Rewriting the Book
By C.G. Scum
What if Shawn Michaels never “lost his smile” or forfeited the WWF Title in February of 1997?
Heading forward, we start the second to last chapter of the story with the Badd Blood, “In Your House” Pay Per View event less than a week away. In this part, we will see the end of the full “TV Show” type presentation as following Badd Blood, as the story will focus on our original and main storyline involving Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart and how things would have played out had they been able to “get along” and coexist throughout the duration of this time period rather than allowing their own paranoia to grow into a personal, behind the scenes hatred that made it so the two were reluctant to work alongside one another. Before we get there, we will visit the other ongoing stories including the ongoing Undertaker/Paul Bearer/ Kane situation, the return of both Steve Austin and Mick Foley, the ongoing “Men in Green” saga, the evolution of the yet unnamed Shawn Michaels led faction, and all of the other angles that have continued to play out in the preceding weeks and months. Once again, as to not “tip my cap” as to how the ending will pay off, there will be brief pieces from the behind the scenes conversations involving Hart, Michaels, and Vince McMahon on the heels of Vince approaching Bret at the last Raw to tell him that he had to go back on his twenty year contract. These conversations will be released in their entirety in the eleventh and final chapter in our saga and as I have noted previously, they will pull together the final month or so and once they do, all will finally be revealed. As for the present, the WWF Champion, Bret Hart is still waiting to find out who his “All American” opponent will be at Badd Blood and our story starts back up in Albany, NY six days out from the big PPV.
(Note )- As we move forward in Part IX of the story, as in previous chapters, there are some events at this point in WWF history that actually took place that stay within the major storylines of this “Rewriting of the Book,” which I personally believe are better off left as they occurred. Thus, although the dates of when the happenings occur in some cases may be a few weeks off as far as when they actually occurred, they do play well in continuing the story as well as continuing to build where they will go heading forward. In my eyes these happenings would have happened regardless of the “losing of Shawn’s smile”(or for the less significant events, they just fit perfectly) and are some of the more memorable moments in the company’s history and leaving them out I think would lessen the story I am moving along with. I do add a few minor twists to these instances, but for the most part they are untouched. In giving credit and recalling these moments, I will label them with three stars before and a corresponding number after these segments (***) and in doing so give credit in my brief explanation in recalling these spots to the website thehistoryofwwe.com , where I got the descriptions that I am using. At the bottom of this part, each numbered event will be explained.)
September 23, 1997- Albany, NY-
Off camera, hours before taping was set to begin for Raw, Bret Hart sought out the owner of the WWF, Vince McMahon backstage in his private makeshift office at the Pepsi Arena to discuss what had been laid out to him at Madison Square Garden less than 24 hours prior. (Note- This show was actually taped on September 23 and aired the following Monday) The “Hitman” looking a bit restless enters McMahon’s office and sits down, locking the door behind him.
Bret: “Vince, I have got to be honest with you, I did not get much sleep last night and I am really having a hard time wrapping my head around this. I have been back and forth all day today thinking about what you said, and I guess if that is the way that it has to be then I think that we could probably make this thing work.”
McMahon: “I am so sorry Bret, but I don’t really know what else I can do. My hands are tied here. Plus, did you give any thought to what I had mentioned as far as the direction we can take this in. I have them working on it and I really think in the end it is a win , win situation all around. Hell, I will even help you to get the biggest payday you can out of them, and in the end I think that way everyone can be happy. But, like I said, it has got to be ok with you, so what do you think?”
Bret: “Well, yes, I did think it over and for the most part I think it could work to, but I had a little bit different of a scenario in mind, so you tell me what you think. Now, before I get in to this, I want you to know, this is no disrespect to Shawn, because I think the world of him as a performer, but you said last night you wanted this to go down how I wanted it to, and I really think in the end this could play out even better. Maybe we should get Shawn in here to discuss this, because I want him to understand where I am coming from too.”
McMahon: “I thought you might say that, and either way he eventually should be in on these discussions, so I clued him in briefly on our conversation and told him to come by this way and he should be here with in the next few minutes, but anyhow, I am all ears Bret, lay it on me and we can fill Shawn in when he gets here.”
Bret: “Great, I just want to be straight up here. As much as I never, ever wanted to leave and as much as I consider you almost like a father to me, I will say that I am kind of excited to see how we can pull this off. So again, I love your idea…(Vince butts in)
McMahon: “Well, I can’t take all the credit. I was hashing it out with the only other two people who are privy to any of this at this point, and I do have to give them some credit. I told them when we have our ducks in a row that they will have to get to work on exactly how this all plays out. Like I said yesterday, I am still not totally clear on all the who’s and how’s, but overall I am really excited and how this could play out. Now go ahead please, I didn’t mean to interrupt.” (At this point, there is a knock at the door and it is Shawn Michaels as expected. He comes in, shuts the door behind him, says hello to Vince and gives Bret a pat on the shoulder and then the two shake hands before he sits.)
Michaels: “Wow, this is crazy, Bret, I hate to see things happen this way. You know I have always cherished our matches and the great chemistry we have had over the years. But from what Vince said, maybe this will all work out for everyone in the end. I like the premise that was set down before me, but I agree with Vince in that I also want you to go out however you would like to. So either way, I figure with all we have given the people to this point, we might as well go out with a bang.”
Bret: “Shawn, I am so glad you said that and I was just saying the same thing to Vince. Now, I am just kind of in the rough stages in thinking about this and I don’t want you to think what I have to say is disrespectful to you in any way, because in the end we will actually wind up with about the same result, it is just that having things go down this way would really mean a lot to me after all these years if we could make this happen. So please hear me out on this and see what you think…” (As noted, as to not give away the ending, and to keep you the reader as though you are “watching the show” the remainder of this conversation will be saved for our bonus “conclusion” chapter of the story.)
Raw is War- September 29, 1997- Albany, NY-
The show comes on the air and we see a video montage highlighting the chaos caused last week in the return of “Stone Cold.” The stunner on McMahon is shown in addition to the countless other superstars that the “Rattlesnake” dropped with his finisher. After this, we go directly to the parking lot, where Austin arrives and when he gets out of his pickup, there is a number of uniformed police waiting for him. Vince McMahon stands behind them and explains to “Stone Cold,” “I don’t want to do this, but after last week, Steve, you have left me no choice. You are not medically cleared to wrestle until Survivor Series and I can’t afford to have one of my biggest stars injured permanently. I see no other way to go about this, so please just leave.” Austin shakes his head and laughs, before plowing right into the officers, throwing right hands and getting the better of several of them. Eventually, they restrain him, put him in handcuffs and drive him away with the sirens blaring as a distraught looking McMahon places his hand to his forehead and sighs sympathetically as he walks into the building and the show intro starts up. After this, we head right up to the ring, where WWF Commissioner, Sgt. Slaughter awaits with a microphone in hand.
Slaughter: “Well, it would appear that Bret Hart is pretty proud of himself. He is two for two after laying out a challenge to America and I must admit, he has done so in pretty impressive fashion. So, I had to search long and hard when trying to find a suitable opponent for him tonight. I was looking for an opponent that will not only defeat Bret Hart, but one that will make him pay for his denouncing of this great country. Plus, I needed a man that will soften Bret up for his big match up at Badd Blood, where I am sure given his opponent that he will be taught to respect the land of the free and the home of the brave. (A loud USA chant resonates throughout the building, until it changes to boos when the music of the “Hitman” blares over the PA and he strides to the top of the ramp with a microphone of his own.)
Bret: “So, Sgt. Slaughter. Our honorable commissioner. You want to talk about denouncing your country? Seems to me, I remember someone who was supposed to be a true American hero that did that before. Remember him, Sarge? I sure do, and honestly, who could blame you. Anyhow, I couldn’t help overhearing you in the back referring to my opponent at the pay per view. Maybe I missed something here, but I still haven’t heard who that is. Now, I know you Americans like to give one another any easy advantages you can, but we are just six days away, so come on, lay it on me. Who do you got? I know there is not a single American wrestler on this roster that I have not already beat or that I could not excellently execute, so enough of your games already, out with it Slaughter.” (Bret seems a bit taken aback as while he is speaking he notices several signs about the crowd that read “Why, Bret, Why?” and “Bret Sold Out,” in addition to a faint “You Sold Out” chant coming from the fans in attendance)
Slaughter: “Out with it? So, you are gonna make the demands around here now? Ok, you want answers, I can give you some answers “Hitman.” For starters tonight, I was approached by a man who has a somewhat changed attitude over the last few weeks that he finally acted on this past Monday. Some people aren’t going to buy it yet, but for the exact reason you brought up involving me, I am willing to give anyone a second chance. So, the man who came to me and requested he get a chance to put his big American hands around your throat, and your opponent for tonight is none other than the man they call Vader. (Bret seems a bit taken aback, but nods his head as if to say ‘bring it on’)
Bret: “Perfect, you and Vader make good company, a couple of lying, scheming Americans that have to cheat and cut corners to get ahead. You bring Vader and I will make him submit to the sharpshooter just like I did his pal Goldust last week. But you still didn’t answer my question, Sarge, who is my opponent for Badd Blood? Or are all of the American wrestlers too scared to get humiliated and exposed as the weak, flabby embarrassment that they truly have become?
