The wrestler who went toe-to-toe with Stone Cold Steve Austin and was “screwed over” in Montreal will be in Nanaimo Friday to bare his heart about his career.
Bret Hart, Canadian wrestling legend and World Wrestling Entertainment hall-of-famer, will be at the Port Theatre on Sept. 13, for An Evening with WWE Hall of Fame Legend: Bret (The Hitman) Hart show, where he will discuss famous and infamous matches in a career that spanned a number of promotions, including Stampede Wrestling, World Wrestling Federation/WWE and World Championship Wrestling.
Hart was born in Calgary and cut his teeth in pro wrestling with his father Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling promotion. He said Stampede was innovative for its time and “set the bar for pro wrestling today.” It was a live wrestling show intertwined with live wrestling promos, according to Hart. The late Ed Whalen, Stampede commentator, was on par with the late (Mean) Gene Okerlund of WWE, he said.
“I look back on it today and I think that if you were to really look at what Stampede Wrestling was, it was ahead of its time,” said Hart. “It set the bar for pro wrestling today. It was a live wrestling show intertwined with live wrestling promos. Ed Whalen (broadcaster) was every bit as good as Gene Okerlund or any of the guys that were in WWE.
“The flavour of wrestling, the idea that they filmed a live show, the way the crowd reacted … when I look at old Stampede Wrestling footage, that’s a historical time capsule of what wrestling was,” said Hart. When you see it today, you go, it’s so far removed, all they did is steal the whole idea of what Stampede Wrestling presented and polished it up and put a little razzle dazzle on it today. They have fireworks and cannons going off and explosions and all kinds of gimmicks and props.”
One of Hart’s famous matches was against Austin in Wrestlemania 13, where Hart, a good guy or ‘babyface,’ reversed roles and became a bad guy, or ‘heel.’ It turned out to be much more than a wrestling match, according Hart. Through “great wrestling psychology,” creative thinking and wrestling styles, a great story was told, he said.
“I believe that the Wrestlemania 13 match with Steve Austin is as good as any UFC fight I’ve ever watched, except the only difference is that there were no animals were harmed in the making of that movie,” said Hart. “Steve Austin and me had such a beautiful story and that wrestling match was so special in how it made him … it’s amazing how it’s such a powerful match and it’s so real in how it’s projected and the way the match ends.
“Just the storyline is just a great performance. I’ll be honest and say that every once in a while I’ll get a phone call from [Austin] and he’ll go, ‘I’m on the treadmill right now. I’m watching our match and I just want to tell you it’s the best match I’ve ever had.’ We’ve bonded and become closer friends over the years and we were friends when we had that match too.”
An Evening with WWE Hall of Fame Legend: Bret (The Hitman) Hart begins at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 13 at the Port Theatre. Tickets are $35-$45. VIP tickets cost $85-$95. Topics will include the aforementioned match with Austin and the November 1997 ‘Montreal Screw Job’ where Hart lost the WWE title to Shawn Michaels in controversial fashion.
There will be a question-and-answer period and while people will ask about Austin and Montreal, it’s the unexpected questions Hart said he enjoys.
“I remember one Q-and-A I did a few years ago in England and I remember a kid got up and he said, ‘What’s your favourite fish?’ and I thought, ‘Wow! That is such a different question,’ and we ended up talking for about 30 minutes about my favourite fish … I just hope that fans will come with interesting questions. I like to speak openly and honestly about my thoughts,” said Hart.
Tickets are available online at the Port Theatre website, www.porttheatre.com, or by calling 250-754-8550.