July 15, 2004
Jimmy Hart as busy as ever
By GREG OLIVER - Co-Producer, SLAM! Wrestling
Jimmy Hart is running around as much, if not more, than he used to in his WWF heyday. Memphis on the weekend for the weekly TV show, Nashville on Wednesdays for the TNA PPV tapings, and Thursday in Orlando for the TNA Impact tapings. And this Saturday, he's in Buffalo for an event at the Bisons baseball game. But he's loving it.
"I'm glad to be working. It's great," he told SLAM! Wrestling.
He has found there is a real nostalgia out there for wrestling, whether it's the baseball game this weekend which is tied in with the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame in Schenectady, NY, or whether it's in Memphis with Throwback Night.
"The past is the future. Me and Jerry Lawler were talking about that the other day," he said. "We drew 3,758 people for our show Saturday night down there. Me and Lawler tagging up after 17 years, because we were always arch-enemies back in the day."
Lawler and Hart took on Kamala - who had been in Hart's stable - and Cory Macklin. The promotion totally restructured their pricing plan for the evening. "We went on TV, 'We know gas prices are hard, we know it's hard for a family of four to go to baseball or basketball, but with wrestling ...' We did that type of deal. We had $10 ringside and $5 general admission. Then we talked the people into doing a deal where we sold hot dogs for a dollar, Cokes a dollar, popcorn a dollar. If you do that, you're going to have a hell of a crowd." The first 1,500 fans got a commemorative program as well.
The ability to pull off such an event is only possible through good promotion through TV, and by lining up a number of sponsors to help defray the expenses. "It shows that old school stuff, and having fun, having interviews and not just trying to tits and ass and fingers and drinking beer really paid off for us."
Hart still follows all of wrestling, and has been careful not to burn bridges. Through the years, he has been involved with all aspects of wrestling, including a stint trying to run the XWF. He's proven invaluable to the TNA promotion, though he wonders why Vince McMahon and the WWE haven't come after the competition the way they did with the XWF.
"When we did the XWF, Vince took nine of our people. Jeff [Jarrett] and them are up there doing their deal, and they haven't even called about any of those guys, and they're at the same place we were. Me and Jerry Jarrett were talking about it the other night, it seems like people feel like to live in the past, which is great, thank God," he said.
This Saturday, Hart is slated as a guest at the Ballpark Brawl in Buffalo, along with Roddy Piper and Johnny Valiant. (Hart is expected to work an angle with Dave Blezard, the morning show guy on Z103.5, for a return to the ballpark on August 14th.) Matches on the show include Shane Douglas vs. Chris Candido w/ Tammy "Sunny" Sytch, Al Snow against a competitor to be named, Hacksaw Jim Duggan vs. Greg "The Hammer" Valentine and "THE NATURAL" Heavyweight Title Tournament featuring Ron "The Truth" Killings, Zach Gowen, Teddy Hart, Konnan, Julio Dinero, Petey Williams, Derek Wylde & a contestant to be named at the show. (For more info, see www.ballparkbrawl.com.
Then on September 18, he is having his book launch in Toronto at a free wrestling show at the Galleria Mall (Dufferin & Dupont) as a part of another Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame related event.
The book, entitled The Mouth of the South: The Jimmy Hart Story, is in its final edits before going to the printer. Hart is looking forward to promoting it, and hopes to call in lots of favours. "I can probably even get the WWE to help me on that because Vince, we still have a great rapport. I'm one of the few people who never knocked him or said anything bad. Even this book coming out, I put Vince and everybody over completely, because if it hadn't been for him, you wouldn't have a home, you wouldn't have a car and half the people out there wouldn't be doing anything."
Order The Mouth of the South: The Jimmy Hart Story
Previous Jimmy Hart stories
Greg Oliver founded SLAM! Wrestling with John Powell way back in
1996, and has been writing about pro wrestling since 1985. He is the
author of the recently published book The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame:
The Canadians from ECW Press. Order it from the SLAM!
Wrestling Store. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.