411 Video Review: Wrestling With Shadows

*You can’t have a hypocrite without an H – A – R – T.

*Preface:

Wendy’s is by far the best fast food restaurant out there in terms of price, variety, and availability. You don’t have to look far in either direction to find a Wendy’s in just about every major city on the face of the planet. With that being said, nothing good comes without a hitch. Every single I time I drive through Wendy’s things always have to end up much more difficult than they need to be. Just yesterday I drove through on my way home for a side Caesar salad and two five-piece chicken nuggets. A simple task you might assume, but not at Wendy’s. Everything appeared to be fine until I got up to the window to pay the obligatorily obese cashier. My total was $3.59. I gave her a twenty. She gazed at me with her overwhelmingly white trash face and said, “What do I have to do to get you to let me keep the change?” I’m like, “Uhhhhhhhhhhhh, excuse me ?” She smiled and repeated the question, adding that she “could really use the money.” My clever response, “I’ll make you a deal, you give me my food, then you give me my change, and then I drive off as fast as my four cylinder engine will take me.” Apparently she took this as me “flirting” with her and continued “playing the game.” Five minutes later I finally got my food and my change. She probably pulled the exact same thing with every customer that day. I swear to god, my small black text simply can’t do justice to just how hideous this woman was. With each glance I casted in her direction, I could literally feel my retinas burning themselves out. Her teeth looked like she had been spending half of her adult life chewing on a crowbar. The dentist would take one look at this woman and hang up Mr. Thirsty for life, and I sure as hell would hate to be the gynecologist to had to go spelunking down in there. Stuff like this happens EVERY time I go to Wendy’s. Another example… I was driving from home back up to school a few days ago and I stopped in a Wendy’s in Gainesville (FL) to get some food. I pulled up to the drive thru and the first thing the lady says is of course, “You’ll be having a combo today, which one will you be having today ?” Aside from the fact that she used the word “today” twice, making herself sound rather foolish, I find it rather rude that somebody who probably couldn’t spell their own name was telling me what I would be having for dinner. No biggie, I understand that they are told to say that, it’s not her fault, but it still kind of bothers me. Anyway, I’m like, “I think I’ll just have a Bacon Swiss Burger plain..” She immediately cut me off with a very, VERY condescending “I’m sorry Sir, but the Bacon Swiss Burger has been discontinued from our menu.” I’m like, “But you still have the regular Bacon Cheeseburger, correct ?” She again rudely replied, “Yes sir, we still have our Bacon Cheeseburger on the menu.” I sarcastically quipped in with, “So what you seem to be telling me is that Swiss Cheese has been discontinued from your menu ?” She barbed in with, “We still have Swiss Cheese Sir, it hasn’t gone anywhere.” So I’m like, “Alright, then I’ll have a Bacon Cheeseburger, minus the cheddar cheese, with a slice of SWISS Cheese on top.” She got REALLY agitated and told me that she “Just wasn’t authorized to do something like that.” She wasn’t “authorized” to do it. She’s not a Navy Seal, she’s an overweight 30 year old woman working a minimum wage job to support her oh-so-constructive lifestyle of Crack-Cocaine and throwing bacon into the air and trying to catch it in her mouth. I gave up and went to Subway. It’s healthier anyway. I couldn’t resist the immature urge of driving back through before I left Gainesville though. I disguised my voice in an EXTREMELY weak female manner. When the same woman asked me what I wanted, I asked for (in said female voice), “A small water and two slices of Swiss Cheese.” She was NOT happy, but I got back on I-75 with a smile on my face. The smile looked a little something like this 🙂 My mouth isn’t really that close to my eyes though, that could get dangerous….

-Quick note, I have a twin brother (Jay Bower) who writes over at the Smarks. He’s a hell of a guy and a hell of a writer. I get a downpour of emails asking why we have different last names. The answer is simple, neither last name is real. I don’t feel too comfortable giving out my real name, nor does he. I will tell you this, the true last name lies somewhere into between “Anderson” and “Bower.” Knock yourselves silly trying to figure out the authentic last name. I also get emails bashing me for posting pictures of Dave Meltzer, Bob Ryder, and Scott Keith yet not posting my own. Again, I just don’t feel comfortable giving that information away, you never know what kind of psychos are out there. I will provide a picture of me and Jay though that will not give away our secret identities. We don’t always wear matching pants, it was kind of a one night joke, but oh well, this will give you something to set as your Windows Background… Twins Rock.

-411Wrestling rocks the party, and it’s because of one reason and one reason only… Readers like you. AWWWWW. Thanks to all of you who have taken the time to read my often long-winded ramblings cleverly disguised as “tape reviews.” It really does mean a lot. If I could, I’d take you all out for a night on the town (unless you’re fat or a guy). I’m sure most of you already have your calendars jammed anyway though. That’s the difference I see between 411 readers and readers of some of the other “sites” out there. I’ve interacted with a lot of 411 readers and most of the staff here as well. Almost all of the readers I talk to seem to be normal people with LIVES, GIRLFRIENDS, and SOCIAL SKILLS. The 411 forum is PACKED with really cool people (like Nemesis, Mansion, Pennywise, and countless others) who undoubtedly have actual friends and just generally have a lot going for them. The writers here at 411 fall right into the same category. While most of the internet “writers” out there are greasy, overweight dorks (who probably wouldn’t know a clitoris from a Dragon Sleeper), the majority of 411’s writers are young, cutting edge, kick-ass people. We have a sense of humor. We know our pop-culture. And I’ll be damned if we won’t be placing first in the annual “Internet Wrestling Beauty Pageant.” It’s gonna be tough competition with 1wrestling, but I think ultimately the boys of 411 will triumph over the quasi-boy band of Scherer, Ryder, and Fierro. I could see them going into the studio and making a ultra catchy pop-tune, but then making it available only to users of their PREMIUM service. No really guys, the premium service is worth the money. Why come to 411wrestling and read the latest up-to-the-minute news when you could go to 1wrestling a week and a half later, wait five to ten minutes for the file to load, and listen to Joey Styles read the same news himself. As long as we’re jumping on the outdated bandwagon of poking light-hearted fun at 1wrestling, how bout some corny smart jokes ???

Q: What do you get if you combine the Grinch with A few dozen Pop-Up Ads ?

A: Bob Ryder

Q: What do you get if make people pay to visit 1wrestling.com ?

