Highlights from Bret Hart’s Book: Part 13 (WCW Edition)

It’s fitting that as we reach the WCW portion of Bret Hart’s wrestling career that this is part number (unlucky) 13. Things start to move a bit faster and turn very dark in a hurry.

According to the mail I received and the opinions of the fans I ran into in person, they had a hard time following the incoherent storylines—and so did I.

This is so true and is why I rarely have reviewed WCW shows from the late 90s. I can’t figure out what is going on half the time so there is no insight into what happened. Anyone who has reviewed Starrcade 1999 is better than me because I wouldn’t be able to make any sense of what was happening. But WCW was always somewhat dysfunctional from the day Ted Turner bought them and even in the Crockett days.

Scott Hall and Kevin Nash were plotting and scheming, trying to pull me to their side to help them get rid of Hogan.

The early days of the nWo were golden for everyone as they basked in the great success of the Hulk Hogan heel turn. Eventually, Hall and Nash came to realize that having Hogan in the group kept their political power in check. The real truth is that it didn’t matter: because Hogan had final say over everything, if he wasn’t in the group he would probably be feuding with them and he could design a story to overshadow them then too.

When a soul gets bigger than a mind can comprehend, it becomes easy to give up on trust and judgment.

Holy shit, Bret goes all Pablo Neruda on everyone with this line. He’s trying to convey how despondent he had become in WCW….and this was when he was just starting! He’s just faced Ric Flair at Souled Out ’98 in the book when he writes this.

Vince appeared on Off The Record, a Canadian sports talk show, where he claimed that before I left, I’d become a real pain in the ass with a bad attitude; that I was disruptive in the dressing room; that I was breaking down physically; and that I was starting to miss dates.

Now that’s how you conduct a smear campaign: go into the other guy’s home country and trash him with some truths, half-truths, and lies. From what I gather, he wasn’t a pain in the ass but he didn’t have the best attitude about the pending, ahem, Attitude Era. The Hitman wasn’t disruptive other than the locker room fight with Shawn Michaels; arguing over the Montreal finish was well within his contract right to reasonable creative control in the final 30 days of his contract. Bret was starting to break down as it turned out. Just as in any other sport, 40 year olds with knee problems are not likely to hold up for long.

Here is Vince’s appearance on TSN’s Off the Record, from February 24, 1998:

Owen had become the Intercontinental Champion (sic), and was working with Hunter and Rock, while I was working with Hennig and Rude. Then Shawn came down with another “career-ending” injury, four days before the lead-in pay-per-view for Wrestlemania XIV. Now he wouldn’t have to put Steve over. I just shook my head. In the end, Wrestlemania XIV was a huge success, but it took Vince right up until match time to coax Shawn into dropping the belt to Austin.

Owen actually won the European title on the 01/26/1998 RAW from Triple H….except he beat Goldust as a “substitute” instead. It would be a very brief reign since Hunter would get the title back before WrestleMania 14 and also retain at that event.

Michaels hadn’t wrestled since destroying his back at the Royal Rumble coffin match against The Undertaker, crushing vertabrae on the edge of a coffin. The background behind Shawn refusing to lose to Austin has to do with fans in Boston. A few days before WrestleMania 14, there was a “public workout” on City Hall Plaza to promote the main event and do a quick angle (where DX tied Austin in the ropes and kissed him on the top of the head). While doing an opening promo, a fan threw something and hit Shawn in the head so he stormed off in a huff, leaving Triple H to fill time with a lengthy promo (his specialty!). HBK did come back but the tantrum lasted through that Sunday. He went through with everything at the event, as Undertaker famously taped his fists backstage as a contingency.

p.s. Shawn became more pissed after the Austin match when they laid the “Austin 3:16” shirt over him after he was knocked out by Tyson. He did not want them to do that, but they did it anyway.

Eric had me turn heel by double-crossing Sting and revealing that, all along, I was part of the nWo.

That’s how you take advantage of a hot name who has a sympathetic documentary coming out (Wrestling With Shadows would be out in that fall). The nWo faction sucked all the air out of the room.

