Bret Hart Interview Transcript

Bret Hart Shoot InterviewThe following interview with WWE Hall of Fame wrestler and former WWE and WCW world champion Bret “The Hitman” Hart. Bret Hart joins the show to talk Shawn Michaels, Triple H, WCW, & more. The interview was taped April 19, 2000. This interview was previously broadcast on Pro Wrestling Radio.

Eric Gargiulo: What inspired you to write a book?

Bret Hart: I just wanted to sorta capture my great accomplishments that I made in wrestling and put them all … put it back in the light again. Shed some light on different opponents from Steve Austin, to Goldberg to you name it.

Eric: What was it like growing up in a wrestling family?

Bret: It was interesting to say the least. You know I was around a lot of interesting characters. I really have a very interesting perspective, I think, of the entire business and a long one. It’s funny because my dad has such an interesting perspective on the business and he’s 85 and he’s been in it so long. When I think about it, I’ve been involved in wrestling since I was 4 years old and every Friday it was either working in some capacity in wrestling, from selling programs to refereeing, to eventually wrestling and doing it forever it seems. But it was interesting. We all had a passion for it. I think the whole family thrived on the weekly wrestling show.

Eric: What is your injury status and are you contemplating retirement?

Bret: Well, it’s certainly a possibility. I’m reasonably optimistic at this point. I’m really in the middle. It’s something that’s still lagging in me. It’s affecting my speech. There’s a lot of complications that come from concussions that might not seem apparent to people on the outside. I’ve had a headache for four and a half months that still doesn’t go away. It gets smaller and sometimes it’s, you know you can live with it. Just the thought right now of me being body slammed or even a remotely light fall in a wrestling match is difficult for me to imagine right now. It is a question of whether or not I can come back. I have a lot of similarities, I think, with my concussion with Eric Lindros. Eric Lindros, I know he kind of got chastised for making comments about the medical team or something like that. The truth is, because I’m going through the similar thing, sometimes you can’t necessarily make the point you’re trying to make. I’m not defending him because I don’t know what he said and maybe he clearly meant it. You have an inability to be able to focus … really sometimes your brain is just so messed up that you can’t. I’ve found myself saying things that didn’t quite come out the way I wanted them to and I had good intentions behind the comment kinda thing. It’s really hard. It’s a really bad injury. It’s been the scariest thing I’ve ever had to go through. I certainly relate to Eric Lindros and like myself I hope we both play again.

Eric: In your column you mentioned you were surprised that WCW contacted you to return last Monday. Why?

Bret: I never see myself being able to fit in. It’s really hard for me to imagine fitting in with being limited in what I’m able to do. I still can’t lift weights. I still can’t do anything too intense. I know I swung a chair Monday night, but that’s about all I can do. I can’t do much. I’m really in a bad position that way. I wanna do more, but anything you do, especially the more physical you want to try and be… I’ll give you an example. If my phone rings I’ve got to walk over and get the phone. If I race up the stairs, spin around the corner and grab the phone. I can’t do all that. It’s not like my brain doesn’t work or anything. It’s just that if you really start to do intense things that by the end of the day, you’re starting to get a really bad headache. Everything sorta goes backwards. You take a few steps back. So you have to keep yourself calm all the time and not do anything to stress yourself out. It’s really tough. I’ve become a vegetable almost and it’s hard for me to be able to do that.

Eric: Did you feel pressured into returning?

Bret: What I’ve done has been safe enough. I wouldn’t do anything that would complicate my concussion. I will say that I got a concussion on the December pay per view with Goldberg. I wrestled for three more weeks after that. I agree with Eric Lindros that maybe they were negligent. They’re the ones that know. When you have a concussion, and I think they were well aware that he had a concussion, it was a concern of everybody’s. I can’t do the thinking. My brain was messed up. I found myself doing stunts, I found myself being choke slammed and power bombed night after night for almost three weeks and telling everyone “I think I have a concussion.” They don’t take that into account and I bet it wasn’t very far off from Eric Lindros. They want him to play, they want him to do stuff and you want to be there for the team. But you lose the ability to diagnose yourself and I have been told that right from the start. I couldn’t believe I was as hurt as badly as I was. I was actually somewhat skeptical. But I realized that over a few weeks that I was forgetting everything. All the sudden it just dawns on you at how really messed up you really are. Than the fear sets in that it’s never going to go away. I relate a lot to Eric Lindros and I have a lot of sympathy for him and I think the Philadelphia fans … I think the fans do. But I think the management should reconsider their position to be hard on him for. He must be really going through a difficult time because your brain is just so out of whack. It’s hard to be held accountable for what you say and for what you think. Than it’s not far from the truth what Eric Lindros thinks anyway. I comment that fans seem to be sympathetic but the management has been giving him a hard time. I compare them to shady promoters. I got this form my doctor, who is the head of the NHL players Association on Concussions. In the old days they just pat you on the back and push you out for another shift kind of thing. Maybe Bobby Clarke, that’s how he did it. A concussion is … I am fearful of losing my memories and some of my most cherished memories. It really is easy to rock your brain. I rocked my brain so bad that I forgot home phone numbers of people that I called every day for years. It’s just really bad.

Eric: Hulk Hogan recently made fun of your concussion during an interview. Are you aware of that and what are your feelings on that?

