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July 3, 2008

Transcript of Bret Hart's Hall of Fame speech

Here is a transcript of Bret Hart’s speech from the Hall of Fame ceremony on Saturday night. The speech was recorded by someone in attendance and I have obtained this transcribed version. I am working on getting the actual audio of the speech. The person who passed along this transcript told me that it was more inflammatory in person than it seems in print. The comments regarding wrestling writers, specifically Greg Oliver, are in bold:

“... The one wrestling hall of fame that captures what he was all about. I look around this room here, and there’s a lot of emotion to me. I’m going to try to stay calm and say what I have to say here. I have some very important things that I want to talk about. I see some really important people in my life and in the wrestling world in the audience here. I see Butch Goering, coming all the way out here from California. Talking to Butch, he worked for my father in the ’60s. He knows what it’s like traveling the roads back then, working for my father. Sometimes it was a thousand miles a day wrestling for wrestling fans just when they started, sort of understood wrestling from television. It was a very unique time, and it was the time when Lou Thesz was just sort of establishing a whole new understanding of wrestling through television. Lou Thesz, what a champion, he was always such a great champion, and he earned that right. You look at Red Baron [Baron von Raschke]. I know my father talked a lot about legends in wrestling, but he always talked about Baron Von Raschke all the time. He was a very, very accomplished NCAA wrestler that got into pro wrestling and was respected by every wrestler that ever worked with him. Whatever the finish was, whatever happened in his matches, he was a legend amongst the wrestlers and the fans.

“I see Bob Leonard, who worked for my father for years taking pictures of wrestlers, capturing and documenting, letting people realize the real art of wrestling, and just to capture the pictures of these young athletes dropkicking and head scissors and wrestling holds, making that magic in still pictures. I think Bob Leonard is a very, very important part of my business. Harley Race, I don’t even know how you start. Harley Race to me is the epitome of pro wrestling. He is not only a great wrestler, I don’t know anyone who would want to mess with Harley in wrestling, the fighting or brawling, the real, that moment of man versus man, to know it. Harley Race, he can do whatever he wants to do with anybody he wants, anytime he wants.

"Then there’s Saito here. I know that he wrestled in Japan, a well-accomplished amateur wrestler, got into pro wrestling, paid his dues for hanging with wrestlers that made mistakes that he wasn’t even a part of, sacrificed to come all the way from Japan to be here. I look at Danny Hodge, he’s one of the most, one of the greatest wrestlers in pro wrestling or amateur wrestling there’s ever been. To be in this room with Danny Hodge is a big, big honor to me. I look at Roddy Piper. I could name a lot of wrestlers that helped me in wrestling, gave me advice — Harley Race — but I don’t think anybody did more for me or helped me more, and helped me make those decisions to get me to where I was than Roddy Piper. To come here, he had to fight cancer, and to be part of this tonight, is just that much more special. It’s my understanding and belief that Roddy Piper came here for the sole reason just to hang out with me, to be part of this event, because it was important to me. That means a lot. I came all the way from Rome to be here.

“I flew in, and it was important from watching the news over in Italy, seeing the flood problems here, and knowing that I would be here in a few days. It would have been a lot easier to shoot home to Calgary and not worry about the floods — I’m not a good swimmer. [crowd laughs] It was important for me to be here. It made me proud to know that I was coming here. Mike Chapman, yeah, I talked to him a couple of years ago. I talked for so long, and I learned so much about wrestling, championships, and Lou Thesz, and how the origin of wrestling started, it was like sitting under the learning tree, just sitting there listening to this guy, digesting, knowing this guy knows what he’s talking about. He’s not full of it. He’s not a B.S.-er. He knows what he’s talking about, he knows these people. He’s talked to Lou Thesz. He knows the history. He knows the transition from pro wrestling and amateur wrestling.

“Now, I’m here because I was a pro wrestler. But I also know, I also know, what it’s like to hang a gold medal around my neck. I know what it’s like to wrestle a one-hour match. I know what it’s like to go full blast for that hour. And to lose, I know what it’s like to lose wrestling match by one point, I’ve been there too. I know what it’s like to snap on a knee brace. I know what it’s like to snap on a world title belt. I also know what it’s like to wrestle in front of 90,000, 100,000 people sometimes, just to have that kind of impact, and to make people — I remember wrestling the British Bulldog in Wembley Stadium, England, and make everybody in that 82,000 wrestling fans, they dismissed all their disbelief about wrestling, and wrestling for 35 minutes became real. It was real.

“There’s an art to that. There’s a science to that. It’s hard work, it’s really hard work. [clears throat, silence for at least 20 seconds.] I don’t want to be too lecturous here. What is a hall of fame? To me, a hall of fame is a place where it’s important to speak the truth, to capture history. When someone tells you they’re holding Karl Gotch’s jockstrap, or whatever it is, there’s the real jockstrap. It had better be real. I think wrestling fans want the truth, and that’s kind of what my point is here. My father was all about wrestling. He loved wrestling. He dedicated his life to wrestling; it wasn’t just about amateur wrestling, it was about pro wrestling for the whole business. It was about feeding families and making something out of nothing. Wrestling used to mean — what I always tried to get people to remember about wrestling was the honor of being a pro wrestler. There’s something about that term, doing the honors for somebody, and knowing that there’s somebody that is going to be the champion, and going to be the guy that carries the load for everybody, and everybody is going to profit by the fact that he’s Lou Thesz, and he makes people believe that wrestling is real, that he’s a real champion. It’s not just the champion, there’s a whole team of wrestlers that make this whole show, make the whole story, it’s not just the cameraman and the referees and the people that let everybody in. It’s more than that. It’s people that dedicate their lives to wrestling.

