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The Biggest Double Cross in the History of Professional Wrestling
By David Meltzer - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter

November 7, 1997 - There is no questioning the power of on-line services when it comes to the influence of pro wrestling - was established this past week. It was generally portrayed that it was a power struggle between Hart and Michaels, that Michaels had won out, and to a lesser extent Hart was leaving over the direction of the product. While there was some truth to all of this, probably the greatest truth of all is it was simply a manipulation by McMahon to get out of a contract that in hindsight he wished he'd never offered.

The WWF's own on-line site said to be the domain of young kids with no clue about wrestling was besieged with reports about Hart leaving and the so-called marks (fans not in the "know") were reacting very negatively toward Titan (McMahon's company) to the point Titan pulled all its folders by the early afternoon which caused another outcry of censorship of opinions from wrestling fans. Finally McMahon responded publicly on-line with a letter of his own stating:

"Over the past few days I have read certain comments on the Internet concerning Bret Hart and his ‘alleged’ reasons for wanting to pursue other avenues than the World Wrestling Federation to earn his livelihood. While I respect the ‘opinions’ of others, as owner of the World Wrestling Federation I felt that it was time to set the record straight. As it has been reported recently on line, part of Bret Hart's decision of pursue other options is allegedly due to his concerns with the ‘direction’ of the World Wrestling Federation. Whereby each and every individual is entitled to his, or her opinion I take great offense when the issue of the direction of the World Wrestling Federation is raised. In the age of sports entertainment, the World Wrestling Federation REFUSES to insult it audience in terms of ‘Baby Faces’ and ‘Heels’. In 1997, how many people do you truly know that are strictly ‘good’ guys or ‘bad’ guys? World Wrestling Federation programming reflects more of a reality based product in which life, as well as World Wrestling Federation superstars are portrayed as they truly are--in shades of gray...not black or white. From what I am reading it has been reported that Bret may be concerned about the morality issues in the World Wrestling Federation. questionable language, Questionable gestures, Questionable sexuality, Questionable racial issues. Questionable? All of the issues mentioned above are issues that every human being must deal with every day of their lives. Also, with that in mind, please be aware that Bret Hart has been cautioned--on ‘numerous’ occasions--to alter his language by not using expletives or God's name in vain. He was alto told--on numerous occasions--not to use certain hand gestures some might find offensive. My point is: regardless of what some are reporting, Bret's decision to pursue other career options IS NOT genuinely a Shawn Michaels direction issue, as they would like you to believe! In the personification of DeGeneration X, Shawn Michaels character is EXPECTED to be living on the edge--which I might add Mr. Michaels portrays extremely well. The issue here is that the ‘direction’ of the World Wrestling Federation is not determined by Shawn Michaels, OR Bret Hart for that matter. It is determined by you--the fans of the World Wrestling Federation. You DEMAND a more sophisticated approach! You DEMAND to be intellectually challenged! You demand a product with ATTITUDE and as owner of this company--it is my responsibility to give you exactly what you want! Personally, I regret the animosity that has built up between Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart, but in the end, it is the World Wrestling Federation that is solely responsible for the content of this product--NOT Bret Hart --NOT Shawn Michaels--NOT Vince McMahon for that matter. May the best man win at the Survivor Series!..."

This only made the situation worse in regard to how fans were viewing McMahon and the company. "You demand to be intellectually challenged?" By doing racial angles? The fans chose that direction? They asked to see Michaels pull his pants down and jump up and down on television? At a match in Toronto, two days before the showdown in Montreal, fans obviously knew what was going on behind the scenes. While there was overwhelming support for Bret, and signs of "please don't go" and "where Bret goes, we go", there were also chants of "you sold out" directed at Hart. Although this should have been expected - and Hart had been a pro wrestler for 21 years and been around the business a lot longer than that - the chants in his home country, knowing what he was going through, did get to him.

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HITMAN HART wrestling with shadows
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