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  January 23, 1998



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Hitman enters new house
By BRET "THE HIT MAN" HART -- For the Calgary Sun

  Finally I get my chance to pull on my pink and black tights, lace up my boots, wrap up my knees, strap on my brace, tape up my wrists and pull down the shades.

 The day of reckoning is here. The Hitman makes his worldwide WCW wrest-ling debut and nobody is more excited than me.

 I'd by lying if I didn't admit to being a little bit apprehensive, with almost 2 1/2 months off and much of that time being unable to train due to a broken hand. Yet, I think the time off has probably done me more good than harm.

 The fact Ric Flair has been working all the time doesn't concern me. At his age, every match takes it toll. I know. I've had a lot of time to do a rigorous cardio routine, courtesy of my old school chum, physical fitness expert and former Sun columnist, Dr. Mike Bracko. And my personal trainer, Grant McReynolds, has me almost as strong as ever.

 Despite that, I've had no chance for warmup matches and I know my timing will be off. An old fox like Flair knows that.

 I also have to make adjustments to the WCW ring. It's considerably smaller. The ropes aren't ropes, they're steel cables encased in rubber, and they're much lower. The ring is bouncier and the turnbuckles are solid as rocks.

 Other concerns might be how the crowd will take me. It's really anybody's guess. Everyone knows it's always an advantage when a crowd is with you rather than against you.

 As for Flair, he's as technically sound as they come and 13 world titles proves it. Flair knows my weaknesses, especially my bad right knee, and when he targets that knee I'll have a tough time stopping him.

 What I still remember about Flair is he's prone to quick judgment and often makes critical mistakes. I've become pretty smart in my war years and, if the Nature Boy slips up even once, I'll rip a hole in his logic and defeat him -- like I did before.

 Like Flair, maybe now I'm a little more beat up, but I can assure him and everyone else that I'm a whole lot smarter. How are Ric's knees anyway?

 No matter what happens, I'm really looking forward to this bout. A chance to wrestle a living legend -- to pit our holds, strengths, and stamina -- and to finally wrestle again.

 Various wrestling publications have released some interesting footnotes to the 1997 season. My WWF match with Steve Austin was acclaimed as the match of the year. The best pay-per-view event of the year was the Canadian Stampede card.

 It seems the rest of the world shared my disgust with the lack of compassion given to Brian Pillman's wife, Melanie, the travesty of justice in my supposed title loss in Montreal, and with all the racial and sexual overtones now so prevalent in the WWF.

 It's gratifying to know I got off that sinking Titanic before it was too late.

 I heard through my WWF grapevine that the first guy Iron Mike Tyson wanted to meet was none other than -- Ric Flair! Hey Mike, wrong company!

 The WCW's Souled Out pay-per-view really has a hot card. This will be the first time Booker T will defend the TV title on a pay-per-view and beating the veteran, Rick Martel, would be a tough task. No doubt Martel has more experience in singles than the Harlem Heater but Booker has been gaining momentum ever since he took the title from Disco Inferno.

 Chris Jericho will try to capture Rey Mysterio's cruiserweight belt and the Lionheart's lyin' ways have got the champ more focused on revenge than on victory. That might throw off Mysterio's concentration, just enough for Jericho to take the match with his patented Liontamer submission.

 Do you think Raven will finally show up for a falls count anywhere match with Chris Benoit? JJ Dillon assures us that, this time, the flock won't be around and that's ruffled Raven's feathers. He seems disoriented by having to stand alone and it will be interesting to see if he can adjust in time to be a match for the Canadian Crippler.

 Souled Out has two big tag matches sure to be show stoppers. If you like Luche Libre wrestling, then don't miss Juventud Guerra, Super Calo, Lizmark and Chavo Guerro vs. La Parka, Silver King, Psicosis and El Dandy. I wouldn't be surprised if it comes down to Guerro and Guerra. Coming off his first cruiserweight championship, Air Juvy has never been higher. Chavo isn't as familiar with the confines of the American style but this time, with Lucha rules, I expect we'll see Chavo at his best.

 What has gotten into Randy Savage? The infighting in the NWO seems to have caused his mental state to revert to where he's let the madness take over like it did years ago.

 I don't know why Savage keeps interfering in Lex Luger's business but one thing I do know is Luger is determined to put him into the torture rack and put a stop to the Madness once and for all.

 The Giant will finally get his hands on Kevin Nash -- or will he? You'd think so since Hollywood Hogan put up the $1.5 million performance bond guaranteeing WCW that Nash would be there.

 The much anticipated announcement by the WCW Executive Committee about the status of the vacated heavyweight title will finally be heard tonight. We've been without a champion since JJ Dillon took the belt away from Sting.

 Will there be a tournament for the WCW heavyweight title? Or maybe there'll be a four-way match and we'll have a new champ tonight!

 When I was gathering my bags to leave, my seven-year-old son Blade gave me a glance and said, 'hey dad, good luck.'

 I thought about it and realized I could use a little. Thanks Blade. Thanks everyone. See you in the ring.

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