Bret Hart Interview

071121_bretIt was NZPWI’s privilege on Monday morning to speak to one of the great legends of professional wrestling, Bret “The Hitman” Hart.

Born into the first family of Canadian wrestling, Bret Hart forged his remarkable career in Stampede, WWF and WCW. A multi-time champion and recognised as one of the best technical wrestlers to ever set foot in the ring, Hart’s iconic career has also been dogged by scandal, controversy, and tragedy.

For the first time, in its entirety, the story of Bret’s life is now available to fans. With the release of his long-awaited autobiography Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling, Bret takes the reader on the journey of his life, leaving nothing out – his career, the infamous Montreal Screwjob, the tragic death of his brother Owen, the rifts that split his family, and many humorous and moving tales of life on the road.

Bret took time out to speak to NZPWI Editor Kirsty Quested, in a candid, open and compelling interview.

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Kirsty Quested: The word legend is used often in this business, but rarely is it more fitting than for my guest at this time. An iconic figure in the world of professional wrestling, he has seen dizzying highs and devastating lows. He has triumphed, often over the most adverse of circumstances. Undoubtedly one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, his journey is now available for fans to share in his long-awaited autobiography. He is the best there is, the best there was, and the best there will ever be. He is Bret “The Hitman” Hart.

First of all, congratulations on the book. It had been a work in progress for some time; how did you find the process of writing it and reliving all those years?

071121_bookBret Hart: It was like a catharsis, it was like a real therapy for me to relive it. That’s how I wrote it; I wrote it like I relived the whole thing. I wrote it one bit at a time… started way back from my Stampede days, then once I got to the WWF, or WWE period, I’d had a little recorder that I’d carried with me since 1985, when I first started in the WWF, and during that period – throughout my career – I started making these little entries about what I did that night, who I was with, and where we went, what happened in the dressing room. So I had a really… I know a lot of wrestlers have written books that they didn’t, they didn’t do what I did, they didn’t have the facts right. They maybe had the wrong place, the wrong time, the wrong people on the road. Or, just stuff that never happened, in their books. A lot of times they mean well, and they think that’s how it happened, but when you get 300 days a year, over 20 years, it can get pretty mixed up, pretty complicated trying to remember it all.

For sure.

But with my book, it’s all there. It’s all one day at a time, and it’s all the truth.

I interviewed Chris Jericho recently and he said that he thought that your book, and his book, were probably the last of their kind, in terms of – you know, just what you’ve said there – and the journey that you both took as wrestlers. Would you say that’s a fair statement?

Um… I don’t know. I couldn’t begin to imagine where the next books will come, I mean most of the wrestling books have been crap. I liked Chris’s book. It seemed pretty interesting. I really enjoyed his book better than most of them anyway. Mick Foley, I always thought wrote a really good book that captured his life and times in a lot of ways.

But I think that my book – the history – I don’t know that Chris Jericho or any other wrestler had the life that I had, growing up with it, and they don’t have the history that I have. I don’t think anyone had the family that I had.

For sure.

I don’t think anyone had the tragedies that I had. And I think that tying all of that up into my story, has been really a special achievement anyway.

For sure.

What kind of feedback have you had from people that you were in the business with, who’ve read the book?

Well, so far I haven’t heard from anybody. Not one person. And I haven’t heard from one person in my whole family.

Oh really?

I’m in the dark on that. I think there’s a lot of slow readers [laughs]. It’s a big fat book. It’s not a kids book, and it’s not a book that someone can pick up and read in a couple of hours. It’s a long, deep, heavy book that goes almost 600 pages, and it’s packed from beginning to end with everything you can imagine.

It’s a very compelling read. Difficult to put down.

I think so, I think it’s a monumental effort to explain to people what wrestling is and was, and I think that for your casual fans, they’re gonna absolutely adore my book. I mean, it’ll give them all the stuff they’ve always wanted to know. And at the same time, this book’s not written for wrestling fans at all. Like, your listeners, that might be listening, that are not wrestling fans?

Right?

They’re the ones that’ll really enjoy the book the most. It’s written for someone that’s not a big fan. Like, not a huge, wrestling… you know, they can’t get enough of it kind of thing. But this is for someone who has a bit of an understanding of it, they watch it on TV, they know who some of the characters are, and they kinda wonder what the real wrestling is, how the business really works, how the personalities really mesh together.

