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  July 11, 1998



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Bring on Booker!
By BRET "THE HIT MAN" HART -- For the Calgary Sun

  I want to start off by thanking everyone for all the great birthday cards- from all over Canada and the world.

 My birthday wish is that each and every one of my family, friends and fans accomplishes one personal goal -- makes one dream real -- during my birthday year.

 I'm all fired up for my big match at the Bash at the Beach pay-per-view tomorrow with Booker T. First of all, I'm surprised people have asked me why I hit Booker with a chair. Surely you must realize that for The Hitman to do such a dastardly deed there must be justification!

 On Thunder, Booker said his 'daddy' told him that as soon as you have to pick something up in a fight, it shows you're scared -- and that means The Hitman is shaking in his boots. Booker has it backwards.

 My dad taught me that if a guy is scared to get in the ring with you, you have to give him a reason. Make him so mad that he challenges you before he turns yellow again. Make him think the match was his idea. When I walloped Booker T. with that chair, it was the biggest favor anyone ever did for him. Tomorrow is the biggest match of his career -- by far -- thanks to me.

 Booker T. is not to be taken lightly. He's very tough, but he's also extremely agile for a guy his size.

 He's got great stamina, an interesting arsenal and cagey ring psychology. Booker's problem is that he's become a bit too cocky and self-assured. He's gotten too comfortable fighting middle of the card guys, but he's never fought a five-time world champion before. It's time Booker T. moves up in the ranks.

 That it took a chair shot to motivate Booker to challenge me instead of his own desire to fight the best there is, only goes to show that he still feels insecure at the high levels of singles competition.

 Tomorrow The Hitman is going to give Booker T the toughest fight of his life. On the other hand, with both his reputation and the WCW World TV title at stake, Booker just might turn up the heat enough to make me sweat.

 I'll admit that my motives in getting Booker T. to challenge me aren't entirely for his benefit. A month or so ago I decided I want the WCW TV title. I get a lot of letters asking why I don't wrestle as often as I used to. In fact, some fans have mistakenly come to the conclusion that I have some sort of a stipulation built into my contract where I only work once in awhile and they hold that against me.

 If that were true they'd be right to be disappointed in me. But the truth is that I'd like nothing more than to wrestle more. And there are a lot of WCW wrestlers who've told me that it's their dream to fight The Hitman -- or their nightmare. Unfortunately, it's up to the booking committee which match-ups are made. But I've found a way around that.

 It's the responsibility of the TV Champion to defend the title whenever there's a TV camera rolling.

 Another guy who travels the backroads is Sting. His cage match with Hollywood Hulk Hogan has been a long time in the making. To get Hogan in the ring at Starrcade, last December, Sting spent an entire year overhauling his image, being silent, and dropping from the rafters in white grease paint. Finally the mind games paid off, Sting got Hogan in the ring, and won the World heavyweight title.

 Now, there was no belt on the line for Sting and Hogan last night at L.A. Melee -- because that belongs to Goldberg. We'll get back to Goldberg. But for Sting and Hogan, the focus has shifted to something a lot more personal. A place in the pecking order. The loser of this match will be perceived by fans as just that -- a loser. A guy on his way down. The winner will no doubt get a shot at Goldberg -- as dubious a distinction as that maybe. If Hogan didn't beat Sting he won't even be the number one contender. He won't get the rematch. The world title would slip from Hogan's grasp -- and I'm not so sure I can just stand by and watch that happen.

 I don't know where things will go with me and Hogan but -- at least for the time being -- it's better to work with him than against him.

 July 6, 1998. Nitro. Goldberg pinned Hogan. There's no other way to look at it. Hogan got speared and jackhammered and just plain beat. Hogan was guilty of the same complacency in his position that Booker is falling into a few rungs down. Despite the fact that Goldberg has beaten over one hundred guys, Hogan never thought that a comparative 'rookie' could knock him down, so he didn't prepare for the match.

 Sometimes we all need a wake-up call, but this was a big one, not only for a stunned Hogan, but for an industry that had become far too accepting of the ever increasing over-reliance on characterizations and gimmicks.

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