CANOE Network SLAM!Sports

 
SLAM! Sports SLAM! Wrestling
  May 1, 1999



News & Rumours
Bios
Obits
Canadian Hall of Fame
WrestleMania 30
WrestleMania 30 photos
Video
Movie Database
Minority Mat Report
Columnists
Features
Results Archive
PPV Reviews
SLAM! Wrestling store
On Facebook
On Twitter
Send Feedback




Photo Galleries

Raw in Chicago


Titans in Toronto VI


WWE Night of Champions


Legends of the Ring fan fest


Heroes & Legends IV fan fest


NXT Takeover: Fatal 4 Way


ROH All Star Extravaganza VI







SCOREBOARD
PHOTO GALLERY
VIDEO GALLERY
COMMENT




READER ALERT: For all the latest wrestling happenings, check out our News & Rumours section.

NOTE: SLAM! Sports has the exclusive rights to publish this column on the Internet. You may link to this column, but a copy cannot exist on any other Web site. It also CANNOT be posted on newsgroups or newsboards.
Feel free to use the this button on your site to link to Bret's column.
Link to:
http://www.canoe.ca/SlamWrestling/hitman_home.html.
Check out our Bret Hart photo gallery!.

A time for HEROES
By BRET "The Hitman" HART -- For the Calgary Sun
  The latest scene from Nitro is right out of One Flew Over The Cookoo's Nest -- only without the distinguished performance of Jack Nicholson.

 The story has it that Ric Flair is hearing bats in his belfry. What's crazy is that Rowdy Roddy Piper, the unpredictable Hot Rod, is the one who had Flair consigned to the Central Florida Mental Hospital, where he found the missing Scott Hall is also a guest of Happy Hotel.

 Nitro comes from Flair's hometown this week (Charlotte, N.C.) and he swears he'll be there. How? I don't know and I don't think I want to know -- but -- it'll be interesting to see if he breaks Hall out with him. In that case, will Hall become a Horseman? Or will he cry Wolf-pac?

 Maybe you think it's all in good fun, but the sad reality is, no matter how you look at it, Flair, umpteen-time champion of the world, has been reduced to walking the walk and talking the talk in boxers and support socks. The rhinestone bathrobe is a nice touch and reminds me of El Matador's cape.

 And you wonder why I quit? The new regime put Ric Flair in the nuthouse, so I don't want to imagine where The Hitman would have ended up.

 I've come to the ring thousands of times in rose-coloured glasses but they never gave me a falsely bright view of things. I'm grateful for all the good things the wrestling business has provided for me and my family but I'm not blind to it's dark side. In fact, it's my love of wrestling that heightens my awareness of the little things that have added up to diminishing its dignity.

 Amazing as it seems, it appears that Vince McMahon and I actually agree on something. I've been saying, for a while, that the WWF's product no longer resembles pro wrestling, as the art form, and now reliable sources tell me that McMahon is actually trying to figure out a way to take the word wrestling out of World Wrestling Federation because what they're doing has become more soap opera than wrestling. Taking the very word wrestling away from wrestlers shows a complete and total lack of respect for our craft, but at least it's an acknowledgement that what he has them doing is no longer wrestling as we knew it.

 In contrast, look at the respect the NHL gave Wayne Gretzky at his last game. Here's a guy who could have easily let it all go to his head but he never did. His genuine humility, compassion, charity, and dedication made him deserving of all the accolades he got and more, not only as a thank you, because I'm sure Gretzky wasn't looking for any pats on the back, but because it showed kids that integrity and hard work is recognized and rewarded.

 Watching Gretzky's last game struck a deep chord in me. I don't delude myself into thinking I'm on the same plateau, but on my own level and in my own way, I feel that I earned the right to leave with my head up.

 How I envy Gretzky in that he got to choose his time to step down. With dignity. With grace. With pride. So did Michael Jordan and John Elway. The NHL, NBA, and NFL did that for them. They said goodbye and thank you to their fans. Their fans said goodbye and thank you to them. It felt right. The credits can roll. Wrestling doesn't do that for it's own.

