Got a big announcement coming up on the blog in the next week or two, let’s balance that good news with the sadness of Bret Hart’s book as his wrestling career has come to an end.
Unfortunately for Russo, nobody understood it.
If someone who was there and taking part in this nonsense had no idea, what hope was there for the audience to make sense of what was happening?
But there were so many worked injuries in I told him I cried all the time, and asked whether it was normal when even a shaving commercial could bring me to tears.WCW that when somebody got hurt for real, hardly anybody believed it.
Back when Bret was coming up in the business, it was routine for guys to work hurt. Concussion awareness was pretty much nonexistent and there wasn’t a threat of lawsuits. In WCW with the guaranteed contracts that all the top stars had, there was little incentive to actually work.
I told him I cried all the time, and asked whether it was normal when even a shaving commercial could bring me to tears.
It is a side-effect of post-concussion syndrome to lose control of one’s emotions that way. Fortunately, I don’t get emotional at shaving ads but the Barbasol ad from a few years ago amuses me for some reason.
‘Seriously, what route is this guy taking to deliver shaving cream? He’s in cities, the desert, and I am pretty sure that shaving cream is actually mixed with other products for delivery. I don’t think the local pharmacy is getting a pallet full of Barbasol. The logistics of this ad are a mess, though the wife is quite attractive.
I wondered if Owen’s death was some kind of colossal super rib that he was subjecting the whole family to in order to expose our shortcomings.
That would have been something, though people would likely be pissed at Owen for a bit for the “fake your death” thing. But his death really tore the Hart Family to bits. On one side, you had Martha Hart (Owen’s widow) who hated wrestling and wanted the “day of reckoning” to come. The Hitman was more on her side, but was something of a liason between Martha and his sisters Ellie (Jim Neidhart’s wife) and Diana (British Bulldog’s wife). Ellie and Diana wanted the lawsuit over and done so that their husbands might possibly have an avenue to return to work in the WWF.
When I hung up the phone, I called Marcy; she’d just heard the news through her media contacts that Martha settled for $18 million.
That seems like far too small of a price to pay given all that happened. Consider that a man lost his life on a show due to extreme negligence, and also how much money the WWF was raking in on the backs on these guys from 1998-2001. Of course the XFL bit into that pie, but I have no regrets about them doing that because I can always say that not only did I play in an XFL fantasy football league, but I won it too.
Now, like a limping circus pony, I waited for the end. It came on October 19, 2000, when J.J. Dillon called with the bad news.
Dillon was the talent relations guy for WCW from 1997 until the very end of the company. I just finished his book and I will be presenting highlights of that, though in much fewer than the 16 parts we are up to with Bret.
I didn’t let on to Carlo how much it bothered me that Vince now owned every inch of footage of my career, with the exception of Stampede Wrestling.
There is clearly some confusion to this day over ownership of Stampede footage. The WWE Network put up some episodes of Stampede last December, and I even tried to review one of them. It was really bad so I am not clamoring to have them put it back. Here is the explanation from the Wrestling Observer via 411mania.com:
Hart then contacted Mark Carrano in WWE, who said that WWE owned all Stampede footage after a deal was made with Bruce and Ross Hart. That turned out to be inaccurate as Bret’s parents gave him the rights to all his own content before they died. Hart then contacted Vince McMahon and WWE lawyer Scott Amann, saying that the footage needed to be taken down. The agreement between WWE and Ross Hart stipulated that Bret owns the rights to all footage involving him.
If it’s stupid bullshit, Bruce Hart can’t be far behind.
Tears came to my eyes as I watched the opening of the live show at home on TV: there was a clearly tired, deflated and demoralized Stu sitting in the front row with Ellie, Diana, Georgia, Bruce and Smith, who grinned as he held up a big sign that read, HA HA BRET.
There is no limit to the lengths Vince McMahon will go to poke at Bret Hart, probably because he knows the Hitman will sell it and acknowledge it. The difference between him and someone like Dusty Rhodes is that Dusty never let “Virgil” or the polka dots bother him. This show was the May 26, 2001 RAW from Calgary.
At the end of the show, Vince stuck his big, fat, salty thumb in my eye as far as he could by reenacting the Survivor Series screwjob finish, in Calgary, right in front of my father, as he played the corrupt promoter who rang the bell as Benoit had Stone Cold in my sharp-shooter.
Bret has this backwards, as Austin had Benoit in the move when McMahon called for the bell. Nothing makes me roll my eyes quite like the “Montreal callback” finish, which has been done to death. Hell, the WWE did it in 2016 with Charlotte versus Natalya, but in true modern fashion had no followup or explanation for it. Referee Charles Robinson calls for the bell and then carries on the next week like nothing happened.
Diana’s book came out at the same time. The opening paragraph described Davey drugging and sodomizing her, and it went downhill from there.
Released in 2001, Diana Smith’s first book “Under the Mat” was pulled from stores after a lawsuit from Martha Hart. It is pretty much regarded as trash now, even by Diana herself.
In January 2002, Tie Domi came to town for a game and we headed up to Hart house to visit my dad. Tie was a compact man with a head that looked like it was chiseled out of granite; he was generally regarded as the toughest guy in hockey.
Domi never played for my Boston Bruins, but he was always that feared enforcer type. Glad that his retirement has gone better for him than many of his contemporaries, and his son Max now plays for the Arizona Coyotes. Bret famously wore a Domi Maple Leafs jersey on WCW Monday Nitro once.
On February 27, Carlo called me wanting me to do a trade-off: If I’d referee at Wrestlemania XVIII, Vince would give me some pictures to use for this book.
My presumption is that he would have been referee for Rock vs Hogan, where he probably would have been somehow overshadowed. Hogan’s return to Toronto after a decade away was a big freaking deal and he was wildly popular there at least on par with Hart. This of course, did not happen and that’s okay because Rock-Hogan as it happened was the only memorable part of WrestleMania 18. That’s in spite of Hogan’s histrionics forcing them to turn him babyface which seemed a bit rushed.
Coming up next time: The FINAL part of this book, as Bret suffers a bike accident/stroke and makes time to take more shots at Shawn Michaels.