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In my honest opinion, Bret 'The Hitman' Hart was probably the greatest wrestler ever, bar none. This opinion has only really come to pass in my mind after reading Bret Hart's fantastic autobiography 'Hitman' over the past week. Without a shadow of a doubt the best wrestling book ever written, and possibly one of the best autobiographies I've read in my lifetime - Hart has had a life and a half. In the cartoon world of professional wrestling, nothing can be as real as the heartbreak and triumph that this guy has been through. It's a massive book (weighing in at well over 600 pages) and was every bit as interesting as Hart's life could be. I cannot praise the book highly enough, but trying to plead the case of professional wrestling to someone who isn't converted can be an arduous task. 'Wrestling is fake' they'll always decry, but Bret Hart and the Hart family are a testament to the skill, tenacity and entertainment that wrestling has brought to the world.
Hart will probably be remembered for the infamous 'Montreal Screwjob' and the guy who wore pink and black spandex to the ring. But behind the face you saw on TV was a guy who lived and breathed the business. His dad, Stu Hart was the founder of Stampede Wrestling and fathered an amazing 12 children. Bret's relationship with his brothers and sisters is a complicated one, some were addicts and others were extremely jealous of his fame and fortune. Others, like his brother Owen were cruelly taken from this world by the wrestling business.
Hart really opens up, warts and all. He goes to town on the people he did not get on with and lavishes praise on those he liked. Chiefly amongst those he couldn't stand was Shawn Michaels. Hart and Michaels had a very public animosity to one another, mainly because Michaels had WWF chairman Vince McMahon in his back pocket. Michaels was a mess - but the two still managed to pull off some fantastic matches together. Hart also shoots down in flames the legacy of Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair whom he did not have the greatest relationship with.
It's also interesting to read about Hart's relationship with those he did respect - Roddy Piper, Macho Man and The Undertaker. Bret Hart was the guy who managed to bridge the gap between two generations of wrestlers - the pumped up nonsense of idiots like The Ultimate Warrior and the attitude era that was brought about by Stone Cold Steve Austin. Bret Hart held the company up as the champion in the dark days of the eagerly to mid nineties when WCW rules the roost.
You have got to feel for Hart. His father was the backbone of his life and his family took him for everything that was left - his sisters in particular had nothing but envy for him. His brothers squandered the family business and money and his brother ended up dead at the hands of WWF.
It's sad to read about the wrestling tragedies that hit the business in the past twenty years. Its also telling that Hart himself doesn't want to end up a tragedy himself. His brother in law Jim Neidhart ended up a morphine junkie, his partner from England 'The Dynamite Kid' is now paralysed. His brother in law Davey Boy Smith 'The British Bulldog' overdosed and died and Owen fell to his death on a WWF ringpost. Hart himself details his various wrestling accidents, being dropped awkwardly by Goldberg in WCW and the heavy hits to his head at the hands of the 'green' (learning their craft) wrestlers throughout the years. Hart also details the circumstances and eventual recovery from a stroke. Hart fell off his push pike and split his skull on an awkward bit of pavement.
As I was saying, Hart is probably best known for being screwed over by Vince McMahon, evil owner of the WWF. Quite A vast amount of the book is taken over by their relationship. It's strange to think that these two guys have managed to patch up their differences. This book was written before Hart's return to the WWF and was seen by him as his last great thing. It now seems that he is again at the mercy of the people who once wished him ill. But then McMahon also made and helped create the Bret Hart legacy - something that Hart is also at pains to stress.
It's a fascinating read and I can honestly say I was wanting more - even more than the 600 pages that was there. I would certainly read it again and recommend it to anyone interested in wrestling or sports entertainment.
As a child, Bret Hart was a hero of mine. Every week, I would watch him wrestle and cheer. I waited with much anticipation when I heard that he was releasing his autobiography. I wanted to relive those days and experience my memories flooding back to me. I couldn't have expected what I actually experienced however.
Bret Hart has hard a troubled life. From his 2 divorces and the break down of the famous Hart family (due to untimely deaths and bitter disputes), to what he deems as personal injustices. Then his career ending concussion and crippling stroke.
