November 4, 2011
Stampede Wrestling relaunches ... in Ontario?
By GREG OLIVER - Producer, SLAM! Wrestling
Back in October, Smith Hart went on CBC's Dragon's Den pitching a relaunch of Stampede Wrestling, which he had been mulling for some time.
Though he was turned down for his pitch for $350,000 investment capital in exchange for 33% of the company, he has forged ahead -- admittedly in baby steps.
On Sunday, Stampede Wrestling runs a show in Barrie, Ontario, of all places, a long way from its beginnings in Calgary.
Hart, the oldest of Stu and Helen Hart's 12 children, is reluctant to predict big things for his show, headlined by his nephew, Harry Smith (David Hart Smith in the WWE) against Fit Finlay, and former WWE star Al Snow.
"I don't know what the name means down here," Hart mulled.
Even on his pitch to Dragon's Den, he played up the Hart name just as much as the history of Stampede Wrestling, a promotion which began in 1948.
"The Hart name is sort of what I'm pushing, Stu Hart's brand of wrestling," said Hart. "It wasn't just that we were all stiff and solid out there, and maybe my dad liked submission wrestlers, guys that could hold their own in a lot of circles. It was more good, sensible issues that people could identify with."
"I'm real happy my uncle is starting Stampede back up," Harry Smith told the Barrie Advance. "The value of the name is extraordinary and the hard hitting style is something Iím sure the fans will appreciate."
The Dragon's Den "dragons", who pick and choose projects to invest in, encouraged Smith Hart and his partner Mat Lund (wrestler Matt Garrett) to submit their proposal before they were really ready.
"When I met some of the Dragon's Den, on sort of a handshake thing, I wasn't ready to really prepared to pitch anything right away -- I was thinking maybe a year from now, when I have a bit of a track record. But they were adamant that I do it now, especially Jim Treliving," said Hart. "That was one of the downfalls -- we had nothing to show them outside the Hart name and the little match we put on with a couple of guys. Exposure is always good in our business."
That's part of the reason that Justin Rego, from The Bachelorette, is involved too -- exposure.
"A lot of people are eager to see him, just because he's a TV idol now," said Hart of the sometime Toronto wrestler turned reality TV contestant. Entertainment Tonight Canada filmed a segment on him to run down the road.
Hart is also curious what will be down the road. He said advance tickets "look okay" and he is considering another show. As well, his brother Bruce has been using the Stampede Wrestling name again around Alberta.
"This is like a test. I might even shoot some angles to use down the road," Smith Hart concluded.
Stampede Wrestling is at the ANAF Club, 7 George St. in Barrie, Ontario, on Sunday, November 6th; doors open at 2 p.m.
Greg Oliver is the Producer of SLAM! Wrestling. He can be emailed at email@example.com.