Right, then. The top part shall be business as usual, the bottom part shall deal with Benoit and get a little odd. Read whichever you like, send in some more questions to the usual address, pretend there was a proper introduction here, and off we go…
Lo Strathern pops in with a knotted one:
“Which of the Hart kids are involved in the wrestling business nowadays? I remember Blade being a bit gay for Shawn Michaels and wanting to train to emulate him but is he still pursuing that? Any more than Teddy, Nattie, TJ and Harry?”
Trying to wrap my head around the permutations of the Hart family is almost as bad as trying to climb the wrestling Samoans’ family tree.
Smith Hart, the eldest child of Stu & Helen, has five kids of his own – Toby, Michael, Satania, Matthew and Chad. None of them seem to be involved in wrestling.
Bruce Hart was the second child and also has five kids of his own – Brit, Bruce Jr, Rhett, Tory and Lara. Again, no future wrestlers there.
Keith Hart came next and was smart enough to get out of the wrestling business to become a firefighter. Not sure if he has any children or not.
Ellie Hart was the fourth one to come along and grew up to marry Jim Neidhart. They were accused of stealing $10,000 worth of jewellery in 2004 and later divorced. They had three children together – Jennifer, Kristen and Nattie Neidhart. The first two are doing whatever they’re doing, with Nattie of course now in WWE developmental and living with T.J. Wilson, who we’ll get to shortly.
Bret Hart was the next one and had four children with his first wife Julie Smadu. They are Jade, Dallas, Alexandra and wee Blade. He has since remarried to an Italian lady named Cinzia. Dallas went to Lance Storm’s wrestling academy for training but the last I heard he had left. Here’s an amusing quote from an interview he did in 1996 – “I kind of like Flair, but he just can’t wrestle anymore. He still adds a lot of Piazz to WCW because he is the only main eventer who is not a
total joke, for he still can do a great interview. As far as my dad saying some choice words to Flair, it had to do with Flair saying that he was the best, even though my dad won his first WWF title from him. I would love to see, as would many other wrrestling fans, Flair (in his prime) vs my Dad. That would be the greatest match of all time. Cause both would know how to wrestle, unlike Hogan vs my dad, because in that case my dad would be the only one who knew how to wrestle, cause Hogan wouldn’t know a figure-four from a legdrop.” Oooh, get him. Blade has started training too, though whether he has outgrown his Heart Break Kid leather glove phase is not for me to speculate on.
Wayne Hart was the sixth child. Not much info out there about him though.
Dean Hart died in 1990 of a kidney disease, aged 36.
Georgia Hart was up next and married a wrestler named B.J. Annis. He left the business to become a firefighter, later opening a gym too, and it was him who got Keith Hart to join the fire brigade too. They had four children – Teddy, Matt, Annie and Angela. Matt died in 1996 of a viral infection, aged 13. Their eldest is of course now wrestling under the name Teddy Hart. He was the youngest person ever signed to a WWE developmental deal back in 1998, only for then head trainer Dory Funk Jr to chuck him out for bad behaviour. His attitude only worsened since then and he has had many arguments with promoters and fellow workers, most notably C.M. Punk. He is still under MTV contract from the ill-fated Wrestling Society X show but WWE are reportedly keen to get him into developmental again – more because of the other newbie Harts and the value of a new Foundation stable than because they value him in particular, so it can only all end in tears.
Diana Hart makes nine. She married Davey Boy Smith, they had two children, Harry and Georgia Smith, and divorced in 2000. Diana remarried and wrote a book about the family that led to a lawsuit with Martha Hart, Owen’s widow, over certain inflammatory remarks. Harry has been wrestling since he was 8, which cannot possibly be a good thing. He’s under WWE contract and had appeared on Raw without anybody bringing any attention to him, only to be pulled while they await an opportunity to not mess up his push. He’s currently the first champion of FCW, WWE’s newest developmental territory, and has perhaps the best chance of living up to expectations.
