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Bret Hart's fresh start


Bret Hart
TAKE THAT! ... Calgary's Bret Hart takes out his frustration while watching a video of his last fight for the World Wrestling Federation by slamming a figure of himself down on a doll of Vince McMahon, the man who took his title away last week in Montreal. -- Darren Makowichuk, Calgary SUN
By JOE WARMINGTON -- Calgary Sun
  Bret Hart turned his head away from the television in his family room as the video came to the part where he was robbed of his dignity and his world title.

"I can hardly stand to watch it," he said, angrily. "There's the end of my career, right there."

End of his WWF career that is.

Starting in January, the five-time world wrestling champion will be working for the rival WCW.

But it's clear the Hitman is hurt over the obvious conspiracy to strip him of his belt one day before he was going to forfeit it and leave the WWF as champion.

"They screwed me out of it and I will never understand why," said the 40-year-old father-of-four.

"I was double-crossed. It doesn't seem right for a guy who worked for them for 14 years."

Truth and reality are often blurred when it comes to professional wrestling but what has happened to Hart in recent times is very real.

Combine this with the death of Hart Foundation Member and friend Brian Pillman which, he says, was from degenerative heart failure and not from a drug overdose, and it's easy to see Hart lives in a very real world.

And what happened in Montreal last week -- which is as plain as day on the video -- is part of that reality.

He equates being tricked in front of his fans as one of the worst things that's happened to him.

What you had was Hart actually showing rival Shawn Michaels how to place him in his own patented sharpshooter hold.

But what wasn't expected was the bells to start ringing and the referee awarding the title to Michaels -- all just as Hart got himself out of the hold.

"Imagine them doing that with my hold and in my home country," said Hart. "I wasn't about to be beaten in my home country. They tried to humiliate me."

Of course the excitement didn't end there. A dustup later in the dressing room left WWF boss Vince McMahon with quite a bump on the head.

Other than to say "he got what he had coming," Hart won't comment on what went on away from the cameras or exactly how he broke his right hand.

"I was lied to and cheated on my last day of work," he said. "Nobody doubts what happened. What's on trial here is Bret Hart's integrity versus Vince McMahon's. It's a one-sided trial."

The irony of McMahon getting hurt is that Hart has never injured another while wrestling in more than 21 years in ring. He takes pride in being a "real artist" who knows all of the moves and ensures safety.

That's why amongst wrestlers and fans alike, Hart is considered the best there is.

The deal to go to the WCW, something which Hart says McMahon asked him to do because of financial duress in the WWF, is quite lucrative and will see Hart have 125 matches a year compared with the 180 he's been used to.

As mad as he is at McMahon, he said, he understands his brother Owen and brother-in-law British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith have to honor their contracts and do what they have to do to get by.

"I said `Don't worry about any decisions because three years from now, we'll still be out on a boat fishing and talking about it,'" he said.

So now the stage is set for an eventual title match between fellow five-time champ Hulk Hogan, who left the WWF several years ago and ironically was in Hart's bad books for doing so.

"I held it against him," said Hart. "But after what they did to me maybe I didn't know the whole story. I'll certainly make the effort to hear it now."

Even though a Hart-Hogan showdown would likely be one of the biggest-ever entertainment tickets, the Hitman doesn't know for sure if this will happen right away.

It still hasn't been decided what direction he will take with his new company. But whether he's a good guy or bad guy, whether he's with Hogan or against him, the one thing Hart believes it is that it will be a better direction than the anti-American one.

"To be honest I didn't really like it," he said of pitting Canada against the U.S. An example of the stuff he dreaded was like the time he said, "If you were going to give the United States an enema, pick Pittsburgh.

"It was almost blasphemy for me to say it because I always liked Pittsburgh. The (NHL) Penguins were my favorite hockey team as a kid," he said.

In addition to that, Hart said, he often wondered about being somewhere in the middle of being a good guy or a bad guy.

"If you get stuck in the middle, you are in purgatory," he said.

"They turned me into a character with nowhere to go."

Actually, in recent months Hart hasn't been happy with the entire direction of both the Hitman character and the WWF program itself.

He said he didn't like the way the out-of-ring segments were being written. "The whole show became rather low class. Wrestling used to be family entertainment, like David versus Goliath," he said.

What he ended up seeing was "sleazy" story lines of wrestlers sleeping with other wrestler's wives and the dialogue was generally in "bad taste."

He and his wife Julie didn't think it was a good idea for his children Jade, 14, Dallas, 13, Alexandra, 9, or Blade,7, watch it.

"I couldn't allow it into my house," he said shaking his head. "I couldn't watch my own show."

And when his kids aren't able to watch it, he said, he worries about other people's kids.

"I take pride in being a Canadian hero and I take pride in being a Calgary hero," he said.

"I always tell parents, if your kids are watching me on TV, they're okay."

That's why he's had a hard time watching TV these days. But now that he's signed with the WCW, which is really Time Warner, Hart believes he will be able maintain the high standard he's worked hard to keep.

And from there, it's out of the ring and into the sunset.

"This is my last hurrah," he said.

"There's no question, at the end of the three years I'll be done."

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