Byte This Review
Wednesday November 16, 2005
Host: Todd Grisham
Guest: Bret Hart
Report by Michael KopStick, Torch Screwed Contributor
This week, Byte This features one of their biggest guests ever at the worst possible time. When all the focus should be on the fact that Bret Hart is gracing a WWE broadcast for the first time since 1997, all of our attention, heart and thoughts are rightly on a more important matter. Nonetheless, instead of pushing off this week’s interview subject for a more opportune time, the show will apparently go on at WWE.com, as well.
BT opens up with Todd Grisham sending out his condolences to the Guerrero family, announcing that over 100,000 e-mails were sent to WWE.com from concerned fans in the first 24 hours of Eddie’s passing, crashing WWE.com’s servers. “You, the fans, loved Eddie Guerrero and he loved you, the fans.”
Todd recalls Wrestlemania weekend when he shared a limousine with Eddie and the former champ was exhausted and in a lot of pain but once he got out of the limo and saw fans it was like he became alive. “He was like a different person,” recalls Todd.
Grisham also tells us that those 100,000 e-mails will actually be compiled into a book and given to Vickie Guererro on behalf of the fans and WWE.
Byte This then shows another tribute video for the former Latino Heat with music from 3 Doors Down’s Here Without You.
They then play the introduction to Bret Hart’s DVD and welcome the Hitman into the BT studio. It’s a sit down interview.
Bret offers his condolences to the Guerreros and feels for the loss of Eddie. “It’s a real shame,” Bret sympathizes. “Eddie was a special, one of a kind, kind of guy… He was somebody that lived up to everything that everyone said about him. He was such a warm kind human being.”
Talk then abruptly turns to the new DVD release that Bret has partnered with WWE to produce. “From the people that I’ve shown it to, everybody’s really happy with it.” He calls it a first-rate production that he got to work on with top-notch people putting it together.
This DVD is something Bret wanted to do for a long time. He says he spoke to Vince McMahon years ago about wanting to put together a compilation video, back before DVDs existed, regarding his pro wrestling career. “When I talked to Vince, we took it in a different direction rather than focusing on the negative side of my career. I had a great career.” And he wanted to ensure that people saw that great career when they remembered Bret Hart. Although Bret did have concerns getting back together and working with Vince McMahon and what might happen to his memories, “All I can say is that we have a good dialogue right now and he bent over backwards to see that I was satisfied with it and that it held up.” And Bret feels that the DVD held up very well.
Bret will probably not ever get back into wrestling as a wrestler. He knows that he didn’t leave wrestling at the terms he wanted to, “but I was proud of my last match as I was my first match.” At least, he feels, he didn’t stick around when he was way past his prime like other some other wrestlers who don’t know when to leave. He is proud that he wasn’t one of the guys, “beating a dead horse.” He is happy to see the younger guys get a chance.
He is also pleased that his DVD didn’t focus just on his WWE and WCW stints. He wrestled in Canada for his father and all over Europe and Japan. Unfortunately, they did not have enough time to acquire footage from the latter two points in his life. But he is glad his Stampede Wrestling days in Calgary were included. These were his first wrestling steps that he took, working for Stu Hart’s promotion and some of the footage on the disc from those days showcase matches that Bret Hart had when he only had as much as 3 months experience.
He was never forced into wrestling, he states, maybe coaxed into amateur wrestling when he would have rather laced up a pair of hockey skates instead, but his dad loved wrestling and wanted all his sons to at least give it a shot. “That might be a curse in that if you’re good at it,” you might be stuck “doing it forever”
He had an amazing following in Germany and he would love to go back and connect himself to the fans he made there. Britain also had wide support for him. He remembers wrestling in front of 82,000 strong in Wembley stadium at the main event for Summerslam ’92 and even though a lot of them were there to see the British Bulldog, you had plenty of pink and black signs in the arena, as well, Hitman notes.
