wrestling / Columns

Ask 411 Wrestling: Did Bret Hart Want To Be Screwed?

November 24, 2017 | Posted by Mathew Sforcina
Bret Hart WWE WWF

Hello, welcome to Ask 411 Wrestling, the only column that is confused by the negative reaction to the fact that Riot/Morgan/Logan seem to have ripped off Paige/Rose/Deville. I mean, Steph is hanging around, and clearly these women remember how Steph thinks NXT call-ups need to be put into Trios Teams.

Starting things off early this week, since I’m writing this late. Yay temporal shifting!

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Worst WWE Champ: A lot of debate in the comments, not really a lot for me to comment on as such, beyond pointing out that when you make this decision, you have to decide if you’re judging this based on the reign, or the person holding it. Daniel Bryan is a superb wrestler, but if you want to focus solely on what happened in the reign, then you can indeed make an argument that his World WWE Title run was pretty abysmal, given how the little that happened in it was Kane paying fifth rate slasher villain.

I stick to Stasiak since I think he’s genuinely not a good wrestler, the reign only existed for transitional reasons, sure, but I think he’s the worst champion because what I’ve seen on him, even grading on a curve, sucks. But that’s just my opinion on it.

The Trivia Crown

Who am I? I once lost a title to the above, and I’m one of three men to have won something and not the WWF Title. I’ve fought in a match type WWE is bringing back, I’ve won a tournament for a cup, I’m a Triple Crown Champion, I’ve never held tag gold twice with the same partner, and I’ve been managed by many men but just one woman. A guy connected to John Cena, sort of, and who has been a member of an Alliance, but not the one that would make sense, and a guy in last week’s column, I am who?

Rogue was the one to read my mind, with a solid success rate.

Who am I? I once lost a title to the above (TV Title), and I’m one of three men to have won something and not the WWF Title (Royal Rumble, Dugan & Studd the other 2). I’ve fought in a match type WWE is bringing back (War Games), I’ve won a tournament for a cup (Jim Crockett, Sr. Memorial Cup), I’m a Triple Crown Champion (WCW Tag, US & World), I’ve never held tag gold twice with the same partner (WCW Tag with Barry Windham, Sting and The Giant), and I’ve been managed by many men but just one woman (Miss Elizabeth). A guy connected to John Cena, sort of (Attitude Adjustment), and who has been a member of an Alliance (Alliance to End Hulkamania), but not the one that would make sense (The Alliance in WWF), and a guy in last week’s column (question about NWO wolfpac), I am who? (Lex Luger)

… Yeah, Benoit, not a WWF Champ, fair call.

Who am I? I share a connection to the above, albeit not one shown on-air. My first tag title reign was ended by one of the guys I beat to win the belts, and a new partner he had. A guy who replaced me in a title match won the title, which turned me heel and saw me win the title off the guy who replaced me, and then later on the inverse happened when someone replaced me in a title match and that turned me face. I debuted in one company on the night of a major birth. I once won a vacant singles title by beating an ECW high flyer, a multi time world champion, an IC champ, and a guy who really sucks in the final. A man whose last appearance on WWE TV was overshadowed by what was on my face, I am who?

Getting Down To All The Business

Joey Joe Joe Shabadoo asks about a wrestler and their possible regrets, as well as calling your spots.

Hi Mathew! Love the column – thank you for always answering my questions, even the inane ones. Do you think the Hardy’s regret signing with WWE in 2017? They came to WrestleMania on fire, and haven’t really done anything since. I know there are the lawsuit issues, i.e. Matt can’t “break,” and now Jeff is injured, but do you think they would have had more success just staying in TNA or making their way on the indies? I wonder if Matt could have reached a settlement with TNA prior to signing with WWE – then his return at, say, the Rumble would have been molten. Your thoughts, sir?

Obviously it’s impossible for me to look into the mind of Matt Hardy, certainly there’s a history of Matt Hardy and this website having issues with discussion of his personal opinions and feelings and the question of if Lita is a credit or debit card or whatever…

(I wonder if anyone reading me now has any idea what the hell I’m talking about there.)

However, while I would not be surprised to find out that Matt Hardy isn’t over the moon with his current positioning, he’s almost certainly happier than where he was in TNA, at least at the end. Although Matt and Jeff’s run in TNA was good for everyone involved, the problem was the changeover at the end, and the fact that the good times were going to come to a crashing halt. They had had strong creative control in their contracts, and then the new bosses refused to extend that to the new deal. Coupled with what might have been an attempt at playing hardball or just gross incompetence, The Hardys were somewhat shoved out the door while they chose to leave anyway.