Slaughter: “Oh, I have an opponent Bret. I have an opponent and he is not scared. As a matter of fact, he is looking forward greatly to exposing you for exactly what you are and he is looking forward to doing it in his own specialty match?”
Bret: “Specialty match? Come on Slaughter, enough of the riddles here. You are confusing the ignorant American slobs here in Albany. Bring your specialty match and just tell me who my challenger is Sunday. Enough already, there is another great American trait, procrastination.”
Slaughter: “Just keep talking Bret, just keep talking. You want to know who your opponent is at Badd Blood? It will be my pleasure to tell you, because your opponent you little maggot is me, Sgt. Slaughter. I have been listening to you, you disgusting little puke for months now and I consider it my duty as an American to beat some respect out of you this Sunday Bret. The way I see it, how better to beat the enemy than to take them to war, so this Sunday, Bret it is gonna be you and me for your WWF Championship in a Boot Camp Match, and that is an order.” (Bret is shown sarcastically smirking as he backs up the ramp, eventually nodding his head. The camera goes back to a brief shot of the Commissioner before we are backstage and Nation members, Rocky Maivia, Marc Mero, D-Lo Brown, and Kama are standing in the hallway chatting. Faarooq walks up and questions “What the hell is going on here?” All of the others ensure him that they were waiting on him, but he continues to argue, questioning Maivia. The conversation once again turns into a full blown argument as the show cuts away for its first break.)
We return and see Bret Hart in the backstage area and he walks up upon the WWF Tag Team Champions, Billy Gunn and Jesse James. They shake hands, and Bret asks “Did you hear that? Slaughter is out of his mind. Either way, between tonight and Sunday, the master plan plays out, right fellas?” Gunn and James both respond with a sly smile, “Oh yeah, Bret. The plan plays out and come next Monday, I don’t think we can all ourselves a couple of free agents anymore.” The three have a quick laugh and Bret walks off. Gunn and James nod their heads at each other after he walks away. Next up, we head to the ring, where Savio Vega and Goldust are set to team up against the New Blackjacks, who come to the ring with Paul Bearer and Crush. Jim Ross informs us at the start of the bout that this is somewhat of a preview for Badd Blood, as a six man tag match has been set for the pay per view, where Vader will join the Savio/Goldust team and Crush will be the third man on the Blackjack side. The Blackjacks get the win in this contest when interference by Crush sets up Savio for a vicious Windham lariat. After the victory, Chainz, Skull, and 8-Ball join there new stablemates in the “Alliance” and help to lay a vicious beating on the already beaten team. The beating finally stops when the arena lights go somewhat dim and to a shade of purple before the Undertaker’s music hits and he appears on the TitanTron. ‘Taker tells Paul Bearer that “it appears once again you want to ‘play with fire’ and now you have brought family into it and made it dead personal. Well, two can play at that game.” He then rolls his eyes back and raises his arms slowly and just as had happened to him weeks before, suddenly all four sides of the ring apron had flames coming up and out of them. “Don’t forget that you are dealer with hell’s gatekeeper my old friend, and don’t forget when you and all of your men feel the burn, to rest in peace.” Following this, we go to the back where Michael Cole stands by with Paul Ellering and all four members of the Legion of Doom. As Hawk, Animal, Sid, and Shamrock discuss their respective matches, Owen Hart, the British Bulldog, Billy Gunn, and Jesse James approach and attack their respective opponents. Finally all four are separated as agents arrive, as does Commissioner Slaughter. Once all are separated, Slaughter tells all four men that “If they can’t wait until Badd Blood, you animals can do it tonight in an eight man tag match. Both sides seem pleased with the decision and they separate and go their separate ways. The commissioner heads in another direction, talking with agent, Tony Garea when they are approached by Mick Foley.
Foley: “Hey, Sarge. Getting back in the ring Sunday, huh. Love to hear it, man. Well, actually, in a Boot Camp match, I am not really sure how much time you will spend in the ring. I remember you and Patterson in that street fight at the Garden, man, and they say I’m hardcore. (Foley points as he begins chanting at Slaughter) You’re hardcore, you’re hardcore,(Slaughter interrupts)
Slaughter: “Whoa, Mick, that is great and all, I really appreciate the support, but can I help you with something?”
Foley: “Well, actually, yes, you can. You see, since you are so hardcore, and I am so hardcore, and since Cactus Jack got the win over the Intercontinental Champion last week in a non –title street fight not unlike the one you and Pat Patterson had, and we all know that Cactus is hardcore, I was thinking since we both are free on Sunday, how about you give me that pompous, horse’s ass Helmsley in a hardcore match with the title actually on the line this time?”
Slaughter: “You know what Mick? I think that sounds like a great idea if you can bring home that Intercontinental Title.”
Foley: “Well thanks Sarge, but I must ask, was that an order?”
Slaughter: “Come on Mick, you know that’s my line, but I suppose, yes, yes, Mick, that is an order.” (Slaughter walks away as Foley smiles and strides off the other way, chanting “I’m hardcore” softly to himself. We next see a shot of Shawn Michaels, Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Chyna, and Rick Rude heading toward the gorilla position just before heading to a commercial.)
Returning from the break, we get a shot backstage of Faarooq speaking with each of the members of the Nation except for Rocky Maivia. Just like earlier with the roles reversed, Maivia walks upon the meeting and questions each member. This again boils over into a big argument that has to be separated and then we head back out to the ring as Shawn Michaels’ ring music hits and he and his three cronies ham it up on their way to the ring.
Michaels: “Well, here we go again. Less than one week out from a meeting with the Undertaker and another chance for ol’ HBK to steal the show and prove that he is indeed the straw the stirs the drink here in the WWF. You see, we have taken out all the so called legends around here, for lack of a better way of putting it, they are now extinct. But the way I see it there are two legends that still need to be laid to waste. The first is you, Undertaker. I have noticed you’re a bit preoccupied with your Jerry Springer dysfunctional family stuff lately and it seems to me that you may be looking past the “Showstopper.” Bad move, big fella, bad move, because you see, the Heartbreak Kid doesn’t care about your family, he doesn’t care about your emotions. By the way, who would have thought that the big, tough Undertaker would be such a little baby, right guys? (Helmsley acts as though he is crying as Chyna starts sucking her thumb) I mean come on. It sounds like you left the kid to burn and die, so know you won’t fight the guy and it is this big issue. You had better get focused “Dead Man,” and you better do it quick, because Sunday night, at Badd Blood, it’s gonna be your ice cold blood on the hands of this guy when it’s all said and done. Then and only then, when you are put out to pasture like the rest of the fossils around here, can I refocus on the other so called legend I speak of, and that is you Bret Hart. You see, Bret, as long as you have my WWF Title around your waist, I will never be done with you. So, stay tuned, “Hitman,” you should know by now that HBK always has a few tricks up his sleeve and I still owe you one if you’ll remember. I still have a few hooded surprises for ya’, buddy, and like I said, each one left is gonna knock your socks off.” (Bret appears on the TitanTron with Jim Neidhart and Brian Pillman at his side.)
Bret: “Really, we are still playing this game are we Shawn. How many times do I need to beat your scrawny ass before we are done here? Your big surprises? Well these two men at my side will be unmasking two more of your little degenerate buddies this Sunday, and then we will see whose socks are knocked off, okay, ‘Boy Toy.’ I will tell you what, how about this Mr. Showstopper, how about if you can beat the Undertaker in that cell Sunday night, you can have what you want. It will be me and you for the WWF Championship at any time that you see fit to choose. But, if you lose, then you are the dinosaur, Shawn, you get put out to pasture, and you never get another shot at me so long as I am the WWF Champion. How does that sound funny man?
Michaels: “Well, gee whiz, Bret. I’d say that sounds damn good. I’d say that gets me and my, what do you call us? Degenerates? I’d say me and my degenerate friends are all hot and bothered by the thought of me taking back
that WWF title, so you have yourself a deal Mr. Hero. Oh, and by the way (Michaels cups his ear to the crowd, who again gives a faint chant of “you sold out” aimed at Bret) Do you hear that Bret? Whatever does that mean? Hmmmm, if I could only figure it out. Anyhow, after I take down the Undertaker at Badd Blood, you’ll be seeing a lot of me, Bret, well actually, you will see a lot of me before then, too, that I promise, and when you do, it will be up close and personal my friend.