Bret says that he still keeps in close contact with his former partner Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart. “To this day I don’t think we’ve ever had an argument or disagreement.” Jim was also proud of the DVD, as Bret made sure Neidhart’s contribution to Bret’s career was appreciated. Bret feels that he doesn’t know where he would be today without the Anvil.
Asked if he still watches WWE programming, he diplomatically says, “I click through the channels now and then,” meaning not really.
Bret says that if he could have had one last match it would have been with Kurt Angle. Angle, Bret says, is like a throwback to the kind of wrestling he enjoyed. Same with Chris Benoit. “You could have woken me up at 4 in the morning to had a match with Benoit.” He also calls Rey Mysterio, “pound for pound one of the best wrestlers ever to put on boots.” Anyone else? “Batista would also look pretty good in a sharpshooter,” he jokes.
When he started out in WWE, “it took me a while to find my footing on the mic but I eventually did find my footing.” He used to be incredibly nervous on the microphone. This wasn’t a problem at first because as a newcomer, he was never asked to do any interviews. But once he and the Anvil got noticed as good wrestlers, they were called to do four interviews in one shot. Bret knew he had to make a good impression because it was the interviews that form a wrestler’s popularity; it was how you moved up the ladder in sports entertainment. When you do four, you are then asked to do eight, and so on. So, he had to be ready. Well, when Gene Okerlund interviewed the Hart Foundation, they noticed afterwards that Bret’s eyes were darting all over the place. But this was the only thing that gave his nervousness away, so they retaped the segment, only this time he grabbed a pair of sunglasses and no one suspected that he was petrified behind them, as he would just stand there while the Anvil did the talking. Soon, though, it wasn’t just Jim doing interviews and Bret got to speak his mind.
Todd relates that Batista locked up when he was approached to do his very first interview and the animal had to just walk away because of it.
“I always liked Pittsburgh” Bret recollects about the city he said they should stick a sewage hose into; the terrain reminded him of Canada.
Right now Bret’s living in Canada and not traveling as much as he used to. “I try not to be a slave to hotels and suitcases anymore.”
Okay, so he isn’t going to wrestle anymore. How about being a manager? Or a tutor? “I think about it sometimes but I want to be remembered for being a great wrestler, not a great referee or commissioner or anything like that.” He is satisfied with his contributions to wrestling and he doesn’t want to be a spokesperson for anyone else, he describes his nature (boy, I guess we’ll never see him back).
A caller asks him if he would redo the Survivor Series finish if he could do it in 2005. “If I could have a match it would be with Kurt Angle, I find him to have a style that I could play around with. I don’t see myself going back and having matches with guys I wrestled before,” rather dreaming up fresh matches with Batista, Angel, or Cena than the veterans he’s already taken on.
His favorite types of wrestlers to work with were the ones that were not too big or small, like Curt Hennig, Davey Boy Smith size. They were tough competitors, yet fast and flexible enough to have a rapid wrestling match.
Hart finds that, besides Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle, most other wrestlers don’t know what they’re doing when it comes to emulating his Sharpshooter.
Gorilla Monsoon came up with “Excellence of Execution.” Bret took his term “Best There Is…” from the movie the Natural. It was a good way to wrap up interview segments when there was nothing left to say so he stuck with it.
Most people tell Bret that his Wrestlemania 13 match against Steve Austin was their favorite match. “Steve and I had a great history together… and had respect for each other and we worked hard to make our storylines believable and incredible,” Bret states.
Time for some word association with Bret Hart:
The Dungeon: “Torture chamber.”
The British Bulldog: “I miss him.”
Stone Cold: “Great adversary.”
Life on the road: “Suitcases.”
Others using the sharpshooter: “Not the Excellence of Execution.”
Eric Bischoff: “A sweetheart, he was a good guy.”
Hart Foundation: “Greatest tag team there ever was.”
Bruno Samartino: “First class champion.”
Stu Hart: “Stretcher.”
Superstar Billy Graham: “One of a kind.”
