by: Bob Magee


There are very few wrestling fans who have not either seen or heard about the events of November 9, 1997 in Montreal; where Bret Hart was apparently doublecrossed by Vince McMahon out of an agreed-upon DQ finish in the main event at Survivor Series, with the WWF Heavyweight Title being put on Shawn Michaels. It would appear that Michaels may well not have known of the doublecross, judging from reports and observation of the aftermath of the match.

The aftermath of the match showed Michaels visibly swearing at McMahon, looks of shocked amazement on the faces Paul (Hunter Hearst Helmsley) Levesque, Michaels, and others, obviously including Hart. This was followed by Vince McMahon being spit upon by Hart, Hart’s destruction of ringside TV equipment; and reports of a physical altercation backstage where McMahon was either pushed or punched, landing on the floor backstage.

In my opinion, Vince McMahon has cut off his nose to spite his face. If the idea behind this was to get the belt off of Bret Hart before he left, that’s understandable. But to do so in Hart’s OWN home country, and to put it directly on a man that Hart has such genuine personal distaste for, AFTER an agreed upon finish by both Michaels and Hart; is an utter disgrace.

Bret Hart has been a man who has been a loyal company soldier to Titan Sports, the World Wrestling Federation, and Vince McMahon for years. Such treatment of Hart may result in others leaving Titan Sports at the first opportunity contractually possible. Both Bob Ryder and the Calgary Sun reported that several wrestlers had threatened to boycott the November 10 RAW the next night. It was clear that Owen Hart and Davey Smith were nowhere to be seen on RAW.

But this isn’t the first this has happened in the World Wrestling Federation. Go back to December 1, 1973, and the Pedro Morales-Stan Stasiuk title match in Philadelphia. Morales had the belt taken off of him backstage after the match, without prior knowledge. It was said that this was done “to avoid a race riot” with the then-heavily Puerto Rican crowd in Philadelphia. One wonders if there were other reasons.

Then there was the more well-known December 26, 1983 Bob Backlund-Iron Sheik match at Madison Square Garden; where Arnold Skoalund “threw in the towel”, (reportedly hidden under the ring as a last resort) since Backlund wouldn’t cooperate and drop the strap. Just a month later, Hulk Hogan had the belt put on him...and we all know the rest of that story...

With all of this, Vince McMahon has just handed Eric Bischoff and Ted Turner an early Christmas present. Imagine the money matches that are possible with Bret Hart in World Championship Wrestling... Sting-Hart, Malenko-Hart, Benoit-Hart, not to mention Hart against all the members of the nWo.

But also imagine the respect that Vince McMahon has lost in his own locker room. Imagine how difficult a time Vince McMahon will have bringing new talent without trust. Imagine a future for Titan Sports without one of the top workers in the industry today....

Until next time...

Bob Magee is a columnist for Pro Wrestling's Between The Sheets - for comments or opposing viewpoints please e-mail to magee@uscom.com

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