“I’ve watched wrestling, and been a part of wrestling, since I was 5 years old. I sold programs and made my first 10 cents on wrestling. It’s just something that I’ve had a passion for since I was born. I think it was my calling to be wrestler. If someone had told me when I was 16 years old that I would tour the world, be the champion, and be a hero to kids, and at the same time, to be here, amongst such great amateur wrestlers, the people who were heroes to me when I was 16 years old, people I had the deepest respect for. People like Danny Hodge. I knew all about Danny Hodge when I was 16, I appreciated Danny Hodge even though I’d never met him. But I knew all about him because I respected wrestling. I think my point is, I’m honored to be here. I know this isn’t my place to gripe about stuff, but I have a serious issue with people who write books about wrestling who don’t honor the truth.

“And you, sir, you do not honor the truth of wrestling. Greg Oliver writes these books on wrestling and it’s all made up. It’s not the truth. It’s just baloney, you know. I wrote a book that took seven years, I gave everything I had to write about some of the deepest tragedies, the truth about my life as a wrestler. For someone like this that sits in the room with me to say that on his Web site that my truth is not the truth, it’s just wrong for me to be in the same room as these people. They don’t honor the truth of wrestling.

“When you buy their books, I think you have to look at that and say these people are not telling the truth. They don’t know anything about wrestling. I’ve never seen them in the back. I’ve never seen them in the dressing room. I’ve never seen them at anything to do with wrestling. They don’t know anything at all about my business. They don’t know anything about me. They don’t have any respect for what I do or for anyone else. So I’m going to step aside now, and I just want to say that it’s not right for me to be in the same room as people who don’t do honor and justice to my profession. You either have a choice of leaving, or I will. [Silence. Someone says “get up” or “get out.”]

“I speak the truth about wrestling and I take pride in what I do. [Applause starts slowly but picks up. Sound covers part of the speech.] ... How it was and how it was done, how it should be done. These guys over here, it makes me laugh that Greg Oliver here rated me behind Sky Low Low, as, I think the 13th-greatest Canadian wrestler. I have news for him — he’s wrong. Sky Low Low was a much better wrestler than me, but he was only half the man that I was. But anyway, my point is, you know, I take a lot of pride in what I do. It means a lot to me that people would come here and be part of this, because wrestling was important to me, and I hope it was important for you. But it’s important that people tell the truth.

“When you write about wrestling, you talk about wrestling, especially when you’re among these kind of people, you owe it to tell the truth. If you want to come here and be a charlatan, well, you’re in the wrong place because this is a room filled with legends, and people that paid their dues in wrestling. We want the truth to be told about wrestling. Take your sorry-ass lies about wrestling and how you make it up, and save your books, because they’re not the truth. This is a room filled with truth. Thank you.

[Applause] I’m talking to you, Greg Oliver. Either you go or I go. [Greg Oliver waves goodbye to Hart] Greg Oliver’s going to stay. I’m going to go to my room. [A few fans yell “We want Bret,” smattering of applause, then silence for 20 seconds. Someone says, “Thanks, Bret” and applause starts again.]”

Posted by Kevin Eck at 5:38 PM | | Comments (58)


With all due respect to you Kevin , and to all parties involved . As stated in previous post , this is beating a dead horse . Can't we just move on . pleeez

Bret Hart should be embarrassed for that... except for the fact that he is incapable of embarrassment.

He was a good wrestler, with some charisma.

He wasn't God's gift to the wrestling business.

Maybe someday, he'll figure it out.

For those who do not know, Sky Low Low was a vertically challenged wrestler like Hornswoggle. That is the context for Bret's "he was only half the man" comment.

Bret Hart rules. Plain and simple.

So tired of Bret marking out for himself. I think he's losing it a bit and tarnishing his legacy by acting like a loon. STOP BEING A MARK FOR YOUR OWN CAREER BRET!

Bret Hart is overrated.

He thinks he's the greatest wrestler to ever step in the ring. He's not.

Bret Hart rules, that CHUMP Greg Oliver sucks and I am glad someone told him the truth. Bret Hart is the best wrestler ever.

Bret "The Hitman" Hart. I grew up watching and Idolizing that man. He is still my number one favorite wrestler to date. His comments to Greg Oliver were well founded. Bret Hart was at one time the most successful wrestler in not only the WWF, but also the entire industry. He was screwed during what was probably the most important pivital moment of his career, by the WWF and when he went to WCW they couldn't figure out how to capitalize on his already enourmous fan base. In my opinion neither Vince McMahon nor Eric Bischof, respected the Hart legacy.

To this day I am in his corner and if he were to come back to wrestling tomorrow it would be me cheering the loudest, even if he came back as a heel (bad guy).

So Bret, on the off chance that you happen to read this comment post, please come back soon. Even if it's just for one more match. TNA, I beleive, would be a perfect fit for your charector and they could use a huge celebrity like yourself. You're a legend, please come back.

Ehhh I wouldnt say here
Bret is marking out for himself
I mean there is definitely a case to be made, by even the biggest Bret fan that he takes himself too seriously
But I think he has a good point.
Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame's should be reserved for those who have given their lives in some capacity to the business, not those who go into business for themselves

In ring workers, Announcers, Promoters, Refs, Bookers
people who have worked in a wrestling promotion and made a positive contribution or left a mark on the industry as a whole.
Now how a writer with little to no ties to any promotion, really in way having any business involved in the wrestling business, gets away with writing a few books and being in a hall of fame for it, to me..seems a bit stupid...It devalues a hall of fame...Lou Thesz, Bret Hart, Harley Race...and some random writer who never got into the business himself but wrote about other peoples lives.....He's a male ring rat with a pen as far as I'm concerned

RESPONSE FROM KEVIN ECK: Once again, Oliver amd Johnson were NOT inducted into the HOF. They were there to receive an award for wrestling journalism.

