Bret Hart is considered by many to be the greatest professional wrestler of all time. There’s certainly an argument to be made for that, as over a nearly 25-year career, Hart achieved more than most would dare dream of in the industry. Hart held multiple championships, both in the tag team division and as a singles competitor. He held the WWF (now WWE) Championship longer than anyone else in the 1990s and had countless battles with the best in the business. However, those in-ring battles pale in comparison to the battle that Bret Hart now faces. This past Monday, Bret Hart revealed to the world that he has prostate cancer and will soon undergo surgery.
In a new interview with Ring Rust Radio, Bret Hart opens up about his cancer, his new venture into business financing, his brother Owen Hart, this year’s Royal Rumble, the infamous Montreal Screwjob, and much more.
It’s only been a few days since Bret Hart revealed that he has prostate cancer, but instead of letting it get to him, Hart wants to use his fight to inspire others. When asked on how he planned to do that, Hart had a very simple answer.
“I think just by being open and honest about it. Letting people know that I’m in the fight, and as I go through it, I’ll show people just that. Hopefully in the near future I can prove to people that I will overcome this battle and be on the better side of it in six months or so. Hopefully, people will gain strength from that and use me as somebody they can look up to if someone in their family or themselves goes through it.”
Bret Hart was then asked about his new business venture, Sharpshooter Funding (named after Hart’s finishing maneuver), a company that helps finance small businesses, and how he got involved.
“I had the pleasure of meeting Paul, who is in charge of all, this many years ago. His relationship with me as a surprisingly goes back many, many years when I met him in a contest back in Maryland. It was a WWE have-lunch-with-a-hero kind of contest. We met each other years and years ago and I had a big effect on him growing up all his life. He kept me in mind as someone he looked up to as a role figure. He approached me a while ago about getting involved in the Sharpshooter Funding and First Down Funding. He’s a good guy and a smart guy. When you sit down and listen to the whole format and how it provides money to much needed businesses and small business owners that need financial support and extra funding. It’s a worthwhile endeavor, and I’m actually very grateful that he’s involved me with it so far.”
Bret Hart was asked whether he could confirm the rumor that his brother, the late Owen Hart, would not be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this year. Bret Hart himself was inducted in 2006.
“I can confirm it to a certain degree, but no one has told me officially. I have heard from various family members that are closely tied in with WWE that it doesn’t look like Owen is being inducted. I think it’s a real shame and it breaks my heart. The main obstacle I think is his widow Martha, who is really obtuse and kind of a bitter woman that never understood that it was of the wrestling fans or wrestlers that killed Owen. It’s pretty easy now to look back on it and see that it was really just an unfortunate accident. I think Martha is guilty of burying and doing nothing to help keep Owen’s memory alive. Wrestling fans have every right to remember Owen and cherish his career. A lot of people loved Owen just for the type of person he was and not just the wrestler he was. A lot of wrestling fans got to know him over the years and miss him. I just think it’s really sad that Martha is still so obtuse and has it in her head the only ones that can grieve over Owen are her and her kids and everyone else can go to hell. The rest of us miss him too and I don’t agree with her and her idea on how to remember Owen. It’s a shame that she can’t accept that fans love him and miss him just as much she does.”
When asked about the recent WWE Royal Rumble, Bret Hart certainly wasn’t shy about voicing his displeasure of the outcome which saw Triple H walk away with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Hart also said that he isn’t the biggest fan of the “muscle-bound” type of wrestler like Batista or Triple H himself. He did make one exception to that rule, saying he really thinks that Brock Lesnar is a great wrestler. Hart just wants the focus to be on the actual wrestling, mentioning guys like CM Punk and Daniel Bryan.
