On Wednesday, November 26th, 1997 at 3:30 EST, Greg Oliver sat down to interview Bret Hart at his home in Northwest Calgary. Here is the transcript of that interview.
Message from Bret
Bret Hart at his home in Calgary reading his fan interview for CANOE, Nov. 26, 1997I’ve always considered it a privilege to have such a strong following of fans. And I’ve been through a difficult time the past couple of weeks. Contrary to the misconstrued truth that seems to float around, I want it clearly understood that I never sold out for money. That it was my intention to be with the WWF for life and despite having some professional differences, I thought I would leave there with nothing but the greatest things to say about the WWF and Vince McMahon. Instead I feel very hurt by the half-truths that the WWF has depicted in regard to my leaving. How they took the hardest working, loyal, dedicated profressional in this whole business and hurt him physically, emotionally for reasons I still can’t understand. I gave the WWF my absolute best, day in and day out. And it saddens me to see the look on my face at the end of that match in Montreal. I’ve only watched it a couple of times. But I think people will see the WWF for what they really are and that I will survive on account of it. The WWF has made a pathetic attempt at trying to make this horrible situation with me appear to be just another one of their storylines. It’s not another storyline. They lied and cheated me on my last day of work for no other reason but to ensure that my character would mean less as a hero to all of my Canadian fans. They failed miserably and I think my Canadian fans know what’s right and what’s wrong. And the WWF has made a huge mistake in misjudging the bond that I have with my fans in Canada and around the world. I’ll be back and they’ll be sorry sooner or later.
Please note that many of you asked the same or similar questions. In order to help Bret get through the long list, we summarized the questions and divided them into categories: WCW, WWF, Allegiances, In The Ring, Acting and Miscellaneous. We regret not being able to ask every question submitted.
Q: When will you make your first live appearance for WCW? (Jennifer Dowie)
A: I have no idea. Sooner the better. Maybe not until the new year.
Q: Now that you are in WCW, I’m wondering if you will still be called the Hitman, or is that name a trademark of WWF? (Marcie, Sault Ste. Marie)
A: I own the trademark for the Hitman and I will always be the Hitman. The only thing I don’t own is my music. I’m working on new music. My rock’n’ roll friends in the group Odds are working on some music for me.
Q: Who are you most looking forward to facing in WCW? (A LORD)
A: Anybody and everybody really. Mostly guys that I haven’t fought before. Like Sting and Hulk. There are some guys that I have fought before like Piper, Curt Hennig. But for me personally, I’ll be after the world championship. I believe that’s what’s expected of me.
Q: What are your thoughts on working with Kevin Nash again? (Prof. Ute Lischke-McNab)
A: I look forward to wrestling Kevin Nash. I think the best match he ever had was against me in the Survivor Series 1995. We’ll see what happens next time we meet. Of course I won the last time we met.
Q: Can we expect to see a more “Canadian aware” WCW now? (Chris Duggan)
A: Its’ my whole-hearted understanding that they’re planning to launch a massive Canadian tour with me at the forefront as soon as possible.
Q: Do you plan on representing Canada in the WCW as you did in the WWF by frequently carrying our flag to the ring, still showing everyone how proud we are of our country? (Jake)
A: I plan on representing Canada to my last dying breath. I don’t feel any great necessity to bash Americans anymore. But I’m still very, very pro-Canadian. And will carry the flag everywhere I go in one form or another. I really do believe that Canada is the greatest country in the world. Period.
Q: Bret will you be working a tour of New Japan wrestling in the future? I look forward to that. (Jason Russell)
A: I have no plans at present of wrestling for New Japan or any other Japanese promotion. But that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.
Q: My question to the best there is if he suddenly left wrestling for good what would you do with your life? Would you take the time to do what you wants to do or would you open a wrestling school? (A true Hitman Fan)
A: I would like to work on a book. I would consider movies and television. And I would be honored to be a spokesman for Junior Hockey across Canada.
Q: Will your signing bring the WCW back to Canada? How soon?
A: See above.
