The first fan in line, Erin Cuthbertson, meets her hero. — Photo by Greg Oliver

Bret Hart made a long, cross-country trek Friday morning from Calgary to Toronto, greeting close to 300 fans who turned out at the Air Canada Centre to purchase tickets for WCW’s Mayhem PPV event on November 21st.

Parents called in sick to work, kids played hookey from school and fans camped out in line all clamouring for a chance to meet their mat idol.

“This is the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” exclaimed an emotional Erin Cuthbertson. A life long fan of The Hitman, she had waited in line since 4 a.m.

Cuthberston was crying profusely and was visibly moved having met the man who she credits with changing her life. Anybody doubting the influence that pro athletes have over fans would have their scepticism eradicated if they had talked to this young lady.

The Hitman signs a cutout of himself. He said that he usually sees one at every signing he goes to. — Photo by Greg Oliver

“Bret has had such a positive impact on my life,” Cuthbertson said fighting back the tears. “If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be standing here.”

“Bret Hart’s the greatest wrestler in the world,” offered another fan, Aaron West of Oakville, who brought a full-size cutout of Hart to be signed.

Knowing that Hart will get a world title shot at the PPV against the winner of the Halloween Havoc match between champ Sting and challenger Hulk Hogan, Aaron is hoping for a Hogan-Hart showdown.

“I hope it’s against Hogan. That’s going to be so hip to see them go at it.”

One by one, fans proceeded through the line, bringing up their pictures, videos, magazines and memorabilia — even a steel chair.

After two hours of fielding questions from inquisitive fans, signing his name over and over again and making dreams come true had an emotional draining effect on Hart. And yet, for each fan, he had a heartwarming smile and a kind word.

“He’s appreciative of his fan support,” said Hart’s agent Teri Tkachuk. “He really loves it.”

Besides the appearance at the Air Canada Centre, Hart also was touring media venues with The Rascalz, in support of the upcoming CD Hitman Hart: Wrestling With Shadows, featuring music ‘inspired’ by the award-winning documentary. One stop was scheduled to be MuchMusic.