A: No page hits.

Q: What’s the difference between reading the news at 411 and reading the news at 1wrestling?

A: A few dozen pop-ups.

Q: What do you get if you cross the elephant man with WCW Live ?

A: Bob Ryder

Q: What do you get if you poke light-hearted fun at Bob Ryder ?

A: Sued for slander.

Q: What do you call a late-breaking story about Ric Flair signing with the WWF ?

A: The current edition of Joey Styles hotline report at 1wrestling.

Q: What does Bob Ryder do for fun ?

A: Add more pop-ups.

Q: What’s the best way to crash your computer ?

A: Visit 1wrestling.

Q: What’s the most commenly overheard thing when Tommy Fierro walks by ?

A: Mom, is that Corky from Life Goes On ???

Q: What’s does Corky from Life Goes On say when Bob Ryder walks by ?

A: Mom, when did Mr. Belvedere go bald ?

Q: Why does Tommy Fierro have so many friends in WCW ?

A: Because he swallows.

Q: What’s been the best part of the Invasion angle thus-far ?

A: Bret Hart returning to lead WCW. *Credit: 1wrestling.com

Q: What’s been the biggest news story of the past month ?

A: Kevin Nash signing an exclusive long-term contract with WWA. *Credit 1wrestling.com.

God those were lame. I really didn’t mean those jokes…. I just think it’s funny how life and death alot of these Internet wrestling writers take things to be. It’s WRESTLING. I love wrestling as much as the next guy or else I wouldn’t be sitting here with my fingers on the “home keys,” but the mere thought of grown men sitting behind keyboards getting SO worked up over muscular, middle-aged men in tiny tights pretending to clobber each other amuses me. Even more amusing is the fact that these said grown men sit behind their keyboards and nearly have heart attacks because of what other grown men behind their computers say about them. I’m sure come next column I’ll be publicly apologizing for these comments at the request of Bobby R, so let’s all just have our laughs for now shall we ? Anyway………….

-Thanks for the feedback on the WCW: Night of Champions review. It was AMAZING to hear from so many old-school, LOYAL WCW fans. These people remained loyal to WCW to the very end, and many of them turned off wrestling FOREVER after the death of the REAL WCW. People tend to forget that WCW did have a very loyal fan base, even in it’s dying days. Everybody is always like, “It’s a good thing WCW was put out of its misery.” Shut up. Seriously. Just because they had a few problems in a few departments, it doesn’t mean that a “mercy killing” was in order. The WWF has had it’s fair share of creative problems in the last 10 years, but no one was ever screaming for a mercy killing on their behalf… A major annoyance of mine has always been Internet columnists who post thousands of self-congratulatory emails within their columns, all of which usually start with, “Writer X, You’re the best writer ever!!!” If you have to tell people that you are “popular,” then you are truly bush-league. Anyway, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one email in particular that I received from a loyal WCW fan recounting what NWA/WCW meant to him. If you read nothing more in this entire column, read this *email* It almost brought a tear to my eye and genuinely touched my normally cold and calloused heart. Please, please, please read it. I promise you that it is well worth your 90 seconds. It’s emails like this that make all the “Ken Anderson is a Scott Keith Ripoff,” emails worth it. Thank you Tim for opening my eyes as to how meaningful WCW truly was to some people. Let’s do it…

*Quick Stats:

Director: Paul Jay

Producer: Sally Blake

Year: 1998

Running Time: 95 minutes

Bret Hart: Wrestling with Shadows.

-NOTHING whatsoever in this tape review pertains to Wrestling Supercards and Tournaments, but I’d like to make the world aware of the fact that Tito Santana defeated Rick Martel in 3:42 at Wrestlemania 3. Where did I find this information you ask ??? WRESTLING SUPERCARDS and TOURNAMENTS. Now that the formalities are out of the way, let’s get to the important part of this segment shall we… Every day Jason is hard at work making Wrestling Supercards and Tournaments a fun, informative place for us wrestling savvy fans to visit. In honor of Jason’s hard work, we make a dedication to him in each and review. This dedication is in the form of a *Lesbian Makeout Session* This one’s for you Jason. Today’s review is also brought to us by the letter “L.”

-The FBI provides a stern pre-tape warning about the evils of copyright infringement. They make a funny joke by claiming that they come find us and make us serve 10-20 years in prison for making a copy of Wrestling with Shadows and giving it to our internet “smart” friends. While technically it is illegal to sell copies of commercial wrestling videos, there are far greater evils in the world than some kid selling copies of King of the Ring ’96 for $12 a piece. At most he’s making $3 off of the deal for his work. What does bother me is these idiots who sell WWF tapes for like $20 a piece. Give me a break. That’s not only illegal, but it’s a RIPOFF. Not only that, but most of these tapes look like they are about 87th generation tapes. For those not familiar with the terminology, the original tape is the “master tape.” A tape copied from the master tape is “second generation.” A tape copied from the copy is “third generation” and so forth. The only reason I even know this shit is because I will occasionally look in tape trading forums and see puro nerds claiming that they bought a “second generation” tape that they secretly believe to be “third generation.” Anyway, most of the stuff sold on the net looks like someone took a 30th generation tape and ran it through the washing machine. RF Video is the only company I’ve ever seen who can make a second generation video look to be fiftieth generation. Anything from RF is best viewed when drunk… That way you can somewhat ignore the fact that the top half of the picture is on the bottom of the screen and the bottom half is on the top of the screen. The solution, “adjust your tracking.” Yeah, THAT will fix the problem… I ordered “Best of Raven in ECW” one time and I think they accidentally sent me “Best of Squiggly Lines: Volume 2,” and also included, “V-Hold, WHAT V-HOLD ?” for free. On a side note, I’ll probably be publicly apologizing for these comments as well in my next tape review. As Shaggy would say to Scooby, “Keep your eyes peeeeeeeled.”

*Note… Unless specified differently, anything in quotes are voiceovers spoken directly by Bret Hart himself…

-We cut in with short clips of Bret Hart arriving at the arena, lacing up his boots, and oiling his hair, all cut in with crowd shots of rabid Bret Hart fans, many of which can’t even properly spell his first name on their signs. These shots continue as a voiceover by Bret Hart begins…

“It’s so hard to find a hero anymore… I was proud of the Hitman character. He fought for the right causes and spoke up when it came to the truth… He always fought so hard. I loved being a hero to people around the world. I think about India where these kids waited all day for meto come to the school, they couldn’t believe it, it was like a God coming to the school. They couldn’t believe I was there. They really believed in me, and they really loved me. This is real… something you could never buy.”