Allison Hart was the youngest daughter and married a wrestler named Ben Bassarab. They had two daughters, Lindsay and Brooke but then divorced.
Owen Hart was next and he had two children with Martha – Oje and Athena. No word on their opinions on wrestling training but Martha has sold the movie rights to her late husband’s story. Two words – AFFLECK.
Ross Hart is still faffing about with Stampede Wrestling.
T.J. Wilson has no direct Hart lineage, so to speak, but, as mentioned, he is in a long-term relationship with Nattie Neidhart, was trained by the Harts and is considered a family member. The Harts have a similar fondness for Jack Evans, yet he’s in ROH while Wilson is in WWE developmental. Or maybe that makes Jack the winner, who knows? All that can be ascertained for certain from all of the above is that the Harts sure do some serious f*ckin’.
T.J. Wilson & Harry Smith in action in Deep South Wrestling last year
Craig Anderson has his eyes on the prize:
“How many of the current crop of Divas are married? Also, how many of them are dating wrestlers? Never mind a union for wrestlers, their probably ought to be a knitting circle of some sort for their significant others well, the ones also involved in the business at least But not Chyna.”
No, never Chyna.
The answer to your second question is ‘rather a lot’ but let’s deal with the marginally more sensible women first of all:
– Jillian Hall was married to a wrestler named Tim Hall and has a daughter with him. There’s not much info on him but he used to work shows under the moniker of Tiny Tim. For his sake I hope being tiny was not a factor in the divorce.
– Candice Michelle is married to a chiropractor named Dr Ken Gee. There’s an interview with him here. You’ll note the subtle difference between him and Kenny G.
– Lilian Garcia was divorced a few years ago and has been dating… some guy. It’s a bit of a mystery but chances are she’s smart enough not to get involved with a wrestler to any great extent. Then again, she’s clearly wetting herself whenever she gets to introduce Shawn Michaels…
– Michelle McCool is married to some bloke called Jeremy Alexander, who is apparently something called a ‘communications specialist’. What the hell does that mean? Possessing the ability to both speak AND write AND dial a telephone? Or is this some sort of secret-service, counter-terrorism shebang?
– Victoria is ‘in a relationship’ according to her Myspace. Christ almighty, they’ve got me clicking on Myspace pages for this column now. Truly a new low. Anyway, the same goes for Brooke Adams, who it turns out has a twin sister. Quite how WWE has managed to go through so many Diva Searches and lowered the required standards of their female performers so much and still not gotten around to using twins is beyond me. Perhaps the sight of such things really would finish Vince off for good…
– Ashley Massaro was dating Matt Hardy but they have since split up. I can see that relationship playing out in the same way as the episode of Friends when Janice wound up dumping Ross because he was too annoying for her. Or perhaps he just kept yodelling at times that can only be described as ‘inappropriate’.
– Cherry, Layla and Kristal are single, so far as I know. In case you’re anything like me and haven’t been paying attention to them, they are the rollerskate girl with the ’50s greasers, the ECW dancer who may or may not be black, and the one that Teddy Long’s meant to be marrying. Torrie Wilson, who is of course divorced from Billy Kidman, is also single at the moment. Maryse Ouellet was rumoured to be dating The Miz but who the hell knows or cares either way? I’ve consulted the internet and I still don’t really know what the hell her role is.
– Kelly Kelly is a classy young lady:
And perhaps fair game for any desperate young man capable of explaining what a toilet is with the use of simplistic diagrams sketched with crayons.
– Melina Perez is dating Johnny Nitro. They wound up on different brands recently because management wanted him to focus on his work and stop spending so much time with a woman who has gained such a bad reputation backstage. Take the ball, or more specifically the worthless title, and run with it, Johnny.
– Mickie James is engaged to Kenny Dykstra and they live together in Virginia, where he feeds her sugar cubes and brushes her fine mane. Seriously, can’t Eric S have a word with the kid and straighten his head out? When I was his age the closest I came to an engagement ring was a yo-yo.
