Saturday, September 02, 2006

From the Vault: Matt Hardy Has No Soul

7/26/06: While the Liver Enzymes and WWE's Wellness policy has been the downfall of many a superstar over the past few weeks, let me go ahead and guess as to the REAL reason Matt Hardy is being taken off the road. Staph Infection? Bleh...

How about this...

Matt Hardy is still reeling from the effects of having NO SOUL...

It wasn't too long ago that Matt was out with an injury, and the love of his life Amy "Lita" Dumas shacked up with Adam "Edge" Copeland. The incident not only got Matt fired, it got him so unstable that the dude was pointing guns at his website visitors. What kind of weird ass family do Version 1 and the Charismatic Enigma come from anyways?

In a way, it breathed new life into Matt's career. He was the hottest free agent in wrestling.

Doors were opened and the red carpet was laid out. What did Matt do? He went back to dirty money.

Monday Night Raw, Summer of 05, Matt Hardy returns. After months of We Want Matt chants, he's here in the ring, and we aren't sure why we chanted it in the first place. Well, let's start him off with what he's worst at. Let's get that North Carolina twang on the microphone. What do you have to say Matt?

Matt Hardy: Wrestling is fake. Yeah, I went out to an injury during some bullshit sorta based on real life like story that Kane was raping my girlfriend, but in real life, she was always my girlfriend. She didn't really have sex without a rubber with Kane. Strangely enough, she did later start boning Edge though. So you can forget all that fake bullshit wrestling stuff. This is real, and I'm mad. I'm so mad, I hope Edge dies in a car accident.

(Crickets chirp)

Matt Hardy: So forget about all the pretend wrestling stuff. What's not gonna be fake is me kicking Edge's ass in a WWE ring for the next three months...

The audience has already essentially had enough of the return of Matt Hardy. But wait, Edge and Matt were both in the TLC's and shit. They can probably have good matches.

So Matt Hardy spends the rest of his summer working about as close as you can work with a former close friend who porked the love of his life. Everytime they work together, he must watch them kiss at the top of the ramp. He then proceeds to get his ass fake whooped by the person he hates more than anything in the world.

What for? Dirty money!

So now Matt is not having babies with Lita. He is watching her kiss his old friend and getting his ass handed to him weekly. But wait til you see where it goes pleads Hardy...

Edge vs. Matt Hardy. After a few weeks, Edge and Hardy have forgotten that they want to kill each other, and are instead just wrestling some matches. Hardy loses, and just leaves. He goes to Smackdown after basically conceeding that Edge is the better man, and he deserves to be porking Lita. I thought you wouldn't die Matt? Looks like you rolled over and died right there.

Well, here we go. A new lease on life. You didn't go to TNA. You decided to get fake beat up by your real life worst enemy all summer long, but you are on Smackdown now. Everyone knows you are finally going to be a big star.

Guess what: They killed off Muhammed Hassan, you are up a rung of the ladder.

Christian quit: Another rung.

Eddie died: Two rungs.

At this rate, you are going to be the champ by Wrestlemania.

Batista is hurt: Climb on Matt.

Yet somehow, even when Smackdown looked at it's bleakest, Matt Hardy was wrestling on Velocity. Was it the writing teams fault? The McMahon's fault? Who knows, and who cares.

Whether Matt Hardy gets the WWE Attitude residual pop for the rest of his life, Matt Hardy will never really be big money in professional wrestling.

Matt Hardy made his bed when he decided to return to Vince's dollars, and a year later, Edge is the WWE Heavyweight Champion and Matt Hardy is jobbing to the Cruiserweight Champion.

TNA would have probably put the freaking belt on him, as we see they have no foresight, and seem to mark as hard as their Orlando crowd.

Matt, I hope for you, that Ashley Massaro has sex with King Booker or Edge while you are gone, because that's about the only shot at main eventing you will ever have.

Lashley, Khali, and Crazy might have crazy enzymes. Kid Kash might have a bad attitude. But you sir, you have dirty money and no soul!
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Friday, September 01, 2006

How Hard Has Bret Screwed Bret?

Pro Wrestling Pundit is officially launched, and we begin with a topic that is sure to turn a lot of heads.

Some fans would ask, "how can you criticize one of the greatest champions of the 1990's?" I would respond, "how can you not?"