Q: It is obvious that you were, as I was, surprised to hear a large number of jeers at you at the One Night Only PPV in Birmingham. You have always said that you loved coming to England and think that the English fans are some of the best – does this change your perception of them at all and will you try and get WCW to tour the UK? (Ross Williams)
A: I think for the past several years the two most popular heroes in WWF wrestling in England have been myself and the Undertaker. And in the best of circumstances all I can ever hope for is a 50-50 split. I was very pleased with the reaction I got in England and I think the fans were also pleased with the performances and the effort we both put into the match. That match in England will probably be my last great match ever in the WWF. And for anyone who has any doubts about my abilities and for that matter the Undertaker’s abilities, need only look at that match one for time. It was a great match infront of some great fans and both of which I’ll miss very much.
Q: We’ve had fans write in from around the globe complaining that they don’t get WCW on TV, or live. Will your signing prompt WCW to get more involved in places like Europe, the Middle East and Canada?
A: All I know is that where I’ve gone, including South Africa, the Middle East and Europe people seem to know a lot about the WCW. I myself have watched the WCW in a lot of different countries. For me, I hope so. It’s very important to me to not lose touch with my international following. On TV or live. And I will work to strengthen those ties for the WCW and for my fans worldwide. Write Ted Turner.
Q: Will we ever see Hogan vs Bret? (Coritas)
A: I imagine so. It’s too big a match to never happen. I don’t know any more than that.
Q: How do you address that Vince McMahon claims ‘Bret screwed Bret’? (Vince Degiorgio)
A: It’s a ridiculous comment. My integrity now and before remains unblemished. Vince McMahon’s on the other hand has been doubted for years and years. What he did with me in the Survivor Series was a total lack of respect for my fans, my fellow wrestlers and me. I worked fourteen years and gave this man the greatest performances in the history of the game, having only missed two shows in fourteen years, having been a leader inside and outside the dressing room. And for Vince McMahon to lie to me and cheat me for no reason at all other than his own paranoid delusions shows what kind of a man he really is. Vince McMahon screwed Bret. And as much as he blurs the truth with his lies and half-truths, wrestling fans saw this one very clearly with their own eyes. And the whole incident speaks for itself. People ask me if I felt bad about what they did to me. And although I was very upset for a couple of days I realize that I should never hang my head for having too much integrity. Vince McMahon is a liar and a cheat and the whole world knows it. And I take comfort in that.
Q: Would you ever consider going back?
Q: Do you regret any of your actions in the last few days there?
A: Yeah. That I didn’t just punch Shawn Michaels’ face in at the very start of the match. Knock all of his teeth, smash his skull into little tiny pieces and toss his arms and legs out into the audience. As for other regrets I wish I hadn’t put faith in a false friend, namely Earl Hebner. He gave me his word and like a true coward double-crossed me the following day. I hear he’s drinking himself into oblivion wracked with guilt.
Q: Do you regret not appearing for your Canadian fans at RAW IS WAR in Ottawa on Nov. 10th? (Jeff King)
A: Very much so. I would liked to have forfeited the belt over to Vince McMahon as planned. I would like to have spoke to my fans across Canada ad around the world about how much I appreciated being a hero for them. I would love to have said how wonderful it was to have been part of such a great organization like the WWF and that Vince McMahon was like a friend and father to me. And that I’d be leaving with a heavy heart. I would also like to have said how badly I felt about some of the remarks that I made about Americans and America. My mother is American. And it would have meant a lot to her to finally get a chance to apologize to my American fans. All these things should have happened. And especially would have like to have said these things in Ottawa, where I’ve always had a strong following. It would have been a perfect place to technically end my WWF career. When I do look back at what happened instead I can only shake my head and ask what kind of a stupid idiot would have done to me what they did to me in Montreal instead. Go figure.
