Subscribe to the podcast via: iTunes | RSS Feed | Email Newsletter
“Bret Screwed Bret” – In some ways it was quite a weird pair of interviews on the third Raw of the month, a pre-taped effort that was filled in part with two extended sit-down interviews in a TV studio with Vince McMahon and JR. In the background, separating the pair, was a full portrait of Bret Hart. It does bear remembering how much the WWF focussed on Hart in the weeks following Survivor Series; perhaps they had no choice but it really does worth saying that the fallout of the screwjob threw the WWF out of whack.
The interviews were just a bit weird. McMahon, still sporting a shiner from the punch that Bret levelled him with, pointed out the “lifelong wrestling tradition” of “passing it on” when you leave – which was about as overt as McMahon could get without saying “you should lose when you leave”. It was a wide-ranging interview that was clearly loaded (the “Bret screwed Bret” line was as a result, in part, of the opening question “did you ‘screw’ Bret Hart?”). Must-watch, but not in the sense you might think.
Anvil Around Your Neck – Given that the two Raw’s that followed Survivor Series were taped in the two days following the show, it was only the final Raw of the month, taped live, where we could really get a gauge of what the WWF looked like in a post-Bret Hart work. They were still talking about Bret, as they would be into December, but with Owen Hart and the British Bulldog out of action, eyes turned to both Ken Shamrock and Rocky Maivia to oppose the WWF’s now two biggest stars – Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin respectively.
The big angle on the show was Shawn Michaels promising a return and confrontation with Bret Hart – this turned out to be a dwarf dressed as Bret who summarily tapped out in the sharpshooter. Once he was done with out came Jim Neidhart, who the WWF were so confident WCW wouldn’t want in the aftermath of the screwjob was still working without a contract.
Anvil was the defacto spokesmen of the now on life-support Hart Foundation. And him being the spokesperson given that was, by some distance, the worst talker of the group was probably a sign of what was to come. Anvil timidly said that Owen was mentally struggling with the events in Montreal, and Bulldog was nursing a knee injury – hardly the most scathing endorsement for a pair who at the time at least were both still under contract.
Still, though, Michaels gave the Anvil an offer – to join Degeneration-X. Then following the main event they even teased an allegiance before Michaels and Helmsley turned on him. The whole thing left the one remaining Hart Foundation member looking like a complete dick. Of course, that was exactly the point, with the view that it would diminish any power he might have to draw in WCW. A couple of months later he would join WCW. No, he didn’t draw any money.
Welcoming Party – On the 10th of November, the night after Survivor Series, WCW had a one hour lead on Monday Night Raw and, more importantly, they had an announcement to make. They of course, milked it for all it was worth, as the entire NWO came to the ring, welcomed back the returning Kevin Nash before the getting to the big deal. Bret Hart would be joining the NWO. Once Nash got his stuff about Giant out of the way, it was time for the announcement and singing the Canadian national anthem... badly.
The announcement, in some ways, was quite botched. Bischoff announcement was more a blink and you’ll miss it, as he said “and Bret Hart, I know you’re a knockout kind of guy” – in reference to Bret knocking out Vince McMahon after Survivor Series. Hogan credited Bret for “passing the initiation” before the whole NWO sang the anthem – although Bischoff had to hand over the mic half way through as he couldn’t read the lyrics. All a bit... weird.
Shuffling The Deck – In the list of “secondary” fall-out after the screwjob was just who didn’t turn up for the Raw tapings after the pay-per-view. Along with Bret, Owen and Bulldog was also the non-appearance of Mick Foley, who missed the first night but did at least come back for the second. It meant that not only was the WWF even lighter than normal on main event level talent.
That left Michaels going back and forth with Ken Shamrock – a guy who the WWF were finally coming to some sort of uneasy equilibrium with having worked out they couldn’t present him as the killer they needed to (see Goldberg) – Steve Austin with Rocky “The Rock” Maivia – one very much ahead of it’s time and… continuing the them of young talent facing off, Hunter Hearst Helmsley going against… Sergeant Slaughter. Because, of course he was.
When Your Pager Says Three One Six – In probably the only noteworthy WWF event in November that didn't directly involve or relate to Bret Hart was an Austin/Rock angle on the 29th. Demonstrating further Austin's ability to both dick around and be entertaining, Austin followed "ROCKY SUCKS" flickering on the Tron by appearing in the production truck: "When you look down at your beeper and see the 3:16 you know you're gonna get your ass whipped. Rock, is it live or is it Memorex?" With that Rocky looked down at his pager, then turned around to find Austin stood right behind him. Austin handed Rocky his ass before scarpering with the IC title in his possession.