September 6, 2003
Bret Hart: Memory planeRecollections pour forth on flight back to Toronto
By BRET HART
I\'m writing from a plane on the way to Toronto for the media launch of Jacob Two Two and the Hooded Fang. The animated series debuts tomorrow on YTV and I\'m the Hooded Fang.
Going back to Toronto brings back a lot of memories for me, like the first time I walked up to the back door of the old Maple Leaf Gardens to wrestle for the NWA. The security guards wouldn\'t let me into the building. One of them had never heard of Bret Hart and the other one had but was sure I wasn\'t him. That\'s because some guy stole my name and was wrestling all over as Bret Hart -- and always losing, too.
I went on to have an excellent match that night with a Japanese wrestler who, luckily for me, had great respect for me only because we\'d both learned wrestling from the same teacher, Mr. Hito.
I was sidelined by a bad knee injury for a while and, by the time I resurfaced in Toronto, I was working for the WWF and tagged up with Jim (The Anvil) Neidhart as The Hart Foundation.
I wasn\'t a babyface anymore and one of the most enjoyable memories I have about wrestling in Toronto is of riling up the fans who had now come to despise everything about me -- mostly because I\'m from out west!
Anvil and I cheated so ruthlessly some of the best matches at the old MLG were between the security guards and the irate fans who climbed the fence around the ring.
I remember one night when the Killer Bees took us on and, after The Hart Foundation broke every rule in the book, The Bees were about to pull off a stunning upset by donning yellow masks and switching places. An enraged fan climbed into the ring and was heading straight for me when he was tackled by security guards and hauled out of there.
After the match, Anvil and I came back through the dressing room curtain victorious only to find this same fan in handcuffs tearfully pleading to the cops he wasn\'t after me at all -- he wanted to get his hands on Bee Brian Blair.
Then there was Wrestlemania VI when The Hart Foundation defeated The Bolsheviks in 17 seconds in the packed-to-the-rafters SkyDome.
They aren\'t all great memories of wrestling in Toronto, though. In a match with Dino Bravo, he catapulted me backwards into a solid steel fence and I broke my sternum and cracked four ribs. I could hardly breathe and, as I writhed around on the floor outside the ring, struggling for air, the fans -- and everybody else -- thought it was part of the show. I thought I would die there on a sticky floor of popcorn and beer.
Probably my most memorable moment wrestling in Toronto came in 1999 when I was working for the WCW.
It was the WCW\'s first time in Canada and I knew there were a lot of great fans who\'d been waiting two years since my departure from the WWF for me to return. For several weeks leading up to the WCW show, I\'d been mouthing off to Bill Goldberg as part of a storyline. They\'d built Goldberg with a series of undefeated matches and I kept taunting him to try me on.
By the time I walked out in front of the sold-out crowd at the Air Canada Centre, the response was deafening.
I took the mic and went on to bash Goldberg, pulling off my Calgary Hitmen jersey to reveal a Maple Leafs jersey underneath. I told the big, tough ex-football player this is hockey country and, if he had any guts, he\'d come out and face me.
Goldberg stomped out and tackled me full force like a practice dummy, leaving us sprawled on the mat. The Toronto fans were going crazy as they waited for one of us to get up. The cheering only got louder when I pulled myself up from the rubble and Goldberg didn\'t budge at all. I peeled off my Maple Leafs jersey to reveal I was wearing a steel chest plate.
I rolled over that big gorilla Goldberg and the fans counted along with me as I became the first guy to ever pin him.