Welcome to the WEEKEND edition of the PDC. Today, we'll go for the "What If" gimmick for this column. I once did it for the Curtain Call incident (I explained the Curtain Call a few days ago, so don't ask), and now, in the season of Survivor Series, I will take a look at What if Bret Hart wasn't screwed at Survivor Series 1997. The possibilities are endless for that one.

For the first time, ever, I caught WWF Excess. After strolling in from a long day/night at work, and after seeing the Diamondbacks pound the Yankees in the early innings of game 6, I decided to flip the channel to TNN to see the only WWF show that I've never watched. I saw Johnathan Coachman and Trish Stratus in the beginning, and they mentioned how Raven would be their guest. But first, they began a recap of what happened on RAW. That prompted me to turn the channel immediately!

How embarrassing... Excess has turned into a recap show. I could give a rat's ass about seeing full clips of the wrestling shows I've already watched. In the beginning, the WWF promised and hyped Excess as a new brand of show for everyone to be entertained by. Now, it's nothing more than a 2 hour Livewire, which isn't good whatsoever. That's the last time I ever catch that show.

Anyone who actually can sit through, for two hours, and actually enjoy watching it is a complete mark (with the exception of anyone who recaps it for a website). Seriously. If you can sit through WWF propaganda and what recaps they want you to see (anything involving the top tier guys), then you need some psychological help for your sad wrestling addiction.

There are only a few excuses to even watch that show. First, if you really love to see Trish Stratus, then I guess this is the show for you. Secondly, if you absolutely missed what happened on RAW/Smackdown and care for the top tier guys, then it's ok. Finally, it's ok to watch if the guest host is a wrestler or wrestling personality that you like.

Other than that, you're a mindless zombie for watching it. It's no wonder that Excess's ratings continue to sink lower and lower each week. The WWF should really reconsider turning it into an Alliance show, since that vast roster is not being utilized to its fullest ability. Maybe the Alliance win at Survivor Series could change that? God, I really hope so.

Before I start swearing about Excess, which I feel is coming, let's get onto the PDC (or PWC).

What if Bret Hart wasn't screwed at Survivor Series 1997?

First, let's discuss what happened, for the 293474776466585th ever in the PDC. Survivor Series 1997 was held in Montreal, as that city is referenced, all the time, for what happened during that night. It was to be Bret Hart's final match in the WWF before joining WCW. Why was Bret Hart joining WCW? Money, money, money.... The Monday Night Wars were taking a toll on poor Vince McMahon. His federation was losing money, left and right, and Vince felt that Bret Hart's 20 year multimillion dollar contract wasn't worth it anymore, in favor of signing younger talent. Bret Hart had an out clause in his contract, which Vince gladly asked him to take and Bret accepted.

Bret's final match was to be with Shawn Michaels, a sworn enemy of Bret's. Why? Well, HBK didn't really respect Bret Hart, as he often faked injuries just to avoid paying Bret back for the title victory at Wrestlemania 12. Bret did NOT want to lose to Shawn Michaels for those reasons, and HBK didn't want to do the favor to Bret, back, since the Hitman was leaving. As a compromise, a DX run-in was to occur at the finish of the match, giving Bret Hart a DQ victory over Shawn Michaels. The finish was to see Bret Hart reverse a Sharpshooter and apply it on HBK, and that was when DX was to run down.

As most of you know, that finish didn't happen. Vince McMahon strolled down the ring, and as HBK had Bret in the Sharpshooter, Earl Hebner, who was apparently threatened with his job, called for the bell. The incident helped to tarnish the Bret Hart entrance into WCW, and it set the foundation for the heel boss Vince McMahon that we'd later witness Stone Cold Steve Austin confront, as RAW began to beat Nitro on a regular basis.