Bret: “Doesn’t surprise me that you would want to get up close and personal the way you and your pal, Hunter out there seem to enjoy each other’s company if you know what I am saying (Neidhart and Pillman laugh) I mean, come on Shawn, how about that Playgirl spread you did? You know who reads that magazine, right? Well, like I said, I am sure you do. Either way, I hope to see you at Survivor Series and good luck with the Undertaker on Sunday, you are gonna need it.” (Michaels and crew wag their fingers and mock being scared of Bret’s words. As the camera cutoff them , we again go to the back, where Billy Gunn, Jesse James, Owen Hart, and British Bulldog are conversing about their upcoming match tonight. After this, we see a quick shot of Vader, with an American Flag over his shoulder walking toward the curtain and J.R. informs us that the WWF Championship Match is up next.)
Returning, Vader is already waiting in the ring and then, Bret’s music hits once again, and he heads to the ring for his title defense and to continue his “war” on America.
Match- WWF Championship Match- Champion, Bret “The Hitman” Hart vs. Vader- The match begins, with Vader getting the crowd solidly behind him as they again break into the chants of USA. Feeding off the crowd, the big man takes the advantage early with a classic power attack. Pounding Bret with rights and lefts, Vader backs the champion to the corner, putting him on his back with the stiff combination blows before putting all 450 pounds of himself on the throat of the “Hitman,” leading with his boot. He scoops Bret up and hits him with a solid clothesline off the ropes, before slinging him sternum first to two different sets of corner turn buckles. Following the second, a wild charge by Vader turned out to be a mistake, as Bret moves and the Mastodon slams chest first into the corner. Bret immediately jumps on the offensive, chop blocking the knee of the big man and taking him down. After a series of elbow drops to the same out stretched leg, in classic “Hitman” form, he drags Vader to the corner and slides out of the ring. He wraps the already hurt leg three times around the ring post, completely ignoring the official’s warnings, and then lays back on his patented corner post figure four. As this hold is applied, a commotion breaks out, as the entire “Unholy Alliance” sprints to the ring. With Vader wide open for an attack, they jump on him gang style, with all members of D.O.A. laying the boots to him and the New Blackjacks standing in wait, Windham holding the bullrope and Bradshaw by his side as Paul Bearer orders the attack to continue. Seeing this, Bret throws his hands up with the match and grabs his title belt to leave. The referee throws the match out as a no contest and Bret walks away up the ramp backwards as the attack continues. Watching the vicious assault in the ring, Bret does not even notice as Goldust and Savio sprint past him to try and help Vader, but they too are attacked and beat down by the ‘Alliance.’ Bret still watches as he slowly paces up the ramp backwards, as Bradshaw stops Windham from using the bell on the rope to skull Vader as he is held by Crush and Chainz. Bradshaw then symbolically produces the infamous wrench that Vader used so many times and knocks him silly with it, before doing the same to both Goldust and Savio. Just before walking through the curtain, another person comes out and behind Bret, but this time it is Sgt. Slaughter. He latches on the Cobra Clutch and Hart flails and kicks for dear life, screaming in pain. The commissioner refuse to let go of the hold and finally is pulled off the champions by several referees. Just as he is pulled away, he turns and is met by a vicious chairshot from Jesse James, who had snuck out behind him. He them lays the chair on the ramp and his partner, Billy Gunn drives Slaughter’s face into the chair with the move eventually called the “Fameasser.” Meanwhile, the carnage in the ring continued until just after we saw the “Fameasser,’ the arena lights go off. When the come back on, the Undertaker is in the ring and he clears out all six of Bearer’s henchman. Alone now in the ring with his former manager, he grabs him by the throat for a chokeslam when the now familiar bang and flames from all four ringposts momentarily distract the “Dead Man.” This allows Bearer to scoot free and retreat. As the ‘Taker looks out in anger at Bearer running away as the lights have fully returned, Shawn Michaels rolls out from under the ring with a chair and when Undertaker turns he is busted open with a sickening thud from the steel weapon. Dropped to his knees, the bloodied Undertaker looks up groggily and is crushed a second time by Michaels, who stands over him posing as the shot again goes backstage, where we see the Legion of Doom team preparing to head out for the eight man tag team match before Raw goes to another commercial break.
After the final commercial, we get the introductions for each of the four man teams, with Paul Ellering in the corner of the L.O.D. foursome , while Neidhart and Pillman second the other squad. The eight man match is set to go and the referee loses all control right from the outset. Shamrock and Owen do battle on the outside, while Sid and Bulldog do the same across on the other side of the floor. Gunn and James are getting torn apart by the Road Warriors, as all hell breaks loose. Before they have a chance to intervene, Neidhart and Pillman are blindsided by two of the “men in green” who have come once again out of the crowd. After each hits a chair shot to the back, the two then score with in stereo pedigrees on the floor, tearing their masks off and getting a good hearty laugh to unveil that it is Helmsley and Chyna and not any of the yet to be revealed attackers. The laughs quickly turn to concern, as Mick Foley charges down the ramp and he and Helmsley begin to brawl about the ringside area too, adding to the sheer chaos. With the official still trying to get any semblance of order, we are shown a split screen of the parking lot, where a police car comes screeching into the lot, sirens blaring. We get a closer shot from the driver’s side and the arena comes unglued when they see it is “Stone Cold.” “Austin is back, ‘Stone Cold’ is the new sheriff in town,” quips an excited J.R., while McMahon looks nervous and bothered when the ring shot goes to him momentarily. After the screen goes back to one, we still see the now ten men brawling throughout the arena, with Helmsley and Foley, Bulldog and Sid, Owen and Shamrock still at ringside, while the Road Warriors have taken their brawl with the Tag Champs into the crowd. Suddenly, the crowd pops even louder as we hear sirens getting louder and louder until the police car pops out through the curtain and Austin drives through and right up to ringside. He hope from the vehicle and flips a double bird in the direction of McMahon before systematically visiting each of the three ringside brawls and dropping each of the six that were battling with a boot to the stomach and a stunner. A now beat red and seemingly angry McMahon watches in disgust as Ross cheerleads while Austin now stands on the hood of the police car, with the sirens still blaring and proceeds to hammer down several ice cold “Steveweisers,” spilling much of each one all over himself as he celebrates before the now frenzied audience. Raw goes off the air to the far away image of bodies lying everywhere and a beer soaked Austin giving the crowd his “salute” while on top of the patrol car with the sires still blazing.
Backstage at the end of Raw- September 23, 1997
After their segment on Raw following the Bret/Vader match, the “Hitman” sought out Michaels for a word. Bret was confused and a bit angered at the fact that his contract situation has apparently already leaked and definitely none too thrilled with Shawn alluding to it in their interview segment earlier. Realizing this, upon sight, Shawn is quick to apologize and the two keep their discussion to a minimum, agreeing to catch up with Vince after the show. They go their separate ways to shower and change and once the final segment involving Austin has aired and the locker room begins to thin, the two meet back up and head to the boss’ office. Sham grabs a seat, while Bret remains standing at the front of McMahon’s desk.
Bret: “What the hell was that? I thought no one was going to get wind of me leaving? It hasn’t even been a day. How could this possibly have leaked already, and Shawn, did you have to make light of it out there? I mean come on, I thought we agreed to keep this under wraps.
McMahon: “Bret, I don’t know. I apologize, but unfortunately with the dirt sheets and now with this internet, somehow everything gets out there. I can sure as hell tell you that it did not leak from me and I am pretty certain that Shawn couldn’t have got word out as he only knew about this when I told him this afternoon. Either way, apparently it’s out there, so there is nothing we can do accept roll with it. Now, your idea earlier Bret, involving how we go about your last month or so here and your role on television leading up to the sendoff, I think it could work even better with this being out there. I mean it sort brings a “what is real and what isn’t” sort of feel to this, I think, what about you Shawn?
Michaels: “I agree, and Bret, I am sorry again, I was just feeling it out and playing off the crowd. My thinking is exactly what Vince said, with what you laid out earlier, we can take this the exact direction you said and use the fact that this is out there now to make it even more real. That is all I was thinking. Just like you said earlier tonight, I meant no disrespect Bret, none what so ever.”
Bret: “All right, all right, well, I guess you are right. I was just shocked when I walked out there and there are already signs and the people are chanting about it. It just threw more for a loop. I mean, Vince I thought it was just us and a select few others that are even in on this going down?”
McMahon: “That is correct Bret, actually there are only two others that even know anything about this as far as I know. Now as far as the contract deal goes, that could be a host of people that could have leaked that, as we have many people who deal with our finances that were at our meeting where I found out just how bad of shape the company is in. So, they may have just been speculating in telling the wrong people, but your contact issue was obviously brought about there. Either way, the more it sinks in the more I like it. As a matter of fact I think this thing may have just got damn real.” (Bret and Shawn exchange glances and both nod in agreement)
Bret: “Well, I suppose you are right. There is not much we can do about it, so if these lowlifes and bottom feeders from the dirt sheets want to get in our business and pull one over on everyone, I say why not return the favor and pull one over on them. (The three share a smile) You are dead on too Vince, I hadn’t thought of it that way right away, but this getting out does bring a reality to the whole thing and it plays about perfectly into what we had in mind. Will you see the guys to run everything we have discussed by them and see what they can do with it?”
