It was 25 years ago today that one of the most infamous WCW shows took place: the 1991 Great American Bash PPV from Baltimore, aka “The We Want Flair Show”. It should be a reminder that WCW was always crazy and screwed up from beginning to end, and it was no different during Bret Hart’s late 90s tenure with the company. Let’s dive back into the Hitman’s 2007 book for a look:
It seemed to loosen everybody up when I took to the blackboard again, drawing Knobbs with ten penises and a speech balloon that read, “Now you know why they call me Knobbs.”
Picturing Brian Knobbs naked is not suggested, but this is funny. Dating back to his WWF tenure, the Hitman liked to draw crude cartoons and put them on a board in the locker room which would serve the purpose of making the boys laugh.
Bill Bush, who’d been WCW’s head accountant, took over from Eric, and the first thing he did was hire Vince McMahon’s now-former scriptwriter, Vince Russo.
It’s kind of strange how accountants popped up as main men more than once. Bill Bush was a disaster running things in late 1999 and early 2000 because he had no understanding of wrestling and had no hope of navigating that political minefield. Russo does come off okay in his interviews with Steve Austin and other podcasts, but in practice he had no clue. Burning the candle from both ends is bad practice and shock tactics when done all the time fail to have any impact.
Things have to make some sort of sense so the audience can follow along. I gave up on WCW in 1999 because I couldn’t figure out anything that was happening and wasn’t going to waste my time sorting through it. I was not alone and they were too far gone to win me back later on.
Wrestlers seemed so much more reckless now, and the business had sunk even deeper into violence and sleaze.
ECW took care of the violence, the WWF had the sleaze, and WCW could have positioned themselves as the “wrestling” promotion as they always had, but instead they decided to imitate.
Back in the late 90s, I would talk to friends about the concept of “move inflation” and how that could sink the business. It’s a sort of thing Austin complains about (i.e. DDTs being used as transitional moves). But what I meant is that something dangerous like a piledriver was now not a finisher. Wrestlers looked to top each other with dangerous dives to make an impression. The Hardy brothers did this in the TLC matches, but such spots are an easy way to get hurt.
This type of attitude still prevails a bit to this day. Wrestlers need to work smarter and slower as a means of self-preservation, which also serves to make the big moves mean more.
He [Dynamite Kid] told me he’d written a book, and laughed about how he was going to include a story about Stu scooping up cat shit with a spatula while making eggs for him.
I would LOVE to give Dynamite’s 2001 book “Pure Dynamite” the same treatment as Bret’s book, but it is not available on Kindle. It is supposedly a fantastic read and no punches are pulled.
As referenced many posts ago in this series, Stu Hart loved his cats and they had the run of the house. Bret didn’t want Dynamite to put such a story in the book but it was there along with many other embarrassing anecdotes, causing a permanent rift between the two who came up together in Stampede Wrestling.
Goldberg was no fun. Every night he mowed me down with his full-contact spear tackle, only to have Razor, Nash and Sid run in for the DQ to save the belt for me.
I think Bret might have been okay working with Goldberg if he wasn’t 42 years old by that point. Goldberg’s gimmick was to be more “real” and was going to be stiff as needed.
I stretched and paced as I waited for my match with Goldberg. “Whatever you do out there, Bill, don’t hurt me,” I said.
Bret before the match with Goldberg at Starrcade 1999, a card that is absolutely hideous. I tried watching that show a few months ago and only made it about 2/3 of the way through before I gave up. There was a miscommunication on what type of boot Goldberg would give and Bret didn’t have enough room in the smaller WCW ring.
We’d go off the air with a seething Goldberg punching out the windows of a limo, a sharp steel gimmick hidden in his fist.
Famously, the gimmick failed to break the window so Goldberg literally took matters into his own hands and broke the window himself, cutting himself so badly he almost lost his arm. But wait, there’s more! Bret was unbuckled (and concussed from the Starrcade match) in the Cadillac making the getaway and the car skidded on some ice (it was December) and looked like it was going to plow into a production truck. Luckily they hit a patch of dry pavement and a complete disaster was avoided. Safe to say if that car crashes, then this would be the worst segment in wrestling history. Even still, two of their top stars were injured by the end of this and Bret would be retired for good within weeks.
I told Bush: “I’m not a stuntman, I’m a pro wrestler, and from now on everything I do needs to be done in the ring.” They both apologized profusely for the circumstances that put me in the state I was in; yet not ten minutes later, Russo told me that he needed me to drive a giant monster truck over the top of Sycho Sid’s rental car, with Sid in it!
This has to be the most WCW moment in the entire book. Meanwhile, back in Calgary:
So there I sat, at first amused but then disgusted, watching the embarrassing conclusion to Bruce’s Stampede Wrestling show. Diana did a run-in to save fourteen-year-old Harry, who’d been dragged into his first angle. Soon, even Ellie was in the ring taking a bump. I could only roll my eyes in disgust. A farce like this made all of us Harts look bad.
Bruce Hart was constantly trying to revive Stampede Wrestling, probably as a means of making sure he had a job. “Harry” is Davey Boy and Diana Hart Smith’s son, who carved out a good career in New Japan and Pro Wrestling Noah in recent years after a stint in WWE that left him demoralized and ready to quit the business.
Only a few hours earlier, road agent Terry Taylor had successfully begged me to fill in for Kevin Nash for the rest of the week because Nash was out with a concussion, of all things.
Hmm, maybe THIS is the most WCW thing in the book. Asking a guy with a concussion to fill in for a guy with a concussion. And it’s Kevin Nash, who was always front and center in all political chicanery in WCW from the moment he returned there in 1996.
Over the past year, [Doug] Dillinger and his crack security team had allowed every one of my leather ring jackets to be stolen by fans until I stopped wearing them.
The Hitman had famously worn those jackets since the early 90s, jackets that looked like something out of a marching band, but they didn’t look too cheesy.
After the call to the radio station, I returned to my dressing room to find Doug snoozing and all my wrestling gear stolen, except for one pink and white boot. Amazingly, the thieves never thought to grab my wallet, which was in the pocket of my jeans still hanging there, or my Rolex, which was tucked into my shoe.
So maybe THIS is the most “WCW” thing in the book. Don’t hire Doug Dillinger for security because he WILL sleep on the job.
Coming up next time: Bret’s career comes to an end, the complications of post-concussion syndrome wreaks havoc with the Hitman’s life, and the Owen Hart accident lawsuit tears the Hart Family apart.