Gotta believe in our heroes
By BRET "THE HIT MAN" HART -- For the Calgary Sun
nWo Hollywood claims they've re-established themselves as the top stable in professional wrestling. You could look at it that way considering that Scott Hall and Giant took the tag belts from Hall and Nash and I pinned Diamond Dallas Page and became U.S. champion -- all on one Nitro!
I think it's funny that they're so busy celebrating that they don't realize a Canadian has the U.S. heavyweight title. The irony speaks for itself and hey, I don't mind adding a full set of WCW gold to my collection on the way to becoming WCW world heavyweight champion. Wouldn't it be cool if I retired having won all the WWF and WCW heavyweight straps?
The belt is nice, but the big news is that winning the U.S. title from DDP makes me the No. 1 contender for the WCW world title. Goldberg's title. They asked me if I'd agree to a 'winner gets both belts' match and it took me about a second to sign on the dotted line -- but I haven't heard anything about it since then. There seems to be some sort of a delay. When I know what's up, you'll know, too.
Me and my youngest son Blade, 8, had a great time at the Molson Indy. I met a lot of Calgarians in Toronto who told me they go back to Molsonfest every year and it's a blast -- so there's something you may want to consider.
I was talking with Blue Jays manager Tim Johnson in his office at SkyDome, and I was surprised and flattered to see a picture of he and The Hitman adorning his wall. It was taken when we'd met previously and it was the only picture of a wrestler hanging there. It's strange the way the mind connects stories sometimes and seeing the picture of Tim and I made me think of the Philadelphia Spectrum.
I've wrestled in Philly a lot. Anvil and I even won the tag straps there, from Demolition, back in August, 1990. Generally speaking, wrestling fans from place to place have a lot in common, but there are few places where they take wrestling as seriously as we take hockey. Philadelphia is near the top of that list and so is New York, and since they're only about two hours apart by car the combination audience makes for one of the most passionate wrestling crowds in the world. There are loyal Hitman fans in that area who have stuck by me since my earliest matches at Madison Square Garden and the Spectrum. I've had the privilege of meeting a lot of them over the years and I recognize many more at ringside.
At the main entrance of the Philly Spectrum, at the top of the stairs, there stands an impressive statue of Rocky Balboa. There's no denying that Rocky has been an inspiration to countless young athletes and fans of all ages. I just find it curious that they chose to immortalize a celluloid hero instead of a real one. How many great sports heroes have come from Philadelphia?
At least the Rocky statue is there for the right reasons. A tribute to the ideals that if you work hard you can accomplish your dreams; that real heroes have to work at it.
It brings up an interesting question. Obviously Bret Hart doesn't walk down the street in pink tights beating up villains at every turn. In his own way, The Hitman is just as much a character as Rocky Balboa. (It bears considering that for the Hitman there are no retakes, rehearsals, or fancy camera angles.) I wonder how many of you reading this are asking that insipid question again, 'is wrestling real'? Let me ask you a question, is Rocky real? For me, as long as the ideals that the Hitman and Rocky Balboa represent are real for the fans who are inspired by them, that's as real as it gets.
I come from a wrestling background where living up to your character's ideals in real life is what makes real heroes. I've taken some criticism for that lately because the business has changed and some people tell me I take it too seriously. Yeah, I take it seriously -- because Bret Hart is the Hitman's biggest fan. For anyone in the business who has a problem with that, let me ask you a question: Why should fans believe in you if you don't believe in yourself? Ask the fans in Philly and New York and Calgary -- and so many other places around the world -- if they take wrestling 'seriously!' Fans were turned off by the Philly suit who used money as the only measuring stick to an athlete's success and they'll turn off the TV if the athletes themselves do the same thing. Yeah, I take that seriously.
To everyone who still believes in heroes for the right reasons -- don't let the times change you. Then you're the hero.
Bret Hart's column runs every Saturday in the Calgary Sun.
You can write to Bret Hart C/O The Sun or email HITMANclub@aol.com