Blog Update Nov 25/2011
Being that it's American Thanksgiving, I can't help but fondly look back on my Mom today. She always instilled in me a deep pride and appreciation for the American blood pulsing through my veins. This was one of the most special days I used to have as a kid and as a man.
Being half-American was something I treasured early on in my life thanks to my Mom. It was because of her that I have always felt more connected to American history more so than the dull and uneventful Canadian history that was drilled into my head year after year growing up Canadian. As a kid, I would wait for this day. Usually, if it wasn't snowing outside, the Hart boys would toss the football around while my Mom, Dad and sisters prepared the turkey dinner inside. If it was snowing, it would be the whole day inside the ole' Hart house all together again, or most of us most of the time. Even when family members couldn't be there, you thought of them and knew how much they'd miss being there … wherever they were. The fireplaces would be blazing and the aroma from the kitchen would be so tantalizing and mouth watering. When I got hungry enough I'd hang around my dad, who would usually throw me a chunk of ham, turkey or something to keep me fuelled up. My sister Georgia always baked an assortment of cookies and desserts that would be smiling and grinning at us in the background; reminding myself to make sure to leave room for the pumpkin pie. There was always a humongous turkey, gravy, stuffing, real cranberry sauce, hot buns, and mashed taters. Stu would bow his head and, as a family, Harts old and young would all submit to God and prayer and we'd all say Grace.
Its memories like these that I carry deep in my heart, especially through 14 years of working for WWE; forever taping up my wrists and lacing up my boots to entertain families watching WWE from the warmth and comfort of their living rooms. I can recall the same sad empty expression on the face of my brother Owen, if we were lucky to be together. We'd be longing the same thing … HOME.
I remember WWE usually had decent catering at the building for Survivor Series; turkey and what not, but it never compared to my Mom's. Having turkey before match time often made tired wrestlers more tired. I'd usually call home from wherever I was and hear the chatter of excitement in the background when my mom answered the phone. Usually Survivor Series was playing live on TV and the soon-to-be Hart Dynasty, Harry Smith, Nattie Neidhart, Tyson Kidd and my crazy nephew Teddy would be riveted to the TV watching our every move with their chins on their knees. Someday all their dreams would come true, at least for the ones brave enough to search for it.
I remember the emotion that ran through me at the 1990 Survivor Series when I had only learned hours before that my brother Dean had died from kidney failure. In my heart, I vowed to dedicate my match to my brother's memory that day knowing my grieving family was watching from home. I'll never forget the brotherly love I got from all my fellow wrestlers that day. Those that especially come to mind are Roddy Piper, Mr. Perfect and Shawn Michaels. Not to mention Ted DiBiase who gave me some great spots for the match that pretty much stole the show that day, in my opinion. I still remember the finish and how I was the last guy on my team eliminated; how much the fans believed in me but how bad they truly wanted me to win. In all honesty, I felt a ghostlike presence of my brother Dean next to me clapping as hard as he could. When I came back through the curtain, Hercules Hernandez was so moved he hugged me and we cried together if only for a split second before I was engulfed in back slaps from the agents and the boys, and alas a huge sopping wet one from a grinning Million Dollar Man. I always thought it was one of my all-time greatest moments. When it comes to heartbreaking loss in a pro wrestling match, nobody could tell that story better than the Hitman could. Heartbreak, that was often quite real, was entwined in my work and my ring character. I don't see that so much today. I think that's what is missing about today's wrestling. Nothing pretends to be real or important enough anymore and the titles mean nothing to the fans, the company, or the wrestlers that win and lose them.
I guess there will always be more heartfelt memories than the most obvious one like the "screwjob" in Montreal, but even that with the release of the "Greatest Rivalries - Shawn Vs. Bret" DVD. I think its very honest although there is one error on my part that shouldn't go unnoticed. At one point, I'm telling Shawn that Vince has told me that back in 1997 I would be working with him at Wrestlemania but I actually meant to say Survivor Series. On the DVD when Shawn says, "he didn't know that", he is right. It was never the plan and I hate to blur the truth with a mental error. Anyway, that is the only correction I'd make. In fact, I am proud to say my version of events has never changed since the day it happened.
Anyway, back to more pleasant and deserving thoughts. I think back again to that 90's Survivor Series when my brother Dean died and how on the road it was Shawn Michaels who consoled my brother Bruce and I. I will forever appreciate how Kerry Von Erich spent hours helping my shell-shocked and grief stricken brother Bruce cope with Deans passing.
On this day, I think of family, I think of how blessed I am. A nice dusting of snow outside my house, blue frosted Rocky Mountains with that ugly winter not quite arrived yet. I see my adorable wife watching the Packers / Lions game, my pug JoJo at her side and my cat Sophie hanging her lazy head down from her cat bed. My granddaughter Kyra is coming over for Thanksgiving Dinner and I'm taking the day off to chill and reflect.
I think of American values and how scary these times are right now. The world is rapidly changing and it's a time for cool heads and steady hearts to prevail. I fear for climate change, or another Depression, or the next pandemic, or maybe the sorrow in realizing there are only 300 Siberian tigers left in the world. Instead I'll focus on the Green Bay Packers eating the Lions alive on my living room TV. In Canada, the Grey Cup is this weekend and I wonder who my Dad would be cheering for. I always think of Owen. "Hey Owen, who you going for in the Grey Cup, the Lions or the Bombers?" On this day, I'm flooded with memories of my parents, my brothers Dean and Owen, and even Davey. I think of Rick Rude, Herc, Curt, Crush, Macho and then I have to stop myself. Just too many of my mates are gone.
I give thanks to my fans all around the world. With you in mind, I hope you will join me in a silent prayer for a speeding recovery for my old friend Big Jim Harris, better known as Kamala, who recently lost his foot to diabetes. My thoughts are also with Mark Canterbury one of the Hillbilly Godwynns who only recently survived and is still recovering from a nasty truck crash a few weeks ago. These two wrestlers and their families are in my prayers because they are the core of what I loved most in wrestling and the brotherhood I shared with them. My thoughts also go out to Bobby Heenan and Paul Orndorff, both of whom are bravely battling cancer. And then there's Scott Hall who I pray will finally find the courage to simply live. Like true fans, I treasure the so few surviving iconic wrestling legends alive today. We've lost a generation of wrestlers in recent years. Like the Siberian Tiger there are only 300 or so left in the world today.
This is the one day, quoting from the book "The Cunning Man", I would humbly ask of my friends, fans and family to remember the three modes of prayer. "Petition: asking for help and strength for oneself; Intercession: asking for help and strength for others; Meditation: placing yourself silent before the greatness of God." Happy Thanksgiving America.
Check out the Hitman's online store for our great Christmas promo, where you can get a free autographed wrestling with shadows double DVD HERE.