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Posts Tagged ‘Bret Hart’

Anti-Canucks Assessment, Gretzky’s Gall, and a Lebron/Heat chime-in.

June 12, 2011 2 comments

This year’s Stanley Cup Final is just so incredibly polarizing in terms of how valuable home-ice advantage is, it’s amazing.  Name another series where you’ve seen one team lose on the road either by shutout, or only by 1 goal (and not score more than 2), but then upon returning home absolutely obliterate their opponents by scores more fitting of low-scoring football games.  I’ve never been much a believer in home-ice advantage affecting the outcome of games – obviously it’s nice to play in your own digs, not have to travel, have extra prep time, the comfort of your own dressing room, and the support of your home fans – but in the end, all those things are only small advantages, not game outcome determiners; and all those things can go right out the window if the visiting team gets up a goal or two.  But to see the home team’s scores in each game; it’s enough to think that those little advantages have added up somehow.  Besides the fact that the Stanley Cup will be awarded in the next 2 games, it’ll be interesting to see if the winner claims victory on the road or at home.  As I’ve written about before, for the winner’s sake, I hope it’s on their home turf (which now, can only be Vancouver).

Speaking of which, I’ve been contemplating my storied anti-Vancouver Canucks stance more and more as the Canucks have pushed the envelope as far as they have this season.  If I had to whittle down to the root of my hatred, it’s always come down to 2 ultimate factors:  1) The Canucks are always heavily favoured to win by local fans and media, always choke, and have never won the Cup; and therefore 2) their crazy, rabid riot-prone fans cannot accurately claim them to be the best (though they have always continued to do so) without having done just that.  You may or may not hate the Oilers, Flames, Leafs, Habs, Ducks, Bruins, Hawks, Avalanche, Stars, Wings, Devils, Islanders, Rangers, Flyers, or Penguins; but the fact remains that those teams have all got it done (at least once), and they and their fans will always have that to hang over Vancouver and their fans until they win. 

I guess it comes down to your fandom rooting – I respect a fan that has been cheering for their team from the start, through the dark times, and finally has their cheering rewarded; but I also respect cheering for a team that is rooted in success.  Both Finals teams offer desirable conclusions to both scenarios. 

My latest thought on my personal stance is that if indeed the Canucks were to finally win their first Stanley Cup, I would have to at least reconsider my policy on cheering against this seemingly cursed-to-lose franchise, and perhaps even motion to enter fandom of said team.  Geographically, I should be on board as a resident of BC (though I’m from Kelowna, not Vancouver; a city that prides itself on not being Vancouver), but truth be told I’ve always been an “against-the-grain” kind of guy, and have no problem cheering for or aligning with the less popular.  This is a whole other ball of wax too; as it’s come to my attention that the Canucks are the object of many people’s hate throughout this continent (outside of BC of course); and that in itself, is oddly attractive to me.

I can’t say I care for bangwagoners, and I would be afraid of being viewed as such.  If I were a current Canucks fan that learned someone like me was considering jumping ship to their side, I probably wouldn’t welcome me with open arms after the deserved slogging I’ve given them since I was aware they existed.  Hey, if Wayne Gretzky can jump ship from endorsing Coke to Pepsi, and Bret Hart can come back to WWE, then maybe I can come around on the Canucks.  I have to admit, I love the U2 game-entrance music, and the Vancouver fans are probably the best at singing O Canada as a group.   

I’m not saying this will actually happen (they have to win first, of course), but it’s running through my mind.  I think in the end I’m most likely too far gone, but it may be a very brief window to rid some hate from my brain.  Maybe I’m just proving myself a poor anti-fan. 

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And lastly, the Miami Heat.  I don’t have much to say other than wow, that sure didn’t work out like it was supposed to.  Quite frankly, I think Lebron deserved the negative attention he drew, but I can’t say I wanted to see such an incredible athlete lose.  They probably should have paid more attention to the Mavericks though, who apparently also really wanted to win.  One other thought I had was of Gretzky and the Oilers’ dynasty days – they didn’t win the Cup the first time they made it to the Finals either (I know the Heat have won before, I am comparing the current roster to that roster), and we all know what ended up following.  I’d be very surprised if Lebron James wasn’t an NBA Champion at some point.  

