Did Bret Hart bring the Screwjob situation on himself?
Has anyone watched "Wrestling with Shadows" for goodness sake???? In Bret's documentary, "Wrestling with Shadows", Bret lets the viewer know that he had REASONABLE Creative Control for his last thirty days and is kind enough to explain what that actually entails. He tells the viewer that he had the power to nix or rework any storyline he felt would have been detrimental to the "Hitman" character (because Bret was afraid VKM would shit on the Hitman character on his (Bret's) way out of the company) but all the other power, such as who goes over in the matches and such, was in Vince McMahon's control.
Also, the reason for Bret leaving the WWF is dubious to say the least. We've been given the story that VKM had negotiated a contract with Bret for 20 mil, but could not honour it, and that VKM had suggested to Bret to go negotiate a contract with WCW. This is what we've been told and yet on "Wrestling with Shadows" Bret recounts a conversation he'd had with VKM where he'd told VKM that he didn't want to talk about money anymore, that he would stay for the same deal they already had and that all Bret wanted was for McMahon to show was some sort of commitment towards him. The strange thing about this conversation is that the supposedly 20 mil deal Bret had had with McMahon/the WWF WAS the problem, so how could Bret expect McMahon to make a commitment towards him when he wasn't seemingly wanting to budge from that supposed deal? (unless that deal never existed)
The only way this conversation makes sense to me is if Bret had played the WCW card to get an even better deal out of VKM, (something Bret states in his book he'd played at least twice before, including some up-coming court cases against Vince, during contract negotiations in the past) but this time VKM had refused to play ball and had basically told Bret to go to the WCW and get something out of them. What also needs to be taken into considereation as well is that Bret was 40 years of age by this time and entering his twilight years (his career in the ring was nearly over) whereas Shawn Michaels, being 7-8 years younger than Bret, was in his absolute prime. I think Bret thought he could demand whatever he wanted because he was such a mark for himself, but McMahon, as always, had his business head on during contract negotiations and didn't see things from a business standpoint the same way as Bret.
Lastly, has anyone read Bret's book for goodness sake???? In there you are given a clear indication of the reason why Bret refused to job to Shawn Michaels not just in Canada but also anywhere in the world - and the reason was because Shawn had apparently disrespected him when he said he would not return the favour of putting Bret over. So, essentially, what happened was that Bret decided to throw his dummy/pacifier on the floor and his toys out of his pram, took a backstage problem, blew it all out of context and planted it firmly in the public arena so he could then bitch, whine and moan like a 60 year old harpy about the unfairness of it all.
All in all Bret behaved exactly like a spoilt child behaves when a parent refuses them something. He basically gave a massive FU to the boys in the back who'd helped make him the star he became all because he couldn't handle someone threatening to never roll over for him inside the ring. Boo Hoo Hoo. In answer to the question, yes Bret was massively wrong to attempt what he attempted to do, which was to leave the WWF an unbeaten Champion and leave the WWF high and dry without one - the stupid prick!
First off, Bret never had a 20 million dollar deal. He had a 20 year deal for 9 million dollars, which was the same amount WCW was offering him for three years. It was structured something like 1.5 million a year for three years as a wrestler, 500 thousand a year for five years working as a consultant/booker similar to Pat Patterson, then 150 thousand a year for ten years as a spokesperson for the company.
Secondly, through 1997 Vince constantly flip-flopped back and forth telling Bret he couldn't or could pay him. The last time, in September 1997 a little over a month before Survivor Series, he actively encouraged Bret to recheck if WCW's offer was still on the table, claimed he would help secretly get him a better deal and blatantly lied, saying that it would actually do Vince a favor because he was restructuring the WWF into a small northeastern promotion.
This isn't all from Bret's book, either. Meltzer was constantly writing about this stuff through 1997 and other wrestlers from that era that were present have said the same things. Vince was being manipulated by Shawn, who was actively trying to get rid of Bret. He just wanted to beat Bret again before he left, to rub salt in the wound.
You sound very salty in general in your opinion on Bret, and the mistakes in your details tell me you're kind of new to the story. Calm down a little and try to be more objective.
Bret is no exception from criticism like everyone else, so nobody is exempt from criticism. Especially the one who failed to make a lot of money for the WWF during the mid 1990s.
Shawn Michaels is very honest about admitting that he had drug issues and all other behavioral issues in the mid-to-late 1990s. Why doesn't Bret Hart take most of the blame? Why is he looked at as a saint? To me, Bret's matches are boring, but the biggest glaring issue I see of Bret is that he acts like a holier-than-thou moral crusader. He tried to go on talk shows to express his disdain for the WWF's Attitude Era, which would go on to be the biggest successful boom period the WWF's ever had, even if it was more short term than the WWF's Golden Era from 1983-84 to 1991-92.
Don't blame Vince McMahon for the Montreal Screwjob. The MSJ (in retrospect) was a good thing for all involved. It created the villainous Mr. McMahon character, switching him from a former overly-excited but boring play-by-play commentator who belonged in 1991 than 1997 into an evil boss who only cares about his company and the money, and also someone who wanted to put a stop to the rebellion of Austin, Rock, DX, Foley, Taker and Kane.