Make no mistake about it, this is not happy reading. I found that a lot of my happy childhood memories were repainted with a gloomy gloss. Mr Hart most certainly has an ego and this shines through throughout. He is quick to tell you how good he was and how much better he was than others. This attitude can be criticised but others will say that all Bret does is give you shameless honesty and perhaps that should actually be applauded.
This book is almost certainly not ghostwritten and what you get is a lifestory that is full of drama and pulls no punches. Bret may be quick to blow his own trumpet but he is also quick to admit to his drug use and extramarital affairs.
This is a long book and was apparently cut down and edited to get it down to 592 pages.
To summise, this is a brilliant book. It's a great inside look into the world of professional wrestling. However, do not expect it to be a happy tale of a successful career. It is very heavy at times and can be depressing. There are definite highlights though. The Owen Hart section is worth the money alone. Go ahead and buy it but prepare to be shocked.
I am a huge wrestling fan, and I have pretty much every autobiography of wrestlers going, including this one; Bret Hart's The Hitman. I was a fan of Bret and his work when I was younger, and when he retired due to having a stroke, I felt the same loss as the rest of the wrestling world, and I was quite excited to learn he was writing a book, although be it in corrolation with the WWE, I was also a bit shocked.
I will be honest now and say I have yet to finish the book, but in all honesty, I do not know if I ever will, I am tempted to throw the damn book out of my car window, it is angering me that much. I know Bret is a proud guy of what he has acheived, and hell yeah he damn well should be, but MY GOD is there any need to be so up your own ass that you look like a donut?
I will start with the good parts of this book before I start ranting lol. Bret does tell us some great things about how he got into pro wrestling, about the mental life his family led, how his father worked so hard and how is mother suffered with it all. We also learn from Bret, a few things about wrestling we may not have known before, and we truly do get to know some things about Bret on a personal level, and how he coped (or didn't) with life on the road away from his wife and kids. Some parts of his life story are quite touching and emotional, and other parts of this book actually did make me laugh some, but then along came the bad!
The book does not seem to flow too well in some places, the story abruptley ends and the next paragraph is about something completley unrelated that has jumped right into the heart of it without so much as a warning! This happens quite a lot mid chapter, and it has proper thrown me off sometimes, caused a bit of confusion! Also, some parts of Brets story appear to have no emotion to them what so ever, it is like he is just writing about something, with no care to it, when what you are reading should be breaking your heart, or filling you with joy. The way some of it was written actually made me feel bad that I didn't seem to feel any emotion for what had happened, although I know I should have done. A sign of good writing to me, is a story that can make you feel exactly what emotions should be felt. Bret has failed to do this!
Now I know an autobiography is a persons life story, but how much can you really say the world revolves around you before people start to think you are talking a load of crap? The bit that really gets me, is when Bret is talking about his fathers funeral. He tells us how sad he was that his father had passed, how he felt about it all and how he apparently felt it more than his family!! He always tries to make it about how he is above all else in his family, which I am sure is not true. He had a lot of brothers and sisters who did equally as well in life, some did not, but no matter what, it would seem Bret is the best of all of them, well according to him.
But this does not just extend to his family life, oh no! On the road, in the ring, in the bars, in a match or heck just in the world, Bret is the best thing ever, at everything and anything. I know he did a lot for the way wrestling is today, but he did not do it as single handedly as he would like us to believe, nor did Vince McMahon steal his every single idea, or he would not be happy to work for him again now (biggest mistake ever, I swear!) He also claims other wrestlers would try to take over his ideas and push him down, try to ruin his career and squash all his ideas.
