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  October 13, 2001



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Talkin' 'bout my generation

Those who've followed in family's footsteps have worked twice as hard



By BRET HART -- SLAM! Wrestling
 I just want to share with everybody the good news that my mom is slowly getting better and to thank you all for your thoughts and prayers.

 Like the rest of our family, Mom has always been a fighter.

 My nephew, Ted Hart Annis (Georgia's oldest son), said the other day he's happy he was able to give my mom and dad their first great-grandchild.

 Baby Bradley is so big and burly I wouldn't be at all surprised if he grows up to become the first fourth-generation wrestler in history! That's quite an accomplishment if you consider the only two third-generation wrestlers I know of are Bradley's dad and Dwayne Johnson, a.k.a. The Rock. Dwayne's father was Rocky Johnson and his grandfather was Peter Maivia.

 As for second-generation wrestlers, we're a small fraternity with a unique upbringing. We started out in a business that was much the same as when our fathers plied the trade, then we prevailed through the changes beyond our control -- brought on by technology and sometimes greed.

 With the advent of world-wide television exposure, we were able to achieve fame far more reaching in some ways than our fathers could ever have dreamed. But we had to work hard for it, developing an extremely tough work ethic, not only to fill our fathers' boots well but in striving to be recognized for our own merits.

 It seems to me none of the second-generation wrestlers I know started out wanting to wrestle, having grown up in a world where the bizarre is ordinary.

 We second-generation wrestlers, however, seemed to have a better understanding of the business than almost anybody else in the dressing room. In my opinion, second-generation wrestlers are some of the greatest wrestlers the world has ever seen.

 One of the best was Ted DiBiase. Long before his stint as the Million Dollar Man, I met Ted down in Texas when he was working for the Funks. I was 16 and he was their lead baby face.

 From the first time I ever saw Ted work, I knew he was destined for greatness. With both of us now retired, looking back, I can honestly say that Ted was one of those few guys who was always a pleasure to work with. He gave a very hard match every single night and enjoyed doing it. A lot of people might say there were a million guys better than the Million Dollar Man but they'd be wrong. In fact, as far as I'm concerned, Ted DiBiase is one of the top five wrestlers of all time.He's also one of the few guys I can think of with a safety record that matches my own.

 Another safe worker was Dustin Rhodes, a guy who I don't think was ever really utilized the way he could have been, although his portrayal of the freakish Goldust is sure to be remembered as the best of its kind.

 Dustin was not only a great athlete but he had a big heart. I recall being in the dressing room when both of us were kind of hanging our heads about the dismal state of WCW and how we felt such a lack of purpose or direction. He quit. That's the difference between a first- and a second-generation wrestler. I don't know what I would have done -- and we'll never know -- because Bill Goldberg mule-kicked me in the head and the decision about my future was out of my hands.

 When I was first getting into the business, the Dynamite Kid was explaining to me how I was looked upon as just another promoter's son, which isn't usually a good thing.

 A lot of promoter's sons were spoiled and had little talent, so you had to work twice as hard to overcome that preconception and be recognized for what you could do. One promoter's son who definitely did have talent and proved it was Jeff Jarrett.

 He had a hard work ethic and in a business where honest people are hard to find, Jarrett was always a man of his word.

 Other second-generation wrestlers who are respected for having crystal-clear integrity are Jacques and Raymond Rougeau, who are also respected for being legit tough guys.

 Ray Rougeau was a golden gloves champ and had the tenacity of a badger. Both he and his brother are decent guys with much integrity. It's no wonder their nephew, Calgary Flame Denis Gauthier, is as tough on the ice as he is because his uncles were tough as hell. I'm sure some people still remember the great matches between the Hart Foundation and the Rougeaus.

 Then there's the Von Erichs. The Harts have known the Von Erichs forever.

 The thing that stood out the most about Kerry Von Erich, other than that he was a great athlete, was the absolute love and compassion he had for all the sick and dying kids we'd meet through charity work. He enjoyed the responsibility and always made the time. In fact, if I knew that Kerry was going to meet a kid backstage, I'd go out there just to watch the way he'd put a smile on a little face exhausted from the pain of cancer.

 To the best of my recollection, the only second generation wrestlers ever to hold the world title in the WWF and NWA/WCW are myself and Randy Savage. One of the best athletes in wrestling, Savage at one time aspired to be a baseball player. He was always one of my personal favourites to watch and he took great offence to the way the WWF intentionally kept us from working together more than a handful of times -- and so did I.

 They maybe felt it was a big match, that was always there if they wanted it. But they never went in that direction.

 Savage has a heart of gold. If I was going to pick one of my 10 favourite pro wrestlers of all time, or if I was going to hire a guy to work for me, it'd be Randy Savage.

 But to me, these second generation wrestlers were all champions.

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