‘Double A’ Arn Anderson has revealed his take on Bret Hart’s time in World Championship Wresting and where he thinks the company went wrong.
It is, without a doubt, one of the biggest missed opportunities in wrestling history. When Bret Hart came to WCW in December of 1997, he was hot off of the Montreal Screwjob and one of the most talked about and respected wrestlers in the entire world.
Instead of capitalising on what had occurred one month prior, having Bret cut a scathing promo on the opposition WCW were trashing in the ratings and then building the brand and the heavyweight division around ‘The Excellence of Execution’ instead of an ageing Hulk Hogan and his friends, WCW completely missed the boat on ‘The Hitman.’
Instead of a hero’s entrance, Bret was relegated to playing special referee at WCW Starrcade 1997 for a match between Eric Bischoff and Larry Zbyszko when he would have been better served running in at the end of the dreadful main event to save Sting from a NWO onslaught.
Things didn’t get much better from there either. WCW never really knew what they were doing with him, bouncing him from babyface to heel, WCW United States Championship to WCW World Heavyweight Champion and eventually joining the NWO which made him feel ordinary.
Now, another of wrestling’s great technical masters, Arn Anderson, has given his opinion on Bret Hart’s stay in WCW on The Arn Show and revealed what he would have done differently.
Working a part backstage role, part active talent at the time of Bret Hart’s arrival – Arn Anderson had officially retired in August of 1997 but worked a very limited active role – Anderson was present for the meetings on Bret’s arrival and spoke about how he was never asked to pitch in on Hart’s booking:
“People, this is not my way of copping out when I tell you this – it’s God’s truth, there were so many meetings that involved that top tier stuff like Bret Hart and him coming over. We heard all these huge amounts of money that he was making, which I could care less about any of that. My only concern was, ‘Okay, how are we going to use him? What do you want me to do to help?’ But it was all behind closed doors; it was so above my pay grade.
I had no idea. I didn’t know what was going to go down until the guys got in the ring. I don’t think the whole thing got started– the whole angle effectively. I think he got hurt pretty quickly. I just think a lot of things just caved in everywhere that were unexpected. I was just like, a fan on the outside looking in.”
For Anderson, one of the greatest workers and minds the industry has ever seen, Bret Hart and WCW should have been a perfect and easy fit. However, he has no idea why WCW failed to capitalise on arguably the greatest wrestler to lace up a pair of boots:
“I don’t know what happened there. You would have thought it would have been an easy fit walking across. To be honest with you, I don’t know. It’s one of those things in history that everybody will have a slant on that tells the story. I have no idea what happened on that deal.”
It’s doubtful there are many bigger missed opportunities in professional wrestling than Bret Hart’s time in WCW. The list is long and far ranging, but for the sheer possibilities and potential, this has to be at the top of every list for years and years to come.
Credit for the interview: The Arn Show
h/t for the transcription: Wrestling Inc.