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  January 9, 1999



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History in the making
By BRET "THE HITMAN" HART -- For The Calgary Sun
  If the events of this past week are any indication, we're in for an action-packed year.

 We've got a return, a reunion, and a retirement.

 Whether you love him or leave him, the return of Hollywood Hulk Hogan, on Nitro, was the biggest comeback in wrestling history. I can't understand why some people are shocked that Hogan got the title without beating Nash. I guess they don't remember Wrestlemania 9.

 Let's recall history, not rewrite it.

 I'm happy Hogan got the belt back because now maybe Ric Flair, 90-day interim president of WCW, will do the right thing and set up the long overdue Hogan/Hart match. Hogan and I are still buddies, but the match is big business, especially if it goes down in Canada. I don't know if it'll happen, but chances seem better than ever with Flair in charge and WCW making a long-awaited return to Canada, in Toronto and Kitchener, in March.

 I sent Flair a fax telling him I want Hart vs. Hogan with both the U.S. and World titles on the line -- winner take all. If Flair doesn't make the match, coming from him, at least we'll know there must be one heck of a good reason for his decision. Like maybe the fact that he's furious at Hogan and Nash because he feels they've devalued the WCW World Heavyweight Title, which has been highly-prized since 1905. A title that Flair himself proudly commandeered for over 15 years and before that the NWO title (which became WCW) was defended with honour by some of the greatest wrestlers of all time, including Dory Funk Jr., Terry Funk, Lou Thez, Buddy Rogers -- the list goes on.

 The inside scoop is that Flair is seriously considering striping Hogan of the title, on Nitro. I can't even imagine what that confrontation would be like. Amazing stuff. Even my groin injury wouldn't keep me from a title tournament. One guy who I'm sure is itching for a tournament is Goldberg.

 I made a little list of the guys I think are the 10 best wrestlers. No one voted on it and there are no points or rankings. It's just 10 guys, in no particular order, who, in my opinion, are the best there is, myself not included. You can differ with it, but I don't think there's anybody who would leave Goldberg off the list. You may want to pause here and try to figure out who the other nine guys on my 10-best list are or make your own list and then read on and compare.

 If they've really combined red and white, the nWo will be more powerful then ever. But I don't know if that's the case because, despite a common misconception, I was never nWo. Both nWo Hollywood and the Wolfpac wined and dined me, but I've had it with politics and it's simpler to be a lone wolf. This way I can be friends with everybody and with nobody.

 It's hard to tell exactly what the nWo roster is right now, but for starters there's Hall and Nash, the original defining attitude of the nWo, still cool and still focused. Nash's ultimate sacrifice to Hogan will probably ensure him a position as co-leader -- but what about Hall? Maybe he and Nash can get the tag straps again but will that be enough for this former co-founder of the nWo?

 Scott Steiner and Lex Luger, two guys on my own personal 10-best list.

 Luger is a great technician and he's a really good bad guy. The nWo brings out the best of the worst in him. Poppa Pump has been around for a long time, yet it's clear his biggest days are ahead of him. He's got the World Television title, a great finishing move (the Steiner Recliner), and the potential to go all the way to the top -- but not while he's nWo.

 What about the Giant, another of my top-10 picks. He didn't look pleased with Hogan on Thunder. It was reminiscent of the very thing that messed up the nWo before -- all that infighting. Also, they underestimated the unified strength of the WCW wrestlers. Now it appears their first priority is to break up the LWO, which is sad because I think it'll distract another guy on my 10 best, Rey Misterio Jr. But they won't stop there. They'll cause derision in the WCW locker room and go after the guys most likely to lead a solidarity effort (three top-tenners) Benoit, Paige -- and where the heck is Sting?

 I predict that while the nWo is making these guys prime targets for every dirty trick in the book, they'll overlook the temerity of two guys just coming into their prime, (top tenners) Kidman and Kanyon.

 On the other hand, that brings me to a guy whose best days are behind him. Shawn Michaels. He said it, I'm just agreeing with him. I really don't like to give any time to him but I decided to make an exception because I thought you'd be interested to know that the San Antonio Express, Michaels' home town paper, reports that Shawn Michaels has no choice but to retire due to accumulated injuries. I wonder if that's the injuries he's already got or the ones he'd be likely to get now that the wrestlers have seen, in the documentary, how he double crossed his peers. I wonder if all that swearing and lying to God that Michaels did has anything to do with his career-ending injuries. The article quotes Michaels, "It's the most excruciating pain anyone can ever endure."

 I wonder if he means the pain of his injuries or the pain of knowing he sold out everything he once believed in.

 Souled Out, the pay-per-view, is next Sunday. The line up isn't set but there's already a huge controversy because Flair has taken control of Souled Out, which the nWo fancies as their annual pay-per-view, away from the nWo -- and away from Hollywood Hulk Hogan. That might not be the only thing Flair takes from Hogan, the title situation being what it is. I have a feeling this pay-per-view will be a major turning point that defines the direction of WCW in 1999 and beyond. I commend Ric Flair for using his position to right some wrongs while he can, but what will be the repercussions to Flair when 90 days are up?

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