Excellence of Execution.

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This week, my favorite wrestler of all time announced to the world that he has prostate cancer. Ever since then I’ve just had this kind of sad feeling. I’ve had friends ask me how I was doing and I just feel kind of blah about it all, like someone punched me in the guts.

Anyone who knows me knows that I bleed pink, black, and white.

Bret Hart was always more than just someone I watched on television every week, he is someone who I admire greatly and look up to (yes, even at 27 years old!). He is one of the classiest wrestlers I’ve ever seen and has technical skills that many wrestlers can only dream of emulating in the ring. I can still remember vividly him shaking the 1-2-3 Kid’s hand after their match on Monday Night Raw, that moment stuck with me all of these years because that’s the kind of classy individual he is.

Some of the greatest matches I have ever seen have involved him; facing his brother Owen at Wrestlemania X, taking on Shawn Michaels in an Iron Man Match (and that is my favorite match of all time), and putting the sharpshooter on a bloody and battered Stone Cold Steve Austin at Wrestlemania XIII. He was (and still is) such an integral part of wrestling, and my life as a wrestling fan.

The greatest moment of my entire wrestling loving life was getting to see him at Bret Hart Appreciation Night after Raw in Calgary. There wasn’t a more perfect place or time to have such a great event. Raw was over and they played a tribute video, his music hit, and I cried so hard. I was three rows from the front but to even be in the same building as someone like him was such a treat for me. I will never forget that moment for the rest of my life.

I think that’s why I’m taking his cancer diagnosis so hard. He means so much to me and is really only one of two wrestlers left from my childhood. It’s him and the Undertaker. It really kind of shakes you a bit to realize something like that.

The only thing that I can really say is that I hope his surgery goes well and he kicks cancer’s ass. This may be his toughest opponent yet but I know he can beat this.

Fight Bret Fight.

Bret Hart Appreciation Night.

This past Monday was declared Bret Hart Day in the lovely city of Calgary, Alberta.

It was also Bret Hart Appreciation Night on Monday Night Raw and it was something to behold.

I always try to make it to wrestling when it comes to Calgary, which is seldom. It was two years ago that the WWE was in the great city and I had to go. The last few times that Bret was in attendance, I missed it. He was the reason I was at Monday Night Raw in the first place. The rest of the show was awesome but Bret was what I was waiting for.

The three-hour broadcast seemed to take forever and when it was over, it was finally time to celebrate one of the greatest sports entertainers in history. I got up by the barricade, ready with my sign, and anxiously waiting. They showed a very touching tribute video that highlighted the journey that Bret had during his career. It brought me to tears. Here I was, a kid who grew up on the Hart’s, finally getting to see the man who I idolized. Bret Hart may just be a wrestler to some, but to his fans he truly is a special individual. I love him because he is someone who represents the greatness of the wrestling business, sportsmanship, and taking pride in what you do.

Some (okay, most) of my wrestling memories involve the Hitman in some way. When he shook the hand of the 1-2-3 Kid after their match, the iron man match at Wrestlemania XII, wrestling Owen at Wrestlemania X, I can’t even go on because I will be here all day typing away. He has been such an integral part of my life and the fact that I got to even be in the same building as him still blows my mind. When his music hit and he came down that ramp, you couldn’t hear yourself think. I was screaming at the top of my lungs and holding my sign high in the air. It makes me proud as a wrestling fan, as an Albertan, as a Canadian, to cheer for someone like Bret.

The sentiment extended to the people who interacted with Bret along his journey in the WWE, they admire and respect him as much as the fans do. It was so touching and hilarious to hear the stories they told about him, but the best moment came when the crowd started to chant ‘Owen’. You could see that Bret was so appreciative that the fans did not forget his brother and he wished so badly that he could share that moment with him. Same with Stu and Davey. Canadian wrestling fans are some of the most fiercely loyal fans in the world, they stand by their heroes through anything. Did I mention that we are also a tad bit crazy? It was such a great experience to be with all of those people, showing our love.

The appreciation night will never pay back the debt that the fans owe to him for all of the years of entertainment and awesome memories that he has given us but it was a nice start.

Thank you Hitman.

Piece Of My Hart.

This Thursday marks fourteen years since Owen Hart fell to his death at Over the Edge in Kansas City. It was one of the most heartbreaking events in the history of sports entertainment and one of the hardest moments I’ve ever had to experience as a wrestling fan. Moments like that stick with you forever, it gets a little easier to handle but the pain never fully goes away. I grew up loving the Hart family, and I still love them. My very first wrestling t-shirt was a Bret Hart shirt. Some of my greatest memories as a wrestling fan involve the Hart’s. I always feel a strong connection to them, it could be because I’m from the same province, it could be because they are Canadian, but it’s mostly because they are awesome.

