November 12, 2007
I finished reading Bret Hart’s autobiography this past weekend, and I’m left with real mixed emotions about it. It is not what I would call an entertaining read like Jericho’s or Mick Foley’s books, but it sure was interesting. The book is heavy on substance and short on flash, much like the Hitman himself, so at times it is a hard read. If you are or were a Hitman fan at all though, I think this is a must read. Bret digs so deeply into himself for this book that you get likely the most honest portrayal of any wrestling biography ever written.
With those words ended an amazing career, and a, career long, dream of mine, to work with him. Most of the boys have their roll models that they pattern their career after. They try to copy their moves there mannerisms, and some times even the ring attire and look. I’ve never believed in this, I’ve always thought that you have to find your own way, what works for you. With that said, I must admit, I’ve always tried to pattern my ring style or work ethic, at least, after that of “The Hitman”.
I once read a quote that said something to the effect “With a guy like Ric Flair in wrestling, it’s amazing the sport isn’t more respected.” I think the same can, and should, be said about Bret Hart. Bret’s matches were always, just that, wrestling matches. I think that’s what I liked about them. His matches were always believable and credible he always went the extra mile to make it so. There was never any wasted motion, no spots for the sake of spots, the matches always seemed more important than the individuals involved in them, and that’s what made him great. Bret managed to dominate this sport without an Ultimate Warrior body, a Ric Flair promo, or a Jushin Liger arsenal of moves. He did it by wrestling, which is no easy task, and is to his credit.
I remember one of the first Bret Hart matches I ever saw. It was on a “Best of the British Bulldogs” tape, and he was in a singles match with The Dynamite Kid. The match was great, the execution, excellent, this match alone sold me on Bret Hart. They worked so hard to give the match credibility, a heart and sole, if you will. It was all of the little things in the match, that the fans didn’t see, that made it great. Bret had these little things down to an art. It was in this respect that he truly was “the best there is, the best there was, the best there ever will be”. It’s such an arrogant statement, but with Bret, it somehow holds true.
In addition to never getting to work with “The Hitman” I regret not knowing him very well. I wanted to do this long heart felt personal tribute to him, like the one I did for Terry Funk but oddly, I don’t know him well enough. I first met Bret in Vancouver at the New Blood Rising PPV, nearly ten years into my career and likely double that into his. We spoke for only a few minutes back stage. We talked about his brother Keith, who trained me, and his concerns with my match, and his involvement in the end of it. I may never get to work Bret Hart, but I did share the ring with him that night in Vancouver. Bret put his own personal concerns aside, and extended me a great courtesy. His endorsement in front of a Canadian crowd will always be one of the greatest moments of my career, and a favour, I will never be able to repay.
I only spoke with Bret on one other occasion, at Thunder, for his last wrestling appearance. We intended to exchange phone numbers that night, so we could keep in touch back home, in Calgary, unfortunately we never did. I hope our brief friendship didn’t end there, I hope to see you again, my friend. If I don’t, thank you for making this sport something I can be proud to be a part of.
In closing I would like to say, remember Bret Hart for his years of service to this industry and his long list of great matches, not for the last few years of controversy. A lot has been said about Bret Hart, both good and bad, since that fateful night in Montreal. I think the only thing he’s truly guilty of is caring too much. He cared about his “Hitman” character, he cared about this sport, and he cared about the fans that supported him over the years. Perhaps a few more of us need to be guilty of that same sin. This sport would be a lot better off. Bret, you will be missed, by this sport, by the fans, and by me.
Till next week,