Well it’s a bit like the documentary, really. You didn’t have to be a wrestling fan to get caught up in the drama and enjoy that.

Yeah exactly, that’s exactly right. I’ve been lucky that I’ve done – most of the things that I’ve really put my passion into – the documentary was something that I really threw caution to the wind and just let them film whatever they wanted and have their own… basically they could say what they wanted and do what they wanted, I never had any control over what was in that documentary, or the production of it or anything like that, I was just the vehicle. And it was a well done, classy vehicle and I was very proud of that documentary for the honesty that it had.

For sure.

071121_dvdMy DVD, that I did, I thought was first rate. The whole of the WWF, or WWE, at the time was really good with me, and opened the vaults, and we really kind of put our heads together, in a funny way, because there was such bad blood between us, for so long… but we actually did put everything to the side, and really worked for about three weeks on that. The DVD, I almost had a gun to my head to get it out in time, and about 15 days to get it done. And I did, we went down there and we put our heads together. When people see it they go “oh it must have taken months to do that,” but that was three weeks. And in the middle of all this, writing I’m doing for this book, and trying to get the DVD done. But in the end, I stand by, I’m really proud of that DVD. And I’m hoping that maybe WWE could do one or two more.

Just getting back to the book for a second… it seems to be very much an attempt to set the record straight. On many things. So, parts of it must have been difficult for you to recount, parts of it must have been difficult to write?

Oh yeah, there was a lot of really tough, difficult, emotional things to write about, from my brother Owen’s death, to my stroke, to all the losses that I had, friends and family in that book, and just to put people in perspective, like really let people know or see what it was like in Montreal, because I always have people ask me, “what was going through your mind when you were standing in the ring looking out at the crowd?”

Your face said it all.

You know, I wanted to dispel a little bit of the… like, Shawn Michaels – the born-again Christian – said that Vince took a dive, that I never even hit him, that Vince sort of took a punch and laid down pretending he was hurt. Which is such rubbish. It’s such rubbish. You know, the shiner, the black eye that Vince had the next day didn’t look too pretend to me, and I know the broken bones in my hand weren’t too pretend.

I bet.

Pretty high power, impact kind of moment, drilling this boss of yours in the jaw, and having Shawn Michaels and everybody in the room… Shawn cried all the way through that whole episode in the dressing room with Vince. But he doesn’t write any of that in his book, and I thought, for me I want to put it in perspective. I want people to see this little sniveling coward…

You don’t think he’s really had his moment of truth?

Well for a Christian he seems to enjoy lying quite a bit. I don’t really buy into that so much. Mind you, he wouldn’t be the first Christian to lie so much, but I think that I wanted to let people see people like him for what they really were, and then at the same time see someone like Undertaker for being the man that he is. See that not all of us are a bunch of sneaky rats who have no principles, some of us are really tight, and really close. You know, Steve Austin… I think that people, when they read my book, they start to see that, the sort of love that we have for one another as brothers in battle, kind of thing, and we have a lot of respect for each other’s personas, or characters. I had a lot of respect for Steve Austin, but I also had a lot of respect for Steve Austin “Stone Cold,” the wrestling persona. I knew what he was trying to achieve. And your ultimate goal is to help him try to achieve that. But then you have someone like Shawn Michaels and Hunter Helmsley, who are just creepy backstabbers that are just trying to stab their way to the top, and ultimately, in a lot of ways, they achieved what they set out to do.

I know a lot of the people I talk to, they can’t stand watching wrestling any more. Nobody watches it, everybody kind of turns it on and flips through it, and there’s a desperate longing for the way it used to be. If I was WWF I’d just start showing reruns. It’s so bad… the storylines are the worst problem, and I think that’s Hunter and Stephanie McMahon that put their heads together every week and come up with these storylines. But the storylines are so ridiculous, that I find it really hard to enjoy the wrestling, and unfortunately – and maybe that’s not necessarily Shawn and Hunter’s fault, or Stephanie’s fault – unfortunately with all the tragedy and death, like when Chris Benoit, he was one of my last real favourites, whenever he was on I would sit and watch.

He was just such a great storyteller in the ring.

He was really a hard-working, a good wrestler to perform with. I just feel that when he had that horrible tragedy, it just broke my heart. Maybe the last little bit of room that I had in my heart for wrestling, it seemed to get smothered after that.

I think a lot of people feel the same way, after the Benoit tragedy. I mean… it just seemed like when Eddie Guerrero died, Chris Benoit left himself behind.