This year I finally got the chance to pay my respects to Owen at his grave. It was the most heartbreaking experience I’ve ever had but it was something that I felt like I had to do.

My boyfriend didn’t really understand why I wanted to do it or even what it meant to me, he isn’t a wrestling fan. We finally found the cemetery after what felt like a million years of driving in Calgary, the whole time I was just sitting in the car and thinking about what this moment meant to me. Fourteen years. That’s not a small amount of time by any means. We parked by the crematorium in Queens Park Cemetery and started to walk towards the plots. We tried googling where in the cemetery he was located, I knew what his headstone looked like and I knew that he had a memorial bench. We decided to walk and just find it ourselves and then that’s when I turned my head to the right and saw it. We were about fifteen feet away from it and I just said ‘There it is.’ and started to walk towards it. I was so nervous that I walked like a speed demon, not even realizing how fast I was moving. We stood on the walking path, behind the bench, and I just stared at his headstone.

It felt like someone had knocked the wind right out of me.

I kind of just stared and then sat on the bench. I read the inscriptions on his headstone and just cried. I couldn’t stop crying. I thought about everything I ever saw Owen do. When he used to come out in those ridiculous pants with Koko B. Ware, when he got his mother Helen to throw in the towel for Bret, when he fought Bret at Wrestlemania X in MSG, when he almost paralyzed Steve Austin at Summerslam in 1997, and when he had his accident in Kansas City in 1999 (among other moments). I was only there for about five minutes but I felt so good after I left.

It was nice to get some sort of closure I guess you could say. He wasn’t a member of my family but I felt like I had known him and his family for years. I spent all of my childhood and adult life cheering Owen and his siblings on. It felt like a piece of my heart was missing and I still feel that way. I feel that way about Macho Man, Hawk, and Benoit.

There isn’t very much more that I can say about Owen other than I really, truly miss him. Rest in peace Owen, we will never forget you.

Living On A Prayer.

It’s less than two weeks away from Extreme Rules and we are FINALLY making some progress on the build to the first event after Wrestlemania. There’s some mystery and excitement surrounding this event, and I am intrigued to see how it will go (given the current circumstances). From injuries to absences, curiosity is killing the average wrestling fan.

First of all, Cena is injured. The champ and face of the WWE (quit denying it) is hurt and it is in a delicate spot. Anyone remember when Edge injured his Achilles tendon? He was out, and out for a while. Cena’s injury is, reportedly, less severe than what Edge suffered but it is still dangerous. As all the WWE superstars are, Cena is a professional and is willing to entertain the fans through injury. He came out on Monday Night Raw to a massive pop and gives Ryback the chance to choose their match stipulation at Extreme Rules. What did he choose? Last man standing.

Excuse me.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! SERIOUSLY!

Is this 2010 all over again? Does Ryboring (see what I did there?) actually think he can win? Allow me to show why his decision was stupid, to see why just go to YouTube and type ‘John Cena last man standing match’. There will be several videos that demonstrate Cena is a badass. He may be a superhero to the kids but he is one tough mother you do not want to mess with.

Another shining star on Monday Night Raw was Damien Sandow in his match against Randy Orton. The highlight of this match wasn’t so much the wrestling but Sandow mocking Randy. When he sang his own improvised words to Orton’s theme song, I couldn’t stop laughing. Of course, going into Extreme Rules, Randy got the win but Damien Sandow really proved that he can go to bat with some of the more established wrestlers in the WWE. Listening to him on the microphone is like listening to a pompous angel with a golden voice. From the man with a golden voice, we go to the man with the golden feet. That man is Fandango. I really like him and I can’t explain why for the life of me. He’s just funny and this thing he has going with Jericho is intriguing. The appeal of Fandango is that he is so ridiculous. The sequins, the attire, the voice, the finisher, fans can’t help but laugh and just go with it.

We were subjected to yet another bout that featured Dolph Ziggler, Alberto Del Rio, and Jack Swagger. It’s just the same old thing. I LOVE Ziggler and he is fantastic but he does not need an entourage. They fight for a bit, Swagger and Colter come out and be giant losers. Blah, blah, blah…

On a side note, an unfortunate turn of events happened at the Smackdown taping the following night. Ziggler suffered a concussion that led to him being diagnosed with retrograde amnesia. Due to that, he may or may not be participating at Extreme Rules on May 19th. Many are saying that he should be stripped of his title if he can’t actually defend it. I don’t think that should be the case. It isn’t like when Shawn Michaels got the crap kicked out of him in a bar, he didn’t do anything stupid, it was just an unfortunate accident. What they should do is let Ziggler keep the title and have some sort of battle royal to determine a number one contender. Even if Del Rio or Swagger wins, they just need to add others in there to keep it fresh and interesting.

