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  #1  
Old 04-24-2017, 11:55 PM
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Default What If: Bret Hart's 20 year WWE contract

In October of 1996 Bret Hart signed a 20 year contract with the WWE, obviously we all know what happened...Vince pulled out of the deal, screwed Bret, he left for WCW for huge money, Owen died, he was concussed and forced to retire, suffered a stroke, and eventually reconciled with vince about 15 years later. BUT!

What if none of that had played out that way?

October 1996, Bret signs the contract, and everything works out just fine. His contract would've just expired a few months ago. Where do you think Bret would be in his career at this point, how long do you think he would've continued wrestling for? What do you think his role would've been with WWE in his later years? Trainer, agent, manager, producer, Vince's right hand man? Would he have wrestled past his prime like Flair and Hogan?

It's a fun thing to speculate on.

I'd like to think he would've had a good run through the Attitude Era, similar to Undertaker but still would've had a back seat to Austin and Rock. Probably would've retired from active competition around 2003-5, eventually becoming an agent. I think he would've struggled with no longer wrestling, but without the health problems would've been a contributor for sure. Eventually ending up in a role similar to Pat Paterson's now, where he helps to book big matches, acts as an ambassador for the company, etc. Maybe would've become a GM at some point.
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  #2  
Old 04-25-2017, 12:58 AM
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Hard to say. The big question would be how would Bret feel in the middle of the raunchy, anything-goes Attitude Era where the focus was less on wrestling and more on sex appeal, talking, and general debauchery? Bret was having problems when the WWF was still in the "New Generation" era with Shawn, Sunny, etc...how would he deal with bra and panty matches and "The Boss" pissing all over himself while Stone Cold pointed a gun at his head?

Bret was fond of bringing his family to his matches. His mom and dad were ringside fixtures during his run in the mid-90's and his son Blade was a presence backstage. I don't think Bret would have felt comfortable subjecting his family to TV-MA rated WWE at the time. Undertaker was different. His character was edgy and became he even edgier in the Attitude Era. 'Taker (as far as I know) had no problem with the direction McMahon was taking the WWF. Bret did. He had a problem with his anti-American gimmick. He still wanted to be "The Man" despite what he says now.

I don't see where Bret would've fit. His mic skills could not survive in the Attitude Era where so much was done outside the ring. Every character was either sex or violence and Bret didn't fit either. Maybe he continues the Hart Foundation and they feud with DX, NOD etc....but that's the extent of it. He would've had to put over Shawn Michaels (which he REFUSED to do when asked by Vince) so I think he ends up leaving the company sometime in early 1998 mutually with Vince.
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  #3  
Old 04-25-2017, 06:45 AM
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Well Bret's idea was that he'd be retired as a full-time wrestler by about 2000 and would begin transitioning to a backstage role with occasional appearances and matches. He quite obviously admired Pat Patterson's role the most and, given his obvious talent for storytelling, would have been ideal to have been groomed as the next Pat, as in the guy people go to to lay out matches and finishes.

Wrestling wise, I think he probably would have been done full time by 2000, mostly because the Attitude Era from 1999 to 2002 really wouldn't have suited him and I think he would have wanted to step away. I think if Bret were leaving the plan for his major feuds would have been

1997 to 1998 - HBK (I would see Bret winning at Survivor Series but losing to Shawn at the Rumble to set up that HBK v Austin match).
1998 - Team with Austin vs Vince and the Corporation. I'd see Bret putting over The Rock as the top heel at some stage here.
1999 - Solid upper-midcard slot, used to put over Triple H as the top heel towards the end of the year
2000/01 - Feuds with the likes of Benoit, Jericho and Angle to round out his full-time career
2002/03 - Brought back to feud with HBK and possibly nWo Hogan. I'd see him beating Hogan but losing to HBK.

and that's about it. Hard to tell really, given what happened with Owen, but I'm of the opinion that if Bret had been in the company in 1999 than Owen wouldn't have been booked as the Blue Blazer to begin with.
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  #4  
Old 04-25-2017, 01:15 PM
FlairFan2003 FlairFan2003 is offline
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A few things to remember...

Brett HATED WWE: The direction of the programming, even before it went "full attitude" was a major source of conflict between Vince & Brett

Brett HATED HBK: Their backstage issues might not have been so bad except Vince kept pushing HBK over Hart, and was transitioning to pushing Austin over him too. It wasnt just two guys that didnt get along, it was Hart losing his spot in the prime of his career to a guy he couldnt stand, who by his own admission routinely disrespected Hart, as Hart was forced to work a style of storyline presentation he hated.

Hart made a ton of money on a bad deal for Vince he couldnt afford, especially if Brett wasnt in the long term main event plans.

Hart staying in WWE means remaining on good terms with Vince in the aftermath of Owen's death.