Q: A huge portion of the internet and self-proclaimed “smart” fans rightly feel you got screwed. Unfortunately, a larger portion of the wrestling audience only knows what they see on TV, which in this case would be Vince McMahon’s comments on RAW. Are you worried that no matter how or where you defend yourself, you’ll still never be able to reach as many people as Vince McMahon was able to on RAW? And are you worried that the larger, non “smart” crowd will believe what McMahon had to say? (Brett Krueger)
A: It’s a very good question. I can only hope that people will see the truth for what it really is. That Vince McMahon was literally taken a black eye for this horrible business decision. I hope people around the world know what happened and will slowly tune this guy out for the rotten things he’s done. Vince McMahon murdered The Hitman at the Survivor Series but with the help of Time-Warner and the WCW the Hitman will resurrect himself and get on with telling stories and having matches that nobody in the WWF can duplicate.
Q: This is a sort of hardball question, in case you’ve been getting a lot of softballs lobbed in and Bret wants to try something different: In several of your interviews you’ve mentioned the racism angle as a contributing, if not the main, factor in your leaving the WWF. Why do you find it more objectionable to be involved in angle involving race where your character was clearly not painted as a racist (it was obvious the blame was pinned on Degeneration X by the announcing team right from the start) but you went out of your way to present your character as a homophobe and gay-baiter? Why is OK to paint yourself as a homophobe but not OK to be involved in a race-based angle? (Chris Blake)
A: I didn’t like the references I made about Shawn Michaels and Hunter Helmsley — their gayness. I regret having ever said it. But these were things pushed on me by Vince McMahon and the WWF on a difficult day for me with Brian Pillman having just passed on. I found myself saying things that I know weren’t right and I only blame myself for that poor judgement. In the last six months in the WWF I’ve tried to do everything that they asked me to do. Although many times, with great discomfort. A lot of the anti-American remarks I made such as ‘if you were going to give the United States enema you would start with Pittsburgh.’ I felt very very uncomfortable saying it because I really didn’t believe it. It’s very tough to make split section decisions with very little preparation. This racial angle was something never discussed with me. And the genius that came up with it should be made to sit in the passenger seat of my car somewhere like Biloxi, Mississippi where you might have a mob of angry black people wanting to deal with a Canadian racist. Sometimes these idiots that come up with these ideas have no idea how very serious people take it. I’ve had enough trouble with Americans in general, let alone singling out black people in general. More importantly I am not in any shape or form a racist. And I don’t believe it is anything to kid around about. I also want to apologize for any remarks I made about gay people. It was a stupid mistake on my part.
Q: If you really did hit Vince McMahon don’t you think you have put yourself in the same league as Vince? I personally have no respect for him since what has happened, but I feel you set a bad example for the kids who are your fans and think it’s ok to settle something with legitimate violence. (Megan Tedesco)
A: I have no comment to make about that incident. But as a true hero The Hitman perhaps has never been perfect. But the one example he has always set is never let anyone push you around and to fight fire with fire. And always hold your head high. I think I did all those things.
Q: Bret, if it were up to you, how would you have left the World Wrestling Federation? Would you have done a “farewell” interview, like Arn Anderson did on Nitro? (Rick McAdam)
A: I would liked to have left with class and dignity with respect both ways.
Q: Are you going to be NWO?
A: I haven’t made up my mind.
Q: I am going to ask the same question a hundred other people must be asking, Is there going to be a NEW Hart Foundation of some sort in the WCW (With the likes of Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho etc.) (The CANADIAN PATRIOT)
A: Again it would be premature for me to disclose my plans, which I haven’t really thought fully through yet. Any thing is possible though.
Q: Any thoughts on joining a rejuvenated Four Horsemen?
A: I doubt it.
Q: Will Owen, Davey Boy, and Jim “The Anvil” be able to continue working in the WWF without any hard feelings about what happened between you and Vince?
A: I doubt it very much. I know all three of them very well and they have taken what happened to me very badly as have almost every single wrestler in the WWF. They all know what a horrible injustice it was for me. But the truth is most are all locked up with extensive, iron-clad four-or-five year contracts. Which makes it very difficult for them to do anything else but whore themselves for Vince McMahon and the WWF. I told my brother Owen to make the best decisions for his family and to never worry about how it will affect me. No matter how unfair or unkind they are to me in a few years from now we’ll look back at how stupid this sometimes really is.
Q: Who are some of your best friends outside the ring?
