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  March 6, 1999



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Exercising my brain
By BRET "The Hitman" HART -- For The Calgary Sun
  Welcome back to the latest chapter of random thoughts, in no particular order, from the mind of the Hitman. I'm not sure what this all means but they say life is a work in progress, so I guess the time to worry is when you think you've figured it all out.

 It's funny the way the mind plays tricks sometimes. The way seemingly unrelated events are woven together by threads in semi-consciousness. You know, like when you see something and it makes you think of something else -- and so on -- until next thing you know you're a million miles from what started you thinking but in the blink of an eye you're back to it.

 While watching the movie Shakespeare in Love with my daughter, Jade, I found a familiar empathy with the care they put into every little detail of preparing their plays. Through my mind's eye I saw that I devoted a similiar passion to the most intricate details of my matches. That's not to say that I don't work as hard at it now or that I don't care as much, because I do. But I'm beginning to wonder if anyone else does. The wondering is disheartening.

 Everywhere I go I've met fans who tell me that my matches with Booker T and Chris Benoit are the best they've seen on TV in a very long time but they always follow it up with the question, 'How come they don't show more matches like that instead of all this other stuff?' I wish I knew the answer to that. And don't tell me it's ratings. It's the fans who are telling me they want to see more wrestling on the wrestling shows and isn't it the fans who make the ratings? There is something much deeper going on here.

 I don't know what, but something. Is the art part of wrestling dying? Does anyone care?

 I've had 13 titles in WWF and WCW, plus the ones from my Stampede days. Anyone who knows anything about me knows how much those titles mean to me.

 There are some in my business who point to today's slackened standards and suggest that maybe I take things a little too seriously. Allow me to suggest that some people in the business don't take it seriously enough. Among other things that could account for why the mainstream newsmedia too often don't take it seriously. Did you ever notice that no matter how positive a news report about wrestling, it could be that a wrestler did charity work or stood up for animal rights, the news anchors always finish up with some tongue in cheek, almost insulting r mark? That bugs me but I can't really blame them for not taking wrestling seriously when some of the wrestlers themselves don't.

 Even so, all those big-time world titles put together don't mean as much to me as the city wrestling championship medal I won back in high school.

 It was a reward for a job well done. It was a tremendous boost to my faultering teenage machismo. But most of all, it was the never-to-be-forgotten expression on my father's face, the look in his eye, when I told him I'd won.

 I'm a winner. It was the pivotol moment where I veered from the expected path, working in construction or as a mechanic and took a turn into unfamiliar territority. At times it was a dark, lonely road but I found more success there than I dared to dream.

 Maybe that there's so much resignation in this world says that recognizing transformative moments is a dying art. They seem to glint onto life's landscape like a shadow you're not sure you saw out of the corner of your eye, daring you to catch them. If you let them get lost in the daily din, you go on, but without the magic.

 Jade, proudly, told me about her friend and schoolmate, David Nguyen, 16, who just won both the city and provincial wrestling championships. She went on to say that he's a huge Hitman fan, he'd seen the documentary and that I'd been an inspiration to him. I was touched to see that my daughter was so proud of her friend but I was deeply moved that she was also proud of her father for being his motivation.

 There it was, come full circle. In that moment, I knew the art part of wrestling is not lost. But beyond that, the realization that a defining moment in my life inspired a defining moment for David Nguyen seems to suggest that we're all inexplicably linked to a chain held together by our faith in ourselves and in something greater ... and so on.

 I'd guess Theo Fleury went through a lot of the same ruminations deciding to move on as I did when I went from WWF to WCW. With the major decisions behind him and a baby due in the next few weeks, I wish Theo well in starting a new chapter. A new chapter but with old friends -- like Joe Sakic -- and the whole city of Calgary cheering him on. In the formative days of the Calgary Hitmen, Theoren Fleury was one of the guys who really lit a fire in me, telling me I'd love being involved in junior hockey. Well, he was right. In fact, I hereby declare that I am starting my annual custom of wearing my Hitmen jersey on TV until they're out of the playoffs -- or have the Memorial Cup.

 I've had my ups and downs in the past five weeks, tough matches with tough outcomes, but by far the worst upset was my devastating loss to 20 minor hockey players, when I was pinned in less than two minutes, at centre ice, at the Hitmen game last Saturday. If ratings is what they're after, they should put that on Nitro.

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