Title: Raptors’ first game in Tampa shows there will be an adjustment period
Date: December 23, 2020
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about the scene in Tampa for the Raptors’ “home” opener and the adjustment period ahead.
TAMPA, Fla. – In late 1996, Bret Hart returned from a hiatus to defeat the ascendant “Stone Cold” Steve Austin at Survivor Series, earning a shot at the WWF Championship in the process. Over the next six months, Hart and Austin engaged in one of wrestling’s most legendary rivalries. The result was what’s known as a “double-turn,” an elusive bit of storytelling where the alignment of the wrestlers flips. Austin became the defining babyface anti-hero of wrestling’s biggest boom period, while Hart, previously a clean-cut good guy, became a bitter villain.
Except in Canada. Hart, a Calgary native and Canadian royalty, was always cheered at home. After WrestleMania 13, where Hart defeated Austin and solidified his heel status, that ratcheted up further. Hart’s nationality became an even larger part of his identity and character, as well as a part of his justification for his actions and attitude. It was the wrestling version of “We the North,” with Hart’s nationality serving to separate him from his peers.
The Raptors have embraced a similar, if more positive, form of othering: They are Canadian, the league’s northern outpost in an American league, and if you’re with them, you’re with them.