March 6, 2003
Wrestlers mourn death of Perfect
By TIM BAINES -- Ottawa Sun
It should have been a Perfect ending.
But it wasn't. Far from it.
One of wrestling's most loved characters, Mr. Perfect Curt Hennig, was found in a Brandon, Fla., hotel room by a housekeeper shortly after 1 p.m. on Monday. He died soon after, the cause of his death still unknown.
Hennig, 44, had been scheduled to wrestle against Ian "The Iron Brit" Harrison at the Florida State Fair that evening. The shockwaves of his death quickly spread at the show through the crowd. Curt Hennig was a star, in and out of the ring.
"I have been best friends with him for more than 17 years," Nasty Boy Brian Knobbs told the St. Petersburg Times. "It's almost like Dale Earnhardt when he passed away. You want to cry. He was Mr. Perfect.
"You never know when your last day is. You just give thanks (each day)."
"It was upsetting for me," Bret Hart told TSN's Off the Record. "I would say Curt was one of my five best friends in wrestling.
"Someone asked me six months ago if I could have one guy in the ring, who would it be? I feel good now that I said Curt Hennig.
"He was one of the best human beings on this planet," said wrestler Horace Bollea. "Curt kept the locker room alive. He was one of the boys."
Hennig was a second-generation star, the son of Larry "The Axe" Hennig.
He wrestled stars like Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair and even tangled with basketball bad-boy Dennis Rodman. He fought Brock Lesnar in the aisle of an airplane and was kicked out of WWE last year. But WWE stars lined up to pay tribute on wwe.com.
Ray "The Big Boss Man" Traylor was one of Hennig's closest friends.
"He was all about fun and laughs, and having a good time," Traylor told wwe.com. "That was it. Good fellow. He wasn't out to hurt anybody. We were road-riding buddies. We rode everywhere together (and) shared rooms. It used to be me, him and Rick Rude together, and then Rick died."
Traylor said he was going to pick Hennig up at the Atlanta airport on Tuesday and hang out with him until Hennig left for his home in Champlin, Minn., on Wednesday. Traylor thought Hennig would call on Monday with his flight information.
"I kept waiting for his phone call," Traylor said. "He never called."
- Stone Cold Steve Austin is back, making an off-camera appearance at RAW Monday night. Austin will officially return at Montreal's No Way Out pay-per-view next Sunday, when he'll face Eric Bischoff. That match was set on RAW, when Vince McMahon first fired Bischoff, then had a change of heart. He asked Bischoff to join the Kiss My Ass club, but Bischoff declined. McMahon then recruited Bischoff for a new club: The Get Your Ass Kicked Club.
- Bret Hart's appearance on Off the Record Tuesday has to rank as one of the program's best. Hart said it was highly unlikely he would appear again for WWE, but said he was glad to settle his differences with Vince McMahon in a recent meeting. "Vince, in a lot of ways, was like a father to me," said Hart. "I think what happened (at Hart's last WWF appearance at the Survivor Series in Montreal in 1997) was just bad judgment on his part. I think it was time to heal the wound." Hart talked about the stroke that nearly killed him last year. "I'm glad to be alive," said Hart. "I didn't understand it. For the first four days, I thought I would just get up and walk out of there. One minute, I was on top of the world. The next minute, I couldn't even turn my hand over." Hart said well-wishers included Walter Gretzky, Rowdy Roddy Piper, The Undertaker, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho and Edge.
Off the Record host Michael Landsberg promised Part 2 of the interview, which airs Tuesday, at 6 p.m., delivers plenty more wallop. Look for Hart to zing Triple H and Shawn Michaels among others.
- Booker T and Big Poppa Pump will face Batista and Triple H tomorrow on RAW.
- Jeff Hardy came to the aid of Test on RAW, attacking Christian.
- The Wrestling Observer suggests Goldust will return with deep emotional problems as a result of his storyline electrocution last week. It also says D'Lo Brown has been released and will vanish from WWE in a couple of weeks.