Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling by Bret Hart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling is the autobiography of former wrestler Bret "Hitman" Hart.
For a great portion of my wrestling fandom, Bret Hart was my favorite wrestler. He wasn't very big or very flashy but his matches were always the most believable on the card. Surprisingly, it took me quite a few years to actually pick this up but I'm glad I did.
For a wrestling book, this is a pretty hefty tome at close to 600 pages. Heavy enough to bludgeon another wrestler to death when the referee's back is turned, in fact. It also covers over forty years of Bret Hart's life. It covers Bret's pre-wrestling career a little more than I'd ordinarily like but since Bret grew up in the wrestling business, it didn't feel out of place. It covers Bret's sometime brutal childhood as 1 of 15 kids, wearing hand me downs and being left to his own devices a lot of the time.
Once Bret gets into the wrestling business, things take off. Bret talks about working in tiny towns for no money, driving Andre the Giant around, learning his craft and meeting veterans who came to his father's territory, Stampede Wrestling. Bret wrestles in Puerto Rico, the south, and Japan, before finally making it to the big time, the WWF.
Since Bret spent most of his career in the WWF, that's where most of the events in the book occur. He talks about forming the Hart Foundation, having great matches with the British Bulldogs, and finally being allowed to shine on his own as a singles wrestler. He talks about who was easy to have matches with, who his friends were backstage, and who was hard to deal with. He's honest about his drug use and many affairs, and what it was like to work in the WWF during the big downturn in the business around the time Vince was indicted on steroid charges.
When Bret leaves for WCW, the book takes a dark turn, not surprising since his tenure in WCW sucked from the moment he walked through the door to the moment he got his career ending concussion. From there, the constant infighting of his siblings, his stroke, and the deaths of his parents made the last 20% difficult to read.
Bret's a very good writer, especially considering he's suffered a severe concussion and had a stroke in the last decade. The book had a lot of road stories and he didn't paint himself to be better than everyone else, though his ego was probably pretty healthy.
As far as wresting biographies go, it'll be hard to top this one. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
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