Straight From The Hart
187 pages

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187 pages

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A no-holds-barred account of the often surreal, physically and psychologically brutal and politically cut-throat world of professional wrestling that fans everywhere - from the most casual or sceptical observer to the most rabid, hardcore aficionado - have truly been waiting for. Hart gets to the heart of the wrestling business, taking readers behind the scenes to discuss how wrestling should be booked, the toll steroids and other drugs have taken on his friends and family and what it was like to write his brother Bret's columns while The Hitman was on the road.



Publié par
Date de parution 01 mars 2011
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781770900042
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0500€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


Copyright © Bruce Hart, 2011
Published by ECW Press
2120 Queen Street East, Suite 200, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4E 1E2
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any process — electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise — without the prior written permission of the copyright owners and ECW Press. The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.
Library and Archives of Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Hart, Bruce, 1951-
Straight From the Hart / Bruce Hart.
ISBN 978-1-77090-004-2
Also Issued As:
978-1-77090-003-5 (pdf); 978-1-55022-939-4 (pbk)
1. Hart, Bruce, 1951-. 2. Hart family. 3. Stampede Wrestling (Firm)—History. 4. Wrestlers—Canada—Biography. 5. Wrestling—Alberta—History. I. Title.
GV1196.H372A3 2011 796.812092 C2010-906816-5
Editor: Michael Holmes
Cover Design: Cyanotype
Text Design: Melissa Kaita
Production and Typesetting: Troy Cunningham
All photos by Bob Leonard, unless otherwise noted Back cover photo courtesy Alison Hart.
The publication of Straight From the Hart has been generously supported by the Government of Ontario through Ontario Book Publishing Tax Credit, by the OMDC Book Fund, an initiative of the Ontario Media Development Corporation, and by the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund.

To my son Rhett, thanks for lighting up my life


Back in the day, the veil of secrecy that surrounded the wrestling business made the idea of writing a behind-the-scenes book inconceivable to me. But things began to change after Vince McMahon’s curious decision to expose the business in the late ’ 80 s and early ’ 90 s. Despite what the “smart marks” were able to learn, I still had a “Las Vegas” mantra as far as my own travails were concerned — what happens in the Hart family, stays there.
The past decade, however, has seen a number of books written about the Hart family. The bio of my dad by Marsha Erb was nice — although Stu, true to his old-school roots, didn’t actually divulge much about the inner workings of the business. Unfortunately, the ones written by my other family members seemed to me to have been penned either to get back at others, or to gratify their egos. Those written by outsiders, I found hard to take seriously; these people who’d never met my dad, mom or most other family members were suddenly claiming to know everything about us. Filled with conjecture, a lot of what was written was planted by people with ulterior motives.
My old friend Harley Race used to say that if you haven’t walked the walk, you shouldn’t be talking the talk. Having been in the eye of the hurricane for most of my life, I feel qualified to offer my perspective on the not-so-perfect storm that is wrestling. While I won’t be pulling any punches (unlike the wrestlers), I won’t be taking cheap shots either.
My mission is to tell it like it is and let you, the reader, form your own opinion. It’s been said that truth is stranger than fiction, and Straight From the Hart is testament to that.
I’d like to extend my profound gratitude to my children — Brit, Bruce Jr., Torrin, Rhett and Lara — for their unwavering love and support. As well, I’d like to thank my mom and dad; my brothers, Dean and Owen, and my sister Ellie; the Funks, Harley Race, Lou Thesz, Flyin’ Brian Pillman, Gene LeBell, Peter Maivia, Bob Leonard, Ed Whalen, Pat Mitchell, my imperturbable editor, Michael Holmes, and a host of others, too numerous to acknowledge here, for having inspired and supported me along the way.
Bruce Hart, December 2010