McMahon: “One step ahead of you, Bret, I talked to them right after we spoke earlier and if I know them, after seeing the reaction tonight, they are all over it.”
Bret: “Perfect, so I say we let this start playing out at the Pay Per View. We only have a month or so to pull this together. Do you think we could all get together before Sunday’s show, or would it be best to keep any attention away from it to meet somewhere else.”
McMahon: “Well, I will talk to them and we will for sure discuss everything Sunday afternoon. Then we can bring in the others and see what they have come up with and go from there. But again, the contract stuff, that is inevitable that it was going to leak eventually, but for this to work, for it to work for all of us, these ideas cannot go any further than the three of us in this room for right now. Understood?”
Michaels: “For sure. I one hundred percent agree. I think we have something real special here, let’s not blow this.”
Bret: “I do to, so its agreed. We will not breath a word of this and we will meet back up on Sunday to try and get a clearer picture of exactly where we are heading.” (Right then there is a knock on the door… Once again as to not give away the ending, this conversation will be transcribed in full in the next and final conclusion chapter of the story.)
Backstage Prior to Badd Blood- October 5, 1997
Arriving at the building early in hopes of revisiting the conversation and plans laid out earlier in the week, Bret Hart once again sought out Shawn Michaels and went to find Vince McMahon to discuss their plans and how things would play out starting tonight storyline wise heading towards his leaving the company. Said meeting and everything in his world for that matter were put on hold as he finally located McMahon who looked as though he had seen a ghost. Vince then had the unenviable task of relaying the news that had just been thrust upon him to Bret. “Bret, I don’t know how else to tell you this other than come right out and say it, but Brian, (pauses and gathers his bearings) Brian hadn’t showed up to the building and we could not get a hold of him so we sent some people out to find him at his hotel, and when they got there they found him dead in his room.” A stunned Hart and Michaels were both taken aback by this, but obviously Bret was more so given the closeness of Pillman and his family over the years. “Are you sure?” Bret questioned in disbelief, “Well what are we going to do? Cancel the show?” Vince responded quickly. “I really don’t know what to do, Bret, but my heart tells me that tonight, the show must go on. We have a record setting crowd in the arena and millions watching at home. So, I thought I’d just try and start the show out by announcing this terrible news and then hope that all of the guys can pull through and make this thing work.” Bret replied, “Well, if that is what you think we should do, then I suppose we will go out there tonight and give them our best for Brian. Hey, does Owen know? I think I better go find Owen.” Walking away, Bret takes a glance back, wipes a tear from his eye and asks, “We are still on for what we had planned tonight, right?” Vince somberly nods as all three head in their separate directions.
In Your House 19- Badd Blood- October 5, 1997- St. Louis, MO
With the news of Brian Pillman’s death sweeping through the locker room and both the talent and management side up in arms and unsure what to do, the Free For All portion of the show simply ran promo packages of each upcoming bout and one detailing the upcoming unveiling of the “Hell in a Cell” cage for the first time. When the eight o’clock hour hit, the pay per view portion of the show begins with Vince McMahon standing at the backstage interview area alone with a microphone. He appears on the TitanTron before the live crowd and announces the news that Brian Pillman had been found dead in his hotel room earlier in the day. He asks for a moment of silence in memory of the fallen superstar and the ringside bell tolls ten times, before McMahon then explains that despite the shocking news and despite the fact that a friend and a brother to many of the WWF superstars had been lost that he felt that “Brian would’ve wanted the show to go on.”
The shot then goes to the announcers, where a shaken Jim Ross and Jim Cornette address the situation as best they can as the participants in the first match head to the ring. As the first team enters, we are informed that due to the death of Brian Pillman, the tag bout scheduled between Pillman and Jim Neidhart against the “Men in Green” will not take place tonight. The team of the New Blackjacks and Crush are the first out with Paul Bearer as they are set to do battle with Goldust, Savio Vega, and Vader. The match is a slugfest as expected with the Vader, Goldust, Savio team getting the win, when while the official was distracted, Chainz charged from the back, but was cut off by Vader who saw him coming. The mastodon floored the D.O.A. member and snatched the infamous wrench that had reappeared Monday night from his back pocket and blasted Crush over the head with it before the official turned around to see Savio pounce on top and get the three count.
Following the match, we go to the back as we get ready for the Owen/ Bulldog vs. Shamrock/ Sid matchup. Michael Cole stand by in the interview area with Owen and Bulldog who are with Jim Neidhart. The interview is very brief and the three seem to have great difficulty in staying focused, obviously due to the loss of their friend. Owen does close the interview by dedicating the match to his friend and tears stream down his face as the three walk away and head toward the ring. This match, while built up as a serious grudge match actually goes down as a pretty basic scientific match, with the exception of Sid’s participation, which sees the big man utilize his usual power game. Seeming to feed off the tragedy, these four put on a spectacular tag team contest which sees Bulldog and Owen get a clean victory when Hart hits a top rope clothesline (i.e. Air Pillman) in tribute to his friend for the one, two, three. In what would be considered a “break from the show,” when the cameras moved to the backstage area, the four wrestlers, Ellering, and Neidhart, shared embraces and pointed upwards in another tribute. Once in the backstage area, we see the members of the Nation, once again talking. This time, while they are all there, Rocky Maivia seems a bit distant. They all give him a confused look as we walks off and down the hallway, where he picks u a phone and makes a call. “Oh yeah, something here don’t seem right, if ya’ smell what I’m cookin’,” he says into the receiver. Yep, tonight is the night, I will see you here in a bit.”
Following this, we go back up to the ring for the World Tag Team Title Match. Billy Gunn and Jesse James retain the title via pinfall over the Road Warriors in this bout, when the referee is knocked cold and the “Man in Green” appears from the crowd. While he does not physically interfere, he does slide a chair into the ring and distract Hawk long enough for Gunn to blindside him, setting him up for a double team spike piledriver on to the chair for the three count. As usual, the “Man in Green” disappears through the crowd and we once again head backstage and see Paul Bearer berating Chainz, Skull, and 8-Ball. The New Blackjacks and Crush stand by his side as he questions where Skull and 8-Ball were and he really lays into Chainz, eventually slapping the big man. Once he lays his hands on the manager, Bearer says “feed them to him,” and Crush, Windham, and Bradshaw attack the three and toss them into a nearby dressing room door. When the door opens all that can be seen is a red glow and then they slam the door shut. Bearer seems very pleased and Crush mutters while laughing a bit, “Well that should be the end of them.”
Following this, we go to the interview area and Kevin Kelly is standing by with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Austin begins by pulling a beer from his pocket, raising it and toasting to his former partner, Brian Pillman before Kelly begins the interview.
Kelly: “Steve Austin, you have been an absolute madman around here the past two weeks since your return. Despite the owner of the World Wrestling Federation, Vinc e McMahon pleading with you to not be involved in a physical manner, you continue to disrupt matches and jump on anything in your path. Now, you do not have a match here tonight, so I must ask, what brings “Stone Cold” to St. Louis on this fine October night.”
Austin: “Well, Kevin Kelly, I guess maybe you forgot who you were talking to here. I am “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, and I don’t need a damn reason to be here. You see, just like I have always said, I do what I want, I do it when I want, and I do it to whoever I want, and that’s all I got to say about that. Now, Vince McMahon wants to come out here in his little suit and act like he is trying to help Steve Austin. He wants to act like he is protecting Steve Austin. Well, Steve Austin don’t give a crap about Vince McMahon and he don’t need no one protecting him, you got that son. Every time Vince McMahon tells me I can’t be here or I can’t do something, guess what? Ol’ “Stone Cold,” he is gonna do it anyway. So, why am I here tonight? Well first off, I came to drink some damn beer. Second, I came to toast my good friend and partner, Brian Pillman, but I already done did those things now didn’t I? So, the third thing that “Stone Cold” Steve Austin came to Badd Blood to do was open a St. Louis size can of whup ass on someone and that is exactly what he is fixin’ to do at some point tonight, Kevin Kelly, and that’s the bottom line, ‘cause ‘Stone Cold’ said so.”
