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  November 7, 1998



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Straight from the Hart
By BRET HART -- For The Calgary Sun
The Hitman Bret Hart @ Canoe on Line Chat with Fans, gives a headlock to on- line editor and Wrestling writer Greg Oliver -- Sun Photo by Ken Kerr
  It can take 20 years to build a reputation, but only five minutes to destroy it.

 A deep truth is what you want. Not a shallow truth. You want a position worth defending, to the end.

 I want to apologize for the radical tone in my most recent columns. I'm having to deal with being a bad guy on TV, just like everyone else. Well, that's on TV and I promise to maintain a more intelligent overall view of what my character does on Nitro or anywhere else. I suppose if it means anything to my fans who can't understand what happened to Bret 'Hitman' Hart, the hero, I don't really know the answer to that myself.

 As good a place as any to look for that answer is in the soon-to-be-released documentary, Hitman Hart: Wrestling with Shadows, premiering in Calgary this Thursday at the IMAX theatre and airing on A&E in December. I allowed a documentary crew to come into my world and give, for once, an up close and honest look at what wrestling is really like. To see my life and love from a professional as well as family standpoint.

 What is this film about?

 Well, I think it's definitely not a film just for wrestling fans. It's a story about standing up for what you believe and not selling out your love for your fans, fellow wrestlers, and the profession itself. It's about right and wrong, heroes and villains, winning and losing.

 Wrestling is my life. I can honestly say that I tried very hard to be a great hero, a role model. Despite having turned down millions of dollars to stay loyal to Vince McMahon, he set out to destroy me.

 I stood up for myself, as I had every right to do, but a cold-blooded, ruthless McMahon was going to see that I was torn down no matter what, to humiliate me in my home country. It turned out that there is one good side to all that. Usually when the big guy steps on the little guy strictly for the sake of it, no one is there to catch it. Well, not this time. This time, the real bad guy was exposed for what he is. In this film, you clearly see what a liar and cheater McMahon was and how I did all that I could do to stay honest and keep my integrity, for my fans and for myself.

 No, money was not a factor, my character was. I never sold out and whether McMahon realizes it or not, I did walk out with my head held high and my conscience clear.

 In the WWF these days, Vince McMahon pretends to be an evil promoter, which isn't much of a stretch. Now he regularly lets the wrestlers thump him. Well, that's pretend. But after he betrayed me in Montreal and I knocked him out in the dressing room, well, that was real. I love how, in the film, you see this big liar being helped out of the dressing room because he wasn't able to crawl out on his own.

 In this film, you'll hear Vince tell me how he appreciated everything I did for him and how I could do anything I wanted for my match in Montreal. It was going to be a disqualification.

 McMahon lied. I taped it. It's in the film.

 You'll see Shawn Michaels lie and squirm like the chicken---- that he is ... so I wouldn't beat him up in the dressing room -- again. Same with Hunter Helmsley. Actually, they both did a whole lot of swearing to God that day about their innocence. So did referee Earl Hebner, Pat Patterson, and others. But I suspect the God I believe in will pay them all a visit one of these days. He's visited a few of them already.

 I can hear some of you saying, "Wow, Bret Hart, you really take wrestling so seriously. I mean, it's just pro wrestling." Maybe I'm guilty of taking it too seriously, but, the sad thing is, it was my whole life. It always has been. It haunts me and I'll probably never really get over what happened that day. Since then, I've felt my soul turn into steel and my sense of humanity went completely down the drain.

 I cringe at the sleazy format of today's WWF -- stripper matches, and Steve Austin holding McMahon hostage with a gun to his head. When I'm in the toy store with my son, Blade, I see WWF action figures with the word 'attitude' emblazoned on them. I should have hit him a few more times.

 In the film, you'll see me in the ring after he double-crossed me in Montreal.

 I felt so sad looking at the faces of my fans. I let them down. I let Canada down. I almost cried. I'm still haunted by the sad faces looking back at me and I still feel my heart breaking and falling into a million pieces. It was all real.

 At the end of the film, I hear my own voice saying how Bret Hart came home and he's fine but what they did is murder the Hitman character. A year has gone by and I've come to the conclusion that maybe it's completely the opposite. The Hitman is alive and kicking as a bad guy in WCW. And Bret Hart? Well, he's lost a lot of things over the past year. Things that I'll never get back. Maybe with the release of Hitman Hart: Wrestling With Shadows, the truth will finally set me free and I can go on with my life.

 This film is my vindication and my liberation.

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