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July 3, 1981: Bret-Bockwinkel and more
By BRET HART - Calgary Sun
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The great Tony Lanza's posed shot of the immortal Sky Low Low.

Flashback to my dad's Stampede show from July 3, 1981 -- a very big card, especially in the minds of all the Hart boys. I can remember it was a real cooker, about 35C. By the time I walked to the Stampede Pavilion from Scotsman's Hill, carrying my bags, I was sweating as if I'd already worked.

The dressing room was packed with the usual assortment of freaks and pro wrestlers of all shapes and sizes from around the world. I took one look at the disappointed face of a young, thin 17-year-old kid, Davey Boy Smith, who was a long way from being The British Bulldog.

He was quite distressed. It was such a big show, he would have to face the one and only Mandingo.

Mandingo was actually from Honolulu.

He was a bellboy in real life, with nice, neat short hair. My brother Bruce appreciated his kindness in helping him with his accommodations while visiting Hawaii.

Because Mandingo was trying to break into pro wrestling, Bruce invited him to visit during the Stampede.

Davey proceeded to go out and throw Mandingo, who had never wrestled, around for 10 minutes before beating him with a running powerslam.

The next match was the legendary Sky Low Low against Frenchy Lamont. It was special for me in the sense Sky Low Low was undoubtedly the greatest midget wrestler of all time and this would be one of his final curtain calls.

He had been hanging around J.R. Foley and, much like J.R., Sky was a little tipsy as he made his way to the ring. Frenchie Lamont was one of the strongest midgets and he was somewhat of a hometown hero around the St. Regis.

He made a point of launching the 60-something Sky like a cannonball, yet Sky gave him his greatest match that night.

In the third match, Bruce got the best of Adorable Adrian Street, a blond-haired Brit working the over-the-top gay gimmick.

The highlight of the card was the six-man triple tag-team match with none other than the legendary Dr. D. David Schultz, along with one of the greatest tag-team combos Stampede Wrestling ever had -- Kerry Brown and Duke Myers.

They had a real barnburner with Randy Tyler, Bill Irwin and Duffy O'Rourke.

What I remember most about that match is Schultz poking Duffy in the chest declaring, "You stink, boy! You stink bad! You need to take a damn bath before you step in the ring with me again!"

The Dynamite Kid, pound for pound, is probably the greatest pro wrestler of all time. In a world mid-heavyweight championship match that night, he squared off with my older brother, Keith. After Dynamite tombstoned Keith, he climbed to the top turnbuckle pad and dove three quarters of the way across the ring to deliver a beautiful knee drop, chipping some of Keith's teeth before beating him.

I went out that hot July night for my AWA world title match against Nick Bockwinkel, one of the all-time greatest champions of any league. I was wearing my dad's once- famous black velvet ring robe and I was as nervous as I can ever remember.

The Pavilion, like every Stampede, was completely packed.

After 58 minutes of gruelling action -- if I wasn't in a hold, I was putting one on -- I had Bockwinkel in an abdominal stretch with no chance the champ could reach the ropes.

J.R. Foley cost me the match by casually strolling up to Tommy Carr, the timekeeper, and with his steel-tipped cane, he rang the bell. The match ended in confusion with Ed Whelan declaring the spectacle "another ring-a-ding-dong dandy!"


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