Following the Austin interview, we return to the ring for the “Blind Draw” Gauntlet match featuring all five members of the Nation to decide who will be the group’s leader. The unlucky member who drew numbers one and two were D-Lo Brown and Marc Mero. The two battle it out for about five minutes and what started as a friendly contest turns a bit ugly as both eventually start bending the rules. Kama comes out to break the two up as they are both counted out of the ring, trading blows on the floor and he is the next man in. Faarooq then comes out as the fourth man in and immediately upon arrival he gives Kama a head nod and with cooler heads prevailing, both D-Lo and Mero who have remained at ringside jump to the apron and hold the ropes open as Kama exits to the floor and he too is counted out. Faarooq applauds the actions of the three and points them toward the ramp as Maivia makes his entrance in preparation to do battle with the winner becoming the Nation’s leader. Before he can get to the ring, Rocky finds himself fighting off all three of the already eliminated men, battling valiantly to get to the ring. His efforts are not enough though, as they batter him and eventually drag him back to ringside and roll him into the awaiting Faarooq. As Mero, D-Lo, and Kama celebrate what they feel was a job well done and Faarooq begins “picking the carcass” of Maivia, two enormous men wearing baggy jogging suits with their hood pulled up come from behind the three and absolutely dominate them. “These men are huge,” observes J.R., “who in the hell are they and what is their business here,” he questions. Just as this is going on, the battered Maivia is scooped up and planted with a spinebuster by Faarooq, but before he can make the cover, the two huge men enter, with one tossing the official clear over the top and the other nailing an unsuspecting Faarooq with a superkick. “Wow, what agility from a huge man,” Ross again notes, “and this other man, he is as big as a damn house.” After laying him out with the kick, the man then drags Faarooq to the corner. The larger of the two men climbs up to the second rope and before launching, he pulls the hood down. “Oh my god,” a startled Ross remarks. “It’s Yokozuna, and he is bigger and badder than ever.” The other man also lowers his hood after helping Rocky up and reveals himself to be Fatu. The two cheerlead as Yoko drops what appears to be his now somewhere near 700 pound frame on Faarooq with a Bonzai drop, before Fatu follows in suit and crushes the Nation member with a splash from the top rope. Following this, they drag the limp body of Faarooq to the center of the ring and Maivia puts an exclamation point on the return of his two family members by dropping what would later become known as the People’s Elbow, “right to the heart” of Faarooq in the words of J.R. The three raise each other’s arms in victory in the center of the ring, before cockily striding off up the ramp. The referee eventually renders his official decision, naming Faarooq the winner by disqualification, giving him the title of the leader of the Nation, although it appears the title was one that Rocky had no desire of earning. Following this, we see a promo package highlighting all the twists and turns in the history between Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Mick Foley. Once the package is finished, we go to ringside for the introductions and the Intercontinental Champion is the first to head to the ring, with Chyna at his side. The arena pops loud for the introduction of Foley, who strides to the ring to the strains of his Cactus Jack theme song, despite being introduced for this hardcore bout under his birth given name. Foley wheels out a huge plastic cart filled with weapons and once he reaches ringside, he begins tossing them into the ring as Helmsley argues with the official.
Match- Hardcore Intercontinental Championship Match- Champion, Hunter Hearst Helmsley (with Chyna) vs. Mick Foley- The match starts and immediately Foley goes on the offense like a man possessed. He has grabbed a trash can lid and is beating hunter’s brains out, crushing him six consecutive times with the weapon. In the vein of “being fair” to each weapon, he tosses the lid aside and grabs an actual steel garbage can next. After two loud, thunderous shots to the head, he places the can over Helmsley’s head and picks up a nearby chair and begins walloping the side of the can as it is still covering the I-C Champ. Shaking free from the garbage can, Helmsley’s face appears to be screaming out “what have I gotten myself into,” as he tries to run from Foley, backing into the corner and then falling down, only to be met with a running knee to the face. Foley then lays repeated boots to Hunter’s face as he lays helpless on the mat. Chyna jumps to the apron on the far side of the ring at this point and when Foley backs up preparing another charge, she scores with a low blow and then grabs two fists full of hair and bounces the back of his skull of the mat. This gives Helmsley a much needed breather and he reaches down and picks up a Singapore cane as he approaches. Slow to get up, Foley has his brains scrambled when he does reach his feet, as Hunter cracks him right between the eyes with the cane. A second, third, and, fourth shot splinters the cane, as Helmsley tosses it to the side and retrieves a chair. A series of brutal shots to the back echo throughout the arena, and Foley appears to be in a very bad way. Hunter then sets the chair up in the center of the ring and whips his foe to the ropes, scoring with a drop toe hold that bounces Foley’s face off the seat of the chair, breaking it on impact. “This one is not for the weak of heart,” J.R. notes as Hunter flings his opponent to the floor at the feet of Chyna. Showing her great power, Chyna scoops Foley up and plants him with a thundering bodyslam on the floor before laying repeated kicks in to the “Hardcore Legend’s” prone body. She then exposes the concrete under the mat to the protests of Ross on commentary, as Hunter moves in and cinches up, looking for a pedigree. Foley counters though, backdropping the champ instead on to the cement below. Scurrying away and now begging for mercy as his seemingly unstoppable opponent makes yet another comeback, the two wind up on the ramp before Foley catches up and scores with a kick to the face. He then tries for a double arm DDT, but Helmsley slides out and much like Chyna had minutes earlier, resorts to a shot below the belt to regain the advantage. With Foley doubled over, Hunter hits a running clothesline that bounces the back of the challengers head off the steel ramp once again, and he follows it with a suplex that also brings Foley loudly crashing off the steel. At this point, Helmsley looks to Chyna, who has followed along with the action and then looks over the side of the stage which they have now fought their way to. He seems to be measuring the ten foot distance that he could hurl Foley too. As he turns though to grab the hair of his rival and go for the toss, out of nowhere, the Honky Tonk Man comes through the curtain and busts his trusty guitar over HHH’s head, dropping him like a ton of bricks. Chyna approaches, but as Honky argues with the amazon, she had not noticed that directly behind Honky with a second guitar was Jerry “The King” Lawler. As Honky moves aside, the angry Chyna walks right into a guitar shot from the “King,” and the crowd goes crazy as Foley starts to stir while the champion and his bodyguard are both down and out. As Lawler soaks in the cheers of the crowd, Honky gives the crowd a wiggle and from the back, pat Patterson and Gerry Brisco emerge, joining the HTM in his dancing, mimicking his every move. Brisco and Patterson start putting the boots to Helmsley, but the proud and tough individual that he is, he snatches at both of their legs and takes them down. Just as he is about to start mounting an offense, in a flash from the back Dok Hendrix (a.k.a. Michael “P.S.” Hayes) sprints out and spikes the I-C champion with a DDT on the steel. “the Intercontinental Champ just took a trip down Badstreet, USA,” hollered Ross as the legends begin dragging Hunter back toward the ring now, as Foley has managed to get back to his feet and is following closely behind. Before he can get back to the ring though, down the ramp comes two of the “men in green.” They take out Foley with a series of brutal chairshots, and enter the ring with the legends in sight. Chyna has now also returned and she sneaks in behind the five veterans and scores quickly with several her patented low blow uppercuts, taking out Patterson, Brisco, and Hayes in the process. With the numbers now even, the “Men in Green” hit Honky and Lawler at the same time with a chairshot to the head, dropping both. In the meantime, Chyna is dead lifting Foley’s body on to the apron and then she rolls him back in. While one of the masked men revives Hunter, the second sizes up Foley. At this point, the third “man in green” appears through the crowd and motions for the one wielding the chair to let him do the honors. Agreeing, he hands the chair over and both of the first two masked men to appear give the lean and point to their third. They then turn around and raise Helmsley’s arms, facing the crowd, but to the surprise and delight of the crowd, he wallops both of his “look a likes” from behind, knocking them to the floor, before Helmsley takes a wild swing at him. The masked attacker ducks and hits a boot to the stomach, before making it obvious as to who is under the disguise, as he hits a stunner. Tearing the mask off, it is Austin and he has once again fooled everyone. He pulls Helmsley to the center of the ring and rolls out to the floor, as both participants in the match very slowly try to get up. Foley is the first up and as HHH lunges at him, he hits a double arm DDT and scores the win and becomes the new Intercontinental Champion. Austin hops back in the ring and begins with his ‘chugging’ routine, before he is soon joined by the five now recuperated legends. He gives them each a “Steveweiser, “ and they all raise them for a toast. True to form though, Austin goes right down the line and drops all five with stunners. He then turns to Foley and offers up a cold one, but once the new I-C Champ take a sip, he too is met with a stunner as the crowd goes crazy.
Following this chaos, we head to the back, where Michael Cole stands in with Shawn Michaels and Rick Rude.
Cole: “Shawn Michaels, judgment day is upon you, as tonight a WWF Championship shot for you hangs in the balance as you enter the demonic structure known now as “Hell in a Cell” t do battle with the lord of darkness himself, “The Undertaker.”
