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  February 26, 2000



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Classic loss for WCW

Chris Benoit to be missed



By BRET 'THE HITMEN' HART -- Calgary Sun

 I've got a few words to say about Chris Benoit.

 He's out of WCW, joined the WWF.

 His reasons for the change are his own business, and I'll leave that for him to disclose -- if he chooses to.

 Chris Benoit will be sorely missed in WCW, especially by me.

 I've had the opportunity to work with all of WCW's best opponents, but there's no disputing that my best WCW matches were with Chris Benoit.

 Together, we made a timeless statement about Owen's life and death and about wrestling in general.

 It's something I believe Chris was destined to do because, on that day in Kansas City, we personified the wrestling heritage of Western Canada that he, Owen, and I sprang from like no one else could or ever will again.

 Chris Benoit's Stampede Wrestling roots make him part of a unique breed, the likes of which I've never encountered anywhere else.

 Then again, there are no fans like the fans in Western Canada, either.

 The fans in Japan take their wrestling very seriously, too, but there's something about keeping a crowd of cowboys interested in the matches that made for the toughest wrestlers in the world.

 There was also something about the peculiar melting pot of wrestlers that was with Stampede back then that you don't see today.

 There were ring veterans who'd seen better days and young kids just trying to last another day in the business, along with grapplers of all shapes and sizes from all corners of the globe with their different styles, all of us learning from and bringing out the best in each other.

 Chris Benoit's time to lace up his boots came a few years after mine, yet he experienced many of the same things coming up that I did, including that the fans here weren't impressed by fancy entrances or sidetracked by showboating, which was entertaining, but only accepted if the guy could wrestle.

 No matter how good you were on the mic, or how snazzy your gear, it didn't count for a hill of beans unless you were a really good wrestler.

 You had to prove yourself in every match, and if just once you got lazy, the fans labelled you a slacker and booed you mercilessly, or worse yet, ignored you altogether.

 The idea was that talent rises to the top and that career longevity comes from technical ability.

 That philosophy served me well.

 A lot of flash-in-the-pan characters have come and gone while The Hitman is still like the battery bunny that keeps on goin' and goin'.

 I'm not so sure if it will continue to be the winning formula for Chris Benoit, though.

 The greatest young wrestler in the world has gone to work for a company that proudly acknowledges it is no longer a wrestling company, per se, and that it's become purveyors of flash and vaudeville.

 Chris has the ability to bring out the best in anyone who steps into the ring with him and he's got a whole new roster of challengers in the WWF.

 But the biggest challenge he faces in the WWF is to somehow set himself apart from the soap opera, keep the passion and stay true to who and what he is -- the last of a long line of wrestling artisans.

 To Chris Benoit, I say three things:

 Save your money.

 Have fun.

 Most of all, don't get hurt .

 When it's all said and done, I look forward to sitting on my back deck with you exchanging tales of our travels and triumphs, my friend.

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