#4. What? Please tell me this is true…
SI.com put out the article today that you can view by clicking on the link below. A refreshing topic for everyone here to discuss.
Unlike many other managers of his generation, Jimmy Hart really hasn’t changed much in over thirty years. Let us celebrate the man who stole Dick Clark’s immortality potion with his piano medley of Greatest Hits Not Performed With The Gentrys, and behold what it sounds like when a man sings Sexy Boy in the third person.
It was conducted by Rob Feinstein
The interview runs at one hour and fifty-seven minutes long
Bret is first asked about his first memories of wrestling. He said that he always watched wrestling but when he got older he became interested in amateur wrestling. While in college but said he was not dedicated enough to make it far, even though he said he was good enough, and decided that he did not want to stick with it and become a “gym teacher” or whatever else amateur wrestlers become once they are finished.
Rob asks him what led to his singles push around WrestleMania IV, Bret said was the first big lie that the WWF told him. He said that Vince called him right before the show and he sensed that something was up. Vince told Bret that they had more fan mail than any other wrestler in the company. Bret said that he did not believe he had more than Hogan but is just going by what Vince told him. Vince told Bret that would lead into a face push and Bret bought into all of the merchandising that went along with it but he just ended up jobbing to Bad News Brown then went back to tagging against Demolition then Rhythm & Blues as a face team. Bret puts over Demolition, especially Bill Eadie, for being great workers.
He now talks about the match in which they dropped the belts to the Rockers but the match never made it to air. Bret said that after they got the belts from Demolition, they did a t-shirt shoot for the magazine. Vince then called them in his office and said he would tell them one at a time about the news he had for them. Neidhart came out first and Bret sensed something was up but unable to tell if it was good or bad news. So, Bret came in and Vince told him he was going to drop the belts to the Rockers and Bret would given a singles push. Bret asked about Jim and Vince said he was not sure and they were considering having him be an announcer. Bret said that he felt bad as Jim was a great partner but a good break for him. Bret then talks about the match against the Rockers and said how it was pathetic as the rope broke and Bret thinks that Jim might have done it on purpose as he was not happy about the direction the company had for him. Bret then talks about the referee being terrible and how he was basically trying as Bret told him the show was taped and he could fix the rope as he had Shawn in a chinlock. Bret said they were all crushed as they had a crap match and knew they could do better. A few weeks later, after Bret pleading with the office to let them have another match as the first one was embarrassing, Jim told him at a taping in Milwaukee that they were not splitting up the team and keeping the belts. Bret said that Vince told him after that his push would happen. He then talks about how Vince would give him report cards at the time and how he was steadily improving.
Bret had no problem at all dropping the belts to the Nasty Boys at WrestleMania VII. He said the match was good and rememvers Macaulay Culkin sitting in the front row and how he looked upset after they lost. After that, they told Bret that they were going to put him in a program with Curt but Bret said he was not going to do it as he knew he was going to lose. Curt worked a program with Davey Boy, who returned to the company, then after that, Curt put over Bret at SummerSlam 1991. He said that Curt put him over out of a sign of respect and that Curt was really hurting bad at the time. Bret said that the match was not as good as it could have been because of his injury but Curt toughed it out. Bret said they were having great matches at house shows prior at the time.
When asked about working with Jacques Rougeau, Bret said that he was critical of him for working light in the ring, like the Honky Tonk Man, but looking back said it was a night off in the ring with him and he had heat with the fans. Bret then talks about working a six-man teaming with the Bushwhackers and they tore the house down doing a goofy style and the fans dug him swinging his arms like the Bushwhackers did coming down the aisle.
Bret said that he found out he was losing the Intercontinental Title to Piper suddenly then tells the story of how they went to the restaurant and how Piper laid out the match they way he wanted do. Bret said it was a gamble to blade at the time.
He then talks about how Vince wanted him to drop the belt at SummerSlam. Bret said he would drop it to either Shawn or Davey. Bret told Vince about the ladder match and how he wanted Shawn and Bret to try it out before they went with it and Bret told Vince to promise him he would not allow anyone else to do the match. When it was decided that the show was going to be held in England, Bret told Vince that he would get a great match out of Davey and they went with that. Despite the fact that Davey was partying all Summer and out of shape, Bret said that he worked hard enough for the both of them and said it was one of the only times you catch him talking in the ring, which Bret said is a sign of a bad worker. Bret then said this match put him on the map and puts over how Ric Flair and Randy Savage watched the match at the hotel then knocked on Bret’s door afterwards and shook his hand, telling him that it was the greatest match that they have ever seen.
Bret then talks about how he was told that there was four names on a sheet of paper of people they were going to put the World Heavyweight Championship on and he was one of them. Bob Backlund and Randy Savage were two other names on the list. Bret did not think it would happen though. After wrestling Flair while in Europe, he was at a TV taping in Saskatoon and told that night he was going to win the belt. He understood that Flair was fine with dropping the belt and talked about how they had differences in the ring, citing that Flair came from a different era. Bret puts over Ric for being fit and joked that he called him “30 minutes of non-stop psychology.”