I completely disagree with you saying that a writer should not be involved in the wrestling business. Don't you think people writing about wrestling helps promote it? By your reasoning, an obscure referee -- because he worked for a promotion -- makes more of a mark on the business than someone such as Dave Meltzer (a good friend of Bret's by the way). That's absurd.

The only reason Bret had the people on his side is because he knows how to give a speech and take everything out of context. The old timers were cheering because Bret was bigging them up, but they have no idea who Greg Oliver is.

Oh so you suddenly know everything about the business? you haven't got the ground to make that comment when you haven't even laced up a pair of boots. I have laced up a pair of boots for an independent promotion and I can tell you that Bret is by far the greatest ever, technically. His ring psychology and storytelling were all most as good as his sky-high ability to work.

RESPONSE FROM KEVIN ECK: I never said I know everything about the business, and I do have tremendous respect for anyone who has ever laced up the boots. But you, like others, are totally missing the point. This isn't about whether or not Hart was a great wrestler. I think he was great (although not the greatest ever). This is about whether Hart should have publicly embarrassed someone who was there with his family to be honored. Even if Hart thought he was justified, he should have put his ego aside and not put a damper on what should have been a nice affair.

WOW!!! this truly amazes me how unintelligent some of you people here are. let me say this so you people can understand(yet you still might not get it). BRET IS NOT MARKING FOR HIMSELF!!! HE IS SIMPLY DEFENDING THE HONOR OF WRESTLING LEGENDS FROM THE PEOPLE WHO TELL LIES AFTER LIES ABOUT THEM!!! geez, i guess the Hooked On Phonics never worked for you guys.

RESPONSE FROM KEVIN ECK: As I've said before, how do you know whether they are lies or not? As Bret Hart himself said: Have you ever been in a dressing room? Have you ever laced up a pair of boots? Also, have you ever written a book? If it's no to all of the above, then you're not entitled to an opinion, according to Hart.

I don't care for Bret but Greg Oliver and Smart Marks like him disgust me. Go buy a ticket and quit making money off BS lies you filthy scumbag.

There is a time and place to criticize someone. And this was not the time or place for Bret Hart to criticize Greg Oliver. Obviously the person or persons hosting this event thought Greg Oliver should be honored, meaning he has earned this award. And if Bret has so much respect for the business and those before him, he would have given up the belt in Montreal like a wrestler should when leaving a company. You don't have to like it, but it's respect for the business and respect to those who have paved the way before you. I have never read anything by Greg Oliver so I can not have a opinion of him. But I have seen enough interviews by Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels about Montreal and read enough on that whole incident that in my opinion I think Bret is a little full of himself and he still has bitterness towards that night. A bit of advice Bret and I respect you and like you as a wrestler, but let it go. It's not healthy to hold onto that. Besides you're upset about ONE MAN'S opinion on the greatest wrestlers from Canada and your behind someone who is a little person. I think you should be more worried if your fan club did place you 14th and not Greg Oliver. Get a life Bret !!!

hes defending the business. do you let someone walk into your job off the street and start telling everyone your rubbish and start slating you.

- hes defending wrestlers integrity. so many wrestlers get written off as nobodies by people like that who think they know everything about the business. when almost 100% of the time their the ones with the talent. and they are the ones who teach the guys with half talents when their young the majority of wrestling's phsycology. and look where wresting has gone since the 60's and 70's because the guys hes defending.

he isn't being a mark for himself. hes not like some retired or washed up wrestlers who sit there promoting bull all day like the iron sheik or whatever, hes always spoke his mind - from the start. do you see him bitching to the press all the time? this is the first time hes spoken so deeply in a number of years.

RESPONSE FROM KEVIN ECK: Actually, I would respect Hart more if he had voiced his opinions to the press -- a radio show, print interview or even a column wriiten by him -- rather than at what was supposed to have been a classy ceremony.

There was this group of guys i heard about, German guys from quite a few years ago. They took issue with some things that were being printed in books, things which they themselves disagreed with because they went against their own views. They decided the best thing to do was to get all those books, burn them and make it a criminal act to possess them.

Now i am in NO WAY implying that Brett is as bad as that but surely you can see that what Brett did is another version of narrow minded people in power abusing that power. It's just plain wrong. He is essentially outlining the rules for who can and can't write about wrestling and what they can and can't say.

I'm not saying he is wrong for thinking this, he is fully entitled to disagree with what Oliver writes, and he is fully entitled to broadcast his own opinion...but there is a time and place and this was neither.

Incidentally, i think Oliver waving at Hart is hilarious. Good on him for standing his ground.

Kevin,I do see where you're coming from,but I also see where Bret's coming from.I've been a ref on the indy circuit for 10yrs,& what Bret says is true,when he says that until you've been in the ring,you don't really know what it's like.However,you,Bill Apter,& other journalists have your job to do.I personally feel that Bret made a bad choice in judgement,if he had a problem with Greg Oliver,he should've talked to him one on one privately,not at the ceremony where everybody could see it & hear it.

