For Your Consideration…Bret Hart Returns to RAW

For Your Consideration…Bret Hart Returns to RAW

(Before I begin, I wanna plug my “For Your Consideration…Defining a Decade” column that went up on Friday. It got buried under tons of news about tonight’s head-to-head battle, so I think a bunch of folks might have missed out on it. I’m pretty proud of it, and I hope you take some time to read it http://tinyurl.com/yl57nyx here and drop a comment or two. Thanks. Alright, let’s get to the damn column.)

Welcome to the Monday Night WAR…ya know, except it isn’t really all that competitive. I am going to do a TNA write-up, but like any true wrestling fan, I’m watching RAW. I sat through the first hour of TNAwful’s Monday Madness, and nothing kept me from tuning over to RAW (though I have been having fun bitching about TNA’s awful product on Twitter at twitter.com/awheeler316).

Honestly, here in lies the fatal flaw with TNA’s strategy. They want to go after the old fans that used to watch wrestling but have “moved on”. That’s why they got Hogan and Flair and the n.W.o., because they honestly believed that this is what Old School fans wanted.

It isn’t.

We’ve seen the n.W.o. and Hogan return a few years ago, and the ratings didn’t explode. We watched Flair retire, and that was how we wanted to remember him. We’ve seen Jeff Hardy show up and flake so many times that supporting him just seems illogical. Unfortunately for TNA, there’s one thing we haven’t seen, and it’s big enough to get the casual fans to tune in.

We haven’t seen Bret Hart in the WWE.

We haven’t seen Bret in the ring with Vince or Shawn in over 12 years. It is, with the exception of Warrior and Savage, the only true surprise left to see in wrestling. Not Hogan doing his tired shtick over and over. Not bloated Hall reminding us of how far he’s fallen. Not Ric Flair sullying his great retirement any further.

The second Bret Hart’s music hits and he comes through that curtain, any traces of mark-dom will return and spark that feeling in fans that we’ve sorely missed. It won’t last, but it’s strong enough to get us to tune into Monday Night RAW.

“The best there is, the best there was, the best there ever will be.”

We open with a video package of Bret Hart’s legacy (which is pretty much what we got last week) before again going into the Montreal Screwjob. “Bret Hart screwed Bret Hart.”

This is followed by Vince and Shawn in the ring from last week, with Shawn promising that “only good things will happen”. My guess is that Hornswoggle is coming out dressed as midget Bret Hart.

We open on the live crowd chanting “We want Bret” as Justin Roberts introduces Bret “The Hitman” Hart. I hear the music, but it’s tweaked for some reason. I guess this is the NEW Bret Hart music, which I’m sure will be on a WWE CD.

There he is. He’s wearing jean shorts and a leather jacket, but it’s really him. Bret finally gets some pyro for his entrance as he walks to the ring. Unfortunately, he’s wearing Aviator sunglasses instead of the old cheap plastic pink ones. He gets in the ring, spreads his arms and does the old routine and the fans love it. Now THIS is nostalgia we can believe in.

Bret looks pretty good, aside from an odd blonde dye job that makes him look like a lost Von Erich. He says that he guesses that hell froze over. He says that every time he’s tried to come back, Vince has told him “No.” That got some true heel heat. Bret calls the fans the WWE Universe so that we know that he’s playing corporate ball.

The fans start a “Welcome Back” chant and he thanks the fans for never being forgotten. He owes everything to the WWE Universe (good and bad, I suppose). Bret says that he won his first King of the Ring in that arena, before saying that Lawler jumped him. Yay for continuity.

Bret calls out Shawn Michaels and this is legitimately pretty damn awesome. No matter how cynical and jaded you are as a wrestling fan (and anyone that reads me knows that I’m pretty critical), you have imagined a moment like this. Sure enough, here comes Shawn in his DX gear. No glowsticks thankfully.

They stand face-to-face and this could be great. Bret says that he wants to call a truce. Shawn says that before Bret gets his closure, he has something he’s waited 12 years to say. “You deserved what happened 12 years ago in Montreal.” Well damn. “You disrespected me and this business.” Shawn then admits that he was in on the whole thing (not a big shocker) and the fans start a “You Screwed Bret” chant.

