By Mike Mooneyham
Nov. 4, 2001
While family feuds are certainly not new to professional wrestling, the latest one to make headlines is quite unique.
This feud is a legitimate, behind-the- scenes war of words that actually involves three of wrestling’s most famous families and was sparked by comments made by former NWA world champion Jack Brisco during a recent Internet chat.
Brisco, a one-time NCAA heavyweight champion at Oklahoma State and a two- time NWA world titleholder during the ’70s, defended Vince McMahon’s decision to swerve Bret Hart out of the WWF title at the Survivor Series in November 1997.
“[ad#MikeMooneyham-336×280]I thought Vince McMahon did the right thing by taking the belt off him,” Brisco said during a chat on the Slam Wrestling Web site. “Bret Hart owed it to Vince McMahon, the other wrestlers and the WWF to do the time-honored tradition. What does it mean, `I can’t drop the belt in Montreal because I’m from Canada?’ He’s from Calgary. That would be like me saying I couldn’t drop the belt in Florida because I’m an American.”
The rather innocuous comments, however, spurred an immediate response from Hart, who lashed out at both Brisco and his brother, WWF agent Jerry Brisco, in an update sent to members on his e-mail list.
“It wasn’t a question of losing in Canada, it was a question of losing to somebody who had no professionalism and no respect for me, or for any of his peers in the dressing room,” said Hart, referring to nemesis Shawn Michaels.
“Jack Brisco shouldn’t pass judgment on things he knows nothing about without firsthand info
other than that which he gets from his deceptive brother, Jerry, who, in fact, had a large part in orchestrating how to screw me, under orders from McMahon; no more than I should make comments about how Ernie Ladd beat the crap out of the Brisco brothers in a parking lot, stuffed them into the trunk of his car and drove all over town with them, eventually dumping them out like trash at the promoter’s house. Or then again, maybe I don’t know enough about it so I shouldn’t say. At least Owen and I had more grit than that, but then again, Owen and I were certainly a much better class than the drunken, pill poppin’ Brisco brothers anyway.”
Hart, whose bitterness over the Montreal finish nearly four years ago has unfortu nately colored his career since then, added fuel to the fire when he insulted another wrestling legend during the course of his diatribe against Brisco.
“When he (Brisco) was NWA champion, if they’d have told him to do the job for Crazy Luke Graham and then add on top of that, Crazy Luke telling Jack Brisco that he would absolutely never, under any circumstances, be willing to put him over, ever, would he still do it? (I use Crazy Luke here as a worst-case example and mean to imply no comparison between him and Shawn Michaels).”
Why Hart decided to use Graham as an example is anyone’s guess. Graham, long since retired as an in-ring performer, was a frequent main-eventer during the ’60s and ’70s and part of the famous “Golden Grahams” wrestling family that included Luke (Grady Johnson), Eddie (Eddie Gossett), Dr. Jerry (Jerry Graham), and, for a short stint, Superstar Billy (Wayne Coleman), although none were actually related.
The statement drew a quick reply from the original Crazy Luke and his son, Luke Jr., who works the independent wrestling scene. “If the inference or insinuation is that Crazy Luke Graham was not worthy of carrying a world title, or carrying the NWA title, we would invite Mr. Hart to first visit his physician to immediately ascertain the lingering incapacitation of his memory functions, then, go back to wrestling history 101 … We are discussing the same Luke Graham who was a recognized WWA world heavyweight champion at 25 years old, a U.S. tag champion in the WWWF, the first world tag champion in the WWWF. This is the same Luke Graham that has held major titles in almost every recognized territory around the world during a storied and illustrious career. This is the same Luke Graham that helped sell- out major venues around the world.”
The Grahams also rightfully took umbrage at Hart’s statement that Crazy Luke was a “worst-case example.”
“If, as you state in your commentary, Luke Graham is considered the `worst- case example,’ then you fail to understand the wrestling business. You continually refer back to your `screw job’ in Montreal with Shawn Michaels. Upon leaving a territory, Luke Graham, without exception, did the honorable thing for the business and the promotion that was paying him. To insinuate or infer that he would not have done the honorable thing for Mr. Brisco, or that Mr. Brisco would not have done the same for Luke Graham, is insulting to all mentioned, and ludicrous. Both are/were well respected by `the boys’ and the promoters.
“The Grahams have been and are a well known part of this business, and have been for at least as long as the Harts. When Luke Jr. and I spoke to your father and brothers at the Cauliflower Alley Convention, there was nothing shown but mutual respect for each family’s position in this business. For some unknown reason, you have chosen to fire this cheap shot in my direction, and I want to be clear that these comments are meant for you Bret, and not your family, your father, your brothers or sisters.”
The Grahams have every right to be upset by Hart’s ill-advised statement. Whether it was right or wrong to take the belt off Hart four years ago has been the subject of considerable discussion, but Hart would be well-served to let sleeping dogs lie and move on with his life. The fact that Jack Brisco offered his opinion surely didn’t warrant Hart disparaging the Brisco family or Luke Graham.[ad#MikeMooneyham-468×15]
A cloud of controversy has surrounded Hart ever since the fateful night of Nov. 9, 1997, when McMahon made the decision to get the WWF title belt off Hart without him agreeing to do the job. Hart’s subsequent run in WCW was nothing short of a train wreck, concluding with a serious concussion at the hands of Bill Goldberg that ultimately led to Hart’s retirement from the business. During that time, Hart has been rocked by a number of personal issues, ranging from the tragic death of brother Owen in a WWF ring to a severe fissure within the legendary Hart clan. Bret, now divorced, remains alienated from most of the Hart family.
Bret Hart made the statement several years ago that he wasn’t greedy for money; he was greedy for respect. This isn’t the way to get it.
_ Chris Kanyon suffered a torn ACL in a recent match with WWF developmental worker Barry Orton. Kanyon met last week with Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, and the initial prognosis is that he will miss up to six months following surgery.
To his credit, Kanyon shouldered complete blame for the injury, admitting that he landed badly on a move and hoped that it would in no way affect Orton’s future with the WWF. Orton is a third-generation performer
the son of former star Cowboy Bob Orton Jr. and the grandson of mat great Bob Orton Sr.
Kanyon, who injured the knee in a dark match at Raw last Monday night, commented on the injury on his Web site, saying, “I just want it to be very clear that my opponent at the time of the injury, Randy Orton, had nothing to do with me getting hurt. He wasn’t careless and it was not a result of any lack of experience on his part. It was a fluke. Randy, in my opinion, is a definite future superstar, a great athlete, a very good wrestler with unlimited potential and just a real nice guy. There are many things that bother me about this injury, but nothing would bother me more than if this freak accident did anything to hurt the career of Randy Orton.”
_ Rhyno was scheduled to undergo surgery to repair two herniated discs in his neck and is expected to be out of action for at least six months.
_ Sixteen stitches were required to close a cut on Steve Austin’s face after a chair used by The Undertaker landed on Austin’s face Tuesday night at Smackdown. Nine days earlier Austin was badly cut by a Vince McMahon chairshot at the No Mercy pay-per-view.
_ Hulk Hogan said on a Florida radio show last week that the new promotion he is involved in will be kid-friendly. He also downplayed reports that Bill Goldberg would be involved, saying that the two shared the same attorney and that Goldberg would be sitting back and “taking that Ted Turner money,” although he did imply that Goldberg might join the XWF once his Time Warner contract expires (or when nobody remembers who Goldberg is). He also said that Scott Hall might be available to do some “hey, yo’s” for the promotion.
_ Chris Jericho will defend his WCW world title against The Rock in the main event of this week’s Raw.