If all he said was really true, he would have left the company many years before he did, but then maybe the ones who were sucking up to him kept him around? Apparently people told him he was the best in the world, fans told him, Vince McMahon told him, the guys in the locker room, all the women he cheated on his wife with (he admits to many, many women, with like no emotion, shocker!!) probably all his own family too! There is many parts in the book where he proper slates down other members of his family, and other wrestlers, and women, and most people in general. I think he is nice about his own kids, but not even his wife gets the most favorable of things written about her. His hatred for Shawn Michaels is quite apparent in this book too, actually most of the top guys in the WWF (WWE) at the time are shown in the same way. Bret has written about these guys in a way that if done a bit better, would look like he didn't hate them, but it not quite convincing enough and the bitterness, hatred and jealousy do shine through the print on the page.
The wrestling world according to Bret Hart, only revolved around him, and it is a miracle that we still have wrestling now after Bret had to retire (I am obviously being sarcastic for those who didnt get that!) Don't get me wrong, the guy was a great wrestler before he sadly had a stroke, and before the deaths in his family began to take their toll, but after reading this book, (and his terrible return to WWE) I have lost most of the respect I had for Bret Hart. He now, to me, is nothing more than a man who used to be a great wrestler, but is now just a washed up, bitter and twisted old man who truly believes that every thing is about him, always has been about him, and always will be! The world has moved on Bret, they were never THAT into you, they are not THAT into you now and they never will be THAT into you, so please get your head out of your own ass and realise this, before it makes you into an even worse self lover than you already are. Your day has been, do not ruin what magic you did make, please.
This book is available in all good bookstores, like Waterstones and WH Smiths and you can also buy it online at www.amazon.co.uk. I believe it is now available in hardback and paperback, but be aware, this is a long read! The print is small, the book is thick, and the words just drag on and on. I got this book for £16.99 when first released, but it should now be a heck of a lot cheaper.
If you have got this far, thankyou for reading my rant on Bret Hart's The Hitman: My real life in the cartoon world of wrestling.
This review can also be found on ciao under the name of Hailee.
Growing up, Bret Hart was always one of my heroes. I remember vividly him making Stone Cold pass out in his signature sharp shooter, I remember his rivalry with his beloved brother Owen, I remember the Ironman match with nemesis Shawn Michaels. I remember the day that wrestling died, when Vince McMahon screwed him in front of his home fans in Montreal, Canada. I also remember how he was misused in rival company WCW, how brilliant his match with the late Chris Benoit was at the Owen Hart tribute show, how his career ended in the saddest of ways, with a horrific injury, courtesy of the unfathomably popular and clumsy Bill Goldberg.
As a huge Hitman fan, I had to buy the book in which he would tell all about his fascinating life. This is a book I reccommend to people who have never liked wrestling. In it, Bret talks of the friends he made, the difficulties of life on the road, the temptations available to him so very far from home. In a candid and at times hilarious way, he talks about his experiments with drugs, his tendency to drink too much after shows, the way he slept with random women. He has been a hero, a good guy his entire career, someone who people have respected for his gentlemanly and professional approach to the performance he loved. Yet he still reveals all of his faults and follies, showing everyone he was not the straight edged superstar many of us had believed.
Yet, thanks to the humility of his prose, you end up pitying Bret. Life on the road is impossibly hard, and no matter how much he loved his wife, there was always someone to lay with so that he wouldn't have to be alone. There will be hard hearted cynics who scoff at this musclebound machismo's public display of vulnerability, but everyone else will appreciate how difficult it must have been for him to admit such a weakness.
For fans of wrestling there are intimate insider stories about the workings of matches, the scoop on some of the biggest names in the industry's history, and tells the real story about that famous night in Montreal. There are sensational stories about many big names from both the WWF (as it was then) and WCW, and tells the story of the Goldberg match in detail. However there is also the humanitarian story of the aftermath of that devastating injury, including his stroke and recovery. It also tells of his devastation about Owen's death, and the way he rebuilds bridges with Vince, the man who was a father figure to him.
The best stories are set in his Stampede days, before his career had really taken off. The tales of the Dynamite Kid's fall from grace, the death of some of the true greats of the industry including the British Bulldog and the visits to India and Africa, and the suffering if the people are among some of the best written pieces of the book.
