans have largely been programmed to tune out backstage antics and accidents as “part of the show,” which hurt the effectiveness of the injury angle. The reveal last night was OK, though McMahon agreeing so passively to Stu’s induction into the HOF as part of the contract terms was too quickly glossed over my taste. I was also surprised that Hart physically assaulted McMahon, belting him with the cast twice before exiting to the cheers of the fans. However, I loved the smirk on Hart’s face when McMahon swiveled around to find the cast on and crutch on the desk, and the Hitman was strong on the mic after.
However, a better scenario might have been for one of McMahon’s henchmen from last week, (e.g., Jack Swagger), to hit the ring after the “cast-off” reveal only to be subdued by the
Hitman, who would proceed to ensnare the All-American American in the Sharpshooter as Vince scooted away in horror as the camera faded out. Again, it’s all bout whetting the fans’ appetite to see Hart get his hands on Vince , so the less actual physical interaction between the two until WrestleMania the better. Plus, it would remind older fans and help educate new ones of just had badass a finisher Bart Hart has in his repertoire.
File under Bret Hart, Vince McMahon and Steve Austin.