I thought that all of the matches on Raw were very entertaining, even the women’s match. I know, I know, surprising. The obvious standout was The Shield. They can face anybody they want and turn it into a five-star match. The Shield faced the Usos and Kofi, and retained their undefeated streak in the WWE. It was such a fantastic match from both sides, my favorite moment being when Seth Rollins got caught with a right hand from one of the Usos. Not only did it look painful but I felt the blow sitting on my couch. These three mysterious men in black are like an unstoppable freight train that just bowls over anyone and anything that is in their path. JBL is one hundred percent right in comparing them to the Fabulous Freebirds. The style or look of the group might be different but the charisma and appeal is the same. The Shield is there to shake things up and change the landscape of pro wrestling, just like the Freebirds did.

The one element of Raw that didn’t really click for me was the segment with Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman. I think that Brock should be there to build his match, not just show up and wreck shit. As much as I don’t particularly care for Lesnar, this feud could be really good if he actually worked towards making it better. Pre-taped segments aren’t helping him, they just make him look like someone who doesn’t care about the fans and just wants to get paid. One thing I will credit Lesnar with is that he didn’t come in and get handed a title, just high-profile matches that turn out to not end that well for him. He isn’t a wrestler, he is a fighter and he has to play to that strength or he falls flat. Triple H appeared on the broadcast and I am hoping that he just beats Lesnar so bad that he never returns to the WWE again. He just isn’t someone who is enjoyable to watch. He comes out, hops around like he pooped his pants, huffs and puffs, and then leaves. Talk about boring.

Next week the build needs to be kicked into high gear, as it is the go-home show. With three of the top names in the company nursing injuries, it will be compelling to see how the WWE creative department will spin the stories to make up for the absences. I wish all of the superstars working with injuries, or those out with injuries, the very best and I hope that they return to action soon.

On May 27th, I will be attending the Bret Hart Appreciation Night for Monday Night Raw in Calgary. Look for a special article in the coming days about the Excellence of Execution. I also wanted to note that I will be starting a five-week course so I will still be blogging and watching Raw, but I may not get to watch it until a day or two later. It’s only five weeks so I hope to be back on schedule as soon as it is done!

Take Me Back To The Start.

I’ve been watching wrestling for my entire twenty-four years and there has been a thought stuck in my mind for weeks. I can count the wrestlers still around from my childhood on one hand. It is shocking and saddening that one day they will all be gone. There are several current superstars on the roster that remind me of my favorites but it isn’t the same. Perhaps I’m being mighty nostalgic here, nothing is as good as the original. The magic and feeling that those superstars had (and still have) for me can never be replicated.

It’s not like they vanished into thin air. Many retired for various reasons, some moved on to other things, and many of them died. Like with anything else, wrestling fans form attachments to the superstars that they watch for years. The WWE superstars of today are dynamic and exciting, I’m not saying that they aren’t with this article, but no one can beat my childhood heroes. There was something magical and special about seeing Bret Hart, Randy Savage, and others, come down to the ring. When that music hit, a chill would run down my spine and excitement would course through my veins (and it still does).

Sounds cheesy but it is 100% true.

The only active wrestler left from my childhood is the Undertaker. He has been a constant presence in the company since he debuted and is the last remnant of the past. He is so amazing, in presence and statistics. How many en can say that they have gone 20-0 at anything, let alone Wrestlemania? The thought that the Undertaker may not compete at next year’s event is truly saddening. It’s almost like a funeral, a person that you loved for years is suddenly gone. You only have your memories of that person.

What makes people like the Undertaker, Bret Hart, and Randy Savage so memorable is that they had an identifiable personality and commanded the ring. People know who they are. They don`t need to see a picture or anything, they just know. Not every person who steps through those ropes is held in such high esteem. Fifteen or twenty years from now, no one is going to remember a Brad Maddox or a Sin Cara, but everyone will remember a John Cena or a CM Punk. Men like that (Punk and Cena) will one day be included with the likes of Savage and Hart.

Every athlete in the ring should have a purpose, they should strive to be the absolute best performer that they can be.It doesn`t mean winning the most championships, but taking pride in your work. If a superstar is at their best, fans recognize that and remember it.

