WWE Hall of Famer Bret Hart recently shared his thoughts on the current state of professional wrestling during an interview with FOX Sports Australia, taking a pointed jab at Goldberg in the process.
Hart’s criticism of Goldberg has deep roots, dating back to the infamous incident where a severe concussion ended his career following a kick from Goldberg in a WCW match.
In the interview, Hart acknowledged the recent resurgence in wrestling’s popularity and his own enduring legacy within the industry. He credited wrestlers like CM Punk and FTR for paying homage to his work, which has helped maintain his relevance.
“It’s hard to criticize something that seems to be going through the roof. Wrestling has had a surge in the last little while, the last few years. And even in my case, I seem to be as revered or popular as I’ve ever been – and it’s maybe because of the salutes I’ve been getting from guys like (CM) Punk, and FTR, different wrestlers have mentioned my name, or do something that I did in the ring as a nod or a salute to me, and I appreciate all that. I think CM Punk alone has done a lot to remind wrestling fans to take a look back at some of the stuff that I was doing, and how good it was. And I think it’s starting to stand out now where it’s like – in my honest opinion, without trying to sound too boastful, they’ve pulled the curtain back on wrestling so much.”
However, Hart expressed his concern about the changing landscape of wrestling, particularly the tendency to “pull the curtain back” and emphasize the scripted nature of the sport. He contrasted this with his own wrestling style, which he believed made the action look more authentic and less rehearsed.
Hart was critical of certain aspects of modern wrestling, such as overly rehearsed sequences, what he considered “phony” moves like synchronized belly flops, and a lack of realism in the performances. He emphasized the importance of making wrestling look genuine and expressed his belief that his own wrestling style achieved this authenticity.
“So now we know the whole thing’s a show, and they’re just really good physical actors, and that is what it is. But you watch my wrestling and you go, jeez, he was the best. I think I made it look more real than anybody all the time. I made your stuff look good, I made my own stuff look good, nothing looked rehearsed. There’s so much I think in today’s wrestling that’s so badly rehearsed, over and over.”
“I saw something just a few days ago in a wrestling match where all the girls were lying in the middle of the ring together and they were doing the big belly flops on all of them. And you think they would get away from that kind of phony rehearsed kind of wrestling. Who wants to watch that? I don’t want to watch that, I know my kids don’t want to watch that. The best pro wrestling has to always pretend to be real, and that way it’s fun – but when you basically say it’s not real, and it’s all just a performance, it loses some of that what I think was in my style. My punches, my kicks, my dropkicks – if I dropkicked somebody, I hit him right in the face, but I didn’t hurt him, but both feet pushed his face hard enough to know, jeez, I’m guessing that might’ve hurt. And the thing I take so much pride in is every wrestler I ever worked, every single one came back and he shook my hand to say thanks for the match.
Hart also took issue with the prevalence of injuries in today’s wrestling, attributing them to mistakes in positioning and execution during matches. He believed that wrestlers should prioritize safety and not resort to reckless stunts that undermine the credibility of the sport.
One of Hart’s more direct criticisms was aimed at the use of chops, which he viewed as a cheap way to generate crowd reactions. He argued that such moves, like whipping opponents across the chest, caused real pain and were contrary to the principles of professional wrestling.
“I was a technical wrestler that made you, you know — when I put a headlock on, it (looked) like a real headlock. Not like John Cena or somebody that’s got a headlock that looks like he has it on a tire. The headlock has to be tightened – real. You know, that’s what I pride myself on. And I also pride myself on the fact that I never injured anybody, ever. I find a lot of the wrestlers today are like, when they land where they land, they realize 30 seconds later that they’re in the wrong spot, and they start wiggling all the way across the ring to get in the right position. That’s a fail. You get an F in my wrestling academy when you do stuff like that. And when these guys dive over the top rope onto the 20 wrestlers on the floor – they’ve gotta stop doing that. It’s just not real … and with the chops, and everybody chopping themselves. What a bunch of baloney. Nobody ever won a match with a chop. All the wooing. It’s really taking away from the beauty and the art of great wrestling.”
“There’s a lot of great wrestlers out there that can deliver great matches. But there’s so many wrestlers out there that are subpar in my opinion, that don’t know what they’re doing out there. And they allow themselves to rely on things like chops, which I think is sort of like cheap heat – you get a reaction, but what’s your reaction? You’re whipping a guy across the chest with your hand? Okay, so you’re hurting some guy for real, for some stupid reason. And the crowd sort of reacts to it. In my understanding of pro wrestling, anytime anyone does anything to you that hurts for real – chopping, putting blisters on your chest when you go to your room or bed. Anytime anyone does things to you for real, they’re in the wrong business. They’re doing it wrong. Because you’re not supposed to get hurt. You’re not supposed to come back to your dressing room that night, or to your hotel room and have a big lump on your head and a black eye and your teeth are knocked out. That’s Bill Goldberg wrestling. That’s not how it’s done.”
In Hart’s view, professional wrestling should prioritize storytelling, athleticism, and authenticity over gratuitous violence and unnecessary risks. His critique highlighted his commitment to the craft and his desire to see the sport evolve in a more responsible and artful direction.
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