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Notes on a Sunday With Bret Hart at Starrcast (14/04/2024)

By Mick Robson

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Alright, we're finally here at the end of our Starrcast Downunder coverage! Thanks for sticking around for this massive week. Whether you're a supporter on Patreon, or liking, sharing, commenting when the content hits the main Arena site- all support is welcomed and appreciated.

We may have saved the best for last. Here's what the legendary Bret Hart had to say at his "Sunday With Bret Hart" stage show in Ballarat this past weekend:

  • Bret didn't expect the cold weather in Ballarat, hadn't packed the right clothes for it.

  • Thought Australian Stampede (the OPW men's show from the night before) was a great show, "had a great vibe" from the first to the last match.

  • Talks about Stampede Wrestling- it's an effort to bring the old wrestling approach into today's style. Likes the integrity of it.

  • Chris Masters is a great representative as the Stu Hart Heritage Champion, as were the previous champions.

  • Aspiring wrestlers need 3 things- the look, the ability to sell/promote/talk, and the ability to wrestle. Emphasises that "look" doesn't have to mean "big and jacked"- saying that Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant and Rey Mysterio all had "the look".

  • Bret rates wrestlers according to the previously mentioned criteria- Hogan- 9/10 look, 9/10 promo, 3/10 wrestling. Austin- 8/10 look, 9/10 promo, 8/10 work. Bret- a 6 or 7 in look and promo, 10/10 in wrestling.

  • On Bret's signature look and gimmick- he never really thought about it, kind of lucked into it. He took the "Hitman" nickname from retired boxer Hitman Hearns. Bret never cared about promos, was all about the wrestling (Editor's Note: the contrast between that and Bischoff's opinions the previous day is very interesting). Bret was very nervous doing promos, and noticed that during a pre-tape, his eyes were darting all over the place, so he ran to get a pair of sunglasses to hide it. Bret says that WWE never thought about his character, it was all his ideas. About the famous hot pink colour- Bret had contacted a seamstress and it was the only colour they had. Jim 'The Anvil" Neidhart wasn't keen for it at first, but when Bret called the seamstress a second time and they still only had the pink, Anvil changed his mind and said, "that's the ticket, let's do it!" Bret says, "We looked like giant pink bubblegum."

  • Bret was nervous with Vince in his early days. Was afraid Vince would look at him and go, "I thought I fired that guy!" Vince saw Bret in the pink and said, "Never change it, that's your colour".

  • Bret's inspirations- loved the big men early on like Haystacks Caluhoun and Man Mountain Mike. Later on, he enjoyed masked wrestlers such as Mil Mascaras. The idea of mask vs. mask matches "really moved him". Bret initially wanted to wear a mask, but passed the idea to Owen, who became the Blue Blazer.

  • We then do a brief watch-along of Bret vs. Owen at WMX with Bret himself. Bret talks about how it was put together- WWE wanted Bret to feud with one of his brothers, Bret said, "it's gotta be Owen". They reluctantly agreed, although Pat Patterson was against it, saying, "Owen's not the guy". Bret pulled Owen aside and said, "you've gotta stick with me", meaning that if Bret and Vince were at odds on something during the feud, Owen had to side with Bret, not Vince. Also, they had to stick to kayfabe and not travel together or eat together.

  • They do a Q&A with the audience:

  • Any house show favourites? Bret names a match with Dynamite Kid in Regina, Saskatchewan. It was a ladder match. Bret called it a good practice town for a Calgary match, and it happened around 1980. It got too real as Dynamite shattered his nose and gave him a Tombstone Piledriver on a ladder. Bret says that Dynamite invented the Tombstone, not the Undertaker.

  • Serious injuries? "Well, I wasn't going to talk about Bill Goldberg", Bret says. He's hurt his knees over the years, just from the impact of the job. He's cracked his sternum, broken numerous bones, including his collarbone. "I could go on for an hour."

  • How do you plan the matches? Is it up to the wrestlers? Bret came up with the whole Bulldog match at Wembley. He likes to put himself in the fan's perspective- what would I like to see if Bret Hart and British Bulldog wrestled each other? Says "it's like two action figures", building the match from the first lock-up and going from there. Vince put Bret and Bulldog last, Bret- "no one could follow us." Bret asked if Vince wanted to know the finish, Vince said no.

  • Bret credits Jerry Lawler for drawing the heel Hitman logo.

  • Bret always enjoyed being a heel more. "You lead as a heel, you're in charge, you're in the driver's seat."

  • When Bret first started wrestling, no one would do anything for him because he was "the promoter's kid". In the WWF, no one knew him or how good he was. They acted like he didn't know how to wrestle and wouldn't let him look good, citing a particular example where they didn't let him hit a dropkick.

  • On the "Cowboy" Bret Hart gimmick- Bret hated the idea but liked money. Was pitched an action figure with a toy horse that made him see dollar signs. He eventually got insecure about it after some ribbing and asked to be tagged with Jim as the Hart Foundation.

  • On the Hart Foundation/Bulldogs matches- "we were light years ahead of anybody and everybody in the WWF." They were the opening match in Madison Square Garden and no one could top it.

  • One time, Bret and Roddy Piper mapped out a match for weeks, only for Vince and TV execs to call them in and tell them the way they want the match done. Vince said snarkily, "you're the so called wrestling genius, you figure it out." Bret- "Vince called me a genius."

  • The highlight of his career- especially now, knocking out Vince McMahon. "That was the sweetest thing."

  • Craziest fans- Bret had "5 or 6 stalkers". Felt that being nice to people "attracted weirdos".

  • Mentions that when he got kicked by Goldberg, it ripped his neck muscle and he has a hole in his neck.

  • Advice for Australian wrestlers- "quit and get a real job". He has a soft spot for Australia, and knows they don't get the same opportunities as those in the US. Says that Australia has all kinds of talented wrestlers and potential.

  • Bret likes wrestling to look and feel real. He criticises Gunther (or as he calls him, "that German guy") for actually hurting people with his chops. "It's not about hurting each other, it's a performance." Gives the same criticism to Ric Flair.

  • On Goldberg- "No one taught that guy how to wrestle. The fact that he's in the Hall of Fame is an embarrasment." Says that Goldberg thought wrestlers were crash test dummies.

  • "The emphasis is on two wrestlers, they come back, they hug, they shake hands, they go home safe."

  • Once responded to Ric Flair asking to do chops, "Okay, then how about I punch you as hard as I can in the teeth."

  • "Treat every wrestler like you would yourself."

  • What's next? Bret would like to see his book turned into a film or TV series, like the Sopranos. Bret wrote the book himself, no ghost writer. He thought about using a diary but thought the boys would look down on that, so used a dictaphone/tape recorder to record everything over the years since 1984. Says his book has no inaccuracies because it was all on tape.

  • Bret regrets that he never wrestled in Australia. Recalled appearing at WWA and says that Andrew McManus still owes him $100,000.

  • Bret closes by saying that Australians don't need North America, they're as good as anyone else in the world.

A fascinating discussion, and Bret was not shy about going into depth on every one of his answers. It was impossible to get every single thing down- maybe I should have recorded the audio like Bret did! If Bret ever does a speaking appearance near you, I highly recommend going.

Thank you for following our coverage of Starrcast Downunder in Ballarat! Hope to see you back for our next review, PWA Ringmasters!

Until next time, take care.


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Who's Behind The Blog
Image of Mick Robson, founder of The Arena Media

Mick Robson is a freelance writer from Australia. A lifelong fan of pro wrestling and MMA, he endeavours to bring that passion through his coverage in news, reviews and opinion pieces.

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