AS I SEE IT 3/1: The Teddy Hart Shootfabe Express rolls on...Nashville to NYC
by: Bob Magee
The last two weeks, I've mentioned the events happening on the other side of the Hudson River during Wrestlemania weekend, both the FANSLAM convention and the Ring of Honor March 13th show in Elizabeth, NJ.
One of the items I mentioned was Teddy Hart's inclusion on the as yet unnamed Ring of Honor evening show on March 13th in Elizabeth, NJ. If what had happened before wasn't enough to stir interest in this show (the lineup is featured here), then Mike Johnson added to people's interest with his report on PWinsider.com last Wednesday afternoon of a physical altercation at a restaurant called the White Trash Cafe, located near the Tennessee State Fairgrounds, home of the venue where TNA PPVs are taped. Workers are able to eat at this restaurant free prior to the Wednesday night PPVs, and typically take advantage of the opportunity.
Johnson's story reports that Punk was leaving the restaurant last Wednesday as Hart and his entourage were coming in. When the two ran into each other, Hart asked Punk if he had a problem with him and to step outside if he did. Punk went outside the restaurant and slapped Hart across the face. A short scuffle took place, broken up by Sabu, among others. Johnson was told that Sabu got in the middle of the situation and got both concerned to stop out of respect for his status as a veteran.
Johnson reported that Hart ended up with a fat lip and a bruise on his face, while Punk had a scraped elbow and a bruised forehead. TNA management threatened that if it happened again, "people would lose their jobs".
Hart and Punk have legitimate heat stemming back to November 1 at the Ring of Honor Elizabeth, NJ event where Hart was thrown out of the ROH locker room for his already infamous post-match display where Hart decided post-match to showboat for the crowd, and stop selling a late match beatdown by The Carnage Crew with flips off of the top of the cage, one after the other, to the point that he vomited in the ring after the bout.
The Carnage Crew saw this as disrespectful, and whipped Hart down so he'd sell, but Hart jumped up and showboated yet again causing bigtime anger in the locker room; to the extent that when Hart returned, he was set upon by Jim Cornette, Gabe Sapolsky, Rob Feinstein and a number of the workers in the back for his unprofessional conduct. Mike Johnson reported on 1wrestling.com that Hart was "thrown out of the locker room, bags and all".
Further fuel was added to the fire after a subsequent public comment where Punk took Hart to task for his actions in Elizabeth and online comments Hart made afterwards with statements including the following:
"...You're a liar, also, a bad one. Want proof folks? Teddys daddy called and said he had a concussion and couldn't fly out, while Teddy himself was on the other line saying he missed his flight because he was stuck in traffic.... Other highlights of the 17 phone calls is Teddys dad calling trying to get his job in ROH back, saying he could be the 'new Brian Pillman'. Brian Pillman as the loose cannon worked because it was believable that he could hurt somebody. You, my sad little friend, just annoy the s$#@ out of people..."
Then there were these comments by Punk:
"Nobody is jealous of you, the standard you set is a creepy little no selling troll that wears sunglasses in doors, and changes outfits four times before a show, mainly due to your insecurity as a person... Oh, and I won't mention the fact that you were asking people where you could score some pot while you were at TNA because you don't smoke."
Hart then responded to Punk's comments on November 24th on The Interactive Interview online interview show, claiming Punk was a drug user with the following cited from the Hart interview:
"CM Punk said nothing to Teddy. Teddy says [Punk] was too busy 'trying to score pot backstage.' Because of that, he finds it hysterical that 'Puke' tried to say Teddy was doing the things that 'Puke' was doing to "cover his tracks." He adds, "Why is he in the business anyway? Because he's a rip off of Raven?"
All this was obviously a deliberate attempt to insult Punk, given Punk legitimately living a straightedge lifestyle, along with the well-known gimmick.
Then came the events of last Wednesday...where things got taken up a notch.
It's even been suggested by Dave Meltzer that the "knee injury" (supposedly suffered by Hart in a match with Mr. Aguila being taped for the March TNA PPV featuring "Team Canada") that took him out of a previously scheduled match with Juventud Guerrera and Jerry Lynn on the live February 25th PPV may well have been worked by Hart.
Meltzer stated in his Thursday online report that Hart has a history among Calgary wrestlers of claiming injuries when he's in a "bad mood". Obviously a legit fight with Punk might have had a hand in his mood. In the report, Mr. Aguila stated to the rest of the Mexican crew that Hart had told him the spot, and how Hart would fake the "knee injury" out of it. Mike Johnson later confirmed the Meltzer story.
