Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Truth In Wrestling...

If there is a "TRUTH" in Professional Wrestling
your gonna find it here. From da mouth of Bret "The Hitman" Hart.

His New book, "Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling", is about to hit the stands. There will undoubtedly be lotz'a noses knocked out'a joint to follow. That's what comes with tell'n the truth. The person tell'n it will be labeled a "trouble maker". I know I felt it before in my former work place.
Anyway here's an interview with Bret. He talks freely about Chris Benoit, his former boss Vince McMahon, the state of wrestling today and the need to start a union for professional wrestler's.

The Interview: Bret Hart

The Hitman talks about his own concussions and the plight of his fellow wrestlers

Steve Maich Oct 15, 2007 4:39 pm EST

In this week’s Maclea’s, “The Concussion Time Bomb” asks if a lifetime of head injuries, suffered by many pro athletes, is even more dangerous than once thought—resulting in violent, sometimes murderous, behaviour. Former pro wrestler Bret Hart walked away from the sport because of a concussion and talks to about his own health concerns, about how the sport and wrestlers themselves ignore the issue and whether the crime of Chris Benoit (who killed his wife and son before committing suicide) was a result of steroids or concussions. I read some of your comments in the wake of [your brother] Owen’s death that suggested that the wrestler’s welfare is not always as high on the list of priorities as it ought to be. Do you think that the WWE is doing enough to ensure that the wrestlers are healthy and safe?

Bret Hart: No, I don’t think so. I don’t think a whole lot’s changed—they sort of use ’em up and spit ’em out. Now that there are public shareholders and everything’s accountable to the shareholders, they seem to be they’re trying harder to do the right thing. But I think the right thing is a union and they seem to be very much against that.

M: What do you think a union would accomplish?

BH: Someone has to put some kind of pension plan in order. A lot of them have spinal problems and hip problems, and they have all the surgeries after their careers and nobody helps them with any of that. A wrestler like Brian Adams – who just died –had back surgery and I have no idea whether he was one of the wrestlers who suffered from pain and was addicted to painkillers or something like that. A lot of wrestlers keep that kind of stuff to themselves, they’re not very open about it. He was just another wrestler that was crippled up and relying on his wife to pay the bills. I think there are a lot of wrestlers that suffer from depression and things that don’t go accounted for. I know Sensational Sherri, she died just a few months ago and I believe that was a suicide. And Bam Bam Bigelow I believe was a suicide. They were famous people a few years ago and all of a sudden one day they wake up and they’re not important anymore and it starts to eat at them. Once they pull the mat out from underneath you some people end up making it, but my guess is that 90 per cent of them are broke and have nothing left, and they’re all crippled up. A lot of the wrestlers were pushed so hard years ago. I know in my time the schedule was never-ending, If you miss a shot or you miss a day it was, for a lot of people, it was your position or your job was on the line, or both.

M: Was there pressure to fight through injuries and just perform no matter how hurt you are?

BH: Yeah, I think. Mind you, I never saw anybody forced. I’ve had a lot of situations where they really leaned on you hard or almost like pleaded with you to somehow make it. But it was always the wrestler’s decision. But that may have changed.

M: Can you describe to me a little bit about the stunts too? I mean, obviously it’s always been kind of a high-flying sport, but it seems like that’s been even ratcheted up lately?

BH: It’s a totally different business, a different show than what I remember. To me the real art of wrestling was more like figure skating in the sense that you were never supposed to hurt each other, you were always supposed to protect each other, and it was all sort of a “nod, nod, wink, wink” and the wrestlers were the ones that were in the know. That’s all sort of been thrown out the window.

M: When even when you were wrestling, were there people taking dangerous falls?