"You F*$& promised me we were gonna win if I came here, dude."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crap, even Wayne's wearing a Vancouver jersey.

Wrestling With Shadows No More: Why Bret Hart is Back With WWE.

March 23, 2010 4 comments

 

If you’ve been watching WWE’s Monday Night Raw at all since January of this year, you’re probably fully aware that my boyhood hero, Bret “Hitman” Hart is back working for Vince McMahon.  Bret made an absolutely stunning return that made my nostalgic emotions struggle to keep composed, and kept my neck hair standing on end.  Though he looked like the weathered and beaten down war-horse Vince would later describe him as during the in-ring promo, it’d never been better to see Bret.  Regarding his re-introduction to the WWE audience, Bret mentioned, “”It’s hard to begin describing what a surrealistic feeling it was to walk out on the ramp to “Hitman” chants and my music pounding in my head.”  After 12 years of Bret standing by his actions, and standing against what WWE had done to him, Bret had mended the wounds.  As justified as he was, and would have been in carrying that bitterness around for the rest of his life, it really felt like Bret had done the right thing; forgiven his trespassers, and made an attempt to make a positive out of probably one of the largest negatives in history.  Inadvertently, it seemed like peace and closure to a tumultuous life chapter was on the horizon.

It was incredible to first see Bret “bury the hatchet” with long time, documented real-life enemy, Michael Hickenbottom, aka Shawn Michaels.  Of that encounter, Bret said,

“ It’s worth mentioning that although I did see Shawn earlier in the afternoon in the cafeteria, our in-ring face-off was unrehearsed and heartfelt on both sides and I can finally say that Shawn and I have finally made peace in what has been a long, draining, and sometimes pointless war of personalities…I finally found some closure.”

In the world of kayfabe and storylines, it’s pretty difficult to really know what’s going on for sure; even the writers don’t even know.  This one seems legit though.

Beyond the personal reasons, many still speculate the “real” reasons for Bret’s return.  Some thought Vince McMahon feared Hulk Hogan’s arrival in rival wrestling company TNA as a ratings threat ala the Monday Night Wars with WCW in the 90’s, and bringing Bret back was Vince’s neutralizer to secure winning ratings.  Bret disagrees.  In fact, Bret himself has said he approached WWE about the comeback 3 years ago.  It is fishy that WWE became interested at the time of the Hogan situation though, despite McMahon’s repeated denial that TNA is any sort of threat or competition for WWE.  Hulk Hogan himself commented on Bret’s return, saying,

“I’m so happy to see Bret Hart come in to go against me because he hated the business. He was bitter. He hated Vince. And you’ve got to move on. Positively. I’m so happy to see Bret – and I’ve talked to some of Bret’s family members and he’s excited about coming. He’s excited about coming to RAW. I love Bret Hart to death. I’m excited for Bret to come back. And guess what? I already won again. Because Vince McMahon is now showing that he’s worried about Hulk Hogan going head to head.”

Hogan clearly feels that Bret’s return is suspiciously motivated.  Hulk has been known to make some debated claims though; hard to say if he actually talked to any of the Hart’s like he’s claimed.  And also, Bret and Hulk haven’t exactly been the best of friends either over the years.

TNA’s Eric Bischoff also commented on Bret’s return, saying,

As expected, WWE is reacting to the competition by bringing in Bret Hart.  I am happy for Bret. Hopefully, by going back to work for Vince and the WWE, Bret will be able to put a painful and personally traumatic part of his life behind him. I have always liked Bret as a person and respected him as a professional. It was disappointing to me when I would read or hear comments that Bret would make, that reflected the bitterness he has been carrying around with him for so long. Bret has an opportunity now to write the last chapter of his book in a way that will allow fans to remember him in a more positive way.  I wish the best for Bret.”

