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Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart reflects on becoming the first pro wrestler in Canada’s Walk of Fame

By Tom Yun, Writer

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    TORONTO, Ontario (CTV Network) — Legendary pro wrestler Bret “The Hitman” Hart says he’s honoured to become the first in the sport to be inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame.

“In the WWE, I’ve been in a hall of fame twice, which has always meant a lot to me. But this is higher or bigger than that because it represents the whole country,” Hart told CTV’s Your Morning on Thursday.

Hart is joining the likes of actor Keanu Reeves and Olympic champion Damian Warner as part of the 2021 inductees into Canada’s Walk of Fame.

During his 26-year career in the ring, the Calgary-born wrestler has been a five-time WWE campion and a two-time World Championship Wrestling (WCW) heavyweight champion. His biography in Canada’s Walk of Fame says he’s been credited with “changing the perception of mainstream North American professional wrestling in the early 1990s by bringing technical in-ring performances to the forefront.”

“A wrestling match is a story,” Hart said, pointing out that unlike other sports, spectacle and acting are a major part of professional wrestling, on top of athleticism.

But while the match outcomes were always pre-determined by the organizers, it was up to the wrestlers themselves to develop the storylines for everything that happens during the match.

“For me, I was always a storyteller. I always sat down with my opponent and told him what we were going to do,” he said.

As part of his storyline, Hart often donned a Canadian flag in the ring while espousing the superiority of Canada when facing American opponents, leaning into a fierce Canada vs. U.S. rivalry in wrestling.

“I think I’ll always remember being appreciated in the wrestling business for being the guy that could tell these great stories,” he said.

For many Canadian kids growing up in the ‘90s, Hart was their hero.

“In my days in the WWE as the world champion, it’s part of your job to meet a lot of Make-a-Wish kids, meet a lot of kids that have far bigger problems than you could ever imagine,” Hart said.

“It’s a humbling thing to be a television hero as I was for so many years on TV every Saturday from Canada.”

Hart’s time in wrestling has not been without its challenges. In 1997, during a WWE match in Montreal, organizers had secretly changed the outcome of the match without telling Hart after he had announced he was leaving the federation to join its competitor, the WCW. This incident became known as the “Montreal Screwjob.”

After a career-ending concussion during a match, Hart retired from wrestling in 2000. In 2002, he also suffered a stroke that left him with total paralysis on his left side.

To get him through these challenges, Hart says he found strength in the wrestling hero persona that he created.

“The wrestling hero I portrayed myself to be was somebody that I ultimately became,” he said.

“I believed in that person and I found strength in that person, didn’t I? I found strength in the fans that cheered me on for all those years and felt that they’re always in my corner, always backing me up.”

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