Bret Hart – Further Confessions of the Hitman
By Dave Newman on 26th September 2020
More with the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be. This was pretty easy to do last week and it seemed like people like it, so let’s do this and some animated stuff later.
As before, this is just a random collection of some of the clips on his website.
5 Year Plan
Bret never intended on becoming a wrestler, although he loved it as a kid. His dream was all the brothers teaming up with their hero, their dad. By the time he was 16, he’d lost interest as he didn’t want to be on the road and away from home. He really wanted to go to film school and did for one semester, which didn’t go well, but he got roped into doing wrestling for the team and did well at the expense of studying. He quit college and did maintenance jobs and worked in parks and rec sweeping up leaves and construction. Sitting with guys at lunchtime talking about pipe fittings and stuff like that wasn’t for him, so he sidled into refereeing and then wrestling.
Bret said he’d give it five years and then see where he was and revise his plan in five years and go back to film school after a few years of making money and fucking girls on the road.
Mike Lownsbrough: “So, what happened?”
Bret: “I got good!”
Bret credits himself with having about twenty legitimate classic matches over his career with guys like Roddy, Bulldog, Austin, etc. He talks about the build to the Austin match with the antagonism and the intensity and the double switch at the end of the match. Bret the character got everything he needed from the match, like revenge for all the aggravation Austin had given him, but still went so far that he was the heel by the end of the match and Austin was the hero.
Bret vs. Roddy (Parts 1 and 2)
Shit, how can I not follow that bold claim up by looking at one of the greatest matches of all time in Bret’s eyes?
Indianapolis, Indiana – 1992 – WrestleMania VIII. Bret talks about Roddy’s early days, born in Winnipeg, moving around Canada with his family who worked on the railroad, then running away from home. They immediately connected on their first meeting, with Roddy feeling a bit of pity for him as a fellow Canadian, taking him under his wing unofficially. Stu thought that Roddy might be vaguely related to his family, but even if they weren’t they treated each other like cousins and blood brothers.
Coming up in the WWF, Roddy looked out for Bret. He pushed him and Neidhart to do interviews and work with Vince on them. Roddy and Hogan were masters at interviews, so they watched them and took tips. Hulk in early ’84 could bring up goosebumps on your skin with his interviews, which Bret and Dynamite Kid observed, although Dyno never improved on that.
To the match itself, both guys were good guys and one needed to become the bad guy, which was Roddy. Bret talks about coming from the tail end of the Harley Race/Ric Flair era of having a finish in mind and then working everything out in the ring, but also finding success in the next era where you could plan things out a little to create more complex and imaginative spots. He could map out stuff with Dyno, for instance.
So, Roddy was on the way out and Bret was ascending. The knock on Bret at the time was needing to develop his personality, which he disagreed with because it was the company’s job to shine a light on him, as well as having developed some good heel mannerisms in the Hart Foundation, flipping off grannies and getting into it with people to where it was a bit dicey at times.
Bret also felt he’d had the rug pulled out from under him a few times in regards to a big push, which Roddy recognised, so he decided to do his best to make him a star. Winning the IC belt from Curt Hennig had launched his singles career and he wanted to continue that momentum. He was selling a lot of merch too, which further justified his push.
Back to the planning aspect, Bret recalls signing an autograph for a fan who told him he was going to turn face years ago, then he went into the building and Vince confirmed it. This leads to him discussing his disappointment with dropping the belt to the Mountie a few months after he’d won it, thinking he was being put out to pasture, but Roddy told him they’d make him better out of it. Bret wasn’t sure about things and expected a change, so even reached out to WCW to see if there was any interest.
Bret always wanted to have some control over the match, but respected more experienced guys like Andre, Ted Dibiase and Roddy and let them take charge. Within the story between them, Roddy created the aspect of being around the Hart house and eating sandwiches with them. They then secretly met at a diner and talked out some ideas for the match. Roddy knew he could more easily dip into his wild side as a heel and still stay good. Bret was able to do that later in the year against Davey Boy.
Bret had the match mapped out in his head, except the ending, but deferred to Roddy. Roddy’s proposal was pretty much the same. The only thing to work out was the blood aspect, as a no-blood rule was in place, but they took the attitude of “accidents happen” and thought they could cover it on the premise of banging heads or something fairly legitimately. Bret tells the shocking story of keeping his blade under his lip in his mouth, with it never cutting his gum, although it was risky.
As it turned out, Randy and Ric had blading in mind for their match too, but far more obvious. Bret and Roddy had to feign some “heat” in the locker room about Bret being mad about Roddy not being more “careful” and errantly striking him. Randy and Ric ate a five-grand fine for their blading.
Change of pace, following some discussion of Wrestling With Shadows in a previous segment. Some of his family members were unhappy about how Stu was depicted in the documentary. Owen watched it a month before he died and thought it was incredible, but warned Bret there’d be heat about it from other siblings. Bret rationalises it that Stu had to be tough and firm given he had twelve kids. He was fair and relaxed about most things, but he had rules and you had to follow them.
Bret then refers back to the scene with Stu showing some young bucks some submission moves in the basement. Young Harry Smith was in there, as well as Carl LeDuc (misidentified by Bret as a Vachon) and a black guy who was incredibly nice, but died in jail in Louisiana a year later under suspicious circumstances. Stu was in his eighties and applying submission moves to LeDuc, who was training at the house and making some extra cash as a caretaker for Stu.
This then leads into some discussion of the “Have some discipline!” tape that’s played in the film too. Stu and Bret met a cowboy at the shows who was humble and sincere and a decent size who wanted to become a wrestler too. All of a sudden, he punched himself in the face as hard as he could and went flying backwards, out cold. Stu and Bret looked at each other in amazement, then the kid jumped back up and said “See?! I can act too!”, which annoyed Stu by what was implied.
The next day, Stu and Bret had their guy over who did their programmes and promotion, and Dyno was there too, when the kid arrived. After a late night, Stu was in a mood and didn’t cotton on to the kid being there, so went down to the Dungeon with a young Owen and Dyno, while Bret stepped out as he was feuding with Dyno and didn’t want to break kayface in front of the guy. Owen decided to tape the incident on an audio tape, putting tape over a Tammy Wynette cassette to record over it.
Stu had a routine where he’d lock up, pull you in, bring you down, then get a hold in from the dominant position. Guys would try to get away, but have no joy. It sounds like Stu is beating the guy up with his hands on the tape, but he was actually slapping him on the thigh to motivate him to fight back. The guy would be screaming “My stitches! My stitches!”, with Stu telling him humorously to not worry about them. Lownsbrough laughs about how Stu could tutoring and torturing someone at the same time.
Bret recalls introducing Tie Domi to Stu and Tie immediately becoming allergic to the cats. Stu wanted to show Tie moves for beating people up on the ice. Stu also commented on Tie having “an interesting head on ya!”. It was a sign of what a character Stu was.
On a more emotional level, Bret calls Stu the strongest man he’d ever met, referring to Owen’s death and how he never wavered and was a stoic. The tragedy definitely broke him and he was never the same, nor his mom or anyone else in the family, but Stu started fading after that.
Conclusion: Some more great insight from Bret. Sometimes there’s building to a point without making the point (the first segment definitely resembles that) and there could be another twenty minutes on the Roddy match, but the Stu segment is an excellent insight into his character that doesn’t do him a disservice at all.