There are also those who have speculated that Bret’s return is simply motivated financially.  Bret has been receiving disability insurance money since after his career-ending concussion, and subsequent stroke.  A wrestling match couldn’t possibly be encouraged by an insurance company forking out money to someone wrestling a match when they’re supposedly not physically capable of doing it.  Either there’s a loophole in that deal, or WWE has bought out the policy entirely; who’s to say?  Bret has said, “I’m not opposed to making a little money . . . but I still don’t need to do it.”

Other motivations include the pending induction of Bret’s father, Stu, into the WWE Hall of Fame, a Hart Family DVD being released, and the promotion and elevation of Bret’s family members, DH Smith, Natalya, and Tyson Kidd; aka The Hart Dynasty.  However, The Hart Dynasty appears on Smackdown rather than Raw, and hasn’t been featured once during Bret’s segments, with the exception of an off-camera segment after Bret’s return night.  So much for that theory.

A common theme of Bret’s return rationale seems to be that he’s just simply been bored, and that he was looking to have some fun, as I heard him say in TV interviews on Off The Record, and The Hour.  I hope Bret’s been enjoying it, because much of it has been hard to watch.  Surely it’s all part of a lead up to the Wrestlemania Street Fight between Bret and Vince, but I don’t know if Bret’s really needed to have Vince spit in his face (like Bret did to Vince after Survivor Series ’97), and generally embarrassed in a few other seemingly unnecessary ways.  Former WWF, WCW, and current TNA writer, Vince Russo said,

All that is coming across is how egotistical McMahon is – and it’s a travesty for Bret to come back and be treated the way he’s treated. There’s a way to do an angle and do it with class and a respectful manner to not do some of things to Bret.”  Russo also says, ” that just reeks the ego of Vince McMahon” and that’s one of the reasons he (Russo) left the company.

It has been fun to see Bret “beat up” Vince once, and blast him in the face with a cast though.  Bret’s always claimed to be the safest wrestler of all-time – never hurting any of his opponents.  Ever the consummate professional, it may be tough for Bret to not let a few rights “slip” their way into Vince’s jaw for real, just for old times’ sake.

So whatever the motivation, I’m glad to see Bret back.  It’s the right thing to do, and I’m looking forward to riding the nostalgia wave as far as the tide takes it.  Now could someone please inform Bret that those aviator sunglasses he keeps coming out wearing look brutal, and that he needs to wear his old sweet wrap-around sunglasses?  Also, don’t expect to see Bret donning the pink and black tights of old; he’s vetoed those as well.

My Encounters With the Hitman / Bret Hart Comes Full Circle.

December 30, 2009 4 comments

Hell has frozen over, and the swine have flown to Mexico for the winter.

The term “Never Say Never” has, well, never, been more appropriate.  Bret Hart is coming back to WWE TV. 

We all had childhood heroes, and Bret “Hitman” Hart happened to be one of mine.  Though I would find out much later in life through his 2007 autobiography, “Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling”, that he cheated on his wife a lot and dabbled in steroids; I looked up to the guy, or at least his on-screen persona, for most of my adolescence.  The “Hitman” character was a great role model (as far as wrestlers go); always standing up for what was right, never backing down from a challenge, the pursuit of excellence, teamwork, national pride, and all sorts of other BS that plenty of parents have a difficult time instilling in their children.  He even took a verbal stand against the sexual content appearing in WWE programs, knowing full well how many children tune into the show.

Though I saw him perform on TV plenty of times, I only ever got to see him wrestle live once at a non-televised “house-show” in Vancouver’s Agridome when I was in 7th grade.  We had seats pretty far back, but when I heard his entrance music start, I rushed up to the ringside barrier and was quite surprised how easily I got right to the front.  He was the WWF Champion at the time, so when he was coming around high-fiving all the fans around the ring, he had the title belt draped over his shoulder.  I remember as he drew closer to me that I was going to have to make a split-second decision over whether to slap his hand or touch the belt.  Citing in my elementary school educated mind that the belt had been with the likes of Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Randy Savage, Andre the Giant, and other legends, I elected to touch the belt.  As Bret moved onto the next fans beside me, I sort of remember getting a bewildered look from him.  Immediately, I knew I had made the wrong decision, and I’ve regretted it ever since. 

