Ya did very good, Vince
By BRET HART
-- For SLAM! Wrestling
People ask me all the time whether or not I miss wrestling. For the longest time, my answer has been no.
I don't even watch it anymore because nobody really wrestles anymore.
The reason I stopped watching wrestling has little to do with personal differences between me and Vince McMahon. It's no secret I didn't like the direction the business was going, all shock value and little actual wrestling.
Anyway, the perspective I've gained recovering from a stroke these last nine months has lessened the priority of some of my personal issues with McMahon.
So last Sunday, a friend asked if I wanted to come over and watch Wrestlemania XIX. At first, I automatically said no but there was a voice inside me that urged: 'Ah, c'mon ... just watch and see what they're doing.'
So I did. Here's what I thought:
It's only fair and right that since I told everyone when I didn't like what the WWE had become that I be a big enough man to admit I liked what I saw at Wrestlemania XIX. I thought it was an excellent show.
It seems to me the WWE has gone back to producing great wrestling again.
By far and away the best match of the show -- and one of the best matches I've seen in recent memory -- was Kurt Angle and Brock Lesner.
As I watched them wrestle, I could feel in my heart just how much I do miss it.
Walking up the aisle at the store or driving my truck or between periods at a hockey game, I find myself thinking about wrestling matches all the time. It's not hard for me to visualize, with amazing clarity, the middle of a wrestling match -- having Angle clamped in a side headlock waiting for the next big move of one more classic match.
I'm sure Lanny McDonald must go through the same thing with hockey.
In watching Angle, I could do nothing but admire his athleticism and absolute realism, especially since only weeks ago he was not expected to work the show due to a serious neck injury and there was fear his career was over.
As for Lesner, who I only recently met at Curt Hennig's funeral, all I can say is he's an extraordinary physical specimen the likes of which my dad Stu would love to have gotten his hands on!
At the end of his WM XIX match, Lesner climbed up to the top turnbuckle and did a shooting star press, a move more suited to a high-flying lightweight.
This 295-lb. man somersaulted backwards -- three quarters of the way across the ring -- Angle moved out of the way at the last second and Lesner ended up driving his face full force into the mat.
I was most impressed with the professionalism of a groggy and determined Lesner, whose face was already swollen as he willed himself up from the mat and somehow managed to continue the match.
I thought it was a great performance and the match itself was a brilliant piece of work.
As for the rest of the show, The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin delivered a whirlwind, knock- down drag out. For me to be able to enjoy watching two great wrestlers who I like to think I did my best to pass the torch to, I was nothing but proud of both of them.
I thought even McMahon's match with Hogan was more than entertaining enough and much better than most people expected.
It's only fair to say both the Triple H/ Booker T and Shawn Michaels/Chris Jericho matches were terrific.
All in all, it was an excellent show and I'm glad to say the WWE put back what I felt has been missing -- wrestling!
A few years ago, I said it was inevitable things would come full circle; they'd burn out and have to come back to the simple things that make wrestling what it's supposed to be.
Now the ratings have plummeted, I think back to a time when I found myself being handed the torch back in 1992, when the WWE was mired in unprecedented scandals and business was falling fast.
McMahon put his faith in me because he wanted a champion who was a realistic, solid wrestler and I'm glad to see history is repeating itself and the WWE has gone back to basics.
If my career hadn't been ended by a serious concussion (and the stroke didn't help either), I'm sure I'd be wrestling now.
I've always loved wrestling and it feels good to be able to enjoy it again -- at least just as a fan.