– Queen Sharmell is of course married to King Booker in real life. By all accounts they seem to have nothing but a down-to-earth, loving and stable relationship, so the best of luck to them.
– Maria is dating Candice Michelle Punk. Here’s a photo to break Hatton’s heart and heat up the Hs:
Then there’s Stephanie, who in kayfabe is divorced and had a child out of wedlock with a man whose identity either cannot be revealed or just plain can’t be remembered. I’m not sure how Vince thinks this paints his daughter in a better light than just admitting the truth but then he did want to kayfabe himself into wanting to f*ck her, so nothing should surprise us by now.
And on that delightful note, let’s move on…
Lita’s band, the Luchagors, perform… don’t give up the day job…uh-oh…
Geoff is concerned about gold infecting the bloodstream:
I desperately need to think about something else right now. Has anyone
ever won or retained a world title at Wrestlemania after blading?
Oh, one or two.
Hulk Hogan bladed at WrestleMania VII in an obvious and feeble effort following a sympathetic chairshot from Sgt Slaughter, then went on to win the title back. Considering that the very freedom of the United States of America was at stake during that match, with President Bush I anxiously awaiting the outcome so he would know whether to press the big red button or not (so far as WWE history tells us anyway), you’d have thought the Real American could have fought through a bit more pain for the people. Hell, I’ve bladed more than that sitting on the toilet the morning after a curry and a couple of pints of Guinness.
Ric Flair bladed at WrestleMania VIII after Randy Savage sent him into the guardrail following a double axe-handle off the top turnbuckle. It earned Flair a fine and a royal bollocking as Vince had given everyone specific instructions to not blade on the show. Bret Hart had bladed in his match earlier that night but claimed it was a genuine cut. When confronted, Flair just said “WHOOOOOO!!” and bladed himself again with a Macho Madness foam finger and a lot of determination. Then he elbow-dropped the foam finger and flopped onto his face before he could apply the figure-four (to the wrong digit), at which point Vince was startled to find that WOYAH was no longer the biggest nutter on the roster despite having started his run-in two days earlier in San Diego. Anyway, Flair didn’t win or retain the belt, so forget this entire paragraph or I’ll blade.
Steve Austin and The Rock did some compatible blading at WrestleMania XVII, then were joined by Vince McMahon, who had bladed earlier in the evening. 2001 appreciated blood more than 1992. By this point Flair was watching at home, hitting himself on the forehead with his cufflinks, yelling “Hire me! I’m already blading! Hire me! I’m already blading! Whoooo!!” Then he went and took a nap, woke up in November, got hired and got to blade alongside Vince. Such an honour. So, yeah, that’s Austin as well as Hogan.
Triple H and Shawn Michaels both bladed at WrestleMania XX in the match that may no longer exist but neither of them walked out with the title. Triple H bladed again at WrestleMania XXI because Lemmy was watching, though not even the power of Motorhead could derail the momentum of the DAVE. To show he also has a penis, Shawn bladed at WrestleMania XXIII, as did John Cena in a most unusual manner courtesy of a rather big scratch on the top of his head. Cena retained the belt of course, so all in all that leaves us with Cena, Austin and Hogan as the only guys to have bladed and left WrestleMania as champion. Quite the elite little club, that one.
Ric Flair again getting rather excited in 1992
Mike Long felt obliged to ask something:
this has nothing to do with questions for a column, I
just want to write you about this tragedy.Nothing for
a column, juist my thoughts to you. I just want to say
that after the initial shock on monday, seriously one
of my first thoughts was, “What is this going to do to
the guys on the net?” I know how much almost everyone
on the internet loved Benoit, and that was one of my
first reactions. I already wrote Scott Keith and I
thought I should write you. I mean my first question
was about Benoit flying at Booker and then you went on
a great tirade on how awesome he was. I know now that
what Chris did is unforgivable and sick. I however
don’t like to think about that, and I’d like to just
think about the wrestler he was. I just thought I’d
try to offer my thoughts and sympathies to you because
I know how this must have effected you. and I guess if
I have to ask a question, it would be what was that
song playing during the new video for Benoit on
Monday, because that song rocked. Well, hope this
letter says what I want to say. Peace.”
