Full Book Review: Bret Hart: “Hitman. My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Pro Wrestling.”

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It seems that a great number of the people who actually deign to visit this website seem to enjoy my ratings of wrestling books. I am not above whoring myself to the masses in order to generate online traffic, and it is in this vain that I will now offer full reviews of wrestling books. First on my list is what I consider the very best wrestling book ever written, that being Bret Hart’s autobiography.

Consider this before picking the book up: it is comprehensive. Read: it is LOOOONG. But if you are a fan of the mat games, it is infinitely worth reading. Hart pulls no punches, be it problems with other wrestlers of his era, or indeed himself. Much like Dynamite Kid’s memoirs, this book is wrought with self incrimination. Bret candidly exposes his dalliances with both drugs and the fairer sex. It is the latter that seems to dominate the book, as Bret, while married to the mother of his four children, was a busy worker sex bee. And he makes no bones about it. While in some of these post-marital dalliances Bret seems, shall we generously call it, remorseful, lets not kid anyone. Bret is almost celebrating his post-martial mattress dances, and even states that most men would have LOVED the attention he received from the females after the in-ring action ended. Indeed, it all comes as lurid compared to Bret’s squeaky-clean on air persona, but, to true fans of “The Hitman,” it should come as no shock. With his build and good looks, and, I guess, that greasy, oily hair, the Hitman had an abundance of sex appeal. Or so I am told…

Bret also discusses his drug use. Bret came up in a time in the business where drugs were not only prevalent, but were considered the norm, those wild 80’s. He admits to using everything from cocaine to painkillers to steroids. It is almost refreshing to read such admissions, as so many wrestling biographies are filled with half-truths and all out lies and denials. Bret takes no quarter here, and asks in return none given.

Obviously, the big draw of the book is going to be Hart’s feud with two of the WWF/E’s seminal members: Shawn Michaels and Vince McMahon. Hart despised Michaels at the time the book was written, and, while he does speak with a forked tounge regarding HBK at times during the tome, he seems almost, for lack of a better term, balanced in talking about MIchaels. Listen, Shawn was a cancer in the mid to late 1990’s in the locker room, I don’t think anyone has denied that, lest of all Shawn himself. He was a troubled individual with innumerable personal demons, and, as brilliant as he was in the ring, he was a douchebag out of it. And Hart pulls no punches here, but he does portray MIchaels as almost this tortured genius. An asshole genius, to be sure, but Bret at times paints him in a positive light, at least involving his in ring brilliance. Those portions of the book make Bret out to be not the negative nelly that most wrestling journalists make him out to be, but a realist: someone who is a true student of the game.

Obviously, Vince McMahon is the other great subject of the book, and this is where the draw of buying this thing lies. Bret was present for much of the WWF’s early glory days, and, thus, the dawning of, as one writer puts it, McMahonifest Destiny. Bret saw it all, and, eventually, became a member of Vince’s inner circle. The best excerpt of the book I can give is a party in 1991, right after McMahon announced a widespread drug testing program. It was shortly after the “Tuesday in Texas” one time only PPV, held in early December, 1991.

That PPV emanated from San Antonio, Texas, and Bret wrestled “Skinner”, Steve Keirn, and beat him with the sharpshooter, retaining his then WWF IC title. Bret then drove with his brother, Owen, also a then WWF performer, to the next venue they were scheduled for. Along the way, Bret met up with a Mexican drug dealer to pick up, as he puts it in the book, some “Mexican Dirt Weed.” Bret and Owen arrive at their hotel, baked out of their gourds, check in, and head out to a Texas trip club where the other WWF “superstars” were at. Included in that bunch at the strip club were Brutus Beefcake, the Road Warriors, and Hulk Hogan. Eventually, a very drunk Vince McMahon sashayed in. Everyone was three sheets to the wind, and the Road Warriors threatened to hit Vince with their finishing move: The Doomsday Device, where Warrior Animal sits an opponent on his shoulders while partner Hawk decapitates them with a clothesline from the top rope. Not wanting to kill their boss, they half assed the move, not wanting to injure the man who signed the checks. Bret’s old partner, Jim Neidhart, a furious alcoholic and, later, drug addict, piped up, “The Hart Foundation would have had the balls to do it!” And a younger, naive, and very drunk Bret, clutching a beer and a shot of wisdom in the form of Jack Daniels, piped up “Damn RIGHT!” So The Anvil clutched McMahon in a bear hug, the set-up, for you wrestling fans, for the Hart Attack, and “The Hitman” launched himself off a strip club table and clotheslined the ever-living fuck out of the Chairman of WWF/E. McMahon, slightly wounded (this is sports-entertainment, after all) then ordered his abuser, Bret, to order two double Dewars shots. And the night was not yet over!

So the WWF wrestlers decided to file back to new WWF signee Ric Flair’s room. If you have any inkling about the pseudo-sport, you no doubt know that Flair was the ULTIMATE party animal. Well, the other wrestlers, McMahon in tow, arrived to Flair’s penthouse…only Flair wasn’t there. And there was NO BOOZE IN THE MINI BAR!! So Bret whipped out the Mexican Dirt Weed, and, all of a sudden, a who’s who of WWF stars are amateur wrestling in Flair’s room, while some, like Curt “Mr. Perfect” Hennig, pissed on Flair’s bed. What happened next was…

What, you want me to give the whole book away? FUCK NO. Pick it up. Read it. Your life will be enriched. Bret, I will say, comes off as a bit whiny and jaded at times. But, my god man, its BRET HART. He has reason to. Between Montreal and the death of his brother Owen, the man has a right to be a little cynical at times. Morseo than any wrestler who has inhabited this atmosphere. Just read the book. Whether you like it or not, you will not be disappointed. Trust me.

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