Overrated cry baby? We'll see about that!
Thu, 8 June 2006
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As was covered in Part 2 - Bret Hart, after working hard for many years and earning the respect of wrestling fans the world over, became the WWE's champion and a main event star.
If that was the end of the story, we'd have ourselves quite the happy ending wouldn't we? But we all know life is infrequently that simple, or kind. There were more chapters to follow in the tale of the Hitman's life. A few things happened that were dramatic and controversial enough that, for some time (and to a lesser extent, even to this day), they overshadowed all that came before them. For a while there, it really seemed like Hart's entire career prior to these events was almost forgotten.
Make yourself comfortable. Maybe grab some snacks and a tasty beverage, as I think this is going to be a long one. Before we get into more of what I like to call the "juicy stuff" though, it'd be plain wrong of me to ignore the awesome feud Bret had with Steve Austin.
"Stone Cold" was supposed to be playing the bad guy, but many fans loved his rebellious ways and they slowly began siding with him and turning on Hart. It was a very intriguing situation and both guys took full advantage of it by adding some subtle (for wrestling anyway) nuances to their characters. The Hart/Austin feud culminated in the now legendary bout the two had at Wrestlemania 13. That submission match was a great "no holds barred" encounter. They were still getting split crowd responses (though Austin was probably already the more popular of the two), but essentially Hart came into the bout as the good guy and Austin the heel.
By the time the match was over, however, each had made the complete "turn". Hart solidified his new status as a guy the fans booed and Austin made the full transition into being a hero. All this was achieved in the space of one outstanding match. I won't explain the specifics of how they did it because, firstly, the match has already been explained in great detail many, many times. Secondly, for those more recent fans that may not have seen the match, it works much better if you don't already know the outcome. The match is included in full on the Hitman DVD. I felt obliged to at least acknowledge that bout and feud here though, as it was truly one of the highlights of Bret's career. It also helped make (or allowed to happen more quickly, at the very least) Steve Austin perhaps the biggest star (either him or Hulk Hogan) in wrestling history.
Another interesting aspect of Bret's career, that really warrants mentioning, is how he came to be, at the same time, loved in Canada and hated in the US. It was really interesting having a guy who is cheered one night and booed the next, all depending on which country they were in at the time. I needn't say any more about that though, as that's also covered very well on the DVD.
Okay, time for the controversy. These topics have already been discussed and scrutinised a billion times over. So I'm going to just provide links to info on each of them.
|Sad but true - only 2 of these people are still alive today |
That way those who don't already know the details can still catch up and I can devote more attention to the knocks folks have directed at Hart and my responses to them (as I started to do in Part 2).
You could go on for weeks about all the shit that happened in the later stages of Bret's career, but here's the short list of 3 of the biggest causes of controversy (though the third one is more just a very unfortunate mishap):
The "Montreal screw job"
The tragic death of his brother, Owen Hart
Goldberg effectively ends Bret's career by kicking him in the head
He also had a motor cycle crash and suffered a stroke! Not to mention, the passing away of an unbelievable number of fellow wrestlers he'd worked closely with over the years. I will probably say a little more about that in my next (and final) instalment.
Now then, let's see, what else have people said about the dude? Let's start with this old chestnut -
Bret Hart is a whining bitch and what Vince did at Survivor Series was the right thing for his company:
This one is mainly a matter of opinion. Personally, I believe Vince could've handled things much better, without doublecrossing a guy who'd worked his arse off for him for so many years. I am sure Vince felt he was doing what he had to do; I just don't really believe he was correct in that assumption.
Bret did go on and on (and on!) about it, afterwards though. So he sort of brought that "whiny bitch" label on himself. Of course, when you feel that your pride and dignity have been insulted, it can be hard to let the issue go.
Still, even though Hart left the company in a fashion that offended him deeply, he was being paid an extraordinary amount of money to join WCW. In the scheme of things, there are much worse things that could happen to a guy. Now days I think Bret has come to realize that and put things in better perspective, as he's since had to deal with far more important (and legitimate) tragedies. At the time though, he was too self absorbed to notice that, compared to many, he was still a very fortunate person.
I'll leave it there for this topic. Every man and his dog have thrown in their two cents on this whole deal over the years. What happened can't be changed, so… next topic please!
|Maybe they are just in love with each other and refuse to admit it |
Bret Hart is an egomaniac and his wrestling ability is overrated:
For starters, all wrestlers are egomaniacs, to a certain extent. At least, the best ones are. Same goes for most successful athletes, entertainers and artists. To make it to the top of such endeavours requires a tremendous amount of self belief. The commodity people working in those fields are asking everyone to buy is, ultimately, them. They really need to convince themselves that they are the best because if they don't think they're great, how could they expect anyone else to believe in what they offer?
