March 27, 2004
Home is all Hart
By BRET 'HITMAN' HART - SLAM! Wrestling
Contrary to numerous rumours suggesting the legendary Hart house has been sold, it is still for sale. There are many storied rooms in that house but none as infamous as the fabled dungeon.
From the time I was small, I often found myself down in the basement tussling with my brothers on the mat or playing dodge ball with a medicine ball.
Many times, I had all the wind knocked out of me playing that silly game but I imagine it helped in some small way to make me tougher.
Sitting on the bench down there could sometimes be a dangerous place to rest but, if you were young enough, you were safe.
From my earliest recollection, there were always several big strong, sweaty wrestlers slamming weights down and rolling around on the mat, learning submission wrestling from my father.
When Stu was teaching a bunch of football players, I remember thinking: What could my dad possibly do to hurt someone as big and tough as Angelo Mosca?
I was amazed at the yelping sounds coming out of the big Hamilton Tiger-Cat.
Mosca turned the most vivid purple I've ever seen.
My dad found a way to use a lot of physically strong athletes who had reached the end of the line in football or power-lifting, even bodybuilding.
He gave them a new life in the wacky world of pro wrestling.
For many of them, their first day on the job started with the opening of the dungeon door. Many of wrestling's biggest names and attractions earned their stripes taking on a somewhat cantankerous old daddy long legs named Stu.
The dungeon is a small, dim room that never looked very menacing at first glance but many a behemoth kicked and squirmed as they struggled not to be slammed, leaving huge holes in the ceiling.
The walls often had long cracks from being hit by the heads of various wrestlers, while the canvas that covered the mat was drenched in the blood, sweat and tears of almost every notable wrestler who worked from the 1940s to today.
I recall being out at Clearwater Beach one day when this wiry yet fit bricklayer approached my dad about taking on any of his wrestlers.
My dad suggested that rather than taking on some of the big bruisers, he might try his luck with old Stu instead.
This fella matter-of-factly explained how he would pick Stu up and slam him down.
He then broke into a big smile and rephrased himself, "I pick you up. I set you down."
I could tell by the way my dad licked his lips he was more than looking forward to 'enlightening' this guy.
I knew Stu meant business when he was up early that Sunday morning already wearing his infamous baby blue wool trunks.
You might have to check with some of my older brothers but I don't believe the screams from the dungeon were ever louder and I noticed after time this fella lost his desire to become a pro wrestler, as he toiled as a labourer helping Stu with some of his brick work. He found out the hard way Stu was the biggest and hardest brick he ever tried to pick up.
Some of the many names who earned their stripes down there include Superstar Billy Graham, Archie The Stomper, Jim (Anvil) Neidhart, Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff, Dynamite Kid, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, Lance Storm and, of course, me.