Interview: Bret Hart

The best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be, Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart is truly one of the greatest wrestlers to ever step foot inside the squared circle.

The 57-year-old from Calgary, Alberta, Canada has won a total of 32 titles throughout his career, and 17 of those were held during his time in WWE and WCW. Hart is a seven-time world champion, having held the WWF Championship on five occasions and the WCW World Heavyweight Title twice. He is also a five-time United States champion, two-time Intercontinental champion, and a three-time Tag Team Champion, twice with his brother-in-law Jim Neidhart and once with Goldberg .

Hart is also a Royal Rumble winner and two-time King of the Ring winner, he has also had many great rivalries with the likes of Stone Cold Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels.

We caught up with ‘The Excellence of Execution’ to talk about SummerSlam 92′, his relationship with Shawn Michaels, Owen Hart plus much more.

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You grew up with your dad (Stu Hart), and the notorious dungeon, what was it like training in the dungeon with your dad?

The dungeon is kind of hard to explain, I did go down and wrestle with my dad a lot in my lifetime, even as a kid mostly demonstrating. My dad was primarily a submission style wrestler and submissions aren’t necessarily going to come in handy for high school or college wrestling and they weren’t going to come in that handy for the pro wrestling that I would eventually do.

My dad was a different kind of wrestler, more similar to MMA style before MMA came along, he may have been better training those kind of guys. I was basically trained in the dungeon by these two Japanese wrestlers, and I will say it now the Japanese are the best trained wrestlers in the world – they always had the best teachers and the best style, they’re good executers, their executions of moves like power slams and suplexs’ are always done properly with textbook technique but they have very little physiology.

Going to Calgary, I had the privilege of being taught by two phenomenal Japanese wrestlers that were all about technique, it wasn’t about my promos and it wasn’t about bodybuilding, it was all about wrestling and learning how to do it right and learning how to do it safely. I remember learning and learning and learning until I thought I had to learn something else, all I was doing was learning how to fall down, but I remember them telling me that I didn’t have it yet. I thought I had learnt all this bump training but they kept putting me through more bump training for maybe four or five months.

I realised years later that is what probably saved my career, even though I’m pretty beat up and have a lot of injuries from my career – this is why I say to a lot of people if you want to learn wrestling you should watch me because I learn how to break my fall and protect myself in contrast to a Shawn Michaels, Mr. Perfect (Curt Hennig), or Roddy Piper who are three great wrestlers that I watched and saw them take a lot of hard falls and funny falls, Mick Foley being another one. They didn’t have that Japanese training that I did where you broke your fall with your hands and protect yourself by tucking your chin. I got thrown around a lot but safely landed, I think there is a price you pay for all of those falls in wrestling and I’m certainly paying for them now but I have a feeling guys like Shawn and Mick are paying a higher price.

What have you made of Harry Smiths‘ transition from the American style (WWE) of wrestling to the Japanese style (NJPW)?

I think it was a more natural path for him, I think Harry has always been a very solid technical wrestler really going back to when he was like 12-years-old, he could do every move you could think of. He has filled out since he was a kid and he has got better and better, he has always been a stellar very good, solid technical wrestler and the Japanese style suits his style more much like Davey Boy Smiths style years ago than the WWE style.

Harry was never really a flash wrestler, so I think Japan is a better match up for him right now and he is doing well over there in NJPW. I think eventually WWE will come knocking on Harry’s door again and maybe he will go back there and hopefully he’ll bring some credit to his dads reputation.

What was your match against British Bulldog at Wembley Stadium at SummerSlam 1992 like?

That match at SummerSlam 92′ at Wembley Stadium in front of 80,000 plus people against Davey I would say was my defining moment. As far as story telling goes that match had everything, being in the ring that night we could really feel the electricity from the crowd, there was a real 50/50 split from the fans on who they were cheering for. No one really knew who was going to win the match which made it easier for Davey and I to put on a really captivating match.

Do you think we could see a WWE PPV in the UK in the near future?

I don’t think you will see a WWE PPV over in the UK anytime soon, but I do think you will see one eventually and I think you will see a big one. I think the biggest problem is the time zone, I don’t know how they will get around that or what they will do. I can see them doing it again just because the market is so good over here, there are so many great fans that they will have to deliver something like that, perhaps another SummerSlam but some kind of big event is worthy of being held here and I think that is just a matter of time.

What is your relationship like with the two other people you were in the ring with during the Montreal Screwjob, Shawn Michaels and Earl Hebner?