With this monologue, clips are shown of Bret Hart visiting an elementary school in India. In a very touching scene, Bret Hart’s vehicle leaves the school and thousands of small Indian children chase it all the way down the road.

Foreshadowing of the Screwjob:

“Tomorrow’s the big showdown in Montreal. This is probably the biggest fight of my life. This great story that I’ve been living for 15 years could very well come to an end. I talked to Vince and he said, ‘You’ve got to lose to Shawn in Montreal’… I just can’t do that. I can’t. I can’t do it and I won’t. I described it to Vince as that I might as well blow my brains out. From a character standpoint, Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart might as well. People say wrestling isn’t real… it’s far more real than people think.”

A clip is shown of Vince McMahon’s now famous speech: “I have no sympathy for Bret whatsoever.. .none. I have no sympathy for someone not doing the right thing for the business that made him… not doing the right thing for the fans and the performers and the organization that helped make him what he is today. Bret made a very selfish decision and Bret is going to have to live with that for the rest of his life. Bret screwed Bret. I have no sympathy whatsoever for Bret.”

One Year Earlier…

“I’ve been a professional wrestler for the last 20 years. Most of those years have been spent with Vince McMahon and the World Wrestling Federation. It’s gotten really big. They say every week half a billion people watch it all over the world.”

-Some clips are shown of Bret Hart going over his pre-match interview with Vince Russo.

We get several fan’s takes of the WWF, each of which does a good job of summing up why we all watch this shit:

“It’s a male soap opera.. Some people think of wrestling as a real sport… It’s not a real sport… It’s sports entertainment…. It’s there to fullfill you’re needs and give you something extra to look forward to.”

“It’s fun… There’s not a whole lot of things in life that are fun anymore. You’ve got your favorites, you cheer them. You’ve got the guys you don’t like, you boo them. You don’t have to worry about them punching you in your face if you boo them, because that’s their job.”

-Vader is a softie. He hugs Bret and talks about his real estate business.

-Bret Hart and Sunny share some VERY suspicious moments as Sunny tells the camera how much she just LOVED Bret Hart when she was growing up. Then Sunny touches Bret’s chest.

“Shawn Michaels is a great athlete. He’s an incredible performer in the ring, but there’s things about him that really get on my nerves. He’s got this primadonna personality and he thinks he’s better than everyone else. There’s something really arrogant and obnoxious about him, and he thinks he’s better than everyone.”

Bret gets more into his character..

“Your kids are pretty safe if they’re watching me on Saturday mornings, I send out a pretty wholesome message. The Hitman character stands for believing in yourself and never quitting. The one thing I refuse to do is lie to my fans.”

*The focus of the next twenty minutes or so lies on Bret’s family and upbringing, and more specifically, his relationship with his father.

– Bret says that he works day in and day out to impress Vince McMahon, but when it all comes down to it, he works even harder to impress his father.

-Stu and Helen Hart had twelve children, eight boys and four girls. All eight boys became wrestlers, and all four girls married wrestlers. Helen Hart HATES this fact, but has accepted it and seems to genuinely love it for one simple, yet sweet reason …her husband loves it.

-We are shown footage of Stu’s 80th Birthday Party at the Hart family household, with the majority of the family appearing to be putting on an act for the camera. Bret gives a moving speech about how he tries to be like his Father in everything he does.

-We get a bit of background information on Stu Hart and his childhood. Stu’s father was very stringent and rough himself, a fact that ultimately landed him in prison over a disputed plot of land. Stu and his two sisters were placed in foster care, and there Stu fell in with a group of “Shooters ( legitimate submission wrestlers.).” They kicked the shit out of Stu every single day. While most men’s spirits were broken to the point that they no longer returned, Stu showed up day in and day out eager to get his ass kicked again and learn in the process. It wasn’t long before Stu was the one doling out the punishment himself.

-The Hart children all had a very rough childhood, and were basically the laughing stock of the school thanks to their father’s choice of professions. The one thing Bret Hart hated more than ANYTHING was when people would call his father a “phony.” Bret alludes to the fact that, “There is a very real art to wrestling… But people never come up to you and say, ‘You’re a hell of an actor.’ They say, ‘You’re a phony… a fake.’ ”

-Bret recounts a self-congratulatory story about an “epic battle” he had in high school with a bully who was picking on his older sister Georgia. The bully, who Georgia Hart refers to as, “A salty devil,” relentlessly picked on Georgia and made fun of her father and the rest of the Hart family. One day Bret decided that he just couldn’t stand for one more day of this and challenged the bully to a brawl after school. Even Bret’s teachers patted him on the back and basically told him to his face that he was going to get his ass handed to him. Bret likened the fight to the Battle at the Ok Corral. Bret obviously beat the shit out of the much bigger (and decidedly saltier) bully, or else this story probably wouldn’t have made it into the documentary. Upon winning the fight, all of the school yard kids raised Bret Hart onto their shoulders and paraded him around the ally. Bret says it was the EXACT same scene that unfolded at Wrestlemania X after he won the title. The only obvious difference is the fact that his ass probably wasn’t sitting squarely on the shoulders of Bob Holly and Burt Reynolds after the school yard fight.

“What the other kids didn’t understand was to all of us Hart kids… it was very real. All you had to do was walk into the living room and hear the sounds that came out of the dungeon… out of the basement.. The sounds of these guys screaming for their lives… To me, that was about as real as it could get.”

-There’s a hole in the living room floor that allowed the Hart kids to hear what was going on downstairs. The kids recorded the sounds that would come from the “dungeon”… to say that they were disturbing would be a vast understatement. One of these tapes is played and it’s borderline scary. Soft country music played in the background as we hear one of Stu’s students screaming and literally crying for his life as Stu pounded on him and screamed to “HAVE SOME DISCIPLINE.”