So being forced to stay in TNA with that situation as it was, I think they’d be unhappy, and they’d probably no longer be Broken anyway. Now being on the indy scene…

The problem with that is that you can make a very good living as a big name on the indy scene right now, but that requires commitment and a lot of travelling, which the Hardys don’t seem to thrilled about, whereas WWE has about the same amount of travel, maybe a little less hectic, and it’s taken care of, and you get paid more, in theory.

Overall? While I’m sure Matt would have liked to get the Broken Universe sorted ahead of time, that wasn’t in the cards, and given the options available, despite his current position, I think Matt’s as happy as could be expected, given the alternatives.

Watching the Survivor Series main event got me thinking – who calls the spots in those matches? IIRC, usually a champion calls, or a veteran, but is, say, Balor calling spots against Shinsuke, only for Orton to come in and take over? Or is the match so well-planned ahead that they don’t call spots? And what about in these champion v champion matches? Is AJ calling spots, Brock, or neither?

Being the champion doesn’t give you the right to call the match, if you’re a babyface champion who is still in their first year, you’re not calling anything against a guy who’s been wrestling for a decade, usually.

There isn’t a set in stone flowchart for this sort of thing, it’s not like there’s a points system where you add up 5 points for being heel, 3 for being the vet, bonus 2 points if you’re related to the owner of the company. Calling matches tends to come down to the people involved working together, and the person calling it usually just… happens.

Yes, usually it’s the veteran, and/or the heel, but if someone is better at remembering spots, if they’re the best guy to call the match, they call the match. In WWE, it almost doesn’t matter who calls is, given how overproduced it all is (hell, in NXT, the refs call most of the matches it seems) but it seems to be something of a collaborative effort. Calling a match can switch back and forth with the control of the match, you don’t have to have just one person calling it.

This is not an exact science, it’s just a case of just going with the best option that presents itself.

Ashing brings up an important topic of discussion.

Finally I have a good question. What would happen to the professional wrestling landscape (or even just WWE) if the #metoo movement arrives?” I think it’s pretty safe to say there is a ton of inappropriate behavior towards women to say the least in this biz, and with huge kingpins like Weinstein and Louis C.K. being brought down, could it happen to Vince? Dunn? Other high ranking executives? Interested to see your thoughts.

Well, you’d think so, but then given that Vince has gone through lawsuits about this sort of thing previously, and nothing has stuck, plus he’s also bragged about having affairs in Playboy, it would have to be a recent development to warrant attention.

Not that I’m saying that if there is anyone who has been assaulted by high ranking members of WWE’s office or wrestling staff, that they don’t deserve help and respect and justice and all that, but just that if something does come out involving Vince, unless it’s something very weird or illegal, it probably won’t have as much cut through as the ones you mentioned.

There is an attitude in wrestling, an unspoken universal excuse, that says that given you have to be slightly insane to want to get into wrestling, given that it’s so dangerous and risky and that it’s not for sane, rational people, that this allows for you to justify almost any character flaw in another person. Obviously some other wrestlers are going to have weird ideas about the Illuminati or GMOs or pineapple on pizza, of course some wrestlers are going to be on painkillers and weed, of course a wrestling promoter is going to want to use his power to get women to sleep with me, that’s just a part of the business.

And of course, it fucking well shouldn’t be.

And that excuse has fallen by the wayside a bit in recent times, in the past few years there has been some positive movement in terms of not standing for that sort of thing. The fact that wrestlers gossip like fishwives does have some benefits, in that if someone has an actual flaw in their character, they may well find their dates drying up with no public statements about it, which has pros and cons.

Maybe that’s just my applying my hopes that wrestling is getting better about this sort of thing, it’s hard to distinguish between what I hope the business I’m part of is going to be like going forward, and what I think it is heading towards right now. Am I just wishing that things will improve, or are they? I can’t tell.

All I can say is that I hope, if this wheel does turn to wrestling, and stuff comes out, that the people who have suffered get care and respect, while those who inflicted it are punished.

Oh, right, I mentioned I’m a wrestler, in passing. Should probably play something serious and important here, given the subject at hand.

… Nope, not it.

Kailash asks about WWE signing someone specific.

Is WWE interested to sign Mahabali Shera? Please answer.

For those playing along at home, Mahabali Shera was part of the Ring Ka King promotion, where he was the last ever RKK World Champion. He then wrestled in TNA/Impact for a few years, but has recently left the company, or rather, had left them a couple months prior and it’s only just now coming to light.

Is WWE interested in him? I haven’t heard anything about it, and while you’d think, if WWE was trying to move into India, you’d want more than just one act from the country, perhaps with their scaling back of the push, it’s become less likely.

At this point with WWE, you basically have to assume that while they almost certainly know about most wrestlers on TV, or who have a name, or who have an in, or whatever, while they almost certainly keep tabs on talent, they aren’t officially interested in people until they invite them for a tryout at the Performance Center. That’s the threshold now. Unless there’s big hype or rumors of talks, WWE isn’t interested in whoever, unless and until they’ve done a tryout weekend. Then you can see WWE is interested.

