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Bret vs. Vince, A Morality Play?
Male Bovine Droppings! 

December 4, 2003

by Rick Scaia  
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


[NOTE FROM THE PRESENT DAY: Time heals all wounds, or so they say.  Six years ago, wrestling was definitely waxing in terms of mainstream popularity: Nitro was a juggernaut, the WWF had righted its ship with the genesis of the Attitude Era, and when the Montreal Screwjob came in November of '97, I can't recall EVER having seen such large groups of wrestling fans more vocal or united.  It got to the point where I actually felt fans were making a bigger deal out of it than the participants.

So, in the guise of my one-time nWWWo alter-ego and about three weeks after the Screwjob, I called for those fans to get a grip on reality.  Yes, I argued, Vince McMahon fixed the ending at Survivor Series '97.  But isn't the fix in every night?  Here, with six years of perspective, it's a pretty sensible viewpoint.  The fact that Bret Hart and the renamed WWE are again on speaking terms certain goes a long way to support the idea that I was onto something back then.  But it sure took time before very many folks came around to that way of thinking.  Back then, in December of '97, I might as well have tried taking down the Great Wall of China by repeatedly ramming into it, headfirst.  This is one of those times where, thankfully, I think history has vindicated me.  

So snap yourself off nice big shank of The Rick's Genius Pie, circa six years ago!]

"Big Daddy Who?" Column #3:  "Bullshit"
Originally Published by nWWWo.com on December 1, 1997

Today's topic will once again be Bret Hart.

And today's buzzword is:


Those of you with some semblance of intellectual curiosity are no doubt leaping ahead and thinking, "Well, Big Daddy's right... what Vince McMahon did to Bret Hart *IS* pure and unmitigated bullshit." To that, I say:


Maybe there are some of you who've been reading the News From Dayton and are thinking to yourselves, "What BDW is getting at is that Bret Hart refusing to job to Shawn Michaels was utterly unprofessional bullshit." Again, I respond:


Apparently, everybody's out to turn this into some huge morality play in which the archetypes of good and evil are projected upon the main players in our little story. It's fashionable to take one side and then to  run the guy on the other side down as much as you can. Actually, I can be even more specific and say that what's fashionable is to take Bret Hart's side and run down Vince McMahon as much as possible. People seem to think we've witnessed one of the most heinous transgressions in the history of man. And THAT, my friends, actually is bullshit.

At first, getting all worked up about the "ambush" of Bret Hart at Survivor Series was OK. Afterall, whatever the motivation and reasons behind it, there can be no question that when Shawn Michaels was awarded the WWF Title that night, we witnessed one of the most amazing and unbelievable finishes that will ever be broadcast on a live wrestling show. So hell yeah, we're gonna be falling all over ourselves for the next couple days trying to "get to the bottom of it."

But as we sit here now, weeks after the fact, there are still people coming out of the woodwork saying, "I will never watch the WWF again" or "Vince McMahon is the spawn of Satan, and embodies all evil on the face of planet earth." Sure, there are even a few who are expressing opinions more along the lines of, "Bret Hart is an egomaniacal bastard who deserved what he got, and I hope he fails abysmally in WCW." Either way, the two extreme sides to that coin is where we get into a region of unconscionable bullshit.

Has anyone stopped to think that what we're really getting so pissed about is the fact that Vince McMahon fixed a wrestling match? But folks, the fix is in EVERY DAMNED NIGHT. Winning, losing, whatever.... none of it really matters. Whatever was SUPPOSED to happen at Survivor Series would have been exactly as "real" as the ending we saw. But for some reason, everybody's collectively decided that a fixed ending that included an inconclusive double-DQ finish would have been better than a fixed ending that gave us Shawn Michaels making Bret Hart submit.

What we're arguing about is a piece of leather and metal that means just about as little -- in reality -- as the finish of any given wrestling match. Like the matches themselves, the title is a work, too. A prop.  But for some reason, that metal and gold was so important to the parties involved that Bret Hart didn't want to give it up in his home country, and Vince McMahon didn't want to risk Bret Hart still having it after Hart was announced as going to WCW.

Call it bullshit, call it silly, call it whatever you want.... my point is that wrestling fans are probably logging on, surfing the web, looking for the latest on the situation, and getting tons more worked up about Bret Hart than they were over any number of much more cosmically significant news stories that have broken over the past few weeks. And that's wrong.

Sure, we can sit here and talk about how ultimately screwy this whole thing is... but I just don't see the point to getting so hot and bothered over it. Was what Vince did to Bret at Survivor Series wrong? Yeah, I think you've pretty much got to accept that to put Bret in that situation involved lying to the guy and deceiving him. That's never the "right" thing to do. But then you also take it back a step further... was it wrong for Bret Hart to refuse to drop the strap to a guy he didn't like because he was on his "home turf" (thousands of miles, however, from his actual home)? You're damned sure that was wrong, and more than a little petty and unprofessional, to boot.

So what it comes down to is that we absolutely DO NOT have a morality play on our hands here. There is no archetype of good, at the very least. And even on the evil side, there are tons worse folks in the world than Bret Hart and Vince McMahon, when you get right down to it. Sure they both did things wrong, and the final result was a situation in which I think they both come off poorly. But their combined wrongs still strike me as being a lot less significant than most fans are making them out to be.

Would it really be so difficult to just sit back, accept the fact that things got botched somehow between Vince and Bret, and just get on with life? If you're a Bret Hart fan, sure, be a little upset and make sure you're ready, come the New Year, to spend a bit more time on Nitro every Monday... but everybody else out there -- the WWF fans, the WCW fans, the plain ol' generic wrestling fans -- you need to settle down, take a deep breath, and realize that this just ain't that much bigger a deal than any of the other countless times a major star has jumped between promotions.  The circumstance are a bit unique, but that's still what this boils down to.  And wrestling has survived such jumps between feds every time before, and will do so again this time. This is neither the end of the world, not even a foreshadowing of the apocalypse.

Let's keep that in mind.

But then again, it's only My Own Damned Opinion....


Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.

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