On episode 17 of Confessions Of The Hitman, two-time WWE Hall Of Famer Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart went into detail about his classic Intercontinental Championship match at WrestleMania 8 against the late, great ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper. Specifically, Hart talked about being disappointed to drop the Intercontinental Championship to The Mountie after only a short reign as champion. Hart recalled meeting with Piper to put the match together. Also, Hart shared a story about blading in the match, at a time when getting color was banned within WWE.
According to Hart, who had only won the Intercontinental Championship at SummerSlam (1991), he was disappointed to learn that he would be dropping the title to The Mountie in January 1992. ‘The Hitman’ recalled that Piper was the one person who told him that losing the IC strap to The Mountie would result in Hart and Piper working together.
“I wasn’t that impressed with the news. Like, I got told, ‘oh, we’re going to take the title off of you.’ And I’m thinking, ‘I just got it! I’ve hardly had a chance to show anybody what I can do.'” Hart said, “Roddy was the one who told me – he goes, ‘you’re going go end up working with me.’ And I was thinking, I just thought, naw, the way the [pro wrestling] business usually works is to somehow benefit you. Like, it [has] got nothing to do with me. I’m just going to be the patsy, or the guy that got the belt taken from him.”
Piper, who offered Hart invaluable advice on promo skills, stressed that their feud would help ‘The Excellence Of Execution’ get over, which Hart had doubts about, as Hart was sure WWE would go in a different direction by the time WrestleMania came along. Apparently, Hart was so sure of this that he started sending feelers to WCW at that time.
“Roddy was the one to kind of stress to me in the beginning, like, ‘no, no, no, this is going to be really good for you. Like, you’re going to see that this is going to be great for you.’ And I had my doubts about it. I kept thinking, like, ‘he’s my friend, and I can tell as we get closer to WrestleMania, it’s going to be, ‘we’ve changed our mind – we’re going to go a different direction with Roddy. We’re going to do this, this, and this.'” Hart divulged. “In fact, I think I started to send little messages down to WCW to see if I could consider going there, because I thought maybe this was it, maybe this was my big push coming to an end here, and coming fast.”
With respect to the feud between Hart and Piper, the former explained that ‘Hot Rod’ played the big brother role. This accurately reflected their real life relationship, however, when Piper suggested that he spent a lot of time at The Hart House with The Hart Family, that was apparently untrue.
“[Piper] was kind of playing the story of the old veteran, big brother type of thing, looking out. He had always been a mentor to me, and this is all true. And he makes up and implies a little bit that he lived in the Hart house, and had sandwiches with the family, and all that. Yeah, that didn’t happen. It made for a good story at the time.” Hart remembered. “He always thought he was my cousin, so we had fun with that.”
Hart recalls that Piper did not want to turn heel for the WrestleMania match, but Hart claimed that Piper knew what he could get away with doing while staying babyface.
“The beauty of the match with Roddy was that we were both good guys.” Hart later remarked. “In this case, Roddy did not want to turn heel. Like, he had already been a heel. He’s quite popular at this time and he wanted to stay that way, but he knows that he can get on the wild side and still be a good guy, which is what people love about him. And he’s smart enough to know how not to be too vicious, and too rough, and how to be enough of a good guy to keep your fans onside without tipping the scale over. And it’s a real fine line there between going over the top and just finding the right line to be a bad guy in.”
Hart met Piper in a restaurant in Moncton, Canada to discuss the match prior to WrestleMania 8. Hart had an outline of a match worked out prior to meeting with Piper, and ‘The Hitman’ was very worried about hurting Piper’s feelings if he ended up not liking Piper’s plans.
“Me and Roddy, when we sat down in this restaurant, I already had mapped out in my head the entire match. Like, I had this match in my head. I don’t know the ending but I’m thinking of the pace, and the type of stuff that we’ll be doing.” Hart said, “I thought it would be really hard for me to tell Roddy Piper that I don’t like his idea, that this is my idea, and I’d like to do my idea instead of yours. You have to be really careful about that kind of stuff. A) because sometimes you’re right and B) because it’s difficult to tell a veteran, an old pro, that his idea is not good enough, and yours is better. And that doesn’t fly very high most of the time.”
During the meeting, Piper shared his idea for the match. Hart was pleasantly surprised that it was almost the exact same match as Hart had dreamt up.
“And so I went over to Roddy and we sat down. I remember bracing myself for it, like, ‘how do I not hurt his feelings if it’s lazy, lame kind of stuff?’ So he started talking, and anyway, he goes, ‘this is how I think it should go.’ And he talked for about 25 minutes without interruption, but it was almost the exact match that I had in my head. I remember I had total agreement with everything he said, that it was exactly what we should do.” Hart noted. “We were on the exact same page from the very first time we talked about it.”
Interestingly, Piper suggested to Hart that some blood would take the match to another level. With that said, the infamous host of ‘Piper’s Pit’ would not force Hart to blade, as there was a ban on getting color in WWE at the time, which carried a fine of $2,500.
“In [WWE] at the time, there was a no-blood rule, which was a good rule, and I’m glad they had the rule. But because of the no-blood rule, every once in a while there are situations in [pro] wrestling where guys bump heads, or fall and hit their head on the post for real, and things like that where people get busted open. So, sometimes accidents happen.” Hart recalled, “Roddy had said to me, he goes, ‘I’m not going to tell you what to do, but I think it would hit this thing out of the park if there was a little blood in this match.'”
Hart professed that he used to hide his razor in his mouth. ‘The Hitman’ shared that it was a risky move for him to blade, but he planned to make it look like he got color hard way.
“I generally carried [the razor] in my mouth right here, and it would stay there the whole match. It wouldn’t move. I never cut myself, never even a cut on my gum or anything. It was the perfect place to carry it. By the time you tape a razor blade up, it’s about the size of a Chiclet with a little piece of razor on it. You just stick it right in theren and it stayed there the entire time, including interviews.” Hart continued. “It was very risky for me to take it upon myself to do that, but we wanted to draw attention to our match.”
As the story goes, WWE Hall Of Famers the late, great ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage and Ric Flair decided to get color in their bout after seeing Hart defeat Piper for the Intercontinental Championship, and they were fined $5,000 each for the excessive blood in their match. Interestingly, Hart and Piper kayfabed the entire locker room to avoid being fined.
“Ric Flair and ‘Macho Man’ were deciding to do the same thing after our match. They were on right after us, and so me and Roddy had the match, and of course, I was discrete. No one really saw what happened, and all of a sudden, I’m bleeding. And luckily for me, it wasn’t a real gusher. Like, the one with Roddy was like someone smeared some blood on my face kind of a thing, but it wasn’t like the Steve Austin time, where there was blood pouring everywhere.
“Yeah, but it was effective enough. But I remember when I came back to the dressing room, we had to pretend we were mad at each other. He was apologizing and telling me it was an accident, that he didn’t mean to kick me. Because we had to put on a big charade so we didn’t get fined. So then, 10 minutes later, Ric Flair and ‘Macho Man’ go out there and have a juice fest. Anyway, [WWE] fined them. Both of them, I think, got $5,000 each fined for having blood in the match. And I remember, they said, ‘what about Bret and Roddy?’ and they said, ‘their’s was real,’ so we never got fined.”
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