Too bad Bret had a meltdown. That was definitely not the time or place to make those kind of remarks. Regardless of your opinion of Hart, I don't see why he felt the need to make those comments (other than the possibility that he's suffering the ill effects from his concussions and/or stroke). Oliver and Johnson's books are subjective starts for ranking the greats. I've never read anything in their books that could be construed as hit pieces.

For those of you who don't know, Greg Oliver is one of the founding members of Slam Wrestling - a Canadian Wrestling site that was one of the first online sites (they've been around since the late 90's if not earlier) to cover Wrestling. They have wrestler bios, recaps, obituaries, and more. When Bret used to write a column for The Calgary Sun it was also posted online at Slam.

Greg's been interviewing wrestlers for a long time now, and has made friends with many. If I recall correctly he even had correspondence going with Benoit, which eventually led to him co-writing a book about that eventual tragedy.

Having read the transcript it doesn't actually sound that bad to me. I can understand why Bret said what he said, though it no doubt would've been better to say it privately or not at all. The interesting thing is...Greg hasn't mentioned this at all on his site that I can see. It didn't seem to have warranted any comment at all from him.

I used to really like the Slam site, but have been reading it less and less the last year or so. I have noticed Greg seemed to be getting more and more codgety - his views on how wrestling should be seemed to be getting more and more fixed, and he seemed to be losing patience with how it was.

All in all it seems to have been a kind of wierd situation, and I think there's probably more to it, and less to it. More in the sense that there's probably things going on in Bret's mind that we don't know about and will never know about (even if we think we do), and less in the sense that I'm guessing both Bret and Greg have put it past them and won't be thinking about it again anytime soon.

Then again, maybe that could be Bret's "one last match?" Have we all been worked?

RESPONSE FROM KEVIN ECK: As far as Greg Oliver not responding on his site, that's called taking the high road and being the bigger person -- a concept that Hart seems to know nothing about. I'm speculating that he also hasn't responded because, as a journalist, he wants to write stories rather than become the subject of them. Maybe he isn't in it "only for the recognition" as Hart's assistant charged.

Hart is part of a handful of people who can get away with saying just about anything. As the greatest professional wrestler of all time, he has a right to. I think it is a little ridiculous that he would bog down a Hall of Fame acceptance speech to flame somebody else, justififed or not, though.

What lies have Greg Oliver or Steven Johnson ever told about any wrestler, in any of their books? Show me, Bret. The fact is, they haven't. Bret Hart is deranged and ignorant and needs a full-time nurse to follow him around to make sure he takes his sedatives and doesn't drool on himself. Bret's ill-conceived speech is nothing more than a public meltdown, and the future looks bleak for him and anyone around him is in danger. And I would further recommend that any senile old wrestlers who tried to intimidate Greg Oliver into leaving the ceremony watch themselves. They had no right to do so, and are too old and decrepit to be getting froggy. Watch out you bunch of old has beens, you might break a hip!

Bret Hart is the best! Hes right, how can you write a book about the truths of wrestling, WHEN YOU WERE NEVER A WRESTLER....Then actually say Bret Harts book wasn't the truth, what a moron....I would be (ticked) if i was Bret too.....

RESPONSE FROM KEVIN ECK: To the best of my knowledge, Dave Meltzer has never wrestled, yet Bret Hart doesn't seem to have a problem with him writing books. Why? Because the two are friends and because Meltzer has always been very complimentary of Hart. So, if a writer puts Hart over, it's OK if the writer wasn't a wrestler. But if another writer doesn't put him over, he's a liar and doesn't deserve to breathe the same air as Hart. Got it.

Greg Oliver is a scumbag. That is a fact. The only problem with what Bret Hart said was that it was the wrong time to say it. He shouldn't have said it on stage.

Get it straight - Bret Hart isn't the best professional wrestler of all time. That title belongs to Hulk Hogan. Not even the Hulkster would throw a tantrum like that over a stupid list. Hogan has been listed in more "overrated awards" and yet he still is the best. And he doesn't have to make it one of his catchphrases to let it be known that he's the best.

At the end of the day, Greg Oliver did not invite Greg Oliver. Bret should have taken this up with those who did - and in a different forum.

Bret was a great wrestler, but he chose the wrong place and time to air his grievances.

Having met Greg several times previously & reading his work on SLAM! over the years, I can say that he is not only a great journalist, but a very humble gentleman who loves being just a small part of the business in his own way.

It is a shame that Bret used this public platform to address his issues w/Oliver, instead of in private. As the expression goes: "To Each His Own." But there is a time & a place for everything, and Bret might be one of the best wrestlers in the history of this business, but he still has a lot to learn when it comes to professionalism in this instance...

Hart has lost the plot. He is one of the most over rated wrestlers ever but still managed to have a great career. He is still bitter and twisted over the montreal screw job. Move on man. Writers have got their job to do even if you disagree with what the say and dont be so bloody arrogant.

no i am not a wrestler but i find it pretty interesting how it's not just bret hart that acknowledges the b.s. of some of the wrestling journalisms out their. talia madison, kennedy, samoa joe, and many others have claimed that some reports about them are lies. if that doesn't convince you about some of the lies of wrestling journalism, then i don't know what will.

RESPONSE FROM KEVIN ECK: No doubt it -- there are plenty of rumors, half-truths and lies out there when it comes to reporting on wrestling (although, if I'm Kennedy, I don't hink I would accuse anyone of lying at this point), just like there is in any genre of sports or entertainment. But you can't paint everyone with a wide brush. There are also some very credible wrestling writers aronund.

Bret Hart is right.

Those guys don't have a clue about wrestling.

They will just about ANYTHING to stir-up trouble.

I'm SO glad that Bret Hart told the truth about this.