I am always honest about why I prefer Shawn over Bret, because it was easier for Vince to fit Shawn into the Attitude Era, which benefitted Austin and HBK moreso from the get-go than the old-school Bret. Shawn to me was an exciting wrestler who can also cut some shoot promos and funny promos when needed. He was just held back from being a cocky face champion made to be watered down to a Stepford Smiler face champion, and his friend Diesel also suffered a similar fate as HBK when both were at separate points, face champions. If only HBK and Diesel weren't held back from being themselves when both were babyface World Champs, maybe they would've eclipsed Bret in terms of staying power and excitement.
And with Attitude on the horizon post-SummerSlam '97, Vince made the correct choice in keeping Shawn Michaels over Bret Hart anyway. The Attitude Era was tailor made for Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels as the WWF's poster boys for the Attitude, an era filled with grunge music, youthful ethos, widespread cynicism and anti-heroes were getting increasingly more popular each day, so cookie-cutter heroes like Bret just wouldn't cut it anyway, especially not with how he was outspoken about being against the Attitude Era. It's just Bret being a hypocritical moral crusader when he was the same guy who had sex with groupies behind Julie's back, while acting against the Attitude.
It is widely known that Bret didn't want to drop the belt to HBK. He had no problem dropping it to Austin or Foley though, on RAW the following night. That is known.
However Vince knew that Austin was not ready yet and wanted him to win the title at Wrestlemania. Vince also knew that Bret was getting old. Bret knew that Vince knew that, so Bret wanted to go somewhere else and make some more final money.
Then there's the 20-year contract. LOL. Why would anyone sign a freaking 20 year contract. No, why would anyone offer a 40-year old wrestler a 20-year contract? They wouldn't. It was a swerve from Vince, because he simply wanted Bret to leave, because he knew, that with the money he could save from getting rid of Bret's big contract, he could get Tyson at Wrestlemania and with HBK also in the mix, he could elevate Steve Austin and finally fight back against WCW.
It was a brilliant strategy from Vince and Hitler would be proud. But I can't accept the fact that Bret brought this to himself. Bret is one of those people who still had pride in themselves and a respectful name. HBK was an a-hole. He had screwed Bret on numerous occassions and he was there once again to screw Bret over and beat him. How could Bret accept that?
I'm sure if Vince had asked Bret for an extension until WM so that Austin can beat him there, Bret would have accepted. However Vince knew that he needed more for WM, something different, but didn't have the cash to go for it. So he had to let Bret go, protect the WWF title by not making it a hot potato and also have HBK, the last big star, put over Austin.
From my understanding they all acted like children. Bret didnt want to lose to Michaels in Canada, Vince didnt want to honor Brets contract and didnt want another Alundra Blaze to happen when Bret goes to WCW still as Champion, and Shawn in his backstage politics wanted to ensure that after all that he stands on top and was lying not only to Bret but to all how he didnt knew even though he and even HHH were actively involved in planning it. In that kids game Vince and Shawn got what they wanted and Bret was screwed.
Has he brought it on himself? Well, he was disgruntled employee with big ego who saw opportunity to jump the ship when he saw that Vince was screwing him out for money that he was promised and that there are not big plans for him in new direction of the company. He just did what any smart employee would do and gone to competition while his stock were still big. Unfortunately for him, his boss also had big ego and vindictive personality. So, Bret played his cards right, but the game was rigged.
Shawn Michaels jobbed to Bret Hart several times, and the actual rivalry between them really started in 1990 when Bret and Shawn were both still tag team partners of Jim Neidhart and Marty Jannetty, respectively. The first time we see an instance of Bret moaning about having to job to Shawn aka The Rockers, was when The Rockers were scheduled to become the WWF World Tag Team Champions by defeating The Hart Foundation to do so, because Neidhart was looking at leaving the WWF.
Bret whined, stomped his foot and balled up his fist at Vince until Vince caved in to his demands by extending Neidhart's contract, by magically keeping the WWF Tag Team Championship Belts and kayfabe cited a broken turnbuckle padding as the reason why The Rockers' tag team championship reign ended up becoming null and void. Thus The Rockers ended up never becoming WWF Tag Team Champions at all, leading up to their breakup in '91-'92 with Shawn Michaels becoming Sexy Boy while Jannetty floundered with drinking problems, brushes with the law and Shawn Michaels being simply better than Marty.
The truth is: Shawn Michaels did job to Bret Hart heaps of times, and Shawn never complained. But when it was time for Bret Hart to do the same for Shawn at WM12 and Survivor Series '97, Bret whined, stomped his foot and balled up his fist in anger over a simple request for him to lose to Shawn. Bret was never happy about Hulk Hogan refusing to pass the torch to him, what made us think Bret would do the same thing to Shawn? And I'm aware of the possibility that Bret Hart played the most amount of backstage politics more so than The Kliq could ever dream to be doing. The Kliq actually cared about looking out for the money, the business and increasing everyone's guaranteed pay salary. As Scott Hall stated, Bret would rather be happy being the $400 dollar champion because Bret was a mark who cared about winning championships than putting fans in the seats, while Hall cared about getting paid, and there's nothing wrong with getting paid easy money. It's better to take the easy money of pay than to be a mark for yourself and act like wrestling is real to you.
