Sunday, September 4, 2016

Bret Hart's 20 year deal

Happier times for Vince McMahon & Bret Hart
Courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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In the fall of 1996 Vince McMahon's WWF was losing the Monday Night Wars. The WWF's flagship show, Monday Night Raw was getting whooped each week by WCW's Monday Nitro. Big time former WWF Superstars like Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Razor Ramon and Diesel had all jumped ship. Roddy Piper was soon to head south as well.

McMahon was worried about losing his remaining big stars and in an effort to keep his popular former champion, Bret "The Hitman" Hart in place, he offered the Excellence of Execution a 20 year contract. Had the deal been honored, Hart would just now be wrapping up that obligation. It's hard to believe two decades have passed since then and all the things that happened in between.

The Montreal Screwjob
Courtesy: WWE

We know a year into the deal McMahon and Hart came to the conclusion it would be in Bret's best interest to sign with WCW. Bruce Prichard and Conrad Thompson talk at length about the situation in the most recent episode of Something to Wrestle With.

It would definitely be interesting to see what would have happened had Vince not been in a financial bind and allow Bret to negotiate with WCW. The Montreal Screwjob would have never happened. That moment is what many people believe helped turn the tide for the WWF in the battle for ratings supremacy. Would the Monday Night Wars have been a thing? Would WCW continue to run roughshod over WWF? How much longer would Bret have wrestled before transitioning into an agent? 

Bret vs. Goldberg
Courtesy: WWE
Bret was 40 when he left for WCW. He was one of the most active and hardest working guys in the ring. He could have easily continued on for at least a few years. We all know he suffered that career ending injury against Goldberg in 2000. He likely would have stayed in the ring full-time in WWF until 2002 (age 45) before moving into a behind the scenes guy. But Hart would have still been a part of programming, much like Sgt. Slaughter, Pat Patterson and Mick Foley did after their respective retirements.

Competition between WCW and WWF would have carried on, but I don't know that Vince would have bought WCW without the screwjob to launch it all. That's when we saw Mr. McMahon develop as a bad guy and a whole new way of producing wrestling shows was born. 

Bret vs. Vince
Courtesy: WWE
What do you think? Did Hart's departure aid in the WWF's eventual dominance in the Monday Night Wars? Would there have been another hot angle to help launch the assault had Bret stayed? Steve Austin was destined to become champion, but with the foil of Mr. McMahon ratings started going through the roof for the company.

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