So with Mr. Shera, I cannot say for sure if WWE has any interest at all, he hasn’t attended a tryout yet, so the maximum level of interest he could have would be “mild” at best.

Connor asks about Diesel’s reign of terror, and how I’d rebook it.

How would you have booked Diesel’s reign of terror in 1995 and that years king of the ring? why oh why did Vince choose Mabel

Ok, thought experiment on how I’d fix the Summer of Diesel, just imagine the bleachers are in the background and I’m talking live to camera and my tooth is glinting and that I’m now ripping off a rip off, which I should end before I get bogged down in a mire of self-referentialness.

The easy answer is to say “I wouldn’t”, and instead in Backlund’s defence against Diesel, after the kick to the gut, Diesel hesitates for a second before the Jackknife to the crowd, allowing Backlund time to nail a series of lowblows to Diesel, drawing a DQ and keeping MISTER Bob Backlund as champ because screw you he was awesome.

And hell, he was promised a year long reign and was going to drop it back to Bret, he says.

But ok, I somehow get the book the night after Diesel wins the title, and I’m told to book him for the next year as champ. Well, first thing, Rumble, Diesel defends against Backlund there instead, as Diesel, on his first Raw, says he wants to be a fighting champion, but after a couple of title defences where Diesel crushes some midcard heels only for Backlund to run out and cause a DQ result, as Backlund is incensed that someone who was champion for 16 years doesn’t get a rematch. Diesel offers him a slot on next week’s Raw, but Backlund demands time to train, and thanks to winning a tag match with Owen Hart over Diesel and Bret when Owen pins Bret with tights, Backlund gets the Rumble title shot. Diesel still defends the title each week, crushes heels and faces.

The Rumble, I ask Backlund to go out there and make Diesel look like he has hidden technical prowess, Diesel has the look and the size, I ask Bob to make him look like an all-round wrestling machine. I presume he does so, Razor retains the IC title, while Owen Hart wins the Rumble by eliminating Bret last thanks to HBK throwing a fit on the outside after he was eliminated. Pamela Anderson is less than thrilled.

WM, Backlund wins the IC title off Razor, as he wants to be a Triple Crown champ, Bret and HBK have a 2/3 falls match for #1 contendership that ends in a draw (HBK gets a pinfall with the kick, Bret a tap out for the second, neither answers a 10 count for the final), Owen Hart tries to appeal to Pamela as a Canadian to stand by him, she’s reluctant, until Jenny McCarthy, in some of the finest G-Level acting you’ll see all year, gets into an argument with her, and Pamela sides with Owen while Jenny chooses Diesel, but it’s a swerve and at a crucial moment Pamela refuses to toss Owen a steel chair, Diesel beats Owen, Diesel gets both girls because he’s just so damn awesome, then parties with LT and the ladies to end the show.

IYH1, Diesel doesn’t wrestle, as he’s ringside for Bret/HBK, which again ends in a draw, this time they just brawl around the ring for a double DQ, until Diesel nails both with a jackknife and says he’ll fight them both, the same night if he has to.

KOTR, set to be a triple tournament night, as the gimmick is the IC title and WWF titles will both be defended twice (Diesel/Bret, Winner/HBK for world, Backlund/RazorSavio, Winner/Jarrett for IC), and the KOTR also happens. Diesel wins both matches, Savio wins IC title then loses it to Jarrett, while Undertaker beats Yokozuna in the final of the KOTR, then faces off with Diesel at the end of the show.

IYH2, Diesel and new #1 Contender Taker take on and beat Owen and Yoko. Summerslam, Diesel and Taker have hard fought match, Diesel wins, shakes hand afterwards. IYH3, Yoko gets a title shot, Diesel wins. IYH4, Bret beats Taker for title shot at Survivor Series, Diesel beats Mabel here.

Survivor Series, Diesel is running strong but hurt from a series of bigger opponents, Bret then proceeds to win the title by turning heel, aligning with Owen, and Bulldog, maybe Yoko, maybe Backlund, but steals the title, and sets up the chase of a healthy Diesel and his reluctant partner Michaels to chase Bret into the new year.

Basically the idea is not to run Diesel as a Hogan clone, but rather as a steamroller who takes on and beats all comers, while the pieces move around him to set up a lengthy chase once the initial reign hits around a full year and he gets cheated out of the belt, make the fans really want to see him back with the belt again.

That’s what I’d do if you ask me today. Tomorrow would be different.

Speaking of Bret Hart, at Survivor Series, in a title match, involving a screwjob…. Brendan?