Cheers, Mike. Further to my e-mail response, the song was “Remember I.O.U.” by some blokes called Big Dismal, which is the sort of name surely designed to get people to want to punch them on the back of the head. There was another song used on the show, “One Thing” by Finger Eleven, but that’s been heard on WWE programs so many times I’m sure everybody knows it by now. Neither band sound particularly endearing to my ears. Then again, despite going on a recent spree that included acquiring songs from the likes of Ryan Adams, Garbage, Nina Simone, Ash, the Beaste Boys, the White Stripes, Queens of the Stone Age, Travis, the Manic Street Preachers, Killswitch Engage and even the bloody Arctic Monkeys, the record I’ve been listening to the most of late is the new Bon Jovi effort. No doubt this shall cost me a good seventy-or-so coolness points. Shame. I was saving them up to wear a pair of hilariously oversized sunglasses and formal short trousers, so I could walk around the high street and discuss my financial parties on my exclusive mobile phone in a loud voice like a twat.
Note: twats don’t actually do these things outside of South Park, which is a fictional town, and there are no ointments available to protect your twat from fiction – a scary thought, since that tree from The Evil Dead is still out there somewhere.
The aforementioned Big Dismal song… video contains no Benoit…
Now we have the dubious honour of being joined by our very special guest… me!
Hi, nice to hear from me. Where am I?
You’re in 2007 but I’m speaking from 2011.
Yes. And don’t talk like that. You’re not Canadian… yet…
Geez, don’t spoil the surprise. How the hell are you doing this anyway?
It’s a standard feature on the PlayStation nowadays. If you want to play Halo Chronicles, you gotta have the official Time Fucker Arounder plug-in.
I see. But Halo is an Xbox thing, right?
In your time, sure. Then Microsoft released the XXXbox and went in a rather different direction. More lucrative, mind. Especially with those motion-sensitive controllers…
XXXbox? Isn’t that just a–
A modem. Yeah, you’ll already’ve heard that joke.
Sorry, don’t mean to repeat myself before beginning. This time travel stuff is a bit confusing.
It’s like trying to do knots with velcro. Best just to roll with it and hope you don’t accidentally wind up hitting on your grandchildren or something.
The Dude abides, an’ a’ tha’. So why did you get in touch then?
Well, I know you’ve just had the Benoit week. I thought it’d be interesting to see how I reacted without the benefit of time’s perspective. What did Chris Benoit mean to me then?
There are but a thousand and one words to describe it:
Don’t just hide behind a picture. That’s sensationalistic and sentimental and cheap.
What the hell do I want me to say then?
Just the facts, man.
The facts are that somebody who I was a fan of was having more problems than he let on, began to feel the pressure more than people knew about, didn’t seek help when he should have done, snapped, killed his wife, killed his kid and killed himself. Those are the glorious facts.
Really? Even the first parts of that statement? How do you know how much pressure he was under, or how much it bothered him, or how much help he was getting or seeking? So far as I can recall, people weren’t aware that he and Nancy almost got divorced in 2003. How much can you really claim to know in 2007?
Okay, fine. So the facts are that he killed his wife, killed his kid and killed himself. And here’s another fact. Of all the many, many statements that people have made this week, the only two that have stuck in my head are from William Regal and, of all people, John Cena. All Regal would say about Benoit was that “he was the absolute best”. Cena remarked that Benoit was “too tough to ever open up to”. There’s that dichotomy. Professionally, he was second to none. Personally, he struggled. The more I hear about him the more he reminds me of the next-door neighbour from American Beauty… who also wound up killing himself… and that character was ex-military and, like Cena also said, Benoit was a guy you’d “want to go to war with”… why the hell have I apparently been paying so much attention to Cena’s words?
