By Haydn Gleed
Well it’s been a busy old week for me in terms of viewing live wrestling with trips to the WWE Raw and Smackdown taping, but I decided to finish it off by going to see Bret Hart. The event billed as an audience with the man himself and was held in the Cardiff City Stadium in my hometown of Cardiff, Wales.
Let me get the negatives out of the way straight off the bat. The promoters could have done a better job. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not so naïve as to not understand the ways of the world, and ultimately the whole point of an event like this is to make money, but it felt that the need to make money outweighed the need for people to enjoy the experience and making it so painfully obvious that the green stuff was top priority. For example, after photographs were taken with Bret, instead of proceeding to move onto the interview/Q&A part of the show, the part of the show that the majority of people in the audience had come for, they instead conducted an auction. Nothing wrong with that I hear you say, and I’m not going to deny that there was some fine Hart mementos. If I had a spare £250 ($400) I would have put a cheeky bid in myself. However, when the “main event” of the evening of the night is being held up when they are auctioning boxing gloves you know they are looking to maximize profits above all else. All of this resulted in the interview segment being cut short and the Q&A restricted to four questions.
On top of this, the organization was clunky to say the least. There were several tiers of tickets that got you certain perks like photos and autographs etc, but the explanations on the website and when you actually got into the venue were confusing. The announcer of the event would say one thing and you would go and seek out say a token for a photograph and be told you pay while you queue only to be told in the queue you have to go to the merchandise area. It was all very confusing. Triple M Promotions was the company hosting the event and one look at their Twitter confirmed that they have recently expanded their operations into these type of live events, so I’m willing to give them a pass for some of the issues, but it is certainly something to address.
Organization aside, the event was a real treat for someone who grew up watching Bret Hart. The line for photographs moved along at a nice swift pace, but not at a pace where you feel that you are being herded like cattle. You had time to shake the man’s hand, say something you wanted to say (or give a childish giggle like one of my friends did), and have the photo taken. Similarly at the end of the night, Bret sat down and signed autographs or any piece of merchandise that you wanted signed and you could thank him or tell him how great he is (again, my friend).
As for the interview and Q&A segment of the evening, Bret certainly didn’t pull any punches. The good news is is he did say that he has nearly been given the clean bill of health following his cancer scare. He didn’t quite say he was totally cancer free, which is what we all obviously wanted to hear, but he sounded incredibly positive about the prognosis following his surgery and illness. He did noticeably have a problem with his hand in terms of his finger and thumb constantly locked in a pointing fashion, but he explained that he hopes the surgery he recently had will eventually resolve that.
As for WWE, despite going to work for one night with them at the Payback PPV in a couple of weeks time, he certainly made his feeling known and didn’t hide behind any clichés. He described Triple H as a mediocre wrestler with mediocre ideas and questioned how he won one world championship let alone the amount he has won. He described WrestleMania as poor, or at least another four letter word that would not pass the PG test. He said he was shocked that Shane McMahon, who can’t even throw a punch, was in one of the main events. He bemoaned the fact that there wasn’t any real wrestling on the show and anyone who could wrestle was buried in meaningless matches down the card. He also described Triple H as someone without an original bone in his body and claimed he regularly used to steal other people’s ideas before matches.
He brought up the fact that he’s been announced as part of the Natalya and Charlotte match with himself in his niece’s corner and Ric Flair in his daughter’s corner. He talked about how he felt that Flair had a same pattern for every match no matter who he faced, which he has talked about on numerous occasions previously. Interestingly, he did say that he doesn’t particularly want to be on television at the moment as he feels he is currently rebuilding himself, but I got the impression that he is doing this only as a favor to advance Natalya’s career, whom he is clearly very proud of. He also mentioned, almost as a side comment while talking about the next generation of the Hart family, that he believes Tyson Kidd has wrestled his last match.
Bret also talked about realism in wrestling and how it is simply missing. He brought up WrestleMania and pointed out the obvious about Rock and how he knew that he would be wrestling so he put on his wrestling gear on under his sweats. He also questioned Mick Foley and Shawn Michaels just be sat around backstage, years after retiring, wearing their ring gear instead of sitting front row in their street clothes and climbing the guardrail and doing exactly the same thing. He felt it would have given the moment a real edge to it. I’m not sure if I agree completely with that logic, but I can certainly see what angle he was coming from. He also said that moves don’t always look like they hurt like they should, and moves, especially finishers, should look like they hurt and would hurt someone in a real fight. He took this opportunity to take a shot at Triple H and question how the Pedigree would hurt when it’s clear his opponents face doesn’t hit the mat.
All in all, it was a very fun evening. Bret is clearly not a well man, and for the likes of you and I, if we were feeling half as bad as Bret looks like he’s feeling, we would be at home in bed, not traveling halfway around the world. He repeated some stories, especially about Owen Hart, but it’s still great to hear the man himself tell you tell the stories in person.
As always, feel free to get in touch either through twitter @haydngleed or via email firstname.lastname@example.org