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  January 3, 1998



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New challenges for a new year
By BRET "THE HIT MAN" HART -- For the Calgary Sun

  Happy New Year! It sure got off to a great start with the Calgary Hitmen scoring a 1-0 shutout against Lethbridge on New Year's Day! They're closing the gap with the first-place Hurricanes!

 This being the first column of the New Year, there's the obvious temptation to look back on Hitman highlights of 1997 -- and the one big "lowlight," Survivor Series. I can't talk about 1997 without bringing up the double cross in Montreal because it left such a rotten taste in my mouth. All I really want to say about that horrible incident and the poor decision that went along with it, is it will most definitely haunt the WWF more than me.

 Nevertheless, '97 was an excellent year for me. My big wins were the Royal Rumble, in January, where I won for the second time, and my fifth WWF World title win, at SummerSlam, in August. Nothing can compare to the feeling I got when I came through the curtain at the Calgary pay-per-view in July --except for when my dad got in the ring after that match! The Calgary fans paid tribute by practically blowing the roof off the Saddledome.

 As far as my best matches of '97, I think one of them was when I annihilated Steve Austin at Wrestlemania 13. The other turns out to be my last great match in the WWF and it's fitting that it was against The Undertaker, a guy who I have nothing but respect for. Unfortunately, most people will never get to see that match because the WWF only aired it on pay-per-view in the U.K. and Canada. The home video came out after Survivor Series so they made my match against Undertaker "disappear" from the tape. They knew it was a great match and it would show the world that the WWF had just lost its best wrestler to WCW -- so they conveniently edited me out of wrestling history.

 Interestingly enough, I have two footnotes to add to this. One being that the U.K. wrestling fans have decided to make a little history of their own. For the first time ever, Nitro beat Raw in the U.K. television ratings. Secondly, I understand, unofficially, that the WCW's Starrcade pay-per-view will have the highest pay-per-view rating of any wrestling show since Wrestlemania 9.

 Being the ref for the Bischoff-Zbyszko match at Starrcade, my first WCW pay-per-view, gave me the chance to prove that I'm not NWO. The NWO did offer me a lot of Ted Turner's money to join up with them but, as I've said before, I'm not greedy for money, I'm greedy for respect. WCW announcers Tony Schiavonne, Bobby Heenan (both ex-WWF), Mike Tenay and Larry Zbyszko, said, in recent weeks, that I've got a reputation for being a wrestling traditionalist. Yes I am and darn proud of it!

 Technical wrestling, fair competition, and standing up for what's right will never go out of style. It must be more than a coincidence that with fewer positive role models, there are more misguided youths. Kids need heroes.

 It was an honor and a privilege to see the rise of WCW at Starrcade. I'm proud to have done my part, not just in the Bischoff-Zbyszko bout, but also with Sting and Hogan. Referee, Nick Patrick fast-counted Sting and was about to award the match -- and the belt -- to Hogan. I stopped Patrick from "pulling a Hebner" on Sting. When the whole WCW came into the ring to celebrate Sting's long-awaited World Championship victory, I was looking at the mob thinking what incredible talent depth WCW has. I'm looking forward to great matches with guys like The Giant, Lex Luger, Chris Benoit, and WCW World Champion, Sting! Those are the kinds of guys I want to test my skills against. It's time for WCW to find out what the excellence of execution is all about. A big reason I'm in WCW is to prove to any doubters why I'm the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be.

 As far as the NWO goes, they remind me of the degenerate scum I left behind. I'm looking forward to knocking some sense into that slime, Scott Hall. Kevin Nash jack-knifed me twice, after the bell, when I took the WWF Title away from him and he's been a cheater ever since. Does he have the guts to come out and face me, one on one, without the NWO wolfpack watching his back?

 The rest of the matches at Starrcade made for a fast-paced, exciting card. There will no shortage great action.

 The next night, on Nitro, Ric Flair called me a big shot columnist for the Calgary Sun and read an article from the Baltimore Sun that said Flair is the most-consistent wrestler night after night. I've only missed two bouts in 21 years and I put in 100% every single time I get in the ring, so I take exception to that. Then Hulk Hogan said he's the only wrestling icon that is, ever was, or ever will be and that I cheated him out of the NWO Title! Looks like the big boys are lining up to challenge The Hitman and all I've got to say about that is -- bring them all on!

 Kudos to my brother-in-law, the British Bulldog for leaving the WWF! Davey will follow me and the Anvil in the WCW, when his knee heals in a few weeks. Funny enough, Jimmy Hart, the ex-manager of the original Hart Foundation, (no relation) has been calling me interested in a Hart Foundation reunion in WCW. As great as that would be, it can't compare with when the Hart family got together at my mom and dad's house on New Year's Eve to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. It was a very special time. By their example, my parents taught us loyalty, faith, wisdom, strength, and love. Mom and dad, I love you and I'm proud to be your son.

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