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Bret Hart on TSN's "Off the Record,"  
Part Two  

February 19, 2003

by Murray Speer  
OnlineOnslaught.com Guest Recapper


Today on Off The Record:  Michael Landsberg talks with Bret Hart in part two of their world-exclusive interview.  Here's a summary/paraphrase.  I suck ass when it comes to direct quotes.

Segment one:  To start off, Mike calls Bret a Canadian icon.  When Vince McMahon was on OTR, he denied that Bret deserved this label.

Topic:  Terry "Hulk Hogan" Boleia.  We saw a clip from Hogan's last OTR appearance, talking about tension between himself and Bret about Hulk's biography.  Hogan:  "I love Bret Hart, I love the Hart family."  Hogan expressed dismay about the tragedies that have befallen the Harts.  He said that after his book came out he got a letter from Bret's agent, about the way Bret was trashed in the book.  The letter included an article Hart wrote about Boleia, saying what a great guy he was and a genuine friend of the fans.  Hogan thinks his book just told what happened.  Bret disagrees.  Bret used to trash Hogan in the past, but not anymore.  Bret told the story of a Summerslam (1993?  Probably).  He remembers that he was to have a title shot against Hogan -- though Vince and Hogan both claim differently.  Vince later came up to Bret and said, "Hulk doesn't want to drop the belt to you."  He was then told that it would be a non-title match, and eventually Hulk dropped the belt to Yokozuna.  Bret was upset because he thought he deserved to be recognized as the top guy, and that he deserved the resulting paycheque.  Bret then made it a habit to trash Hogan as a bad actor.  Bret's journey to WCW changed his perspective about Hogan, since he had a different perspective on Vince.  They buried the hatchet, and Bret never said or wrote anything bad about him again.  Then he wrote the article mentioned above. Then, Bret claims, Hogan's book says things about Bret like "I don't know what his problem is" and "he's always bashing me everywhere."  Bret was disappointed to read that.

Topic:  WCW.  Bret compares WCW to a "lunatic asylum".  He likes Eric Bischoff and always did, but says he was like the Wizard of Oz behind the curtain, and didn't really know what he was doing (I can't figure out the Oz reference...).  The guys in charge didn't have ideas for Bret, and when he went to them with ideas they turned him down.  It was one of the most "screwed-up" places Bret ever worked.  Bret compared their creativity to Vince's, and how Vince used the Montreal screwjob to create his own on-screen character, thus turning the company around.  Mike:  Does that piss you off, that he used what he did to you to get heel heat? (my words, not his)  Bret:  not so much.  The money in WCW was good until the injury. Vince once told Bret that WCW wouldn't have a clue what to do with Bret Hart if they had him.  Bret recently told Vince that he was right about that. Bret suspects that people were working against him behind his back in WCW, but he doesn't have any solid idea who.  Mike:  who might have been?  Bret: People have told me Hogan, but I don't know anything.

Topic:  Torch-passing.  Can there ever be real friends in the industry when everyone wants to be on top?  Bret says yes, there are good guys with good attitudes out there.  Good workers like Benoit and Hennig, and guys who aren't as good in the ring but still have good attitude.  Some guys treat the industry as a "brotherhood" and other guys work for themselves.

Segment two:  Generally about today's superstars.

Topic:  Helmsley.  Mike explained that when Bret left WWE, Helmsley was an up-and-comer but still not a major star, now he's both physically big and a big star, and an influential member of WWE.  Bret always saw Hunter as an "ass-kiss", with his nose up Vince's ass, and up Shawn's as well.  He was never a "straight" guy, never one of the boys.  A sneaky, cowardly guy. Mike:  isn't that the way to make it big?  Bret:  Well, I made it, and I always thought most of the boys respected me and how hard I worked.

Topic:  Michaels.  Mike:  HBK will be on OTR in a couple weeks, and whatever you say next is the clip we're going to show him at that time.  Bret:  "He's a two-faced lying chicken-shit."  Mike:  Do you think he's still that way? Bret:  That kind of snake never changes stripes.  It was impossible to make peace with Shawn -- you'd bury the hatchet with him, and next thing you knew he'd be stabbing you in the back again.  He "redefined the word prima donna".  Ego is necessary, as in believing in yourself.  But Shawn was "insecure and weak as a person".