“Just when I think I’m out, they keep pulling me back in.”
— Michael Corleone

Those words, from The Godfather III , just about say everything you need to know about my affiliation (some would say affliction) with the business of professional wrestling. Sometimes it’s been an exhilarating joyride; other times it’s been a daunting descent, a ride down the highway to hell. Many times I figured I’d abandoned wrestling but invariably I would find myself somehow being drawn back — like a rationalizing junkie needing just one more fix.
My earliest recollections go back to when I was a wide-eyed kid of about four or five when my dad, who was promoting shows then, would invite aspiring prospects, or “wannabes” as he called them, up to the house to test their mettle in his infamous “Dungeon.” My brothers and I would sneak down the basement stairs, pry open the door and watch with morbid curiosity as the sessions unfolded.
The trainees were generally big, imposing-looking types — football players, bouncers, bodybuilders and that sort — and most of them would swagger in cockily, figuring it wouldn’t take them long to master pro wrestling, which most guys thought was little more than glorified play fighting. They were in for an extremely rude awakening.
My dad — a benign version of Cerberus, the three-headed dog at the gates of hell — would usually start the proceedings by putting the neophytes over, alluding to their awe-inspiring physiques or their vaunted reputations as one-man wrecking crews, street fighters and forces to be reckoned with. At the same time, he’d further disarm them by claiming to be nursing an injury, or that he’d just eaten or some such thing, and beseech them to take it easy on him. At this juncture, the cocky, self-absorbed rookies were licking their chops and contemplating that after they’d cleaned up the mat with this phony, flaccid old pretender, they’d be able to quickly ascend to stardom in the wrestling business. By this time, the trainees were figuring this would be a cakewalk. They were chomping at the bit to chew him up and spit him out and get on to bigger and better things.
Once they did get on the mat, my dad — appearing to be powerless to repel their onslaught — would allow the overzealous trainees to push him all over, which of course served to bolster their confidence even more. All of a sudden though, my dad would turn the tables on the unsuspecting wrestlers and in a flash, they’d find themselves trapped in some excruciatingly painful submission hold. From that point on, it was all downhill, with the suddenly not-so-bombastic newcomers being put through the wringer, as my dad used to call it — enduring one torture hold after another, and wondering what this sadistic psychopath had in mind next. During the course of their introduction to wrestling, the rookies abandoned most of their dignity — as well as, I might add, assorted bodily fluids — before they were finally allowed to limp off the mat with a decidedly different perspective about what it took to make it as a pro wrestler. Some would come back, but most would never be seen or heard from again.
At the time, being a wide-eyed and impressionable little kid, I found it quite horrifying to see my father — who ordinarily seemed to be a mild-mannered, easygoing sort — transform, down in the Dungeon. It was sinister, a Jekyll and Hyde thing. I often wondered about the demons lurking within him and it wasn’t until several years later that I came to understand the method to his ostensible madness.
I would discover that when Stu Hart was first introduced to the wrestling business as a teenager in the 1930 s, the inner workings of the sport were a closely guarded secret — kind of like in the Mafia. It was widely thought that the best deterrent to anyone exposing them was to make them pay their dues the hard way — in the tender of blood, sweat and tears.
Although pro wrestling was a work (pre-arranged) even that far back, for public consumption, it was still perceived to be a shoot (real). Within the inner sanctum of the wrestling fraternity, it was considered the ultimate transgression to expose it, and someone who was found to have violated that sacred covenant was dealt with quite harshly — in the form of having the living shit kicked out of them by shooters and/or by being permanently blackballed.
I was later to discover that my dad’s own initiation into the wrestling fraternity was, by all accounts, every bit as harsh — if not worse — as what his Dungeon victims were put through. During the Great Depression of the ’ 30 s, his family, like many others from the prairies, had been hit hard and had lost everything, including their house and all their belongings. During this stretch, his mother died and he, his father and his two older sisters, who lived in a makeshift tent on the outskirts of Edmonton, were forced to eke out a meager existence, living off the land and getting by on whatever they could beg, borrow or steal.
As most Canadians can attest, it gets bitterly cold in the prairies in the winter, so on many a cold winter’s night my dad, as a means of seeking refuge from the frigid temperatures, took to hanging out at the local YMCA and in due course, a group of grizzled old pro wrestlers who worked the circuit and trained there invited him to join them on the mat. From what he told me though, they were anything but gentle with him — using him as a sparring partner or human guinea pig, applying submission holds and essentially chewing him up and spitting him out. I can still recall my dad ruefully reflecting how on some occasions he’d leave the sessions so stiff and sore he could barely limp back home. In time, the sessions toughened him, both physically and mentally, to the point that he eventually began to hold his own against the s

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