On episode 25 of the Confessions Of The Hitman webseries entitled “The Art Of Wrestling” [no relation to Colt Cabana], two-time WWE Hall Of Famer Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart shared his thoughts on the craft of professional wrestling, and talked about whether contemporary pro wrestling is safe. Hart named a few of his favorite modern day professional wrestlers. Finally, Hart discussed his disdain for chops.
During the webshow, Hart described the art of professional wrestling as how safe wrestlers are in the ring. To the Canadian legend, this aspect of a performer’s work is underrated and overlooked in favor of things like mic skills and look.
“To be able to make [pro] wrestling look real and to do it in a way where it looks real and nobody gets hurt, it’s a quality that is often overlooked by [pro] wrestling fans and people. And it’s always people who talk about a certain guy’s mic skills and how they look and stuff, and it’s like the most important question is how they work. Like, how do they wrestle? Do they wrestle safely? I was always a guy, when you went into the ring with me, you came out the exact same.”
According to Hart, modern professional wrestlers are as dangerous as any generation that has come and gone before them. ‘The Excellence Of Execution’ averred that many professional wrestlers today do too much in the squared circle and do it too quickly, which makes performing more dangerous to the participants.
“I think the [pro] wrestlers today are as dangerous as they’ve ever been,” Hart opined. “They just do so much stuff and do it so fast.” Hart added, “there are so many people doing what I think is high risk moves where you could injure somebody’s neck. Like, I watch it, and a lot of the times, I go, ‘I wouldn’t let a guy do that to me.'”
In Hart’s expert view, the most important rule of professional wrestling is putting your own body at risk to protect the person you are working with, though, he claimed that he sees many performers take liberties nowadays.
“The first thing I learned in [pro] wrestling was to not hurt [your opponent]. The most important rule is when you walk out there, you got to make sure that whatever you do, you’ve got to protect the guy you’re working with first, over yourself.” Hart continued, “you put your own body at risk to protect the guy you’re working with all the time, and I see a lot of times in today’s [pro] wrestling where guys take liberties with guys, and it’s just amazing how these guys don’t get hurt sometimes when I watch it.”
Hart, who divulged that the 1990s was his favorite era of the genre, admires modern wrestlers for their high skill level. Hart name-dropped WWE Superstar AJ Styles as a great wrestler who Hart would fully trust in a match despite ‘The Phenomenal One’s stiff strikes.
“I admire a lot of the younger [pro] wrestlers for their skill, and their talent, and whatnot,” Hart explained. “Like, AJ Styles is someone I really like; I’ve liked him for a long time. I really like the way he works, and I think, like, I watch him do stuff and I go, ‘I would be a little hesitant for someone to do a lot of the stuff he does, say, to me, but at the same time, I also know that he’s a total pro and I would trust him.”
According to Hart, his late brother, Owen, started the technique of slapping his leg with kicks. Hart suggested that WWE Superstar Randy Orton, who was outspoken against it, was right to ask whether anyone can work without slapping their leg on kicks anymore.
“In [pro] wrestling today, there’s so many people slapping their legs and doing the kicks and stuff that it’s like something that– my brother Owen started all that,” Hart claimed. “But I know Randy Orton said something a few weeks ago about, ‘does anyone know how to wrestle anymore without slapping their leg?’ It’s kind of true.”
While current WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns recently revealed that he idolized Hart growing up, ‘The Hitman’ named Orton, Edge, and Daniel Bryan as a few of his own favorite active WWE Superstars. Hart went on to say that Bryan is one of the all-time greats and has a great mind for pro wrestling.
“There are a lot of guys I do like and I would trust working with them,” Hart considered. “Randy Orton would be one. Edge would be another. AJ Styles is really good. Daniel Bryan is one of the greatest [pro] wrestlers ever, pound for pound. Like, he’s just such a great artist in the ring. He has a great mind for [pro] wrestling.”
On the subject of chops, Hart said they are treated like a joke but they really hurt. Hart stated that while performers like two-time WWE Hall Of Famer Ric Flair do nothing but chop, he never understood the move because no one has ever won a fight from chopping his opponent in the chest or slapping him in the face.
“The chops started out as a rib! That’s what the old timers, like the [pro] wrestlers, would do to the rookies… they would chop them, like, ‘slap!’ And keep chopping them until they had welts on their chest and blisters. You could get blisters all across your chest and little red bubbles that hurt a lot.” Hart said, “when I worked with Ric Flair and guys like that, all they would do is chop. And I’m like, ‘for what?’ Like, whoever won a fight from a chop? It’s like slapping somebody in the face. I could slap somebody in the face all day and not hurt him.
“It’s not fun, but it kind of got accepted. It’s sort of a rib that got taken for reality today, where people chop each other and they think it’s great wrestling. The fans egg it on. I think [pro] wrestling fans sometimes egg on anything that is stupid or that hurts for real. Like, ‘do that again’ or ‘let’s try that again.'”
Click here to check out this episode of Confessions Of The Hitman. If you use any of the quotations that appear in this article, please credit Confessions Of The Hitman with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.