Yeah, I think that you may find over time that because of how Eddie Guerrero died, that it was a weight that affected Chris Benoit from the day that happened to the point… I don’t know, it was three years ago that he died? Three or four years…?

Yeah… two years ago, Eddie died.

I don’t think Chris was ever the same after that. He seemed to withdraw, and I hadn’t talked to him that often, and when I did, he seemed very… never quite, he didn’t seem to have that life in his voice any more, when we talked about what he was doing. He didn’t seem to have any excitement. The last match that I watched Chris Benoit ever have, which was about two or three weeks before he died, it was on some… where they had the draft. He ended up losing a match and getting drafted to ECW. And I remember watching the match, and like you said, I was enjoying it because I really enjoy watching Chris, and I hadn’t seen him in a little while. But I could tell by the expression on his face that he was going through the motions, that he wasn’t happy about what he was doing, then he lost in the middle of the ring and he just got out of the ring and walked back to the dressing room, and I felt then… I knew I’d see him a few weeks later in Calgary, they were having a TV taping there, and I thought, I’ll go talk to him, tell him not to get too down, ‘cause he looks down. He looks bummed out about how things are going for him. And three weeks later it was over for him. That horrible murder/suicide thing had all taken place, and I never did get to talk to him again.

And maybe that’s why I feel like I don’t have any desire to watch it any more. I mean I don’t really have any desire to watch any of the other wrestlers on the show. I find that they seem to pick the wrong ones to push, seems like the show’s more about soap opera… the best wrestlers in wrestling today are the girls. I find that at least the girls wrestle and work hard, and a lot of the guys that are wrestling all seem to be all trying to imitate Edge. Seems like about 30 guys that look and act like Edge. They’re out there doing the same thing, you know? I’d hate to be Edge, he’s got lots of competition now.

071121_bret_daveyJust going back to your book for a sec, recounting your SummerSlam match with Davey Boy Smith, that certainly made for a gripping read. Can you tell us why you see that match, a match in which you had to carry your opponent, as better than matches in which you’ve worked with somebody with equal skill?

Well, it was a real testimony, it was a real challenge. It was not an easy thing to do. For most people that watched that match, you would never know that Davey was having as hard a time as he was. There’s an expression, “carrying” somebody, when I think of all the matches I had to “carry” somebody, that was the one I carried someone the farthest. It was the hardest, and it was the most important. And I think the overall story, in the end it’s like, we worked together. I’ve always said that wrestling sometimes can be, it’s more like figure skating. What happened with our figure skating competition is that we had, one of us was not ready for the big skate. But at the end we still got the gold medal, and we’re on the podium, kind of thing. So I know it was above and beyond the call of duty, in a lot of ways. And I did that for the love of wrestling, not for anybody else, and I did it for Davey, and I cared about Davey, and I wanted this to be the greatest match of all time, I put a lot of thought and energy into the match, it’s just a shame that Davey showed up not as well prepared as he needed to be.

But I think in saying that, putting the honesty in that, it gives the reader the insider, see how someone carries a wrestler. I can show you, when I watch the match back, there’s so many points and times in the match where it’s me doing all the thinking, all the work, and Davey’s just thanking God that I’m there. And that was a beautiful thing for me to be part of, pull that off for him, the fans, the business and myself.

And there’s other matches, I had other great matches, like the match with Shawn Michaels, the Iron Man match, that was a really great match and Shawn was a great wrestler in a lot of ways.

071121_bret_hbkThat was a helluva match, it’s my favourite.

Yeah I think that one’s hard pressed… if you asked me the hardest match I ever worked, I think that I’d have to say the Iron Man match was the hardest one I ever had.

But in difference, in contrast to Davey, two guys, even though one of them’s sorta messed up, we’re working together. And Shawn wasn’t such a great match of two guys working together to try to make each other, it was a case of two separate people trying to outshine each other. And we did. We both carried our end of it, we both picked it up and made ourselves look pretty good, and carried the match, but we weren’t working together like I would be with a Davey Boy or a Curt Hennig, where you’re working together and you’re building something. It’s like figure skating again. But with Shawn it was like two figure skaters that are trying to outshine each other.

Right.

So in writing about that, I tried to put that in perspective for people.

Yeah, yeah.

As we speak, you know we’re just hours out from the 2007 Survivor Series. What’s going through your mind, 10 years on from Montreal?

