SLAM! Sports SLAM! Wrestling
   Tue, May 27, 2003



News & Rumours
Bios
Obits
Canadian Hall of Fame
WrestleMania 30
WrestleMania 30 photos
Video
Movie Database
Minority Mat Report
Columnists
Features
Results Archive
PPV Reviews
SLAM! Wrestling store
On Facebook
On Twitter
Send Feedback




Photo Galleries

Raw in Miami


Tragos/Thesz Hall of Fame inductions


WWE Battleground


ROH in Detroit


Smackdown & Main Event in Ottawa


Raw in Montreal


WWE in Kingston







SCOREBOARD
PHOTO GALLERY
VIDEO GALLERY
COMMENT





Return of the \'Hitman\'
By MIKE ALTAMURA -- SLAM! Wrestling


The \'excellence of execution\', Bret \'The Hitman\' Hart, 46, returned to the world of professional wrestling last week on an Australian and New Zealand tour with Andrew McManus\' World Wrestling All-Stars (WWA). Hart\'s guest appearance with the WWA sparked the first time \'The Hitman\' addressed the wrestling world since suffering a stroke almost 12 months ago.

The tour consisted of three shows: two house shows in Sydney and Melbourne (on March 21 and March 23, respectively), Australia, and a PPV, entitled \"The Reckoning\", in New Zealand on the 25th - which also happened to be the first-ever PPV from Kiwi country.

In Sydney it\'s reported that Hart only spoke briefly - 2-3 minutes - in which he sat in centre ring and touched on issues such as the road to recovery since having a stroke, deaths in professional wrestling, and his desire to keep being a \'survivor\' in life. Hart\'s address to the people in Melbourne, two days later, was a bit longer with \'The Hitman\' reflecting more on relatively recent deaths in wrestling - British Bulldog, Curt Henning, and Miss Elizabeth.

SLAM! Wrestling journeyed to the house show in Melbourne to get a glimpse of \'the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be\', and we were fortunate enough to speak briefly to Hart prior to the event.

Backstage, just minutes before entering the ringside area to a standing ovation, Hart expressed a passion for the business which has been somewhat restrained in recent times, by saying, \"I wish I could have one last match.\" When we pressed on whom Hart would have liked to worked with out of today\'s superstars, he instantly quipped, \"Kurt Angle. And I would\'ve loved to work with [Chris] Benoit more,\" he told SLAM! Wrestling.

The former 5-time WWE and 2-time WCW Heavyweight champ also asserted us that in terms of his recovery, he\'s \"been feeling much better\" in recent months which was pleasing to hear, although it was quite evident that \'The Hitman\' will be recovering for a long time to come. He was quite withdrawn in conversation and appeared to be extraordinarily tired - both of which could be attributed to vocal chord damage sustained in the stroke.

Nevertheless, Hart had enough energy to produce one final - longer - address to his fans around the world at Sunday\'s pay-per-view in New Zealand. As he slowly walked to the ring to deliver another touching talk which would have the entire crowd standing and chanting his name, WWA commentator, Jeremy Borash, referred to Bret Hart as \"class personified.\" Indeed, he was right.

Since \"The Reckoning\" PPV won\'t be airing in North America till some time in June, we have decided to run an entire transcript of \'The Hitman\'s\' unforgettable address to the world at the PPV:

\"It took me a long time to get here, thank you very much.

\"Where do I start? I promised myself that I wouldn\'t come out here and say any sad songs, I just wanted to come out and say a few words - I\'ll try not to take too long in here and be too long-winded.

\"It\'s taken me so long to get down here to New Zealand, it\'s a beautiful country. You\'ll have to forgive me a little bit, it\'s been a little while since I\'ve been in front of a camera, it\'s not easy to come out here for me. For me it is something that I\'ve wanted to do and I appreciate the fact that the WWA gave me a chance to come out here and in a lot of ways, address fans all around the world.

\"Last year when I suffered my stroke the last thing in my mind was ever coming down here to see anybody. And when Andrew McManus called me a couple months ago I was happy to know that I\'d recovered enough that I thought I could come down here to do this.

\"This is the first - the first time I\'ve really come out in public to talk to anybody. It reminds me of a conversation I had about a year ago - about a month before I had a stroke - I was talking to a guy that was head of WWE in Canada, and he was talking to me about having seen me on a WWA show, and he said my stock was at an all time low. And I got news for him, because I don\'t have stock anymore in wrestling. I\'m happily - or was happily - retired.

\"You know, yesterday was the four year anniversary of the death of my brother, Owen. And I know my brother Owen would\'ve been really proud to see me sitting here talking to you people.

\"It\'s been a tough year in wrestling. I\'ve lost some good friends. Lost the British Bulldog this past year. Also lost \'Mr Perfect\' Curt Hennig. And we recently lost Miss Elizabeth. And I just want to say that they\'re all really decent people and we\'re gonna miss them.

\"I\'d like to see myself, sitting here today, as a survivor - I\'ve survived a lot. Life is short and death is long. When I was in the hospital when I had my stroke I got emails from all over the world - I got them right here from fans in New Zealand - I got them from people from places like Iraq, Russia, and the Philippines. I\'d like to think for me I was a World champion - not just a champion.

\"The Hitman was not just some wrestling character that was created in a board room by marketers, or writers or anything like that. I\'m happy to tell you I\'m a real person. When I thought about coming out here I was worried about what I was going to wear and how I was going to look; now I don\'t give a shit.

\"Anyway I\'m going to make room for the main event. I want to let you all know that I appreciate all your prayers. And I don\'t want you to ever stop worrying or thinking about me.

\"Thank you very much New Zealand.\"

Mike \'Kryptonite\' Altamura is a freelance writer living in Australia. He can be contacted via email at slamwrestlingmike@hotmail.com

  • More on Bret Hart
  • This week\'s column by Bret Hart
  • Bret Hart photo gallery