I’ve had good feedback on my shoot interview recaps before, so I thought I’d have a look at some of the mini-shoots Bret Hart is doing on his website. As he’s charging for them at a dollar each, it doesn’t seem fair game to recap ALL of them, so I thought I’d look at a handful as a teaser.
All of the segments are produced and hosted by a Canadian guy called Mike Lownsbrough, who with his quiff and earrings looks like he’s keeping a look he settled on thirty years ago, which is probably a good fit for Bret. He’s less a question-asker and more discussion-starter.
Using Bret as an example of a guy who it was more about the wrestling than the character, this starts a conversation about guys that were more characters than wrestlers. Bret talks about it being a business for all sorts of people from all sorts of places and it didn’t matter if you were gay, for instance.
He then talks about his scale of ten points in three categories for look, which someone like Hulk Hogan would get ten out of ten for, but so would guys like Andre, Bundy and Rick Rude, all with different looks.
Next category, mic skills. Honky would get ten, Roddy would get ten, Dave Schultz and Sweet Daddy Siki would be high up there too. Makhan Singh of all people would be a seven. Then, wrestling. So, Bret would give himself seven for look, four for mic skills (but higher during his later days), and nine or ten for wrestling. But Hulk would get ten, ten and two. Dynamite Kid would get eight, two and ten. Honky – ten, ten and three.
Weirdest wrestlers – the Missing Link, who with his wife was a swinger, but totally safe as wrestler. John Foley was a real character too who stuck with him and he still laughs at things he’d say and do and you couldn’t create him. Bret reminisces about a show in Regina back in the day where on the way they’d get beer and fried chicken. Foley would be singing It’s a Long Way To Tipperary and would be as drunk as a skunk, passing out eventually. Bret would be driving the van and hear shaving foam cans opening as the other wrestlers had covered him in “snow”. Foley would get pissed off, “quit” and plan to call Stu in the morning, but never see it through.
Mike takes Bret back to MSG and the Hall of Fame when he was jumped by “that freak”. Bret says everyone assumed that it was one of the wrestlers, but apparently he was a MMA guy with mental problems and wasn’t in there to play around. He didn’t see him until the last second but heard a commotion and then he went down. Luckily Bret wasn’t hurt, but the kid didn’t do too good out of it thanks to security and some of the wrestlers. It could’ve been a Mark Chapman moment, though.
Bret never had bodyguards when he wrestled, but he had at least three or four female stalkers. They were generated from occasions where he’d been nice to them and signed a picture for them and they got obsessed with him. This prompts him to talk about “Nasty Girl”, who he mentioned in his book. In his WCW days, he passed a black girl in the airport at Detroit and they exchanged a weird look on the escalator and he didn’t realise who she was, then she later confirmed it was her.
Subsequently, at Buffalo he was arranging to rent a car and noticed she was hiding behind a pillar across the street, peeking out, and joked to the girl on the desk “Have you ever seen a real stalker before?”. The girl said she’d call the police on his behalf and they came and got her. She tried to attack one of the cops with a knife and they arrested her, so Bret had to fill out some reports to detail what had happened.
In the cells, she was kicking the shit out of the door and was a big girl. They needed to take her weave off because she possibly had a knife in there and after a female cop refused to go in and told the male cops to grow a pair and take care of her, they all drew straws and the loser had to go in, quickly returning with her pelt like a trophy.
After he did his back in against Orton and Muraco, Dynamite Kid became a painkiller addict, regardless of whether he wanted them or not. He was good enough to show up to drop the tag belts with Davey to Bret and Jim, but with Kid in a dilapidated state Davey had to step up and become the leader of the team and a more confident wrestler, which probably motivated him to want to forge a singles career. Dyno would try, but he was in a bad state and also drinking heavily.
The Bulldogs leaving the WWF and going back to Stampede prompted a discussion about Bret leaving too and all three (and probably Neidhart too) working as the top stars in their area, but even without the travelling and rigours of the road the money just wouldn’t be the same. Supplementing it with Japan trips wouldn’t even help, and Kid didn’t want to do the long trips any more, so he’d just go around town drinking and getting into arguments in bars and get beaten up.
He also was a gun nut and lived out in the country. He’d point out a rabbit from his porch and shoot it from a distance, over the heads of his kids and Bret’s in the sandpit outside, which would blow the rabbit to smithereens, and he’d say he’d make some stew from it (Bret: “Good luck finding THAT rabbit!”). Bret rushed his wife to get the kids and took them home, vowing never to go back. He also had some vicious dogs that could rip something apart and would be drinking vodka straight. It was no longer the Tommy Billington he knew.
