Couple of questions for you and discussion topics for the blog:
1) When Bret Hart came out on RAW, in September/October 1996 and announced that he had decided to stay with the WWF, as opposed to going "elsewhere", was he really announcing his decision for the fist time? I highly doubt they'd leave something that major to be announced on tv, but I remember Vince breathing a sigh of relief when Bret finally announces that he'll be in the WWF "forever". Also, prior to that proclamation, Vince was acting all nervous, like he really didn't know what Bret was going to say. If it wasn't real, why would Vince act like he was actually concerned. The internet hadn't really blown up yet, so could the possibility of Bret joining WCW have made that much headlines?
That possibility damn sure made headlines in Canada. His jump in 97 made the front pages up here. As for the announcement in 96, Bret maintains in his book that he didn't make his decision until going out there, so barring any better evidence we'll have to assume it's true. Vince was definitely worried about Bret jumping ship, along with everyone else in the promotion.
2) I'm not sure when Bret was initially approached by WCW (probably the spring/summer of 1996, during his hiatus after WM 12), but lets do a "what if" and say he decides to take the $9 million and go to WCW in 1996 – would his WCW run been more fruitful? Lets say the approached him in April/May 1996 (I think his initial contract was up in March 1996…i think) and strings were pulled fast enough, Bret could've been the third man in "the Outsiders" group, along with Nash and Hall. Getting in on the ground floor of the whole NWO angle, i think, would've paved a lot more opportunities for him. As it is, he came in December 1997, when the good NWO stuff was over and WCW was starting to get shitty again. Do you think having Hart be the third Outsider would've worked? This would've kept Hogan a babyface, along with Savage, Luger and Sting to face off against Hart, Hall and Nash and whoever else they decided to turn heel and join the NWO. Your thoughts on all this….
Hart would not have worked as an Outsider. He's not a cool laid-back heel, he's an arrogant cocky heel with pride in his work. The only real money angle that WCW could not have f----- up would be the one they were handed on a silver platter — WWF World champion gets screwed by Vince McMahon and comes to WCW for a showdown with their champion to determine who the one, true, World champion really is. To be fair, Vince also f----- that one up with Flair, so the problem isn't extant to WCW.