He talks about how Razor Ramon was still green and how it was not easy to work with him back then but thinks he is a better worker now. He feels conflicted about him as a person as he can be nice but also feeds off of others and can be nasty. Bret hopes he can straighten himself out.
When asked about working with Jerry Lawler, Bret first said how he was supposed to work against Hogan but thinks that the office was playing them against each other. Bret talks about how the WWF tried to destroy Hogan at the end of his run but Hogan would not let them do that. Bret was pissed that Yokozuna was getting the belt and the money that went along with that. Bret said he was disappointed originally that he feuded with Lawler as a result but said they had good matches. Bret said that Lawler “stiffed the shit” out of him with his scepter at the King of the Ring 1993 and Bret wanted to kill him afterwards. However, Bret said that he got his revenge as he punched him a few times then put him in the Sharpshooter for five minutes. Bret said he eased him into the move at first so Lawler would not resist it then he cranked it on as hard as he could. In the locker room afterwards, Bret claimed that Lawler was crawling around on the ground. Overall, Bret said that Jerry was fun to work with and a night off in the ring.
Bret then talks about getting the rights to his name and how he asked help from veterans like Piper in order to do that.
He then talks about how they wanted him to do a program with Bruce but Bret said that he was not a good worker. Owen was going to quit at the time to become a fireman and originally going to be used as fodder to Bruce but he said if he did the feud involving his family, it would be against Owen. Bret said there first few matches were crappy as they worked out a bunch of different ways to do their match at WrestleMania X and worked it out just five days before the show. He said the match was awesome and calls Owen fun to work with in the ring. Bret hoped that they would feud for a long time then reunite several years later.
Originally, Bret thought the office was joking when they wanted him to drop the belt to Bob Backlund and thought it was a dumb idea but after they explained to him how Bob lost the belt, he thought it was a shitty way to drop the belt and completely changed his mind and agreed to drop the belt. He then said that he wished Shawn Michaels could have learned from that. Bret puts over Bob for being a great guy who would give you birthday cards and bought cases of beer for the young guys.
Bret talks about Diesel winning the belt and how he thought it was premature at the time. He then talks about how he taught him a lot about psychology and credits himself for Diesel’s improvement in the ring. Bret said he liked Diesel a lot and wanted him to get over. Bret then talks about Shawn and how he turned himself face in order to protect himself as the champ.
On working with some of the lower card guys like Jean-Pierre Lafitte and Hakushi, Bret puts them over as being good in the ring. He then talks about how he still wanted to get Diesel over and pitched an idea to Vince about working a match with Diesel and go through a table and winning the title in a fluke but later give the title back to Diesel. Vince then told him a few days later that he was going to do the match but instead of Bret dropping the title back to Diesel, he was going to drop it to Shawn. Bret said he did not have a problem putting over Shawn then and considered him being a friend. He does mention the Kliq having influence and thinks they orchestrated the title changes that happened. Bret then says the problem he had with Shawn was that he wanted to be treated with a little respect and did not feel he was the guy to drop it to Shawn to begin with.
Bret then said that the Iron Man Match he had with Shawn was specifically designed to blow him up and make Shawn look good. Bret then talks about Shawn’s ego and how out of control it was at the time and how Shawn said he could draw with HHH, Sean Waltman, Nash, and Hall as the champion, which Bret said sets a bad example for the business and thinks that wrestling is the way it is today due to that type of thinking. Bret said that Shawn was too insecure about his ability and had to backstab and play politics to stay ahead. Bret said that Shawn had the ability. Bret also said that you could watch the match and Shawn sandbagged him and also potatoed him a few times. He said the match was more of a contest and a classic Japanese match. Bret said that the match was great and says that Shawn saying he was ducking his calls to put together the match was not true at all. Bret said that three weeks after Shawn won the belt, ratings went down and they were losing to WCW.
After that, Bret took time off and did some acting. He was then asked about WCW offering him a contract. Bret said that he met with Eric Bischoff and gave him an outrageous number because he wanted to stay with the WWF. Bret then said that Bischoff said they could work with that number but Bret said that control over his character was more important than the money and that was what he had with Vince and the WWF.
Bret talks about how Steve Austin came to his house and said that he needed to come back as Shawn was bad for business. Bret said that when he came back to wrestle Austin at the 1996 Survivor Series, Jim Ross and Vince buried him on commentary and Bret then told Vince to break-off their deal if he was unhappy but Vince told Bret that he would not have made the deal if he was unhappy with it.