BH: There was. Most of the wrestlers understand the risks involved in the squared circle, and right on the floor. I think over the years that’s been modified to ramps and stages and backstage, like dressing room brawls, where you are fighting on cement. I rarely got hurt in the wrestling ring. I wrestled 23 years, I never injured one guy ever in my whole career, and if you watch my matches I was a really physical guy. I never took a lot of head shots. In wrestling you don’t generally take a lot of head shots but over the years I think that’s changed. Like Chris Benoit – I don’t really think the steroids were a factor, in the end, but I think it was all the head shots. He was a guy that made a living for maybe 15 to 18 years diving off the top rope and dropping his head on some guy’s head or chest every night. It was one of his signature moves— hitting his head every night like that, over and over and over. Chris was like me, a very hard, physical wrestler, and I think that that is probably a better direction—you’ll find more up that tree than you will the steroids. released in a few days.

M: It’s interesting you say that. I was talking to Dr. Omalu, who did the brain testing on Chris after his death and that is absolutely what he thinks. He thinks that Chris suffered multiple serious concussions over the course of many years that were never diagnosed and never treated. There was that damage to his brain—and all that might have been needed was to hit a stressful time in his life and he snapped.

BH: I know in my case I retired because of a concussion injury, and was told basically that if I didn’t stop that I would be like Muhammad Ali years from now. So I stopped, but just as I started to come out of that injury—and when I was also under a lot of stress—that’s when I suffered my stroke. So I always thought they went hand in hand—even though my doctors have always said that they didn’t think that they were connected because they were in two different parts of the brain.

M: But it wouldn’t surprise you if they were connected, if we find out down the road more about brain science and they were connected?

BH: Yeah, I mean, hopefully if you open up my head there’ll be one or two concussions in there but not a whole file full like Benoit. I stopped for that reason. I don’t have any doubts that when I walked away from wrestling—quit or got fired, or both—the fear of going back and falling on my head one more time outweighed anything else.

M: Is there some way that they could help out in the ring? Maybe outlaw head shots with the chairs and stuff like that, or would that hurt the product?

BH: They just don’t need the chair shots and stuff. It never was a requirement. I think I was asked a few times if someone could hit me over the head with a chair, and I always refused. I only let one guy, Steve Austin, hit me over the head with a chair—and he did it so gingerly and almost pathetically light. I wouldn’t allow people to hit me on the head with anything. Most of the blows I ever took to the head were fake. It was instilled in me right from the very start—protect your head. You don’t really hit your head on the post, or you never really hit your head on the wall or anything like that—it’s all padded turnbuckle and you just learn how to basically work it through it.

M: Do you feel like guys are taking much bigger risks now?

BH: I’ve had wrestlers basically ask me not to hit them lightly with the chair, basically make me promise that when I go out there that I will hit them as hard as I can with the chair, not to worry about it. I’m not sure if it was masochistic. I think every one of those chair shots causes some kind of brain damage, and I’ve never asked anyone to let me hit them over the head with a chair nor offered it for myself.

M: Why would anybody take that risk? You know, what is it about the wrestling culture where guys are saying, “Oh yeah, just hit me as hard as you can.”

BH: It’s to try to make everyone think it is real—to convince some guy in the audience that that chair shot really was the real thing and have him talk about it when he is driving home that night or something. But I don’t know, I always loved the wrestling part of it, not the props, necessarily. The truth of it is that chairs was something that was very rarely done, maybe once in a while. Now it’s something that’s been done so much that they can completely phase it out without even missing it. I think people are sick of it anyway.

M: What’s the role of the WWE in all this? I mean, you know Vince McMahon quite well. What is his responsibility in all this?

BH: Well, I think they’re making enough money to take better care of the wrestlers and offer them something more long-term in the sense of what a union would give them. And the schedule’s so murderous—probably there used to be 300 days a year. I think my record was 304 days a year. That doesn’t even include my travel days home. I mean, I was hardly home at all. I know a lot of wrestlers who always took a couple of Percocets with their coffee and walked out and had their match, took something to sleep that night, took something to get up to go to the gym. I think the few times Vince McMahon put in a real strong drug testing policy it worked. I think he proved through the ’90’s that steroids are not necessary, that the wrestlers actually wrestle better. I would be the first one to have thought differently when they started ruling out steroids. I would have thought my body was going to fall apart and my knees were going to go, get weaker, and that it was going to be a negative impact, but I realize that that it was more in my head. I lost a little bit of strength when I went off steroids and for the most part I’ve never had any desire to ever be back on them again.