I encountered Bret again at the Molson Indy Vancouver in 1998 or 1999.  I can’t nail down the date for certain, but I remember I was still in school, and he was signing 8×10” glossy’s of him posing with the WCW US Title belt, which he held in both of those years.  My dad had gotten tickets to the race nearly annually through work.  While in the hotel, I caught on the news that Bret was at the event signing autographs, and starting the race, or something celebrity-ish.  After quite literally racing down to the track (pun) from the hotel with family in tow (actually, I couldn’t drive yet, so they were effectively towing me), I got to the end of the dwindling autograph line.  The security guard told me that he had already been signing overtime and was about to leave.  I tried my best to be a good, well-behaved fan for as long as I could, but it was to no avail.  My hero eluded me.

Right in between those encounters is where an event took place that makes this pending return to WWE TV so incredible.  The whole series of events is documented in a 1998 film called Hitman Hart: Wrestling With Shadows, a movie that accidentally uncovered the most dynamic real-life drama in the history of the wrestling business.  Around 1997, Bret’s contract was set to expire.  He resigned a 20 year deal with the then WWF to secure him in the company, and away from competitor WCW that had taken Hogan, Savage, and many other past-prime wrestlers and edged them out of the ratings war with.  Later in the year, McMahon informed Bret that the company was in “financial peril” and he wasn’t going to be able to make good on the contract.  Vince helped Bret negotiate a deal with WCW to commence at the expiry of his current contract at the conclusion of 1997.  There was concern on McMahon’s side that Bret, the then world champion, would bring the title belt to WCW TV and exploit it the way Alundra Blayze did when she took the WWF Women’s title to WCW and threw it in a garbage can during a live broadcast in 1995.  As Bret was given “reasonable creative control” of his character for the remainder of his contract, he and Vince worked out an “amicable” finish to his WWF run (Bret wore a “wire” in a backstage meeting), which would have him drop the belt gracefully on Monday Night Raw, the night after Survivor Series 1997; as he was having issues losing to his storyline and real-life nemesis, Shawn Michaels (yes, actually real fist-fights off-camera) in Canada as Bret’s character was currently a overtly Pro-

A moment of infamy.

Canadian one.  The Survivor Series match went down and concluded with an entirely different finish than was discussed; Shawn “beat” Bret after the referee said he submitted (he didn’t) and Vince himself ordered the bell rung.  After the match, Bret spit in Vince’s face, and destroyed a bunch of monitors and TV equipment.  A further backstage confrontation between Bret and Vince turned into McMahon walking out of Bret’s locker room with a black eye, woozy from being knocked out, and limping from a sprained ankle.  Needless to say, Bret hadn’t just left the company on friendly terms. 

In the last 12 years, Bret has still remained in the WWE realm.  The very next night after SS ’97, Shawn brought out a little person dressed as Bret to further humiliate him, and gloat about his title win.  A few years later, Shawn “apologized” on-camera for his part in the “Montreal Screwjob”; though he didn’t really say he was sorry.  Bret smelled a rat and declined his apology on his website.  Bret’s brother Owen died in 1999 while performing a ring entrance stunt that went wrong; Bret and his family sued the WWE, and seemingly further divided the already strained relationship. 

