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Pain and Passion: The History of Stampede Wrestling

Posted in Krusher's Book Reviews by Jack at 02:29, Mar 21 2007

Reviewed By: KrusherKoxx

Pain and Passion: The History of Stampede Wrestling

By Heath McCoy

Reviewed By: KrusherKoxx

?It was like Lord of the Flies on steroids, writes Heath McCoy in Pain and Passion: The History of Stampede Wrestling in the opening sentence. McCoy lets the readers know from the very onset of this two hundred and ninety-six page novel, that this will not be a ?work? but a ?shoot?, an often violent shoot at that.

In the pages and chapters that follow, McCoy takes aim at the heart of the Calgary promotion. No one is spared from McCoy, since there is no sugar coating from the WWE, nor is McCoy trying to preserve his legacy like those that have written biographies about their time in the business. McCoy spares no one from the truth and grim reality of what was at one time considered to be one of the premiere wrestling promotions. Not only in Canada, but many fans would say the entire world. The Hart family, Tom Billington (The Dynamite Kid), Davey Boy Smith, Brian Pillman, Chris Benoit, Archie ?The Stomper? Gouldie, ?Bad News? Allen Coage (Bad News Allen/Bad News Brown), Ed Whalen, The members of Karachi Vice, The Viet Cong Express, and a list of many notable, and many, many non-notable characters that depending upon how one looks at it either graced the frozen tundra of the Western Canadian Province of Alberta, or littered Alberta with drugs, alcohol, sweat, blood, and tears. McCoy goes to great lengths in researching Stampede, a hot bed of wrestling action for nearly thirty plus years. From Stu Hart?s humble beginnings, to Stu Hart?s ultimate and heart breaking demise. McCoy rips away at the fa?ade of the Hart family, and exposes them for what they are, which in reality, is nothing more then an average family trying to hold themselves together through the hardships of the business.

McCoy goes into detail how Stu Hart was often seen by his own children as a bully. Not to them, but to those countless students who entered his fabled ?Harts Dungeon?. Of course, not all of his children speak of Stu in such a manner. However, McCoy shows the great divide within the family.

Although Helen Hart was the ?Matriarch of the Hart Family?, Helen actually despised the business and what it did to her family. However, Helen had more of a hand in the business then most people knew, as she ran the ?office? of Stampede, and would always put on her best face and welcome ?the boys? into her home playing the part of the gracious hostess.

McCoy goes into great detail how the members of the Hart family actually splintered and formed opposing sides after the death of Owen Hart. Some of the family were trying to side with Owens widow Martha to bring a quick and timely resolution to the tragic end of her husband. Others, it is contented took up with Vince McMahon and his contingent of lawyers, specifically Bruce Hart, Ellie Neidhart, Diana (Hart) Smith, and Georgia (Hart) Annis. Ellie, Diana, and Georgia it is believed were trying to remain in ?good company? with Vince McMahon due to getting their children Nattie Neidhart, Harry Smith, and Teddy Hart (Annis) contracts with the WWE. Ellie it is also believed was trying to get her husband Jim ?The Anvil? Neidhart work with the WWE due to their family falling on financial difficulties.

At times it seems that McCoy is captured by the romanticism of Stu and Helen Hart, both professionally and personally. In some instances one could conclude that he is merely an unabashed supported of the Hart family and that the business, more notably Vince McMahon is to blame for all of the families hardships. Yet, if one pays attention to McCoy?s writing he is merely painting the entire portrait for the readers, and not merely a ?comic strip? which most of the ?autobiographies? written about the sport seem to be.

As stated before McCoy researched, referenced, and cross-referenced for this book. This is by far the most thorough and detailed writing about an individual involved in the sport, much less an entire promotion to date. For those that only know Stampede Wrestling from it?s glory days of the late seventies thru early eighties, this is truly a must read.

From the beginnings of Stu Hart?s career, until the ultimate demise of Stampede Wrestling as it once was, and not the shell of itself that it tries to imitate today, McCoy leaves no stone unturned.

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