In the first part of the WrestleNewz interview with with Bret Hart, the Hitman answered your questions about WrestleMania, the state of tag team wrestling, his thoughts on the infamous 4/10 wrestling meme and much more.
In Part Two below, the Excellence of Execution talks about his forays into improv comedy, wrestling in Japan, his favorite wrestlers and his all-time least favorite match. We couldn’t ask him every single question submitted by readers, but tried to cover most of the topics.
Thanks to everyone who sent the great questions.
Kevin from Michigan: You’ve been doing some improv comedy shows. Is that your next career in showbiz?
BH: I don’t think so, but you never know what can happen. I have a lot of fun doing them. I appreciate people giving me a stage. They present scenarios that are quite easy for anybody to step into and be quite funny. Sometimes I can be spontaneously funny. When you just make it up as you go along it’s hit or miss, but I’ve found I’ve done pretty good.
WNZ: Is wrestling good training for improv?
BH: You do improvise a lot in wrestling too, but it’s a little different. In wrestling, you’re not necessarily trying to be funny, but you’re improvising the wrestling itself. Having a talent for the quick response and thinking on your feet is important, especially in terms of microphone work. When you think of the great microphone performers, like Roddy Piper, the spontaneity of what they come out with is the hard part. These guys today like John Cena, with all due respect, they memorize it all. They have it all written out for them and it’s all script-read. Guys like Piper and others from my era, we kind of made it up as we went along — we made it sound important. Most good wrestlers listen to the crowd, and the fans tell you how you work the match. Most wrestlers from the ’70s could kind of call the match while they were out there. There was the old expression: all you need to know is who’s winning, the rest we can figure out as we go. That era kind of phased out a little bit, and it’s become more complicated than that now.
Marshall from Canada: You had some great matches in Japan against Animal Hamaguchi, Tiger Mask and Shunji Takano. Doesn’t the language barrier make things extra difficult in the ring?
BH: It sort of complicates things. The whole trip over there was complications, since nobody spoke English and I didn’t speak Japanese. But funnily enough, the wrestlers could call things in Japanese or they could call them in English — like “dropkick” and “clothesline.” They knew the English terminology for most of the moves they do. So it was pretty easy to communicate with them. But the crowd in Japan was very difficult. They would watch wrestling as if they were studying opera or something. They would sit on their hands — nobody would clap or cheer. Every once in a while there was an oooh or ahhh, but they generally don’t clap until it’s over. So we would build all these things, setting up higher and higher, and you don’t get much reaction from the crowd unless you really work for it. If you really do work for it, you can get them to blow the roof off the place. Japanese audiences are great audiences, but they’re just really hard to win over. You really have to know how to pull their strings.
Jaydn from Australia: If an injury hadn’t forced you out of the ring, how would you like to have retired? Who would be your ideal opponent for a retirement match:
BH: If I hadn’t gotten injured, it would have been fun to go back and end my career with a big blow-off match with Steve Austin or Shawn Michaels or The Undertaker. If I could have found the place in my heart to forgive Shawn Michaels back then, it might have been fun to come back to wrestle Shawn Michaels in a ladder match. It’s kind of the match he ripped off from me anyway! We could have built something around that. I think we were good enough friends that we could have done something good with that. I have a pretty good friendship with Shawn now. We get along — I think we’re both glad that we made peace with what happened. We were both drawn into the bad blood with all that screwjob stuff. I think we’re both glad we’ve moved on from that.
Steve from England: What’s your relationship like with Vince McMahon? What was your last conversation with him?
BH: The last conversations we’ve had have been good. He seems to always be very warm and friendly with me. I would say he’s on the very best of terms with me. I think the last time I really talked to him, my knee was pretty swollen. He wanted me to go out to the ring in Philadelphia — and I did go out — but we were talking about our various injuries, since he had just had hip surgery. We’ve both sort of realized that we’re not getting any younger.
WNZ: Have you all mellowed with age?
BH: I think I’ve realized that, as you get older, you get more grateful for all the good things you’ve got than for the few things people have taken away. We probably wouldn’t be having this conversation right now if it weren’t for all the good things they did for me. They made Bret “The Hitman” Hart. They picked him out of that caste of wrestlers where they could have made anybody the champion of the world. But they gave me that chance, they made me a huge star. I think I was an artist in my own right, with values and principles — a second-generation wrestler who carried the passion of what wrestling’s all about. We had a collision of principles, I guess. I stand by my ideas and I certainly understand his now. He’s the guy who made me, so I’ve got to be grateful for what he did do for me.
Mohammad from India: You are the all-time favorite wrestler of many fans around the world. Do you have an all-time favorite fan?