Michaels: “Well, Michael, first let me say that what I just witnessed was the biggest travesty that I have ever seen in my life. Steve Austin wants to run around here and get in the business, of these “degenerates,” uh-oh, there’s that word again, well, Steve Austin you have made a gave mistake my friend. We will deal with you when the time is right though. As for the Undertaker, the lord of darkness, the only darkness he is gonna see is when he tastes some “sweet chin music” and is laid out flat on his back while HBK steals the show once again. Once I finish of the “Dead Man” in the cell, then it is on to regaining my WWF Title. Oh, and as for the “men in green” and their possible unmasking being put on hold, let me just say that you may just see their pretty faces sooner than you thought. We have to get ready, this interview is over.”
Back up to ringside, we are set for the WWF Title bout between Bret “The Hitman” Hart and WWF Commissioner Sgt. Slaughter. The Sarge is introduced first and immediately upon Slaughter walking through the curtain, the “Hitman” follows behind him with a sneak attack, flooring him with the pole of the Canadian flag that he carries.
Match- WWF Championship Boot Camp Match- Champion, Bret “The Hitman” Hart vs. WWF Commissioner, Sgt. Slaughter- The “Boot Camp Match” is brutal as advertised, with Hart taking the early advantage and battering the veteran Slaughter with kicks while the two are still near the top of the ramp. Hart scores with a Russian leg sweep that bounces the head of the Commissioner off the steel grating and continues his assault, bouncing his head off the steel ramp. Continuing to battle back toward the ring, Bret whips Slaughter from side barrier to side barrier as they get closer to the ring. Once at the ringside area, Hart goes to whip his opponent into the ringpost but it is reversed and Slaughter goes on the attack for the first time in the match. He picks up a cord that is on the ground at ringside and strangles the champion, bringing him to his knees, and then kick away at him while down. Going for the kill early, Slaughter grabs the time keepers bell an readies to bring it down over the “Hitman,” but Bret reacts and scores with a punch to the stomach, knocking it from his hands. A second shot from Hart is below the belt and it drops the former Drill Sargent to his knees. Bret now grabs the bell and clobbers Slaughter with it, busting his forhed wide open in the process. Attacking the wound, Bret rains punches down onto the bleeding forehead of his foe, before reaching back and grabbing the same cord Slaughter used to choke him out. With Slaughter down and out, Bret goes for the kill, slinging Slaughter across the announcer’s table and sending him crashing to the floor on the other side. Bret then removes the monitors from the table and pulls Sarge up onto it, looking for a piledriver. Slaughter blocks though and delivers a backdrop that instead sends the champion crashing through the table. Slaughter then grabs the “Hitman” and slings him back first off the apron, before taking him by the back of his head and introducing his face to the ring post. This shot busts Bret wide open, as now both men bleed freely from their foreheads. Slaughter then slings Hart across the Spanish announce table, with Bret flying over and crashing to the floor, wiping out both announcers in the process. As Hart crawls back to the feet of the Commissioner slowly, Slaughter scoops him up and rolls him into the ring. When they get there, he takes off his belt and begins lashing Bret across the back with it as each slap of leather on flesh echoes throughout the building. An Irish Whip then sees Slaughter clothesline Bret with the belt, holding on to the move and following Bret down to the mat with a choke. He then again pulls the WWF Champ to his feet and whips him to the ropes and hits the “Slaughter Cannon” clothesline, following up with another whip in, but to the buckle where Bret’s head snaps back as he hits hard chest first. As the “Hitman” staggers back, Slaughter slaps on the dreaded cobra clutch and it appears that Hart is fading. Grasping for anything he can, Bret latches on to the official and pulls him close, just long enough to shoot his leg back and hit another low blow. Once again, this drops Slaughter to the mat and both men stay down until a count of eight, when Hart is the first up. Finding a second wind, Bret scoops Slaughter and hits a side back breaker, before coming off the second rope with an elbow drop. Sliding behind, he hits another Russian leg sweep and then quickly pulls the challenger up and whips him to the corner. The velocity of the whip in sends Slaughter flipping over the buckle and too the floor, but Bret follows. He grabs on and whips his foe into the ring steps and then bounces his still bloodied face off the same steps. Bret then climbs back into beat the count and when Slaughter finally gets up on the apron, Hart “brings him in the hard way with a suplex.” He floats up after the move and it appears the match is about to come to an end, as Bret turns the Commissioner over into the Sharpshooter. With blood pouring from his head, it would appear there is no way out for Slaughter, but just then, once again, the “Men in Green” appear through the crowd, chair in hand. Bret releases the hold and greets the first with several right hands, turning just in time to do the same to the second. Owen, Bulldog, and the “Anvil” sprint to Bret’s aid, but following close behind them with a complete blindside chair attack are Helmsley, Rude, and Chyna. Michaels comes out with them, but stands and watches at the top of the ramp. With the three Foundation members down, Helmsley, Rude, and Chyna enter the ring and as Bret battles the “Men in Green,” the attack the helpless Slaughter. Hunter hits a gruesome pedigree on to a chair, as the “Men in Green” start getting the better of Hart. The referee calls for the bell and rules this a no contest, as Rude and Helmsley each grab one of Bret’s arms and hold him back. Michaels now slowly walks to the ring and gets right in Bret’s face, as both of the masked men stand on either side of him. Shawn puts a hand on top of each of the attackers head and as Chyna gives the lean and double point, he tears both masks off simultaneously to reveal Billy Gunn and Jesse James as the two men under the masks. A livid and shocked Bret tries to squirm free, but all six members of the faction lay into him with kicks and chairshots before alternating between him and Slaughter. As Owen, Bulldog, and Neidhart have recouped, they too are brutally beaten down as they try to get in the ring, With Michaels, Helmsley, Chyna, Rude, Gunn, and James celebrating in the ring. Michaels then takes a microphone and gets right in the face of the semi-conscious and bloody WWF Champion and announces, “Looks like they are not free agents anymore just like you said, eh Bret. Our master plan is almost complete with these two pieces of the puzzle coming together, there just leaves but only one more. As for the group, this elite army of warriors, I’d like to thank you Bret for our name, because just like you always call us, from here on out, you can call us Degeneration X, and the fun around here has only just begun. It’s a shame I hear you won’t be around too long to see it, now hit our music. (The new Degeneration X theme music hits here for the first time and the group clowns around and celebrates amongst the fallen bodies. Both Bret and Slaughter have to be stabilized and put on a stretcher. We get one last shot of DX walking to the back, before we go to Kevin Kelly with the Undertaker.
Kelly: “Undertaker, you have waited a long time to get Shawn Michaels alone and to get your hands on him. For months you have waited patiently for this chance. Now, tonight, in “Hell in a Cell,” you get that opportunity.”
Undertaker: “Heartbreak Kid is not what I would call Shawn Michaels, Kevin. You see, what I would call Shawn Michaels is a heartless kid, because tonight in “hell in a Cell,” I am going to rec in his skinny little body and rip out his heart. While I’m digging around in there, I will take from him his soul, and when all is said and done, Shawn Michaels, you will rest in peace.”
Back at ringside, the crowd is in complete awe as the awesome structure that is “Hell in a Cell” is lowered down for the first time. Michaels and Rude enter first, once again t their brand new DX theme music and they are followed by the awesome entrance of the Undertaker
***Match- Hell in a Cell Match- European champion, Shawn Michaels (with Rick Rude) vs. The Undertaker***- *** WWF European Champion Shawn Michaels pinned the Undertaker at 29:56 in a non-title Hell in a Cell match after Paul Bearer and Kane came ringside, Kane ripped the door off the cage, and hit the tombstone on the Undertaker before leaving ringside; Michaels was escorted to the ring by Triple H, Chyna, and Rick Rude but all three returned backstage after the cage door was locked shut; midway through the contest, the door had to be unlocked in order to get an injured cameraman to safety (a local indy wrestler) – resulting in the two participants having a lengthy brawl outside and on top of the cage; after the contest, Triple H and Chyna helped Michaels backstage; due to prematch stipulations, Michaels earned a world title shot at a time of his choosing; this bout was named Pro Wrestling Torch’s Match of the Year (the 1st ever HIAC; Kane’s surprise debut)***(1)
Badd Blood went off the air to the image of a battered HBK being helped to the back, before the final thing we saw was a face picture of Brian Pillman with his name, birthdate and the current day under it in his memory.
The following night, Raw is War takes on an entirely different feel, as the show leaves storylines behind and pays tribute to the life of Brian Pillman. The show begins with another ten bell salute, with the entire locker room on the ramp to pay their respects. In between each commercial, there are either Pillman highlights shown or some of his closest friends in the company, including Bret Hart, Owen Hart, Jim Neidhart, British Bulldog, Steve Austin, Mick Foley, and Jim Ross each share stories and memories of their fallen friend. In addition, Vince McMahon speaks via satellite with Pillman’s widow, Melanie Pillman live on air toward the end of the broadcast. Other than random matches throughout the night, what could be considered his four closest friends close the show with a classic tag team dream match, as Owen Hart and the British Bulldog defeat the original Hart Foundation, Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart, when Owen pins his brother cleanly following the “Air Pillman” flying clothesline.