I dont see how Brett stays in WWE at that point, he & Vince clearly didnt see eye to eye on the programming, he could barely work with HBK, and Vince had to get out of that contract before it became it "the standard" for other top stars. I do think Vince tried to do right with Brett, keeping him on payroll while allowing him to negotiate with WCW, but in the end there is just no way Hart takes a paycut, takes a backseat to Michaels, loses his spot as top guy, and happily plays along with a programming style he hated. Its more likely Hart just quits in 98 or 99 than he continues to make himself miserable.

Now if Hart COULD have pimped himself out like that, he likely remains in the top tier but not Top Spot through till mid to late 2000s, likely fueds with Angle, Lesnar, Rock, Flair, Orton, and puts over Cena at some point. With his skill level and conditioning if not for injury he easily could have wrestled good matches into his 50s.

Last edited by FlairFan2003 : 04-25-2017 at 01:19 PM.
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  #5  
Old 04-25-2017, 01:44 PM
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WWE would have gone out of business followed by WCW going out of business. Hart would have wrestled in Japan for awhile and then started a small fed in Canada that is doomed to fail. Somewhere in there Vince starts a new WWF which is about 1/100th the size of the current WWE. He runs a cross promotional angle with Hart's failing promotion but both ultimately are out of business by 2017.
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  #6  
Old 04-25-2017, 01:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FlairFan2003 View Post
Hart staying in WWE means remaining on good terms with Vince in the aftermath of Owen's death.
You're kind of picking and choosing which pieces of history would be altered and which would not. It can be argued that, not only would Bret have talked Owen out of doing that stunt, Owen would not have even been using that gimmick had Bret stayed. Does that make Bret responsible? Of course not. You can't go through life wondering what would have happened if every decision you made went the other way. But, if you are going to speak to what might have happened, you really have to take all things that did happen into consideration.

John Sterling, a Yankee radio announcer, is guilty of this. He is known for his outrageous homerun calls and his "thaaaa Yankees win!", but he is just as well known for his awful calling of a game that, despite his errors and guesswork, is actually being played right in front of him. Far too often, he will take what has happened earlier in the game and apply it to the current state of the game. An example would be a Yankee getting picked off first base before a homerun in the 1st inning. Then, if they are tied in the 8th inning, he will say something like "If not for the pickoff, the Yankees would be up one now." As if everything that happened from the pickoff forward would have been exactly the same. Same here with Bret. You can't have him stay with WWE and then forgive Vince for Owen's death. Why is Owen the Blue Blazer if Bret stayed? Why is Bret not talking sense into Owen if he is still around? We don't know what would have happened, but you can't assume everything else stays the same once you change a part of history.
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  #7  
Old 04-25-2017, 03:09 PM
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I don't really know where Bret would be, but I know we'd be watching WCW Monday Nitro last night instead of RAW. I've always looked at Bret Hart's departure as the turning point for the WWF and the Monday Night Wars. WWF chose their course, the realism of the screw job created further interest in the product and simultaneously created the evil Vince McMahon character, and his feud with Steve Austin became the launching point for the Attitude Era. With Bret Hart there, that never happens.

Vince McMahon had to get out of that contract because it bound him financially. WWF was bleeding money at the time even though they were slowly gaining momentum. Simply put: If Bret Hart stays, WWF could not afford to continue on as they were. Maybe they lose Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker, Steve Austin, or The Rock to WCW. Maybe they can't afford to take Chris Jericho, The Giant, Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, Saturn, Dean Malenko, and others away from WCW and hurt their potential growth. Maybe they can't afford to keep RAW as the spectacle it became and continue broadcasting 2 hrs live every week. Maybe they can't afford to create Smackdown!

I don't think the WWE exists today if Bret Hart never leaves.
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Old 04-25-2017, 04:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rokuma View Post
I don't really know where Bret would be, but I know we'd be watching WCW Monday Nitro last night instead of RAW. I've always looked at Bret Hart's departure as the turning point for the WWF and the Monday Night Wars. WWF chose their course, the realism of the screw job created further interest in the product and simultaneously created the evil Vince McMahon character, and his feud with Steve Austin became the launching point for the Attitude Era. With Bret Hart there, that never happens.

Vince McMahon had to get out of that contract because it bound him financially. WWF was bleeding money at the time even though they were slowly gaining momentum. Simply put: If Bret Hart stays, WWF could not afford to continue on as they were. Maybe they lose Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker, Steve Austin, or The Rock to WCW. Maybe they can't afford to take Chris Jericho, The Giant, Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, Saturn, Dean Malenko, and others away from WCW and hurt their potential growth. Maybe they can't afford to keep RAW as the spectacle it became and continue broadcasting 2 hrs live every week. Maybe they can't afford to create Smackdown!

I don't think the WWE exists today if Bret Hart never leaves.
Mike Tyson at 3 million dollars for a few nights of work disagrees with you.

