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  September 19, 1998



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Bagwell full of hot air
By BRET "THE HIT MAN" HART -- For the Calgary Sun

  It was a week filled with emotional highs and lows.

 We all felt awful when we thought Buff Bagwell had reinjured his neck.

 We felt even worse when we found out he was faking it. What a despicable thing to play with the emotions of fans around the world, his peers and his family. His poor mother!

 It seemed even more tacky coming on the heels of Jim Duggan's all-too-real announcement that he has cancer. The bad news is that they removed one of Jim's kidneys. That's far overshadowed by the good news that they got all the cancer. Our prayers have been answered! Get well Jim!

 I don't agree with wrestlers blurring the line of reality when it comes to serious injuries. Playing possum is one thing but taunting death is another. Let me tell you a story about a time I thought I was going to die. Right there in front of everybody.

 It was in Toronto and I was wrestling Dino Bravo. I got knocked off the apron, into the steel fence, and in a matter of seconds I couldn't breath.

 The fence hit hard across my entire chest and broke all my ribs and my sternum. I was suffocating. I didn't know if I'd punctured my lung. All I knew is that I couldn't get any air and I was hurt bad. The worst part of it was the people in the front row yelling, "Get up, you phony!" I was lying on the floor, writhing in pain, getting more lightheaded by the minute from lack of oxygen and it was scary that people actually thought this was all part of the show. It occurred to me I could die right there.

 Dino came out of the ring, and because I couldn't speak he assumed I was okay. He's a very strong guy and he stuffed me under the ropes and back into the ring. He went for the pin and I was running on auto-pilot and didn't want to lose to this guy so The Hitman somehow put his foot on the rope ...while Bret Hart was thinking this isn't the time for gallantry! I rolled out under the ring and to the floor and eventually they counted me out and took me out of there in an ambulance.

 A decade later, Steve Austin was smashing my knee to pieces with a chair. The fans cheered Austin on to hit me again and again. It seems like nothing changed, but it did. This time they were booing the good guy. I think that will turn out to be a defining moment in this business. The moment when the fans decided they didn't want heroes anymore.

 Speaking of heroes, they're calling the return of Ric Flair the greatest moment in the history of Nitro. Maybe the single most emotional moment in the history of wrestling! I found it interesting that Flair didn't waste any time letting the world know that he thinks Eric Bischoff is a power-crazed SOB. I'm more than a little curious about why Flair got in Bischoff's face before Bischoff's arm-wrestling match against Arn Anderson to determine if Flair could return. Being back to talk is not the same as being back to fight. Of course Bischoff had Bagwell stand in for him against Anderson. Of course Anderson lost. Don't forget it was just over a year ago that Arn had neck surgery as a result of a severe ring injury and his left arm and hand sustained nerve damage. I'm not sure which was more deplorable, Bagwell's so-called win over Anderson or that he referred to Anderson's arm as a "withered, pathetic, neurologically-deficient toothpick."

 I don't know exactly how it will happen but I know Ric Flair will wrestle again. Wrestling is Flair's life, his love. I saw it in his eyes Monday. I understand it because I'm trapped by the same seductress. Flair needs wrestling. Wrestling needs Flair.

 Bagwell hasn't learned respect for traditional ways. He doesn't understand the passion and he doesn't realize that when Flair is back in the ring, there's no doubt it will be Bagwell who is withered and pathetic.

 In the nine months since I've been in WCW, there isn't a day that's gone by when people -- both fans and wrestlers -- haven't asked me when I'm reforming The Hart Foundation. With Brian in a happier place than where Owen is, I have two big spots to fill. Remember the Hart Foundation works in mysterious ways.

 Arn Anderson told you, "Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it. The Horsemen don't wear white hats and they're not always nice guys."

 For those times when the 4-Horsemen will be 'bad guys', will you boo them like you used to do? Or will you cheer them just like you do Steve Austin? Be careful, your answer could change the future of wrestling forever!

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