So, yes, Bret Hart is rather fond of himself. But so what? He fully earned his place and did all he could to back up his boasts. It amuses me to no end that one of the first people to really talk about how Bret loves himself was Ric Flair. I'm a big fan of the "Nature Boy's" work, but talk about the pot calling the kettle black!
Hulk Hogan is another guy to blast Bret and say his ego is too big. This is even funnier to me than Flair saying it. Hogan's is easily the biggest ego I've ever seen in wrestling (and probably anywhere else). Mind you, almost every word that has come out of Hogan's mouth during interviews in recent years has made me laugh. He's so full of bullshit, I reckon Sony should hire him to promote the PlayStation 3. I love the part in his book where the Hulkster claims that, at Wrestlemania 3, Andre the Giant was so tall that "his crotch was at the same height as the middle of my chest". Did Hogan forget that everyone can just look at the video footage of the match and know that isn't true?
I don't claim to be a "wrestling insider", but I know enough to tell fact from fiction. I've never seen or heard any other wrestler make as many blatantly untrue statements as Hulk Hogan. If others choose to still care about what he has to say, that's fine. Speaking for myself though, all Hogan's lies have led to most of his opinions being rendered null and void.
At any rate, Bret Hart (especially on the DVD) doesn't come off so much as a dude who loves himself to death. It seems more that he really just takes an enormous amount of pride in his work. I don't think there's anything too bad about that. Bret dedicated himself fully to being a great wrester. He was passionate about his work and lived and breathed for his chosen profession. I think he has as much right as (or even more than) anyone to be proud of his achievements.
As for the overrating of his technical skills...I just don't agree with that one bit. There have always been a few folks who don't care for the Hitman, or at least think he's not the great wrestler many others claim. Those people are entitled to their opinion, so fair enough. But he's always been pretty highly regarded by the vast majority of wrestling fans. This overrated tag has only really gotten much attention over the last few years and once again that comes courtesy of Mr. Ric Flair. The Nature Boy says Bret can't alter his style on the fly and he always uses the same sequence of moves.
As I just said; for those who thought all along that Bret's skills are/were overrated, I don't agree, but that's your opinion and I have no problem with that. The people that bug me are the ones who started saying that only because Ric Flair did.
Firstly, just because Ric Flair places his main "spots" in different parts of the bout, he still uses the exact same ones every time. In fact, Flair doesn't really adjust according to his opponent as much as Bret either. For instance- Ric always uses the spot where he gets suplexed off the top turnbuckle; even if his opponent is short and looks ridiculous trying to reach him. So, he's being extremely hypocritical when he knocks Bret that way, if you ask me. The Hitman does change things depending on the opponent's size. You can easily see that on the DVD by watching the Hitman wrestle his brother Owen, then taking a look at his bout with Diesel.
Yeah, Bret Hart does have a sequence of "5 Moves of Doom" that he uses in each of his bouts - and some say that makes him lazy. It always just seemed sensible to me. That's what real fighters do. Top fighters in boxing, martial arts and other combat sports have a favourite combination of moves that they're especially good at; they'll usually use them in every contest. For me, Bret's "specialty" sequence in his bouts just added some consistency and realism to them. Besides, those moves look fantastic every single time he does them and his matches would usually have all kinds of individual differences apart from them.
|The right way to do a Sharpshooter. For the wrong way, see the Rock's version |
Honestly, I think Ric's attacks come down mostly to this: he hates Bret Hart. Seriously, when the Nature Boy gets a bee in his bonnet about someone, he really goes out his way to find derogatory things to say about them. After all, this is the same man who'll tell you what a great wrestler Dusty Rhodes was, so a good body doesn't really matter. Then, he'll say that Mick Foley's out of shape and should have spent more time in the gym. Rather than having a consistent way of judging each individual, Flair apparently changes his logic to argue for or against who he likes and who he doesn't.
Don't blindly jump on the "Bret's overrated" bandwagon just because the Nature Boy said so! Watch the matches on the DVD and I reckon you'll get plenty of evidence to back up the claim that Bret Hart is one of the greatest in ring performers of all time.
Alrighty then, lads and lassies, that's the end of Part 3. Only one part to go! Part 4 shall be the lucky last in this Bret Hart series of mine. I don't know when I'll have that one posted, but if all continues to go well, hopefully it won't be too far from now.
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