Live, from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, it is now time for the REAL main-event of the evening: honoring Bret “The Hit Man” Hart! A quick highlight package of Bret airs for the intro, then we cut to Jerry “The King” Lawler in the ring. He welcomes the WWE Universe, everyone watching on the WWE App, as well everyone in Canada watching on The Score sports channel.
Lawler announces that today (May 27) is Bret Hart day. Another video tribute, comprised mainly of footage from DVDs, airs, exemplifying the excellence of “The Hit Man’s” career.
Back live, Jerry brings out the hometown hero. Bret “The Hit Man” Hart walks to the ring, amid many signs and praises, as well as a standing ovation from Michael Cole and John “Bradshaw” Layfield. “Thank you Bret” chants blare out.
Lawler reads out a certificate presented to Hart, courtesy of the city of Calgary. It summarizes his accomplishments in the professional wrestling business and his family history, and officially proclaims May 27th, 2013, as “Bret ‘Hit Man’ Hart Day.” The certificate is signed by Calgary’s mayor.
Bret takes the microphone and calls it a “huge honour.” He feels his late brother Owen, late father Stu, and late brother “The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith are watching from above. Owen chants loudly sound out. Bret says the award is “more genuine” than winning championships, because it comes from the people of Calgary, which means a lot to him.
He thanks his children for all the sacrifices they made when he was gone on the roads for 23 years. A shot of his children in the crowd is shown.
Hart gives accolades to all the wrestlers, from those who he first worked with in Stampede Wrestling and gave him his big breaks, to all he stepped in the ring with over the years in WWF/WWE. “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig and Davey Boy are particularly mentioned.
He also thanks his wife Stephanie, as well as Lawler for being “one of his greatest adversaries.” Bret remembers how Jerry poked fun at his parents, and Owen got mad and wanted to ease up the comments, but the their late Mom ended up loving it, and it turned her into a wrestling fan!
Bret does wish that he had more matches in Calgary though. Lawler reiterates that “Calgary loves Bret ‘The Hit Man’ Hart.” and now brings out those who want to pay their own respects to the Hall Of Famer. Out first is fellow Hall Of Famer and Canadian, and first-ever Intercontinental Champion Pat Patterson. He hugs Bret and calls him “the best wrestling Canadian of all-time.”
Next is another Canadian, current-roster star “Y2J” Chris Jericho. While he says he never actually got to wrestle Bret, he did many times in his mind. He calls Bret one of his two heroes, the other being Owen. Instead he came to Calgary to train with Stu, and Jericho tells a story about a Stu Hart Birthday Show in 1995, where Jericho was in the locker room.
Chris recalls that Bret asked the dressing room if anyone knew a new finish he could use against Davey Boy in his upcoming Pay-Per-View match. Jericho timidly demonstrated the La Mahistral, a cradle roll-up he saw in Japan, and then was honored himself that Hart did use the move in the PPV match with British Bulldog. Jericho called this a “classy” move, that the WWE World Champion would use a move that an up-and-comer suggested, and was inspired to keep going with his career after this notification that Bret Hart was learning stuff from him.
Jericho finishes off giving props, “Thank you for that, and thank you for everything. To me Bret, one of my top two wrestlers of all time, by far. Every single match you ever had was a pleasure, and I had hoped always to be half of what you are and you deserve this night. And thank you so much, and you deserve this night.” Bret tells Jericho that “I knew a good move when I saw one!”
Lawler now says that Bret’s career is also always remembered for one particular night. With no more introduction, he brings out Bret’s greatest rival (in my opinion), “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels.
It is actually a luke-warm reception for the usually hated-heel of that time, which Michaels acknowledges. He says “thank you” for being somewhat kinder. “H.B.K.” says that “every great hero needed an arch-enemy.”
Michaels says that he was honored to be “Lex Luther” to Bret’s “Superman. He congratulates him on a “fantastic career, and I don’t know that there’s ever been a more deserving person on a more deserving night. It was an honor, my friend.”
