The WWE Controversy in 1993
1993 was a strange time for Vince McMahon and the World Wrestling Federation. Vince had been indicted in federal court after a two-year steroid controversy engulfed the promotion. As a result, Vince had to temporarily cede control of the WWF over to his wife, Linda.
This was also a transitional period for the company as Hulkamania had run its course, with Hogan leaving the company in mid-’93. Ratings and storylines plummeted as Vince looked to build up new stars to take his place (see ‘The All-American,’ Lex Luger).
While the steroid scandal was playing out all over the news at the time, one particular WWE controversy occurred, which somehow managed to go unnoticed.
Jerry Lawler Indicted
In 1993, Lawler was indicted for sodomizing a 15-year old girl, which caused him to miss Survivor Series 1993.
Before the case went to court, the girl admitted that she had made up part of her story, which was good enough for the charges to be dropped.
Lawler soon later returned to WWF television with the matter never being brought up again.
According to Brian Lawler, Jerry’s son, the girl followed him to his hotel room.
When it came to go to court, the girl’s story fell apart because it was just a ploy to make her boyfriend jealous. Once this information became known, all charges were dropped.
How a WWE Controversy Involving Jerry Lawler Changed Survivor Series 1993
Before these charges were brought forward, Jerry Lawler was in a bitter feud with Bret Hart, taking shots at his parents and family whenever he could.
The storyline was building up towards a payoff at the Survivor Series 1993 pay-pay-view through a traditional four versus four Survivor Series style matchup with The Hart Family (Bret and brothers Owen, Bruce, and Keith) versus Jerry Lawler and his three knights.
The only problem was – if you were watching at the time – Lawler was nowhere to be found on the day of the pay-per-view due to the charges being brought against him.
Lawler Replaced in the Survivor Series
Shawn Michaels swiftly replaced him with no explanation given to the viewing audience, leading to the rather unusual pairing of Shawn Michaels with three masked knights, Barry Horowitz, Greg Valentine, and Jeff Gaylord from the USWA.
Now we all know what happened four years later in Montreal. In this matchup, however, in 1993, Bret had nothing but good things to say about Shawn and how he did a superb job stepping in as a last-minute replacement to Lawler.
Behind the Scenes
In his highly recommended autobiography, Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling, Bret Hart had this to say about the WWE controversy, the match, and how it played out behind-the-scenes:
"In mid-November , I heard that Vince finally had been indicted by the Feds. Then the WWF took another hit when Jerry Lawler was charged with having sex with an underaged girl.
“My entire Survivor Series match was centered around Lawler and his constant jabs at my family; without him, the match would mean nothing.
“Lawler was hastily edited out of the weekend TV show, with no explanation given to the fans, and Shawn was thrown in to replace him at Survivor Series.
The Survivor Series Rehearsal
Bret continues, “On November 23, Smith, Bruce, Keith, Wayne, Ross, Georgia, and my parents all flew into LaGuardia.
Vince had invited my brothers to have a brawl at the Survivor Series against three masked wrestlers and Lawler—now Shawn would be standing in his place—with Stu managing from the floor, and he thought it best that we have a rehearsal at the WWF’s TV studio in Stamford the day before the pay-per-view.
“I got the Harts, Shawn, and The Knights (the one-time-only name they picked for the masked wrestlers) in the ring to explain how the match would go.
“Owen gave me a nudge to alert me that Bruce had pulled the biggest and greenest of the Knights aside and was giving him a script the size of Gone With the Wind, with Bruce presumably playing Rhett Butler.
Bret Puts Bruce in His Place
Bret states, “I told Bruce the spotlight needed to be on Owen because Survivor Series would be the beginning of Owen’s heel turn on me.
“After I explained what everybody’s role would be, Bruce went right back to designing the match around himself, and I had to reprimand him in front of everyone.
Shawn muttered at him, ‘If my brother was World Champion and the best in the business, I think I’d quit f***ing arguing with him and start listening to him!
“There was nothing Bruce could say in response to that. He shut up, but I could tell the reprimand stuck in his craw.
The Night of the Fight
That night at the Boston Garden, I had a strange sense of melancholy as Keith, Bruce, and Owen got dressed, while Stu sat with Killer Kowalski reminiscing about the old days.
“We wore Olympic-style singlets with no leggings, my brothers all in black and me, The Captain, in pink. Martha sat in the front row with the rest of the Hart family, holding Oje. Shawn did a superb job carrying the match, though, in fairness, everyone worked hard.
Bret continued, “The biggest pop of the night came when Shawn staggered past Stu on the floor, and Stu drilled him with one of his big elbow smashes, which Shawn later told me he was honored to take.
Owen Hart Gets Eliminated
Bret continues, “Owen was highlighted throughout the match and eliminated two of The Knights, but midway through the match, as planned, he "inadvertently" collided with me on the apron and ended up being the only Hart brother eliminated.
“After throwing a tantrum, he left the ring, only to come out afterward when we were all celebrating the victory to yank me down off the second rope and give me a hard push.
“I tried to reason with him that it didn’t matter because we’d won anyway, but he still acted furiously.
A Magical Moment
“Walking back to the dressing room with my brothers after that match was a magical moment.
“We all knew going in that we weren’t expected to have the best match on the card. We were just expected not to have the worst one, either.
“The Hart boys had more than risen to the occasion, and I was proud of my brothers. Stu had a twinkle in his eye."
Bret and Stu had every reason to be proud as this successfully started one of the most fondly looked upon feuds in WWE history: Bret vs. Owen. This, of course, is a story for another time!
Photographer Recalls the Tragic Night Owen Hart Died
“It was a poorly rigged stunt for Owen Hart.”
On May 23rd, 1999, what should have been an ordinary day for professional wrestling fans was turned upside down by a horrible tragedy. Veteran photographer Tom Buchanan was but a stone’s throw away at the time of the incident. The events of that night and the police investigation that followed are forever etched in his mind.
The Kind of Man Owen Hart Was
Jim Ross: "I was having a long day talking with someone with substance-abuse issues. Owen Hart saw my door closed for hours, and as I went to the arena, I saw Owen stumbling and bouncing off the walls.”
What Owen did next brought huge smiles on an otherwise difficult day at the office!
The Real Bret Hart
Bret Hart has had a lot to say about his peers, but what do they have to say about him?
The Kick That Ruined Bret’s Career
BRET HART: "One of the last things I said to Goldberg before I walked out to the ring was, ‘Don’t hurt me. I wish he heard me a little better."
GOLDBERG: "This will forever go down in history as the biggest mistake that I have ever made in my entire life."
What was supposed to be a moment for the two former WCW tag team champions to shine turned into a match with dire consequences.
The Hitman’s First Championship Reign
When thinking of Bret Hart, it is easy to remember many classic moments. However, perhaps oddly, The Hitman’s first world title win does not always come straight to mind. In Hart’s case, the first elusive World Title victory did not just change his status but also the possible direction of the WWF as a whole.
Here, we look back on a slightly surprising title victory on one October day in 1992 and how the WWF seemingly could not entirely pull the trigger on Bret Hart this first time around.
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