071121_montreal[long pause] Well you know, it’s kind of surreal, still. Like, I have people ask me about that, how much they sort of look at it now, and I’m like, I don’t even want to talk about it, that was such a black day, such a dark moment in my lifetime. But I’ve always been really proud of how I held true to my own feelings, and I always thought I handled myself really well that day. You know, I heard someone saying a few days ago, someone asked Hunter Helmsley, could something like that have happened to him and Shawn…

And he said, “we wouldn’t be that stupid.”

He said, he wasn’t that stupid.

Yeah, I saw that.

And maybe I was, maybe I was stupid, maybe I was stupid to believe a man that had acted like my father, and treated me like… he’d done so much for me. This is the same guy that’s his father-in-law today. So to take someone at his word, and believe him, and give him your word in return, if that’s stupid, then I guess I’m stupid. You know? But you should understand that all I did was tell the truth and be honest, and his father-in-law was pretty downright dishonest, and they’re total liars, if they can be proud of that, maybe that makes him smart to be a liar, I don’t know. In the end I wake up in the morning, I look in the mirror, I see a guy that… you know, I have nothing hanging off my conscience that I feel bad about, I feel like in the end that was a heroic moment for me, because I was right, I was telling the truth, and I was fair. I did everything that I would have done for my father.

I came there, to be the pro that I’ve always been, and dealing with some people that are very unscrupulous, very dishonest, and Shawn Michaels even wrote in his own book that his big problem was simply the fact that I was being paid more than him.

Yeah I remember that part.

To decide that somebody’s being paid more than you, who’s been in the business longer, who’s a couple of years older, he’s the highest paid guy in the company and he’s paid his dues, and he’s being paid more – I don’t know how you can take exception to that and say “you know I want to see if I can push this guy out, and get him out, ruin him, get him out of here, and take over everything,” you know I think that in the end when you look at how corrupt and slimy the Hunter Helmsley, and Vince, and Shawn, and that whole group, how wickedly deceiving and corrupt they were… I think you can look at me, I don’t know that I was ever… I don’t know how you’d rate my heroism, throughout my career, because a lot of it’s fabricated, it’s TV, but in the end that day I lived up to being the hero that I always pretended to be.

Punching Vince in the jaw was a really brilliant thing to do, because it made people respect me forever.

Yeah… we were talking a minute ago about the storylines in WWE and how most of them are just crap now… do you think they’ll mark the occasion in any way today, by doing something tasteless?

Oh, let’s not give them too much credit for being tasteful. I expect that there’ll be some kind of… maybe they’ll have a midget in a Sharpshooter or something like that, I don’t know.

So I take it you won’t be watching.

Nooo… there’s a lot of things that I’d rather be watching.

071121_shadowsWe were talking before about the documentary, Wrestling With Shadows, and it remains one of the most compelling documentaries ever. How different do you think that Montreal would have been seen, if Paul Jay hadn’t been there to document how it all went down?

No-one would even care today. No-one would have cared whatsoever. The whole idea that day was to sweep it all out the back door. They were going to screw me, and leave me, and no-one would even know about it. No-one was ever supposed to know. They all jump out, run back to the dressing room, Earl, Shawn… I was supposed to go home the next day and never see anybody again. They start their show Monday and just paint over me, rewrite the stories without me, and talk about me being a…

Basically, just shit all over your legacy.

… yeah, they already had… I was erased. They were just going to erase me that day, and no-one would ever know quite… I might show up a couple of months later, and say you know what happened, this is what happened. But after a couple of months, that story would have died down, I don’t think anyone took into account that the documentary would be as well done as it was, and that came out about a year later, so that was really, that ended up backing up everything I said. But despite that, I was on the internet the next day, had all kinds of newspapers, and people covering the story, explaining what happened, and the story took on a life of its own, became this huge, controversial story where people weren’t sure if it was pretend, or if it was a storyline. And I think the more… it got so much interest, that it became a big story. And I don’t think the WWF, at the time, knew how to control that, or how to minimize that. The next night when they did the show, the wrestlers were all ready to walk out of Raw, not do the show, they were worried about full-on mutiny, with all their talent, and I think they started to realise right off the bat that this was going to be a bigger problem than they had bargained for. They came up with all kinds of different stories, and reasons why they did what they did, trying to paint out that I was unreasonable and unprofessional. But in the end, I think the documentary – in one year it was still a fresh issue – the documentary set the record straight for permanent. Forever.

