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  February 19, 2000



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Germany's wunderbar


By BRET "THE HIT MAN" HART -- Calgary Sun

  Sometimes, I guess you just have to find things out the hard way.

Doc told me no working out, no flying and no wrestling until my concussion heals. I was trying hard to heed doc's orders, even though I was starting to go stir crazy, but when WCW called and said they needed me to go to Germany, I'll admit it didn't take a lot to convince me.

All they wanted me to do was climb into the ring in three cities and talk to the fans. That was an offer I couldn't refuse because ever since my abrupt departure from the WWF, I'd been waiting for the opportunity to see my German fans, face to face, to thank them for their unwavering loyalty.

I was big in Germany long before I became popular in Canada or the U.S. or anywhere else. German sports fans elected me athlete of the year, twice, and I've had the really strange experience of being chased through the streets of Germany like a rock star by mobs of screaming girls.

I landed in Hamburg and was driven right to the arena where I realized that the last time I'd been in that building was for the last match I'd ever had with Owen. Backstage, I found a quiet room and sat remembering how the crowd had cheered for us both as the advantage in the match went back and forth. We had such good fun, Owen and I, two Hart boys, the main event in Germany, pulling out all the stops to blow the roof off the place. It brought back a lot of memories and I decided to share that with the Hamburg fans, many of who I'm sure were there when Owen and I gave them a special match to remember.

When I walked out to the ring, they cheered really loud. Then a hush fell over this huge arena as I told them how I will always cherish the memory of the last time I was there and how Owen had spoken to me with fondness in his heart about their support and enthusiasm but most of all for their appreciation of good wrestling. I saw many people at ringside crying, yet smiling at the memory of another time.

The next night, in Oberhaesen. the fans had the same enthusiasm as in Hamburg. The third night, I was in Liepzig. Again it was very emotional for the fans and for me. They listened to every word I said and when I was finished, this adorable little six-year-old girl climbed through the ropes and gave me flowers. When I walked around the ring to high-five all the fans, she marched right along with me and she was just the happiest little girl in the whole world to be there with her hero. In that instant, I said to myself, this is what I was trying to say has been missing from American wrestling. It's a feeling I haven't had in three years. Everyone felt good, me and the fans. I will carry that moment with me forever.

All of a sudden, bang, I'm on the Concorde. Three and a half hours out of London, I'm in New York City.

The next morning, as soon as I opened my eyes I was interviewed by CNN's Moneyline and then WCW whisked me off to the Toy Fair. There, I saw an even stranger sight than the diversity of people I'd met on the street the night before. My own face staring back at me on all kinds of dolls and other new WCW merchandise.

There I was with rippling muscles, washboard abs, looking too flattering, if you ask me, but the face looked more like me than any action figures I'd seen before.

I met Todd McFarlane, creator of Spawn, who was in the booth next door. I'm a big fan of his, I love his work and that he's from Calgary. Todd went to William Aberhart school and he kidded me about Aberhart trouncing Manning in basketball but I pointed out we used to wipe the mat with them in wrestling. There we were, two Calgary boys who ended up doing O.K., laughing in the middle of Manhattan.

I would like to have hung out with Todd but they whisked me onto another plane, this time to Vegas.

I was honoured to be the first ever inductee into the WCW wall of fame at the Nitro Grill, where my hand prints are now immortalized in cement.

They whisked me off to the airport again and I got home to Calgary at midnight. When I woke up on Thursday morning, it was like it had all been a dream ... a good one. I'm glad I went to Germany, even though I'm paying the price for it now.

As for staying home and taking it easy, I was O.K. with that when I realized that The Hitmen are playing all weekend at the 'Dome. See you there!

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