Bret Hart talks wrestling in 2014, coming back to WWE, career-ending concussion, and more
Via Ryan Rider:
Ryan Rider interviewed Wrestling Legend Bret “the Hitman” Hart earlier this week. The interview can be downloaded at www.WebSportsMedia.com. Here are some of the highlights:
The 1997 Screwjob: In hindsight, I really wish the whole thing had never happened. It was a lousy way for me to leave the company after being so lucky to be the champion and to have such a great history there. It never was the same after that day. If I could go back I don’t know what I can change to make it go differently. I know that I followed my heart through that whole process. I still believe that I was on the side of the right and did the right things that day. But I do wish that it never had happened and that I could have worked something out beforehand that could have been more productive for everybody.
Coming back to WWE: I have way more great memories than I do bad. We had a great 14 years. We had that bad fall-out at the end, which I’m still sensitive about to this day. I suffered a stroke in 2002 that made everything else in my life that happened to that point pale in comparison. It was in the first few hours after I had a stroke that Vince [McMahon] gave me a call. Things were not good between us when that happened. He gave me a big pep talk in the hospital when I suffered my stroke. He talked about improving our relationship and doing things together down the road. I always wanted to be recognized and remembered for what I contributed to the company. He assured me that that would always be the case; to protect my reputation as far as what I accomplished there. Within the first few minutes we cleared so much off of the table. His words were that I was a fighter and that I would get back and get better. As I’ve got better over the years and recovered, I remember those dark hours and I’m greatful for that call. That softened things up for Vince and I and eventually I thumped him at Wrestlemania to write a better ending for us.
The Iron Man match with Shawn Michaels: I eager to raise the bar. I still think that for an hour match of any kind, no wrestlers have upstaged that match. Probably the hardest pro wrestling match any two wrestlers have ever had. Shawn was a great wrestler and a great athlete. That day when we had that match we were hell-bent on showing that you didn’t have to be a 300-pound steroid freak to make wrestling popular again. I take a lot of pride in the direction that wrestling went.
Burying the hatchet with HBK: I found a great relief from forgiveness. Forgiving the whole thing and making peace with it and moving on. What a therapy for me, I felt a million pounds come off my back when that was over. I think Shawn Michaels was carrying a lot of grief and he felt really lousy for his role in everything. How he screwed me over and how he looked that day, it bothered Shawn for a long time. When we made that truce and hugged on Raw, I can see that grief that he carried for so long was all lifted. I realized a few months later what a good thing that was for us. I recommend that to anybody out there who has issues where they can’t forgive someone, try to forgive; it’s really good for your soul.
His career-ending concussion: A lot of people don’t realize how severe a concussion injury is. You have to listen to the doctors. You have to be really careful about them. When I had my injury, so many of the wrestlers and people that I knew didn’t believe I was hurt. I was pushed in the ring for so many weeks and when I finally saw a doctor he told me that my career was over. I had a pounding headache for almost two years, and a lot of side effects and ramifications that never leave. I still have balance issues from a kick to the head from one wrestler who didn’t know his own strength. You can see now that there are a lot of steps being taken that a wrestler who has possibly suffered a concussion is being evaluated properly and you make sure he is safe before getting back in the ring. Back in my day you’d get a pat on the back and get pushed through the curtain. People in all sports are waking up to the fact that concussion injuries are really serious. The ramifications can be long-lasting and severe.
The wrestling industry in 2014: Wrestling today is as good as its every been. Younger, faster, better athletes than there used to be. The fork that wrestling took, it came right around the time that I became champion in the first place. The business today doesn’t get enough credit. There’s an amazing bunch of talents out there today. There’s an amazing group of young talents, innovators who are raising the bar. Delivering better matches than anyone has ever seen before. Cesaro is a guy who does a lot of unique stuff and is a great talent. He does a lot of strong man stuff that is just impressive to watch. Daniel Bryan is another one.
And the girl wrestlers too. They’re all drop dead gorgeous and really good wrestlers and good athletes. I find them very entertaining and a lot of fun to watch. Rey Mysterio, Randy Orton, Cody Rhodes. John Cena has been such a great champion in the last 10 years, this has kind of been his era. Wrestling is even better than it used to be and I think people should start paying more attention to these great stars.