Don’t worry about it. He’ll get there in the end.
Get where? Does the booing stop?
The sound of the drums, dude… the sound of the drums…
You’re talking to yourself!
Yeah, so are you!
So that’s settled then.
Is it? Benoit does these things and then that’s it settled?
What else do you want? An explanation? If you do, you better invent one. If you invent one, you better join the queue on the internet for all those misguided people who claim to have the vital opinion. Or you could just accept the fact. The scary, chilling, humbling, great leveller of a fact…
I know I knew it even then…
That Benoit was a human being?
Bingo. Take a cookie.
No, thanks. I just ate.
Suit myself. Can’t believe they used to actually have these trays for discs instead of snacks. Anyway, yeah, he was a human being. Those responsible for the greatest atrocities throughout history… even things far, far worse than what Benoit did… the lowest common denominator is that they were all human beings. We are far from the lofty ideals we set in place. Human beings will hurt, cheat, maim, steal, kill, abuse, deceive, argue, recriminate and hate, hate, hate until the cows come home. Then they will kill and eat the cows until there are no more cows to come home, at which point they will synthetically replace them with scientifically-funded replacement beasts that will turn out to be Skrulls. And they’ll do it all not just to others but to themselves. To strangers. To lovers. Because we can’t love if we can’t hate. We can’t live without death. We can’t stay true unless we can turn false and maybe, just maybe, somewhere along one of the many paths we walk, either we or someone close to us will turn so far away, down a direction too dark to escape, that the cruel fragility of it all will be exposed yet again and there’ll be another tragedy for a three-paragraph news web page. ‘It could be you’ is not just a catchphrase for the National Lottery. Not yet, by the way. You’re safe till 2011.
That sounds like tabloid junk yelling OMG TRRIZTZ BOMB OR HIDE LOL XXX!!!~~ Am I meant to be so scared of cracking up that I just can’t live anyway? That makes no sense.
Now you’re getting it. Nonsense is all the bigger scheme of things has to offer. But roll with it anyway, or it’ll roll away nonetheless. The hardest thing to do is live. It’s also the simplest. Paradoxes turn me on.
Yeah, I’ve a bit of wood too.
Am I turning myself on?
Who else would?
Oh, I won’t spoil that surprise!
Intriguing. But I don’t think the unpredictability of it all is what has people so upset about the Benoit thing. It’s that they loved the guy. They viewed him as a no-nonsense, respectable, respectful, wonderfully talented family man.
They weren’t wrong though. That’s the point. And, really, what sort of person could get so upset about this? Why should Mr & Mrs Internet blog on about their grief? They’re not one of the other Benoit kids. They’re not Chavo. They’re not even the next-door neighbour. Chances are most of them never even met Benoit, that if they did it would not have been regularly or lengthy, nor even have seen him drop the professionally stoic mask he put up.
Well… yeah, I guess so. There’s an element of shock to it all though. People watch these guys perform so often that they build up a rapport with the image they are given. When something comes along to challenge that image, it is unsettling. When that image gets shattered, as it has been here, then all sorts of doubts start to filter in. Why bother watching any of the other guys perform? Why cheer for, say, Finlay, when we don’t really know what he’s like?
Because you choose to. Because you want to. Quite frankly, it would be an insult to quit watching altogether just because one of them went mental. One cracked egg doesn’t spoil the rest of the box. Not every postal worker goes postal. Not every soldier who goes into combat develops PTSD. Not every teenager in a leather trenchcoat owns a gun. You’ll never know Finlay or Chavo or Cena or any of them but, c’mon, who do you really know? Listen to the Metalingus. You think you know me. You think you know the person you share your bed with, or the person you share an office with, or the person you car-pool with. You truly do not. The lucky ones can get by thinking that at least they know themselves but we all take ourselves by surprise. I know I did, didn’t I?