The last person to walk out and pay respects is the boss himself. WWE owner, Vince McMahon marches out as only he can and embraces with his longest friend, enemy, and friend again.
Mr. McMahon says that it is fitting for Bret to be honored in Calgary tonight, because it is where he started his career. Vince completely puts Bret over, telling him that Stampede Wrestling was “one of the greatest regional promotions ever, your Dad, your whole family being involved in that.”
McMahon says that Bret started a whole new era, the “Bret Hart era,” because he brought a “certain legitimacy to the WWE that was never there before. You brought a certain skill, an in-ring mat that was so appreciated, always over-looked many, many times by the promotion. You became the WWE Champion the old-fashioned way: you earned it!”
Vince tells Bret, “everyone whoever stepped in the ring with you was better off. Everyone whoever stepped in the ring learned a great deal. And they all had extraordinary appreciation for you, because you were ‘the Excellence of Execution.’ And tonight, you rightfully should be honored, as indeed, ‘The Best There Is, The Best There Was, and The Best There Ever Will Be.’”
Vince says that Calgary does owe Hart a great deal of gratitude, but it is not just them. Fans all over the world want to say, as he does, two simple words: “thank you!”
Bret makes a final speech, talking about the great memories he had in WWE and the great wrestlers he got to work with.
“I’m extremely grateful for everything that my life has become. I really enjoy being a Calgarian hero, and being recognized around the world. I can honestly say I owe all of it to Vince, and I have nothing but the best things to say about Vince. And same with Shawn, it really means a lot that he came out here for me today. It just sort of reinforces the bond that we made a couple years ago and I’m grateful for that.”
“These are the great moments that you take with you forever and I want to thank everybody for being here for me tonight. I will continue to try to be the best ‘old hero’ in Calgary.” “Thank you very much. I’m deeply honoured. I’m very proud to be a Calgarian. I’m very proud to be a Canadian. And I will promise to never let you down. Thank you very much.”
Bret’s famous music plays in the background as the locker room walks out to the stage to give props. Appropriately, Natalya and Tyson Kidd (who is now off crutches and looks to be healing real well) enter the ring to personally be with Bret. Among the wrestlers and other stars on the stage is Lance Storm, also an excellent wrestler and fellow Canadian.
The show closes with slow-motion clips of Jericho shaking hands with Bret, as well as Shawn and Vince hugging him. Everyone on the stage, the fans, and in the ring, are clapping, showing their appreciation for one of the greatest wrestlers and men in pro-wrestling of all-time, Bret “The Hit Man” Hart, and the last shot is of him waving to the crowd one last time.
Reporter’s Thoughts and Memories – By Moe Tapp
This was really, really cool to watch, and I believe a great “send-off” for Bret Hart. I think this provided absolute closure for him and all the wrestlers and fans (like me) who grew up watching him and all he has gone through in his LIFE.
I’m proud to say that I met Bret in 2007, when he making book signing appearances for his autobiography, and am always in awe when I think about meeting one of my original favorite wrestlers from the time I started consistently watching (then) WWF in 1997. I was completely enthralled with the then-Hart Foundation and was/is a Bret Hart supporter! I think that Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels was the greatest rivalry of all-time, because it was completely real, in AND out of the ring.
However, my favorite match of Bret’s was SummerSlam 1992, him versus British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith for the Intercontinental Championship. And that is because of the story that Bret said he had to carry the entire match since Davey Boy couldn’t remember any of the spots. It was a masterpiece with a very sweet ending, both technically and emotionally.
I do wish they had a few more wrestlers come out to say something, but in all, this was very, very sincere, and just really neat to see. I’m glad Vince, Shawn, and Bret were able to “bury the hatchet” on their past issues a while ago, and properly end Bret’s career and legacy on a high note like tonight. This was honest and genuine by all involved, and I hope they are able to do more appreciation nights like this for many more legendary wrestlers in the future.
Bret, thank you for the memories, the wrestling matches, the stories you provided in the ring, and your family. You are a true Canadian hero and you and your family will always be remembered.