In case you didn’t have enough evidence before, Vincent K. McMahon Jr. holds a grudge.
In only a year, Vince McMahon’s power and prestige has taken a mighty tumble. The XFL has come and gone. The ratings for Raw and Smackdown are falling. PPV buyrates are lower and house show gates are shrinking. He can barely get a TV time slot for WCW on TNN, a hick network that his WWF programming carries on its back.
However, even as McMahon’s relative power in the world has dwindled, his power in the incestuous world of wrestling has never been stronger. He fully owns WCW, and has the owner of ECW working for him. Besides small independent shows, wrestlers have no other option than to sign with McMahon. And the smarter independent promotions are signing on with developmental deals, or at least want to stay in good standing with the WWF.
Stampede Wrestling, started back up by Bruce Hart, could really use some help from the WWF, be it promotional help, talent exchanges or a developmental agreement. McMahon and the Harts, once as strong a bond as there was in wrestling, have had a disastrous few years, starting with the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœscrewing of Bret Hart’ and ending with the in-ring death of Owen Hart. With the lawsuits concerning the latter settled and over with, the Harts and McMahon recently came to some sort of truce.
On Raw, broadcast live from Calgary, Stu Hart, alongside Bruce and other Hart relatives, appeared on camera and was honored for an Order of Canada Award.
But it wasn’t enough for McMahon to simply have the Harts come crawling back to him. It wasn’t enough to have Stu Hart, whose son was killed in the middle of a WWF ring, appear on camera in support of the WWF. Vince McMahon needed to rub it in.
To end a strong match between Chris Benoit and Steve Austin for the WWF World Title, Vince McMahon booked the very same ending to the main event of the Survivor Series ’97, in which Shawn Michaels won the title from Bret Hart in the most famous screwjob in wrestling history.
Vince McMahon’s message to the Harts was clear. Not only was Stampede Wrestling not plugged on the Raw broadcast, but McMahon booked the same finish that basically destroyed Bret Hart’s career and sanity. While the wounds of the Owen Hart lawsuits were beginning to heal, McMahon felt it necessary to reopen an older, but still painful wound.
Sure, this finish has been used and abused countless times in the 4 years since. However, this time it was different. This time it was in front of Stu Hart and the Hart family in Canada. This time it was at a time where reconciliation was in the air, and that good sentiments should have been the name of the day.
Of course, Vince McMahon would have none of it. McMahon never learns, and will be the stubborn, grudge holding ogre until the very end.
The Harts, the PTC, and other should know better than to defy the almighty Vince McMahon! Even at their humblest, it wasn’t enough for McMahon, and I’m sure even tonight won’t satisfy his bloodlust for revenge.
Maybe McMahon will invite the Harts back tomorrow night for the Smackdown taping. Then he’ll have Chris Benoit dress up in his Wild Pegasus outfit and plummet from the rafters and get stretchered out.
Yeah, that’s the ticket. Those Harts will know exactly who has all the power then.