Guys like Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair should be ASHAMED of themselves for writing LIES about stuff in their books.

Vince McMahon and Eric Bischoff are 2 of the biggest SCUMBAGS in Professional Wrestling.

God Bless You Bret Hart and if you do maky an appearance in TNA, it would be AWESOME!

Dixie Carter (my favorite female promoter), PLEASE sign this man for an appearance in TNA.

I for one am sick and tired of people having a go at Bret and saying things like "get over it" or "stop being a mark for your own career". Its fine for other like vince, HHH or Shawn to keep dragging this crap out about Bret not being that good, but when he defends himself from them or a journalist, he gets trashed. It seems fashionable for everyone to bag or knock The Hitman and dismiss him as not a great wrestler. I read Greg Olivers books and enjoyed them, but in his one on Tag Teams, the Hart Foundation dont even crack the top 20 yet the Freebirds do? Yes Bret could have picked a better time and place to do this, but he was making a stand and i applaud him for that. Bret may think a lot of himself but so what? shouldnt you be proud of what you do in wrestling and show it the proper respect? did anyone congratulate Bret for praising Piper, Race, Hodge, etc in this speech? No, they focus on the negative stuff. I would rather meet someone like Bret Hart who takes wrestling seriously and never trashes it than some others i could mention who make money off it one minute, then mock it the next or belittle the fans and everything else.

based on the comments from some of the people here including Kevin Eck, it doesn't matter what Bret does, he will still get bashed by you people. i just find it so ignorant how you people see it as an "ego" matter for bret to do what he did. he was simply defending the honor of professional wrestling from the people he sees as crooks which would include greg oliver. what exactly is wrong with that? if greg oliver does indeed come up with lies, then bret is exactly right. the hall of fame is not a place for people like that and somebody had to take a stand and that is what bret did. i find it a disgrace for the men and women who sacrificed to do what they love when someone comes up with lies about them in their reports. so yes i do support bret's actions and it's also a shame that you haters would go as far as saying that it's all about his "ego". especially you Kevin Eck! now you claim to not be a "bret hater" but it's pretty obvious that based on your comments, you are bitter about him even when he does things for a good cause. if you believe that the incident occurred at the wrong place, well then that's your deal. but don't tell me that it wasn't a mistake for oliver(if he does indeed lies) to be at the ceremony. you can say that i'm a mark for bret but the only thing that i do not approve of bret is that if he is willing to forgive vince mcmahon, then he should do the same for shawn michaels. other than that, he is just simply supporting his love for professional go ahead kevin. tear me appart. you'll just prove my point.

RESPONSE FROM KEVIN ECK: I'm not going to tear you apart, but I do disagree with you. First of all, I'm not a "Bret hater." I have gone on record as saying that he is one of the top 10 all-around performers that I have seen in the ring. In addition to being a great wrestler, he has had some very difficult issues to deal with over the past decade. However, Hart, in my opinion (which is shared by many in the industry) takes himself too seriously.

Like I said from the start, everyone who knows anything about this business knows how good Hart was. So, it he feels a certain writer isn't giving him his due, so what? Itaa's just one man's opinion. All Hart accomplished by calling out Greg Oliver was to make wrestling fans aware of Oliver who likely had never heard of him before. It will probably help Oliver sell more books.

Bret sure likes commotion eh?

Bret should have made his point and afterwards, act like an adult.

With this, he has just made a fool out of himself.

now beating a herd of dead horses .
we've all got our opinion . but if a poll were taken , whether you like brett hart ( which i do ) or not , i bet the consensus would would be that his actions that particular night were wrong regardless of his motivation .
how about instituting some polling to your blog kev for this and other topics ?

Most everyone I know won't be buying one. I, personally, will just be hoping Hart comes out now and criticizes Dave Meltzer too.

Meltzer hasn’t nearly the journalistic integrity Hart thinks he has. He is, after all, the one who started the “Bret doesn’t like Oliver because he ranked him blah, blah, blah,” story purporting to explain why Hart did what he did. -- A story which all you other writers spread over the internet as fact instead of just one person’s opinion, I might add. -- But unless Meltzer is a mind reader who knew exactly what was going on in Hart’s mind at the time, he was giving an opinion, not stating a verifiable fact. So you should all be ashamed of yourselves.

Now, we see the transcript for ourselves and what Hart actually said was his disagreement with the list was“ not the point.” No, it wasn’t. The point was that Oliver wrote a book which is advertised as a “historical reference book,” but contains a host of subjective opinions and judgments (which Hart doesn’t think he’s qualified to make) presented as facts. (Or "truth" in Hart's vernacular.) So I can certainly see where Hart took offense at that, and at the authors being given credibility by being rewarded for it too. There’s a reason why threatrical critics don’t receive Oscars and Emmys. The wrestling world would do well to pay heed to it.

RESPONSE FROM KEVIN ECK: Meltzer doesn't have to read Hart's mind because Hart probably talks to him more than he does any other writer.

I don't get the logic that you have to be a professional wrestler to write about professional wrestling. How many sports journalists for newspapers or magazines or talk radio ever played in the NFL? Or the NBA? Or the MLB? For every one that has, there are probably twenty to thirty that haven't (probably more, actually). The vast majority of journalists are guys that live vicariously through others by writing because they weren't athletes. That's not a knock because what they do takes as much skill as the wrestler or the quarterback. No one would care about the quarterback if he wasn't getting covered on TV and in the news. Wrestling is slightly different in that it has insulated itself from the media, but the same logic still applies.

