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Bret Hart gets a leg up on Vince McMahon

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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.)

 

Bad casting: No way Hart should have touched McMahon until WrestleMania.

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

An Attitude Era Gone By: The Rattlesnake slithers back into the picture with the Chairman and the Hitman.

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.  

It was pretty damn cool to see Steve Austin, Hart and McMahon in the same ring again. Stone Cold was amazing on the mic all night and illustrated just how little charisma the majority of current WWE stars have in comparison. The fans’ reaction to Austin was remarkable–almost like they were starving for a character of his personality. Funny how guys like Austin (and Shawn Michaels in 2003) physically look amazing when returning to WWE after years of a more stable lifestyle off the road, as the Rattlesnake looked lean and mean. Austin did a nice job of putting over his bouts with the Hitman over as some of the best mathes of his career, incuding the character-defining moment at WrestleMania XIII.

File under Bret Hart, Vince McMahon and Steve Austin.

  1. Steve
    March 17th, 2010 at 05:52 | #1

    Scott,
    any truth to a rumor that Bret Hart recommended Vince McMahon find a way to hire Steve Austin and Brian Pillman away from WCW? This allegedly happened sometime before Austin was fired by Eric Bishoff.

  2. admin
    March 17th, 2010 at 13:59 | #2

    I believe that Hart claims that he suggested that McMahon hire Austin after seeing a few of his bouts with Ricky Steamboat in WCW. (Pillman is a possibility as well since he started out with Stu and Stampede, so Bret was very familiar with him.) It’s my understanding that Austin didn’t enter WWE’s radar until folks started raving about his promo work in ECW shortly after being fired. A lot of wrestlers say and write things along the lines of “I always knew so-and-so (insert name here) was going to be a star. In fact, I’m the one who helped him get his big break.” In Bret’s case, he took detailed notes on his life and career throughout this WWE tenure, so maybe he does recall speaking with McMahon regarding Austin. The only problem I have with the story is that Bret admits that before Flair arrived in WWF, he had never seen him wrestle (or maybe just once) on TV because he was so busy traveling that he never watched WCW. Then again, Austin was teaming Pillman (and having tremendous bouts as the Hollywood Blondes), whose matches Bret may have gone out of his way to see because of their past association. In other words, who knows?

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