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Sharp shooting: Personal attacks highlight Hart vs. McMahon buildup

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Grudge match: The Hitman aims to put the screws to McMahon.

Dead aim: The Hitman has Mr. McMahon in his sights.

Last night’s RAW finalized the Vince McMahon vs. Bret Hart bout at WrestleMania XXVI, with the wonderfully slimy Chairman of the Board taunting the “injured” Hitman and goading him into a bout on the biggest show of the year despite the five-time WWF champion’s “broken leg.” The company would have been far better off, at least from a believability standpoint, had Bret come out on crutches a few weeks ago claiming to have injured his leg doing squats in the gym (or whatever), rather than the contrived backstage segment in which his leg was seemingly crushed in a freak car accident. (Which was about as realistic as last night’s guests hosts, Cheech and Chong, getting high off psychedelic Lucky Charms in a scene that made “Up in Smoke” look like high-brow comedy.)

It’s unclear whether the injury angle was executed to hide Bret’s shortcomings in the ring when the bout finally comes off or if (most likely) it will be revealed to be a swerve staged to trick McMahon into a match. (I can only hope Criss Angel—next week’s guest host on RAW—doesn’t magically cure Bret’s leg in yet another hokey segment.)

Injury angle aside, both McMahon and Hart have been excellent in their roles. With the exception of a few scripted references to “the WWE Universe,” Bret reportedly has been encouraged to improvise and speak from his heart, with McMahon responding in kind.  At times, it’s come off like McMahon is unloading on his former champion with every snide knock that HBK ever uttered about Hart behind closed doors in 1997. Michaels, who by most accounts has sincerely manned up and accepted responsibility for being an asshole back in his heyday, was notorious for talking shit about Hart in the mid-’90s, even  claiming on the air that Bret was having an alleged affair with Sunny. Likewise, Hart says that he not only didn’t respect Shawn in the ‘90s but he also questioned his sexuality. This real-life personal and professional jealousy was great for business and was no different than say, Jerry Lawler and Bill Dundee back in 1977, in fueling the fire for their feud. Make no mistake: The initial Lawler/Dundee feud was very personal, with each badmouthing  the other to the boys and to the fans constantly.  In fact, Jerry Jarrett says they both worked very stiff, basically beating the shit out of each other, to see who would break. But hey, back in those days, that was all viewed as “good for the business.” (OK, so nobody ever pulled the other’s hair out in the locker room, but Lawler did shave Bill and Bev’s heads in the ring.)

In return, Hart has fired back with legit gripes he had with the way his former boss treated him, in particular, all the lies and false promises as well his unceremonious departure from the Former Fed, i.e., the Montreal Screwjob. I’m really happy for Bret that his promos since his return have been solid, as he really hit his stride in 1997 before WCW cut his legs out from under him with Eric Bischoff’s and Vince Russo’s lame material.  Loved last night’s line when Bret initially answered McMahon’s challenge with, “I have a broken leg, you idiot!” (That got a pop from the crowd as well.)

Pretty damn cool shot on RAW to see Hart in a ring with the huge WrestleMania XXVI logo hanging in the background—I almost thought that day would never come.

With John Cena vs. McMahon set for next week’s RAW, I suppose there’s still a chance we’ll instead get a tag bout at WrestleMania, with Hart/Cena vs. Mr. McMahon/Batista. (Incidentally, the Animal is showing more poise and personality in his latest heel role than at any point in his career.) Some have even speculated the tag match will include the WWE title being on the line, with Hart somehow screwing Batista out of the belt and ending his WWE career in ironic fashion. Sounds ridiculous to me, but this is the WWE Universe (man, I despise that term for some reason) after all. Besides, a single bout with Cena vs. Batista is far more compelling, as that storyline is playing up their rivalry with each man winning the company’s top titles at WrestleMania 21 after getting called up to the big leagues from OVW at around the same time.

File under Bret Hart vs. Vince McMahon

  1. Brenda
    March 3rd, 2010 at 16:12 | #1

    I am going to disagree. I was excited about Hart’s return but this “feud” has been extremely lame. It just doesn’t feel right. Perhaps the fact, that we both know it is going to be a terrible match. McMahon is not a wrestler and Bret Hart, through no fault of his own, can’t really take much of a bump anymore. What you are going to get is a terrible match.

    I personally would be more interested in seeing Lawler finally get a Wrestlemania match but that appears unlikely again.

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