I mean, wrestling is the only industry that actively courts media attention while still openly despising it. It's such a double standard that it's downright absurd. When WWE gets good press for Tribute to the Troops, they love it. When someone decides to write about the overlooking of steroid abuse, they cry muckraker. Hart is no different. The basic reason for his anger is because a wrestling journalist wrote a list and said a midget was better than Hart? Really, Bret?

For Hart to denigrate a man's work because of a difference in opinion is actually somewhat childish. Especially given the context of his remarks. Is Hart angry because he genuinely disagreed with the list itself, or is it because he was placed behind a midget?

And this is coming from someone who has always claimed to be, and to some extent still is, a Bret Hart fan. I don't hate the man. I have nothing against him. It just seems he's helping to perpetuate the image of wrestling as a carny activity rather than the legitimate sport he wants it to be considered. Legitimacy means scrutiny.

I'm not going to get on here and rant about how great Hart was because anyone who ever watched or participated in professional wrestling (I have been wrestling on the indy sceen for 13 years) already knows how great Bret was. For those who say get over the screw job and say he should have dropped the title, well, you can all have your own opinions. The fact of the matter is Bret had every right to keep the belt and drop it in any manner he seen fit (it was in his contract), and as a matter of fact he was willing to drop it on RAW the next night. That whole thing would have never been an issue if Vince would have just made Bret an offer, it has been said many times that Bret wasn't looking for money and wanted to be with the WWF but Vince just didn't make him an offer. Now, on to the speech; yes it was bad timing but for someone that has never been in the ring or locker room to claim something Bret has said to be lies, well, come on everyone needs to get realistic here, obviously that cannot be taken seriously. To conclude KEVIN, maybe Bret doesn't have a problem with Dave is not only because he is his friend but he is well respected in the business and probably asks Bret things through his writing to make sure they are actually facts....

I'm really beginning to agree with Jack (in Hebron). A herd of dead horses have been pummeled into the ground in this string of discussion on any of the entries that surround Hart and this incident.

Sadly, most people who are coming strong in defense of Bret Hart are missing the point that Kevin has been trying to make.

And, since my sense of justice won't let me leave things well enough alone, I am going to try and add my voice to Kevin's.

Bret Hart is entitled to feel any way he likes about Greg Oliver. Bret Hart is entitled to feel any way he likes about Vince McMahon, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, or anyone and anything else. That right is the same for any person.

However, that right does not extend to trampling over the dignity of another human being. It is somewhat like the myriad of treatises on liberty. Your right to swing a punch ends before your hand hits my face. Kevin has not once said that Bret Hart is not allowed to feel how he feels about Greg Oliver. Just because Bret Hart feels that way, however, does not make it absolute truth.

Further, and more importantly, the forum in which Bret Hart chose to air his complaints was completely inappropriate. Greg Oliver was at that ceremony to receive an award that the Hall of Fame board chose to bestow upon him. To deliberately humiliate the man in that setting was immature and a reflection that Bret Hart believes that his personal offense is more important than anything else.

That type of behavior is neither classy, nor mature, and it is certainly not a representation of someone who claims to be a hero.

What Bret Hart said isn't the main focus of the issue. How he said it, and when he said it, and the implications and reflections therein, is why Bret Hart is getting such heat.

Kevin, you said “Meltzer doesn't have to read Hart's mind because Hart probably talks to him more than he does any other writer.” But did he speak with Hart after this incident? Did he obtain a direct statement from Hart explaining his behavior? If he did not, then he was stating his subjective opinion as a fact. And that lacks journalistic integrity. So does the publishing of Meltzer’s subjective opinion as fact by others.

RESPONSE FROM KEVIN ECK: I do not know if Meltzer spoke to Hart after this incident or not. He (or Bryan Alvarez) obviously got the report from people who were there, and Meltzer is familiar with all of the parties involved, so he likely was aware of the history between them. When I first wrote about the incident, I said "as reported on" That means, obviously, that I wasn't there, but here is my take based on the report. I also later communicated directly with some credible people who were there and got their account of what happened, including getting Hart's side of the story from his personal assistant.

Note to Mina : your'e probably not doing yourself any favors according to most that read this blog by agreeing with me :)

I just opened this link from another site. I know who Bret Hart is. Who is Kevin Eck? Oh, ok another guy making a living off of something someone famous did(wrong or not) and getting his name out there. It's called hypocrisy. Look it up. The Meltzer envy is pretty transparent too.


1. If you want to know who I am, just do a Google search.

2.When you accuse me of making a living off someone famous, are you saying that no writers or reporters are allowed to write about anyone who is well-known? You're kidding, right?

3. Writing about a subject one is passionate and knowledgeable doesn't make them a hypocrite. I even looked it up, too.

4. I don't envy Dave Meltzer. I have great respect for him (which I thought I made clear). There's a difference.

After reviewing this transcript, I don't believe Bret Hart is of the opinion that if you haven't been in a dressing room or in a ring, that your contributions to pro wrestling don't matter. According to some of the other comments here, Hart and Dave Meltzer have a good working relationship -- anyone who has read Meltzer's reporting on the 1997 Survivor Series and Hart's acknowledgment that those are by and large factually correct, is proof.

The gist of it seems, to me, that Hart disagreed with Oliver's ranking of him among the top Canadian wrestlers, which is perfectly fine. Those rankings are Oliver's opinion.

I have not seen Oliver's rankings, so I don't know what research he did to back them up, but one would think Hart's accomplishments as a multiple world singles and tag champion, plus his status as a top-level draw in Canada and overseas, and the quality of his match work would deserve a higher ranking than, I believe it was 14th, on Oliver's list.