Not to discredit men like Buddy Rogers or Bruno Sammartino, who  made the business what it is, but I am speaking about the wrestlers that I grew up with. I believe that each generation owes a certain debt of gratitude that to the generation that came before them. The demographic of the WWE is changing and expanding, the younger fans should learn about the past and they owe it to themselves to do so. Wrestling, to me, is something that has such a rich and full-bodied history.

When I have children, I want to sit with them and share my love of professional wrestling like my dad did with me.

Rise Above.

On the October 29th edition of Monday Night Raw, the WWE did something special. John Cena, accompanied by Vince McMahon and the entire Raw locker room, helped to present the Susan G. Komen Foundation with a check for the amount of one million dollars. That money is going to help a lot of people in their fight against breast cancer.

As a huge Cena fan (and I mean HUGE!), I’m always excited when he debuts new ring gear. This gear was different, it had a purpose. On September 16th of this year, at Night of Champions, the Rise Above Cancer campaign began. Cena came out in that pink and black gear like a champion, he wore it so proudly. He caught a lot of flack from people because he was sporting pink. Many called him a homosexual and said that they would never wear pink, they clearly missed the point. I also want to say that real men wear pink (just ask Bret Hart).

Do something as simple as buying a t-shirt, hat, or sweat bands and help save lives. Such an easy and amazing concept.

As a woman, breast cancer is something that hits home with me. I have been lucky enough to never have a friend, relative, or personally been diagnosed with any form of cancer. Not everyone is that lucky. I feel that it is important to support those who truly need it, even if you have no connection to them. Another reason why this campaign meant so much to me (and anyone who participated in it) was that the superstars were seen as people and not the larger than life performers that we know.

Laylas’s speech about her mother just broke my heart. This disease doesn’t just affect those diagnosed with it but everyone who cares about them as well. She spoke about her mother never getting to see her wrestle or get married and I can’t imagine my mom not being around for something as important as my wedding. Listening to things like that makes you really stop and think about your own life and how you would feel if put in the same situation.

It is amazing how such a globally recognized brand like the WWE can band together with their fans to work for such a worthy cause. One million dollars is no small feat. When that check was presented I teared up and clapped in my living room. I have never been prouder to be a WWE fan as I was in that moment. Congratulations WWE and Susan G. Komen!

Long Live The King.

This particular episode of Monday Night Raw emanated from Montreal. The location of the infamous Montreal Screwjob, taking place at Survivor Series in 1997. That would be the night that Bret Hart was screwed out of the title belt and leaving the WWE in a classy way. Wrestling fans still hold on to the anger over this, even fifteen years after the fact. You could read it all over Hart’s face that this was important to him. I think that he finally got closure on one of the darkest times in his entire life/wrestling career. I was nine years old and I still remember seeing that match and watching Bret spit in Vince’s face. It’s probably one of the most prominent wrestling memories that I have. Hearing his music hit and seeing the look on his face when the fans cheered him was enough to let this fan know that Bret Hart has put what happened behind him. The Montreal Screwjob will always be in the mind of wrestling fans but the anger and resentment felt from it has mostly faded away.

The main thing that was on the mind of every wrestling fan on September 10 was Jerry Lawler. He took a heart attack while commentating the tag team match. It was an incredibly horrifying and shocking moment that left many concerned and confused. When he hit the floor, it wasn’t just a show, it was real life. How does someone react to that? I sat in complete shock and panic. I had no idea what to do other than try to comb Facebook and Twitter for whatever information was available. At that point, it didn’t matter who was in the ring or what was happening on the titantron. You could feel the atmosphere change almost instantly, whether you were watching from your couch or the front row. I was literally in tears with every update that I was getting from the online world. I, along with everyone else, was preparing for the worst but hoping for the very best.

I am happy to report that he is recovering well.

It is hard to know what to do in a situation that is so serious and unexpected. Congratulations to Michael Cole and the entire WWE team for handling it with professionalism and class. If Jerry had been alone in a hotel or at home, it could have been a lot worse. While there is never a good time for a medical emergency, it is better that it happened in his place of work than somewhere else. I’m sure that there was disarray and chaos backstage when this all happened, WWE did the right thing by not cancelling the show. Many thought that they should have but I’m glad that they didn’t. They do have a job to entertain and it was a smart move to keep the show going and keeping it as normal as possible for those in attendance and watching at home. They did the exact same thing when Owen Hart tragically passed away in 1999. It isn’t easy working through any kind of tragedy but sometimes it is the only thing that people can do, I applaud the WWE for their handling of this difficult situation. Jerry may be doing well but I won’t feel better until I see him sitting behind that announce table again.