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  August 9, 1997



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Thanks, Canada!
By BRET "THE HIT MAN" HART -- For the Calgary Sun

  You guys really blew me away. I wish I could have stopped to talk to each and every one of you -- my great fans who have stuck by me through thick and thin, who came out to the airports in Toronto and Calgary to welcome the Hitman home to Canada, with the WWF World Heavyweight Title, on Tuesday.

  I hope you don't mind if I say, here's one tough guy who was really touched by your loyalty and support. Especially since I'd just come from hostile territory, in America, where people throw things at me and spit on me because they can't deal with the truth. And they can't deal with the fact that the Hitman has brought the WWF Championship back to Canada -- for a fifth time!

  The Americans are so self-centered that even though they know it's the WORLD Wrestling Federation and the WORLD championship, they think of it as the AMERICAN championship.

  Hey, maybe we should have an American championship title. That's fine by me. The Hitman vs. The American champion -- now that would be a match I could sink my teeth into!

  I guess The Patriot is the closest we're going to get to an American champion right now.

  I'll get back to that. First, I want to acknowledge some very brave people -- namely, the American Hitman fans who are still out there -- the loyalist of the loyal -- they keep on hanging on! Night after night, from building to building, I listen to the crowds and I hear them out there. If you listen, you can hear them, too.

  There they were singing O' Canada in New Jersey -- at SummerSlam! They're not Canadian, but they sing our anthem as a way of letting us know that they still respect The Hitman and they still respect Canada.

  The first time I won the WWF world title ('92), my goal was to live up to being a good role model; to tell the truth, keep my promises, and do my best to be the fightingest champion of all time. I've since found out that in America, the truth hurts. If only I'd known then what I know now. I'm a little wiser, a little older, a little tougher and a whole lot madder.

  Now, as five-time WWF champion, I've added another goal and promise. I will not be victimized ever again. So now The Hitman is making a few rules of his own. My rules are based on integrity and on retribution. If that sounds like a conflict -- well, it is. It's a conflict I have to deal with every single time I step in the ring.

  With my American fans singing our anthem, my Canadian fans coming out to welcome me home, and my fans all over the world cheering me on, I guess that means I've got the balance right.

  Now the question is, how will the WWF's new commissioner, Sgt. Slaughter, tip the scales? His first act in office was to mandate that I defend the title against The Patriot at the Ground Zero PPV on Sept. 7.

  I have a serious problem with that. The Patriot, Del Wilkes, is new to the WWF but he's an experienced wrestler with a lot of good moves. The problem is that when I asked Slaughter who the Patriot ever beat to earn a title shot, Slaughter said he beat me. Everyone knows that Patriot never -- fairly -- beat The Hitman! It's obvious that Sgt. Slaughter has chosen to be blind to Shawn Michaels' blatant interference. You all saw what happened! So I have no respect for Slaughter now -- not that I ever did! I think it would be a much better idea to give the Undertaker a rematch at Ground Zero! I think we need to get Sgt. Slaughter some glasses because he hasn't said anything about how Shawn Michaels tried to hit me with a chair! Is Slaughter going to make Michaels keep his word to quit wrestling in America?

  I came back to the WWF because I couldn't stand to see the direction things were going. I came back because I couldn't stand the thought of letting my fans down. I told you if I came back I'd have a shovel, that there would be major changes. Little by little, the changes are happening for the better but it's like pulling teeth. No one said it would be easy. There's all sorts of talented young guys in the WWF -- and more on the way.

  So I'd really like to take on all of these guys, one by one. Just 10 months ago, I was thinking about retiring. I'm more amazed than anybody that today is just the beginning of a long, long road ahead. But long after my own kids are older than me, it will still stand that the Hitman is the best there is, was, and ever will be.

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