Hart, I believe, has a case to be made, but to dismiss the entire body of Oliver's work based on what seems to be one issue is not fair, either.

I agree with Hart that he deserves a higher ranking, but to have voiced his displeasure the way he did -- in a room of his peers whom he respected and gave glowing tributes to beforehand, and to wrestlers who have been instilled the instinct to "kayfabe" and "protect the business" from journalists such as Oliver -- was probably not the best way to go about it. It's a shame that any differences couldn't have been settled face-to-face.

Kudos to Oliver for maintaining his professionalism in his reporting of the events for Slam Wrestling.

Saying sky low low is better then Bret Hart is like putting Hornswoggle before the Rock.

Thats pretty dumb Oliver.

Saying that Bret Hart is a mark for himself is a very unfair comment to make. People have to remember that it is very hard to keep a legacy in the world of wrestling. Bret Hart spend a 1/3 of his life doing. And when his peers that he worked with a basically burying him for just that they do not him when Bret Hart took care of them in the ring. In my eyes, reporters have the right to voice their opinion but they do not have the right to say that this person is a good worker or not just for the fact that they do not work the the wrestlers themselves. Being in a business that is fake, backbreaking, cutthroat and the very fact that a person's life can make or break a person just by a simple stroke of a promoter's pen. Hearing all these people saying that Bret should get over montreal, or get over it, they should get the facts first. I used to live in Calgary and I saw first hand a business that was "fake" effect not only a city but the whole nation. Yes Bret was wrong to voice his problem with Greg but I think that Greg is wrong for a very different reason. I'm nothing more of a fan for wrestling, but that all change when the business change from an entertaining sport to sport entertainment. I just enjoy watching guys just beating each other up. It was just fun. But in my eyes, reporters like Greg Oliver are nothing more than critics and really not appreciate the product or the wrestlers preforming it. The main problem that wrestlers have with reporters is that reporters are making a very good living off of wrestlers that have broken their bodies, have they're relationship destroyed and have died doing it just to tell a story. Does Bret take himself and the wrestling business to seriously, hell yes and he should be because wrestling now is not wrestling, it's a very screw up form of entertainment. Does Bret take himself too serious, hell yes because wrestling is both a blessing and a curse to Bret Hart. The Hart family was broken by the fake business. His brother killed, brothers and sisters betraying Bret to get money, a stroke that left his in a wheelchair for 6 months. So yeah, Bret made a mess when voicing his problem with Greg Oliver but as I see it, reporters do not have the right to criticize wrestlers that have died for the business or make person comments of the person saying that he's overrated or his a mark for themselves simply because they never walking in the wrestlers shoes.

RESPONSE FROM KEVIN ECK: You said that reporters have a right to voice their opinions, but then said that they don't have a right to judge whether a wrestler is a good worker or not because they have never wrestled. That seems like a contradiction.

So if I think Kurt Angle is a good worker and The Great Khali is not, you're saying that I don't really know for sure because I have never stepped into the ring with either one of them.

By that logic, no baseball reporter can say that Alex Rodriguez is a better hitter than some random utility player because they have never pitched to either one of them. Please.

I'll take my chances, Jack. :)

My integrity has always been more important than how other people view me.

Kevin, kudos to you for sticking to your guns and displaying both an integrity of your own and class in how you're handling this situation.

Brett Hart can't put his ego aside, his ego is all he has left. He was a good wrestler, maybe a great wrestler, but he wasn't the best ever, despite the fact he's a legend in his own mind. Owen was twice the wrestler and five times the man Brett ever dreamed of being. Brett may have been a great in ring worker, but his over blown ego always did more to screw him then the WWF ever could.

with the mere mention of "Sky Low Low " by a commenter here, it's only fair that we credit Kevin's brother " Little Beaver " as well .

K, wait....I'm reading all the comments here and too often coming across people saying how wrestling writers 'deserve' things. What a crock.

Look -- the fact of the matter is, wrestling writers need wrestling, but wrestling doesn't need them. If all the writers disappeared from the scene, wrestling would continue on just fine without them. In fact, it might restore some of the long lost mystique of the performances. Whether a writer's opinion on wrestling is good or bad, in the end, it's irrelevant. Bret Hart is pointing this out loud and clear in his speech to this Hall of Fame crowd, and he's right.

I can't stand Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels, HHH, and a host of others but it doesn't mean I don't respect them. They've paid their dues at least. Whether they deserve what they have today is a different topic of discussion.

But writers like Oliver, or Meltzer or Eck for that matter, don't have opinions that are any more valuable than any other ardent wrestling fan. In the end, what a wrestler does in the ring to entertain is all that matters, and the Hitman is merely pointing that out. GOOD FOR HIM to have the guts to convey that to everyone who'll listen. Nobody else, apparently, will step up to the plate and defend their convictions before the masses, live and in person.

Mr. Eck, you give an entertaining read, but it means nothing in the end because you don't have a wrestler's credentials.

Just as I'm perfectly aware that what I just wrote doesn't mean anything either.

We're all just fans who should just shut up and enjoy the show...or turn it off.

So I've read all the posts. Most have a point (some are just plain silly) which is: As much as you like or respect Bret Hart or if you watch SS97 everyday and laugh it doesn't change the fact it was the wrong place at the wrong time. BTW Kevin, very classy insights. You're a credit to your profession.


I won't offer my opinion on the incident itself (but believe me, I have a strong opinion) but I have to respond to a line of thinking in arguments that continually irks me.

