Stampede set for return to TV
By TYLER MCLEOD -- Calgary Sun
Whoa, Nellie! Saturday mornings just got a whole lot more exciting.
"You've tried the rest, now return to the best," Bruce Hart laughs.
Yes, all is right with weekend television now that Stampede Wrestling is
It returns at noon tomorrow on channel 8 with a card taped last spring at
the Stampede Pavilion and resumes taping its weekly instalments there next
Friday for air on A-Channels across the Prairies.
Bruce Hart, now commissioner of the franchise his father Stu started in
1948, explains how the show has changed in its decade-long absence.
"The formula, I guess, is the old Stampede Wrestling. It'll be much the
Stampede Wrestling's blueprint has always stood apart from other wrestling
shows because they innovatively included wrestling in their weekly broadcasts.
"The Stampede format's been copied by all the others. Years ago, the WWF
had what we call 'squash matches,' " Hart explains. "The guy gets beat in 30
seconds and then they had 20 minutes of talking."
Which isn't to say pro wrestling's evolved all that much since.
"If you watch two hours of Monday Night RAW, you'll only see five minutes
of in-ring activity. Half of it's a rehash of what happened last week and the
rest is whether the Undertaker's going to possess somebody's soul," laments
"We'll have our share of off-the-wall types, but I think you'll see more
wrestling than you do on WWF."
Stampede Wrestling has been touring committedly for the past year,
barnstorming rural areas (the "whistle stops," Hart calls them) and allowing
them to evaluate the talent on hand.
"We're looking forward to unleashing all this new mayhem; we've got some
pretty hot talent."
Gorgeous George, Jake Roberts, Honky Tonk Man, Andre the Giant and other
illustrious names from Stampede's history must now give way to Dirty Dick
Raines, Jason "Sledgehammer" Neidhart, Cyborg and Greg "Pistol" Pawluk.
"Some of the guys who have a lot of charisma are guys like this Crazy Horse
Eddie Mustang. He's actually a hell of a wrestler -- a Pan American Games
silver medalist," Hart ventures. "He's kind of doing a rebellious,
half-deranged Axl Rose rocker type. He's been one of the big attractions on
Hart says Hotshot Johnny Devine is a more physical version of Shawn
Michaels and there are some promising villains afoot.
"Tiger Khan is a more streamlined and obnoxious version of the Great Gama.
There's this other guy who is actually a school principal who became a
wrestler," Hart says.
"Principal Pound is his name and he embodies all the contemptible elements
of a pompous, arrogant, overzealous, self-righteous administrator.
"One of his things on the road was berating the audience for being
underachieving deviants and social miscreants."
But wait, there's a malfunction at the junction. Whose this Mauro Ranallo
guy behind the microphone and why isn't he, you know, Ed
"Ring-a-ding-dong-dandy" Whalen? Looky here, Mr. Hart, fans demand Uncle Eddie
"We have one segment called Mat Classics we think Ed will host. It will be
two or three minutes of guys like J.R. Foley or Archie "Stomper" Gouldie or
Dynamite Kid," Hart says.
Next Friday's event (tickets at Ticketmaster) will kick off a tournament to
decide the new British Commonwealth Champion -- a title held by the likes of
Gama Singh, Dynamite Kid and the Harts -- Owen, Bruce, Bret and Keith.
While the Harts continue to operate their prestigious wrestling camps, not
all of the wrestlers on the Stampede circuit were trained in The Dungeon. Hart
says they are recruiting in the States, Europe and Japan.
Nevertheless, some of the most esteemed members of the Hart legacy are
still very active.
"A lot of the guys we developed in the '80s went on to be pretty big
talents. Some of the guys are still on top -- like Chris Benoit and Jericho.
Davey Boy Smith's back and Bret, of course," Hart lists.
"I know guys in the ECW who have approached us, like Rob Van Dam, Taz,
Lance Storm and Sabu. They all seem open to the possibility of coming up here
Hey, you just never know who might surface when Stampede Wrestling
"The Cuban Assassin-types and the Great Gama-types -- there's a ton of them
still lurking around out here," Hart teases. "I wouldn't say on a regular
basis ... but there's a few who aren't that old. You might see Keith. I'm not
planning on donning the tights again, but you never know."
One thing's certain, though, a Stampede Wrestling ring cannot remain
Hartless for long.
"You know, Bret's got kids, and Keith and I do, who are probably just a few
years away. My nephews have a lot of talent.
"There's pretty much a dozen or so in the new generation coming up. There's
going to be more than ever."
So you see, folks, in the meantime and in-between time, that's NEVER it for
another edition of Stampede Wrestling.