I have a theory on the Screw Job and wanted to see your take. While I don’t think it was a work as some do, I think Bret still let it happen. Obviously he had reason to be suspicious going into the match and we know he made a point to be reassured by Earl Hebnar before the match. He also spoke with Vader who had experience handling shoots. So given all of this, why would Bret let himself be put in the sharpshooter? My theory is that Bret liked being the underdog/victim. He knew he might get screwed anyway, so decided to just let it happen so he everyone could feel sorry for him.

I think you’re confusing the character he played prior to the Screwjob, the person he was after the screwjob, and the mechanics of the event here. I mean, you watch Wrestling With Shadows, that really doesn’t seem like he’s ok with it, on any level.

I mean, I guess you could argue it was subconsciously, but I don’t buy that. Bret assumed that Earl Hebner, who swore on his kids’ lives, wouldn’t screw him with a fast count or a phantom tap out, despite those being what Vader and Davey Boy both warned would happen, and Bret seemed more worried that Shawn would work stiff, maybe try for a knock out blow when Bret didn’t expect it, maybe ring his bell or something.

Yes, in retrospect, Bret was a bit naive, but then in retrospect pretty much everyone involved in this story comes out looking bad, with the possible exception of…

I’ve sat here for like ten minutes trying to pick someone in this whole sordid mess that didn’t come out looking bad and I honestly can’t think of anyone. Niedhart, maybe, I guess?

But no, I don’t agree with you that Bret was masochistic or liked being the victim and let this happen. He just trusted the wrong people at the wrong time, and then paid the price.

Memphis B-rad continues the submission ride.

Has there ever been a tag team that used a double submission for their finisher? Both guys locking in a submission move on the same opponent? Thanks.

Top Tip: Don’t google “Double Team Submission” with safe searching off. Or do, I’m not your parent.

Having a double team submission hold as a finisher is a bit borderline, as it somewhat negates the whole tag team wrestling gimmick of only having one person in the ring at a time, in theory. I think the closest to a finisher of a tag team would be the Canadian Violence Connection, aka The Canadian Chrisii, aka Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho, with the combo Crossface/Walls.

I believe Benoit and Angle would occasionally use a Crossface/Ankle lock combo.

Also, when Team Angle became The World’s Greatest Tag Team they used a sweet double anklelock on Kurt but sadly I believe that was a once off. But a tag team with a regular, consistent finisher of a double submission… Benoit/Jericho is the closest you’ve got, I think. Unless a reader knows one I’ve missed.

Ben, the two of us need look no more, we’ve both found the correct position, which is you asking a question and me answering it.

Love your work, can you remember the odds on brock lesnar beating undertaker at mania 30 and did they shorten as the match got closer due to leaks?

It’s still a result that many people disagree with, and that very few people can truly say they called, although a whole bunch more people swear they did. But the odds for Brock ending the stream did change and shorten as the show approached.

The odds opened with Taker at -3000, which means that to win $100, you’d have to bet $3000, which was impossible, as wrestling bets are usually capped at $100. But in any case, the odds extended to around -5000 or so in Taker’s favor… And then they began to tighten, ending up around -1200, with Brock at +900 or so. So clearly there were leaks and that caused it, right?

Not necessarily.

See, the website these numbers came from, and which saw most of the betting, was Bovada, and after the event, they did put out a little bit of detail about the betting. And the thing is, once the betting got up to Taker being a -5000 favorite, they started getting a lot of Brock bets. The company had about 8 to 1 in terms of the numbers of people betting on Brock over people betting on Taker. But they only took in around 1000 bets total.

Part of a bookie’s job is to calculate the odds of results and then price the bets accordingly so that you try and make money the best you can by shortening the things you think are more likely, if you can’t shorten everything. If a team is a 95% chance of winning, you payout an amount as if it was a 90% chance of winning, and that’s your profit margin. Same as on a roulette table, you bet on a number, it pays out 36 to 1, when break even would be 37 or 38 to 1, depending on if 00 is on the wheel.

But that’s just the starting point. If you suddenly get a run on a specific result, you change the odds, either because it seems like there’s maybe some new information that you missed, but also because the payouts have changed. More people betting on one outcome, the higher the payout you’ll need if it comes through, so you lower the odds to compensate a bit.

And given the relatively small number of bets placed on the match, it could well be that the odds shortened not because a bunch of people knew the result, but rather a lot of people saw good odds and took a punt, and even just a few hundred people would be enough to force the site to move the numbers around, which creates a knock on domino effect, and more people start to bet since the odds are lowering, they must know something.

So it’s entirely possible that the odds moved for reasons other than WWE employees placing bets with inside knowledge, but it’s also possible that there were a bunch of WWE employees who did bet on the result, sure. In either case, the numbers did move just prior to the match.

That’s all for this week, quick and to the point. Why bother trying to answer the super hard questions when I’m…

But that’s for another time. See you next week!