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Old 03-19-2009, 08:34 PM   #11 (permalink)
is pounding the rock!

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Some interesting tidbits in a recent interview with Bret Hart...

ESPN: When you look at some of the problems with the sport today, do you think more needs to be done to put a stop to pain killers and concussions, or is steroids still the main issue?

Bret Hart: The real problem is pain killers and prescription pills. I think they're actually testing for steroids properly, but I can think of about ten wrestlers who died specifically from taking Somas. Davey Boy, Curt Hennig, Crush. These were all people who underestimated the amount of pills they were taking. I never took Somas, but it's a muscle relaxer, and these guys are in so much pain, real pain, with their necks and backs and serious injuries. But when they took Somas after they worked that night, it was like heaven. Everything goes away, everything is relaxed. So instead of taking one Soma, they take about five, flush it down with some beer and they feel like a million bucks the next morning. People wonder why these guys get hooked on these things, but it's such a heavenly, blissful remedy for them. I'm so lucky I never got pulled into that. I never did take Somas or pain pills. I always shied away from that, but these other guys, you never thought they were going to die tomorrow. They were guys you'd see at night and you thought you'd see them in the morning. They overdosed and they're dead, and it's such a tragedy. These guys seemed to be in so much control of everything, but they underestimated their levels.

ESPN: How do you fix these problems? Should wrestling have a season, giving the guys an offseason to heal?

Bret Hart: I think the first thing wrestling needs is a union. They need a union to make sure, like airline pilots, that they get enough time down to rest and recover. They need to recover from the physical toll that it takes to be a professional wrestler. But the truth is, I don't know. It's hard to test anyone for these pills like Soma. They get out of your bloodstream so fast, by the time you test, they're already out of your system. That's the problem. If they are legal prescriptions from real doctors, how do you stop it? That's where Vince's hands were tied, and I think it's unfair to pin it on him.

And it's actually ridiculous to me why anyone would even take steroids in wrestling. It's not even a real sport. It's not necessary, it's strictly for the look. But when they started the drug testing in the early 90's, I wasn't on steroids and I didn't know anyone who was on steroids. I even remember Lex Luger looking pretty skinny after coming in from the bodybuilding league. He didn't have that puffy, bloated look that you get from steroids. And I remember a lot of people didn't even believe that he was off of steroids, and I always felt bad for him because he worked so hard to have this really great physique, but he was a little skinny because he wasn't all puffed up on the steroids. He never got any credit for it. But during that whole period, they completely wiped out steroids in WWE. It wasn't until after I knocked Vince out, it was 1997 and Vince said he was throwing the drug policy out the window. That opened the door for steroids, and that came from the fact that WCW had a joke for drug testing. I don't know who they even drug tested. They seemed to test all of the Mexican guys and all of the smallest guys on the roster and let Hulk Hogan do whatever he wanted. I think Vince found it really hard to compete against that at the time.

But for wrestlers, I don't think steroids made much of a difference at all. I wouldn't have paid to see Warrior or Hogan anyway, but I was always more about the wrestling. Once they introduced the serious drug testing, I was all for it. I was only worried about my body falling apart. It took me about two or three years, and I remember talking to Vince about three years into the drug testing on how we didn't even need steroids and that the whole thing was a myth. A lot of us actually believed that we'd fall apart without it, that we'd have more injuries, but over a period of time I realized that I didn't need them. I only lost about five pounds off steroids. It didn't make much difference to me. In fact, if you look at me after I stopped taking steroids, I looked better. I didn't look as puffy and bloated. Steroids are not a necessary requirement to be a professional wrestler.

ESPN: Your book did an amazing job of filling in the gaps of what happened to certain wrestlers and why they were suddenly fired for steroids or whatever.

Bret Hart: I remember Boris Zhukov comes up to me one time. He wasn't on any of the booking sheets, so he asked me what I thought he should do. So I told him he should go up to Vince and ask him point blank. I figured at least that way, you'd end up finding out the answer. So he goes into his meeting with Vince, then he walks out and comes over to me. He said Vince started laughing at him and said: "We forgot to tell you, you're fired." I remember Boris Zhukov had big tears in his eyes. He was crushed that nobody cared how hard he worked or his family or his situation. And that was one of the last times I ever saw him. That was the end of the road. Luckily, I did see him a few years after that and he became a trucker. But that's how it is. There's no where to go. There's no soft landing there. You're done. Good luck.
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