Now that Bret Hart has been officially screwed, let’s check back in with him from his book Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling.
They’d cut the ring mic, but the cameras were still rolling, so I painted WCW in giant letters in the air for all to see.
This is one of the more peculiar parts of this: why the WWF kept the cameras rolling after the PPV suddenly went off the air about a minute after the match. It wasn’t to catch Bret destroying things so that the could sue him, since the Hitman smashed a bunch of the ringside monitors anyway without repercussion.
I saw the Harris twins kicking over barrels of garbage and punching the walls. The wrestlers were ready to riot too.
The boys in the back were pissed off since Bret was very well-respected, and the Harris twins (Skull and 8-Ball) are not people I’d like to see legitimately angry. These are guys who wore Nazi SS shirts on television, so they clearly don’t give much of a shit.
At the time, I wondered how anyone could trust Vince McMahon again, and figured it would be an exodus out of the company. But money and contracts are powerful things.
Cockily Vince came back at me and we actually tied up. Fourteen fuckin’ years! I launched a rocket-launcher uppercut that connected with Vince’s jaw. My right fist actually popped him like a cork off the ground, and he collapsed unconscious to the carpet.
Oh how I wish this could have made it into the Wrestling With Shadows documentary. I can picture Vince laid out since that’s been seen so many times in the ring, but I want to see him doing a Curt Hennig/Shawn Michaels (how ironic) bump off an uppercut.
I calmly took my seat again and noticed that my hand was throbbing. I thought it might be broken.
Bret broke his hand throwing that perfect uppercut, which ended any chance of him wrestling at Starrcade.
After a few more moments of silence, Jim said with a mischievous smile, “I guess they won’t say anything to me anymore about smashing TV monitors.” Rude, Taker, Owen, Jim and Davey all burst out laughing.
Jim Neidhart: the comic relief of the Hart Foundation. And not to go all Scott Keith here, but I can’t resist.
Paul said the God of documentaries had shone down on him in Montreal and he had the whole conversation I’d had with Vince before the match on tape.
There isn’t a better way to put it, since that’s among the best part of any documentary I’ve ever seen. Vince actually stating that they will do a DQ finish and effectively just lying his ass off. By the time the documentary premiered, McMahon was well into his feud with Stone Cold Steve Austin so everyone was used to seeing the owner as a conniving shit.
[Dave Meltzer] printed every word I said, at the risk of alienating the sources he needed to make his living. His meticulously detailed story about what has come to be called the Montreal screwjob has never been refuted and is now considered a historic document in the history of pro wrestling.
The November 17, 1997 issue of the Wrestling Observer had a lengthy writeup on the Hart/McMahon situation. It was unusual that Bret would talk to Meltzer since the Hitman didn’t much care for inside reporters of wrestling. And the WWF did not expect him to do this since they figured Bret would always protect the business.
On Nitro the day after Montreal, the nWo came out waving Canadian flags, and Bischoff called me “a knock-out kind of a guy.” Hogan chimed in, “He passed the initiation!”
This was how WCW announced the signing of Bret Hart, because everything had to be related to the nWo at that point. The allusions to him punching Vince is actually funny, but they botched Bret’s introduction because it seemed zero thought was put into how they would bring in the hottest name in wrestling.
“Well, I’m not letting him go. And I’m never going to let him go! And you better get used to it. If you keep doing what you’re doing, messing with Owen’s head, I’ll sue you with a smile on my face. And I’ll sue Owen for breach of contract too!” He slammed the phone down.
The aftermath was bad for others in the Hart Foundation too. Owen Hart couldn’t get out of his contract, presumably because Vince saw him as a much more valuable commodity than the others. He’d never be treated that way, obviously. The British Bulldog had to pay $150,000 to get out of his contract to go to WCW, while Neidhart had to stick around and participate in an angle where he was humiliated by D-Generation X on RAW. If you’ve ever wondered why the Hart Foundation wasn’t reunited in some form in WCW, it was because that was a condition of the release of those other guys. Neidhart and the Bulldog were not allowed to be any part of a group with the Hitman in WCW or they would be in violation of the release agreement.
First he teased the audience into thinking that I was going to appear on Raw, and then he had Shawn parade out a Mexican midget wrestler wearing a leather jacket and a Hitman Halloween mask.
Two days after Survivor Series, a RAW taping took place in Cornwall, Ontario and this happened.
While it was kind of funny, it did go back on something Vince McMahon had promised Bret: that he and his character would not be trashed on the way out.
I’d never been much of a Lucha Libre fan until I saw the dedication and effort those wrestlers put in every night.
Bret gained a lot of respect for the Mexican luchadores upon his arrival in WCW since they worked much harder than the top guys there.
I had a great first interview and got a good pop when I said: “Nobody knows better than me what it’s like to get screwed by a referee.” That comment set me up to referee Hogan’s World title match with Sting at the Starrcade ’97 pay-per-view in Washington, D.C., on December 28
That was a mistake in the book, since he actually refereed the Larry Zbyszko-Eric Bischoff match for control of WCW Monday Nitro. He actually should have been the referee for the Sting-Hogan match since that would have been much more intriguing. Hogan wouldn’t have been able to change a finish with him like he did with Nick Patrick, though that is probably why we got Patrick instead of Bret.
In true WCW fashion, the referee forgot what he was supposed to do for real and made a normal count, but that didn’t stop me from knocking him out cold and declaring myself the new referee.
Hogan went to Patrick before the match and told him to make a normal count, so he tried to “split it down the middle” but it turned out to be a regular count. It made Bret look like a moron, made Sting look incredibly weak, and protected Hogan in a loss he should have just taken for the good of the company. The golden goose thus was starting to be strangled.
Sipping tea in the kitchen, we reminisced about how happy and different everything was back at the Stampede show in July. What happened? I think 1997 was the weirdest year of my entire life.
Talk about an understatement. But things were about to somehow get worse.
Next time: Bret deals with the politics of WCW, comments on the WWF’s WrestleMania 14 main event, and Bret’s son Blade has some choice words for Scott Hall.