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  December 26, 1998



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Solid show of support for Hitman
By BRET "THE HITMAN" HART -- For The Calgary Sun
  Just when you thought maybe there was nothing left to say about Hitman Hart: Wrestling With Shadows, the resounding critical acclaim from the mainstream American media after its premier showing in the States last Sunday, the highest-rated program of the day on A&E, was more than I dared hope for. The Hollywood Reporter examined the legal wrangling involved in making the movie. The Wall Street Journal exposed the way Vince McMahon deceived me to the business community. It was the cover story on Entertainment Tonight.

 I've seen about 50 glowing reviews written by respected entertainment critics from around the U.S., but I haven't seen anything negative. I share these brief snippets with you, not as a braggart, but because my loyal fans who have stuck by me throughout this ordeal, especially here in Calgary, who never doubted my word despite propaganda to the contrary, deserve to feel the same vindication from this public acknowledgement of our trials as I have. The accomplishment is as much yours as it is mine. Enjoy the moment.

 * The temptation is to hail Hitman Hart: Wrestling with Shadows as one of the best and most surprisingly resonant documentaries you will see, no matter whether you savor or savage pro wrestling and its garish, testosterone-fueled morality plays ... so effective that in its finale, it manages to make a wrestling-ring result poignant and turns it into art. -- Chicago Tribune

 * A fascinating documentary ... has drawn rave reviews at film festivals around the country. -- L.A. Times

 * Not only is Hitman Hart, Wrestling With Shadows, a superb chronicle ... but also a striking view of pro wrestling's changing face. -- TV Guide

 * An emotionally affecting documentary on career, patriotism and loyalty ... it's nearly heart-rending to watch Hart as he must change his character from hero to "heel." It's natural progression in an era when outlaws are praised and bad behaviour in the ring is met with wild applause ... here's an energy that can't be denied. -- Hollywood Reporter

 Even more redeeming is the mail coming from the American fans who can now see past the Hitman's anti-American chapter, many of them finally realizing that it was as painful for me as it was for them. In the hour following the American TV debut, I received 10,000 e-mails at HITMANclub@aol.com -- and they're still coming in. The postal mail is slower to arrive in the holiday crunch but just as passionate. Deciding which ones to share with you in this limited space must be a similar feeling to when actors try to include everyone in their awards acceptance speeches.

 Here's what some of you had to say:

 * My name is Sgt. Anthony C. I had the privilege of meeting you last year when you visited our unit in Kuwait. I just got done watching how the WWF hosed you ... I'm currently a U.S. Army recruiter in rural Minnesota. Many of the young men and women I talk to are amazed when I show them my videos and pictures of your visit to Kuwait. You helped provide a morale boost to the members of our unit, and we were eager to show you our tank, and now you help provide motivation to future soldiers through that same visit ... I can never hope to help you as much as you have me. Thanks, Tony.

 * Bret, we need heroes like you. Thank you for standing up for what's right. You are a supreme role model. I am not a wrestling fan but I cannot help but support a man of such rare integrity. Charles Wade, school principal.

 * I'm a fireman from Pittsburgh. Thank you for rescinding what you'd said about our city. Now we understand why. Tell WCW to come here more because we don't want to watch WWF's tasteless filth any more. Joe.

 * I was so amazed that I felt compelled to write this: We had no particular allegiance to any of the participants or to either organization ... until now. After watching Wrestling with Shadows, we will no longer waste our time watching a WWF event as long as it is run by that back-stabbing McMahon. Bret's high integrity and character were in stark contrast to Mr. McMahon's gross lack of same. Don, Sally, Brian and Jeff Ham, Calif.

 * I'm happy to find there is someone like you out there who stands for what is right. We face an increasing decay of integrity and morals. I know all about it because I do speaking engagements all over the U.S. to tens of thousands of people. I think you're right on track and have a great voice with the young people (older ones, too) to get the message out. That takes more guts than getting in the ring. There's a quote, "One man with courage is a majority," also "A man with commitment will defeat thousands who merely have interest." Jay Cuccia.

 I'm being approached in airports by people who don't know or care about wrestling but saw the documentary. A soldier insisted on carrying my bags. A father shook my hand in front of his son and said that he hopes he can be as fine a role model. I will try as best as I can to continue to live up to these generous compliments.

 And then there are the skeptics. That small percentage of wrestling fans who point to the fact that I was wired for my conversation with McMahon in Montreal and the unprecedented backstage access that the film crew was granted by the WWF as a little too convenient and they conclude that McMahon and I concocted the whole thing. They're desperately trying to rationalize it out so they can go on feeling like a member of the WWF club. Get real. It's simple. The deal to make the documentary was signed while I was still on good terms with McMahon. They were finished filming but when I smelled the potential for the double-cross in Montreal, I asked the camera crew to come back out. I was wired for sound the entire year they tailed me, not just in Montreal. Before going into that meeting with Vince, they asked me if they should remove the wire. I said no. The rest is history. Let's put it in the past.

 Next week, we'll take a look ahead to the big card at Starrcade and it's time for New Year's resolutions. Send me yours and I'll tell you mine.

 That's all for this time until next time. Happy and healthy holidays to all.

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