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was he injured/ did he want a break/ did they want make him fresh when he comeback or did they want shawn to have his time? did they even try to change their plans or did they just went along with their originals.
 

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I am pretty sure this was during the time when Vince and co wanted to push new stars and make their own new stars, seeing as WCW was buying all the older, bigger names. The WWF had to think quick and make thier own (HHH, Mankind, Taker who was still over but do things like the ministry, Kane, Rock, Austin) and not rely on the older generation so much.
 

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was he injured/ did he want a break/ did they want make him fresh when he comeback or did they want shawn to have his time? did they even try to change their plans or did they just went along with their originals.
He wanted a break....Plus the Fed had to keep him sweet incase he did decide to sling his hook over to WCW
 

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I am pretty sure this was during the time when Vince and co wanted to push new stars and make their own new stars, seeing as WCW was buying all the older, bigger names. The WWF had to think quick and make thier own (HHH, Mankind, Taker who was still over but do things like the ministry, Kane, Rock, Austin) and not rely on the older generation so much.
Which is ironic considering one of the reasons Bret left is cause WWE was changing the direction they were going(by heading into attitude era) and Bret didn't like the stuff they did(the 14+, some could be almost 18+ content)
 

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Well, he was kayfabe disappointed with the outcome of the Ironman match. Buildup for his return / eventual rematch with Shawn Michaels. He needed a break. He had been going for 10 years strong, with only two missed shows (illness). Even a badass like himself is going to need a little time.

Plus, he was still working overseas tours during his hiatus, since Europe / Asia fucking loved the guy.
 

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Bret Hart took a long break because he needed one because he was so burnt out from his wrestling for so long so Vince McMahon decided to let Bret have his break.

By 1996, the WWF was so struggling at that time because of losing many of their talents to it's rival competition WCW, steroid trials, paycuts, and lawsuits they really had to deal with.

When Hogan turned heel after being a Superhero for a decade and the formation of nWo stable, a mature-like WCW began on taking a family-friendly and cartoony WWF in the Monday Night rating wars. This led to WWF losing money and was almost towards the point being bankrupt(similar to one WCW had in 2000).

By 1997, the WWF then realized their old cartoony concept of the 1980s and early 1990s was too stale and they had too many outdated ideas so they decided to go in a more raunchy, adult-oriented model, and made wrestlers that are just like human beings in real life in which Trash TV was popular at that decade.
 

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He had been fighting with Vince and Shawn for so long, Im sure he wanted out.
This is such a major misconception by people as Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart were still friendly at WrestleMania 12 and Bret Hart had said to Shawn Michaels that whilst he was away from WWE he wanted to build their potential rematch by talking about Shawn Michaels in dirtsheets and such. This is when the problems began because people really bought into Bret Hart walking out of the arena after the Iron Man match at WrestleMania 12 and everyone began speculating that there was real problems but there wasn't.

Basically Bret Hart wanted some time off and he already knew as far back as the latter part of 1995 that Shawn Michaels was about to replace him as the main guy and face of the company starting at WrestleMania 12 so Bret Hart took up what he believed may be a reoccuring part in Lonesome Dove and also spent time with his family. I've always believed that Bret Hart basically used WCW to get himself the contract he got with WWE during his hiatus as he knew WCW were signing everyone established possible but Bret Hart never had any intention to sign with WCW and simply used any talks with WCW as leverage against WWE.

I don't think WWE really knew how much they were struggling until late 1996 or early 1997 though as i remember in 1997 at some point Vince McMahon had said that 1996 was a better year financially than the previous few years although i don't know how true that was considering ratings and buyrates were down. I've always believed the buyrates and ratings being down to be mainly down to how piss poor 1995 was and because of that people had began switching between WWE and WCW until WCW then began The New World Order which then killed WWE completely. Obviously because of this WWE then went all edgy and pushed Shawn Michaels and Stone Cold Steve Austin as their poster boys for the edgier product due to their on screen and off screen personas.
 

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I think it was a combination of having Shawn carrying the company as well as Bret wanting a break to get into Hollywood with Lonesone Dove.

- Vic
 

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Bret wrestled Austin at Survivor Series 96' and because of this time off the match seemed bigger. I would say it was a tactic to get HBK and Austin to grow a little more and give Bret a break to get some steam.

People are so wrong though about the iron man match being kayfabe. That was all done for a rematch where Bret would probably have gone over Shawn. They didn't legit beef until Bret called Shawn a **** in the summer of 97' and HBK made an accusation that Bret was sleeping with Sunny. Even then they tried to work out their issues. The anger was reality though when Shawn in response to a nice comment Bret made told the Hitman "he wouldn't do the same" in reference to putting him over.

As far as WWE struggling in 96' as well, that is another misconception. 95' was the struggle year. Sure they were losing the ratings war with WCW in 96' but that still meant business was picking up, having that competition.
 
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