Monday, October 01, 2007

Book Review: Pain And Passion: The History of Stampede Wrestling

"Pain and Passion" is the perfect title for Calgary Herald reporter Heath McCoy's chonicle of the history of Stampede Wrestling and the legendary Hart family. Those few words sum up the experience of the professional wrestling business - the ups and downs, the triumphs and tragedies.

The book plays out like a sweeping epic, from the bitter childhood and hard life of patriarch Stu Hart to the rise and fall of Stampede as a full time territory to the numerous Hart family tragedies to the resurrection of Stampede as a small independent company and the next generation of Hart kids up to and including the Chris Benoit tragedy.

One could argue about which old time territory was the greatest, but there is no denying that Stampede was one of the most influential operations in the history of pro wrestling. The talent that came through Stampede over the years is staggering. This is a fair and balanced "warts and all" type of story. The author's skill as a journalist is also balanced by his obvious fondness for the glory days of the territory.

In the introduction, McCoy says that "the game has lost something special,' a statement that I wholeheartedly agree with and one that applies to all professional sports today. In "Pain and Passion," McCoy deftly captures and conveys that "something special" that made Stampede and the territory era one those of us that grew up in it remember with reverance.

The saga of the Hart family itself is fascinating reading. Even if you were not a wrestling fan, it would be hard not to be intrigued by the Harts and all the personalities within the family.

If you are a true student of the wrestling business, I can't recommend a book more strongly than this one.

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