Bret Hart rips "The Wrestler"

Bret Hart rips "The Wrestler," thanks Vince McMahon for his wrestling career - 16th February 2009
(Credit: Pro Wrestling Torch)

Former WWE champion Bret Hart had only heard about "The Wrestler" from colleagues and friends before recently watching Darren Aronofsky's critically-acclaimed film. Now, Hart believes the movie is a "dark misinterpretation" of the wrestling business.

Hart is most concerned about audiences walking away from the movie thinking every story in wrestling has a tragic ending.

"The film isn't so much an exposé of the wrestling business as it really is; rather, it shows us what a lot of people outside the business think it is," Bret wrote in a column published Macleans Magazine in Canada. "I'm uncomfortable that audiences will unconsciously assume every wrestling has-been comes to a tragic end."

Hart, as a former World champ and not a sad former wrestler, says wrestlers will feel embarrassed "by the film's unbalanced portrayal in which there's no respect for our art or our dignity."

In a surprising gesture, Hart also thanked Vince McMahon for creating a mainstream platform for wrestlers to thrive.

"Wrestling has given me a great life and for that I thank Vince McMahon," Hart said. "Vince and I have had major differences, but... it's only fair I give the devil his due, because it's Vince who succeeded in taking pro wrestling out of back alleys and dingy halls like those in the movie and made it marketable, mainstream and just plain fun to watch."

Hart said many wrestlers "swerve off the road" after their careers because they don't know how to live off the road, but not every story goes so far off the given path, such as "The Wrestler" depicts.

"Although the film speaks superbly to the speed bumps all pro wrestlers navigate, I'm happy to report most of us don't swerve off the road quite so severely," he said.


Bret Hart column

Greg Tingle comment...

Bret Hart makes some very good points here regarding 'The Wrestler'. The film shows one of the worst case scenarios imaginable. One may may choose to make comparisons of Randy "The Ram" Robinson to that of Jake "The Snake" Roberts, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper or whomever, but not all the original WWE and WWF cast is dead. Obviously Owen Hart's untimely death comes to mind, however that was stunt related. Was Owen "forced" or cornered to do the stunt, or not, is something that has been well documented in the past. When boundaries and pushed to extremes that is when people can get seriously hurt or die. I recall world renowned businessman, Sir Richard Branson, taking a stunt fall down a high rise building to launch a Virgin brand product a few years ago. Richard Branson is the ultimate boss at Virgin, so he would have had to agree to pushing the boundaries to the extreme, and he did get bruised up in the progress. How far from death he was, we will never know, just as we don't know how far pro wrestlers travel to the line. Bret Hart is more than qualified to speak and document his thoughts on 'The Wrestler'. It's refreshing to see Hart and McMahon agree on something...The WWE is not 'The Wrestler', however the pro wrestling business does carry one of the highest early mortality rates of any business. John "Bradshaw" Layfield has also made some very valid points in his commentary about "The Wrestler". Some pro wrestlers may have had it even worse that Randy, but thankfully the vast majority have it much better than "The Ram". Bret Hart, Vince McMahon and Mickey Rourke are all champions who have survived very different roads to be in the position they assume today. They are all successful, whatever "successful" is these days. They are all alive and appear happy, and largely enjoy the respect of the masses. Here's to Bret speaking out and defending the professional which made him a legend.

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