BH: I always had really passionate fans. I think I always liked the kids the most. Back in the 1990s there were a lot of kid fans, and I connected with a lot of them back in those days. I really connected with certain German cities and towns, too — maybe moreso than anywhere else in the world. I always wondered if my greatest fans were in Germany.
WNZ: Why Germany?
BH: I think I was just the right kind of hero to come along at the right time for that country. They were very guarded about that stuff — the post-World War II, anti-war thinking in Germany. I was this kind of odd, quirky, perfectly constructed hero for that time, I guess. I was wearing the pink and black, fighting bad guys. I was kind of like a superhero character, but wrestling was my backdrop. I think the color pink was the right color for the time and place. Stuff like that seemed acceptable for Germany. I don’t know if I ever had fans that were more devoted. Even now, I think I have the most loyal, die-hard fans.
WNZ: What’s the greatest compliment you’ve ever received?
BH: (Long pause) I think it’s that I was often told by the wrestlers I worked with that I was their best match. That was every single one of them, from Mr. Perfect to my brother Owen to the Bulldog to the Undertaker to Steve Austin — almost every single one of them pulled me aside and said the best match they ever had was the one against me. The list goes on — 1-2-3 Kid, Kevin Nash, Roddy Piper, Yokozuna — and I think it’s true. Every match was a different story, and we made magic. The other thing is that I never hurt anybody in all the years I wrestled. I had wrestlers come up to me and thank me for the match every night, thanking me because there was never any extra aches and pains or injuries. No animals were harmed in the making of my movies!
Marshall from Canada: The new “Dungeon Collection” has some great rare gems from your career, but I was surprised your 1995 match against Davey Boy Smith at the Stu Hart Tribute “Showdown at the Corral” wasn’t on there. Can you share memories of that match, and whether we’ll see it on a WWE DVD?
BH: That one will show up somewhere on a future project. There will be other projects I’ll do and that match will be on something. I think that match was some kind of chain match or a street fight or something. It wasn’t exactly a fight to the death, but something like that — maybe a chain match. And the week after that specific match, we tagged up together — the Bulldogs against the Hart Foundation at the (Calgary) Saddledome, so it all tied together. I think I got up the next day after that match and worked for WWE somewhere. It was basically a one-off to do my dad a favor.
Matt from Omaha: Aside from the obvious (the Screwjob), did you ever have a match that you truly hated afterward?
BH: Yeah, quite a few! Well, not quite a few, but one or two. The one that I really hated the most was at WrestleMania 11. That was in Hartford where I fought Bob Backlund in the “I Quit” match. Roddy Piper was the guest referee and he kept asking on the live microphone “what do you say!?” while Bob and I were wrestling. It turned into a real farce of a match. And I knew it would be a terrible match because they took the pinfalls out of the match — it was all submissions, so it made it even harder to have a good match. I really thought it was a disrespect to Bob to put him in that match. Me and Bob had been wrestling each other for about a year up to that point already, and it was a stretch to put us together again at WrestleMania. It wasn’t very entertaining.
WNZ: But you and Bob had great chemistry leading up to that.
BH: Oh yeah, definitely. The Survivor Series match we had was really good — the won where he got the title. That was actually quite a humorous match when I look at it now. Davey had tripped and bonked himself on the stairs and was out cold. My mom — all she knew is that she had to come to the ringside in a certain spot and throw in the towel after much pleading from Owen. I remember when my mom came up on the apron, she had to step right over Davey. This is her son-in-law, out cold and hurt, and she stepped right over him as if he never mattered! (Laughs). I always thought it was so funny. We had planned the whole thing out and perfected the story, but nobody thought at the end, ‘Hey, what about when Davey’s down, mom’s gotta step right over him to get there.’ When you see it, my poor mom just does it because she’s following the little script she’s got. It was hilarious.
WNZ: A weird end to a great match.
BH: I loved Bob in that match. He was really good. Bob was really intense in those days!http://youtu.be/ORHI4xCz0io
WNZ: Did you catch up with Backlund around WrestleMania this year?
BH: Yes, yes I did, and we had a couple of really good talks. I saw quite a few of the old timers. That was one of the real treats of going down to New York around WrestleMania.
WNZ: Did you and Bob reminisce about the I Quit match you didn’t like?
BH: No, but we did reminisce about the matches we liked. I never thought that match was Bob’s fault. I told Vince before we ever had it that it was going to be terrible. He said “no, no, it’ll be great.” I was right. It was terrible.
Bobby from Ottawa: What’s your relationship like with the other Hart brothers and sisters these days?
BH: I’m on pretty good terms with just about everybody. I don’t have any real issues with anybody now, either in my family or out there in the world. I’m on copacetic terms with just about everybody.
WNZ: So what does the future hold for The Hitman?
BH: Unpredictability. The answers are yet to be determined.
WNZ: Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions.
BH: Thank you! I hope to see everyone again soon.