Difference? Hogan was a bigger draw for the WWF and a successful one for WWF and WCW, whereas Bret failed to move the needle as the WWF's top draw from '92-'93 through '96-'97. When Bret was the top draw, Vince never really wanted to go with Bret as his top guy, and for good reason. Vince contemplated having Lex Luger, Kevin Nash and Shawn Michaels as his guys besides the stop-gap Bret, until Steve Austin was ready for prime time super stardom in '97-'98. Plus, Bret was 35 when he got his first main event push, so Vince knew there wouldn't be any upside in the WWF being successful with Bret as the top draw.
Shawn Michaels had more upside, potential to be a bigger draw than Bret ever could. Plus, HBK was only 30-31 when he got his main event push, and there were more opportunities for Vince to run with Michaels as a perennial main eventer than Bret.
When a wrestler has to much creative control in can be very damaging for the product. Vince had every reason not to let Bret leave for WCW as the WWE Champion.
It's alot like in WCW when Hogan was there and would win the belt back from someone shortly after a PPV loss.
Luger wins Title prior to hog wild Hogan wins it back 6 days later
Savage upsets Sting for title at PPV, Hogan wins next night on Nitro
Even look at Stone Cold when it took the Rock 3 "Rock Bottoms" to beat him? C'mon??
Clearly the top stars generate money but the product needs to have some ability to swerve based on fan reaction to.
If you're going to talk about looking through Bret coloured glasses then look in the mirror because yours are little hearts. lol It's not about Shawn doing the job in the past it was the agreement that was made that Bret would drop the belt in the Iron Man match and Shawn would eventually return the favour. He couldn't because he faked an injury and "lost his smile". People talk about how the business works and Bret spit on the business, but Shawn did so first. Regardless, Bret had the creative control part of his contract and that should have been honoured.
Bret did bring it on himself in many ways, this was in effect proven by the lack of a lawsuit. Had his contract actually been such that Vince had breached, then WCW would have happily funded the suit just to damage them.
The key was that word, reasonable and however much Bret tried to appear reasonable in Wrestling With Shadows... there were little chinks in that armor all the way through. What at the time was a positive piece for him now, 20 years later looks somewhat tragic. He clearly THOUGHT he was right, but in reality wasn't anywhere near... he was probably under stress in his marriage and THAT was having an influence on decisions he was making as much as what Vince was actually doing to him.
It'll be interesting to see how WWE and Bret himself mark the anniversary. I wouldn't be shocked if there is another release of Wrestling With Shadows, perhaps with the full "recorded conversation" or similar (with Vince's blessing) as at this point it couldn't damage WWE to have that out there. I feel the only reason we wouldn't now see that is because Bret probably doesn't want the world to really know how he behaved back then... not cos he's ashamed, but cos it would damage his legacy to some fans... many of whom take his 4-10 jibes etc to make him bitter...
Bottom line is Bret would have lost in court on that reasonable word... No one could reasonably have risked their business on him "doing the right thing" in WCW with the title. So Bret's refusal of all options that didn't suit was in fact, wholly unreasonable.
The proof in the pudding is that in many ways it was the salvation of the WWF/WWE and almost the final nail in Bret's career.
Morally correct and Legally correct are two very different things.
Legally, the truth is Vince gave Bret a time window to get out of his contract and negotiate with WCW. Had Bret not signed by Saturday November 1st 1997 then he would not be allowed to have left. Vince agreed a contract with Bret a year earlier and had advised Bret he was going to break that contract deliberately as he could not afford to pay it. The fact is, in response to this, Bret got given the chance to serve notice on Vince that his contract was going to end. That is what was agreed. Bret gave his notice and signed with WCW from 01/12/1997 - during his last 30 days Bret had reasonable creative control. This means Bret had total control over how and when he lost the WWF title before 30/11/97.
Whatever anyone says or believes - this is exactly how it would have been interpreted in Law. It would be deemed reasonable as the judge would likely see the whole purpose of the last 30 days creative control as being there to preserve Bret's character.
As for morally correct - Vince kinda screwed Bret many times over that preceding year. Bret should have really just pulled up injured and sat out the last month of his contract. It was morally wrong what Vince did to Bret - mostly because Vince should not have put Bret in that situation anyway. Bret had been loyal to Vince for many years, and one of his most hard working generals. That last year, Bret had brought along many wrestlers behind the scenes- Edge, Christian, Ken Shamrock and The Rock to name but a few.
The saddest thing is; Bret Hart worked his entire life for Stu Hart or Vince McMahon. He respected Vince like a father figure. Bret spent his life travelling the world but only really seeing the inside of airports or terrible poverty and he truly felt like a hero to millions of kids all around the world - because he was.
When Vince killed the Hitman character at SS97, Bret never really was the same again. When you read his autobiography, it is so telling just how much it broke Bret's heart.
So NO- Bret did not deserve what happened. It is unfair of anyone to say this!
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