We all have scars. They come from our suffered heartbreak and loss. Our scars are always on us, forever etched into our lives, reminding us of what we have been through and what we have lost. Eventually many of us forge on and continue our lives as best we can, but never do we forget what happened. There is simply nothing we can do to change the past.
In 1999 Ric Flair was fresh from his return after Eric Bischoff tried to sue him into bankruptcy. For the first couple of months he was the top babyface in WCW, especially after Hulk Hogan had turned his own son against him. However that all changed in March when Flair and Hogan switched roles, with Flair for some reason now the main heel in WCW. After Flair lost the WCW championship, the company ran a storyline where he was put in a mental hospital. He went from being the WCW champion to being a mental patient. Here was Ric Flair of all people having to subject himself to this kind of treatment by a company that simply didn?t respect the history of wrestling nor understand who Flair was.
A few months later the company began an attempt to elevate new stars such as Buff Bagwell, Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, and Perry Saturn. The angle was that Flair was trying to hold these younger guys down. One night Sting did a promo in which he accused Flair of being responsible for these guys not being able to rise to the top. That must have been a difficult night for both Flair and Sting. Flair was the guy who personally elevated Sting to a world champion ten years before that night. He knew as well as anybody that his promo was the furthest thing from the truth, but he had to go out and say it because the company wanted him to. On one hand Flair was the worst guy for this angle because he was the only one of the legends who went out there and busted his ass to elevate younger guys. You didn?t see Hogan going out there and wrestling Malenko or Benoit in an attempt to create new stars for the future. Flair was out there working with these guys for months. He was even buried in the desert one night by the Filthy Animals. On the other hand, Flair was the best guy to work with the younger talent. No one could have made gold out of being a mental patient. No one else could have helped elevate these guys to the extent he did. Still, he was mistreated by the company. If you read Flair’s book, you know how this mistreatment affected him. But Flair forged on and continued to be successful in the ring. After WCW was gone, he got the send off he deserved from another company.
You can?t mention 1999 without what happened to Owen Hart. I remember sitting in the media center at school the day after his death preparing my biographical speech on Bill Clinton. I took a break to read the results from the Over the Edge pay per view and was shocked by what I read. I spent the rest of my time in the media center reading what had happened at the pay per view. I also read a very emotional article by Bill Apter regarding Owen’s death. By the time I made it to class I was no longer talking about Bill Clinton. My speech was on the life of Owen Hart. People in the class were confused as hell but I didn?t care. Owen was one of my favorites. My heart still goes out to his family and I hope they are doing well today. Nothing can replace Owen Hart.
When Bret Hart made his return to TV in July, he gave a touching speech about his brother and thanked the company for giving him the time he needed. During his speech some idiot in the crowd yelled at him to hurry up. Bret should have put that little twit in the sharpshooter right there. Bret would come back a few months later and have one of the greatest matches of the decade with Chris Benoit in the very arena where Owen fell from the rafters. If there is anyone reading this who hasn?t seen this match, I urge you to do so.
The last WCW pay per view that year was Starrcade. The main event featured Bret Hart defending the championship against Bill Goldberg. Goldberg gave Bret a forearm in the corner that sent him reeling. A little later in the bout Hart went to apply the ring post figure four leglock. The trick to the move is that the victim has to hold onto Hart’s foot as he leans back to apply it. As Bret went to apply the move, Goldberg released his foot, sending Bret buckling all his weight on top of the back of his head and neck on the arena floor. Once back in the ring, Goldberg delivered a side kick to Bret that sent him straight to the mat, tearing a hole in the muscle of his neck. Bret didn?t realize how severe his concussion was. Within a month, he was done wrestling forever. Today Bret may no longer be an active wrestler, but he has made great strides to recover from what happened. His induction into the WWE Hall of Fame was a great step in the right direction for all of us.
I first knew what my theme for this week’s column would be back when I started this series. I knew that I would talk about Ric Flair and his sacrifices when I was writing on 1990 and his stint as the Black Scorpion, but my topic was cemented last week when I made a little trip. My wife and I went to visit our sister-in-law at the hospital after she had surgery for breast cancer. We were with my mom and we brought my brother’s kids as he was already at the hospital with his wife while she was in surgery. He came out to meet us and told his kids that Mommy is going to look different but not to be scared because it was all to make her feel better. My brother’s oldest son, who is seven, tried to joke around with his mom but you could tell it was hard for him. At one point, my brother went to embrace him and tears began to flow from both. It was like they were the only ones in the room. It was not a sad moment at all, but one of the most touching moments I had ever witnessed. Nothing could tear this family apart. As for my sister-in-law, she is as tough as Mick Foley and she is going to beat the crap out of this cancer, and apply the ring post figure four, causing it to cry and tap out. And we will be there to cheer her on.
Scars are everywhere. But we can move on and began to mend what has been broken. Regardless of what you are doing this weekend I wish you all well this 4th of July. May your scars heal in time.