“I remember my dad squeezing me so hard that the blood vessels would break behind my eyeballs… Dad wanted to get you to the ‘top of the mountain’, which was his term for screaming for your life, where you’re actually screaming and begging and pleading for your life, which lord knows I did on numerous occasions. My dad always screamed in my ear that ‘this will be your last breath,’ he screamed that I had breathed my last breathe. I remember that ringing in my ears many times and I remember thinking that maybe I had breathed my last breathe… maybe this was the end… He wouldn’t let me just get up and leave… I was deathly afraid of my father. ”

-Bret shows us his “toy” that he has in his living room. His “toy” is a life size rubber human sitting inside of an electric chair. When Bret turns his “toy” on, it sparks, violently convulses, and ultimately “dies.” In a particularly chilling quote, Bret mentions (in reference to his “toy”), that …

“It’s pretend… but to me all too many times it wasn’t pretend.”

-Bret’s main goal in life is to “Come out of the wrestling industry as a success… rather than as a tragedy.” Hope he didn’t bet the farm on that one….

WCW Makes Bret Hart an offer:

-“I’ve been working for Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Federation for the last 14 years… I always figured I’d end my career with them… and then Ted Turners WCW made me an incredible offer to jump ship and come work with them… An ENORMOUS amount of money.”

Bret talks more in-depth about the difficult decision he is faced with…

“This is probably the biggest decision of my entire life. They’ve offered me 9 million dollars over 3 years.. When it got into wrestling, it’s more than I could have ever imagined.”

“Vince McMahon came to me and offered me, for a lot less money, a 20 year contract. And uh… Right now I’m having a really tough time. I need to put my loyalty up front. Money’s not always the most important thing, but right now I feel like the prettiest girl at the dance with everyone vying for my attention. It’s a war between the two companies for my employment.”

“Vince McMahon made me.. He gave me the stage to work on… He gave me the chance to show the world what I was made of… The fact that he gave me that chance and made my dreams come true, it’s something that weighs really heavily on the decision that I have to make… Should I stay or should I go… For me, 9 million dollars is a lot of money.”

Flash Forward a month to RAW, as Bret returns to the WWF and gives his semi-famous speech, killing internet rumors of his departure and declaring his allegiance to the WWF:

“When you get offered a great offer, and you have to decide which one to take.. No one knows how much soul searching I’ve done with this… But what it comes down to.. Everything I’ve ever done and everything I plan on ever doing.. I owe it all to my WWF fans, and I’ll be with the WWF forever.”

Vince is at ringside and breathes a sigh of relief.

“I find myself torn between trying to do the right thing for my family and trying to show my loyalty. I always saw Vince McMahon as like a father… To switch sides when things were bad, it would have been easy. But loyalty is important.

Canadian Stampede:

We’re shown some highlights of the highly acclaimed Canadian Stampede PPV, including some interesting behind-the-scenes footage of Pat Patterson going over the outline of the match with Bret and Owen. In typical fashion, Bruce Hart mugs for the camera as Pat Patterson lays out the finish of the match in such a profane fashion that even Lil’ Kim would blush. An excerpt … “You both end up outside the ring, where your brothers are, he knocks one of your brothers on his ass, and he turns around and kicks that motherf*cker on his leg, ‘AHHHH, he kicked that motherf*cker in the leg’, AHHH, and we go home from there. Nail your brother, the other one is like ‘Fuck You’ jumps over the barricade and is like ‘Oh Fuck’, he gets up, throws his ass in the f*cking ring, you’re brother will help you when everyone else is in the f*cking ring… MOTHERFUCKING, no good bastard.”

-Bret talks about how he is confident in the fact that no matter what happens, he will be able to go out of the WWF one day as a “hero,” and as the company’s top babyface.

-Bret gives his take on several of the top heels in the WWF:

-Mankind: “Mankind’s like the Hannibal Lectur of the WWF.”

Mankind, on why some fans cheer him: “Little comments start coming out and people instead of saying ‘I’m scared of that’, they start saying, ‘I kinda get a kick out of that guy, and hey, he’s suffering for our sake.”

-Hunter Hearst Helmsley: “Hunter is a character that’s supposed to hit a raw nerve, he’s a snob. He’s a character the fans will never love, they’re always going to hate him.”

Hunter on his heel role:

“Their boos become cheers… When I’ve got my guy down that they want to see beat my ass and I’ve got him beat up and I stand over their man and look out at the people and do that little bow, they boo me out of the building. That’s the reaction that I want. When I do that, I go ‘Yeah,’ because I got them. “

Bret Hart begins to notice a change in American Fans:

“Something strange has been happening… The guys that the American fans are supposed to hate are becoming the heroes… Take Stone Cold Steve Austin, the most evil man in the World Wrestling Federation.. The fans started to turn against me and really get off on him, he’s so cool, he’s so bad. McMahon recognized the way the crowds reacted to Austin and is positioning him to be a fan favorite. I don’t think there are any heroes anymore, people seem to be sick of good guys.

“McMahon talked to me about changing my character, he wants to me turn heel… become a bad guy. I was lukewarm to the idea, I take great pride in being a hero. Eventually he sold me on it. I guess there’s only so many times you can rescue the girl from the railroad tracks.”

-Footage is shown of the classic double-turn at Wrestlemania 13.

In my heel turn, I’ve found a vein of reality… my feelings towards the fans. They are saying that they don’t have any heroes anymore, {The American Fans} don’t believe in good and bad and right and wrong. If they cheer a guy like Steve Austin, then I can’t accept them anymore. The truth is, I don’t see the fans side of it. I can take that thread of reality and sew it into my character. As long as I don’t sell out my true fans, I’m happy being the bad guy.”

Bret further justifies the actions of his character, alluding to an episode of RAW where Steve Austin attacked him and nearly crippled him for life:

“Here I am in the middle of the ring pleading for my life with this horrible bad guy, who is being cheered by everybody, he’s smashing my knee to pieces, just smashing it with a chair, and they loved every minute of it… When you put yourself in my shoes, you go ‘What a bunch of cold blooded people that they would turn their backs on me and allow this guy to do this to me, to end my career. That really has been the underlying theme with my character.. my character IS right.”

-Bret talks about his now famous speech in which he turned on the American fans…

“Nobody glorifies criminal conduct like the Americans do. In all the countries I go to around the world, they still respect what’s right and what’s wrong. You American fans coast to coast, you don’t respect anything. And you know what, I don’t respect you. From here on out, the American fans from coast to coast… can KISS MY ASS.”

-Bret legitimately views the American wrestling fans as the true heels of the feud.

