Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart has spoken out about what would and could have occurred had the Montreal Screwjob never happened at the 1997 Survivor Series.
‘What if’ has always been a staple of professional wrestling. What if The Undertaker hadn’t lost to Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 30? What if WCW hadn’t have fired Steve Austin and allowed him to eventually go to WWF? What if Sting had jumped to Vince McMahon’s empire in the nineties?
Long-time devotees love to speculate on the things that could have happened had history worked out differently. This has never been a more used theory, however, than what would have occurred if Vince McMahon hadn’t have screwed Bret Hart.
Many believe that Bret would have returned to the company following a short stint with World Championship Wrestling – and had his concussion at the feet of Bill Goldberg never happened – for dream matches with The Rock, Triple H, Chris Jericho and Kurt Angle to name a few.
Others cite the thought that he would have quietly retired, re-joined the company in a trainer role and been responsible for the future of the business.
But what did Bret Hart foresee happening? Now, ‘The Excellence of Execution’ has sat down with Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful to give his thoughts and ideas on the possibilities of professional wrestling history had Montreal never transpired:
“I was gonna work in some facet of the office. I was actually under, if my memory serves me right, I think was gonna take Pat Patterson’s job and work with the matches. I don’t know that would have been ideal for me. Just because of the work involved. It was probably something that, at the time, who knows what I’m going to do? I know that I still believe I had a lot of contributions to be made to the company and I would have been an asset to them over the years for ideas and just logic and things like that. It didn’t happen. I think that was more their loss than mine. I think once all the bad blood happened with the screwjob and all that kind of stuff, it was what they lost, I think, was immeasurable.”
While an office job doesn’t sound suited to a talent so loved and special, having Bret Hart direct the biggest bouts of the noughties will get people wondering just how great some of the biggest, yet disappointing clashes could have turned out.
According to Bret, however, there was more to him than that. More than WCW blindly wasted when they gained his talents in 1997 and more he believes he could have given:
“You’ll never know what I would have brought to the WWE after 1997. But, I had so many good years left. I always think whatever happened with me and Vince and how stupid all that was and how unnecessary all that was, Shawn’s behavior and the whole reason all that happened was so stupid, really. If you look at all the matches that didn’t happen. Like, all the matches I didn’t have with Steve Austin after WrestleMania 13. All the matches I didn’t have with Undertaker. Matches I didn’t have with Shawn and for that matter, Triple H, and all the different storylines that could have played out of our so-called rivalries.
Even Rock. There was some great wrestlers that were coming up. What they did to me was not necessary. I should have stayed there. Vince did what he did out of petty reasons. They screwed me out of a twenty-year contract. They spent more money on Mike Tyson the next year, paying him for fifteen minutes of refereeing, as opposed to what they would have paid me for twenty years of work. I’ll never understand the reasoning or the logic of what they did or how anyone can justify, and, I think, the loss of what they would have gained. All the different guys that would have benefited from working and teaching and passing on what I knew to the next generation. All that was lost.”
The possibilities were endless. But history cannot be re-written and what happened will always remain one of the most famous and talked about moment in professional wrestling history.
If you would like to listen to the full interview with Bret Hart, which included whether his brother Owen’s fate would have been different had he been able to stick around, then you can listen to it here.
Credit for the interview and transcript: Fightful