I think that the screwjob was fake to this day and was to get heat on both parties. It only worked for Vince tho.

Wcw was given a goldmine and they were not intelligent to use it.

Bret's defining moment in wcw?

Knocking out Goldberg two plus years after the screw job.
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Old 04-25-2017, 05:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HeenanGorilla View Post
You're kind of picking and choosing which pieces of history would be altered and which would not. It can be argued that, not only would Bret have talked Owen out of doing that stunt, Owen would not have even been using that gimmick had Bret stayed. Does that make Bret responsible? Of course not. You can't go through life wondering what would have happened if every decision you made went the other way. But, if you are going to speak to what might have happened, you really have to take all things that did happen into consideration.

John Sterling, a Yankee radio announcer, is guilty of this. He is known for his outrageous homerun calls and his "thaaaa Yankees win!", but he is just as well known for his awful calling of a game that, despite his errors and guesswork, is actually being played right in front of him. Far too often, he will take what has happened earlier in the game and apply it to the current state of the game. An example would be a Yankee getting picked off first base before a homerun in the 1st inning. Then, if they are tied in the 8th inning, he will say something like "If not for the pickoff, the Yankees would be up one now." As if everything that happened from the pickoff forward would have been exactly the same. Same here with Bret. You can't have him stay with WWE and then forgive Vince for Owen's death. Why is Owen the Blue Blazer if Bret stayed? Why is Bret not talking sense into Owen if he is still around? We don't know what would have happened, but you can't assume everything else stays the same once you change a part of history.
Did you know that it was Bret who told Martha that Owen's death was WWE's fault, and poisoned her against them? Bret did this to make WWE "pay" for what they did to him in Montreal. The story where I read this, one person said that they found it a disgrace that Bret used his brother's death as an excuse to get back at WWE by talking Martha into suing them.

So, Bret is responsible for why Owen isn't in the HoF, or has no DVD release, as, even when he made up with WWE, Martha still went along with what Bret told her previously, and she has never given permission, even though Bret has tried to change her mind, and they have fallen out over it.
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  #10  
Old 04-25-2017, 06:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by George Steele's Barber View Post
WWE would have gone out of business followed by WCW going out of business. Hart would have wrestled in Japan for awhile and then started a small fed in Canada that is doomed to fail. Somewhere in there Vince starts a new WWF which is about 1/100th the size of the current WWE. He runs a cross promotional angle with Hart's failing promotion but both ultimately are out of business by 2017.
Quote:
Originally Posted by rokuma View Post
I don't really know where Bret would be, but I know we'd be watching WCW Monday Nitro last night instead of RAW. I've always looked at Bret Hart's departure as the turning point for the WWF and the Monday Night Wars. WWF chose their course, the realism of the screw job created further interest in the product and simultaneously created the evil Vince McMahon character, and his feud with Steve Austin became the launching point for the Attitude Era. With Bret Hart there, that never happens.

Vince McMahon had to get out of that contract because it bound him financially. WWF was bleeding money at the time even though they were slowly gaining momentum. Simply put: If Bret Hart stays, WWF could not afford to continue on as they were. Maybe they lose Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker, Steve Austin, or The Rock to WCW. Maybe they can't afford to take Chris Jericho, The Giant, Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, Saturn, Dean Malenko, and others away from WCW and hurt their potential growth. Maybe they can't afford to keep RAW as the spectacle it became and continue broadcasting 2 hrs live every week. Maybe they can't afford to create Smackdown!

I don't think the WWE exists today if Bret Hart never leaves.
I find these perspectives interesting, though I'm not sure I agree. I think that WWF was always run by wrestling minds, in a funny way even though it would've been accused of being style over substance in the territory days, compared to WCW, the WWF was more substance over style. I think they might have gone through some really lean years, maybe had to restructure some deals, maybe sell some equity in the company, but if TNA can stay alive for 15 years after what feels like an endless stream of missteps, I feel like the WWF would've found a way to carry on somehow, and if Bret is really the loyal company guy that he's always portrayed himself to be, than I think he would've stuck it out through the tough times while they regrouped.

I enjoyed a lot about WCW in the late '90s, but I think by and large, excluding Goldberg and the nWo, WCW's primary strategy was to gobble up all the talent and create a bloated spectacle of a show, and while that worked for a time, it's like eating cake for every meal, after a while the appeal would wear off and you'd get sick. Once the ebb and flow of wrestling caused the rating to drop, Turner would've significantly cut the budget, and I think WCW would've struggled to make a quality product after that, whereas the WWE would've trudged along.

In a lot of ways, I think Bret was kind of a pawn between the two companies. No doubt he helped to light the fuse of the attitude era, but I still think things would've gotten there regardless, and I think he could've been a good contributor to it. Even if his role was similar to Lance Storm, Molly Holly, Kurt Angle, etc. of being the square to all the debauchery that was happening around him.
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