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Bret Hart covered about 20 subjects in an expansive interview published by Sports Illustrated giving his views on WWE, pro wrestling in general, and individual stars.
Hart is notably not a fan of several aspects of WWE’s writing, he thought WWE was disrespectful to Ric Flair on Raw, and he thinks heir apparent WWE champion Roman Reigns has been failed by the booking. Is he correct, too critical, or both?
– On a personal note, Hart told SI interviewer Justin Barrasso that he is scheduled for surgery next week. “For all the people who ask, I’m good. I have my wrist surgery coming up in the next week, but other than that, I’m good, and I still have the best fans in the world,” Hart said.
– Hart on the Reid Flair angle on Raw: “How could they not see the slight there? That’s really insensitive to Ric and his family, and I totally sympathize with Ric. You didn’t see them doing that after Jerry Lawler lost his brother. Maybe someone just made a poor judgment call, but I was flabbergasted to see they did that to him. It was totally wrong.”
– Hart offered his view of Triple H vs. Vince McMahon, as it relates to C.M. Punk leaving WWE: “Vince is sorry that they lost Punk. Vince has a better sense of wrestlers’s look and their work, and Triple H is more prone to bodybuilders.”
– Hart took a critical approach to Seth Rollins, specifically for getting injured when he was WWE champion, and other wrestlers being injured while in the ring with him – notably John Cena getting kneed in the face and Sting going to the hospital after Night of Champions.
“You can’t hurt somebody like that under any circumstances,” said Hart, who put a heavy emphasis on wrestler safety throughout the interview. “It’s totally reckless. It can’t happen. The other thing is, when you’re the champion, you have a responsibility to not get hurt. You have to be spot on. I love that Rollins kept going on and finished the match, and that shows a lot of courage.
“When you do get injured, it throws a wrench into everything. I do feel bad – Seth Rollins is a young guy and he’s obviously very talented, and I hope he comes back from his surgery and learns from all these things. I hope they give him another chance and his opportunity has not been squandered from an injury, regardless of whose fault it was.”
– Hart identified his Top Three current stars to build around – Dean Ambrose, Kevin Owens, and Roman Reigns. “They’re the most deserving to be the next champion, even though Reigns has been the most short-changed with booking,” Hart said.
Hart said Ambrose takes his time and sells in the ring, Owens is a versatile big-man, and Reigns has the right tools. However, he thinks Reigns might have been a victim of WWE rushing a solo babyface turn last year.
“Reigns is just like Kevin Nash,” said Hart. “If you look back at Reigns, his character was getting over really good on his own. Then they rushed him into a babyface turn and crammed him down everybody’s thoughts, and people rejected him. It wasn’t his fault. It was kind of like with Kevin Nash. He was slowly getting over, and I wrestled him at the 1994 King of the Ring, and we had a really good match. All of a sudden, by August, they were ready to make him the new champion. And I’m going, ‘He’s not ready yet. Give him a little time and let him get even more over.’ Why is there a rush? Reigns got dealt a bad set of cards. It has nothing to do with his work rate – he’s a really good worker and his style is really good. He just needs to be himself,” Hart said.
Hart followed with an example of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin preventing the same thing from happening to him. “They tend to rush guys too soon, and that makes me think of Steve Austin. Vince (McMahon) wanted to turn him babyface much sooner than he did. I remember Steve stopped it. Austin said, ‘No, let me get over more.’ And it paid off to be a little smarter and not rush. Some of the mistakes have more to do with the bookers instead of the actual wrestlers. Reigns is a victim of bad booking,” Hart said.
The interview concluded with Hart offering a similar sentiment. “Wrestling today is as good as it has ever been, but I just question a lot of the booking,” said Hart. “They should go back and watch and the old stuff.”
– Hart also discussed Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker, Randy Savage, and a lot more subjects in the interview at SI.com.