I always tell people you can’t make peace half way, to make peace with somebody you have to make peace and bury the hatchet or you just keep fighting forever. I made peace with Shawn and we have a good relationship, we text each other every once in a while, he’s a Christian and he has got a family, the wrestling world is a kind of different thing now. We revert back to old memories and sometimes we will send each other funny little messages but we are on decent terms. I’ll never forget what happened that night in Montreal but the reality is I was pretty good friends with Shawn before all the bad blood happened, like I say once you make peace you’ve either got to make peace because you can’t make peace half assed where you still hate somebody and harbour bad feelings, you either have to let go or forget about it and I let go when we made up and I’ve got a good chemistry with Shawn now.

The same can be said with Earl Hebner, I think Earl may have been the biggest victim of that whole screwjob, he got the shitiest deal out of everyone, he got nothing for it and he got kicked around for along time. He got forced into something that was really hard, I don’t know if I would have done anything different to what he did if I was in his position, I probably would have done it different to most guys actually. There are a lot of wrestlers when you put their family and livelihood on the line you can’t blame Earl for taking the position there and doing what he had to do, they really put him in a compromising predicament just before he walked out to the ring. I don’t really have any hard feelings towards Earl, I think it was a lousy thing that they did to him, it was a lousy thing what they did to me but it was lousy thing period.

You’ve been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, you inducted your dad into the WWE Hall of Fame, what were those moments like?

When I was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006 and when I inducted my dad into the Hall of Fame in 2010, they were both tremendous moments that I will never forget.

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Do you think we will ever see Owen Hart and Davey Boy Smith inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame?

I really hope so, both of them should be in. I think that it is just a matter of time, I think WWE has just been waiting for the right time to either approach it with Owen’s widow (Martha) and I don’t know what the final decision is with that. I hate that Owen’s widow has done so much to erase his memory and not keep his memory alive, I find that is an insult to him and his family and all the great things he did for the fans who remember him.

I take exception for all that now and I want to bring as much of Owen back to life for wrestling fans and let them remember what a great person he was and what a great performer he was, and how much fun he was as a wrestler.

Especially coming over to the UK I find it interesting how many fans really loved Owen for his personality and his style of wrestling and all of the little things about him. I miss all of those things about Owen as well and I would like to bring more of that back – there must be troves of video and film of Owen doing things on tour, these are all in a can somewhere and no one is seeing them and I really think that they need to revive the great memories of what Owen did before it’s too far gone, the fans that remember him start to die. It is just awful how Martha erased everything he has done.

Owen was known as a great ribber, did he ever pull any good pranks on you?

All the time, most of the time the best ribs are the ones where you don’t realise you’ve been ribbed. Owen got me all the time, he was a master of setting you up for something like pulling up at a gas station and he would go in to get a candy bar or something like that whilst you’re popping the gas in the car and he would come out and get in the car and by then you will have gone in to pay for the gas you would get in a big argument with the cashier and tell him off, slam the door and get ready to drive off, but you knew that Owen somehow had set the whole thing up, and provoked this guy to be mad about something.

You realised through time that Owen was a classic, and he would project these things ahead of time. He would know you were going to go in and ask for the keys to the bathroom and he knew that would set the guy off because the key would be missing or whatever. Owen would always have such deep steps, and he knew you would follow that right to heart of the best pranks. I would say this about Owen, he was always the best prankster but all of his pranks were fun, where you would have to look at yourself and go, ‘he got me really good’, and laugh to yourself. I think that is what so many wrestlers especially me miss the most was his flair for delivering those hilarious pranks where you can look at him and go, ‘you little bastard’.

My dad was like that and my mum, and later Owen would prank my mum a lot because we sounded alike on the phone. He would call up and sound like me and my mum would ask if it was Bret or Owen, and he would always say it was Bret. He would always try to get my mum to say something about me that showed I was her favourite and she would get into a thing with him arguing saying this is Owen. He would insist it was Bret and then she would always ask who was your 4th grade teacher and he never knew answer then when I called the first thing she would ask is who was my 4th grade teacher and I’ll tell her and she would be ok to talk to me. It was funny and he was a lot of fun that way.

What is your relationship with Vince McMahon like now?

After the Montreal Screwjob I harboured a lot of anger towards Vince, but after my stroke in 2002 he was one of the first people to call me and ask how I was, and we cleared a lot of air, I’m really grateful for that call. I eventually got to beat him at WrestleMania 26 which I think is a better ending for us. I would say he’s on the very best of terms with me now.

For more information on Bret you can follow him on Twitter @BretHart and visit his website BretHart.com

MDAPromotions are bringing Ric Flair over to the UK in May 2015 for more information follow them on Twitter @MDAPromotions and visit MDAPromotions.co.uk

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