-Some footage is shown of the back-and-forth Canada/U.S. Raws and the whole Canada/U.S. feud. This angle was just so incredible on so many levels. For the first time in modern wrestling history, the company’s top babyface would become the company’s top heel in certain geographical areas, and the company’s top heel would become the company’s top babyface in other areas. This was just AMAZING to see and the heat produced from this feud was some of the strongest I’ve ever seen and probably just as strong as anything I ever will see. Bret Hart was just so MASSIVELY over in Canada, and so incredibly hated in the U.S. His character was one of the most complex I’ve ever seen. One of the integral reasons why his character was so amazingly complex was because in his heart, Bret truly believed that he was ‘Bret Hart’ and that his actions were justified. More on that later…

Bret Hart at RAW in Canada:

“Thank you for letting me still be your hero (HUGE extended pop). Thank you for still believing in me. A few weeks ago I was told, ‘America… love it or leave it.’ I’ve been all over the United States of America, and the one thing I’ve been particularly looking forward to is LEAVING it. Canada’s a country where we still take care of the sick and the old… where we still have health care… We have gun control, we don’t shoot each other and kill each other on every street corner. Canada isn’t a country that’s riddle with racial prejudice and hatred… Across Canada we all care for eachother. And I am PROUD to be Canadian, and I am PROUD to be your hero.”

Bret Hart at RAW in Pittsburgh:

“I came out last week and said that the United States of America is like one big toilet bowl. Will, if I were going to the give the United States and enema, I’d stick the hose right here in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.”

Summerslam ’97:

-Footage is shown of the huge amount of fans who have congregated outside of the arena, most of whom are proudly toting their American flags and chanting “USA” for what seems to be hours. Most of the fans shown also appear to have an IQ lower than my brother’s GPA, but then again, that’s beside the point.

-An American fan is almost beaten to death by the crowd for wearing the Canadian colors and waving the Canadian flag. The fans is interviewed and does a reasonably good job of justifying his allegiance:

“You know, Bret Hart has come to this country and he’s wrestled in front of all these fans, given them years and years of service, he’s won titles, he’s done it all. Now all of a sudden because he’s carrying a Canadian flag and surrounding himself with his family, they’ve turned on him. Bret Hart didn’t turn on America… America turned on Bret Hart.”

-Another fan, who’s sunglasses are WAY too big for his head and who looks more like a marionette than a real person (“But I’m not a puppet, I’m a reallllllllll boy”) offers his two cents:

“Canada… is a bunch of crybabies who can’t stand on their own two feet. America fought, they got all their rights, and they are the best people in the world. I don’t care what anyone says, the United States is NUMBER ONE.”

-A woman who appears to be smuggling a parking garage into the arena under her shirt gives some long-winded diatribe about how Bret Hart inspired her to be something or another. Let’s go the tape boys…

“Nine months ago, all these people would have been cheering Bret Hart, they wouldn’t have been saying things like this. This is disgusting. I like Bret Hart because he’s got family values, he’s loyal, he really genuinely likes his fans, even though he may hate the morals of America. He really inspired me to do many different things in my life. He taught me that I have a gift and to use it to it’s fullest potential… And now I’m going to school for computer graphics, and I owe it all to Bret. Four years ago, I never would have gone to school, but when I started liking Bret, everything changed.” PSYCHO.

-Bret Hart will face the Undertaker tonight for the WWF Championship, with Shawn Michaels acting as the special guest referee.

-We see Bret standing in the ring in the middle of an empty Continental Airlines Arena. Bret Hart and Pat Patterson are going over the finish of the match and ironing out a few spots. Bret is a little bit concerned that Shawn Michaels will steal his heat.

“I’m still kinda worried about this thing with Shawn. I’m not gonna lose my heat to him am I? It’s almost like Shawn is just going to scoop up ALL my heat.”

-Footage is shown of the match, including the finish. Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart get in a verbal spat towards the end of the match, so Shawn picks up a chair to level Hart with. At the last minute, Hart ducks, putting the Undertaker on the receiving end of the brutal chair shot. Shawn reluctantly makes the three-count, making Hart the NEW WWF Champion and in the process, scooping up all of his heat as well. Good job Shawn!!!

-Bret looks emotionally destroyed after the match for unspecified reasons. He goes through the motions of the post-win photo shoot, but quickly retreats to a quiet corner and just sits staring at the floor. He looks CRUSHED.

-Bret and Droz are working out the next day, with Bret still looking extremely depressed. Bret makes a really cryptic comment after Droz mentions that he thinks Bret still has another ten years or wrestling left in him…

“Ten more years of wrestling… I feel like a guy wandering around the prison yard who’s in for life. I’ve got the nicest cell in the prison, I’ve got the run of the place… I’ve kinda got the warden in my back pocket…. But I can’t wait to get out.”

Bret and his Wife:

-Bret goes into detail about how bad of a husband he’s been…

“I don’t know how Julie’s put up with it all these years… It’s been 18 years of me saying, ‘I’ll be home tomorrow.’

-Julie Hart shares her thoughts in an emotional scene:

Paul Jay: “Are you looking forward to the day that Bret hangs up his boots?”

Julie: “I’ve been waiting since the day he was 25. It’s been 18 years now, and I’m sure it’s always going to be the same.”

Paul Jay: “But you’ve had enough.”

Julie: “….. Yes…. Yes I have… I think it’s time to be normal.”

RAW: Pre-Survivor Series:

-Bret Hart comes out for an interview and is promptly interrupted by DX. Shawn “shoots” on Bret Hart, making a few comments about Hart’s age and refers to the fact that Bret will soon be jerking the curtain. Video is then shown of Shawn Michaels humping the Canadian flag.

Bret is pissed about the brand of humor that DX employs.

“I can’t imagine what they are thinking. I can’t imagine what Vince is thinking when he’s like, ‘Let’s try this tonight, let’s have Michaels show the crack of his ass and jump around.’ Vince is NUTS. It’s become nothing but SMUT TV.”

-Footage is shown of Shawn Michaels horsing around in the ring with Bret’s kids. Shawn just looks like a really nice, fun-loving guy in this clip, as he is chasing them around the ring, and letting them pin him. The kids are having a BLAST, but apparently the “HITMAN” isn’t too happy that they are playing with his arch-nemesis.