Bret thought of Tommy as a kindred spirit that he started out with, but he was like the star that burns twice as bright and lasts half as long. Mike couldn’t believe the pics of him before he died. Bret said he’d become embittered and mad at the world. He appreciated all that he’d done for him, but Dyno was a bully and not a nice person. They didn’t have a good start when Bret was a rookie and drafted in to wrestle him, not knowing how to wrestle an English guy yet. Dyno took offence and took liberties, splitting his face open in different places. A bit of distance from each other for a bit and then wrestling again saw things get better in their personal and professional relationship.
Dynamite had the ability to kill you with a kneedrop off the top, but was so good that he wouldn’t. It would look like it was caving your skull in, but the kneepad would lightly graze you. They eventually developed respect and then friendship for one after meeting each other punch for punch and potato for potato until it was all business.
New Era vs. Old Era
Bret considers the nineties the best era of wrestling, but there are some exceptional wrestlers today like Charlotte and AJ Styles, although he doesn’t understand what kids love about it. All he knows is that the dads of kids today love his era more than their kids love this era. He talks about his heat with Shawn Michaels back in the day, but they still had great matches, even Montreal up until the finish. If they’d had a proper match it could’ve been one of the greatest matches of all time.
This strangely transitions into a discussion about Jake Roberts, who had said in a recent interview that Bret and Shawn were the worst world champions of all time. He said they didn’t draw, but Bret disputes that and asks rhetorically whether Jake would’ve wanted to be around to get some of that cash at Summerslam ’92 and across the world. Bret concedes he didn’t draw domestically like Hogan did, but world tours were doing big business. Bret slates Jake for being unfit, not a tough guy, a great worker and promo but not legit. Jake never passed the torch and worked his own angle to protect himself in his match with the Undertaker by getting him to kill him with a tombstone on the floor instead of in the ring. At the same show, Roddy Piper passed the torch to Bret the way he should as he was leaving too.
Bret reckons Jake was just jealous of him and Shawn. But, they had history. Jake had been his roommate years ago and sold him a stereo system that he couldn’t take with him with him as he was leaving, but he sneaked back in while Bret was out and took the stereo anyway, plus he ran up a massive phone bill. He said he’d send Bret some cash to cover it, but never did. Bret thought about confronting him when he came to the WWF and beating him up (“Which wouldn’t have been very hard…”, says Bret) but he thought better of it because Vince was in love with him at the time because of his promos and his act and he could’ve lost his job for it.
Jake had a good run, then it petered out, and Bret left any ideas of making up the difference with him. Of course, he also had his drug problems (Mike: “He was in that movie and he loved to play the victim, but it was really hard to feel sorry for him.”). Bret had problems with Beyond the Mat as things were done for shock value, like Jake lighting the crack pipe and telling people not to feel sorry for him. Same with the Mick Foley situation, who Bret loves, of having the kids at ringside while he was destroyed (“Mick knows! He knew he was going to be handcuffed and get bashed over the head with a chair!”).
Bret was always reticent to take chairs to the head, although he’d give his back for a shot. His concussion injury that led to his retirement is proof of why shots to the head are bad, as it was like dropping a TV off a skyscraper.
Conclusion: Just a smattering for now, and the reaction will determine if I do some more, although they are easy to do. Bret tells some great stories, although he does get a few details wrong and has been prone to changing viewpoint depending on how he’s feeling about certain guys at the time (Hogan, Flair, Jake, Vince, etc.). The first segment is good for Bret just plain as day giving away the dirt on the Missing Link and telling tales about JR Foley. The second segment is incredibly interesting for the stalker story and I’d be interested to hear a lot more, although it’s understandable that he doesn’t want to tell those stories for fear of bad memories. The third segment had some shocking details about Dynamite Kid’s deranged behaviour, and I’m surprised it didn’t veer into the story about him putting a gun to the head of his wife (Julie Hart’s sister). The fourth one was basically a case of starting with one premise and then getting a line fed to him to respond to Jake Roberts and bury him. As Mike said, even if it’s true it’s hard to stick up for him.
There are 35 of these planned in total on an ongoing basis (not all recorded at the same time) and 26 have dropped, so chance are that I might return to this again, but you let me know if you want me to.