This then is more then a book about wrestling, this is a book about a man who happened o reach the top of that bizarre profession, about a great family, headed by a great and difficult man. This is a book about friends, about betrayal, about love, about temptation. If this was a novel it would be considered a work of creative genius. As a memoir it is truly staggering
I was never really a big Bret Hart fan. He was far from my favourite wrestlers, I always felt he was a bit hammy when wrestling (forever favouring the injured leg to gain sympathy) but I was prepared to give this a read as I was very keen to read his viewpoint on the Montreal screwjob more than anything else.
Bret writes his autobiography in the almost guaranteed style now of Youth - Early Career - Highlights - Reflections. No qualms here although I do wishs someone would have the guts to skip the upbringing out, generally no-one cares about it and just want the juicy bits. In Bret's defence his upbringing is quite a key part of his life.
The history of the Hart's and Stampede Wrestling is fairly interesting, although a little too fast and frantic for the reader to really picture the scene. Many of the wrestlers involved are far from household names and Bret's basic descriptions don't really help.
Bret tries to relay his fears that he wasn't going to make it but it's weak and I guess Bret never really doubted it, seeing as how everyone was forever telling him how good he was and 'the best worker ever'.
Eventually Bret gets to the WWF and it gets interesting, mainly because the other characters are recognised. More self-admiration from Bret follows. Girls flocked at his feet, people loved his drawings, wrestlers fell over themselves to tell him how good he was.
The screwjob itself is quite well documented in the book but the storyline doesn't quite patch together too well. A bit like how his sudden dislike for Hogan and Shawn Michaels comes across. Prior to his departure from WWF the only wrestler Hart appears to have a problem with is Ultimate Warrior, upon leaving he's full of vitriol, a bit more detail wouldn't have gone amiss for his dislikes.
The WCW chapter clearly is something Bret has little regard for and it's almost tucked away at the back, way behind his brother Owen's death.
Reflections wise Bret's very vauge although he does give a good account of wrestlers life on the road. Maybe he's been too ambitious in trying to cram everything in one go.
Overall it's a good read, a very good read in fact. Just be prepared for Bret's constant bigging of himself and everyone else been a pain. It does appear throughout the book that Bret has rubbed a lot of people up the wrong way, only he can't figure out why.
'Bret Hart - Hitman' is Bret Hart's autobiography charting his 51 years to date. Bret is one of 12 children to the legendary wrestler Stu Hart. His life has been dominated by wrestling almost from birth. His seven brothers were involved in wrestling and his four sisters married wrestlers. This is a family whose entire existence has been dominated by wrestling, with Bret the shining light who reached the very top of his profession.
As this is an autobiography it covers Bret's life from his earliest memories. Often with this type of story I lose interest when the author covers their childhood in great detail. However, the one thing Bret does throughout the story is relate to wrestling. Even in the early part of the story, when I do not know a lot of the people he refers to, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The main reasons I wanted to buy this book were that Bret has no ties to the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) (I will call World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) from here on but really it was WWF in Bret's time) anymore, this meant that it would not be a watered down version of events. It should be a warts and all account of his time. Secondly, Hart always came over as an intelligent man and I was confident that this would be reflected in the writing. Thirdly, I had previously read Mick Foley's books on life in the WWE and it is a riveting read, with all the politics going on. Finally, Bret was encouraged to leave the WWE by the owner Vince McMahon, who claimed he could no longer afford to keep him. Despite having a 20 year contract with guaranteed earnings, Bret agreed to leave as long as his conditions about how his character would bow out were met (this was in his contract so didn't have to be negotiated). McMahon screwed Bret and this subject could cover a book on its own.
So on to the book. This was an enthralling read from start to finish. Bret is a lot more honest than I expected him to be. He details how lonely times were when he was touring and how it would often lead to him being unfaithful to his wife. He admits to occasionally taking drugs, steroids as well as recreational. These were things he could have glossed over, but he openly admits to moments of weakness and whilst he lays the circumstances as a way of justifying his actions he never makes excuses for them. This added a lot of credibility to the author, so when he tells you things that put him in a positive light you are more inclined to believe that is exactly what happened.