[pause here while I take this in]

Just changing tack, have you seen much of TNA’s product?

Oh yeah, I have.

And what are your thoughts on it?

You know, I love a lot of the wrestling, I don’t like all the storyline stuff, like the soap opera, seems like they’re in competition with WWE, and they try to go the same route, and I’m not so big on that. But I understand that they’re working really hard and they’re trying really hard to be a serious company to be reckoned with, kind of thing. I love Kurt Angle, he’s one of the only guys I really wish I could have worked with one time, just to work with him. I have a lot of respect for his ring ability. But I hate the ring. I can’t stand that ring.

The six sides?

Yeah I don’t like it. If I could wrestle, and I was younger, and I could join that company, I think I would probably not join that company just for the whole reason that I hate the ring. Just a little bit worse ring than the WCW ring.

Oh really? What was bad about the WCW ring?

Well it’s not a real ring with ropes like the WWE ring, WWF ring. My dad’s ring was a big ring, my dad’s ring was a 20 foot ring, and it had real ropes. Like when you run into the ropes, the ropes… like the TNA ring, and the WCW ring, they weren’t real ropes, they were just props, they were just pretend, they were steel cables covered up with big huge thick hose. So when you ran into the ropes, there was no give, like you couldn’t actually bounce off the ropes. Actually when you ran into the ropes, you stopped all your momentum and had to start running again. Be like running into a wall. I just hated it, and the ropes were really low, I can remember, if you hit the ropes funny, you could flip over the top rope and land on the floor. And I wasn’t the biggest guy, but I don’t know how guys like Hulk and some of these giants that they had in WCW, could even use those ropes. They looked great to step over top, Kevin Nash used to climb over the top rope like he was stepping over the bottom rope. But it looks good, and I think Rey Mysterio could probably climb up them, climb right up to the top of those kinds of rings, dive all the way, run across the top like walking a tight rope. But there’s no rope. It’s just a big steel cable.

For me, that really loved – when I got thrown into the ropes, I started running so fast. I got where I was hitting those ropes so fast, and with such excitement and action, I mean you ran into the ropes and you ducked the clothesline, and you hit the other ropes and you came off, it was a lot of movement of using the ropes to propel yourself, a really important part of my matches, and I hate the rings that kill the speed and kill the excitement of a match, and that’s what the TNA ring does, that’s what the WCW ring was. Small criticisms, but for a guy that was an artist it was important.

Yeah, definitely.

What are your thoughts on the rumoured “new” Hart Foundation in WWE?

Well, I don’t know, I don’t really… my personal thoughts on it were that they’re all really good and really talented, but I thought they all should stand on their own merit. Teddy Hart, who’s kind of a loose cannon – for want of a better word, a bit of a wild man – I was worried that he would kind of screw things up for the other family members. Because he was so different and radical compared to them. But in the end, I think Teddy… I know Teddy’s got a lot of talent. And I thought, if something could be done with all of them – and it could be the Hart Foundation, I think it might be a really interesting concept – but I think they should establish themselves, each one should establish their own character and persona on their own. And maybe somewhere down the road they can band together, and it would mean more, rather than putting them together cold. All of a sudden they’re walking in a big pair of shoes, and that’s not easy to do. They just need to put a little more thought into how they form together.

Out of the guys that you’ve worked with, in the past and who are still wrestling, whose book would you be most keen to read? You know, you said that most of the books that come out now are crap, and this is true because they’re mostly written by WWE, but if there could be another book that was told the way you told your story, whose book would you want to read?

I would want to read Vince McMahon’s book.

Oh really?

But I’d hope that he’d have somebody honest, I hope he would be honest in the book. I imagine Vince has got a really interesting story, on all kinds of different levels. See, Vince has always been quite a character, so I’m sure he’s got a lot of skeletons in his closet, and a lot of great accomplishments in his closet too. I think he’s kind of a hidden… you know, mostly what people know about Vince McMahon is that he’s kind of a businessman that’ll do anything it takes to win. And that’s true, but there’s a lot of good things to be said about Vince McMahon too. You know, even like charitable work.