Shawn says that there’s a big part of him that doesn’t regret it but there’s another part of him that knows that a lot of things have changed in their lives. Shawn says that he didn’t think that Bret respected him and that when he thinks of Bret Hart, he thinks of Anaheim and the Ironman Match. Michaels points out that the match redefined the industry and that Bret Hart was the Excellence of Execution. “You’re not the only one carrying this around for 12 years. You’re not the only one that’s ready to move on. You’re not the only one who wants to bury the hatchet. I guess all I have to say is ‘Are you sure and are you ready?’”.

Bret says that Shawn wasn’t the easiest guy to love. Their careers shouldn’t be tagged by Survivor Series and Bret says that they can be friends. He offers his hand in friendship and if this is a heel turn by either man, that’s brilliant. Shawn shakes his hand and the place erupts. Well, that certainly happened.

Shawn goes to leave the ring, but pauses and then hugs Bret. Well, it was a bit anti-climactic in terms of a good story, but as a wrestling moment, it closed a major chapter. Wait, Bret says that he has one more thing to ask. He calls out Vince McMahon and wants to see him face-to-face like a couple of silver spoons (What? My temporary hold on sarcasm for the sake of a good moment is officially over and your regularly scheduled FYC will continue).

Bret calls out Vince again but we awkwardly go to a graphic for Orton and Kingston. We will also see DX against JeriShow for the Unified Tag Team Championship.

Commercial.

WWE gave us a historic moment. TNA gave us the WWE circa 2002.

Awkwardly, we see a HOF commercial with Ric Flair, who I’m pretty sure is busy embarrassing himself on TNA right now.

We’re back and Josh Matthews is standing outside of Mr. McMahon’s door. Vince clomps up and claims he was in a meeting and didn’t know he was called out. Vince says he will call Bret out…later tonight.

Jerry Lawler and Michael “Important Nights Require Ties” Cole welcome us back and tell us that Melina has been stripped of her Tramp Stamp Title. This means tourney time!

Out first is Maryse, who was stripped of the title because of HER injury, so she’ll win this whole deal. Her opponent is Brie Bella, who comes down with Nikki. Maryse slaps Brie, who charges at her. Brie shows some wrestling moves, including a dropkick. Maryse goes out of the ring and Nikki slams her face into the announce table. Well that should be a damn disqualification! Come on ref! Do your job! This is for the…snicker…prestigious…Divas…title…

The Bella Twins pull the old switcheroo but Maryse hits her DDT (dubbed the French Kiss, FYI) for the dirty pin. Maryse is our first winner before we get to hear Miz’s NEW theme song. Now that is a main event theme song. Miz says that he might just call Maryse back if she wins the tournament. This could be a true main event pairing. Maybe they will do with Miz and Maryse what they should have done with Dolph and Maria. Miz declares this his decade and he does sing-a-long to his catchphrase.

We are getting a four-way match for the US Title. Our first is MVP and am I the only one who misses his old inflatable tunnel? That thing was great. Jack Swagger is out next, and this match apparently consists of nothing but aborted pushes. Next out should be Tatanka. Swagger does some push-ups as we head to…

Commercial.

We’re back and apparently the match already started. Carlito and Mark Hey-Hey Henry are your other combatants, and Henry is already out cold thanks to a Carl sneak attack. Swagger is in the ring pulling out the awesome with a huge slam on Ito. He then hits a belly-to-belly suplex and maybe the WWE is really going to give this guy a legit push again.

Mix drops that he and Spencer Pratt were watching RAW on Tivo. Nice touch. Swagger splashes Carl and MVP before Henry comes into the ring. Porter goes after Henry and Henry dumps him over the top rope. Lawler drops that they are former partners, so I guess Team Random Black is no more.

Henry picks up Carlito and uses him to take down Swagger. He then locks in a bear hug but Swagger breaks it up. Henry scoops up Swagger onto his shoulders but appears to have forgotten what move he was gonna do. MVP kicks Henry in the face before kicking him out of the ring. Carlito is out and Swagger is in and MVP goes for the Playmaker (which he nearly botches) for the pinfall. So Porter is the #1 Contender. Huzzah. If you listen closely, you can hear Pulse Glazer’s hear explode.

