Like many do these days, former professional wrestler Bret Hart loves to watch mixed martial arts.
Does he like the sport? Of course. More than wrestling? Not so fast:
“I do like ultimate fighting,” Hart said. “I enjoy watching it, but whenever I watch it I cringe when I see them really hurt each other. You know that they’re going to really hurt each other, and I have a lot of respect for the seriousness of it. A lot of the audience we used to have in pro wresting has moved over to ultimate fighting now, because they get that real fix of violence and blood that they used to get from wrestling.
In ultimate fighting, when you see these guys really punching faces, and drilling guys until the ref usually stops it, I think, always a couple seconds too late, that’s an incredible amount of brain damage being done. And at what cost? Do you really want to pay money for this? It’s like dog fighting. Do you really feel good about yourself supporting someone getting their brains punched out? I mean, I’m guilty, I love watching it, I’m riveted and I have deep regard for it. But when I watch it I always have a pang. I wish wrestling was like it used to be so we wouldn’t need to have this kind of entertainment.”
To be honest, I was more of a Shawn Michaels fan growing up, but that doesn’t have anything to do with the bones that I have to pick over Hart’s comments.
Fans of wrestling and mixed martial arts aren’t one in the same. Granted I do still occasionally watch pro wrestling whenever I get a chance, but when prompted to think about the number of people I know that watch both, I can count the number on one hand. Despite all of the claims from those connected with the wrestling industry that promotions like WWE and TNA have suffered because of the rise of MMA, there’s no viable proof that this has happened. Pro wrestling still remains one of the most popular forms of entertainment around.
So people have moved from wrestling to MMA in order to satisfy their craving for blood and violence? I don’t think so. When Hart was a wrestling icon in the mid 90’s, it was still marketed as a family product. If you want to use ECW as an example of how much people loved violence, I’ll just point you to how quickly it folded. No other promotion has come even half as close to rivaling it’s success to date.
Brain damage Bret? I’ve yet to see anyone that has competed in mixed martial arts visibly “punch-drunk”. Yet another dog fighting comparison too. Hart contradicts himself when he criticizes those that support such a thing yet admits multiple times to enjoying watching it.
To summarize my thoughts, there’s no connection between professional wrestling and mixed martial arts with the exception of the fans and those athletes and figures like Josh Barnett and Antonio Inoki that are involved in both. Wrestling will remain on the scene and remain popular whether mixed martial arts is around or not. Does the same go for MMA? We can’t make that claim yet. For all we know, MMA could really be a fad. However we’ll find out over the next couple of years.
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