Monday, May 24, 2010

Wrestling News: Why did WWE put the U.S. Title on Bret Hart?

Bret Hart became the U.S. champion for the fifth time on Monday night, defeating The Miz in a chaotic title match. This interference-packed encounter was further evidence that Bret Hart is relishing his return to the spotlight.

It surely won't be long before The Hitman gives the title up. However, it seems strange that WWE would decide to put the title on him in the first place.

At the age of 52, and collecting on an insurance policy that is being paid to him on the basis of him being unable to wrestle, Bret Hart is not capable of having anything more than matches filled with interference. It is a shame for a wrestler whose career comprised an outstanding body of work to be unable to perform at a level he could in his prime.

Nevertheless, it seems that Bret Hart still has something to offer professional wrestling in 2010. As limited as he may be in the ring, The Hitman has been consistently excellent on the microphone since returning to WWE this year. One of the biggest fears about bringing Bret Hart back to WWE was that he would be irrelevant to a new generation of fans who never witnessed him in his prime. That has not been the case.

The Hitman has more than held his own in verbal exchanges with the likes of Vince McMahon, Shawn Michaels, and Chris Jericho, and his acting has helped to create sympathy for a character that younger fans may be unfamiliar with. The storyline with Vince McMahon was overbooked, but it had its moments, such as when Bret revealed that he had been faking his injury to get McMahon to agree to a WrestleMania match.

The problem occurred when The Hitman stepped in the ring at WrestleMania 26. Limited by what he could do, Bret Hart beat down McMahon for over ten minutes, which coupled with a contrived storyline about the Hart family, made for arguably the worst match of his career. This inability to wrestle at a decent standard is the main problem with the return of Bret Hart, as there is no point in cutting great promos if the matches they lead to are a disappointment.

Thankfully, his title match was kept short on Monday night, and his shortcomings were covered by a string of run-ins. The crowd was into the match, and reacted with jubilation for Bret Hart's win. Slightly tarnishing The Hitman's victory was the commentary of Michael Cole, who inexplicably started heeling on Bret Hart, saying that he did not deserve the title. We can only speculate as to why he was produced to say this. He is much better on NXT as a heel announcer than he is as an announcer on Raw, so maybe it will be a good thing if Cole brings this aspect of his character to Monday nights.

While the title change was well-executed, there is the question of why they wanted to give The Hitman the title in the first place. He certainly can't go on the road to defend his title, and will be surely giving the title up in the near future. Hopefully he will drop the title back to The Miz rather than vacating it on Monday night.

It seems as though every time The Miz comes close to heading to the next level as a cocky heel, WWE cuts his legs out from underneath him. The loss to Bret Hart this week, Tyson Kidd the week before, and being made to look like a jobber by Big Show recently has not done The Miz any favors. His alliance with Chris Jericho has potential, but the number of times he has been pinned recently suggests that he won't be rising above the mid-card any time soon.

Bret Hart's title win was a nice piece of nostalgia, but TNA has shown that regular nostalgia is not conducive to drawing money for a modern wrestling company. Dropping the title back to The Miz as soon as possible would probably be the best way forward, as Miz would clearly benefit from a pinfall victory over The Hitman.

Bret Hart can't wrestle the way he used to, but as his performance on Monday night showed, he is more than capable of working a crowd. Hopefully there will be a meaningful role for him after he loses the U.S. Title.

(Credit: Pro Wrestling Torch)

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