A: I’ve always been a bit of a loner and I suppose that I don’t friends real easy. But at the same time I’m going to miss a lot of my friends down there. I’m going to miss the Undertaker a lot. Savio Vega. Ron Simmons. Kama. Mankind. Rocky Maivia. Heck, I’ll ever miss most of the other referees, timekeepers. I think what I’ll miss the most are my fans. I will really miss my fans.
IN THE RING
Q: Although you lost and you can’t stand the guy, would you consider your match against Shawn Michaels at Wrestle-Mania 12 one of your greatest matches? (Warnke Family)
A: Absolutely. I believe that if you look at all of the really big names in wrestling: Shawn Michaels. Curt Hennig. Roddy Piper. Steve Austin. The Undertaker. Owen Hart. British Bulldog. Diesel. Hakushi. And so many, many, many more. They all had their single greatest match with me. Which is why I still believe and always will that I’m the best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be.
Q: How did you come up with that slogan?
A: I don’t really know. I think my mother came up with it.
Q: When you went singles in ’91, why did you decide on the Scorpion Deathlock as your new finisher? (in your previous singles stint in the WWF, you employed a wicked spike piledriver that I thought did the job just fine!) (Superdelfin)
A: I thought the Scorpion Deathlock, ie Sharpshooter, was something that would work well for me. I did have a wicked Spike Piledriver from my old Stampede wrestling days, but it’s hard to do on large men. Versatility has always been my strongest asset.
Q: How did you come up with the ring-post figure-4? (Miroslav Brkic)
A: I just thought it out one day. Actually I take credit for inventing or creating a lot of things that nobody ever saw before. From front-turnbuckles to sharpshooter reversals and a host of other little tiny things I actually believe I’ve been the most innovative wrestler in the last 20 years.
Q: Who are the most under-utilized wrestlers in the business in your opinion? (Terry Harris)
A: I don’t have any clue.
Q: I loved your portrayal of Luther in Lonesome Dove. Are you currently working on any other acting projects and if so, when and what can we expect? ( MePkMp)
A: Having recently just done MadTV where I got to show my sense of humor, and to try out comedy as a medium, I thought I fared really well. I still have scripts come in and one thing I’ve learned about acting is that I never know what’s coming next. I can only promise that whatever I do next will be respectable.
Q: I know you are a Simpsons fan (probably not as big a fan as me, but close enough), and I was wondering if the writers have asked you to reappear on the show any time soon. Also, who is your favorite Simpsons character? I think the Spanish Bee rules! (juan)
A: No they haven’t. My favorite character is Homer. He reminds me of Jim Neidhart.
Q: Can we expect to see you in a TNT production in the next two years? (Desiree)
A: There are some possibilities there.
Q: In 1993, you said “Hulk Hogan was the Elvis of wrestling. I’m the Robert de Niro — hard-core and serious.” Do you still feel that way? (Greg Oliver)
A: No, that’s me.
Q: Bret how is your broken hand? (Georgiann Makropoulos)
A: Yeah I broke a bone in my hand about an inch above my wrist. It’s getting better.
Q: I’ve really scrounged around, and I can’t find any cartoons you’ve drawn, although I remember seeing you in a cartoon studio on a WWF wrestling show. I’d like to interview you about cartoons for a cartoon journal. I understand your drawings are very good, but I don’t know if you draw gags, animation, or what? (John D. — dormans3)
A: I just draw cartoons. Some of them are very good, I think. Someday I’d like to put a book out of just my cartoons. I have a very, very wicked sense of humor which doesn’t come across in the ring and a vivid imagination. I’m sure I’ll release something sometime in the near future.
Q: Bret, well conditioned athletes in their 40’s who are charismatic and possess good acting skills seem to be able to perform at very high level into their mid to late 40’s. Do you think that age really makes that much of a difference in the industry of sports entertainment, as the WWF would have us believe? (creasy)
A: You’re only as old as you feel. It’s important not to lose your timing or your drive. And I think that some people are more blessed than others. I still feel I can perform as well as I could, maybe better, than five years ago. You have to be a little more careful otherwise, it shouldn’t affect you too much.
