As a few of you can tell by now, I've been watching WWF 1997. A lot of my threads have been in the classics section.
That said, was Bret vs HBK ever really the planned main event for WM 13? I don't believe the Screwjob was a work, but I'm starting to believe the only 3 people who know the true extent of the HBK vs Bret rivalry are them and Vince. Nothing in early 1997 indicated that being the direction.
The main event roster from January '97 to WM13: Sid, Bret, HBK, Undertaker, Steve Austin & Vader.
At the time of Shawn's injury the feuds were Sid vs Shawn, Bret vs Austin & Vader vs Undertaker.
Shawn beats Sid in San Antonio at the Royal Rumble. Austin screws Bret out of the Royal Rumble win.
Due to the way Austin won a Final
Four is made for number one contendership between Austin, Bret, Vader & Undertaker.
Sid is also set to face Shawn for the title. Shawn get's injured.
Now, a case could be made that Bret would've won the final four and HBK would've beat Sid, but watching the product just didn't seem that way. I'll get to that in a sec.
Now, the Final Four is made to a title match with Sid facing the winner the next night on Raw for the title.
Bret wins. Then Sid wins after help from Austin.
Undertaker randomly is named #1 contender. I guess cause he was the last man eliminated at the final four.
Bret vs Austin is named for WM13.
Shamrock is integrating into the WWF and is named referee.
Bret gets his title match in a cage the last Raw before Mania. Sid retains.
Now, while all this is going on Bret is slowly becoming a whiner and turns heel on the last Raw before Mania. Some say it was at Mania, but he loses it after the cage match starting a full on melee.
Vader and Taker seems to end at Final Four. Vader is put with Foley against Owen and Bulldog. This frees Undertaker up for a mania feud.
Bret vs Austin was going all out. There's no way Final Four could've been the blow off match. It either had to happen on a Raw before mania or at Mania.
Sid was still hanging around the title picture.
Bret vs Shawn had lingering heat, but it never looked like a feud was on the horizon.
After Shawn's injury, Austin vs. Bret looks like the real main event and even until the last Raw of before Mania it was hinted the title could've been in that match.
Austin was the number one heel on the show. Sid just kind of was there, and Bret was slowly turning.
If Bret vs Shawn would've been on the books for real, Bret would've had to turn at Final Four. The "cry baby" stuff started after the rumble, but wasn't even going strong until near Mania. Basically, Bret vs Shawn would've been Bret as a heel vs face Shawn, but it never looked like they had enough time to turn Bret before mania for a match for Shawn. Bret and Austin had strong heat already going. So it was easier to do the double turn in that feud than to start Bret from scratch going as a heel against Shawn.
I'm saying the seeds were planted to turn Bret, but not enough for a whole new feud. It's obvious he was turning, but I just don't see him getting enough heat from Final Four to Mania without him committing to the turn at Final Four. Shawn only got injured a week before Final Four.
Even if Bret had won Final Four with Shawn still as champ. Austin did not look like he was leaving that rivalry anytime soon unless he was champ or had a title match.
He won the rumble and was attacking Bret at every moment possible.
I maybe explaining this confusingly, but Austin vs Shawn looked more likely than Bret vs Shawn. Undertaker and Sid was probably always on the card, but just not a title match. Bret looked more like an odd man out/ back up plan if Austin didn't get over as a top heel between January to Mania.
It looks like face Shawn vs heel Austin was planned, but after Shawn's injury they scrapped having Austin in the title match.
Shawn got injured, the belt was moved to Sid vs Undertaker. Instead of having some blow off match on Raw, Austin vs Bret extended til Mania. Austin was getting cheered so they did the double turn at Mania. It looks like Bret would've stayed face until after Mania to give him a heel to face at Mania which probably would've been Vader or Foley.
I'm looking at this from different angles. Had Shawn not gotten injured... who the hell was Austin going to face? He was deep into a feud was Bret that wasn't going to in a four way. All signs point towards him winning the rumble, winning the four way, leaving Bret out the picture, having a blow off with Bret then head towards Shawn. Sid wasn't going to turn face to Steve. Undertaker would've been free, but that's it. There's no one for Austin to face in the midst of a huge push.
Bret was clearly turning heel, but it wasn't at a rapid rate. They would've had to kill the feud with Austin and rapidly accelerate his turn in time for Mania for Shawn. I simply do not see face Shawn vs a face at this Mania.
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