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Hart's ready to battle in front of home fans


By RYAN PYETTE -- Calgary Sun
  The World Wrestling Federation doesn't call it the 'Highway to Hell' tour for nothing.

Calgary's Owen Hart faces a physical hell as he enters the squared circle tonight at the Saddledome. Hart's suffering from an injured muscle in his groin and lower abdomen. Hart's not ready to fight, especially against Ken Shamrock, the 'World's Most Dangerous Man.'

But Hart's in his hometown. So he must.

"I'm a couple of weeks away, but I don't think the Calgary fans would be too happy if I rested," said Hart. "So I'll grit my teeth and go out there."

For Hart, this return to Calgary marks the first WWF show since the rest of his 'rassling family-including Bret 'The Hitman' Hart, Jim `The Anvil' Neidhart, and Davey Boy Smith -- jumped to Ted Turner's new World Championship Wrestling outfit.

"I'm the lone wolf," said Owen. "And I'm not sure how the Calgary fans will react to me. I know, in Edmonton four months ago, the fans cheered me against Shamrock because I'm an Albertan and a Canadian, and that gave me goosebumps.

"I hope I get a good response from the fans."

For Hart's teammate in the 'Nation of Domination', Rocky `The Rock'Maivia, the return to Calgary recalls images of a personal, mental hell.

The Rock, 26, a former All-American defensive lineman for the NCAA national champion football Miami Hurricanes, hurt his back in his senior year, went unnoticed in the National Football League entry draft, and ended up in '95 training camp with the Calgary Stampeders.

The Rock, a 6-ft. 5-in., 275 lb. skilled athlete who played football under his real name Dwayne Johnson, never played a CFL regular season game, and after a half-season on the taxi squad, returned to Miami to try wrestling.

"Lemme tell you, Calgary was a low time for The Rock," said The Rock, the former Intercontinental champ, but still, according to him, 'The People's Champ'.

"It was a big culture shock, and I wasn't happy. But I can guaran-damn-tee this to the people of Calgary. When I face Triple H (Hunter Hearst Helmsley), I'm going to lay the smack down in the Saddledome if you smell what I'm cooking."

In other action, 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin, The Undertaker, Kane, and Mankind compete in a four corner battle for the WWF Heavyweight title, and the New Age Outlaws battle Southern Justice for the tag team title.

More on Bret Hart