Q: Will you continue to write your weekly Calgary Sun columns? Will your WCW contract try to curb your honest and frank opinions in said column or prevent you from writing it at all?? (Cabal)
A: I don’t think that anyone has a problem with me writing about the WCW in my column. My column in the Calgary Sun is very, very popular, and has a huge audience. Those can only be positives for the WCW.
Q: Could you tell us something about your family, how many kids do you have and what are their ages? (From a true American fan)
A: I have a great family. They’ve all coped and handled my success and failures really well. My kids are very down to earth. My oldest Jade is 14. Dallas, my oldest son, is 13. I have a nine-year-old girl named Alexandra. And the rascal of the family is my seven-year-old son Blade, who I’m not quite sure is ready to be unleashed on the world yet.
Q: How is the family (particularly your kids) taking all your recent troubles? (Jason Fabbri)
A: Not very well. They took it very hard because I think they knew what the WWF meant to me. Vince McMahon talked on TV about his son being there. Well, my sons were there too. And the whole thing was very hard for all my friends and family to watch. And the blame rests solely on him.
Q: What is your favorite memory during your wrestling career? I am nine years old and I hope I will be watching you for many more years to come. (Brandon Carlini — with help from my Dad)
A: My favorite memory has to be Wembley Stadium in England where I fought my brother-in-law in front of 82,000 people in what I feel was the greatest match of all time. Even though I lost, it was the first true signs that bigger and better things lay ahead for me. Hence, winning the world championship from Ric Flair six weeks later.
Q: What if any, involvement in wrestling do you see for yourself once you do retire? Promoter, trainer, commentator…? (Ironman)
A: Possibly as a teacher. I wouldn’t want to open up a school. Not for profit anyway. But I would very much like to pass back my knowledge to the upcoming generations before it gets lost. Wrestling is an art form. And if one’s not careful, the art will get lost to a generation of people who think it’s more important to see how they can bounce around the ring to poorly-rehearsed choreography and to absolutely unnecessary flat-out violence, such as hitting each other with lead pipes, ie ECW. I’ve wrestled for 21 years and funny enough, I never hurt anyone ever. They all showed up for work the next day. Because I’m an artist. Vince McMahon talks about a time-honored tradition and noone knows the time-honored tradition better than me. I’ve always honored that tradition. But I ask what Shawn Michaels and/or Vince McMahon know about honor and tradition. Very little. Hopefully, the WCW will become what the world is watching. And the rights and wrongs of wrestling and its honors and traditions can finally be respected. If I could somehow teach that to the generations of tomorrow I would feel gratified to be of service.
Q: Would you ever consider working for ECW? I saw the match you worked with Terry Funk at his farewell and thought the two of you put on an excellent match. What do you think of the “hardcore” style? (prophet416)
A: No I wouldn’t. Ever. I respect a lot of the performers in the ECW but professional wrestling should be something to be proud of. If my son, for example, told me he was going to become an ECW wrestler I would be extremely disappointed. I enjoyed the match with Terry Funk but I don’t think I would want to go out like he did. But then again, after Montreal what do I know.
Q: If the next match you had was your retirement match, who would it be against and why? (Peter Ransom)
A: I’d have to see what made the most sense at that time.
Q: “Would you consider associating with numerous federations, much like the older stars did (and some continue to do)?” (Stephen Laroche)
A: No, I don’t. It can be very precarious from an injury standpoint, as to who’s going to pay you if you get hurt.
Q: Do you have a favorite site on the Internet?
A: I just don’t surf. My time’s pretty limited.
Q:You said in your Calgary Sun article on Brian Pillman that wrestlers are “Accustomed to a lifestyle where the miles behind you in the morning deceive you into thinking you’re unaccountable for what you did last night.” Was this a statement of wrestlers in general or an admission of personal shortcomings? (Kimberli Fagan)
A: Both. Mine is a profession where there is neither guilt nor innocence. Only the road.
GREG OLIVER: Thanks for doing this interview, Bret. Your fans appreciate it.