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  April 10, 1999



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The truth, the whole truth ...
By BRET "The Hitman" HART -- For the Calgary Sun
  I just had surgery. What a pain.

 I guess most people would find more enjoyable ways to spend their time off, but I figured I'd best have this taken care of while I can.

 Some of you have asked in your letters if I quit so I could get time off to have my groin fixed. The answer is no.

 I take pride in knowing that I've built a reputation for working hurt, sick, and even battling blizzards to get there. In fact, I'll tell you a story.

 One morning, a few years ago, I was scheduled to fly from New York to Boston. Flying between the two, or making the 3-1/2 -hour drive, had become a routine part of the WWF tours. But on this particular morning, it was a little more complicated because there was a lot of snow in the forecast. I was the main event of a card that started at lunch time, and I had a second main event fight in another town later that night. Double shots were common back then, and it seemed that whenever there'd be a double shot, it would snow just to make things even tougher. It'd been a brutal few weeks of fighting in a different town every night and I was tired to begin with.

 I called ahead and found out that my flight was leaving on time so friends dropped me at the airport in New Jersey and drove home, one hour, to New York. They made us get off the plane because the weather in Boston was so bad they couldn't land there and I reached my friends by cell phone. All flights into Boston were cancelled but the show must go on. The other wrestlers got to Boston the night before, but I couldn't do that since I'd had a personal appearance in New York. There were 15,000 fans waiting at the old Boston Garden who had gotten there before the weather moved in. Not only that, since I was the main event, if I no-showed they'd have to offer refunds. My friend had pneumonia but, over the cell phone, I heard the screeching U-turn over a busy six-lane New York highway to double back and get me. I ended up piloting the car to Boston at speeds that it wouldn't be wise to put in print. In fact, the closer we got to Boston, the worse the snow got. To give you an idea of how fast we were going, the ice hit the windshield so hard that it was badly pitted and needed to be replaced. I arrived on time for my match and to show their appreciation that I'd risked the life and limb of two people to get there, they fined me $300 for not arriving an hour before the card started so I could sit around and do nothing. You see how the WWF appreciated that?

 I only missed two shots in 14 years of working 300+ matches per year and those were due to circumstances beyond my control. I think that's a darn good track record.

 How about when I showed up on Raw, in a wheelchair, four days after major knee surgery? You see how that was appreciated, too. I don't know why I thought it would be any different in WCW. Dave Meltzer, a respected wrestling journalist, wrote that with a bad groin injury he couldn't see how I managed to have a five-star match with Booker T. It was nice to know that someone noticed. Working hurt is a risk that I've taken many times, but this time it backfired because of that little twit Dean Malenko. Most fans regard Malenko as a technical wrestler who stands for fair play, but all I can tell you is that he knew I was already hurt and he purposely hurt me worse.

 What the WWF did to me was a crying shame, but what the WCW didn't do with me was even worse. Believe it or not, it was Vince McMahon who'd told me that WCW wouldn't have a clue what to do with a Bret Hart if they were lucky enough to have one. I didn't quit because of an abdominal tear. I quit because I couldn't get motivated week after week, like I need to.

 So now I've had surgery on what WCW calls my phony, fake groin injury, which in fact turns out to be a torn abdominal muscle.

 I'm not sure how long it'll take for me to get back to 100% but it's nice not to have a time limit for a change. I'm under contract to WCW until Dec. 1, so I can't work for anybody else right now anyway.

 The best medicine for me was to go out and see the Hitmen manhandling Red Deer on Thursday night. Brent Dodginghorse and Brad Moran have been amazing and look at Pavel Brendl, scoring leader in the WHL. I think I'll just sit back and enjoy the Hitmen for a while before thinking about what's ahead.

 If there's a question you've always wanted to ask me, now's your chance! It won't be long before things go back to their normal state of controlled chaos around here. You can write to me c/o The Calgary Sun or e-mail HITMANclub@aol.com. I'll answer as many of your questions as I can in the next few weeks, as well as tell you about a few things that have been on my mind. No one can accuse me of keeping my opinions to myself during the past couple of years, but not having any political ties at the moment gives me unprecedented literary freedom that I'm looking forward to taking.

 And to Ed Whalen, who just did his last game on Calgary 7, thanks for all the great years of hockey and wrestling. Often imitated, never duplicated.

 'Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose ...' -- Janis Joplin

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