As an old school fan who hates repetitive booking, I’m just glad the stupid MITB briefcase bit is now in the rearview for 2016, even if the new champion is a guy who can’t throw a working punch yet portrays a crazy brawler. But enough about Dean Ambrose, we’re here for Bret Hart and we’re getting even closer to Montreal.
Just after midnight, Jake Roberts stumbled through the front doors whacked out on something with three black prostitutes leading the way.
Jake Roberts living it up in South Africa 1996, everyone! I’m sure he was just preaching the word of God, right?
The idea was that The Hitman had bought the evil Mr. Burns’s mansion after Mr. Burns went bankrupt, and was now living in Springfield. I’d long felt that there were many similarities between Montgomery Burns and Vince McMahon.
There’s nothing I hate quite like the person who says “The Simpsons has sucked since season X” when they then say they never have watched any of the episodes. The show is still very good, albeit far too dependent on celebrity cameos now. Bret’s episode was in season 8, where Lisa gets Mr. Burns into recycling. The Hitman didn’t care for the “old man stink” in the mansion. Nice tribute of sorts to Classy Freddie Blassie with the “pencil necked geek” line.
He seemed to understand my predicament but said, “WCW would never know what to do with a Bret Hart.”
While he was correct here, Vince McMahon would say this about a lot of different people. He constantly ridiculed the way Paul Wight (The Giant) was booked in WCW and said that he would use him much better. Seventeen years of The Big Show has proved that to be incorrect. If Bret were to jump, the best time for him would have been in early 1992 when he could have been a top babyface alongside Sting. And with Bill Watts (a huge Bret fan) coming in to run the ship later, he still would have gotten a world title push I think. And going away might have made Vince McMahon want him more later on.
It was a satisfying feeling hearing him say, “I’ll never give you a reason to ever want to leave.”
This turned out to be so false that the reasons were there pretty much from his first PPV match back.
I watched him in the ring that night, wrestling under the ring name of Rocky Maivia, and I remember coming back to the dressing room and saying to everyone, “Mark my words, three or four years down the road that kid will be the franchise.”
Three or four years would take us to 1999/2000 when The Rock was one of the biggest acts in the history of the business, filling the huge void with Stone Cold Steve Austin out of action for a full year. The smiling jackass bit was bad for Rocky, but it was his superior instincts for someone of his experience level that convinced everyone he was the real deal.
Vince gave me that yuk-yuk laugh. “Well, you probably think this is crazy, but you’ll screw Shawn this Thursday at Lowell TV so Sid wins the belt. Then in the final four, at In Your House, Shawn will screw you out of winning, and from there Taker will work with Sid at Mania for the belt, and Shawn will put his hair up in a ladder match, and you’ll cut it all off.”
And this was how Bret found out his Mania match with Shawn would NOT be for the world title. Note how Austin is not in the picture at that point: he was to face the British Bulldog at Mania and presumably win. The haircut stipulation seems totally out of left field, though as we will see, Bret got some of Shawn’s hair later in the year anyway.
Rocky was a good kid, and he tried to be polite and respectful, but he couldn’t get them to like him at all.
He [Triple H] and Shawn disliked Rocky intensely and were too myopic to see that Rocky was destined to become one of the all-time greatest megastars in the history of the business, The Rock.
Triple H eventually got past his dislike since he was far more pragmatic. But if you ever wondered why The Rock never had a match with Shawn Michaels, that’s your answer. Rock could never trust him not to undermine him in some way, and The Rock never struck me as someone that interested in the politics of the business. A Reddit post on the subject claims that Shawn was disrespectful to The Rock’s mom while she promoted shows in Hawaii. Here’s comments from The Rock in October 2005 with wwe.com on Shawn:
I was never ever interested in working with him, to be honest with you. I’ve known him for a long time. He came in and worked for my family in Hawaii when I was like 13 – him and Marty Jannetty. It was just one of those things. He was always one of those guys that I said “Hey” to and he said “Hey” – it’s no big deal.
I think that was Dwayne Johnson: Diplomat there.
Steve uneasily admitted that he’d never done that before, but he offered to try.
This was in regard to blading, which Austin actually had done in WCW at least once before: War Games at WrestleWar ’92 as a member of the Dangerous Alliance. The Hitman offered to cut Austin himself, which is usually a bad idea. (Yeah, ask an array of New Jack opponents) But of course Bret nailed it perfectly and the blood on Stone Cold’s face would come to define an entire era in the WWF.
As for the fans? Male WWF fans left for WCW in droves when Shawn got the belt.
I hated the “stripper” Shawn Michaels character and still do. I’m not sure they left in a “they stopped watching” sense, but WCW was putting out a product that held greater appeal for 18-34 males than having a guy prance around like HBK.
Coming up next time: Vader attacks a newsman in Kuwait, Bret and Shawn actually come to blows backstage, Bruce Hart acts like a jackass (again), and the death of Hart Foundation member Brian Pillman.