Five Reasons Why I Like: Bret "The Hitman" Hart
Oh “IT’S TIME! IT’S TIME! It’s ‘Five Reasons Why I Like Said Wrestler’ time!” (and no, it’s not Big Van Vader, although that man is 300+ pounds of sweaty, stinky, ginger fantastic)
Yes oh yes, it’s Bret “The Hitman” Hart.
With yesterday being the 25th anniversary of this man defeating Ric Flair to win his first WWF Championship, it would behoove us at The Keystone Statement to acknowledge his excellence of execution with a “Five Reasons Why”. So enough with the rest holds going into commercial breaks, let’s get to the action.
5. He Truly Is The Best There Is, Was And Ever Will Be At Keeping His Ring Partner Safe
While some wrestlers take unnecessary risks to get themselves over (hello Shane McMahon, hello most modern-day wrestling) and others could give a damn about the well being of their opponents (hello Ultimate Warrior, hello New Jack), Bret Hart was the master at keeping himself and his opponent safe in the ring. The claim that he’s never hurt his opponent is a bold, but by all accounts, an extremely accurate one. That’s tough to say with a 30-year career of wrestling all all around the world, but the Hitman might be the only one to boast such a fantastic achievement.
4. He Knows Talent When He Sees It
If there were GMs of the non storyline Raw & Smackdown nature, but actual legitimate ones who manage rosters, talent and ability, Bret Hart would be a five-star (five-heart?) candidate. First, he requested to work with then rising star Steve Austin, which ended up being one of the most memorable feuds in professional wrestling history and culminating with unarguably the greatest double-turn of all time, mind you.
He also knew The Rock’s worth way before he was laying the smackdown on candy asses (and super way before he was rebooting Jumaji and potentially running for president).
Straight from the pre-People’s Champ’s mouth in January of 1997 (SLAM Sports):
"He was the only one when I first came in the WWF a year ago that actually took me aside and helped me tremendously."
The Hitman himself echoed these statements in 2011 (ProWrestling.net):
"When I was WWE Champion back in 1997, I often gave Dwayne (Johnson) all the advice I could. I remember watching him wrestle for the very first time and telling the wrestlers next to me that Dwayne was going to be the biggest superstars in the wrestling world and to mark my words.".
Names like Austin, Dwayne and Foley may get Triple H’s game all out of whack, but facts are facts, and Bret Hart knew what he’s talking about.
3. He’s Excellent With His Fans
This is from a first hand perspective from yours truly. The year: 2011. The place: Philadelphia, PA at Signamania 6 (I think - not sure, don’t care, it doesn’t exist anymore). My brother and I go to meet Bret, the line is long and nerds with wrestling belts are prevalent. Being Philadelphia and it being right when Sid’s having concussion issues, I’m risking my life wearing a light blue Pens shirt. This does not go unnoticed by Bret:
“You’re a brave man to be wearing that shirt.”
“I know. I’m pretty nervous about Crosby though. I hope he’s able to come back.”
Shit. We then talked hockey for what was a brief moment, but one that made me realize that he was a man of the people, a man of his fans. Picture taken, firm handshake and that was that.
There are also many occasions where he shows his appreciation for his fans (like the one above) and takes the time to talk and interact with them. The wrestling business has always been based off of con artistry, but what you get with Bret is the real deal, which leads me to this...
2. He's As Serious As A "Hart Attack"
Oh, some of colleagues claim he was “too serious”, but I argue that you always need a Bret Hart in a group, especially in a work environment or a degenerate group of friends environment to keep things in order. Bret is smart and like any great talent (see CM Punk, see Stone Cold) knows his self-worth and goes to great lengths to protect it. You need that anchor of professionalism to balance out the debauchery and backstabbing that occurs in the wrestling biz and Bret was that check in those balances.
1. Heel In The States, Hero In Canada
Once in awhile WWE will do their best to replicate this (like Jinder Mahal for instance gah-ross), but the classic Canadian pride Bret Hart is something that will never be duplicated. Never in wrestling have you seen such a unique phenomenon as 1997 Bret getting booed horrendously in the good ol’ U.S. of A. but then treated like maple leaf royalty when he’s up with our wrestling neighbors up north. Such a buck-wild dynamic that made wrestling exciting and something we’ll never see again.
Now let's close this off with that Flair match-up we talked about.