Hart quits, Sting returns at ACC Nitro
By JOHN POWELL -- SLAM! Wrestling
Bret Hart tells a packed Air Canada Centre that he is quitting wrestling. (Photo: Ken Kerr - Toronto Sun)
The inaugural pro wrestling event at Toronto's new Air Canada Centre
entertainment complex was nothing short of a rowdy welcome back party. Last
night's WCW Monday Night Nitro broadcast - the first ever put on outside of
the United States - showcased appearances by Bret "The Hit Man" Hart, Sting
and Diamond Dallas Page.
Although the card itself was very weak, the energetic 17,000 fans in attendance
whooped it up for their favorite WCW stars. They were definitely excited
about being a part of wrestling history. And so they were as WCW World Tag
Team Champions, Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko, lost their belts to the team
of Rey Mysterio Jr. and Billy Kidman through the interference of Raven and
Saturn. But even the most casual observer could determine who the fans
really came to see. The "We Want Bret!" chants echoed throughout the arena
even before the event went to air. Signs held high read "Bret, The Hart Of
Canada" and "Go! Bret Go!".
Hart came to ringside during Nitro's second hour. The Air Canada Centre
erupted. Dressed in a Hitman hockey jersey, he addressed the noisy crowd.
"I am not going to worry about very much tonight. I think I'm going to
start off with a little bit of ‘Oh, Canada'," said Hart proceeding to
rattle off a few verses of Canada's national anthem in his first house show
appearance in Canada since his tainted loss in Montreal to Shawn Michaels
at the 1997 WWF Survivor Series.
The Hitman complained about being a former four-time WWF World Champion yet
not receiving a shot at the WCW World Title since he joined the federation
approximately a year ago. He also mentioned that he had beaten the current
WWF World Heavyweight Champion, Steve Austin, while working for that
federation to further prove his point.
Hollywood Hogan poses for the crowd. (Photo: Ken Kerr - Toronto Sun)
"You've got Ric Flair, the world's champion, back there hiding. You've got
Hollywood Hogan...I think he's afraid of me. I'm going to get right to the
point. I came to WCW to earn a reputation not to ruin one," said the
Hitman. Hart challenged former WCW champ Bill Goldberg to come out and face
him in the ring. Hart tore off his hockey jersey revealing a Toronto Maple
Leafs sweater underneath. The hometown crowd popped.
Goldberg responded Spearing Hart in the middle of the ring. Both men laid
still on the canvass for minutes on end. Hart then rolled on top of
Goldberg slapping his own three count.
"Respect that!," yelled Hart pulling off his Leafs sweater showing everyone
a steel plate strapped to his chest. The plate had apparently knocked
Goldberg out when he executed the Spear.
"WCW, I quit!," shouted the Hitman storming past an astonished WCW
Vice-President Eric Bischoff. In reality, Hart should have two more years
left on his current contract with World Championship Wrestling. Whether Hart's annoucement is true or all part of a wrestling angle remains to be seen. Hart made the same statement while in the World Wrestling Federation years back and it turned out to be a work. Odds are last night's outburst was along the same lines as The Hitman has been sidelined for the past few months by a serious groin injury.
Sting and DDP also reappeared on the scene after lengthy absences. There
was a shot of Sting (dressed in his Crow-like costume again) standing in
the rafters keeping a watchful eye on the proceedings. Having just finished
filming a movie and not sidelined with a back injury as he suggested in an
interview with Mike Tenay, Diamond Dallas Page wrestled Hollywood Hogan in
the main event of the evening. WCW World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair
made himself Page's manager for the match much to Page's chagrin.
: Look for a photo gallery of the entire event in the coming days.
World Championship Wrestling returns to the Air Canada Centre on September
- Konnan defeated Vincent.
- Wrath beat Chaos.
- Rick Steiner drops Scott Norton with the Top Rope Bulldog.
- Booker T. successfully defended the Television Title against Chris Adams.
- Chris Jericho over Jerry Flynn.
- Buff Bagwell Blockbustered Norman Smiley.
- Rey Mysterio Jr. and Billy Kidman defeated Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko to
win the WCW Tag Team Titles.
- Hollywood Hogan pins Diamond Dallas Page.
What You Didn't See
- No dark matches took place as a production crew was busy shooting footage
for the upcoming NBC Jesse "The Body" Ventura movie throughout the breaks.
Kanyon (with a title belt around his waist for the film) wrestled Nils
Allen Stewart (the actor portraying Ventura) in two matches. In the first,
Kanyon is thrown over the top rope. Back in the ring, Ventura (Stewart)
collapses mysteriously as per the script. Kanyon and some attendants assist
Ventura from the ring to the dressing room. There also was an actor playing
a character named Billy Graham. Though he looked more like Jimmy Garvin
than the former WWF grappler, the actor cut some really bad promos. The
audience jeered and mocked him.
- Much like all television tapings, the fans didn't see the featurettes or
hear the interviews and the announce team's commentary.
- After the broadcast cut out, Hogan threatened to beat referee Robinson
with his weightlifting belt. Robinson ran for cover. Hogan posed for the