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COMMENT





Keeping it real
Rivalry with Stone Cold wasn't rehearsed
By BRET HART
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This past week, I've been completing an upcoming TV special about a one-time NHLer who used to play for the Rochester Americans. I was riding in the production van when it pulled up at the Rochester War Memorial Auditorium and I was instantly struck by memories of many great matches I had there, many of them involving Stone Cold Steve Austin.

While storylines suggested Steve and I had an intense, bitter rivalry, we were always close friends who had a deep mutual respect.

I sat down on the front steps of the Rochester War Memorial and gave Steve a call.

Turns out, he has a part in the remake of The Longest Yard and was talking to me from the set in L.A. When I told him where I was calling from, he chuckled almost deviously and we enjoyed swapping old war stories.

I asked Steve if he has any plans to return to the ring and he said he's been feeling it in his knees and neck lately. And he's not sure if it'd be worth risking injuring himself at this point in his career. But never say never in wrestling.

We joked about whose knees are worse -- mine or his -- and recalled that when I needed to have knee surgery for real, we had a story angle in which Steve was all fired up after losing to me at Wrestlemania XIII. He viciously attacked my knee with a chair on Raw the next night in Binghamton, N.Y., so I could go home to have my knee taken care of.

We talked about the present state of the business and we both had similiar sentiments: Realism is severely lacking and, for me, it's the realism I always loved about the business.

Our matches and interviews were never overly rehearsed and no script writer could have invented a Stone Cold or a Hitman match as well as Steve Williams and I did.

Wrestling shouldn't be reduced to a formula written by someone else to be followed by wrestlers because then the result will never come across as genuine. Pro wrestling should be an art form so wrestlers can tell stories in the ring again.

Just before we got off the phone, Steve Austin invited me down to visit him in Texas to go wild boar hunting. Something tells me that will be quite a tale.