11/8/1998 10:38:12 AM
"Necessary viewing for anyone wishing to debate what happened that night in Montreal"
Tradition. Family. Loyalty. Respect. Faith. Betrayal.
These are the words which describe the events chronicled in Wrestling with Shadows. What started out as a simple record of the life and lifestyle of Bret "Hitman" Hart turned out to be much more, as his documentary film crew was on hand to record what has gone down as the most shocking real-life double-cross in the history of professional wrestling. On November 9th, 1997, the wrestling world was turned upside-down when Vince McMahon, owner of the World Wrestling Federation, choose the interests of his company over the friendship and loyalty of Bret Hart, who had just days before come to an agreement with rival wrestling promotion World Championship Wrestling to sign on with them, leaving the employ of McMahon's WWF. On that day, in front of a pro-Hart Montreal crowd, and hundreds of thousands of fans watching at home on pay-per-view television, McMahon conspired to alter the agreed upon finish to Hart's final WWF wrestling match without Hart's knowledge, and in the process sent shockwaves through the business which are still felt to this day.
Wrestling with Shadows sets the stage for that fateful day in Montreal by giving us an encapsulated look at the life of Bret Hart and his quirky family. Schoolyard battles, growing up with Stu Hart and his "Dungeon" training ground, Bret's introduction to the wrestling business and his eventual rise to the top of the game ... these are all described in detail. It is the story of Hart's association with the World Wrestling Federation: an association which would last for fourteen years, only to come to a screeching halt on November 9th, 1997. More than just a simple wrestler bio-pic, Wrestling with Shadows gives fans an unprecedented look at the behind-the-scenes world of the pro-wrestling industry. It also outlines the evolution of the World Wrestling Federation, an evolution which saw Bret Hart at odds with Vince McMahon over the direction being taken and the role he was forced to play.
All this is a backdrop to Bret Hart's quest for respect, and although this film only presents his "side" of the story, enough of the real events are portrayed to allow fans to draw their own conclusions about what really happened. Some questions are answered, while others are raised, but those are overshadowed by a story made all the more compelling, bizarre and ironic because it is a true one. Longtime wrestling fans who think they know the whole story will enjoy seeing it played out in the flesh before them. Others will be fascinated by the chain of events which lead to the darkest day of a business and profession they perhaps knew very little about. Few motion pictures, television shows or news reports have treated wrestling and its participants with the same honesty, dignity and respect as displayed in "Wrestling with Shadows". Setting the standard for such shows to follow, "Wrestling with Shadows" is the only film about wrestling which will really matter for some time to come.
Required viewing for fans of the Hitman, and necessary viewing for anyone
wishing to debate what happened that night in Montreal.
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