Dirt sheets: “Legitimate history.”
Hart family: “Still standing.”
Kurt Angle: “Best there is.” Todd then follows up, “But not the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be.” “Not yet,” the Hitman replies.
A caller then asks a question I had always wondered about as Bret has always said in interviews that he wouldn’t want to return to WWE in a storyline capacity. I always would have figured that Bret would want to return and perhaps leave the proper way and I’m sure WWE would allow him that opportunity. I always imagined how great it would be for all parties involved if WWE were to hold a pay per view in Calgary, have a hometown hero like Chris Benoit or Chris Jericho have the odds stacked against him via Vince McMahon, and right when it looks like Vince is going to be able to cheat and cost Benoit or Y2J the victory, out comes Bret, punches Vince out, saves the day, fans erupt, babyface wins, and Bret passes the Canadian Hero torch, something I know, especially from hearing this interview, that Bret has always wanted to do, as he is gushing about Kurt Angel and the younger guys. Follow this all up with a farewell speech and you have a instant classic WWE pay per view. I never understood why they never pushed to have this done, especially now when Bret and WWE are back in each other’s good graces. My answer, I believe, comes in his reply to the next question…
The next caller asks Bret if he would ever want to come back out into the WWE ring and give a farewell thank you to his fans. “I don’t know,” Bret tosses. “It’s a thought, anyway. I don’t know. I think it would be very emotional for me to take that kind of step. I think when I had my stroke it affected me in the sense that I think it might be too overwhelming for me to walk out in front of a huge wrestling crowd and say what I think I’d like to say and I don’t think that I’d be able to say what I’d like to say.” Bret does think about it occasionally but doesn’t let himself think too much about it. “Its kind of wishful thinking and kind of a scary thought for me,” and I almost lose a tear.
Bret misses the cities and performers he had special connections and bonds with but he doesn’t miss the spotlight. He doesn’t regret things he didn’t do. He accomplished everything there is to accomplish. He is happy he left with his head up. He gave is all in his first match up until the very end. “I didn’t have very many bad matches,” and he didn’t hang on too long with people thinking he should retire.
Coincidentally, he was champion when he left both companies, WWF and WCW. He never got the chance to drop the title or pass the torch to someone else. It was a weird situation for him both times.
“Sometimes when you watch the footage it looks like he kicked the top part of my head,” he recalls about the Bill Goldberg boot that put him on the shelf for life. What really happened was Bill got the back of his neck and it was such a powerful kick Bret compares it to a kick from a horse. He even tried to block it with his hand but it was just one of those things that happened. He wishes he could go back to do it over again and take away the concussion. He has since learned a lot about concussions and how severe they can be. “I’m living proof of the severity of what concussions can cause,” of what they can do to emotions and memories, and “it was the worst injury I had to deal with.”
If he had to pick an old opponent to wrestle one more time, “I wish I could have wrestled Steve Austin a few more times.” Steve and the Undertaker were people he enjoyed every match he had with them. Curt Hennig was also a huge professional, and like Bret, he had an impeccable reputation for safety. A wrestler could put his body in Mr. Perfect’s hands every night. A lot can happen in the ring and it’s a dangerous job but with Curt you could dive over the top and know he’ll be there to catch you, putting his own body on the line to protect you. “If I could have one more match it would be with him.”
He closes by saying he wouldn’t be anything without the fans. He is proud of his DVD and hopes they are as proud as he is of his work. The whole DVD is a tribute to them, “and I hope they like it.”
Nice interview. He basically answered everything. One shouldn’t really expect him to delve into anything controversial, I guess. He’s not Tom Zenk or the Honky Tonk Man, people who don’t get enough of yelling and screaming about the latest controversy. It seems that he just wants peace and tranquility. Hopefully, he’s getting it after all these years.
I also want tranquility. Those darts are starting to look awfully tempting… Anyway, I’ll be salivating at Mublumm@aol.com. Peace.
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