M: How long were you on them, Bret?

BH: Oh, I had some continuing use of steroids on an-off-and-on basis through probably about 1985 through to 1989, maybe.

M: To ’89? And did you have any negative side effects from them?

BH: No, not really. I mean, I think I took them within moderation. I was on them enough to sort of get the benefit of them, but I wasn’t so much of a gym nut like some of the other wrestlers.

M: But did it make you worry when you saw, for example, Rick Rude and the Big Boss Man, and Curt Hennig all die, you know, kind of in succession?

BH: Yeah, it definitely did, mostly because I think it was all tied in with the wrestling life. In a lot of ways it’s a lonely existence, where your only friends are your wrestler friends and the highlight of your day is to have a few beers and take a few pills and go to bed after your match when you are all beat up and sore. I’ve seen a lot of these guys over the years, all the guys you just named, all of them got into the routine of taking these painkillers after their matches, and taking things to sleep, and there was a cycle of wrestlers taking drugs all the time. And even as wrestlers have died they’re still taking them, and then they’re dying. There’s been a growing list for 20 years, probably 25 years, of wrestlers dying from overdoses of pain pills or sleeping pills.

M: The last thing I just wanted to ask is whether or not you think wrestling can survive all this. You know, they’re talking about congressional hearings, they’re talking about steroid testing, and Big Chris Benoit’s death and all that.

BH: You know, it always does. I mean wrestling’s always seemed to find a way to come back. But I think it’s really on the ropes right now because for me it doesn’t represent anything of what I remember it. Very rarely can I find myself enjoying it anymore. I don’t like the format anymore. I prefer to watch the old matches the way it used to be. And I think a lot of fans are like that. And it’s more of a sort of a traveling soap opera for Vince McMahon and a few wrestlers that control things.

8 Don't Just Sit There Say Sumthin !:

wisdomstuff said...

My SO loves to watch wrestling. I am in hell!

concerned citizen said...

Interesting post. Personally, I can't stand watching Wrestling, but I'm not a guy so...there you go.

It is great that Bret Hart is coming out with this book, it's sad that these guys are just being used for fodder & tossed off to the side to make other people rich.
Like he said in the interview, "they sort of use ’em up and spit ’em out."

This is really a picture of Corporate Greed.
Corporate Greed has to be checked at some point & we sure can't trust our Government to do it & the Corporations are not going to do it, themselves. & Shareholders aren't going to do it either. I see organizing a Union as the Wrestlers only alternative.

wallycrawler said...

Wise Guy, I'm glad ya got one of dem S/O's, cause now you can show him/her your "body-to-body suplexes" your always talk'n about. Don't forget to never apply the "Sleeper" til your satisfied!


C/C you hit the meaning of this post right on the mark. I posted it for exactly that reason. "Corporate Greed" and the lack of caring about it's "talented employees". This post can be transposed to every walk of life in America today. That lack of unions, the ignorance of the North American consumers and it's workforce is outrageous!

Again Miss Citizen you see through my thin veil.

I'm glad you liked Bret cause he really is a man of conviction. He has been offered millions of dollars to come back to the WWE/WWF and he's has thumbed his nose at Vince Mcmahon (The President of the company) every time.

I'd love ta see him in a ring at lest one more time though!

Ice said...

My husband LOVES Bret.

He gets really mad and tells me how he got "screwed over"

He's got all these DVD's and such...

*sigh* I'm sooooo not into wrestling.

Ice said...

I'm into UFC THOUGH!!! :))

wallycrawler said...

Me too Ice!

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