Two Days Before Montreal:

Vince Drops a Bombshell…

He tells Bret that he wants out of their Twenty Year Contract:

A very shaken up Bret Hart to his wife:

“He says… he can’t afford me anymore… Financial Peril were his exact words… He said… I would be doing him a favor if I could go back to WCW and see if I can get my old deal. The company… is in financial peril.”

Julie Hart: “I don’t believe that… Less than a year ago, he came to our house to ask you to stay with him. He signed you to 20 years.”

Vince McMahon comments on the situation…

“I think I was sorry when I signed the deal. Bret had leveraged himself against Turner’s operation and bid himself up so much… Everyone around me at the time was telling me, ‘Oh you can’t let Bret go.’ I listened to them at the time, and I think I’m sorry that I did.”

-Bret gets off the phone with Vince…

“I just talked to Vince… He goes ‘Nobody wants Bret Hart more than Vince McMahon.’ He can’t compete with Turner though, they are dead set on putting him out of business. I have to think about all of this… I’m gonna call Eric (Bischoff) later tonight… Can we shut the camera’s off now.”

Bret talks to Eric Bischoff:

“The WCW called me, I thought the deal had fallen through. They said ‘What’s it going to take to bring you here.’ I hung up the phone with this pit in my stomach.. I have every reason to leave now, I’ve got a deal. I’m still giving Vince McMahon the benefit of the doubt… The history of and the legacy of my past is all here. I stayed up all night thinking about it. I called up Vince and I said to Vince, ‘Talk me into staying’…. That’s exactly what I said… ‘I don’t want to talk money, I’ll stay for the deal we have. I just want you to make some kind of a commitment to me.’ Finally he laid it out to me, he said ‘What should I do? You make the call…. What would YOU do with Bret Hart.’ Then I realized what a horrible predicament I was in. I came from being the number one good guy in the whole word, and I gave up that job to become the number one bad guy. And now, you’ve given my bad guy job to Shawn Michaels, how could I become a good guy again ?? I’ve bashed the American people, and that’s where I perform 95 percent of the time. I’m stuck in limbo.. I’m in purgatory… I can’t be a great good guy and I can’t be a great bad guy anymore… I’m stuck with NOTHING. Vince has actually sabotaged my career.

Bret makes his decision:

“That’s it, I’ve finally faxed it in, I’ve finally ended my career with the WWF. I can’t help but feel heartbroken and disappointed that I left this company. I punched in the numbers and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done to push that send button. I watched my career end in 20 seconds…

“We’ve agreed to keep my leaving a secret for the next four weeks. I’m not going to shut up though about how I feel about where wrestling’s heading.”

Off the Record on TSN:

-Bret goes on Off the Record, morning news programs, etc.. and bashes the creative direction of the WWF. He talks about how his kids won’t watch anymore and how he is ashamed to be even be associated with it.

-Vince retorts with the now-famous ‘Attitude’ speech which would serve as a backbone for the everything the WWF has done from this point forward…:

“We in the WWF think that you the audience are, quite frankly, tired of having your intelligence insulted. We also think that you are tired of the same old simplistic theory of ‘Good Guys’ versus ‘Bad Guys.’ Surely the era of the superhero who urges you to ‘Say your Prayers and take your Vitamins’ is certainly passé’.”

Detroit, Michigan:

Bret’s final house show appearance in the WWF.

“We had agreed to keep my leaving a secret, but Vince has leaked word that I was leaving for the money.”

-Footage is shown of the house show, with hundreds of fans giving Bret the middle finger and chanting “YOU SOLD OUT!,” in typical low-brow ECW fashion. Most of the fans in question look they sold out as well… sold out on bathing.

-Bret Hart, Owen Hart, Davey Boy Smith, Jim Neidhart, Brian Pillman, Bruce Pritchard, and the Honkey Tonk Man are all riding back to the hotel in a limo post show. Bret is talking negatively about Shawn Michaels for making a few comments about his father on RAW. Vince asked Bret Hart to really dig into Shawn Michaels during his interview, alluding to him being gay and having sex with men and blah blah blah. Bret says the whole thing is just “STUPID.” Bret feels that the only way out of this feud is to have the babyface (himself) prevail.

“I talked to Vince and he says that I have to lose to Shawn in Montreal. He told me that they can’t have me showing up on WCW TV wearing his belt. I said that I would never do that, I said ‘Fine if you want me to drop the belt, I’ll drop the belt, just not in Canada.’ He insisted and said I had to lose the belt in Montreal. I said ‘You told me I could leave anyway I wanted, and now you’re throwing this at me.’ This is really strange, I’ve never said no to Vince McMahon, never.”

-Bret and his wife privately talk about the situation. Bret is very thankful that he put a clause in his contract giving him reasonable creative control over his character for the last thirty days of his WWF contract. Julie Hart tells Bret that she thinks something might go terribly wrong in Montreal. Bret is pretty confident that nothing will go wrong, due to one factor:

“I don’t have to worry about the referee. I talked to Earl, he swore on his kids that he’s not going to let anything happen… and I can trust Earl.

“I told Vince that it would be a blow now to me to beat me in Canada with the momentum I have as a Canadian hero, and I think it would be a blow to the people all across Canada, which would ultimately affect my transition to WCW. I just want to get through this weekend, I don’t want to disgrace the Canadian fans.”

Montreal, Three hours before the Match:

-Sunny and Julie Hart share some tears over the impending departure of the Hitman. Sunny is balling her eyes out and mentions the “huge void” that will exist in the WWF without Bret Hart. There will probably be a huge void between her legs too without the Hitman around.

-Bret’s kids run around backstage and play with all of the wrestlers. The Headbangers toss Bret’s son back and forth and Sunny chases them around the dressing room.

-Julie Hart and Earl Hebner share some words. If you watch closely, Earl never looks Julie in the eye ONCE when talking about how much he will miss Bret Hart.

Julie: “My kids have all grown up with them.. all of them. It’s kinda funny hugging everyone and saying ‘Take Care,’ ‘Stay in Touch,’ … you know they mean well. Some of them will keep in touch, but they’ll never see any of these guys again, they’ll just be a memory…”

-Bret’s son sits in a corner by himself crying. He says he doesn’t understand why his father is leaving the WWF and he is sad because he loves all of the people in the WWF.

