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Bret Hart:  Everybody wants to know...
Exclusive Q&A with the legendary Hitman
By TJ MADIGAN - Calgary Sun




Last week, Bret 'The Hitman' Hart sat down with the Calgary Sun to reflect on his career, prior to his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame.

But the interview went deeper than what appeared in the original print article, with Hart also talking candidly about Shawn Michaels, TNA, his future in wrestling, and that infamous night in Montreal in 1997. In this online exclusive, we go even further in-depth with the best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be...

Bret, do you still watch wrestling?

"I turn it on every now and then but WWE is usually too much for me. Too many scantily clad women, doing these soap opera interviews where someone's having a baby. I just can't take it. I like my wrestling to have some kind of reality base.

"But I do like Kurt Angle and Benoit, I like the guys who wrestle. There's also TNA, I think it's called, who have some pretty good wrestlers and I enjoy their stuff sometimes."

There's actually been talk of you doing something with TNA down the road. Is there any real chance of you working for them?

"I don't think so, only because I don't know what I could do. If someone asked me to be involved in the storylines or the matches themselves, I'd consider that. But for me to be a sideline character, it would have a look of desperation to it.

"I see Piper and Flair and these guys that just can't get away from it. I don't begrudge them for it, but I don't want to be remembered that way. I don't want to be some old guy that's trying to take the limelight off of some of these young guys. I always want to be remembered as a great wrestler, not a manager or commissioner or ring announcer or referee."

WWE has wanted you to appear on their TV for a long time. What made you agree to do the Hall of Fame this year?

"Back when Vince called me in my hospital bed, after my stroke, he talked about the Hall of Fame. At the time, it was so far away. I think I told him that I would do something like that, but I didn't want to do it in a wheelchair. As luck had it, I recovered enough that I now see it as a challenge."

Is it true you're not accepting pay for the appearance?

"I haven't received anything as far as payment. It's my understanding that everyone gets a $5000 fee for going, but as part of that, they have to show up at Wrestlemania the next day. I'm not planning on being at Wrestlemania. I could use $5000 as much as anyone else, but at this point, all I want to do is go out, say a few words and summarize my career."

The Bret Hart DVD project is what set this whole chain of events in motion. Why was that DVD important enough to make you forgive and forget?

"I've never forgiven what they did to me at the Survivor Series. I took it all pretty personal, but at the same time, when the DVD thing came up last summer, it was really important because I wanted to be remembered. I felt if you missed it or had been a little kid, you'd never get so see what Bret Hart was. You'd only hear those negative stories about how they had no choice but to lay the law down with me.

"I liken my career to how Arnold Schwarzenegger may look back at his career. You know, I made a lot of great movies. I think some of them stand the test of time. If you watch my DVD, I think you'll see better wrestling than a lot of what you see on TV now"

It had to be tough to let all the bitterness go and go back to work on that project?

"The thing I learned from my stroke, and anyone that knows me will agree, I carried around a lot of hard feelings for things that happened. I always likened it to carrying around a big bag of rocks. When I had my stroke, I just dropped that bag of rocks so fast that I couldn't worry about that stuff.

"It's a shame that I still shake my head and wonder if things had never gone down the way they did. Where would I be and what would I be doing? I probably would never have had the concussion injuries that ended my career in WCW, and I think it's fair to say I would never have had the stroke. But you can't go back over all that stuff."

WWE is pushing Montreal hard on TV, especially with all the recent sharpshooter spots and the 'Shawn screwed Shawn' bits. Does it get to you, or do you just not care anymore?


"A little bit of both. I've got to the stage where I just don't want to know. If you let people know it bothers you, they're going to do it more. I personally don't think it's any kind of great idea. They've milked that so much that my skin's a little tougher now.

"I'll never forget what they did to me or think it was just another day at the office. I just have things to carry around that are more important. They're going to do whatever they think is best for them and I can't control that or let it bother me any more than it has."

How much did it bother you?

"I remember when Austin and Vince had the angle, and that whole thing was red hot. That was a little tough because what they did to me was real and with Austin, it was all pretend. Though, I'm always glad my fans still chant 'You screwed Bret' so loud. It makes me feel good that my old fans and a lot of new fans still remember what happened.

"Even when I was voted the number 39 Greatest Canadian. They told me the reason I was voted in was because I stood up to Vince McMahon and America. To me, it's not a storyline and it never will be."

Do WWE give you a heads-up when they're going to do a Montreal-related angle?

"They've called me a couple of times and asked if it's a problem. They didn't really ask if they could do it or not. They just called to let me know they were doing it."

I know you'll never physically be able to have another match, but who would be your dream opponent if one more match was a possibility?

"I would love to wrestle Kurt Angle, for sure. I'd also love to wrestle the Rock. I worked with him a couple of times but really never had a chance to do anything. If I could have come back, I would love to have a big dance on the dance floor with him."

The Rock is probably a good choice. He seems to share your opinion of Shawn Michaels.

"I don't doubt it. When I was there, Shawn's group hammered on him pretty good. It's lucky that the Rock made it to where he did, because those guys had their knives out for him right from the start."

Shawn Michaels is one of the people you said you've no desire to reunite with at the Hall of Fame?

"If I'm preparing for this speech and Shawn walks past me in the lobby, it's going to throw my whole mood off. I know he's going to be in town but I don't want him around me. I don't particularly want to be around Hogan or Flair or any of these guys.

"Since my stroke, it's not in my nature to really get angry anymore. I can't really explode into a raging anger, it's really draining. I've been in situations were somebody's right there pushing my buttons. I have to just walk away. It's really awkward for me to get in that situation."

You've said the Hall of Fame is going to be closure for you. Does this mean Bret Hart is getting ready to ride off into the sunset?

"Well, I also have my book which I'm hoping will be out for Christmas. I'm doing the very last pages right now, then I have to work out who's going to publish it and stuff like that. The Hall of Fame and the book will be the closure.

"Maybe I'll ride off into the sunset to a certain degree or maybe I'll do something. I find my life never stops falling into different things. Maybe I'll try acting or I'd love to write a book that has nothing to do with wrestling or my life."

And finally, is your Italian up to par? Living in Italy must be posing a bit of a language barrier.

"Actually, my pug dog speaks better Italian than me. He's my best conversation over here."

Bret Hart will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame tongiht in Chicago. The ceremony airs April 3rd on TSN.

RELATED LINKS

  • More on Bret Hart
  • More on WrestleMania 22
    Lots and lots of Bret Hart! Visit the SLAM! Wrestling store


  • The Bret "The Hitman" Hart Triple DVD Set
  • Pain and Passion: The History of Stampede Wrestling
  • Hart Foundation 3-Pack Figures
  • The Pro Wrestling Hall Of Fame: The Tag Teams

    TJ Madigan is a sports writer for the Calgary Sun.