Hey, maybe MVP will take the title off of Miz so that Miz can climb to bigger and better things.

JeriShow are in the back and Big Show talks to Chris like he’s an idiot and mentions that if they lose, Jericho is off of RAW. Chris is going to propose a deal to Bret Hart as he walks towards…

Commercial.

We’re back and Fozzy is the official Royal Rumble theme song.

We’re in the back and Bret and some random guy are in the back. Jericho says that they have a lot of history thanks to the Dungeon before downplaying the Bret/Shawn reunion. Chris asks Bret to be the guest referee and pull out another Screwjob. Hart says that he wants to put it to bed forever and says that he truly wants peace. Bret says that unlike Jericho, he doesn’t wanna be a hypocrite. Hart ends it by saying that Jericho was the loudest screamer in the bunch, so take that for what you will.

Hornswoggle is in the back with Triple H and a bunch of action figures. Hornswoggle will get to play with the toys if DX beats JeriShow. Shawn shows up and is back in DX wacky mode, pointing out that Hornswoggle isn’t a kid because he has a beard. Santino wanders onto the camera dressed like Chris Jericho and cuts a fake JeriPromo. Hornswoggle attacks him. Ya hear that, TNA? Who needs your wrestling when we have Santino being mauled by a midget?

Commercial.

It’s amazing how quick this show is going. It feels like it actually has some life to it. It’s almost as if Vince McMahon has prior experience competing with inferior wrestling shows or something.

Oh, and WWE is now a top tracking topic on Twitter. Thanks for letting me know that that’s a thing, TNA.

Wow, TNA has a commercial airing during RAW saying that TNA is on now and is the only place to be. That’s pretty ballsy. Stupid, but ballsy.

We’re back and it’s time for DX/JeriShow. When your 10pm main event is your last PPV’s main event, you kinda realize how badly Vince wants to flatten TNAwful.

DX gets their full glowstick entrance, including the fucking midget. You know, for all my hatred of Hornswoggle, he’s still better than X-Pac.

Well…it’s JeriShow. So I doubt seriously that this will be Chris’s last legit match on RAW, but on the other hand I don’t think the WWE wants to blow DX/Hart Dynasty at the Rumble. Conundrum.

Big Show and Michaels start it out trading chops in the corner. How much must it eat Bret up inside to be sitting where he is while Shawn still can go at pretty much full speed?

DX gets suplexed by Big Show and we go to…

Commercial.

We’re back and Big Show is pounding away on Triple H. Hunter hits a knee drop but eats a sidewalk slam. Cole points out that it was thunderous. That’s why he’s got his job.

I see a copyright logo, which means Cole has to remind us we’re watching RAW. Thanks Cole. I thought it was TNA, but then I realized I was watching older men that can actually still wrestle.

Jericho is in now and he’s pounding away on Triple H. Apparently TNA just announced their main event is going to be Kurt Angle against AJ Styles for the TNA Title. So their response to RAW is to pull a Hogan/Goldberg, only they didn’t have the foresight to ADVERTISE IT.

Jericho and Hunter do the slow tag but Chris wins so Big Show flattens Triple H. Hunter gets a window of opportunity and he gets the hot tag to Shawn. We are getting a lively match, which isn’t too surprising given the combatants.

By the way, how funny is it that two of the biggest names to jump ship from WCW to the WWE are tagging on the return of the Monday Night War?

Shawn goes to the top rope but Jericho crotches him. The midget runs in and splashes Big Show. Shawn goes for a pinfall but gets the major push-up kickout so you know he wasn’t hurt. Shawn tunes up the band but eats a Chokeslam. Cole tries to scream in excitement but he loses his breath and his voice cracks like a Brady.

Jericho is in now and he gets the Walls of Jericho but Shawn spins him out of it and Jericho eats a Pedigree. Big Show makes the Big Save and then goes for the Big Chokeslam but Hunter hits a Big Pedigree before rolling out of the Big Ring.