Bret and Vince Meet in a Secret Location to Discuss the Finish of Tonight’s Match…

Bret wears a “wire.”

Bret: “I never wanted to leave here with any kind of bad feelings, but this week has been a bad week, and I feel a little betrayed to tell the truth.”

Vince: “I do to, a little bit. And again, all we’re talking about really is Ted Turner, that’s what’s coming between you and me, and that’s all. I can’t tell you how appreciative I always will be for everything you’ve done.”

Bret: “I didn’t want to leave with any problems, I actually didn’t want to leave at all, but I have no other choice. The way this whole thing has been depicted, it’s just really hard for me, as a hero here, to come up short this weekend… What do you want to do today then Vince ?”

Vince: “I’m open to anything”

Bret: “I just want to get through tonight, I think tommorow I should just go in, do my speech, and forfeit the title. It gives me a chance to go out in a nice way and to leave with my head up. I don’t have to beat Shawn, we could have a schmoz or whatever you want.”

Vince: “I would think it would a run-in type thing, but I’m open to anything. Like I said before, I’m determined that this is going to end up the right way.

-Pat Patterson talks to Bret about the match, and alludes to all the boys running in, which of course never happens.

“It’s ok, I just talked to Vince, it’s going to be a disqualification.”

Julie: “I don’t believe him.

Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels

Survivor Series 1997

Show Time:

-Highlights of the awesome match are shown set to dramatic music…

The Screwjob heard round the world:

-Bret goes to the top rope to deliver a double-axe handle, but Earl Hebner gets sandwiched between Michaels and Hart, resulting in a temporary knockout to the referee.

“We bumped the referee, the referee’s supposed to stay down, and then Shawn goes for the sharpshooter. I reverse it, the other guys run down, and the whole thing ends in a big schmoz.”

-Shawn puts on the Sharpshooter and immediately Earl Hebner jumps to his feet and motions for the bell. HBK’s music starts blasting throughout Montreal and Bret Hart is in stunned disbelief. Immediately, security creates a wall to make sure that no fans involve themselves.

“I reached around to grab Shawn’s leg and I could hear someone say, “Ring the Bell,” and at that moment I realized that it was Vince McMahon. Then I realized, that they screwed me. They really screwed me. The lousy bastards.”

-Bret pulls himself to his feet, stares directly down at Vince McMahon, and spits on him. Shawn Michaels is also LIVID, but that could very well be an act. Bret gives Vince two middle fingers as he retreats to the back as the crowd loudly chants, “BULLSHIT!” Owen, Jim Neidhart, and Davey Boy Smith come out to support Bret and to console him after the shocking turn of events.

-Bret is IRATE, as he jumps to the outside and begins destroying television monitors and tracing “WCW” into the air with his finger.

Bret retreats to the back stage area, looking for answers:

“THAT PIECE OF SHIT (Vince) HAS LOCKED HIMSELF IN HIS OFFICE”

Bret ends up in the locker room with just Shawn Michaels:

“Shawn you weren’t in on that”

HBK: “I had no f*cking idea, as god as my f*cking witness. My hands are clean of this one, I swear to god. I will not have any part of this.”

-Vince’s office door opens and Bret asks that the cameras be turned off. Bret enters Vince’s office…

-We cut about five minutes forward and see several wrestlers and security guards standing outside of Vince’s office as Julie Hart confronts Triple H about the screwjob.

Julie: “What, did you guys all have a meeting about this afternoon and decide what you were gonna do.”

Triple H: “None of us knew about it, I swear.”

Julie: “Don’t give me that shit Hunter, because you guys knew about it.”

Triple H: “I swear to God I knew nothing about it.”

Julie: “Well swear to god all you want Hunter, but one day God is going to STRIKE YOU DOWN.

Triple H: “I’m telling you the truth.”

Julie: “Save it.. You all go back to the hotel, have a few beers, and have a big laugh. Just remember some day Hunter, what goes around comes around.

Owen requests again that the camera be turned off.

-We catch back up with Bret Hart five minutes later. He’s kind of smirking to himself. Julie asks him what happened and he replies, Well somehow Vince… he ran into my fist… I drilled him… about as hard as I could…knocked him right out… and I told him to get out.

-Vince McMahon comes walking out of his office with his entourage several minutes later, sporting a black eye and a noticeable limp. Apparently, when Bret attacked Vince, Vince made a wrong step and ended up spraining his ankle as well.

Bret reflects on his attack on Vince McMahon:

“I think when the smoke cleared.. it was the right thing to do. There was no other choice but to get in there and punch Vince one time… and then let it go… That’s a Stu Hart judgement call.”

Vince’s Famous Speech:

“It’s too bad that a 14 year relationship was destroyed because one member of that relationship forgot that we’re in the Sports Entertainment Business… forgot where he came from. Bret Hart screwed Bret Hart, and he can look in the mirror and know that.”

Footage of a discussion of the incident on Off the Record:

Is there a right and is there a wrong ???

“There’s Bret Hart’s argument which may seem a bit naive, but to go back to something like Hamlet, Hamlet finds himself in a world in which he can find no moral values… but he still has personal integrity.. He keeps his word… he does what he promises what he will do… and that makes him a good man, even if he’s in a bad world.

-Footage is shown of Bret watching RAW the next night at home with his family as DX brings out the Bret Hart midget and begins verbally thrashing Bret Hart.

“It’s almost a fitting end to the Hitman character, because he never sold out, he never lost his integrity. Bret Hart came home, he’s fine. What they did is they murdered this Hitman character.”