“It’s not about how you look; it’s about how you wrestle. Wrestling fans are the priority. I’m a big fan of Kevin Owens and I think he’s a great wrestler, and I’m also a big fan of Brock Lesnar and I think he should have won the Royal Rumble. I wasn’t too impressed with the Rumble this year. I thought it was really flat and a lot of bad calls were made about who got pushed and who didn’t. I think it’s a sad state of affairs when they have the biggest wrestler in the world, the Big Show, go out there and be thrown out of the ring by just one guy is just stupid booking. I think you look at someone like Mark Henry who is billed legitimately as the strongest man in the world, he goes out there and he’s thrown out of the ring in less than 30 seconds? It all just makes me wonder. They have all these other guys that they are pushing, but then they lose track of what the Royal Rumble is all about. I was extremely disappointed this year. The Rumble was always one my favorite pay-per-views but it has been lackluster and hasn’t lived up to what I had hoped for. The last few years have been downers as far as the Rumble goes. I will say, WrestleMania they always surprise me. When I was there watching it, I was surprised that they pulled it off and it was really exciting to watch. I’m hoping they can pull a rabbit out of their hat with this one, but I am not so sure they can this year.”
As most interviews with Bret Hart do, the conversation shifted to arguably the most controversial event in wrestling history, the infamous “Montreal Screwjob.” Hart has talked about this for years, but he had no problem opening up about it again. Hart was asked what the original finish was supposed to be and if he would have agreed to drop the title to anyone not named Shawn Michaels.
“There were a lot of things suggested in the weeks leading up to that match. I was pretty much in an unflinching position. I wouldn’t go back on my position at all. I offered Vince that I would drop the title to any single other wrestler including Steve Lombardi (Brooklyn Brawler) in any way he wanted me to except for Shawn Michaels because of the way he disrespected me as badly as he did. I didn’t care if Shawn wanted to do anything with me unless it was going to be me winning, and that’s all there was to it. There wasn’t a whole lot put forward that day. We all showed up in Montréal, and I had a fixed position, but I was willing to hear him out on a possible way out of it. There is always a million ways out of it. People say there always has to be an outcome, but that’s not really true. There can always be a blurry outcome after a pay-per-view. There have been lots of times in pay-per-views before then and even since then where it has happened. There have been lots of times where wrestlers have refused to drop the title. Wrestlers like Hulk Hogan or Honky Tonk Man refused to drop the titles, and those kinds of things were never done to them. I was very open to outcomes, but my issue was with Shawn and how he had disrespected me. I made that clear to Vince months ahead of time. Vince said I could leave any way I wanted to. He had said I could forfeit the belt, which was his original idea, not mine. If there was ever a situation of me leaving the company, I had free run to do whatever way I wanted to. Other parties at the time had Vince’s ear, and he can be very twisted and pulled in other directions. I think Shawn and Triple H were really pushing him, and I think it was Triple H’s idea to do the screw job and Vince eventually went along with it. In hindsight, I don’t think anyone can look back on it today and say it was a good idea. It was a stupid idea and it worked out really poorly for everyone involved including them. There are a lot of better ways to do business than that. As far as an alternative ending, when I showed up that day Vince agreed with everything. He said we can do it my way and there can be a run in with all the other wrestlers involved and end it in a disqualification with me keeping the title and I was happy with that. I didn’t need to come up with another idea. If he had told me he wasn’t sure on what we should do about the ending, then I would have been very receptive to try to find a solution to give him what he wanted, and at the same time protected my integrity and respect I had for the business.”
After more than two decades in the business, Bret Hart was able to put on some of the best matches in history and be involved in some of the biggest feuds. His battles with Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, and even his brother Owen Hart are legendary. Bret was asked if there were any guys that he wished he could have done business with.
“I would love to have worked with Hulk Hogan as an example. I know we did a little bit of stuff here and there. That was a match we should have had. ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage is another guy that I really would have loved to have done a storyline or a long feud with. Either as a babyface or the bad guy or vice versa. There was lots of opportunities for us to do the dance, but we had a few matches in a few different places like in Japan or on a Saturday Night Main Event. We gave them glimpses of what we could have done, but we just didn’t get a chance to really show anybody what we could have done. I would have loved to wrestle Kurt Angle. I just missed him, as he became a star right after me. John Cena, take him today and Bret Hart circa 1997 U.S.-bashing bad guy. You throw John Cena with Bret Hart we would have been brilliant and we could of made a lot of money together. We would have had a lot of fun wrestling each other with great stories.”
As the years pass, Bret Hart’s legacy will only continue to grow as new legions of wrestling fans can watch so many of his past matches on the WWE Network. He is, was, and will always be one of Canada’s most famous personalities and this new fight with cancer will only prove that Bret “The Hitman” Hart has the support of millions of people all around the world.
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