DX is in the ring but Jericho shoves Hunter into Shawn and gets two from a roll-up. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that these kids are gonna go far. Jericho hits a Codebreaker but is too tired to make the pin. Don’t worry Chris, you sent a message by showing us that you COULD do it, and knowing is half the battle. Jericho goes for the pin and gets two.

The midget comes into the ring and goes for Sweet Chin Music and Jericho PUNTS HIM IN THE HEAD. Jericho locks in the Walls on Hunter but eats a Superkick and that’ll do it.

I don’t wanna declare this too early, but Chris Jericho kicking the midget in the skull was moment of the decade. Speaking of which, read my Best of the Decade review. It’ll be well worth your time.

Hunter gets on the mic and says that Chris Jericho is finished on RAW. Ya know, Hunter kinda comes of like a dick. Shawn says that if Chris isn’t down with that, he apparently can fellatio them. Big Show abandons Jericho as Chris finally wakes up and takes, what Lawler calls, the walk of shame. Shocked Jerry noticed that since most of the time when he sees that happen, it usually involves women much younger than Chris.

Someone’s knocking on Vince’s door and it’s…Randy Orton. Vince says that Orton has a lot of nerve knocking on McMahon’s door. Why? Because he tried to kill him, his son, his son-in-law and his daughter? Randy proposes that he will kick Bret Hart in the skull in exchange for being Rumble entrant #30. Vince says that he has his own security and then dismisses Orton, which of course means that Randy will show up later tonight.

Legacy greets Randy in the hallway and thanks him for giving them those awful matches last week. Apparently they will be ringside and if Orton loses to Kingston, he’s out of Legacy. Wow, if only someone who writes a column exactly like this had called such a thing.

Commercial.

We’re back and next week “Iron” Mike Tyson will be our Guest GM. Guess Shawn will be settling scores every week.

Next up is a replay of John Cena failing to win the title from Sheamus via disqualification. Sheamus then beat the crap out of Cena, and hit him so hard that tonight he has to go flip a coin at the Fiesta Bowl. Devastating.

Here comes Sheamus, and for some reason I wanna get a glass of milk. Nope, I’m not proud of that obvious joke either. You’d think I would step it up for the Monday Night War, but to be fair this show is only going head-to-head with TNA.

“Las week, Cena culdna beat me. Aye did exactla what aye said aya wahd. Two tousand and nine was groundbreakin an for ta Roomble, I wanna new challenge.” He then calls himself the best there is, was, and will be. He then gets interrupted by Evan Bourne. Yes, you read that correctly, Evan Bourne.

Bourne steals the microphone and asks for an opportunity. If the WWE has Bourne beat Sheamus, TNA might as well pack it up and call it a decade right now. Seriously, does Vince have the balls to do this? Probably not, but this is definitely something buzzworthy.

The bell rings and Bourne is pulling out legit kids. No Token Offense here. Bourne goes to the top rope and goes for AirBourne. It connects but only gets two. Wow, that was a pretty exciting moment. Bourne goes off the top rope but gets caught by Sheamus and he delivers the old Razor Ramon toss. Seriously, he’s like a giant pale Scott Hall, only given his Irish heritage, he could probably hold his liquor.

The fans chant for Cena as he Sheamus hits the bicycle kick. He then connects with the Razors Edge and that’ll do it. Short and to the point but with moments of actual intrigue. Sure the match sucked, but at least it had bits of true excitement.

Cole and Lawler go to the super serious voices to give condolences to “Dr. Death” Steve Williams. It’s a shame he never got to really shine in the WWE thanks to Bart Gunn. I’m glad the WWE actually acknowledged his death, unlike the Umaga debacle. A surprising show of class by Vince McMahon, who knew?

Commercial.

We’re back and we get to watch the Bret Hart promo again but with extended parts featuring Bret’s comments from the DVD.

Here comes Kofi Kingston and he has his pyro back! This is Ghana be a great match.

Commercial.

We’re back and I hear voices. Thankfully they aren’t telling me to switch to TNA.

Orton is coming down to the ring and Legacy are sitting ringside in folding chairs. Seriously, would it kill the WWE to get some plush chairs for talent? Health care is one thing, but comfort isn’t that hard to dole out.