Topic:  Austin.  Bret holds Austin in the "highest regard".  Austin worked for everything he got.  He's a guy Bret would love to wrestle one last time. He doesn't have a bad thing to say about Austin.  He was sorry not to hear from Austin after the stroke, but things became weird between them after Owen's death.  There was unresolved stuff between Owen and Austin -- Owen didn't show any concern or sympathy toward Austin's broken neck.  Bret agreed with Austin that Owen should have been more friendly about that.

Topic:  The Rock.  "Same thing" as Austin.  When Bret first saw him work, he said "That guy is the franchise."  He had a good look, good athleticism, a background in the business, and was a good guy.  Bret doesn't know him today.  Mike:  Do you think the Rock is right to leave wrestling and go to Hollywood?  Bret:  You have to go for your own happiness, and don't be a slave to the industry. It's his decision.  Bret said that he's proud and glad to see the Rock succeed.

Topic:  The fans.  Some of them think everything's a work, and everyone will come back.  Does it bother you when they don't buy into reality?  Bret:  I didn't mind it.  I found it odd.  Bret mentions that people were asking him when he was getting back in the ring when he was in the wheelchair.  He sometimes considers whether he could do one more big match, if he set it as his goal.  He thinks he could, but has many reasons not to (ie. concussion, and no desire or interest).  Mike:  Who would you want that swan-song match to be with, considering you would need to trust them with your health? Bret:  Until recently I'd have said Curt Hennig.  Off the top of my head, Chris Benoit.  I really like his work.  One guy I'd love to work with is Kurt Angle.  He really impresses me.  Mike:  As a business man, if you were to look at the box office and PPV buyrate, who would you wrestle then? Bret:  I guess it would have to be Vince.  A "loser-goes-to-hell" match.

Quirky Fact:  Bret studied Film at Mount Royal College for one year before deciding to become a wrestler.

Third Segment:  About retrospective activities in general.

Topic:  Bret is writing a book.  Bret has been reading the wrestling books that have been coming out, and waiting for someone to write one similar to his.  But no one has.  He has one book basically done, and much of a second. He's planning a third.  They will be from an "in-my-shoes" perspective, and very truthful.  (Side note:  I suspect the other writers would claim that their books are truthful, too.  It seems to me that Bret has a level of self-knowledge and internal sincerity that could conceivably give his writing a different quality, however.)  The story starts when he's very small -- watching Gene Kiniski and Lou Thesz.  Apparently he saw Gorgeous George, too, but he doesn't remember that.  Foley and Hogan don't know that kind of history, and couldn't write about it.  In the book, he tries to bring out his family and that kind of history.  He's more concerned about baring his own soul than about taking shots at others.  Mike:  Have you realized any mistakes you made over the years?  Bret:  My only regrets are about screwing up my home life, and with my wife.  I spent 23 years on the road, 300 days a year (with occasional day-trips home).  I was in a survival mindset constantly.  Get home with sanity intact.  So many of my peers are dead because they didn't do that.  Life on the road is such a grind.  You get hooked on painkillers and sleeping pills.  I happened to step around all of those things, and steroids, and that's why I'm still here.

Fourth Segment:  Wrap-up.

Topic:  Turning back the clock.  Mike:  What would you do differently, knowing what you know today?  Bret:  I might have swallowed my pride, stuck around with Owen.  I think if I'd been around, he wouldn't have died.  He used to ask me about all his angles, for advice.  I'd have told him not to do it, not to risk his safety like that.  When the "Wrestling With Shadows" documentary came out, Owen loved it, but he came up to me afterward.  There was a line in the middle somewhere where I say "That'd be like sticking a gun to my head and pulling the trigger."  (Bret's voice gets a bit haunted at this point).  Owen came up and said to me, these are the exact words, "The wrestling business isn't worth dying for."  There was never any real suicide stuff there, but that line really touched Owen.

Topic:  Happiness.  Mike:  Are you happy?  Bret:  I'm getting there.  Yes, I'm happy, but it's hard.  I was happy that day, before the stroke.



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