Welcome to another exciting Time Machine Phat Daily Column. Sorry for being late today, but I have an excuse.... I woke up around 9 or 10, hoping to be all over the column today, but noooo, this stupid Gateway pile of crap decided to be stupid today, like it has been other times. This computer is WORSE than the Compaq clunker at home(which I'll be doing PDCs from starting Tuesday again), in terms of reliability. Yes, the Compaq is the same computer that has crashed on me many times while doing the PDC, but this computer is twice as worse in terms of regular use. Funny, since it has much more RAM, a better processor, and it's on a high speed network.
Bah, whatever! So where was I? Oh yeah, today's Time Machine column reflects the time of 1997, for the famous Montreal Survivor Series, by far, the most talked about event in wrestling history. What comes close? Ok, the Hogan heel turn is a good one, but that was planned. This was REAL, and it actually changed the shape of both federations, which I'll get to at the end. So since we are in Survivor Series hype mode, let's evaluate the actual situation and go over some theories about the incident. By the way, for those of you who are expecting the Ultimate Warrior column, we'll be seeing that in 2 weeks. On to the PDC.
Oh yeah. Last week, a few complained about having the Quantum Leap song as a wav file, so for this week, I found a midi file of it, which you can listen to by Clicking Here to get the full effect of the time travelling. Oh by the way, it's been a full 3 years since this incident happened. Damn I'm getting old!
So Wrestlemania rolls around...Shawn wins the title, but look at that ending! Bret's disgust for Shawn forced it to be booked with the Overtime victory. Bret refused to job within the 60 minutes of that match, and the same goes with Shawn Michaels. So they have this overtime win, in a big borefest of a match, and Shawn is your new champion. Bret, angered by the WWF, decides to take a break from wrestling, and ALMOST joins WCW that summer. It was so close, it's ridiculous! He was supposed to be the 3rd Outsider, as history tells us, for the New World Order. There's your history for you.
However, since Bret is such a loyal man, he signs a 20 year deal with the WWF, which I believe it would pay him $1 Million per year for EACH YEAR no matter what. Now that's a nice contract, although I could be wrong on those figures. Still, he was set for life with that contract..... So Bret returns, but wrestling has changed. The fans seem to like heels or badasses more than they like faces or superheroes. Uh oh, that means Bret won't get the cheers, right? This really happened during the Austin matches, and the WWF noticed and turned Bret heel.
Sooooo, Bret is now heel, and he reforms the evil Hart Foundation, in a move I acutally enjoyed. However, the new WWF Attitude was starting to kick in, which meant the classic way of being a heel was over. You must win over tougher crowds than ever, which is what the WWF forced Bret to try. What did they make him do? The America vs. Canada angle!! So they made him rip on America every step of the way, which angered Bret. Also during this time, more T&A and some swearing was introduced in the WWF bigtime. That didn't sit well with Bret either, who was a "traditional" guy.
Before the Hart Foundation reformed though, another HBK-Hitman seed was planted. At Wrestlemania 1997, Bret Hart was supposed to fight Shawn Michaels and beat him since Bret lost the last match. Oh but wait, Shawn pulls up with a "knee injury", and is unable to wrestle Bret now. Yeah, Bret knew he was faking it, and that was proven by Shawn's speedy recovery later that summer after Wrestlemania. This sort of disrespect led to many arguments by both Bret and Shawn, actually leading to a real fistfight backstage. So the WWF actually wants to book these guys against each other at Survivor Series?
Then, the famous meeting between Bret Hart and Vince McMahon occurs. Vince apparently tells Bret that the WWF could use some of the extra money that they pay Bret to possibly pay a handful of young wrestlers, and so forth. So since Bret has an out clause in his contract, for after one year, Vince asks him to exercise that and test the waters with WCW. This was somewhat of a slap to the face for Bret, since he's been so loyal to the WWF, and now Vince is asking him to exercise the out clause? But Bret agreed, since Vince said that maybe down the road, Bret could return to the WWF. I believe Bret eventually agreed just for the thought of wrestling guys like Sting, DDP, Hulk Hogan, or wrestling guys like Piper, Flair, or Luger again. Something like that. :)
Bret gets a nice, juicy deal from WCW, but he's still the WWF champion. Oh, by the way, this little meeting between Vince and Bret is about 5 weeks from Survivor Series, and it leaks out everywhere about 3 weeks before Survivor Series. Now, meetings about booking this match take place about the famous Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart match at Survivor Series. Firstly, they asked Bret to drop the strap to Shawn, but since Bret has an odd clause in his contract to where he selects the finish of his WWF career, he refuses. They go over to Shawn Michaels, asking him to job to to Bret, and he basically says "hell no" due to his personal dislike of Bret. However, the WWF was really aiming at Bret to drop the strap, because if he were to retain it, he would still be champion...only wrestling on WCW. Hell, he could even show up on Nitro and trash the belt like Madusa did. By the way, if you didn't think the Madusa belt trashing didn't bother the WWF, it made them paranoid during these times.
