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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Alan Wojcik Reviews Bret Hart's Biography

Pop quiz time. What do Hulk Hogan, Terry Funk, Ric Flair, Lou Thesz, Brian Pillman, Dynamite Kid, Bad News Brown, Davey Boy Smith, Jeff Jarrett, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, Curt Hennig, Steve Austin, Yokozuna, Big Van Vader, the Undertaker and Terrible Ted the Bear have in common? All of them have one way or another been in the life and in the ring with former WWF/WCW superstar BRET HART. Since suffering a career ending concussion followed by a near life ending stroke, Hart has lived in privacy. That was until he finished HITMAN: MY REAL LIFE IN THE CARTOON WORLD OF WRESTLING ($26.99, 549pp, Grand Central) and released it in Canada last year. Now his American fans have the chance to read what made the book a huge seller across the border.

If you watched his WWE anthology DVD or the excellently made Wrestling With Shadows documentary you know Hart is one of 12 children born to Stu & Helen Hart. Since birth he was involved in some form or fashion with the family business, Stampede Wrestling, which was written about in a wonderful book by Heath McCoy. Hart wanted more than the wrestling life so he opted for film school but fate changed that and here we are talking about his autobiography on his life in wrestling instead of a film career. What a life it was though it takes him nearly 150 pages to get to the WWF so pace yourself and enjoy tales of growing up Hart, the shows throughout the country, working for his family promotion and working in Japan, Puerto Rico and other interesting places.

Once we get to the second of four parts of the book (the book itself has 47 chapters) entitled "The Foundation" you are in the world of WWF 1980's style. Everything you have read or heard is true: sex with ringrats, drinking with head honcho Vince McMahon 'til all hours, steroid use and drugs of all kind, non-stop across the world travel and in between wrestling matches. Saying in the the book, "I'm a survivor with a story to tell", Hart holds nothing and I mean nothing back. He is open and honest how he met his first wife Julie (mother of his kids) yet was sleeping with nearly every woman he met (but no mention on any kind of Sunny Days.) Hart talks about his days jobbing in the WWF until a conversation with then booker George Scott about becoming a cowboy led to the forming of the Hart Foundation with his real life brother-in-law Jim Neidhart, who then took on fellow brothers-in-law Davey Boy Smith & Dynamite Kid (Tom Billington) who were the popular British Bulldogs (Smith was married to Hart sister Diana, Neidhart to sister Ellie and Billington to Julie's sister Michelle.) Hart explains the circumstances that led to a singles push against "Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig (I was at MSG for their Summerslam classic), how things went from the Intercontinential championship and eventually wearing the WWF World Heavyweight title to having Hulk Hogan come along and ruin his run. Despite watching the Hart DVD and growing up a fan, I will repeat I was surprised how open and honest Hart is, certain locker rooms would lynch him for spilling the goods. The best part is the talk of the excellently created Bret-Owen Hart feud of 1994 that came full circle to the New Hart Foundation in 1997.

Like the Hart and Shawn Michaels WWE made DVD's I am sure you want to hear about the Montreal Screwjob of 1997 and its here without censor (chapter 41 if you want to read it first.) Hart goes into details how things changed in the WWF when Hall & Nash jumped to World Championship Wrestling in May 1996 where Eric Bischoff used them and the New World Order to launch the Monday Night War. Hart gives details on his contract negotiations with both promotions and why he chose to stay with WWF and eventually regretting it. When the dust settles on the WWF, Hart goes into what should have been a great time in his career. Instead he walked into a WCW under internal seige. From here it gets dark as Hart battles for his career and loses his Owen to a tragic accident in 1999. Hart covers most of the stuff Martha Hart used in her book on Owen and he talks about the death of Owen and eventually his marriage to Julie. Thanks to a Bill Goldberg super kick and several other head shots the generation behind me will never see Hart wrestle in person ever again, but they can enjoy this book as much as I did. It is available in stores and online across America.