 This isn't about feeling sorry for myself. This isn't just about me. What about my family and my friends who managed to stick with me through life in the fast lane? What about my fans? Wayne Gretzky's kids were in the stands cheering him on and they got to see how their father is respected. My kids were in the back crying because I was humiliated. We were all deserving of a moment -- our moment -- to reflect on what we'd accomplished, together.

 That was stolen from all of us. Worse than that, after the murder in Montreal, a million kids were left with the idea that being a good guy isn't worth it because at the end of the story the bad guy won. It's like if Rocky Balboa suddenly got stabbed in the back, murdered, by a boxing big wig at the end of the next movie and then the credits rolled with no explanation. There's no closure in that.

 As we mourn the senseless violence in Littleton and Taber, we need to accept the consequences of replacing positive role models with intolerance for our differences and the idea that badder is better. I'm not referring specifically to wrestling but to any medium that sends kids the message that there's no sense being a good guy because the bad guys come out ahead.

 The Littleton killers idolized Hitler, who thought he could rewrite history. It's dangerous to rewrite history. You never know how it will impact the future. If a kid wants to be a wrestler and wants to study wrestlers, there is no Best of Bret highlight tape. McMahon owns the tapes and by burying them, he's erased The Hitman legacy. Look at all the great champions McMahon has wiped out of the WWF history books, who aren't even eligible for the Hall of Fame. Morales. Backlund. Sammartino. Superstar Billy Graham. Savage. Hogan. Nash. Hitman ... many more. He thinks by respecting the past, he's promoting them wherever they are today and that it's bad for his business. Actually, acknowledging the great things they achieved when they were in the WWF, not just in the ring but their positive influence on kids and the generosity of their charity work, would strengthen the wrestling heritage of the WWF ... but ... oh yeah ... well, it makes some warped kind of sense when you consider that McMahon wants to get rid of even the word wrestling. What saddens me is that they rewrite the past and they want to take wrestling out of their future, so tell me, where will the next generation get an accurate account? Think of the wrestling heroes who made great sacrifices, even lost their lives, it's a great wrong that McMahon has his finger on the erase and edit buttons.

 WCW's title history goes back almost 100 years. They keep very accurate records and they don't rewrite records to suit the politics of the day. I give them a lot of credit for that. The problem now is that the new regime is damaging the integrity of the WCW title. What happened to Sting is a perfect example.

 Sting became WCW world champion, on Monday, when he reversed DDP's Diamond Cutter with the Scorpion Death Lock! Then Sting lost the WCW world championship in a four-way match less than two hours later, where he wasn't pinned and he didn't submit. Diamond Dallas Page got the Diamond Cutter on Kevin Nash to win Sting's belt, with help from Randy Savage. Sting won it, never lost it, but he's not the champion any more. That chips away at the lineage of the title. Like in Montreal, I left, undefeated, as champion. With flippant disregard, McMahon broke a long line that the great champions broke their bodies to build. I think future champions -- in wrestling or in whatever their cause or challenge -- will be less tenacious if they get no respect for fair play and courage. It is so important for kids to get local reinforcement for honesty and hard work from heroes who could be as close as the dinner table, or church, or coach, if we take the time to listen and to understand what our kids are saying.

 Contrary to what many of you seem to think, based on your letters, I don't fault the whole WWF for the cowardly actions of one megalomaniac. In fact, when the WWF was in Calgary a couple of weeks ago, I got together with some of my buddies. Of course this started all kinds of rumours that I'm going back to the WWF. That's really stretching it. I travelled with these guys for years, they became my family, and suddenly it was all over. We never even had a chance to exchange phone numbers. It was good to see old friends and tell catch-up stories. I don't base my decision on going back to the WWF, or not, on what McMahon did, because as bad as it was, there are still a lot of good people there and I don't fault the wrestlers. I just think that even though it's pathetic that Ric Flair is running around in his underwear, it's not as bad as what's happening on the other channel.

More on Bret Hart




Know someone who might be interested in this page? Just type in their e-mail address to send them the URL.

Destination email address:


Your email address: