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Posts Tagged ‘Bret Hart’

From the heart: The Hitman speaks “Off the Record” about Vince McMahon, Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair

March 12th, 2010 No comments

The Excellence of Communication: Bret and HBK bury the hatchet.

Radio host Michael Landsberg of “Off the Record” conducted a candid interview with Bret Hart, questioning his decision to return to WWE after pointedly declaring 10 years ago on the same program that he would “never” again work with Vince McMahon. Hart cites “fun” and “adventure” as the main reasons for his return.

“I didn’t go back because I had to have it or needed it,” he tells Landsberg. “I don’t have the schedule that the wrestlers have and just to have a bit part on the show. Hopefully, I’ll make some money, but it was never really about the money. Even when I talked to him [Vince McMahon], we didn’t bicker about what I was going to be paid. It was more what they would do with me and how we could make it fun. It was a big negative thinking about it for 13 years and being angry about what happened, and trying to take something negative and turn it into a positive.”

These comments reflect a sharp contrast to Bret’s feelings not long after brother Owen’s death, which he now accepts as “as an accident.”

Hart went on to say that he truly has mended fences with Shawn Michaels and maintains that what took place in the ring Jan. 4 on RAW was quite real–at least to him. (Interesting that Jerry Jarrett, who worked with HBK and the Hitman in the Former Fed in the mid-’90s, wrote on Jan. 5 that the fans may not realize just how real that segment was.)

“I think I took the first step and I think that meant something to him,” Hart says. “I honestly think they [McMahon and Michaels] had so much shame and guilt that they didn’t want to take that step. I think when I met Shawn that day and when I basically forgave him in the ring in front of everybody, it was far more real than people think it was. I know everything in wrestling seems like it’s all rehearsed or put on [in a funny moment, Landsberg intejects, “It is!”‘] but with Shawn that day, it was very sincere in the way we were talking to each other. The truth is that once I took all that weight off Shawn’s back, he’s been a better person to me, anyways, and we’ve kind of picked up where we left off and we’re like old friends, which is kind of strange.”

Hart didn’t speak so glowingly of Ric Flair and the Nature Boy’s return to the ring in TNA. (And if you saw Flair flopping around and bleeding like a stuck pig Monday night in the days following his assault at the manicured hands of his wife, Jackie Beems, it’s easy to understand Hart’s stance.)

“Ric Flair, I feel sorry for him. You were talking about wrestlers saying, ‘When is enough, enough? When do they ever give up and go home to their families and their real lives?’ Ric is one of those guys who’s a little ahead of me, but I remember a time knowing that I had to get out of wrestling and go home to my kids before they were grown up and gone or and that I had no family live. I think wrestlers make this decision–and I’m sure Hogan is the same and different guys–where they decide they have to go home to their families or stay in the wrestling business and that becomes their family. Flair stayed in the wrestling business, forgot about his family, his family moved on and left him; the only thing Ric Flair knows is the dressing room, the airports, the bar after, and drinking.”

His comments regarding Flair aren’t surprising since the two have had a stormy relationship that goes back to the “16-time” World champion’s first run in the WWF, with Hart suspecting that Flair purposely sabotaged some of their matches, including the Hitman’s first WWF title win in Saskatoon. The two have bickered back and forth for years, questioning the other’s greatness and, ironically enough, accusing each other of being too routine in their matches. (They both have a point in that regard.) Most of the boys have trouble adjusting to life off the road and out of the spotlight when their wrestling careers end. For years, they shared a love/hate relationship with the lifestyle as they traveled around the world entertaining strangers while their families sat home waiting for their fathers and husbands to return. Admittedly, Flair is, by all accounts, among the worst addicts to the biz; however, I would think Hart could him a little slack since he admits that the primary factor behind his WWE return was boredom. (Incidentally, as WWE prepared Flair’s elaborate exit nearly two years ago, several in the company voiced their concern over how Slick Ric would handle life at home–clearly, not well.) Although Hart’s affairs and vagabond lifestyle cost him his marriage in the end, given the chance, there’s no question the Hitman would do it all over again if he could.

For more excerpts from the interview, check out James Caldwell’s piece at the Torch, or listen to the audio at the Off the Record podcast site.

Forget about HBK–join the KFR “Klique”

Sharp shooting: Personal attacks highlight Hart vs. McMahon buildup

March 2nd, 2010 1 comment
Grudge match: The Hitman aims to put the screws to McMahon.

Dead aim: The Hitman has Mr. McMahon in his sights.

Last night’s RAW finalized the Vince McMahon vs. Bret Hart bout at WrestleMania XXVI, with the wonderfully slimy Chairman of the Board taunting the “injured” Hitman and goading him into a bout on the biggest show of the year despite the five-time WWF champion’s “broken leg.” The company would have been far better off, at least from a believability standpoint, had Bret come out on crutches a few weeks ago claiming to have injured his leg doing squats in the gym (or whatever), rather than the contrived backstage segment in which his leg was seemingly crushed in a freak car accident. (Which was about as realistic as last night’s guests hosts, Cheech and Chong, getting high off psychedelic Lucky Charms in a scene that made “Up in Smoke” look like high-brow comedy.)

It’s unclear whether the injury angle was executed to hide Bret’s shortcomings in the ring when the bout finally comes off or if (most likely) it will be revealed to be a swerve staged to trick McMahon into a match. (I can only hope Criss Angel—next week’s guest host on RAW—doesn’t magically cure Bret’s leg in yet another hokey segment.)

Injury angle aside, both McMahon and Hart have been excellent in their roles. With the exception of a few scripted references to “the WWE Universe,” Bret reportedly has been encouraged to improvise and speak from his heart, with McMahon responding in kind.  At times, it’s come off like McMahon is unloading on his former champion with every snide knock that HBK ever uttered about Hart behind closed doors in 1997. Michaels, who by most accounts has sincerely manned up and accepted responsibility for being an asshole back in his heyday, was notorious for talking shit about Hart in the mid-’90s, even  claiming on the air that Bret was having an alleged affair with Sunny. Likewise, Hart says that he not only didn’t respect Shawn in the ‘90s but he also questioned his sexuality. This real-life personal and professional jealousy was great for business and was no different than say, Jerry Lawler and Bill Dundee back in 1977, in fueling the fire for their feud. Make no mistake: The initial Lawler/Dundee feud was very personal, with each badmouthing  the other to the boys and to the fans constantly.  In fact, Jerry Jarrett says they both worked very stiff, basically beating the shit out of each other, to see who would break. But hey, back in those days, that was all viewed as “good for the business.” (OK, so nobody ever pulled the other’s hair out in the locker room, but Lawler did shave Bill and Bev’s heads in the ring.)

In return, Hart has fired back with legit gripes he had with the way his former boss treated him, in particular, all the lies and false promises as well his unceremonious departure from the Former Fed, i.e., the Montreal Screwjob. I’m really happy for Bret that his promos since his return have been solid, as he really hit his stride in 1997 before WCW cut his legs out from under him with Eric Bischoff’s and Vince Russo’s lame material.  Loved last night’s line when Bret initially answered McMahon’s challenge with, “I have a broken leg, you idiot!” (That got a pop from the crowd as well.)

Pretty damn cool shot on RAW to see Hart in a ring with the huge WrestleMania XXVI logo hanging in the background—I almost thought that day would never come.

With John Cena vs. McMahon set for next week’s RAW, I suppose there’s still a chance we’ll instead get a tag bout at WrestleMania, with Hart/Cena vs. Mr. McMahon/Batista. (Incidentally, the Animal is showing more poise and personality in his latest heel role than at any point in his career.) Some have even speculated the tag match will include the WWE title being on the line, with Hart somehow screwing Batista out of the belt and ending his WWE career in ironic fashion. Sounds ridiculous to me, but this is the WWE Universe (man, I despise that term for some reason) after all. Besides, a single bout with Cena vs. Batista is far more compelling, as that storyline is playing up their rivalry with each man winning the company’s top titles at WrestleMania 21 after getting called up to the big leagues from OVW at around the same time.

File under Bret Hart vs. Vince McMahon

St. Valentine’s Day Massacre Revisted

February 15th, 2010 2 comments

Black hearts: Brian Lawler and the late Eddie Gilbert sporting the Hart Foundation's colors in Memphis.

Who says I don’t know how to show a woman a good time? (OK, besides Ms. Texas, a.k.a. Jacquelyn Moore?) With the weekly USWA wrestling show at the Mid-South Coliseum falling on February 14, 1996, my longtime girlfriend spent Valentine’s Day evening in the stands with the other 2,700 fans in attendance, waiting for me to get off work so we could share a romantic late-night burger at Huey’s Midtown.

Billed as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, the show featured the main event of babyfaces Jerry Lawler and Jeff Jarrett beating heels The Undertaker and Bret Hart by disqualification. The undercard saw Brian Lawler beat Tommy Rich (managed by yours truly) and Doug Gilbert (with me in his corner) beating Tex Slazenger in a bullrope match. I also guided the team of Jesse James Armstrong and Tracy Smothers to a USWA tag title victory over those two Frayser High School dropouts PG-13. (Results courtesy of http://www.prowrestlinghistory.com.)

As always during my Memphis days, the real fun was backstage. Brian Lawler, whom I suppose forgot that the WWF heavyweight champion was appearing on the show, wore pink and black tights and trunks. While Brian was in the ring for a battle royal (won by Spellbinder) Jerry Lawler took great delight pointing out Brian’s familiar color scheme for the evening to the Hitman. When Brian walked through the curtain after being eliminated from the royal, Bret was waiting for him, saying in mock disgust, “What…are you using the Sharpshooter now too?” Not missing a beat, Brian deadpanned, “Yeah, but Bret you roll to the right when you apply it; I go left.” We all cracked up at that exchange.

Although Bret appeared to be disinterested in being in Memphis on what otherwise would have been a night off for him, he was cordial to everyone, showing incredible patience with Reggie B. Fine, who was bugging the Hitman and the Undertaker to have their photos taken with him so he could sell pictures of himself with the WWF superstars at Mrs. Coffee’s gimmick table in the weeks to come.

I’m thinking that I faced off against Downtown Bruno on this show as well, though the result was not listed. (Probably because it barely qualified as a match.) Bruno and I were in the middle of a Valentine’s Day feud over his wife, Karen, who was allegedly sending me cards, candy…and…even A POEM!