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Pain and Passion: The History of Stampede Wrestling

Pain and Passion: The History of Stampede Wrestling - Heath McCoy

Pain and Passion: The History of Stampede Wrestling is the story of Stampede Wrestling, from it's beginnings in the early days of professional wrestling to its demise, and the Harts, the family that ran it.


This is the eleventh book in my Kindle Unlimited Experiment. For the 30 day trial, I'm only reading books that are part of the program and keeping track what the total cost of the books would have been.



Up until a few years ago, I watched quite a bit of professional wrestling.  My favorites for most of that time came from the Stampede territory so I was pretty excited to read this.


The books starts with the Hart family moving to the Canadian prairie to homestead in the 1920's.  What a rough way of life?  It's like the American midwest, only much much colder.  Once Stu Hart is born, things get cracking.  Stu meets Toots Mondt and becomes a wrestler and eventually comes back home to start a wrestling promotion.


Stampede sure must have been a rough territory to work back in the day, with a thousand miles between some towns, unreliable transportation, vicious ribs by the other wrestlers, and the colliding egos of the Hart brothers.  


In fact, the more I read about the Hart family, the more I wish I hadn't.  They're portrayed in the media as the Kennedys of the wrestling world but act more like a bunch of white trash assholes for the most part.  Lots of bickering, backstabbing, and money-grubbing.


The road stories and the parts focusing on the British Bulldogs and Bret Hart were my favorites.  Keeping the Dynamite Kid out of trouble on the road must have been a full time job.  All the tragedy surrounding everyone who came out of Stampede and made it big were hard to read but not as hard to read as the eventual decline of the promotion and the Hart siblings fighting like pigs at a trough for any money coming into the family because of Owen Hart's death. 


Heath McCoy has a journalism background so this was much better written than most wrestling books.  Even though there's a morsel of fanboyishness creeping through every once in a while, he keeps things pretty objective, showing the good with the bad.  As with most wrestling books, I would have traded some of the non-wrestling bits for more road stories.  


3.5 out of 5 stars.  It wasn't my favorite wrestling book but it's way ahead of most of the rest of the pack.


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