The WWF keeps pestering Bret to drop the strap, but he refuses. Finally, it was decided that Bret would reverse a Sharpshooter, almost have Shawn defeated, but DX runs in for the save. That's the whole idea, at least told to Bret. Then, Bret would gracefully hand over the title the night night on RAW. It's that simple, right? Well, Vince McMahon knew that idea would still make his company look bad, but make WCW look much better since they had the "WWF Champion". Things started running through his head....
Another thing to consider here is that Davey Boy Smith lost his European Title to Shawn Micheals in Britain just around the time they were discussing Survivor Series. Uh oh...could the WWF be setting up something?
The night of the Survivor Series.... in Montreal.... 1997. The BIGGEST NIGHT in wrestling has arrived. Rumor has it that several key meeting between WWF officials, with Shawn Michaels possibly attending, have occurred. The whole WWF lockerroom got wind of that, and many of them told Bret Hart that he could get screwed over tonight when he arrived. However, Bret disregards that, since he's worked a good many years for the WWF. He should have listened.....
So the match occurs, with BOTH wrestlers improvising the whole match! No lie, if you watch really closely, you can see the wrestlers talking to each other. They are actually wrestling a little stiff, as some of those punches connect pretty well. During the match at sometime, the evil Vince McMahon comes close to the bell area.... They fight some more, and Shawn Michaels tries to apply the Sharpshooter. It's locked in, although pretty half-assed, and Earl Hebner rings the bell!! Bret then reverses the Sharpshooter, but the match is over. Bret did not submit, he was screwed. Vince yelled at whoever to ring the bell, and since Vince rules the lockerroom with an iron fist, the production crew played Shawn Michaels's music. So Bret would spit in McMahon's face, beat him up backstage, and away we go to WCW Hitman!
Let's discuss some theories now, shall we?
Was this incident a work?
Oh hell no! Just listen to Bret Hart constantly bashing the WWF. Many might think he was in the WWF's pocket until Owen died, but don't believe that. The WWF wanted to dump Bret Hart off since his "old timer" wrestling attitude didn't quite fit the WWF's new format. Many will claim that Bret was purposely screwing WCW, since they went downhill the second he got there. No, blame that on Hulk Hogan, since his ego was getting into high levels at that point. Bret was willing to work in WCW, but he was just pitched bad storylines. Remember, Bret is NOT a booker, nor does he have strong character control like many other wrestlers in WCW.
Plus, both Davey Boy Smith and Owen Hart tried to get out of their WWF contracts.... both guys were very loyal company men, who were very financially secure within the company. Bulldog would fake an injury to get into WCW, while Owen was stuck in the WWF until his untimely death in 1999.
Did Shawn Michaels know?
Personally, I believe he was. Another wrestler would be throw a fit in loyalty to Bret, but Shawn Michaels HATED Bret Hart. He just grabbed the title, acted like he was mad, and walked away. Plus, the next night on RAW pretty much describes what he knew, since he ripped on Bret Hart that very night. Plus, that rumored meeting before Survivor Series that Shawn Michaels might have attended could show that he was behind it.
Did Vince expect his on television character to explode like this?
No way. Everytime he came out for whatever reasons, he got major boos. Then, he sort of mingled with Austin just before Survivor Series, and it was showed some real heat from the crowd. Thus, that is why we got the famous Austin vs. McMahon feud in 1998.
Did Vince Russo have any part of this incident?
Excuse me for my language, but FUCK NO!!! I can't believe WCW would book such crap, that one night they put Russo and Goldberg in the desert. At the time of this incident, Russo was a very minor person on the writing team, without getting any trust to come up with any major ideas. He had NO influence at the time of this event, so why Bret was screaming "how about Montreal" to Russo in that desert during Nitro...well, that's retarded booking by Russo. Since he claims to be the inventor of the WWF Attitude, he's also claiming to have a hand within the Survivor Series 1997 incident. What a damn ego.
Other things about this incident.... I believe the WWF used the extra money to buy guys like possibly Val Venis, among other wrestlers. I forget the exact ones. It should also be known that when "Wrestling with Shadows" came out, Kevin Nash, the WCW booker in early 1999, buried Bret's heat instead of pushing him. Maybe he got a nice call from HBK?
But really, this incident MADE the new WWF. The WWF wasn't improving that much with their new stage set up and RAW format, but after this incident, they slowly climbed to the top, while WCW self destructed.
@That's all for today's edition of the PDC. Next week, we shall discuss more of the early 90s bad management and booking decisions that WCW made. Tomorrow, we'll hype up Survivor Series 2000, so just chill till the next episode!
Phat Pharm: NEW Edition of "Ban the Legdrop" for you to Enjoy, so CLICK HERE to READ IT!!!
Take Care, and Thanks for Reading.