During the latest episode of the Grilling JR Podcast, Jim Ross talked about Bret Hart in 1996, and the lead up to 1997 and the Montreal Screwjob. Ross also talked about WWE signing The Undertaker to a 15 year deal back in August, and why he may have signed Taker to that deal, sighting AEW as a potential reason.
“They were hiring every piece of talent they could hire because speculation said they didn’t want them to go to AEW,” Ross said. “At the end of the day, Vince’s net worth is a little over 2 billion and Mr. Khans net worth is 8.2 billion, so you don’t want to see who has the biggest bank account, that would be silly.”
Ross also mentioned how valuable the Undertaker will be to the company even after his retirement. Ross figures Taker could become a coach or judge of talent at some point throughout those 15 years of his new deal.
“Undertaker is not signing a 15 year deal to wrestle,” Ross said. “That’s not the deal, he’s signed because he’s earned a retirement and he’s a great asset in every phase to the company. WWE has never had anybody that’s more respected universally in the company and their fan base than Mark Callaway.
“You don’t want to take a chance that you don’t have him at your disposal for whatever you need him to do, and most of that does not include him getting back in the ring and wrestling. You don’t want to lose that guy. There’s so many things Undertaker can do for the WWE positively without ever putting his ring gear on again that makes him a good investment. Can you imagine the value The Undertaker is going to have at the performance center when he goes to teach these kids? Are you kidding me?”
Also during the podcast, Ross talked about Bret Hart receiving offers from WWE and WCW when his contract expired. The reported contract offer from WCW was a 3 year deal worth 3 million dollars per year, while the offer from WWE was reportedly 20 years and would include many outside wrestling gigs for Bret post his wrestling career. Ross talked about Vince offering Bret a 20 year deal at that time in 1996 and what Vince’s thought process was.
“It was a very creative offer,” Ross said. “Nothing like that offer had ever been made prior to. You don’t offer a pro wrestler a 20 year contract, it’s not feasible. I had no issues with it because if Vince knew it was feasible to do, then he would know that better than anybody else.
“Bottom line is this, those in the inner circle at the time were happy we were keeping Bret. You don’t want to lose Bret. I don’t think the Patriots wanted to lose Tom Brady even though they made this big story saying it was better for the team, bullsh-t, he won 6 super bowls. He was the face of the Patriots. We didn’t want Bret to become a Tampa Bay [Buccaneer].”
Hart elected to sign the 20 year contract with WWE and turned down his WCW offer. Ross talked about Vince being backed into a corner and pressured by WCW to sign Bret, and how he did everything he could to make sure Bret did not leave and go to the other company.
“He would not have broken the mold and created a new financial package and presentation if WCW wasn’t in the picture offering massive money,” Ross said. “It motivated Vince to try and get in that game. I’m sure he was uncomfortable in that situation. It was such a unique deal, we had never done that with anybody, it had never been done in the history of the wrestling business.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Grilling JR with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.