The other thing that this book leaves you with is how much misery, death and despair professional wrestlers take with them. There is seldom a chapter in this book where Bret doesn't tell you of the death of another wrestler, usually in their 30s or 40s. The life expectancy of these people must be below 50, although you could argue a lot of that is self-inflicted.
That was not the case with Bret's brother, Owen, who died on his way to the ring on an aerial slide which released early causing him to fall 78 feet to his death, ironically in the ring, after he landed on the ropes. This occurred after Bret had been forced out of the WWE. This is obviously a very emotional chapter of the book and Bret inevitably puts some of the blame on himself figuring if he was still in the WWE he would have talked Owen out of doing such a ridiculous entrance. This is typical of the way Bret views everything, he immediately thinks what could and should I have done about this situation, even when he is at the other end of the country.
Sadly, for me Owen's death summed up all that is wrong with professional wrestling. Even in such tragic circumstances the show carried on that night with many fans assuming it was part of the storyline. Bret eventually forgives McMahon, something I couldn't ever see myself doing in such circumstances.
The real/fake aspects of wrestling are covered as well. It is generally accepted now that wrestling is sports entertainment rather than sport. The results are known to all involved in advance and this adds to the excitement as everyone is working towards a common goal. However, this means that genuine talent can often be stifled. In a proper sport cream would rise to the top. In WWE you need someone else to push you. Bret, regarded as the best technical wrestler of his generation, was often overlooked as the story makers turned towards bigger personalities and physiques. Rather than being bitter about things Bret used it positively and details how he was still able to rise to the top. The other thing is that the injuries are horrific, far more severe than you would expect to receive in any real sport.
There were elements of the book where Bret came over as being too good to be true. Surely no-one could continually turn the other cheek, however, that seems like the kind of guy Bret is. He was rather deleted from the WWE archives when he left and as WWE controlled the recordings of all his matches his legacy was being diminished. It could be argued that reconciliation with McMahon was essential to protect this legacy. I don't think Bret thinks this cynically although he does view his character as being a real part of him, as you would.
This is a long book at 553 pages in hardback and to get the most out of it you would need to have watched WWE wrestling for a good few years, probably in the early to mid-90s. Although you can access a lot of the people online you really need to know what they were like over a period of time. It was reassuring to see that the people I disliked are dislikeable characters according to Bret. However, if you did not know the characters and how powerful they were in the wrestling world at the time, then a lot of the stories don't mean as much as they would otherwise do.
If you are considering this book I would also recommend Mick Foley's books and two documentaries, Beyond the Mat and Wrestling with Shadows. The later covers the Montreal Screwjob where Bret was cheated out of the title and is gripping viewing.
I have to admit Bret was never one of my favourite characters at the time. I didn't dislike him, just I didn't take to him. Having read this book now I view the man in an entirely different light and respect him hugely.
This book is available from amazon at £9.99 and is an essential purchase for anyone who has any interest in wrestling. Bret is doing a book signing in Glasgow on 12 July, shop to be announced (I'd guess Borders) but details will be on his website soon.
This book also goes under the name of My Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling, I thought Amazon had sent me the wrong book but it must have different names in different countries.
Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.
I could go on, and I could tell you everything in this HUGE book... 592 pages of pure Wrestling and Personal trials, tribulations, successes and journeys taken by arguably the Greatest Technical Wrestler of All Time, Bret 'The Hitman' Hart.
Taken from his personal tape collection, which were recorded throughout the whole of his life, much less his career, Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling centres around family life in 'Hart House' and then the local and International travelling and bouts for Stampede Wrestling, the NWA, WWF, WCW, and many other organisations around the world, sharing the before, during, after, and everything else that goes with the trips, some of which are seriously Adult Orientated.
Other things he touches on include the death of his family members, Davey Boy Smith, Owen Hart and others, as well as his career ending injury inflicted by Bill Goldberg at WCW Starrcade 1999.
This is, by far, the best Wrestling Book I have ever read. And any Wrestling fan must read it to gain a true knowledge of how people like Bret, Owen, Davey, Tom Billington, Chris Benoit and others get into the business.