But what if the finish of Survivor Series went as planned? The idea, after this night, was to have Bret Hart show up on RAW and hand over the title and say one last goodbye to his WWF fans. Then, he'd join WCW, and the WWF would have to make a new World Champion. So here are the significant points, that I thought of, that would definitely be affected if the Montreal Screwjob never occurred:

  • Paper Champion in the WWF. In the heated Monday Night Wars, the WWF would have been in trouble with their world title. In the fans' eyes, they'd see Bret Hart as the World Champion still. WCW would have definitely mentioned Bret Hart as still the WWF champion, and anyone who beat Bret would be the new WWF champion, ect, in WCW. That, or WCW could have just humiliated Bret Hart to show that WCW's stars were better than the "current" WWF champion.
  • No hot angle in 1998 for the WWF. I highly doubt that the WWF could have come up with any hot angle of the equivalent to Vince McMahon vs. Steve Austin. No way! Vince McMahon would have had no chance in hell of being the gigantic heel that he was without the heat gained by screwing Bret. With that being said, it's very likely that we'd see the Rock eventually emerge as the top heel, and Austin would feud with him, again, but with no Corporation to support the Rock, like it did at Wrestlemania 15. I believe that the Rock would have been a star, anyway, but just a basic feud between Rock and Austin might not have been strong. And with the point about Vince.... if he wasn't a big heel, what would say that his children (Stephanie and Shane) would get involved, either?
  • No big career for Mick Foley. After reading most of his books, this point makes me somewhat sad to discuss. What made Foley the big star was the interaction with Vince McMahon. If Vince wasn't the top heel to play off of, what was to be of Foley, who at that point, was beginning the early stages of his body breakdown from his many years of hardcore wrestling? Foley was needed, badly, to bridge the eventual Rock vs. Austin match at Wrestlemania.
  • Free Agents. What says that Chris Jericho, the Dudley Boys, the Radicalz (Benoit, Guerrero, Saturn, Malenko), Big Show or any other wrestler would decide to jump ship if the WWF wasn't successful or as successful as they would become? Nothing. The WWF's success was built off the Vince vs. Austin feud, and the big money machine might not have attracted good free agents like it has.
  • And a possible harsh reality.............

  • Bankruptcy. Yes it's very true. The WWF was about to undergo some debts from the no-win fight against WCW, at the time, and who says that the added momentum from Survivor Series 1997 would allow Vince McMahon to fork up millions for Mike Tyson's Wrestlemania 14 appearance? Without a gradual climb to the top, the reality could have been that the WWF would close down... or get this, bought up by WCW! WCW was backed up by Time Warner, who didn't really care if it lost money.
  • However, let's not think that. Let's assume that the WWF would be able to hang on, thanks to the success of Stone Cold Steve Austin and the growing Rock. I don't think history could be changed with the Shawn Michaels injury, for he was already in a hot feud with the Undertaker, anyway (Shawn Michaels hurt his back at Royal Rumble 1998, in the Buried Alive match against the Undertaker). I'd suggest that the WWF would slowly grow into a better product than WCW, but most likely in the year 1999.

    I believe, though, that WCW was in grave danger, and would probably fit the exact pattern they did in 1998. The botched ending between Hulk Hogan and Sting would have still occurred at Starrcade 1997, and Hogan would have tried to remain the top star. Bill Goldberg would have been a top star, still, and the NWO would become more stale as each week passed on by. Whenever you have dumbasses like Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan making the top decisions for a wrestling promotion, it will go down no matter what.

    I do, however, believe that the wrestling fan base would NOT have grown like it did in 1998. No way! WCW and the WWF would have fought over a much smaller fan base, instead of creating new fans like the new WWF Attitude brought. This would likely have neither federation selling shares on the stock market, nor would it create opportunities for either federation to expand their entertainment empire.

    Conclusion: Given the ideas above, I believe that it was extremely important, to the WWF, to screw Bret Hart the way they did. It's like a major domino effect, as the screwjob created Vince McMahon, the heel personality that would eventually clash with Stone Cold Steve Austin to make one of the biggest and best storylines in the history of wrestling. Without that, the WWF's success would come at a later date, or quite possibly, NEVER!

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    @That's all for today. I hope you enjoyed the What If gimmicked PDC. I would have never thought to bring this back, had I not read YOUR feedback. Thanks!

    Take Care, and Happy Wrestling.

    Mr. Tito 1998 - 2001 Exclusive to LordsofPain.net