Highlights From Bret Hart’s Book: Part 5 (Tom Magee Edition)

Time for part 5 of the Bret Hart book series, as Bret is being given more to do in the WWF as a singles competitor.

He also asked me to tell Vince about his latest pet project, a kid he wanted him to look at named Tom McGhee (sic), who was one of the world’s strongest men.

I keep seeing the spelling as Magee in most places. Tom Magee was coming up through Stu Hart’s dungeon and was living proof that not everyone who came through there would be a wiz in the ring. Not only was he your typical 1980s musclehead, but Magee could also do flips in the ring. The problem was he constantly looked awkward.
Back at the hotel, Roddy told me I should have made McGhee look bad, but I just couldn’t do that. The next morning Owen went home totally dejected.

At the October 1986 TV taping in Rochester, NY, Bret had a match with Magee with the assurance that it would never air since the Hitman was concerned about losing to such an unpolished wrestler. The match is legendary for how much it is talked about versus how few people have actually seen it. Bret made Magee look fantastic to the point where Vince McMahon declared he had found his new world champion.

By contrast, Bret’s brother Owen had been working opening matches on house shows and would now be ignored, not unlike Bret’s experience in Georgia in 1979.

In my opinion we’d had the best match on the whole network special.

This is in reference to the Hart Foundation’s match against the Killer Bees on the November 1986 Saturday Night’s Main Event. While I understand the need for wrestlers to put over their own matches (looking in your direction Chris Jericho), no way in hell does this compare to that Randy Savage-Jake Roberts match that led off the show.

Terry Gibbs, who once complained about working with me,

Terry Gibbs was one of the famous job guys in the late 80s, though not as remembered as Barry Horowitz and Steve Lombardi. Gibbs was tasked with working matches against Tom Magee at the opening match on the C-shows (3rd set of house shows WWF would run daily) and was miserable trying to carry the big lug. The following year, Gibbs would get the work with another strongman who was not particularly careful in the ring: The Dingo Warrior, later the Ultimate Warrior.

And then he told everyone that he was instituting a mandatory drug test for cocaine and that anyone who failed would be suspended for six weeks without pay

The WWF was rocked by a kayfabe-breaking scandal in May 1987 when a pair of rivals (The Iron Sheik and Hacksaw Jim Duggan) were arrested together in New Jersey on drug charges, including cocaine possession. Both guys were fired, which ended what was looking like a mega-push for Duggan. Drug use was pretty prevalent by all accounts during the time period, so it was a matter of time before someone got nailed.

The first to go was Jake The Snake Roberts, who was hit with a six-week suspension. He’d gone straight to Vince to ask why Brian Blair hadn’t been caught too, so Vince suspended Blair.

Not a surprise given what we know now about Jake, who has only seemingly cleaned up in the last few years. Usually snakes eat rats so it is someone ironic that the Snake would turn into a rat on Killer Bee Brian Blair. And that would be why you never heard much from the Killer Bees after mid-1987.

As it turned out, that night at the Hilton Playboy Club in Buffalo, the Rockers got rowdy, breaking bottles and glasses, and causing a drunken disturbance. Vince felt they had missed the whole point of his lecture and fired them. The Rockers lasted only one day in the WWF: So much for our hopes of a new tag team to work with.

Vince had given a speech to the entire roster effectively asking them to not act like assholes in public, which the newly-hired Midnight Rockers ignored. They trashed a place and were immediately fired. The Hitman was upset since they needed a fresh babyface team to work with since the British Bulldogs feud was winding down. Of course, Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty would eventually make their way back to the WWF after a penance of one year.

On the afternoon of November 11, we met and worked out a great match, but less than an hour before showtime, Vince summoned us to his office. He wanted a completely different match, tied to a TV storyline around me working Randy’s ankle.

That still turned out to be a great match on the November 1987 SNME. Bret had begged for the chance to have a singles match on the big stage and he delivered. This led directly to what was a promised singles push in 1988.

Next time: The Rougeaus have a confrontation with the British Bulldogs, Bad News Brown comes to town, and The Warlord has troubles with sleeping.

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