Bret Hart was close to being released when he was lucky enough to be paired with Jim Neidhardt and Jimmy Hart to form the Hart Foundation. They had a successful run as a team that lasted many years, and were one of my favorite childhood tag teams.

Then they split up, and Bret came seemingly out of nowhere to defeat Mr. Perfect for the Intercontinental title at Summerslam. So far so good...

When the steroid trial reared it's ugly head, Bret was in position to change the face of the stereotypical WWE champion. This ushered in a new WWE era.

I will give Bret his due. Bret's successful title run paved the way for the actual WWE wrestling product to get better over the years, and set the stage for many smaller wrestlers to have success. Without Bret carrying the ball, would we have had Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit title runs? It's debatable.
We can look back at Bret Hart leading the charge for the "New Generation" and we see a time where WWE business wasn't very impressive. While Bret wasn't offensive as champion, he certainly didn't put the butts in the seats that Hogan did before him and Austin did after...

For me personally, becoming a fan when the Megapowers were sitting on top of the wrestling world, it was hard to support Bret Hart as a World Heavyweight Champion. His defeat of Ric Flair meant no title rematch for Randy Savage. His first title reign would be ended to put the belt back around Hogan's waist, but by the time he had his second reign, it was more than apparant that Hulkamania was either dead or certainly on a long hiatus.

I learned to live with Bret Hart as a World Champion. While I never cared particularly about the stories between Bret and Owen, Hakushi, or Bob Backlund, I knew Bret Hart could produce a great match. I point to his match with the British Bulldog at In Your House as a shining example of what Bret could do in the ring when he had the belt. That match is vastly underated, as most people tend to remember their 1992 Summerslam encounter.

Outside of the ring, I didn't feel like Bret delivered. As a babyface champion, he was boring. I didn't feel that he was the best there is, best there was, or the best their ever would be, and resented him for making the claim.

The WWE groomed Shawn Michaels as a successor to the Hitman. Bret was never happy with the way he was portrayed in the buildup to Wrestlemania, and he wasn't going to be happy with Shawn Michaels from that point on. We all know how that story ends up...

But it wasn't all Montreal Screwjobs. There was a time when the legitimate backstage tension between Bret and Shawn was good for the business, especially while the WWE accidentally found their new savior in a foul mouthed s.o.b. by the name of Steve Austin.

Bret had lost touch with the fans who were tired of his lame babyface schtick. It was time for a change. Bret joined with Owen, The Anvil, The Bulldog, and "Loose Cannon" Brian Pillman to form the NEW Hart Foundation, and while WCW was still dominating the ratings war, the Foundation's feuds were rebuilding interest in RAW. Eventually it would give birth to Austin vs. McMahon and Degeneration X, and the ball would be back in Vince's court.

Before that however, Bret's relationship with the WWE would self-destruct. Bret Hart was sitting on top of the WWE as the World Champion. However, his large contract was too much for Vince to handle, and Bret wasn't happy anyways. Bret wanted a change of scenery. It was time for him to move on.

The Survivor Series came from Canada that year, where Bret was still a crowd favorite. He wasn't comfortable with dropping the title to Shawn Michaels in his home country. We all know the story, as the WWE has revisited numerous times since.

Vince defended his actions by breaking kayfabe on Raw and essentially explaining how the business works. When you are a champion, and you are leaving a promotion, you do the right thing and lose the title. Hell, when you aren't a champion, and you are leaving a promotion, you lose a few matches. They weren't in Calgary, they were in Canada. That's like Hogan saying that he can't lose a match in the United States (which I guess arguably you could say he's pretty much stuck to over the past 20 plus years).

When Vince decided to take the title off Bret, he was doing what was best for himself and his employees. Had Vince let Bret leave as the WWE World Champion, and had a tournament or battle royal for a vacant title while Bret appeared on WCW TV as the man who never lost the title, I guarantee that WWE would not be the promotion left standing today, and regardless of what you think about the current WWE product, wrestling as a whole would be worse off. Could you imagine a WCW product in 2006 with no competition for ratings? I think we can all safely presume that it would be absolutely horrid.

Bret should have done business, point blank. A loss to Michaels in Canada would have done a lot less damage to the Hitman than the aftermath of the Montreal Screwjob did.