I get SO sick of hearing the argument-- "you haven't spent a day doing (insert name of my profession) so therefore you have no right to criticize what I do."

Think about this for a second: how many people can't cook worth a damn? How many of those people still know s#!++y food when they taste it and would demand a refund if they got it at a restaurant? How would it fly if the cook stormed out of the kitchen saying "you've never spent a day in the kitchen!"


So please leave that argument out of the discussion. It's an ad hominem.

Was it just me or was that about the worst induction speech ever? The part at the end where he ripped into the wrestling reporter, that was the best part of the entire thing. The rest of it was just rambling nonsense. "Harley Race, huzzah, huzzah... Saito... Good man.. The Greatest... Roddy Piper... Trees spring to life on the bounty of how good a wrestler he is.." Gawd, I remember Bret Hart as being a fairly eloquent fellow back in the day. What happened?

I read these posts and I am amazed. You all know wrestling is an exhibition with a predeetermined outcome right!!!!!!!!

RESPONSE FROM KEVIN ECK: Predetermined? Are you serious? Wow, I guess I never thought of it that way before. Thanks for enlightening us.

First off, this is sad. Here you have a talented legend in the business that does not do anything, but staying bitter does nothing, but buries a person and Bret is also burying his wrestling reputation with his actions. At times he has been upset and I think he was right feeling like he was wronged, but his actions were wrong in itself. Bret is entitled to believe what he wants too and I think it is great he would have jobbed to Vader, Mankin, or Shamrock on the way out of the WWE.

I could write a novel, but won't. I will make my post shorter. Bret Hart still does have a bitter side and an ego still inside of him and until those two are gone he won't be a happy person. Bret Hart can say and think how he likes, but I just hope Bret wonders how he was put on the map in the WWE Title picture. Right before Survivor Series 92 Bret Hart had just captured the WWE Title for the first time? From who? Who agreed to lose to him and move on? Ric Flair. The same man Bret Hart has been cutting down. Yes, it might have something to do with Ric hanging out with HHH and HBK, but those two men have grown up and matured since 1997.

HBK is a changed man and cares more about his personal life today and I bet anything that if HBK and Bret Hart wrestled today that HBK wouldn't have a problem with the outcome. HBK today is different than the 97 HBK. I hope someday Bret Hart can open himself up to forgiving HBK, HHH, and even Earl Hebner just like he forgave Vince. I know people have forgiven Bret for his actions that night and have moved on and also for what he said did at the Slammy HOF.

This is coming from a guy who cheered for HBK at Wrestlemania 12. However, I cheered for Bret at 97 Survivor Series and now here I am saying the way he conducted himself that night were immature no matter if he was wronged by Vince or not. We are only responsible for our own actions. One more thing.

I don't want to preach, but I think it is awesome HBK is a Christian now and that has changed his life as a person. He is a better person. I think he is far from perfect, but he has changed for the better. There has been times I have acted worse as a Christian unfortunately than HBK has when he was a nonChristian. HBK lives the walk today.

And this isn't Bret bashing either. I just think he will not be happy until his bitterness goes away and same with that ego of his. And there has been times things have happened where I would not know what do do in his shoes for what he has gone through. And to me some of those things are reason to be hurt or upset. Other times he just makes excuse when he should look in the mirror himself if that makes sense.

I just hope Bret takes out the red pen and does some editing before giving his next speech in public!

Every one have different opinions and different ways to handle situations, and that is ok, and most probably why, not everyone can understand why Bret did what he did.

Reading Bret Hart's book, I strongly feel truth, integrity and honesty are important to him and I will always respect someone who has the guts to say it when someone disrespect that, and stands for himself. I cannot judge Gregg Oliver as I do no know much about him.
Nevertheless, wrestlers work hard, during their carreer and make saccrifices that most people would not do. If you really think about it, who would like someone to write things that are not exact about his own life and carreer...It can be unpleasant and distrubing in many ways.That being said, althoug the method may have been different, I totally support Bret Hart's decision as in any area, we need people who stands for the truth.

brett is just a cry baby...he would not do as his boss told him to do and that was lose to hbk at pay per veiw...all wrestlers give up belt when told to or when leaveing a wrestleing company...bretts ego was too big 2 do as boss told him so vince had 2 do this to him....this nothing 2 argue about....u brett hart fans have no case 2 argue cuz brett didnt want 2 give up belt as all other wrestlers do....brett is bitter cuz vince didnt want him anymore so he left 2 go 2 wcw....get over it brett and your few fans...stay in canada old man......brett sucks

I've been a fan of Bret since the Hart Foundation days. Bret is one of the best wrestlers I've seen and to say that he is one of the greatest is not an exaggeration.
I was seriously bummed that he got screwed in Montreal. I kept hoping it was just part of the story, but to echo some people who previously posted, I think he is still bitter about the whole deal. Twelve years later and the guy can't let go.
I believe he is indeed tarnishing his legacy by acting like a spoiled brat who didn't get what he wanted.

Waaa Waaa Waaa thats all i see whenever i see bret harts mouth move nowdays. I used to like him, his iron man match with shawn had given me a newfound respect for him up until i saw that twelve years after montreal he still goes up in his own hall of fame speech "everything wwe has taken from me" btw he screwed vince by going to WCW in the middle of the monday night war, WCW almost took WWE out of business an he up an wanted to jump ship an abandon the industry who made him great. an he did it for what? MONEY, if anything, him losing the belt like that was justified and not even a reason to lash out for all these years. He definately dropped to my least favorite wrestler.

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About Kevin Eck
The Baltimore Sun's Kevin Eck blogs about professional wrestling.
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