Bret: If he said it, I, only knowing Hulk the way, I do [know] that it was meant because it’s true. I had trouble remembering. When they first diagnosed me with the concussion they gave me five random words to remember, they were gonna ask me in five minutes. They clearly said we are going to ask you these five words in five minutes. I couldn’t remember any of the words five minutes later. That’s when I realized, “OK, I have a really bad concussion.” I thought, when they told me it would be anywhere from two weeks to nine months that it they were probably closer to two weeks or less. Two and a half months later I realized that I was really still messed up and I’ve learned to really appreciate every single thing that the doctors tell me. Whatever they want. I will not go in the ring and jeopardize my health anymore. It’s like my doctor told me, I’ve lost the ability to diagnose myself. It’s not like taping up your knee or your ankle or you know you have sore shoulder and you know what you’re limited to from a pain threshold. You know what you’re capable of doing. But with your brain and a concussion. It’s a whole different thing. I was capable of walking across eight lanes of traffic. You could’ve pointed me the direction and have me do just about anything. I thought I had control of what I was doing but I was totally out of whack and I’m glad that I’ve taken myself out of that and I’m just going to let my doctors decide what I’m going to do.

Eric:Eric: Can Eric Bischoff and Vince Russo work together and make a serious run at WWF’s top spot?

Bret: Yeah, I think so. I think that they are both have very good creative minds. I think that Eric was always really creative but he just got burned out. Than he came back and he seems almost like a revamped, reborn kind of guy. He got a whole new lease on life kind of thing. I think Vince Russo has a lot of imagination and a lot of great ideas. I never thought that Vince Russo had as good a chance, like a clear opportunity to sort of prove himself which I expressed to him two weeks ago when I saw him for the first time. I think a lot of guys were really happy with the job he was doing. There was some question about some of the content. But with me in particular I was happy with what they were doing with me for the first time in The WCW I was very positive. I didn’t make that point of expressing that. I wished, and I think a lot of us like Benoit and a lot of us were pro Vince Russo, and on account of not making that clear, Vince Russo got sacked earlier than a lot of us would have wanted. So I’m glad that he’s back and I think Bischoff and Russo will work really well together in that if anything it will lesson the load and the burden of one person having to put together so much thought into two or three different wrestling shows.

Eric: In Beyond The Mat, when Terry Funk was questioned about his relationship with Mick Foley he mentioned that he is closest to the people he’s draw the most money with. Shawn Michaels and yourself came up together in The WWF. Between your matches with The Rockers and The Hart Foundation and your later WWF Title matches. Where did the relationship sour and why?

Bret: Well, I think that Shawn started to change just before he got the title. You know I don’t have any bad feelings for Shawn. If anything, I feel bad that he got hurt last year or two years ago and that he’s not wrestling anymore. To me, he was one of the greatest wrestlers I ever worked with, and one of the greatest wrestlers that I’ve ever watched. I feel bad that there became a rift between us. I’ve learned now after sort of looking back on it and maybe I’m wrong, but I think Vince McMahon had a lot to do with the animosities between him and me and I expressed that to him the day in Montreal at The Survivor Series. I know he was involved in every single aspect of what happened to me in The Survivor Series. I just know how Vince works now or at least I think I do. I think it works best for Vince McMahon to really pit his talent against each other all the time and build a lot of tension and heat between them over a lot of things like, “I said this about so and so” or “Did you hear what Shawn said?”. He told me a lot of things that Hulk Hogan said about me that I found really offensive, until I found Hulk years later and we talked about it. It works best for Vince to have a lot of tension between his top guys because they have harder matches and there’s a little aggression in everything that they do because they don’t like each other. So I don’t have any bad feelings towards Shawn. If anything, I miss the relationship that I had with him.

Eric: Years ago you were very vocal at how disappointed you were in the matches you had with Ric Flair. You called him uncreative, among other things. When you came into WCW, the two of you really seemed to click and drew a great buy. What changed your opinion of Ric Flair over the years?

Bret: Just a whole new respect for him. I think I “spoke out of school” kind of thing. As I got older, I started to really appreciate at just how great Ric Flair was. Like even now he still works harder than most of these guys in the ring today. I still can’t believe how he takes that big slam off the top and stuff. I’m in awe of that and I’m in awe of Terry Funk for the level of commitment and punishment that they still exact on their bodies. I can say one thing about Ric Flair and Hulk [when I joined WCW], they were very gracious and they accepted my opinion. We really talked about what I said and why I said it. They were very good to me and they’ve been good to me since I have been in The WCW and I consider them very good friends of mine now.

Eric: Are you surprised at how Hunter Hearst Helmsley has taken off or did you see it in him?

Bret: No, I think I saw it in him. I always thought certain things about his style were very good. I think, you see now Hunter (laughs) … he’s a very plastic kind of guy. I don’t know if he’s a decent wrestler. I certainly don’t consider him incredible or anything. I don’t think he does anything really super. I guess what Hunter’s probably best at is he does a lot of things nice in there. He does well with what he works with. He doesn’t do anything really fancy or too flashy. I don’t know if he’s a guy that, from a dressing room standpoint, unless he’s changed a lot … I think he’s a fishy guy to do business with. I’m glad I’m not in the dressing room he’s in. He’s a guy that will stab and slash his way to the top and there’s guys like that all over the wrestling business, and he’s one that stands out. I don’t have a lot of regard for him.

Eric: If you could make a video tape of your legacy with only three matches, which three would they be?

Bret: Yeah I would probably have to say the hour match with Shawn Michaels in Anaheim. I’d have to say The Wrestlemania 13 match with Stone Cold Steve Austin and it’s really a toss up off the top of my head. Either the Wembley match with The British Bulldog or … yeah I’d have to say the Wembley match with The British Bulldog.

Listen to the entire Bret Hart interview on Pro Wrestling Radio.

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