Bret then confirms that he was supposed to win the belt at WrestleMania 13. He then talks about how he pitched an idea to Shawn that Summer about him coming back and catching his foot on a super kick attempt then snapping his ankle, complete with a sound effect, and make Shawn tap out then head back to the locker room with the belt and refusing to shake his hand, playing off of the Iron Man Match. This would lead to Shawn coming back afterwards, giving Shawn his time off too, and kicking Bret’s ass for the belt. Bret then said that Shawn told him he liked the idea but in reality he hated it and did not want to lose the belt at all. He then talks about how Vince was playing them against each other and that Shawn bought into all of it and denies ever saying anything about his family, something Shawn accuses him of doing. Bret admits talking about the Playgirl magazine shoot and apologized to Shawn afterwards then was given approval from Shawn to continue making cracks about that.
He then talks about Shawn’s injury and said at first he gave him the benefit of the doubt and would see if he was hurt when he came back but when Shawn came back and looked fine and the locker room speculated he was full of shit, that is how the bad blood between the two started. Bret then said later on after that, Shawn told him with tears almost in his eyes that the injury was legit and Bret thought they buried the hatchet after that but when Shawn made the “Sunny Days” comment, everyone go pissed at Shawn. Bret then points out how there is more evidence that a homosexual relationship between Vince and Shawn took place than a sexual relationship between himself and Sunny. He even said how the comment went over his head at first but his family was really pissed about that as were some of the older wrestlers.
Bret touches upon Shawn’s battles with substance abuse and how he was flirting with death at the time. He said he was in the same class as Hall, Waltman, Davey, and Louis Spicolli at the time. Bret also said that Shawn was a huge basket case at this time and claims that he never hurt Shawn in the ring or anyone else for that matter.
About his locker room fight with Shawn, Bret said that they were supposed to face off at King of the Ring but he had a hurt knee and with Shawn being all doped up, he did not trust that he could protect him in the match. This then led to a fight that Bret said was more of a school-fight as he had a bad knee. Bret then talks about Vince taking his side but later on felt it was all just part to set him up for the incident in Montreal.
On the 1997 Survivor Series, Bret said that Shawn and HHH were in on what happened. He said that he knew HHH ws part of it when he was not at the Gorilla position when he came back from the match. This leads to Bret talking about Shawn being insecure and backstabbing to hold on to the title and how he had the talent to succeed at being the champ without doing any of that. When asked if he would do the same thing to Vince (hitting him), Bret said yes and he wished he laid in a few more shots.
Bret talks about WCW and how he never understood what they were doing with him. He also said they hired the wrong guys and never thought what he was doing made any sense as he would have a partner one week then feud with him the next and overall, there was never any rhyme or reason to what they did. Bret said Vince surrounded himself with smart guys who knew the business
He liked Vince Russo and what he was trying to do for him but also said that he didnt know the business enough to succeed in the role that he had in WCW.
Next, Bret talks about the idea he proposed for a feud against Goldberg. He was going to start a winning streak so he could lead up to a feud against Goldberg. He would call him out in Toronto and that would start a program and Bret talked about how he could teach Goldberg to become a better worker too. Goldberg agreed as did Bischoff but after that, Bret was teaming up in tags and they did not stick to the original plan. When they finally got to Toronto, with Bret putting over other guys in the process, Bischoff wanted him to turn heel on Canada. Bret told him that the fans were chanting his name and that it was a stupid idea. Bischoff then proposed that Hogan come out and slap hands with Bret then turn on him, which Bret thought was stupid as Hogan was not going to be working with him or Goldberg so it made little sense. He then said he was told that Hogan had to shoot down the idea in order for him not to do it so Bret went up to Hogan and explained it to him and Hogan told Bret that he agreed with him. After that, Goldberg was pissed .The tape finishes after that.
Final Thoughts: Although it is almost fifteen years old, this is still a good interview. Bret does have a great memory, which makes it good to listen to him discuss wrestling. He is still completely full of himself though. That will never change. Bret did seem in good spirits for this interview at least and happy about his career.
There was some audio problems in the video that made it hard to hear at times but it is still watchable. Overall, I recommend this interview. Even though Bret has said a lot of what he did here in other interviews and his book, this is still a solid listen. Bret also filmed a second shoot, as well as one with Neidhart and another as part of the “Behind Closed Doors” series.
Purchase the shoot for $15.00 here
You can also rent it for 14 days here for $9.99
Or Purchase a digital copy for $7.99 here
Here is my schedule for the next several days
Friday: WWF Superstars of Wrestling 9/13/86
Saturday: RoH Glory by Honor 10/5/02
Sunday: WWF Wrestling Challenge 9/14/86
Tuesday: WWF Superstars of Wrestling 9/20/86
Thursday: Shoot interview TBD
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This was working out to be a pretty darn good match before the botched piledriver, which is the unfortunate reason for this match being as memorable as it is. I apologize for the quality but it’s the best I could find in one part, and not everyone has the Network so I didn’t link to that version.
Many of us have seen this match several times, thanks to WWE’s insistence on sticking it on 5 or 6 different DVD sets. If younger fans need an example of what the Intercontinental Championship used to mean, this match and maybe Steamboat/Savage are the templates.