Bret Hart has essentially spent the past 9 years publicly crying about what happened at that Survivor Series. His chance to redeem himself in World Championship Wrestling is largely a flop, as he doesn't truly have a memorable match until after Owen Hart dies, and he meets Benoit at the Kemper Arena in a tribute match. WCW does nothing for Bret Hart, and Bret Hart does nothing for WCW.

As much as I criticize Bret, I don't do it without sympathy. In the time between the Montreal Screwjob and right now, both of his parents have passed, his brother died in a very public accident, his brother in law dies as well, his marriage falls apart, his family begins fighting amongst itself, and then Goldberg mule kicks Bret's head off, effectively ending Bret's career. If that's not enough, Bret then has a stroke.

It's impossible to not have compassion for Bret Hart, however it's hard to grant as much compassion as Bret consistently asks for. I mean essentially, everything mentioned in the last paragraph is something that Vince has blamed on Vince McMahon.

Bret Hart's story is tragic, as he has gone from the excellence of execution to a very cynical shell of his former self. Bret has made no apologies for constantly chastizing everything WWE related in his Calgary Sun column since his retirement.

He has attached the in ring work of Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels, two of the greatest in ring performers of all time, and two men who Bret himself has had some of his greatest matches with. He criticizes that their matches are all the same.

However it is Bret himself who is responsible for the popularization of the term, "five moves of doom." Watch the Bret Hart DVD and look for matches that don't reach their climax with a vertical suplex, Russian legsweep, backbreaker, elbowdrop from the second rope, and the Sharpshooter.

Then watch the extras on the DVD, and find out how Bret even learned the Sharpshooter. Made it up in the Dungeon? No. The so called "Excellence of Excecution" had to have Konnan (as Max Moon) teach him the sharpshooter. I was hooking the Scorpion Deathlock when I was 5 years old, and it was damn effective too. I made a lot of little kids tap.

If anything is more important to Bret than his pride, it's his legacy. The Bret Hart DVD only exists because Bret was willing to put his pride aside if it meant he could have control over his DVD.

Bret becomes wrestling's greatest hypocrite as he poses shaking hands with Vince McMahon, who he has publicly chastized for tearing apart his life and his family, so that he can reestablish to fans that he was important to the business.

Bret, no one ever disputed that you were important to the wrestling business. We all know that you mattered. You contributed some fantastic things. You created a legacy for yourself.

However, your continuing campaign to prove to fans that you were one of the greatest of all time is doing much more to tarnish your legacy than it is to build it. Bret was ok with appearing on TV for Vince McMahon so long as it placed him into the WWE Hall of Fame. He flat out stated that he would walk out if Shawn Michaels attended, and he refused to appear on the stage at Wrestlemania, which is the part of the induction especially for the fans to give their appreciation, but Bret did indeed cement his place in wrestling history.

Shortly afterward, he was inducted into an alternate Hall of Fame, and made sure to still get in a shot at Vince and the WWE Hall of Fame.

Everytime Bret Hart makes a veiled comment like that the WWE Hall of Fame means nothing, I don't picture Bret Hart standing on the second rope holding his title belt. I picture Bret Hart standing around the ring, breaking monitors.

Day by day, Bret Hart does more and more to make that image resound in my head at the mention of his name.

Recently Bret said he wouldn't mind appearing on WWE TV to unveil that the whole Montreal situation was a work, but he can't because of his stroke. If it was a work, it certainly didn't work out as Bret had planned, and he's done more than enough to let us know ever since 1997.

The wrestling community as a whole is more than over what happened at the 1997 Survivor Series. Shawn and Vince may not be, but at least when they relive it, they do it in the name of entertainment. Bret Hart relives that night as a spiteful old man, and I've yet to see anything positive come of it.

Bret carries the weight of everything that happened at that Survivor Series everyday with him. Due to his attitude and his column, the event is almost more identifiable with him than his in-ring work. Bret has indeed screwed Bret, and even if he doesn't have to accept fault for what happened that night, he does have to accept fault for the change in public opinion since his retirement.

It's time, Bret, to forgive and forget. It is time to fade from the limelight and let your past actions define how you will be remembered...

Golden Talent or Tarnished Legacy? Wrestling Legend or Wrestling Tragedy?

Only time will tell...
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