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Scott Rees



Bret Hart: Excellence of Extreme?

It's a blistering hot summer night in Philadelphia. Inside the ECW Arena, the old Bingo Hall is doubling as Hell. The Hawaiian Shirt Guys in the front row are dripping sweat, and the dude with the long black hair, beard, and glasses is contemplating a crewcut.

Nonetheless, it's been a fantastic night of action. Super Crazy pinned Tajiri in a Mexican Loser Goes To Hell in a Hand Basket match to regain the lead in their best of infinity series, 323-322. Rhino, with the help of Steve Corino and Jack Victory, defeated Roadkill to retain his ECW World Television Championship. RVD, the Whole F'N Promotion World Champion, has defeated Raven to earn a title shot against Mike Awesome at HeatWave 2000. And for the finale, Lance Storm and Justin Incredible prepare to defend their ECW World Tag Team Championship against Tommy Dreamer and Masato Tanaka. Dreamer has Justin pinned when the lights go out.

When they come back on, Bret Hart is standing in the middle of the ring.

The crowd literally shits their pants in unison. What the hell is Bret Hart doing in ECW?

Good question. Here's why it should happen.

Bret Hart has one consuming goal in his life. He wants to destroy Vince McMahon. Plain and simple. He wants to see Vince McMahon on the street, begging for spare change. He wants vengeance for his brother's death and for his career's downfall.

And he can't do it in WCW. We all know that. WCW is an absolute mess. A complete joke. So if he really wants to bury Vince, he needs to go to ECW.

ECW has the infrastructure to make it work. They have national TV, and if the WWF goes over to CBS/UPN/TNN, I'm sure the USA network would welcome them with open arms. They have some serious support from Akklaim. And they have one man in charge, not a corporate machine full of backstabbing politicians.

Obviously, ECW would then have a true fight on their hands from the WWF. But the WWF is going to try to bury ECW sooner or later, because ECW is getting to big. The signs are already there. Tazz and the Dudleys were both champs when they were signed away. Anytime a WWF developmental person gets hot, he gets pulled back home (how long before Grimes is gone?). The WWF is setting up developmental leagues all over the country. And does anyone really think for one moment that Vince gives a rat's ass about ECW's future?

With Bret Hart, ECW gains instant credibility in Canada and with workrate fans. Bret Hart instantly becomes one of the top three players in the company. He elevates Lance Storm to a new level. He could bring out the best in RVD and Jerry Lynn. He's carried stiffs like Nash to great matches; what could he do with the best big man in the game in Mike Awesome?

What's in it for Bret? Paul can't pay Bret what he is worth. Bret has to be willing to accept less money up front. But if Paul offers Bret a long-term deal and a percentage of the company, I think Bret would accept it. Loyalty is big for Bret; he's shown in the past he'll accept less than he's worth if he feels respected.

Bret could be in charge of expansion in Canada. He'd like that, plus it could reinvigorate the Stampede area and give his hundreds of relatives jobs (if he still talks to any of them). And the shot to go up against Vince, no matter how small the chance of winning is, should be all Bret needs.

And the beauty of it is, the "reason" for Bret to come in is already there. And here's how it plays out.

The roof has just blown off the building from the crowd pop. Tommy Dreamer is in stunned amazement. Justin Credible has rolled to the floor. Bret, microphone in hand, begins to speak.

"So this is the ECW Arena, huh. You know, Tommy Dreamer, I apologize for interrupting your little match here, but I have something important to say. And I want you to hear it."

"You know, Tommy Dreamer, I use to be on top of the world. I was the Excellence of Execution, the WWF World Champion. I wrestled in front of people who respected actual ring talent. Fans that could understand the psychology of a match, who appreciated a pinfall reversal sequence. In fact, Tommy Dreamer, fans like these gave me the chance to be the champ. Vince, you know, he loves his muscle guys, and he thought Lex Luger was going to be the next Hulk Hogan. Well, Lex Luger can't wrestle his way out of a paper bag, and the fans knew it, and they started cheering for me instead. And I got the shot at WrestleMania, and I won the title again, and then Owen and I had some incredible matches. And I thought that wrestling was going to rise to a new standard."