Hogan was starting to remind me of Giant Baba, who was old, phony and uncoordinated, but whose fans loved him anyway.

This line made me laugh so much as I read the book. Pretty sure that’s the only Hogan/Baba comparison ever made.

I’d brought Blade with me to Salt Lake City, and he sat watching the monitor in the dressing room as Scott Hall took some kind of phony-looking bump into a TV production trailer while wrestling Kevin Nash. Minutes later, when Scott walked in, my eight-year-old son called out, “Hey, Razor, that was pathetic,” cracking up the whole dressing room.

Scott Hall was always good seller for a big guy, but by 1998 he was clearly dealing with some internal demons. If only a precocious 8 year old was running WCW instead of Bischoff/Russo etc., maybe they’d still be around.

was baffled when Eric wasted Hart versus Hogan on a free match at Nitro, on September 28, throwing away a guaranteed moneymaker that the fans had been waiting years for.

I don’t even remember this, probably because the match got cut off after 6 minutes and ended with multiple swerves. RAW won the night in the ratings against Nitro anyway, 4.6 to 4.0, with a main event of Rock/Mankind/Ken Shamrock beating Undertaker and Kane in a handicap match. Courtesy of thehistoryofwwe.com, here is a description of the Nitro main event.

Hulk Hogan fought WCW US Champion Bret Hart to a no contest at around the 10-minute mark; at the 6-minute mark, Sting, Lex Luger, & Konnan came out to tend to Hart, who appeared to have suffered a serious leg injury; after Luger and Konnan forced Bret onto a stretcher and began taking him backstage, Sting took Bret’s place and wrestled Hogan; as Luger & Konnan prepared to load Hart into an ambulance backstage, two medics jumped them, soon revealing themselves to be Scott Steiner & Buff Bagwell; Steiner then unhooked Hart and threatened him, with Bret then limping his way back to the ring; as Hart came out, Sting locked Hogan in the Scorpion Deathlock; Hart then dropped Sting with a DDT – revealing his injury was fake – and locked him in the Sharpshooter; Hogan & Hart then assaulted Sting until Konnan & Luger returned to help Sting from ringside

Wearing my trademark skater shorts and a Hitmen jersey, I’d call him out and goad him into spear-tackling me like a freight train, only I’d hide a “steel” chest plate under my jersey, and he’d end up knocked out cold for the one . . . two . . . three.

This was at the Toronto Nitro in March 1999, and was brilliantly executed. But this was done so that Bret could go away for a while so it would not lead to a match with Goldberg right away. “Hey Bischoff and the WCW, I quit!” Hart declared.

The only thing bigger than a Hart-Hogan match would be if I did an angle with Vince, but for all the money in the world, I would never let Vince make an angle out of something that hurt so deeply.

Hmmmm, give it about a decade and your mind will be changed. Of course, that debacle of a “street fight” between Bret and Vince at WrestleMania 26 came several years after this book was published.

When I got home I actually contemplated quitting for real. It seemed to me that Eric just didn’t have enough wrestling smarts to do his job

Bischoff was actually very good in his job from mid-1995 to 1997 but once the tide turned and the WWF took the lead in the ratings, he panicked and it showed. Where once he did fine managing all the egos, now there were too many egos and it got out of hand in a hurry.

When I got home, I signed a two-year extension to my contract.

This made no sense. You’re unhappy and contemplating retirement and you sign up for more? Money talks, I guess. Bret hoped that by committing to two additional years that WCW would do right by him in the future. That was a very naive position to take with guys like Hogan and Nash around.

Even Hunter came out to greet me, with Chyna, who clearly had had radical cosmetic surgery since the last time I’d seen her; she looked drastically altered, reconstructed and beautiful in a ghastly kind of way.

Bret visits the WWF locker room when they came to Calgary in April 1999. “In a ghastly kind of way”

I once described a girl (around 2003) as “attractive in an Avril Lavigne sort of way” and apparently that’s offensive. So just steer clear of referring to any sort of attractiveness using the term “kind of way”.

Coming up next time: The tragic death of Owen Hart

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