My feelings for Vince aren’t so harsh as they are about Hunter and Shawn. Vince, I always had a lot of respect for him in a lot of ways, and I feel a bit of a… if that day in Montreal had never happened, I feel that I would have been probably sitting right beside Vince McMahon, doing everything I could to help him and his company. I was a guy that really loved his company, loved his business and wanted to give him… I was grateful for everything that he did for me, and I wanted to always be a contributor. So my feelings for Vince, and WWF, have never really changed, I’m always going to be grateful for what he did for me, I just don’t understand why he was so programmed to… what they were trying to do to me at Survivor Series was really just to be as malicious and hurtful as possible, ruin me as much as possible, and have their own private joke, you know, we just really stuck it to Bret Hart…

Well it just seemed like you went to WCW with nothing, and that’s what they intended to happen.

Yeah, and I believe that Shawn and Hunter were a big part of that. You know, I can’t change what happened, and I try to move on, but I feel bad that it happened, because I think I had a lot more to contribute, and I think wrestling would be a better business today if I had some involvement in it.

A lot of my genius that I had for wrestling is untapped. It’s like it’ll never come out. I think I had a lot of great stuff that I could still be doing for other wrestlers today, like creating ideas and concepts and matches that I don’t see anywhere on the show today.

071121_hofWhat went through your mind when Vince told you that you would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame? How did that make you feel?

Well, when I had that conversation I was about five days into my stroke. And I was really going through my most difficult challenge in my life. And I was really… for lack of a better word, I was really down. He called me, and I didn’t know he would call me, but I did write about that in my book, it was almost like a… I don’t know, when he called me we kind of put the hostility down and talked man to man. And I appreciated it as a kindness at the time, and he gave me a nice pep talk, told me that I was a fighter and I would beat this thing, that he had no doubts, and hang in there, and it was nice of him to call. I really gave him a second chance in some ways after that. I appreciated the fact that he took the time to call me when so many of people didn’t. I didn’t get a lot of calls, no-one really cared, and I had guys like Hogan and Flair bash me in their books which came out around the same time, and I felt like I was getting kicked while I was down. But Vince, you know I told him when we talked, I said “I don’t want to be erased, I don’t want to be forgotten, because I really had some great wrestling matches for you, and I would love to do something,” because we had always talked about doing an anthology – a bunch of, at the time it would have been videotapes, videotapes of my greatest matches, I think we were talking about a five volume set, starting from the Hart Foundation, and building up to end of my career. There was a lot of things like that, and when I talked to him on the phone, he said that any time I wanted we could do all that, and not to worry about it, it was as good as done, and just let me know when I was up to for it, and we ended up doing that. And I’m grateful, even though the original concept of that DVD was to tear me to pieces, and I brought up the conversation I had with him when I was in the hospital, said “you promised me a fitting tribute, I’m not going to do anything called “Screwed” where you highlight all the stuff that happened in Montreal, make money off that,” and in that conversation we agreed to do the DVD somewhere down the road, or that’s what we talked about, that concept anyway.

I always told myself, if they ever asked me to do the Hall of Fame, that I felt that I had a right to be remembered, and I had a right to go back. And if there was ever, if they invited me, I would go. That was before I had the stroke. It was after Survivor Series that I thought about that. And when he asked me about it that day on the phone, I said that was something I would like to do but that right now I don’t have the heart for it, I don’t think that I could even… I was in hospital, so I was pretty down and out, so anyway we had that talk, and it was all… couple of years later when I had recovered enough, the Hall of Fame thing came up and I thought that it was a good way for me to find closure. To do something for my fans again, give the fans that goodbye. I had a lot of fans asking me when I was coming back, even just to say goodbye, and I didn’t want to break it to them, but I’d say goodbye at the Hall of Fame. That was my final WWF appearance.

How did it feel, being at the event and seeing all the old faces?

I think I was a little nervous. I felt a little on edge and I felt pressured to deliver a really good speech, talk. And I wanted to give people reassurances that I was OK, that they didn’t need to worry so much about me any more, I wasn’t so bitter about everything, I could laugh about stuff, and enjoy the good memories, rather than reflect on the bad. But at the same time I wish I could have had – it’s one of those things where you wish you could have done a second take, you know? The first one was a good practice, and the second one would have been really good. Because I’m not so… it wasn’t so easy for me to walk out there in front of those people, that crowd of people, and the ovation and all of that was very moving for me, affects my emotions, and all those kinds of things. I just think if I had had one practice run, even just a, something I could have done maybe the day before, something that had prepared me more for it, I might have done better. I always thought I could have done a better job. But all in all, I know that I did a pretty good job, sometimes you’re your own worst critic. In the end I’m happy with what I did, and what I said.

