Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer
October 21, 1997: McMahon approached Hart with the idea of losing the title to Michaels in Montreal but promised that he would win it back on 12/7. Hart, remembering his conversations where Michaels was adamant about not doing any more jobs in the territory, was reluctant, saying after the way the angle had been done with him representing Canada and it becoming a big patriotic deal, that he didn't want to lose the title in Canada. He was then asked to lose to Michaels on 12/7 in Springfield, Ma. Hart told McMahon that since Michaels had told both of them that he wasn't doing any more jobs in the territory, that he had a problem doing a job for somebody who wouldn't do a job back. He told McMahon that he didn't want to drop the title in Montreal. Later, McMahon, Pat Patterson, Michaels, and Hart had another meeting where Michaels, teary eyed, said that he was looking forward to returning the favor to Bret and once again talked about his mouth saying the stupidest things. Hart still refused to lose the title in Montreal. The night before, he had been asked to put Hunter Heart Helmseley over in Oklahoma City via pin fall due to Michaels' interference, but changed the finish to a count out. On this night he was asked to tap out to Ken Shamrock, before the DQ ending involving Michaels, which he had no problem doing because he liked and respected Shamrock and wanted to help elevate him. The personal problems with himself and Michaels, which had become legendary in the business, resurfaced once again when the two and McMahon made an agreement to work together but to leave their respective families out of their interviews. It took just one week before Michaels did the interview talking about Stu Hart being dead but walking around Calgary because his body and brain hadn't figured it out yet. By this point, Hart had already stopped watching Raw because he had problems with the content of the show because he has four children that were wrestling fans that he didn't want seeing the direction it was going, so he was reacting to the remark based on the fact that his father and brother Owen heard the remarks and were upset about them.
October 24, 1997: McMahon, before the show at Nassau Coliseum, told Hart that the money situation in the company had changed and they would have no problems paying him everything promised in his contract. Hart told McMahon that WCW really hadn't made him a serious offer and that he really didn't want to leave but that he was still uncomfortable doing the job for Michaels in that situation. He left the country for the tour of Oman with the idea that he was staying with the WWF, but knowing due to his window in his contract, he had to make the decision to give notice by midnight on 11/1.
October 31: Never one to work without a flair for the dramatics, Bischoff finally caught up with Hart who was basically incommunicado in a foreign land most of the week. Just one day before Hart had to either give notice or stay for another year, Bischoff made a huge concrete offer. We don't know the exact terms of the offer, only that Hart said of the $3 million per year. figure that both Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler talked about on the 11/10 Raw, that they don't have any idea what I was offered, but other sources close to the situation say that figure is close enough that you couldn't call it wrong. Hart neither agreed nor turned down the deal, but gave the impression to WCW that they had a great shot at getting him.
November 1: Hart had until midnight to make up his mind. He called McMahon and told him about the WCW offer and said that he wasn't asking for any more money to stay, but that he wanted to know what his future in the WWF would be over the next two years as an active wrestler and that at this point he was leaning toward accepting the WCW offer. McMahon said he'd think about it and call him back in an hour with some scenarios. Before McMahon called back, Bischoff called again trying to solidify the deal. McMahon ended up calling back four hours later from his barber shop and told Hart he didn't know what he was going to do with him but that he should trust his judgment because of their past relationship. That he had made him into a superstar and he wanted him to stay and that he should trust him and asked Hart to give him ideas of where he wanted to go. During the conversation, McMahon still brought up the scenario of wanting Hart to drop the title in Montreal, but promised that he would get it back in Springfield. I realized he had given the top heel spot to Shawn, but to turn back babyface it was too soon, Hart said. Like in the negotiations one year earlier, it was going down to the wire and he had until midnight to make up his mind. When he was talking to McMahon, McMahon told him he could extend the deadline for giving notice. Hart asked for the permission in writing but McMahon told him that he was going out to a movie that night with his wife and said he was verbally giving permission to extend it and get written permission from the chief financial officer of the company. When Hart called to get the written notice he wasn't given it because he was told he couldn't get it in writing in such short notice. At 7pm Bischoff called again and presented a deal that, according to Hart, would have been insane not to be taken.