Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Screwed!

The Screw Job (from WWE)
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger on Twitter

I need to start this post out by saying I have not yet watched the Greatest Rivalries: Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels DVD, but since November 9 is the anniversary of the infamous "Screw Job", I felt compelled to write about the subject.

It was Survivor Series 1997.  I had just moved to Alabama to start a new job, and money was really tight.  So I did not order the pay per view.  But thanks to the cable system we had, I was able to cheat and watch it on what most of  us know as "scramble vision".  The audio was perfect, but the picture of course looked like it was being run through a blender.  Anyway, I sat and watched and listened and even joined a wrestling chat on AOL (remember those?) as the action played out.

The result of the main event left me in shock.  I think a lot of fans were.  At that stage in my viewing, I really was pledging allegiance to one side over the other.  By then I was solidly behind "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.  I liked both Hart and Michaels, but I think at that time I preferred Shawn's cocky heel persona over the whiny anti-American character Bret had become.

With the result of the show though, it was clear that Bret was indeed finished with Vince McMahon and the WWF.  Vince, with a black eye courtesy of Bret, tried to explain the next night on Raw what happened.  He told fans that he didn't screw Bret, but that Bret screwed Bret.  Sadly for Bret though, this was really the end of his career in my view.  When he arrived in WCW, he almost immediately seemed to be lost in the shuffle.  Then he suffered that kick from Goldberg that essentially ended his career.  Another set back with the stroke, and I thought we'd seen the last of the Hitman for sure.

Making amends (from WWE)
But we hadn't.  I'm glad that Bret came back to the WWE, not only to get inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006 (which I was in attendance for), but also to make amends with Shawn.  It was nice to see the two of them shake hands and embrace, and for Bret to get a little revenge on Vince at Wrestlemania 26.  Sure the match was far from what Bret was capable of 15 years ago, but it was good to get closure to something that was so real for so long.

The Kliq's final goodbye
I'll also make another admission.  I've read Bret's book "Hitman."  Honestly, it's a great read.  If you haven't checked it out, I would highly recommend it.  But do this, read Shawn's book, "Heartbreak and Triumph" first.  I've tried reading it a couple of times after reading Bret's and I just feel like the things Shawn is saying are lies.  I hate to pick sides on the issue, but I really do think Bret got screwed by Vince and Shawn knew at least more than what he let on in the book.  Plus, I really grew tired of "the Kliq" and reading about all the backstage stunts they pulled really solidifies my support of the Hitman.

But then again, it's Vince's company and he does have to protect what is his.  He'd been embarrassed earlier by Madusa (Alundra Blayze) dumping the WWF Women's title in the trash on a live Nitro.  While I don't think Bret would have done that, who knows what Eric Bischoff and company would have had up their sleeves.  And before you point out that Ric Flair brought the WCW title to the WWF in 1991, I know.  But Flair never did anything to humiliate that title or company.

Screw Job 2.0
Anyway, in the years since the Screw Job, the WWF and even TNA have done reenactments of the event.  The first happened a year later at the 1998 Survivor Series.  I think Chad is planning to write more about that later (as he was in attendance).  TNA has done it at least once with Kurt Angle and someone.  Sorry, I forget who else was involved and I'm not motivated enough to Google it.  I think it was also about to happen again during the match with CM Punk and John Cena at Money in the Bank when Cena knocked out John Laurinaitis on his way to the ring.

I guess the bottom line is that time does heal all wounds.  It seems like all three sides (Vince, Bret, and Shawn) are at least talking to one another and willing to work together.  I'm glad it has a somewhat happy ending, although I know there was a lot of bitterness and resentment through the years.

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