Orton and Kofi start off with a bit of a feeling out process followed by Kofi jumping around a lot. He splashes Orton in the corner before clotheslining him out of the ring. He follows up with a dropkick and Legacy doesn’t jump him. Ooh, intrigue. Randy snags Kingston for the second rope DDT but gets launched out of the ring. Cole’s voice cracks again, which means it’s time for…

Commercial.

We’re back and Orton has a chinlock on Kofi and the ratings. Wait, no, just Kofi. We get a replay of Orton apparently launching Kingston like a lawn dart during the commercial break. Orton is delivering the old Garvin Stomp to Kofi, which thankfully draws some boos. Ya know, because he’s a heel.

Kofi begins his comeback but both men collide in the center of the ring and they are down. Cole reminds us that if Randy loses, Legacy will beat him down. You know, despite the fact that they got manhandled by John Cena. And Triple H. And I’m pretty sure Mark Henry.

Kingston hits an uppercut before connecting with a Russian Leg Sweep. Well, a Ghanan Leg Sweep. Kofi dumps Orton to the outside and follows. Back in he his a crossbody for two. So far this match has yet to click at that level that we hoped it would, but it’s been pretty entertaining.

Orton goes for the RKO but it gets reversed into the SOS and I swear Randy broke his neck there. Kofi goes for Trouble in Paradise but Randy hits the RKO outta nowhere and it’s over. So I guess that Kofi Kingston face push is pretty much over and done with, huh?

Kofi seemed to have true momentum for a few weeks, but jobbing a few times cleanly to Randy Orton has done him no favors. The audience didn’t seem really behind Kingston here when they had motivation not just to root FOR him, but to root AGAINST Orton. Not sure what their thinking is here, but all I can say is that it’ll be tough for them to get Kofi back over again. Not impossible, but tough.

Commercial.

Tomorrow night on ECW, Mark Hey-Hey Henry takes on CM Punk in ECW Homecoming, so cancel those plans to sleep.

We’re back and here comes Vince McMahon. He wishes us a Happy New Year. He says that there is no reason to call Bret Hart out because Montreal ended when Shawn and Bret buried the hatchet. Vince then tells us that next week we’ll get Mike Tyson. He was the baddest man on the planet, ya know (and a former DX Member…like Tori).

Bret Hart shows up without music and walks to the ring. He takes off his leather jacket and this could be good. Vince says the fans wanna see Bret apply the Sharpshooter, but he asks Bret to be the bigger man. McMahon believes that Bret screwed himself and he will never forget Hart spitting in his face. He won’t forget being suckerpunched. He won’t forget Bret disrespecting him at the Hall of Fame. Vince is using the super serious voice here, so we know its “real”. Vince asks to hear “I’m sorry” but he isn’t trying to provoke him.

Bret says that he has two words for Vince, and they aren’t “I’m sorry.” Bret says this feeling of burying the hatchet is the best feeling in the world. Hart says that he wants Vince to find peace. Vince says that in the interest of being honest, he wants peace just as badly as Bret does. McMahon reminisces Bret’s appearance at Wrestlemania 2 with Andre and that Hart was the future. Yeah, that’s why he jobbed him out to Yokozuna for Hogan’s ego. Vince says that Bret truly was the excellence of execution. McMahon says that he was a father figure to Bret before saying that Stu Hart is why so many people are in the business. Vince nominates Stu Hart for the Hall of Fame to boot.

Vince then personally thanks Bret for all of his accomplishments and all the thrilling moments he gave the WWE Universe. Either they are building some wicked tension or this is kinda sappy. Bret thanks him for being the best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be. Vince and Bret shake hands and Vince raises Bret’s hand. Well that was kinda crazy.

Vince then hits a low blow on Bret Hart to signify where the “real” stuff ended and the “angle” began. You gotta believe that this was Vince being genuine, which was nice, but I’m glad they pulled the trigger on the angle.

Hart gets up with hands on his hips and he looks all pissed off, but we’re outta time. Hart/McMahon at Wrestlemania seems like a lock.

This has been for your consideration.

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