The book kicks off with the story of Stu Hart and the hard life he had growing up in the wilderness of Canada. The story of Stu Hart is an amazing one and I almost wished that there were more details about his early life and marriage to Helen Hart. The book also focuses on how throughout the history of Stu Hart being involved in professional wrestling, Helen wanted the family out of it.
The book then dives into the subject in its title, Stampede Wrestling, and how it all got started with Stu Hart and another promoter purchasing the territory. The book then discusses how hard it was for Stampede Wrestling to bring in top name talent, considering how awful the road trips were. Some of the highlights of this book have to do with road trip stories, which are both hilarious and frightening.
There are so many wrestlers profiled in this book that it not only becomes a history of Stampede Wrestling, but a pro wrestling encyclopedia as well. Outside of the Hart Family, wrestlers like the Dynamite Kid, Bad News Allen, Davey Boy Smith, Archie Gouldie, Chris Benoit, Abdullah The Butcher, JR Foley, Brian Pillman and many others were looked at.
One of the most informative parts of the book has to with Stampede Wrestling commentator Ed Whalen, who was both the promotions best friend and worst enemy. There are plenty of great stories about how Ed Whalen would overshadow the wrestlers and also try to control the content of the show. Sadly, Ed Whalen has passed away, but it would have been great to have his insight into the promotion, although his widow did provide good information.
There is one interesting theme throughout the second half of the book and that has to do with Hart child Bruce Hart. The stories about his clashes with wrestlers were somewhat amazing and his booking ideas seemingly came out of nowhere. One thing I learned about Bruce Hart is that no matter how down Stampede Wrestling was, he always wanted to find a way to revive it.
Another great performer detailed in this book is The Dynamite Kid, who is featured prominently throughout the book. The story of Tom Billington starts off with a story of an unknown British wrestler rising to prominence, and then it turns ugly. Tom Billington did not provide anything for this book, but his ex-wife Michelle provided readers with a lot of insight into his life.
The book also deals with how Stampede Wrestling is still around today in some form, but nowhere near the prominence it once was. Towards the end of the book, current WWE Diva Natalya Neidhart becomes the shining star as she explains how the family has been throughout the run of Stampede Wrestling, discussing both the good and the bad.
Overall, this review cannot capture every little detail of this very well put together book, but it is definitely worth purchasing to learn about one of wrestlingâ€™s best territories.
You can pick this book up at the PWInsider Store for only $14.81!
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