Pain and Passion

The History of Stampede Wrestling

by Heath McCoy

Description: To wrestling fans around the world, the city of Calgary represents the home base of a promotion known for producing some of the greatest stars the industry has ever seen. Men like "Dynamite Kid" Tom Billington, "British Bulldog" Davey Boy Smith, "Bad News" Allen Coage, "The Crippler" Chris Benoit, "The Rocket" Owen Hart, and of course WWE Hall of Famer Bret "The Hitman" Hart are at the top of the list of distinguished Stampede alumni. That list is long and glorious and full of big names that, even though did not achieve mega-stardom, played a dramatic role in one of the most under-rated and often-sheltered territories in the world of pro-wrestling. The show was run by one of the most beloved men in wrestling history, the tough-as-nails patriarch of the Hart family, Mr. Stu Hart. Along with his devoted wife, Helen, Stu assembled a roster of stars that prominently featured many of his own sons. The Hart family was the "heart" of the promotion, but the endless parade of heels that came in to face the Harts (and their allies) was definitely the blood that ran through its veins. Stampede was a promotion known for its heat, its pride, and its passion.

Calgary Herald writer Heath McCoy has put together the most thorough book about any single wrestling topic that I have ever come across. His dedication to the project is what makes all 296 pages in this book so fascinating. McCoy researched Stampede's history for (I'm guessing) well over a year and pieced together everything from beginning to end hitting all points in between. I was happy to see that McCoy made a point of not stroking anybody's ego when discussing the many personalities that competed inside of the blood-stained Stampede ring. There were plenty of positive and negative things to say about all the Hart brothers.

Pain & Passion isn't just the story of Stampede wrestling. It also deals with the tumultuous history of the Hart family. Towards the end of the book, I started to get the impression that "Pain & Passion" referred to the two loves of Stu's life; Wrestling & Family. The author goes all the way back to Stu's youth, growing up in the prairies, and follows him as he finds his way into the wrestling, and eventually meeting his future wife on a beach in New York. You will also read chapters about the Hart kids growing up, the death of Owen Hart, the inevitable division of Hart's loyalties, the new generation of Hart kids, and so much more.

Rating: 9.5/10 -- I can't say enough good things about "Pain & Passion: The History of Stampede Wrestling." This is easily one of the top five wrestling books of all time and I recommend everyone pick up a copy today and read it. You will love it just as much as I did.

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Reviewed by Brad Dykens on May 18, 2006.

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