As we now head toward Survivor Series, the focus of the remainder of this story turns solely on our main storyline, involving mainly Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart, leading into the Survivor Series and the night following, which will be the “Hitman’s” final night in the WWF. Before getting into the main event at Survivor Series, that final Raw, and the lead into it, we will take a look at each of our major players that were heavily involved in this story and where exactly they headed from this point.
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin- Following his return, Austin continues over the course of the next month to raise absolute hell, coming and going as he sees fits and dropping nearly every man on the roster with his stunner. His initial stunner on Vince McMahon was just a precursor of things to come, as the “Rattlesnake” would continue on to also hit almost evey authority figure including Commissioner Slaughter, Jim Ross, Jerry “The” King Lawler, and countless other non-active wrestlers that happen to cross his path. Following his run in at Badd Blood, Austin would spend the month leading up to Survivor Series at odds with Degeneration X, culminating in a marquee one on one match between him and Shawn Michaels at the Survivor Series pay per view. He would eventually go on to feud with rising star Rocky Maivia, who he would win the Intercontinental Title from at the December “In Your House” Pay Per View, before winning the 1998 Royal Rumble an moving on to a WWF Championship match at WrestleMania 14.
The Undertaker- Following the surprising attack and return by his brother, Kane, the “Dead Man” would disappear from WWF TV for quite some time. He would eventually return as a thorn in the side of his former manager, Paul Bearer, but would initially still refuse to fight his brother. ‘Taker also came back with a score to still settle with Shawn Michaels, who he would face in his first PPV match back in a “Casket Match” at the Royal Rumble 1998. Once again, though, the “Phenom” would be cost this bout when Kane interfered and actually put him in the casket and set the box on fire. Following this brutal run in, Undertaker finally would change his mind and go on to WrestleMania 14 to face Kane in an epic contest.
Mick Foley- After winning the Intercontinental Title at Badd Blood, Foley would successfully defend the strap and continue for a few weeks to feud with DX and Hunter Hearst Helmsley. He would go on to drop the title to Rocky Maivia at the December “In Your House,” and would be brutally injured by what Maivia refers to as his “Samoan Mafia,” Yokozuna and Fatu. The “Hardcore Legend,” as always would not be out for long though, as he would return and see all 3 Faces of Foley (Dude Love, Mankind, and Cactus Jack) enter the Royal Rumble and shortly thereafter form a tag team with long time friend, Terry Funk, who would enter the WWF that January. The two would feud with Billy Gunn and Jesse James of DX and actually battle the two for the Tag Team titles at WrestleMania.
DeGeneration X – DX would go on to mark their place as the dominant faction in the WWF over the next few months. After facing Steve Austin at Survivor Series, Shawn Michaels would play a large role in the Raw the night after that was Bret Hart’s final night with the company. Hunter Hearst Helmsley would continue to rise up the ranks on his way to becoming a headlining star. Eventually when Michaels would be shelved with an injury, HHH would take over as the leader of the group. Chyna would remain loyally by the side of Helmsley, while Rick Rude would actually leave the company in mid- November. Billy Gunn and Jesse James would become known as “The New Age Outlaws,” and remain a force in the tag team division for years to follow. (More details on Michaels’ next month will be detailed in the final chapter.)
Rocky Maivia- Eventually dropping the last name and the “y,” while developing a unique attitude and persona, Maivia would soon begin his rise toward becoming one of the WWF’s biggest stars of all time. He would feud with Mick Foley shortly after Badd Blood and with the help of his family members, Yokozuna and Fatu, who he dubbed the “Samoan Mafia,” he would win the Intercontinental strap from Foley at Survivor Series. He would then go on to feud with Steve Austin and the two would swap the title back and forth. By the end of 1998, Rocky would have become a huge star and a bona fide world title contender.
Kane- After his debut at Badd Blood, Kane would prove to be the unstoppable force he was advertised as. He would feud with and destroy both Goldust and Savio Vega in his first major angles, before feuding with Vader and ultimately defeating the mastodon at the Royal Rumble. Following a second attack on his brother the Undertaker at that same event, Kane would get his wish and head to Wrestle Mania 14 for a showdown with the “Dead Man.
The Nation- Following the attack at Badd Blood by Yokozuna and Fatu, the Nation would eventually return and enjoy mild success until they eventually split. Faarooq would have a few matches with Rocky Maivia, but fail to win the Intercontinental Title from him. After the group would split, Faarooq would eventually wind up a multiple time tag champion as a part of a tag team called the Acolytes with Bradshaw as his partner. D-Lo Brown would actually go on later in 1998 to become European champion and a legitimate middle of the card singles star. Marc Mero and Sable would eventually split off on their own and actually feud with each other, while Kama would remain a second tier player until he was saddled with a new gimmick, The Godfather, which would make him a very popular star.
The Unholy Alliance- Paul Bearer’s ever changing group would split not too long after Badd Blood as well. With Kane as his new “pet project,” over the course of the next month, Bearer would eliminate each member of his ‘Alliance,’ with Kane attacking each as their notification of termination. The New Blackjacks would split after Blackjack Windham left the company following an injury in December. Bradshaw would become a solid singles force but eventually revert back to the tag ranks, achieving great success down the road in the Acolytes alongside Faarooq. Crush would appear sporadically for the company until he eventually would leave and join WCW in early 1998.
The Legion of Doom- The Legion of Doom as a four man faction would split and go their separate ways without major incident after the Road Warriors would be injured in an attack by DX in December. Hawk and Animal would return with a new look and a new manager, Sunny at WrestleMania 14 as a part of a tag team battle royal. Sycho Sid would simply disappear and leave the company, while Ken Shamrock would easily achieve the most success of the group in 1998, challenging for the Intercontinental title at WrestleMania 14 and remaining a major top tier player throughout the year. Paul Ellering would not be seen in WWF again following the Road Warrior’s December injuries.
Vader, Goldust, and Savio Vega-
Of these three former “Alliance” members it would be Goldust who actually had the most staying power. By the beginning of 1998, the “Gold One” would revert back to his “bizarre” ways, actually pushing the envelope harder and further than he ever had before. He would remain an upper mid card fixture and strong Intercontinental title contender for the better part of the next two years, though he would never reclaim his spot as WWF Champion again. Vader would continue to feud with members of the “Alliance,’ until they split off and then he wound up in a brutal feud with Kane, being the first man to actually show some offense and hurt the “Big Red Machine.” After dropping a decision to Kane at the Royal Rumble, Vader would appear sporadically throughout the year, but by the winter of 1998 he would be gone from the Federation. Savio, likewise, would appear here and there on WWF programming for the next few months, but he too would leave the company for good by the Spring of 1998.
The D.O.A. (Skull, 8-Ball, and Chainz)- Would not be seen again of WWF TV following the attack on them at the September 29 edition of Raw that began this chapter.
WWF Commissioner, Sgt. Slaughter- After the brutal attack by DX following the Boot Camp Match, Slaughter would be injured and not on TV for several weeks. When he did return he would have his hands full, mostly with DX, who would continuously make his life a living hell, mocking his every move. He would return to the ring in another Boot Camp Match against Hunter Hearst Helmsley at the December pay per view. In the months following though, his role would continuously diminish and the position of Commissioner would be almost non-existent on WWF television.
After the Pillman Memorial edition of Raw, as stated above, Shawn Michaels began feuding with Steve Austin. He did however continue in his interviews on air to make allusions to the fact that Bret Hart would be leaving the WWF and in the weeks leading up to Survivor Series, the signs about this in the crowd became more prominent, and the “Bret Sold Out” chants became louder and much more common. This led to several on camera confrontations between Michaels and DX and Owen Hart, the British Bulldog, and Jim Neidhart, as Bret was out with his injuries suffered at Badd Blood for several weeks. Behind the scenes, Bret, Shawn, and McMahon had another private meeting before the October 13 edition of Raw and then the other men involved joined the three for another “secret” meeting before the show on October 20. (As stated before, these meetings will be transcribed in the next and final chapter of this story.) The “Hitman” did return to television on Raw on the October 20 edition and cut the following promo addressing the news of his leaving the company, further blurring the lines of reality with the fans, as it would appear Bret’s words were as real as it gets.
