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  September 30, 2000



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Glory days

Hart Foundation surprised the world



By BRET "The Hitman" HART -- For The Calgary Sun

When the Hart Foundation came to the ring, it was like the roar and rumble of a freight train.

Even that old Hart Foundation music, which was composed by Jimmy Hart (who authored a lot of wrestling music, by the way), echoed the sounds of something big coming down the tracks.

HART FOUNDATION ... Jim (The Anvil) Neidhart and Bret (The Hitman) Hart.
I was always very proud of what The Hart Foundation accomplished, especially considering the beginning was bleak.

In 1984, I was a rookie in the WWF. I got there as a wrestling star from western Canada and quickly found out that to them I was just another son of a promoter. And sons of promoters were often lazy and over-rated. I'd have to prove myself. There wasn't much chance for me to show what I could do when they had me losing in opening matches every night.

After a while I spoke up about it, which the other wrestlers cautioned me against doing. They said we were all lucky to be working in the big New York territory and that I should just be happy to be getting a paycheque for as long as it lasts. True. But I wasn't asking for much.

Eventually, George Scott, who was Vince McMahon's right-hand man, told me that they'd come up with a great gimmick for me. Cowboy Bret Hart. I sat there and listened as George enthusiastically went into great detail about how I'd be like the rhinestone cowboy, wearing a sequined jacket, chaps and a big hat -- and, of course, I'd ride to the ring every night on a horse.

For any upstart wrestler in the WWF, it's like a dream come true when they come up with a gimmick for you because it means they'll give you a push. But the more I thought about being Cowboy Bret Hart and tried to get excited about it, the less I liked the idea. I'm not a cowboy and it seemed like a putdown to real cowboys.

I suggested to George that they should team me up with Stampede Wrestling veteran Jim (The Anvil) Neidhart, as a heel tag team. George agreed. Then I suggested the name Hart Foundation. I played with other names but foundation seemed the best suited: Fundamental, essential, basic, in combination.

Eventually, George had a strange problem. The WWF never thought The Hart Foundation would amount to a hill of beans, but we became the best tag team they had and they had no idea what to do with us.

They hadn't figured us into any big plans. Meanwhile, they asked The British Bulldogs -- Tommy (Dynamite Kid) Billington and Davey Boy Smith -- to drop the tag team title to The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff, which Dynamite refused to do. He said The Bulldogs would only drop the straps to the best -- The Hart Foundation. He said we'd earned it night after night.

When it came time to do the honours for us, on Jan. 26, 1987, most people didn't realize the courage it took for Dynamite to even step in the ring.

He'd just had two discs removed from his back and could barely walk. What he did for us was out of respect for what we'd done for him. It should always be remembered and appreciated -- and I do.

Two months later, the tag team that the WWF thought wouldn't amount to anything was one of the main events at Wrestlemania 3 -- with a record breaking crowd of 93,173. What does a crowd that size look like? Unfortunately, I don't know. Danny Davis came flying out of the ring and landed with his finger in my right eye. I couldn't see a thing for the rest of the match and my eye teared for weeks.

Seven months later, when we lost the tag straps to Strike Force (Tito Santana and Rick Martel), Anvil and I thought it was all over.

We reminisced about how, when we won the belts from the Bulldogs, we held our heads and our belts out of the windows of a limo that drove us all over Chicago. It was -40 C. We were so happy, it didn't matter that we both got sick.

It was a time when winning and losing a wrestling championship still meant something.

Now, losing the title, the future was, once again, uncertain.

Next week: What happened next.

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