The soap opera continued on late last Thursday night as Hart (or someone representing him) posted a semi-coherent rant on at least 3 message boards (deleted by Ring of Honor's by board moderators), claiming Mike Johnson was a liar and "full of @$#$"...that his report mentioned above was all "fed to him by CM Punk", and challenging Punk by saying "you know that you'd have a hard time lying to Mike Johnson and complaining to everyone who will listen with a wired jaw."
24 hours later, Hart challenged Steve Corino to a "shoot fight" again while filming a shoot interview with RF Video (parent company of ROH).
My own thoughts on all of this mess go a little like this...
I can't speak for what went on backstage back in November in Elizabeth, NJ that started all this. I've talked to two of those who were in the locker room. I've also read many of the same things all of you have read. But I wasn't in that locker room, so Ican only report what I've heard.
However, I CAN speak firsthand about Hart's conduct in public at the RexPlex prior to the Elizabeth show...as he wandered around the lobby of the RexPlex with his sunglasses in what could charitably be called a haze. Hart won over ROH staffers from the very beginning, telling them he was late leaving his hotel room because he "couldn't find his wrestling boots". Fans who had already arrived at the RexPlex and had asked him for autographs or attempted to say hello were ignored as Hart wandered around and eventually returned to the locker room area.
The rest of that evening's events are all too well known.
I can't say who did what or when in Nashville, but I can certainly say that it's painfully obvious that Hart showed an incredible amount of immaturity in his rant above at Mike Johnson, one of the best online wrestling reporters around....one who provides tons of publicity and news for the promotions Hart works for...works for at the moment, anyway.
An amusing sidelight is that Hart apparently thought Mike Johnson still wrote for 1wrestling.com and part of the bitching at Johnson had to do with Bob Ryder (or David Webber) posting the item on Ryder's site, not Johnson. So much for someone who uses the Net to publicize his various adventures, real and imagined.
You have to think though, that if Hart keeps this kind of behavior up, he won't be doing so for long. Either promoters won't be willing to put up with his prima donna behavior, regardless of his incredible athletic talent...or someone in a locker room won't be willing to put up with it, and there won't be a Sabu around to break it up.
Is there an element of work wrapped around a shoot in certain elements of this situation? No doubt. God only knows which is legit and which is worked and when. Beyond the Punk-Hart incident not being worked, Lord only knows.
Regardless, if I were a promoter, I'd damned sure take advantage of all of this...and no doubt independent promoters will as it will be sure to sell tickets on upcoming shows on which Hart appears.
What could be called the Teddy Hart Shootfabe Express Northeast Tour started with the Jersey All Pro Wrestling show last Saturday night in Rahway, NJ; as JAPW drew a crowd of 675, with Hart working against Homicide. Talents like Christopher Daniels and Jerry Lynn had to play second fiddle as far as the crowd was concerned as the crowd basically spent themselves on Hart's match, third from the top.
Loud "You got punked" chants and catcalls came down from the stands from the minute Hart walked out. If that's all that had happened, that would have been fine, as he got exactly the kind and depth of heel reaction a promoter prays he'll have on his shows just once in a career.
But Hart's real life attitude showed up as Hart started doing autographs and pictures in clear view as the scheduled main event of Dan Maff and Monsta Mack began with a lerge number of fans watching this (or getting autographs themselves) and not the match.
For those reading this, please don't write and try to tell me that's part of his "loose cannon" character. I've also had others tell me he was trying to accomodate fans. If so, that would be an improvement over his behavior in November in Elizabeth. But there was NO excuse for not telling the fans to either wait until after the main event...or moving things to the lobby and out of the arena itself. It was just plain disrespectful.
The Teddy Hart Shootfabe Express tour continues this week as Hart is booked in CZW for two shows Friday night in Allentown, PA and Saturday at the ECW Arena (along with Jack Evans and Petey Williams).
On March 13, Hart is booked at the first ROH show in Elizabeth, NJ since the previous incident...a show where both Hart and Punk will be booked; with Punk working AJ Styles and Hart in a Six Man Mayhem Match with the returning Amazing Red, Jack Evans, Mark Briscoe, Jimmy Rave, and Sonjay Dutt.
Needless to say, it won't be boring.
Until next time...
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