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   September 01, 2014



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Stompin' time

By BRET HART -- For SLAM! Wrestling

While I was in Toronto last week, I stopped for a bite to eat at a sports bar and ran into Ron MacLean. Naturally, we talked about the NHL lockout and how it was strange for him to be sidelined. With the Calgary Hitmen being so highly respected this year, I don't mind saying I enjoyed bragging about the fact Calgary's ranked third in the country and first in the WHL.

But, like everything else in life, we soon found ourselves talking about pro wrestling.

Ron grew up in Red Deer and it didn't surprise me when he told me his dad took him to the matches every Tuesday. It also didn't surprise me Ron had an excellent grasp of who were the great wrestlers from that era. His favourite, like mine, was Archie (The Stomper) Gouldie.

It's funny to look back on it now but I also remember The Stomper, particularly for one night when he beat up my dad in the middle of the ring.

With Stu flat out, Stomper kept coming off the ropes and stomping with his big black cowboy wrestling boot, over and over. Ed Whalen anxiously delivered his dramatic play by play. And there was me as a 10-year-old hiding behind him. Thank God my dad was soon rescued by a calvary of wrestlers but not before The Stomper broke my dad's arm.

It took a long time for Stu to come out of the dressing room at the end of the night and, when he did, he was wearing a huge white cast, from the elbow down, on his left arm. Over the following weeks, I was amazed to see my dad casually pull off the cast every time he cooked dinner. Yet, whenever there was a knock at the door, he'd put the cast back on.

That wasn't what made me wonder.

It was when Archie did an in-ring TV interview with Whalen. With all 250 lb. of flexed muscles, he roared he was gonna come up to the Hart house and rip it apart brick by brick until he found old man Hart, who he'd rip from limb to limb. I took a deep swallow when he even said he was gonna piledrive my mom on the interstate.

But later on that same day, I happened to look out the kitchen window and see none other than The Stomper coming up the back steps.

I turned white and stammered to my mom, "H..h..he's here!"

I was prepared to put my life on the line. But my mom smiled and calmly answered the door.

I was disturbed to see her give The Stomper a big hug and hand him an envelope with his paycheque in it. I knew sometimes my mom could get mad at my dad but I gasped to think she might be in cahoots with The Stomper. Was she?

Luckily he seemed to be swayed enough by her charm that he left without wrecking the house or piledriving her. All I could figure is maybe I'd seen The Stomper on one of his good days.

MacLean told me a story about how one time when his dad took him to the matches, Stomper was standing outside the dressing room door. Ron finally found the courage to ask him to sign his autograph book.

Stomper never looked too friendly but with his dad right behind him, Ron cautiously approached, holding out his book and pen. He was taken aback when Archie angrily snarled and ripped his book to pieces.

His dad got so mad, he wanted The Stomper to buy Ron a new book. Of course, being a heel back then, he never did.

Ron said he never forgot that moment and the truth was he would have been disappointed if The Stomper had somehow turned out not to be such a bad guy.


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