Stampede Wrestling: The Harts

March 03, 2008

I got to hook up with one of my old friends from the road this past weekend as “The Fallen Angel” Christopher Daniels was in town to work a Stampede Wrestling event on Saturday. Chris and I have been friends since we first met, back during my early ECW days, and have been fortunate enough to cross paths numerous times over the years. I last worked with Chris in July of last year in Timmins, Ontario and after hooking up with him this weekend I was reminded of the first time we worked, which was here in Calgary in June of 2001.

This was during my month off between WCW and WWE and I accepted four bookings with Stampede Wrestling to keep the ring rust off before starting full time with WWE. I accepted the bookings on condition that I worked with Chris because I’d wanted to work with him since first meeting him in ECW.

This week I thought it would be fun to look back at my 4 matches with “The Fallen Angel” and I could kill two birds with one stone by also making this my latest installment in my Promoters commentary series.

I’ve only worked 5 Stampede Wrestling show, the 4 with Christopher Daniels and one back in early 1992. I have no recollection how I got to get booked on the show in 92 and don’t remember whom I actually dealt with, so I will have to focus solely to the four Stampede Wrestling shows I worked in 2001.

I dealt with two different Harts on these occasions as Ross Hart did most of the promotional end while Bruce was in charge of the booking. Ross was the guy who contacted me about working the shows and it was with him that I negotiated my pay. They had four shows booked, Thursday in Lethbridge, Friday in Calgary, Saturday in Medicine Hat, and Sunday in Drumheller. The Sunday show was the same day as the WWE King of the Ring PPV, and before accepting the bookings I made it very clear that if the WWE called and needed me for the PPV I would not be making the Drumheller show, so they needed to decided if they wanted to book me on that show and if they were going to advertise me they would be doing so at their own risk. I didn’t think WWE would be calling me for KOR but I wanted to cover my butt just in case.

Ross was very easy to deal with and I can’t think of a negative thing to say about him. I’ve run into Ross a few times over the years and he has continued to be quite straight forward and up front with me, Bruce on the other hand was a different story. Don’t get me wrong I get along fine with Bruce and I have no problem with the man, I just found him very frustrating do deal with and there was one situation at the end of this tour where I considered very strongly kicking the shit out of him.

The frustration started very early, when we did a live radio interview to promote the tour. Bruce is very old school, and when I say old school I’m talking back to the carnival con-man roots of the sport. Bruce is the kind of guy that has to exaggerate and “work” everything, and of course find a way to put himself over in the process. Not to toot my own horn but this was right after my substantial push in WCW as “Mr. Canada” and only a few weeks after I did the first WCW Invasion run in on RAW at the Saddle Dome in Calgary, so having me booked on these shows was a pretty big deal. Based on this you would think that my appearance on the shows was what we were going on the radio to promote. You would be wrong.

Bruce spent almost the entire interview dropping names like Chris Jericho, ”Stone Cold” Steve Austin, and the Rock insisting that Bruce had just established a working relationship with Vince McMahon, and the two would be exchanging talent in the future. I felt like I was there solely to lend credibility to his claims and I could not believe it when Brice actually said it was only a matter of time before he had guys like the Rock and Austin in Calgary to work future Stampede Wrestling Shows.

This is where I have a problem. There was no talent exchanging agreement with WWE and Rock and Austin were NOT coming to future Stampede Wrestling events. He was lying to his fan base, which is never a good idea, and was doing so instead of just bragging about the one truth he had right in front of him, the fact that Lance Storm only weeks removed from a WCW Invasion on RAW would be wrestling on the up coming Stampede events. I am the first to admit that my name alone isn’t going to sell out an arena but my addition to their regular line up should have helped. Truth be told, telling the story Bruce did on the radio likely hurt business because if I was a wrestling fan and heard Rock and Austin might be on the next show, I’m not going to worry so much about catching Lance Storm on this one. I might be more apt to save my money for the even bigger show next time out.

The straw that broke the camels back, for me, came at the end of the tour when I got the call from WWE saying they wanted me in New York at MSG for the King of the Ring PPV and RAW on Monday. I called Ross Hart immediately and told him I would not be able to make the Drumheller show and why. Ross understood and was cool about it. Shortly after talking with Ross I got a phone call from Johnny Ace wanting to know what was going on with Stampede Wrestling. He told me that Bruce called the office quite upset claiming I had made a commitment to them and if I left it would ruin their weekend of business, and there was no way I could make the PPV or RAW. Johnny said Vince didn’t want to stir any heat up with the Hart family and had cancelled my trip. I tried to explain to Johnny that I had warned the Harts about the possibility of not being able to make the last show and it was with that understanding that I had accepted the bookings. I suggested catching a late flight Sunday night (the Drumheller show was a matinee) so that I could at least make RAW on Monday. Some how Johnny was of the impression that Bruce needed me Monday too, but I assured him there was no Monday show and WWE could booked me on the last flight out Sunday night.

At this point I was fuming, thinking of nothing but the fact that Bruce Hart may have just got me pulled off a WWE PPV at Madison Square Garden. I got to the Drumheller show and did my best to avoid Bruce. All I had on my mind was getting out of this show in time to make my flight. Avoiding Bruce was easy as he was with the ring truck and the ring didn’t showed up till after the doors were opened and fans were let in. It was at this point that I found Ross and convinced him to put my match on first so I would be able to catch my flight. The ring truck being late was the least of our worries as it got there before the promotional posters did for the show so very few people even knew there was a show that night and even fewer bothered to attend.

Turns out I got pulled off of a sold out show at Madison Square Garden in New York, for an unadvertised and un-promoted event in Drumheller, Alberta in front maybe 75 people. On the money front at least I was paid in full. With money I dealt with Ross and I was paid in full before I even worked the last show, so there are no complaints there. I’d give my Stampede Wrestling experience a Thumbs in the middle. A Thumbs up for Ross and a Thumbs down for Bruce.

Lance Storm