In 2005, Bret and WWE jointly produced a DVD collection chronicling Bret’s

A relationship on the mend.

 wrestling career.  It was a large success, and some would say that this partnership paved the way for Bret’s WWE Hall of Fame induction in 2006, where Bret appeared live, and gave a speech.  He declined to appear in front of the live audience the next night at Wrestlemania, citing that he wasn’t comfortable with it.  Interestingly, he stipulated that he didn’t want Shawn anywhere near the event or he would walk out.  Michaels obliged, and there was no incident.  This year, WWE teased a Hitman appearance at a Calgary event; they played his entrance music and introduced him, but the Canadian crowd was greeted by “American Hero” Sgt. Slaughter waving “Old Glory” instead.  And this brings us to the latest incident, where after Raw guest host Dennis Miller teased Bret’s return again, amongst internet rumors of Bret signing an on-camera contract, McMahon himself (with the aid of Michaels) announced that Bret will return to WWE as Raw’s guest host next week.  With his contractual obligations speculatively lasting until Wrestlemania, a Bret/Vince/Shawn storyline seems unavoidable.

So now I’m emotionally torn.  I’m thrilled that my former hero is returning to TV, but I’m concerned about the motives behind the comeback.  Bret suffered a career-ending concussion while in WCW, and a stroke while in retirement; so the odds of him actually involving himself physically are ultra slim.  He made a lot of money over his career, and I doubt he’s hurting for a payday.  So what’s the motivation?  He could be in it to help out his relatives of The Hart Dynasty.  But after all the years of sticking to his guns, and saying he’d never forget what happened to him or do business with WWE again, here he is.  Bret has been criticized for years about not being able to “move on” or “let it go”; is this maybe just simply the way to bring closure to a legendary, but expired, issue?  Has he finally been able to forgive and forget?  Should his fans do the same as well?

To those who follow wrestling, it’s no secret that Hulk Hogan is making his debut for TNA Wrestling on the same night; so clearly Bret’s return is in hopes of thwarting a ratings shift.  But contrary to the last few years of haphazardly tuning in to WWE due to uninteresting storylines and over-played feuds, I’m going to be absolutely glued to my TV come Monday.

CFL Popularily Primer, Horse Happiness, and the Male Pink Perversion.

November 9, 2009 14 comments

Is it possible that the CFL could gain more popularity if they simply built stadiums that allowed fans to sit closer to the field, like in the NFL and NCAA? Why does the CFL make its attendees sit 50 feet away from all points of the field? You can nearly get field-side seats for American games; and the atmosphere shows its appreciation. Don’t CFL games look rather poorly attended on TV, comparatively?

football stadium comparison

Canada (left), US (right)

 

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 How happy are horses to be out of the common workforce? If horses are able to communicate with each other the way we are, I’m sure the elder horses have been passing down stories for years to the young ones about how they used to have to haul EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME until cars were invented. Oh, and they also had to fight in wars (well, carry people into some sort of big fracas the horses didn’t understand the meaning of, and maybe die for some reason). And take people everywhere. We still make them run as fast as they can in a circle so that people can make money off them, and trot people around in carriages and trail rides from time to time, but I’m sure the reduction in labour over the last 60 years has been more than acceptable.

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 Boys wear blue, girls wear pink. Everybody knows this. For some reason, some “men” recently got this strange notion in their head that it’s ok for them to be wearing pink. For every guy challenging the status quo by telling people their shirt was “salmon” colored, there were another two drinking dark ale, making fun of them. And so they danced.

Somewhere along the lines, it got really popular to support Breast Cancer research by wearing those loopy little ribbons, adorned with the color pink. An incredibly aggressive promotional push led to pink clothing, pink sports jerseys, pink sports equipment, and everything else you can think of lambasted pink all in the good name of supporting and funding research for the cure of Breast Cancer (please don’t get me wrong, I am in full support of curing the disease).

This has led to a loophole in the equilibrium of gender coloring. Now, allThe pink and black attack. those male fuchsia flirters trying to be edgy are able to hide from masculine scorn behind what has become an immunity idol of wearing the color most commonly associated with femininity; pink. Who in their right mind is going to make fun of someone supporting cancer research?

The only male I can give a non-cancer-related-wearing-pink free-pass to is Bret “Hitman” Hart, who did just fine with it, always wearing an equal amount of black with pink.

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