Raw is War- October 20, 1997- Oklahoma City, OK
Bret: (Crowd rabidly chanting “You sold out” as he approaches the ring and once he has entered, not even allowing him to speak at first. Finally when it settles, Bret addresses the crowd) “So, fourteen years and this is the thanks I get. Bret sold out? Actually, Bret never sold out, Bret tried to do anything he could to not sell out. You see, in this business, some people do it for the money and some do it because they love what they do. For the past fourteen years I have done this because I love what I do. I love coming out here for the great fans of the WWF. I love the WWF and always figured that I would be here until the end of my career. About a year and a half ago, I was approached by WCW and Eric Bischoff (crowd boos loudly). I was offered a contract for three years that absolutely blew my mind. It was more money than I could ever even had imagined someone could earn in this business way back when I was driving through blizzards in a van back in my father’s Stampede territory. But, I looked myself in the mirror, and I thought about all that Vince McMahon and the WWF has done for me, and then I thought about all of you, the fans that have meant so much to me. After thinking about all of that, I called Vince McMahon and just told him to do the best that he could so I could stay and he signed me to a twenty year deal. We hugged and we knew that my legend and my legacy would always be here in the WWF. That was until about a month ago, when Vince McMahon told me that he could no longer afford to pay my contract and that he had to pull out of it. Again, I begged him to just make me any offer to keep me here, but he said it wasn’t possible. So, you can chant that “I sold out” all you like, but the reality is that the WWF sold me out, and quite frankly all of you fans sold me out. So, with all the rumors and the airplay this has been getting thanks to Shawn Michaels over the past few weeks, I thought I’d come out here and set the record straight. So, yes, Bret Hart will be leaving the WWF. My last night with the company that I have bled for, that I have sweated for, and the company that I have dedicated my life to will be the night after the Survivor Series, and to be honest with you, I will not be around until that pay per view. (Bret tears off his neckbrace) You want real, I will give you real. I haven’t been on TV since Badd Blood and it is not because of some phony injury, it is because it breaks my heart to be pushed out of this company in this way. The reason why I will wrestle my last match at Survivor Series is for the same reason, I just can’t stand to see all of this come to an end. So, I have never been like Shawn Michaels, a guy who plays his creative card and plays his politics in the back, but this time I am going to. I have a little agreement that I had put in my contract in case something like this ever happened, and right now I am damn glad I did. That stipulation gives me reasonable creative control over the final thirty days that I am in this company. At the risk of getting in some hot water here, I am going to tell you that the WWF creative forces wanted me in my last match at Survivor series to fight Shawn Michaels, but here in front of the whole world I am looking you in the eye and telling you that it ain’t gonna happen. So, that being said, here are your options WWF, it will either be me versus my brother, Owen at Survivor Series for the WWF Championship in my last match ever in this company, or I am going home with this belt and once my non-compete window is up, I can guarantee you that you will see this same strap slung over my shoulder when I walk out live on another wrestling program that I am sure you have all heard of. So, that’s it, did Bret Hart sell out? I don’t think so, see you at Survivor Series, I hope. (Bret spikes the microphone down and walks to the back. McMahon leaves the broadcast position and follows him up the ramp pleading with him. Bret does not break stride or even give him a second look.)
The buzz within the wrestling world was at a fever pitch after Bret’s “shoot” on Raw. Prior to the October 27 edition of the program the group once again met behind the scenes and this time the group of five expanded to six. That night on air, it had earlier been announced that there would be a match between Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin for Survivor Series. Later in the program, Michaels took the microphone and also delivered a very “real” promo.
Raw is War- October 27, 1997- Tulsa, OK
Michaels: “So, Bret Hart finally decided to show his face here last week and he has the audacity to come out here and tell the fans of the WWF and the company itself that they “sold out?” Bret wants to make things real around here? Let’s make things real then “Hitman.” The fact of the matter is that Bret Hart is leaving the WWF for exactly what he said he isn’t, he is leaving for the money. It’s one thing when he is out here being the big hero and telling everyone how great a role model he is, but it’s a completely other situation backstage. Bret Hart wants to say that I play my creative card? Don’t make me laugh. The only one who just doesn’t “get it” is Bret Hart. He doesn’t realize this is a business here. He doesn’t get that we are a team here in the WWF. So, if Bret Hart doesn’t get his way, he is going to take the WWF Championship somewhere else? Guess what, pal, I got some of my best buddies in the world that are “elsewhere,” and I spoke with them and even if you bring it there, they got no problem beating your ass and bringing it right back here to me. It is kind of fitting that on his way out the door, Bret hart has to once again try to cry until he gets his way. He wants to fight his no talent, boring, brother, Owen at Survivor Series? Yawn, that ought to be great. But, it appears once again that the WWF brass is going to let Bret cry and throw a tantrum until he gets his way, because I am in a match with “Stone Cold” at that event. Hey, looks like I will just have to once again steal the show and give the fans a look at the new faces of the WWF like me and Steve, as opposed to the tired old dog that is leaving town and heading right to the bank down south. Well, either way, it looks like you got out of facing me at Survivor Series Bret, but, I still have that free pass for a title shot and I’ll be damned if I am not getting it. So, you take your 30 day creative control, and you stick it where the sun don’t shine, because on your last night in this company, on Raw, the day after Survivor Series, the Heartbreak Kid will be cashing in that pass and fighting you, Bret for the WWF title. I guess that is also real fitting, as it is poetic justicve that on your final day here, I can take your title, take your dignity, and most importantly send your ass out the door just like I have sent it out the door for years now, as a complete loser. (Michaels puts the microphone down as the show cuts to a break)
The week of Survivor Series is now upon us, and that Monday night (November 3) right as the show begins, the audience is informed that it has been officially signed that Bret “the Hitman” Hart will defend the WWF Championship at Sunday’s pay per view from the Molson Centre in Montreal against his brother Owen. He also tells us that the night after Survivor Series as a final farewell land to recognize his fourteen years of service in the World Wrestling Federation that Raw is War from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada will be a very special edition, titled “Bret Hart Appreciation Night.” Ross goes on to explain that not only will the “Hitman” say farewell to the fans of the WWF, but in addition, given his “free pass” for a title shot, on that night, Bret “The Hitman” Hart will defend the WWF Championship one final time against his longtime rival, Shawn Michaels. Throughout the broadcast, highlights from Bret’s illustrious career are shown and following each clip that runs, we see an advertisement for next Monday’s show.
The day of Survivor Series 1997 arrives and early that morning, once again, Hart, Michaels, McMahon and others meet privately in McMahon’s hotel room. The plans are set and in order for the night and all seem pleased with the final game plan and likewise, they all feel like it should go off without a hitch. After a fantastic card, the stage is set for the Hart brothers to do battle and they do not disappoint. In a scientific classic, Bret and Owen tear the house down much to the delight of the Canadian faithful on hand. The finish of the match comes at just under the forty minute mark, when after countless false finishes and both men surviving the sharp shooter on a couple of occasions, Owen surprises Bret with a crucifix and holds his shoulders to the mat for the one, two, three, giving the younger hart brother his first taste of World Championship gold. The celebration in the ring is very emotional, as the brothers embrace and then are joined by the British Bulldog and Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart in the ring. Bret waves goodbye to the loving Montreal crowd and he, Bulldog, and Neidhart leave to allow Owen to soak in the moment. The broadcast goes off the air with Jim Ross praising the work of both Owen and Bret and reminding everyone to tune into Raw tomorrow night to say our final goodbyes to the “Excellence of Excecution.”
This marks the end of Part X and other than our final payoff, marks the end of the story. In the “bonus,” conclusion chapter (Part XI), we will hear from Bret “The Hitman” Hart as he addresses the fans on his final night in the company as a part of a special edition of Raw dedicated to him. Additionally, we will visit Bret’s final match in the Federation as he is scheduled to have one last go around on that program with Shawn Michaels in what will surely be the final chapter in their storied rivalry. As I have stated in these past two parts, we will also see the entire “behind the scenes” and “secretive” conversations involving Bret, Shawn, Vince, and others as our tale tosses a few final curve balls our way before it finishes up. In the introduction to this story way back in January, when I first began asking “What if Shawn Michaels Never Lost his Smile and forfeited the WWF Title,” I attempted to go about this story with the mind set of ‘how would things have played out if Bret and Shawn could have just gotten along and let their feud play out rather that allowing themselves to build such dislike for one another that it was next to impossible at times for them to work together.’ In keeping with the fast paced television programming that was beginning to take shape for WWF at that time, many other storylines were swirling around throughout this tale, but in the end, Bret and Shawn would have treated the fans to a classic ladder match, a steel cage match, several triple threat matches that included other top stars that they also feuded with at the time and countless unforgettable moments on a near weekly basis. Heading to our bonus chapter, they will meet one last time as we prepare to find out exactly what would have happened “if Shawn Michaels never lost his smile.”
***As stated in the intro to this part, one of the matches in this part played out as it actually did in WWF. This noted instance in this story was recalled as told by the website, thehistoryofwwe.com . The actual date this event took place on is listed below, for a good feel on how these matches and the company at this point in time were playing out (and to give this story a more realistic feel), I would suggest, if you have the time, look these up on YouTube and give them a look while moving along here.***
1)-In Your House- Badd Blood- October 5, 1997