I think it really meant a lot to your fans that you did come out and I thought the whole speech was very real, definitely you could sense the emotion that you were feeling at the time. You know?

Yeah, I think… it was good, good for me to do it, and good for my fans, but I think that’ll be the last of that kind of thing.

So with that in mind, what is the next chapter in the Bret Hart story?

The next chapter is to put my book into film. I’d like to see that done with a sort of Sopranos kind of episodic format. I’d like to do, I’d like to approach it the same way as something like The Sopranos. I don’t think it’s a story that can be filmed in a movie, I don’t think there’s enough time. I think you really need, in order to appreciate my story, you have to follow the way it’s written. Because I think, if you follow the way it’s written you actually really enjoy it. And I think on film, it can be a great project and I’d like to be part of that. And that’ll be my next challenge. I’ve done the book now, I’ve accomplished a lot of things in my life, but I’d like to maybe consider going back to film school. If I put this book into some kind of film, like a series, I’d like to be a big part of that, I’d like to be on hand, be part of the casting. I wouldn’t want to act in it, but I’d like to be really involved in it, and put as much time and energy into that as I have into the book.

I want people to always remember that when I put my name on something, or put my heart into something, that I’m going to give them something that’s a quality product. My book, I think is… I could have written my book, had it out five years ago. Rushed it out, put out a puff piece like a lot of other guys. Just sort of summarized a lot of big events in my life, just put it out there, but I didn’t want to do that, I knew I had a better story than that, and I took my time, and despite the pressure from publishers, and my manager, and there were people saying “we need it now”… I remember my manager, back in 2000, telling me “we need to have this book finished in three months and we need it right now because the books are red hot and they’re selling like crazy,” Mick Foley’s book had just come out. And I said “I’m not going to have this book done for at least five years. You can forget about it, leave me alone so I can write it,” and I did it that way, and maybe if this book had been done five years ago it might have sold more, or I could have hired someone to work with me on it, a ghost writer like everyone else did, I could have cashed in on it a while ago, but instead I said “it’s not about the money for me.” It never has been. I said, “I want to do this book, I don’t care if it sells one copy, no-one buys it and everyone hates it, at least I can say this is my book, I wrote it myself, this is what happened.” If you want to know, you can judge me by my… by how honest I am, whether or not you believe my version of things.

So anyway, I just really, I did everything I could to give fans a real quality product. I think people, and wrestlers – not just people that are fans, but I think wrestlers, I think a lot of wrestlers will read my book, and it’ll bring back a million memories for them. Of their own experiences, and memories about wrestlers that they miss. I think my book is a brilliant walk through the history as I remember it. And I don’t think, I think a lot of wrestlers will enjoy my book for the same stories that the fans will. They’ll remember it all, and enjoy it all.

Well Bret, it’s been an absolute pleasure talking to you, I can’t believe it’s gone on this long, usually when I’m talking to somebody they say oh it’s 20 minutes, I’m going now, so thanks very much for a great interview, I just really enjoyed talking to you, and the book is fantastic. It’s a highly recommended read.

When they asked me about doing your show, or your interview, I always had a lot of great memories when I was in New Zealand for the short times that I was there, and I always loved the fact that I had a lot of fans there.

A lot of very loyal fans in New Zealand. And when you came out here, with the WWA tour, and gave the talk, that meant a lot to a lot of people.

Well I know that I wrote about it in my book, where I had a Maori, gave me a healing stone on a little string that he gave me, said it was blessed by the high chief of all the Maoris, and he wanted me to wear it for my recovery. I still wear it now, I’ve never taken it off, and I… I have great memories of down there, and you know I just wish I could have been there more often through my career. It’s my pleasure to talk to you, and hopefully touch base with some of my fans down there again. I don’t know when I’ll get back there, but I know that I’m coming. I’ll come back to New Zealand any time I have a chance, I’d like to go – well I’m in Hawaii right now, I spend most of the winters in Hawaii, and I’m hoping that maybe sometime this spring I’d like to just jump on a plane and fly down to Melbourne and then skip over to New Zealand, maybe a couple of days bike riding, stuff like that, just having a really nice time.

Once again, thanks very much, I really appreciate your time.

Okay, you’re welcome.

  • Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling is available from Amazon.