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The Legends of Wrestling in Tampa Bay  by Chris Woods
"Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End"  by Mike Smith
It's a Mainstream, Mainstream, Mainstream, Mainstream World  by Andy Lalino
A Long Time Ago....Movie Notes....Idol Music....Whatever Happened To...? Next Chapter: on Hiatus till Next Week  by Mike Smith
Nolan's Pop Culture Review
Established A.D. 2000, March 19. Now in our eighth calendar year!
Number 374  (Vol. 8, No. 21). This edition is for the week of May 21--27, 2007.

The Legends of Wrestling in Tampa Bay

by Chris Woods

Pro-wrestling. Lots of people like to knock it. For some it’s a guilty pleasure. For me, I’m a huge fan of wrestling and proud of it. Pretty much, wrestling is the only television program I watch during the week. So, when I found out that Bret “The Hit Man” Hart was coming into my workplace for a television interview, I made sure that I was there to meet the WWE Hall of Famer.

I remember watching The Hit Man wrestling back in the WWE, when it was the WWF. Actually my good friend and film partner, Simon Lynx, got me into wrestling when we were younger. And since then I’ve watched Monday Night RAW ever week. For those of you who don’t know who Bret Hart is, Bret was the big star back in the early-to-mid-90’s after Hulk Hogan left the company. Bret was also part of a famous tag team with Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart called The Hart Foundation. Bret went through many ups and downs in his wrestling career but he left a great mark in the industry.
From left: Brian Knobs, Rock Riley, Bret Hart, Chris Woods, Jerry Sags.
Bret and other wrestlers were promoting an event at Tropicana Field. It was a wrestling event called Legends of Wrestling which happened right after the Devil Rays game. There were going to be three matches there featuring classic wrestlers. Bret was going to be signing autographs with his former tag team partner “The Anvil” and with another Hall of Famer, wrestling announcer Mean Gene Okerlund. But, the night before the event, Bret was coming in the station for an interview on our sports show.

It was a Thursday night and Bret Hart, and other legendary wrestlers, Brian Knobs and Jerry Sags of The Nasty Boys, were coming on our sports show to be interviewed. I was already done for the day, but came into work just to meet The Hit Man. I was also happy to see The Nasty Boys, whom I'd met a few times before. Knobs I’ve known for a few years and one time we were talking about making a documentary on wrestling. So, I waited until they arrived. I remember I heard that Bret was coming with Knobs and didn’t know Sags was going to be there on the show. Bret hasn’t seen Sags in years and was going to be a great surprise. I was asked to go downstairs and wait for Sags cause the other sports guys had to bring up Bret and Knobs. Right before I went to go wait for Sags, the other guys were coming upstairs. I ran into Knobs who off the bat greeted me with a big hello. He started talking to me about helping with a treatment for a show idea he and his wife had. Just as he’s telling me this the one and only Hit Man was right next to him. I introduced myself to Bret and he was very cool. He was in good sprits. I had to excuse myself to go downstairs to get Sags.

Bret Hart
Once I got downstairs, Sags was already outside. I greeted him, and we talked a little bit on the way up. Now, here’s the funny part. I knew that Bret didn’t know Sags was going to at the station that night and was going to be a surprise. But, I didn’t know how they were going to surprise him. So, here I am, all excited as a kid, with these legendary wrestlers I use to watch on TV, bring Sags right into the green room where Knobs and Bret were. I remember the look on Knobs’ face with kind of shock that I brought him there. But, by then, Bret saw Sags and the two started talking and catching up on old times. After that I was thinking I screwed something up. Like they wanted to actually surprise Bret, LIVE on the sports show. I thought, “Oh God, I really messed this one up.” I went over to the host of the sports show, Rock, and asked him if the plan was for him to be surprised on the show. He said, yeah, that was the original plan. I felt so bad. But Rock was real cool about it and said it was all right and said they can still pull it off on the show anyway. Also, Knobs and Sags were cool about it as well.

The interview went great and was very cool to see those guys all together. The Nasty Boys came out and surprised Bret on the show and all of them plugged the Legends of Wrestling event. The interview went very well. Bret doesn’t make that many television appearances. I think the last time he was on TV was when he was inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame last year. After the show I got a picture with everyone and was invited to come to the wrestling show the next night.

The next day after work, I headed to the Trop. I picked up my ticket and went inside to watch some baseball before wrestling. The Rays were playing the Marlins and the home team ended up losing. After the game ended they started setting up the ring by home plate. I figured they were going to put it more in the middle of the field, but I guess they wanted it closer to the crowd. Some people left after the game but the ones that stayed moved over closer to the ring. Mean Gene and The Hart Foundation came to the ring to give out tickets to Wrestlemania 24, which is going to be in Orlando next year, to one lucky winner. Sadly, I was not that winner.

Tatanka vs Haku
Soon after that the matches started. They included, Native American Tatanka vs. King Haku, Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake vs. Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, and The Nasty Boys vs. Rick Steiner and The Cuban Assassin David Sierra. The matches were fun to watch. It was cool to see these classic wrestlers again in the ring. Tons of people around had no idea who these people were. They didn’t understand why these older guys were still out there wrestling. They weren’t true wrestling fans there. But I’m a true fan. And these few matches were a thank you to all the wrestling fans out there.

I hope to see other cards like this one some day, with more Legends of Wrestling.

"The Legends of Wrestling in Tampa Bay" is ©2007 by Chris Woods.

All photos in this article used with the kind permission of Chris Woods.

All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova.

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