"But you know, Tommy Dreamer, it didn't happen. Vince kept putting out these big stiffs, and he kept losing money. Vince made some bad business decisions, and even though I was raising the sport to a new standard, I couldn't make enough money to cover the steroid expenses for the guys in the World Bodybuilding Federation."

"And then the geniuses in WCW got their act together for a couple of weeks, and realized they could put Vince out of business by outspending him. So they started giving huge money contracts to all of the big stiffs, and they deserted Vince, created the NWO, and made huge money."

"So, at this point in time, without all of the big stiffs, Vince had a chance to create a real wrestling promotion, one he could be proud of, around me and Owen. So naturally, Vince starts promoting Shawn Michaels. Shawn Michaels, who was posing for gay men's magazines at the time, was the champ. And that doesn't work, so he has Sid and the Undertaker headline WrestleMania. And I don't get a shot. I'm stuck fighting Steve Austin on the undercard. The only match anyone remembers."

"Vince is beyond desperate at this point. He has us all booked on a tour of Europe, when he realizes he doesn't have enough wrestlers for RAW. So, Vince sees this little promotion with their great fans called ECW, and has them "invade" the WWF for a night in Manhattan."

"Vince watches in amazement as the crowd totally marks out for all his wrestlers. He sees the Blue World Order, and can't believe that three no-talent smart-asses are that over by mocking another promotion. And suddenly, Vince has an idea for Hunter Hearst Hemsley and his gay friend."

"He sees a guy come through the crowd, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. A guy who doesn't respect authority or the tradition of this sport. A guy with virtually no wrestling skills at all. He just curses, drinks beer, cheats, and gets cheered. And suddenly, Vince has an idea for Steve Austin."

"He listens to an out-of-control egomaniac, a promoter who has made himself a cult hero by spewing anti-establishment crap. A man prominently featuring filth in his "wrestling" shows. A man trying to reach the lowest common denominator of fans, and railing out at his critics who don't get it. And suddenly, Vince has an idea for himself and the WWF."

"And then, Tommy Dreamer, he sees you. He sees "The Innovator of Violence". A guy willing to take huge bumps, hit other wrestlers with anything he can get his hands on. A man willing to torture himself for the sake of the fans. And suddenly, Vince has an idea for Mick Foley."

"Don't you get it, Tommy? Don't you see? Vince screwed all of you over. He stole your ideas. Your ideas, Tommy. Your dreams, Tommy. While Paul Heyman can barely pay the bills, Vince McMahon is a billionaire. While Tommy Dreamer is a walking cripple with no money, Mick Foley is a walking cripple with a best-selling book, a feature film, and millions in the bank."

"I thought I could beat Vince in WCW, Tommy. I was wrong, but only because of how screwed-up WCW is. But there was no other place to go, Tommy, no other place to try. But WCW doesn't care, and it's dying it's slow death."

"And now, Tommy Dreamer, ECW is the #2 promotion in the United States. ECW is on cable TV. ECW has video games. ECW thinks it's on the cusp of something huge."

"And Tommy, I look at ECW, and I realize that it's crap. I realize that your best wrestler, Lance Storm, gets no push. I see that Lance Storm could be one of the all-time greats, if he didn't have to put up with this garbage."

"And I know something else, Tommy Dreamer. It was ECW that cost me my dignity. If Vince wouldn't have seen first hand what ECW was, I could have convinced him to build around me. I could be ruling a wrestling empire, Tommy. But I'm not. And I can't beat Vince anymore. So my only way to regain my dignity is to destroy the promotion that created the monster. And since Paul's to chicken-shit to come out to the ring, Tommy Dreamer, you'll just have to do."

And just like that, Bret elevates ECW to a new playing field. Bret "cripples" Tommy Dreamer, giving Tommy the chance to get his back healed. Bret goes after every hardcore wrestler. Alongside Lance Storm (Justin Credible gets punked out because of his friendship with HBK and Heyman), Bret wins the tag belts. Bret defeats RVD for the title, defends it only against technical wrestlers, forcing standard rules in his match-ups. Eventually, Tommy Dreamer comes back, knocks Bret out allowing RVD to win back the title, and the mother of all grudge matches is set.

And, most importantly, Bret has his chance to fight Vince McMahon. Which is all he wants.

Scott Rees
[slash] wrestling

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