On more than a few occasions, sadly.
Right. Again, though, none of this is necessarily a bad thing. It’s just how life works. There’s no need to run off into a cave and be a hermit living off of old newspapers. There’s a need and a right and an expectation that we all delude ourselves into a sort of understanding of how it all works and of who we want to work it with. Thing is, it’s only ever a wave in an ocean. Most of the time we don’t even realise the wave has gone and been replaced with another but they do keep changing. And then sometimes they break right over us and we have to repeat the whole damn process or else go under.
Aw, f*ck. I turn into a hippy.
But you finally get to grow a full beard, kid, so keep at it.
Now, since this is a wrestling Q&A column, I should probably give myself a wrestling-related Q… what about all that scuttlebutt over how the industry ought to change now?
It’s all baseless speculation at the moment. The wrestling industry was going to change when Ventura wanted to start a union, when the steroid scandal caught up with Vince, when ECW started catching on, when Owen died, when Eddie died… it never makes any real change, especially not in the short-term. How many fourty-something year-old wrestlers or former wrestlers have managed the spectacular feat of not dying? How many of previous generations died at a similar age, or younger? Do we just get the impression that the problem is getting worse because information is so widely available nowadays? How many of the current crop of wrestlers have worked just as hard a schedule as Benoit and yet have killed nobody? You think it’s a new trend for wrestlers to start dying young? Isn’t it a new trend for wrestlers to do a Rock and leave the industry or do a Christian and take the less punishing schedule? Oh, but the money! The precious money! Gotta get WWE cheque, get impressive looks at bank, hit on teller, no tell wife! Give me a break. What makes them so f*cking special that they have to work as a wrestler? Are they so proud that they could not go and stack shelves or clean toilets or push buttons? I’ve done that kind of shit, so have millions. Whether that’s a permanent deal or not doesn’t matter, not really, not as long as your head isn’t stuck in the clouds. You want to be a wrestler, you go out and you wrestle and you hurt and you continue. Your sacrifice. We – us precious, correct, righteous fans – have no right to tell them how it all ought to go down. All we have the right to choose is whether we watch or not.
You just answered the question with more questions.
Yeah, well, you hippied on about paradoxes, which is more irritating?
That’s another question!
And there are nothing but questions when it comes to the scuttlebutt of which you enquired!! You want an answer, give yourself one. Will I be watching or not??
No need for reluctance. Take some f*cking personal responsibility. I know it’s hard to find even in 2007, let alone 2011 and the unstoppable gains that have been made in buck-passing, therapy-needing, brain-muddling progress by then but for crying out loud it isn’t our fault the Benoit-Sullivans are dead! It’s Chris Benoit’s fault! Blame is lame!
That’s Snitsky’s new T-shirt slogan, actually.
They kept him?? Really?
He has hair now, if that helps.
A little. For someone else. Far, far away. Perhaps.
Good to see I’m on the right path though.
For now. And I’ll choose to watch for now. For Christian and Edge and Danielson and Finlay and the (increasingly fewer in number) others that offer me something I can enjoy.
Well, hopefully they don’t disappoint.
Can’t you tell me if they do before 2011?
Aw, how come?
I’m not in the future, you twat. I’m in your head. You’ve been sitting there having an imaginary conversation with your future self for the past fifteen minutes. And you’re so worried about hypothetical strangers going crazy??
Shit, I’m right. Guess I better go off and kill a loved one then.
You’re also f*cked up if you find that funny. And why are you still typing for two??
Eh, just syphoning The Crazy out my system. Indulging in nonsense before it indulges in me, that sort of thing.
Wow, I actually kind of miss when only Mr McMahon was dead. Still, I’m not. My loved ones aren’t. You’re not. Yours aren’t… or at least not all of them… or at least, I would hope not all of them… but there’ll still be someone or something in any event, even if it’s ‘just’ the world itself… for f*ck’s sake, there’s ‘nothing’ but life surrounding you. Why so glum?