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   Sat, February 14, 2004



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COMMENT





A big 'aloha' from the Hitman
By BRET HART -- For the Calgary Sun


One of my dearest wrestling pals, Brian Adams -- who worked under the name Crush as the third member of Demolition -- rang me up and asked me to say a few words to the audience and sign a few autographs for a small-time Hawaiian wrestling promotion. Hawaii in late January?

Why not?

He gave me a list of wrestlers who would be on the card -- the legendary Superfly Jimmy Snuka, Barbarian, Buff Bagwell, Sabu and Perry Saturn, to name a few. My nephew, Teddy Hart (Ted Annis), also would be wrestling.

It was a two-week vacation for me, with four small-time wrestling shows stuck in the middle and I have to admit, I didn't feel bad hearing it was -45C in Calgary.

And, suddenly, I was back on the road again. Riding around in a van filled with young bucks and old-timers reminded me of the old Stampede Wrestling days working for my father.

I found myself sitting with various wrestlers wondering what I wanted to say to the crowd as I watched boots being laced and knees being wrapped before the first show started.

The crowd was small but that didn't take away any of the enthusiasm and excitement brewing among the wrestlers and the fans in the bleachers.

Jimmy Snuka and the Barbarian began talking to me about having seen Wrestling With Shadows on TV recently. Snuka told me he was never more proud and his words meant the world to me after all this time because I like to think what I did that day in Montreal, I did for wrestlers like him.

My music played and I headed out to the ring, still unsure what I was going to say.

The last time I spoke to a wrestling audience was back in June and, at that time, I was still having difficulty expressing myself because of my stroke. But this time, I felt totally at ease, confident and grateful just to be standing there.

I began by telling the fans Hawaii is a special place to me because I have fond memories of wrestling my brother Owen there back in our WWF days.

I spoke briefly about overcoming my stroke and was a lot more comfortable talking to a small gathering of old-time wrestling fans than I would be with an audience of 20,000.

I assured the crowd it was in for a great show and my words seemed to inspire the wrestlers, who tried to out-do each other one match after another.

I wasn't sure if I was sad or proud as I watched Superfly Jimmy Snuka, now in his 60s, climb up to the top corner and launch himself halfway across the ring onto his opponent.

All I know is I respected him.

What was initially the opening match on the first night not surprisingly became the main event by the fourth and final show. Teddy Hart astounded and mesmerized all of us with an absolutely breathtaking match and lived up to the Hart name.

I was equally impressed with his opponent, a young TNA wrestler named A.J. Styles. It's been a long time since I've seen wrestling this good.

In my opinion, A.J. Styles might be the very best young wrestler in the business today.

After four days on the road, I got back to my vacation, lounging around the pool under the shade of big palm trees.