-When the smoke cleared and the dust settled, their was only one man who deserved to take the fall for Montreal… Bret “The Hitman” Hart. Yes, Bret Hart did have “reasonable creative control” over his character, but what Bret was asking for was simply not reasonable. Bret wanted to walk out onto Monday Night Raw on his last night with the company and hand over the belt. He wanted to leave WWF as the World Champion, break the title’s lineage yet again, and waltz into WCW where he knew he would be hyped as have never lost the WWF Title to begin with. That’s straight-up unreasonable. Bret Hart was not your cookie-cutter WWF Champion. He didn’t fit the pre-conceived mold that Vince McMahon had conditioned the world to have of what a World Champion should be. He wasn’t as bigger-than-life as Hulk Hogan was, he wasn’t as built as the Ultimate Warrior was, and he wasn’t as charismatic as Randy Savage was. Vince McMahon took Bret Hart in from Stampede Wrestling as a personal favor to Bret’s father Stu. Vince is the one who gave Bret Hart his first semi-push as a singles wrestler back in ’86 or so. Vince McMahon is the one who gave Bret Hart his first Intercontinental Title back at Summerslam ’91 against Mr. Perfect, when the belt actually MEANT something. Vince is the man responsible for putting Bret Hart over Ric Flair in Bret’s own hometown for his first ever WWF World Championship. Vince allowed Bret Hart to use Wrestlemania X as his own personal stepping stone to not only stardom, but also to a GREAT feud with his brother Owen. Vince McMahon had the confidence in Bret Hart to risk putting him in the ring with Shawn Michaels for 63 minutes at the biggest WWF PPV of the year. And Vince McMahon had the foresight to reinvigorate the waning babyface persona of Bret Hart with his absolutely PERFECT heel turn.

Bret Hart worked his ass off for over a decade to get where he was on the night of Montreal Screwjob, but he ultimately couldn’t have done any of it without the help and support of Vince McMahon. As much as I hate to say that about Vince, it’s the truth. Because of the opportunities that Vince McMahon had given Bret Hart, Bret was now in a position to go to WCW and make enough money to live VERY comfortably off of for the rest of his life. He had Vince to thank for that. All that was asked of Bret in return for everything that the WWF had done for him was for him to go out and do the RIGHT thing. The time honored tradition in wrestling is to do the job on your way out. Kevin Nash did it to Shawn Michaels. Scott Hall did it to HHH. Ric Flair did it to Mr. Perfect. HULK HOGAN even did the job for Yokozuna. It’s common courtesy to put someone else over on your way out to protect the credibility of the company that you were leaving. How is Bret Hart any different than any of the previously mentioned names ? So what if he didn’t like Shawn Michaels and didn’t want to put him over. BE A MAN and do the right thing, even if it means putting someone over that you don’t particularly like. There’s no unwritten rule that says, “If you are leaving a company, you must put someone else over for the title, UNLESS you don’t like the person you are asked to put over.” Shawn Michaels WAS the WWF’s top draw as Bret was stepping down, and he was the man who definitely should have received the title.

Bret Hart refused to lose the match, but his reasons are what made the whole thing so damn intriguing. It wasn’t a matter of selfishness, it wasn’t a matter of pride, and it wasn’t a matter of stubbornness. It was a matter in which, in Bret’s eyes, the good guy just HAD to prevail. In his own eyes, Bret was that good guy. In a day and age when societal morals were at an all time low, Bret Hart refused to be just another wrestler being fashionably bad. Bret knew that his true fans still saw him as the good guy, and he knew that if he allowed himself to lose to Shawn Michaels, it would be far more than a loss for Bret Hart… it would be a figurative loss for goodness and morality itself. Bret saw his feud with Shawn Michaels as far more than a generic wrestling feud… he saw it as a plight. It was a plight of good versus evil, purity versus corruption, and morality against sin. If Shawn were to have beaten him in the middle of the ring, Bret believed that it would have told the world that evil will get you further in life than personal integrity. Bret’s tragic flaw was his undying loyalty and his vast personal integrity. Both of these traits really aren’t even “flaws,” but Bret Hart held both of them in such high standings that it ultimately got him screwed. This crazy society that we all cohabitate in walks all over people like Bret Hart, and that’s the sad truth. Bret Hart never backed down from what he believed in, and he never stopped trying to set a positive example to his waning fan base. For that, Bret Hart should be commended.

*Note:: I wrote a short one page outline of how Bret Hart fit each and every one of the six characteristics of a Tragic Hero to an almost frightening level, but it just didn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the review. To access the deleted scene, click *here*

Did Vince McMahon do the right thing by orchestrating the screwjob finish to the match ? YOU BET YOUR BOTTOM DOLLAR he did. There is NO way that Bret Hart could leave Montreal with the title and be allowed to hand it over the next night on Raw. That would be so incredibly detrimental to the WWF on SO many levels. Not only would WCW have the added bonus of advertising Bret Hart as having never lost the title, but the WWF would also suffer itself due to the cheapened nature of the belt after this occurrence. But was Bret Hart a stubborn crybaby for refusing to job the title to Shawn Michaels… no he wasn’t. Selfish? No. Delusional ? Maybe. Proud ? You bet. Bret was a man who refused to let a business as corrupt as wrestling stand in the way of what he felt was right and wrong. There’s no real answer as to who was right and who was wrong as it pertains to the now famous screwjob of ’97, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t one of the most intriguing stories to ever unfold in this crazy business we all love so much.

– Well, I guess that pretty much sums things up as far as this issue is concerned. Thanks for taking the time to read through this review, I know it was a bit on the lenghty side. Thanks for the continued support, it means alot.

-In closing, I’d like to address something that worries me. About an hour ago, I found out that a reader in which I regularly correspond with has recently taken his own life. That’s scary. To those people in question, and any other people who may feel the same way, it’s not the right solution to your problems. The most important thing you can have in life is hope. Hope is what keeps you going from day to day. Even if yesterday wasn’t the greatest day ever, and today was much worse, PLEASE never stop believing that tommorow will be the day that everything changes. Little things, like the girl in the back of your class, the promotion you’re one step away from, or the big PPV next week, all provide hope. These little things give you something to think about when you go to sleep and give you something to look forward to throughout your day. When you stop believing in these little things is when the world turns gray. Ending your own life is the most self-demeaning thing you can ever do. Even if society, your girlfriend, or your boss gives up on you, NEVER give up on yourself. By taking the easy way out, you are doing nothing but proving yourself to be a quitter. Even if you think that you live the most miserable existence in the universe, there are always thousands of people who have it far worse than you do, so just grit your teeth and bear it, and I PROMISE you that things will improve.

-I’ll catch you guys soon enough with whatever I happen to grab out of the secret tape box in the closet next. As always, please feel free to drop me an *email* with any questions, comments, concerns, general feedback, etc… SO much time goes into these damn things, and it’s always nice to hear from people who actually take the time to read them and agree/disagree with various points made. It means a lot. And as always, suggestions for forthcoming tape reviews are always welcome and invited, as I usually have a tough time trying to decide on what exactly to review. Hope you guys have a damn good week!!!

Ken Anderson@aol.com